Mutations. When it comes to diseases it’s those pesky mutations you really need to worry about. Chickens with colds are pretty low on the list of the world’s problems, but if that disease changes into something which can spread to humans then you’ve got fully-fledged, mask-wearing panic swarming across the globe. Something big. Something powerful. Something far greater than the original.
Segue! Pandemic the board game sneezed its way into existence in 2007 from the nose of designer Matt Leacock, and has proved itself a potent gateway drug for getting people hooked on board games they never knew existed – check out our gushing review here. Rather than trying to outdo each other by invading land or charging rent for properties, Pandemic has players all banding together to beat the game itself. Working as a team of specialists from the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, everyone sparks off each other in an attempt to beat the encroaching disease and come up with hare-brained schemes which might – just might – see you cure that final virus just before it explodes into a final game-ending outbreak. Either way, it’s all over in under an hour, so no surprise Pandemic has picked up momentum as a popular replacement to classic family games like Monopoly and Risk.
Segue! Four years after Pandemic hit the shelves designer Rob Daviau revealed a new version of Risk which almost literally tore up the rules of the game. While players all continue to command armies and attempt to steal areas of the world map from each other, Risk Legacy transformed the game into a living thing, demanding players choose an ability for their faction from a choice of two and then physically destroy the card featuring the other. The game changes, irrevocably, with each play, with certain cards and events telling player to scrawl new names for countries on the board, cover countries in stickers to represent bonuses or penalties, or consulting secret sections of the rulebook and hidden compartments in the box. These permanent changes lead to a battle-scarred map and highly-individual set of rules, which are set in stone after 15 plays to create a game fully personalised to the group which have created it. A glorious concept, bringing roleplaying aspects and a sense of ownership to a game which had remained broadly unchanged for more than 50 years.
No segue! Last May Pandemic publisher Z-Man Games revealed that it had brought together Daviau and Leacock to give the Risk Legacy treatment to Pandemic, with a persistent campaign and permanent changes – good and bad – made to your operatives in the field. That game has been incubating ever since, and Z-Man announced last week that it had received a whopping 52,000 pre-orders. W Eric Martin over at Boardgamegeek sat down with Daviau for a test-run of the new game around the same time, and has put together a superb write-up here. The intriguingly-named ‘Season 1’ release hints that a new box might arrive further down the line to continue the game past the first string of plays. We’re mainly excited about naming our operatives and having them embark on romantic relationships while saving the world. What do you think?
*** UPDATE *** UPDATE *** UPDATE ***
We managed to bag a quick interview with Pandemic Legacy co-creator Matt Leacock after this went to press – feast your peepers on it here.