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.

Gloomhaven Solo Play

Living North of Wall I do not get a lot of opportunities to sit at the gaming table with my friends as much as I’d like. So outside of PC games and playing RPGs on Roll20 with my pals, i try to find table top board games that have a single player rules variants or can be played easily running multiple players.

A few games that I’ve picked up that have those options are things like Scythe,  Dresden Files co-op card game, Pandemic, The Captain is Dead, Terraforming Mars, Agricola, and more. And finally Gloomhaven. One of the biggest sellers for me on Gloomhaven was that it had a single player variant that Tom Vasel @ Dice Tower even states is just as good if not better then the multiplayer normal game.

Normally I prefer playing board games as a social outlet. I’m a bit of a social butterfly and really enjoy sitting around a table with a group of friends. I’m still a bit hesitant on playing with rando’s due to some bad experiences playing at a local game group, so i shy away from game clubs and cons and gaming at stores. Part of it is probably also because I’m generally bad at games. Board, Video, card, sports etc. I’m just bad at them. I’m not skilled at playing games, I generally just enjoy playing them. Sometimes I get lucky and win, sometimes i just know the rules better, or have played a game more then some other people so I can eek out a win, but if I’m playing against someone who is of comparable experience to me in a game imma lose. I’m usually ok with that. As long as I’m having fun, getting the chance to take my turn regularly and doing stuff I’m ok with losing a game.

Some people may say I’m lying.. but between you and me we’ll just leave it at that.

But back to gaming with people I don’t know. It’s probably silly and I’d probably have a great time, but it just doesn’t feel right. I have my 3 or so group of friends i game with from time to time, and it feels weird playing with people outside of them! I guess you could call me a monogamist gamer?

Many of the games I’ve listed above handle Solo play in different methods. Some of them have you reduce the difficulty in a few ways to make a single player play through possible. I’ve seen games where you might remove some cards, or play a specific board for solo play. There there are some that have you just play the game the same way as with multiple people but playing the different seats or players on your own.

For Gloomhaven the single player rules outline a few specific changes for solo play, that really just line up with increasing the scenario difficulty. In the multiplayer game everyone has a deck of cards that detail the moves or powers that the PCs can perform on their turn. Part of the challenge in many multiple player games is not knowing what each player will specifically do on their turn. This is down by not showing the cards in your hand with the other players. This adds in a bit of difficulty, and as I mentioned in another post, prevents Alpha Gamers from taking control of the game directing everyone’s turns/actions. Games with this specific mechanic are Pandemic, Dresden Files Co-Op and Gloomhaven just to name a few. Being able to see all the cards for the other players or PCs in the game makes it a bit easier as you can coordinate effects and actions with ease. With this in mind Gloomhaven has you increase the game difficulty one level for single player to balance out the difficulty a bit.

I’ve played the first 3 adventures in the Gloomhaven campaign solo with some mixed results. I actually played the first adventure 3 times so i could see the difference in difficulties. My first attempt was with 3 characters at the normal difficulty level. I quit about half way through the first adventure on that one as i found running 3 characters a bit daunting and confusing. Granted this was probably my 5th time playing ever, so with a bit more experience it might be a little easier in the future.

My second attempt at playing Gloomhaven solo was with 2 characters. I made a mistake here and setup the first adventure as If i was playing with 4 players and with a level increase of +1 (for a total of Difficulty Level 5). I realized my mistake about halfway through but wanted to see how it played out. I died in 4 turns from the 2 elite Guards in the first room. Oops.

So my Third attempt I had 2 characters and played on level 3. This was a good balance, if maybe still a smidge too easy. But i played through that and the next two sessions without a huge problem. Was a lot of fun and I cant wait to play again.

I also spent some time last weekend organizing the pieces into a better organization system. I followed the directions here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1726878/yss-yet-another-storage-solution. It uses a few inexpensive Plano tackle boxes to organize all the small pieces, the monster standees, and the cards. Really makes it all alot easier to sort! I’ll get some pictures up in the artcile when I have a some time. I have to say I’ve been happy with the layout. I do miss the box container that it comes with as i really liked how it handled all the boxes and cards, but this system makes setup and breakdown a ton easier and less daunting to each play. Part of why i didn’t play the game more in the past was how intimidating getting everything out was before. I’m hoping it’ll be less of a chore in the future!

So thats the end of my post. Have you tried Gloomhaven single player? Let me know how it went!