A Problem with Legacy Games – Or How I’m lonely.

Gloomhaven, Pandemic Legacy, Betrayl Legacy, Charterstone, First Martians. These are just a few in a long list of Legacy games which have been big hits since they first came onto the scene since 2015.

I’ve played a number of them and I really do enjoy the play style of them. As someone who loves campaign style play in TTRPGs, being able to bring that consistency and game style to TTBG’s as well is really fun and exciting! You get to sit at a table with your friends and explore not just a fun game session, but the evolution of a whole story arc that grows and changes as you play the games. It’s a really interesting concept and board game mechanic that I really love.

But what do you do if you do not play board games consistently with your “Legacy Group”? Do you stall the game until you can gather everyone together? Do you continue to play the Legacy game with whomever you can get around the table? Do you try and run a separate “campaign of the legacy game for those other groups? Does playing through the legacy game with your other group spoil the game plot and story for you or others with your other group?

These are all problems I’ve run into myself and I’m not sure how to combat them. Lets look at those questions in order.

1: What do you do if you don’t play board games consistently with your main or prime Legacy group?

This is probably the biggest issue for me with Legacy Games. My normal game group is one I found back in my old home state of Delaware. Until recently they were really the only people I gamed with on a regular basis. Twice a year my friends would come and visit me in the Mountains of Maryland and we’d play my copy of Pandemic Legacy. We were not very good at the game and probably only advanced a few months in. Difficult to get an level of consistency when we played twice a year! I also picked up a copy of Gloomhaven a few years ago, and we added that to our biannual Mountain Cons. It was very enjoyable and we had a blast learning the game but still, same problem. 

I was often wary of playing the games with others as I did not want to spoil any of the legacy components in our game nor spoil the plot for myself and my game friends. Which leads us into question 2!

2: Do you continue to play the legacy game with whomever you can get around the table?

As a traditional TTRPG gamer, this is a bit anathema to me.  Your campaign is the 5 people you start with. Yes you might have a person or two who drops out, but it is built around the gaming group you start with. Call me a traditionalist, but that is my opinion. It’s also probably why I’ve played a grand total of 3 legacy games about 15 times in total.

Conversely, these games take quiet a bit of commitment from your players. That commitment gets more and more difficult to maintain with careers, kids, and when you move 200 miles away. Play with whom you can! The missions themselves tend to be pretty self contained. You should be able to enjoy them as one shots when you can.

3: Do you run separate campaigns for your legacy games?

The legacy games as they are designed, are intended for a single play through. You tear up cards, write on your board, put permanent stickers down. The designers intended this to be a single play through game. That is tough to swallow when you are paying $150 for a game. 

On the other hand, Pandemic Legacy, one of the first of these style of games, offered a Red and Blue box that were exactly the same game but in different boxes so you could keep them separate and run separate campaigns. After market products are sold so that the stickers are removable or you track your changes on a different sheet. Perhaps this is a viable option for some?

It seems that both are good choices, for me, i still do not think i can do it. There are moments of reveals and “oh shit” moments in these games that I do not think would be as impactful on your second or third play through. You could meta-game your 2nd play through to take the optimal path for something that is to happen 5 sessions down the line. It’d be like running a published D&D module and knowing whats going to happen. Being able to Roleplay what is going to happen and keep it fresh and new is important to me.

4: Does playing through the legacy game with your other group spoil the game plot and story for you or others with your other group?

I sort of answered this one in the question above, but I’ll follow it up here. Yes. You will spoil your prime group play through by playing ahead with another group. Nothing more to say here.

So in conclusion, I think for me you need to pick your Legacy game group for a specific game, and ride or die that. In hindsight to my experience you need to choose wisely. Do not play a Legacy game with people you see twice a year. It is not fair to anyone in that group.

With that said, I think i need some new people to play Pandemic Legacy and Gloomhaven with. Shoot me an email if you are interested and live in the 301.

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