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Best Legacy Board Games

Last Updated on January 25, 2023

Legacy games are a relatively new concept in board games and today we’re looking at the best legacy board games out there.

Typically, a board game will provide an all-in-one experience that you’ll be able to pack away into a box, forget about it, and then pull it out a year later for another game.

Legacy games are not like that at all.

In a Legacy Game, you’re building a legacy. Your legacy.

What you do in-game will affect each subsequent play of the game. It’s designed to have real consequences to actions for your game. If a character dies, they typically stay dead. You tear up the card, burn it, attach to a bottle rocket, and shoot it into space.

Our Top Picks for Best-Rated Legacy Board Games

In a hurry? Take a peek at our favorites before you run off.

01/30/2023 02:30 am GMT

Because it’s such a new genre there’s also a lot of ambiguity surrounding legacy games, so let’s clear that up.

What officially constitutes a Legacy game?

  • Is it having persistent changes?
  • Is it the destruction of game components?
  • Are irrevocable decisions in the game?

Sure.

I can’t give a definite answer yet and that’s because this genre is still in the growing pains phase. Many people saw the Legacy system and immediately railed against it, claiming the board game publisher Illuminati was planning to destroy the secondary market. Again, I don’t really have an answer to that one either (but I don’t think that’s the case).

It can be gimmicky at times but I can honestly say that outside of a Pen & Paper RPGs I haven’t been as invested in the story of a board game in quite some time. I don’t think ever.

The system accounts for the high emotional value that the players attach to characters and objects in-game and uses that emotion to not only tell a story but also to bring the players more deeply into it as well. Board games, after all, are a social experience, and anything that connects you to the world you are playing will enhance the experience.

Even at the time of writing this, the factors of what constitutes legacy board games have evolved and are constantly being challenged.

More on that later. For now, let’s see what board games are available. We’re going to take you through our favorite Legacy board games and take a look at what makes each one tick.

Risk Legacy

Risk: Legacy Board Game

Players: 3-5
Playing time: 60 minutes

This is where it all began.

Risk Legacy was the first Legacy game ever made and has been reprinted so you’ll actually be able to find an unused copy now.

Risk Legacy starts out as a normal game of Risk which quickly spirals into madness. After every game, the winning player can customize and give bonuses to their army. The losers will be able to select a different set of powerful bonuses to help them in the next game.

Everyone gets something but you definitely want to be the one to win. This does balance the game a bit so one player doesn’t get a runaway advantage from the first game.

As you play, the landscape will shift as players wage war across the world. Some locations may become more vulnerable, more defensible, or outright destroyed.

What We Liked

One of the coolest aspects of Risk Legacy is that it is super customizable. Every game is unique, and you play a huge role in shaping the outcome. From naming your cities and continents to choosing specific faction powers, Risk Legacy lets you make all the decisions. 

What Could Be Better

Risk Legacy is much better if you can play with the same group of people week in and week out. It can be hard to find such a committed bunch, and with 15 games to be played before full completion, you need to be sure you’ve found people who are in it for the long haul. 

Risk Legacy has the distinction of being the first Legacy game created and, as such, has a few growing pains. The system was still new at its inception and isn’t as balanced as it could be but overall, it’s a solid addition to the roster of Legacy Games. I’ve always had a soft spot for Risk in my heart, and Risk Legacy just brings it to a whole new level.

Haven’t tried Risk Legacy yet? Check out our full review before you do!

Risk: Legacy
$47.07

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01/30/2023 12:00 am GMT

Pandemic Legacy: Season 0

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 45-60 minutes

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 was released in 2015 and shot legacy games into the stratosphere. The follow-up, Season 2, added new themes and storylines and cemented the Pandemic series as one of the best legacy series out there. So, what does Pandemic Season 0 add to the series?

Well, as the name alludes to, Pandemic Season 0 is a prequel to the original two. And it takes the storyline in a totally different direction. Set in 1962 in the midst of the Cold War, the Soviets are hellbent on developing a bioweapon to unleash on the world. You have been recruited by the CIA to infiltrate and stop Project MEDUSA before it’s too late. 

Pandemic Season 0 includes familiar gameplay elements from the original two, so if you’ve played these before you will adapt to the game quickly. But it also introduces new elements and dozens of new rules to keep the franchise fresh.

One huge addition to Season 0 is teams. These play a huge part in the outcome of the game and offer a new and exciting mechanic. So, whether you’re a newcomer or a Pandemic veteran, Season 0 has plenty to offer. 

What We Liked

Pandemic Season 0 is a prequel that adds so much to the franchise. It includes new mechanics and rules while taking the theme in an immersive and exciting direction. It expands and improves on elements from the originals to provide an excellent legacy experience. 

What Could Be Better

When taken together, the Pandemic series is gaming on an epic scale. While this will suit committed gamers who are totally enamored by the franchise, recruiting potential players can be difficult. 

Pandemic: Legacy - Season 0
$79.99 $66.73

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01/26/2023 06:00 pm GMT

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 Board Game

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 60 minutes

Risk Legacy may be the first Legacy game ever made but Pandemic Legacy is where it blew up and became part of the board game mainstream. Z-Man Games has done an amazing job with the versions and expansions of Pandemic, and Legacy is no exception.

It topped the BGG rankings for quite some time.

The full campaign of Pandemic Legacy (Seasons 1 & 2) is broken down into one year (of story time, not real-time). Each round you play represents a month of in-game time. If you fail to meet the objectives for that month, you’ll get one more chance to play a second game during that month.

So if you’re completely badass and never lose a game, a complete run of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 will take 12 games, and at most you’ll be able to get 24 plays out of a box.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 starts players out almost like any other game of Pandemic. The first game you play is pretty standard. There are four viruses and you need to cure them before you run out of cards or have too many outbreaks… easy peasy.

Then things take a turn for the worse. Without giving away spoilers, the viruses mutate and do “different” things, and at the same time, the board will start to shift. Certain cities can become hotspots for diseases and it gets pretty hard to travel around the board.

The story comes in the form of a legacy deck. Before and after certain games, you’ll be instructed to draw a certain number of cards from this deck (NO PEEKING). The story will come through and instruct you to open small boxes or do something to the board.

What We Liked

Overall, the theme is executed excellently. Pandemic Legacy is very engaging and will keep players absorbed throughout the campaign. 

What Could Be Better

One of the harder aspects of the game is keeping track of the rules over the full campaign: It takes 12-24 games to complete a full run-through. The rules change continuously so keeping track can be tough.

We absolutely loved our Season 1 game. It was challenging, exciting, and almost like Christmas every time we got to open a new item. It’s true that it’s sometimes stressful to tear up cards and mangle your board, but when the fate of the world is on the line, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Pandemic: Legacy - Season 1 (Blue)
$69.99 $64.80

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01/27/2023 02:37 am GMT

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 Board Game

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 60 minutes

Without giving away anything story-wise, Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 picks up where Season 1 left off. In Season 2, players will be dealing with the repercussions of the finale in Season 1.

I can tell you that it uses a lot of the same mechanics that you’ll find in Pandemic. If you’ve ever played Pandemic you’ll recognize a lot of gameplay options. If you haven’t, you need to.

  • Move around a board.
  • Deal with actions.
  • Don’t let things get out of control.

It’s different, though. It feels like a completely different game. The thematic elements have evolved with the story and to me, it felt like a completely different game.

What We Liked

If you enjoyed Season 1 then Season 2 is the perfect addition to your collection. The mechanics and gameplay are very similar to previous editions, but the storyline and overall theme advance beyond season 1 and create a whole new adventure. 

What Could Be Better

Season 2 offers less structure to the overall development of the storyline. While this gives players more autonomy to shape their own destiny it can also mean some of the months lack any proper development. 

I’ll leave it at that so as not to spoil it for anyone. Legacy games are significant time commitments with complex storylines and surprises. Spoilers are a buzzkill. So, play Pandemic Season 1, and if you loved it and had a blast, Season 2 will not disappoint.

Pandemic: Legacy - Season 2 (Yellow)
$89.99 $47.99

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01/27/2023 02:47 am GMT

Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven RPG Board Game

Players: 1-4
Playing time: 60-120 minutes

The quintessential dungeon-crawler/RPG is also a Legacy game. It was also the first game to dethrone Pandemic Legacy from the #1 spot on BGG’s top-rated games list. That alone raises some eyebrows and makes it worth checking out.

Gloomhaven’s lore, background, gameplay, story, and box are all MASSIVE. It’s seriously a giant box jammed full of tiles, minis, stats, booklets, and maps.

“But where are the Legacy elements?”, you might ask.

Over the course of one campaign, you’ll probably only see ¾ of the content available. Depending upon actions taking during the missions, the players will actually be able to affect the world of Gloomhaven, in essence creating their own map-customized world. The game will adapt to the choices you make in-game.

The difference between Gloomhaven and other legacy games is that it’s not really designed to be destroyed and the alterations to the base game come in the form of stickers on a map. There are aftermarket removable stickers that can be purchased separately to “reset” the legacy system.

What We Liked

Although Gloomhaven is a legacy game, you don’t need to destroy any of the pieces permanently. This means once you’ve had a run-through of Gloomhaven you can just start again. 

What Could Be Better

Gloomhaven is a big game, both in terms of storyline and box size. Of course with a legacy game, we expect a sprawling experience. But it can be a lot to keep on top of. There are so many pieces and setup can take a long time. 

If you’re looking to dabble into Legacy games and still aren’t 100% on board with the idea of tearing up cards, I highly suggest starting with Gloomhaven.

You’ll get a ridiculous amount of content in one box, and to top it off, the “permanent” decisions can easily be reset if you decide to play it again, or with another group of players.

Gloomhaven
$165.00 $105.98

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01/25/2023 09:48 am GMT

The King’s Dilemma

Players: 3-5
Playing time: 45-60 minutes

While being a king certainly has its perks, to be a truly great king requires a level of aptitude that is beyond most mortals. While becoming king is largely a hereditary fluke, the decisions a king makes will resonate through the ages.

In The King’s Dilemma, players take charge of a royal house and sit on the king’s council. There are 12 houses in total and each game represents the reign of a king. Over the generations, players scheme and plot in order to maneuver their own house into a position of power while also making decisions for the greater good of the kingdom. 

In the King’s Dilemma, decisions matter. But they are not easy. Players negotiate with each other, trying to convince others that their solution to the dilemma is best for the kingdom. But there is constant backstabbing and treachery. The council must vote on the best decision for the kingdom while also trying to achieve the best outcome for their house. 

Given that the King’s Dilemma is a legacy game, decisions have consequences. The decisions that seem to benefit a house at that moment can have disastrous outcomes later in the game. 

What We Liked

The player interaction in The King’s Dilemma is excellent. Every turn involves trying to influence other players through a combination of flattery, bribery, and treachery. This makes for a lot of interactive fun.

What Could Be Better

Though you can play the game with 3 players, you really need all 5 players to fully experience the game. With fewer players, it’s less immersive and less engaging. 

The King's Dilemma
$89.99 $44.75

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01/27/2023 05:00 am GMT

Charterstone

Charterstone Legacy Board Game

Players: 1-6
Playing time: 45-75 minutes

Charterstone is probably one of the most unique entries to the Legacy genre.

The makers of Charterstone decided that instead of the normal themes for a Legacy game, players will be building a town…

According to their own promo:

“The prosperous Kingdom of Greengully, ruled for centuries by the Forever King, has issued a decree to its citizens to colonize the vast lands beyond its borders. In an effort to start a new village, the Forever King has selected six citizens for the task, each of whom has a unique set of skills they use to build their charter.”

Ignoring the autocratic and imperialist undertones, this game is absolutely gorgeous with whimsical artwork and clean components. It’s probably one of the prettier games I’ve ever seen.

Everything about this game screams: pretty. The box artwork, the clean white lines, the cute fluffy clouds, and the little meeple people.

It’s such a shame that it’s a legacy game and has a limited number of playthroughs… oh, wait!

In Charterstone, you really are building a little town and when you’re done with it, you have a fully-functioning (customized) worker placement game. One of the reasons the designers made everything look so pretty is that it’s going to be around for a while. You can continue to play Charterstone as a standalone board game forever.

It’s a bit of the best of both worlds.

What We Liked

Over the span of 12 games, the complexity slowly ratchets up. In the beginning, the rules are simple, but each game introduces new rules and players need to adapt and evolve their strategy to stay ahead. 

What Could Be Better

While the gameplay is really strong, the overall storyline isn’t that compelling. For a legacy game, this matters. One of the best parts of legacy games is the evolution of an engaging narrative over time and Charterstone doesn’t quite achieve that.

Charterstone
$70.00 $48.96

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01/30/2023 02:30 am GMT

Betrayal Legacy

Betrayal Legacy Board Game

Players: 3-5
Playing time: 45-90 minutes

I’m a huge fan of the Betrayal series, terrible stat sliders, and all. Betrayal Legacy takes all of the campy-ness of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, murders Shaggy, and ten years later his little brother comes out looking for clues to his disappearance, metaphorically speaking, of course.

Betrayal Legacy is built upon the same system as Betrayal at House on the Hill. The legacy elements are pretty fun. Items used by certain characters can become heirlooms. Any player can use an item but if it’s passed down through a family line, that particular character can use it better.

There can still be a lot of ambiguous rules and unclear directions, however. It’s not necessarily hard to figure out but if you aren’t reading carefully, you’re going to be missing a lot of important events.

The most important thing to remember: READ EVERYTHING CAREFULLY.

“Journey before destination.” – Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

It’s all about the journey here. Take your time, read through every detail, and you’ll have a much more exciting experience. Legacy games are all about the story you build anyway, and with Betrayal, it is 100% necessary to make sure you understand ALL of the rules before moving on.

What We Liked

Betrayal Legacy is perfect for those who love roleplay. Though items can be used by any player, if it becomes a family heirloom, that descendant can gain additional benefits from the item. This makes for great storytelling. 

What Could Be Better

The gameplay is great but Betrayal is let down by the quality of the figures. They are basically shapeless and featureless. This is quite disappointing because you spend a lot of time with these figures. 

If you absolutely hated Betrayal or just weren’t a fan, I highly suggest steering clear of the Legacy version. It’s mostly the same game, but a much more customized, story-driven experience.

Betrayal Legacy
$260.00

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01/27/2023 09:30 pm GMT

First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet

First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet Legacy Board Game

Players: 1-4
Playing time: 60-90 minutes

My first experience with First Martians was very similar to my first experience with the game Dark Souls. I had a vague understanding of the rules (or so I thought) and I died.

Round 2: I lived a little longer. Then I died.
Round 3: What the hell is this card for? I died.

Round ???: Why can I not stop playing?

First Martians isn’t the most accessible game in the world but it is one of the most rewarding. It’s hardcore science fiction. You’re not going to encounter monsters or green women in bikinis but you’ll need to figure out how to delegate power, ensure everyone has oxygen, and worry about the unforgiving landscape of Mars.

It’s not going to be easy and the rules don’t necessarily hand-hold you through the game. It’s going to be a wild ride.

It’s built on the same engine as Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island, so if you’re familiar with that one, you’ll understand that this is designed to be a difficult game.

For the pure value of what you get in the box, it’s very hard to beat First Martians. It comes with two full campaigns. One is standard board game fare and is designed to be replayable, just like any other board game.

The second campaign, however, is just as large and is a Legacy Campaign. Instead of releasing a normal version and then re-releasing a legacy version, the designers made the choice to jam everything into one box.

This completely eliminates the major drawback of legacy games. You’re basically getting two games in one box.

What We Liked

First Martians is two games in one. You can either play the replayable version or the legacy version. This makes First Martians very inclusive because you can either play with a group of committed players or have a one-off casual game.

What Could Be Better

First Martians is a challenging game where mistakes are punished severely. You can’t really play it unless you fully understand it. So, learning the rules in detail is a must. 

Is this for everyone?

No.

First Martians is highly-technical and hard science. It’s very resource management-heavy and it’s extremely unforgiving. It’s not going to be for the casual gamer but it’s a fantastic game… once you get to the point where you understand all of the rules and the intricacies of the game.

Expect to get lost a few times and die and whatever you do, do not play the legacy version until you have a complete understanding of the game.

First Martians
$29.95 $28.29

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01/30/2023 12:00 am GMT

Rise of Queensdale

Rise of Queensdale Legacy Board Game

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 45-60 minutes

The King has proclaimed that he wants a new castle, fit for a Queen. Any and all are welcome to try their hand at castle-building but only the most successful builder will receive fame and glory.

Rise of Queensdale is a sleepy worker placement game that slowly builds up as you play. It’s often been referred to as an evolution game instead of a legacy game, due to the fact that there really isn’t a big overarching story and it’s an evolution of gameplay, as opposed to forging a new path.

Rise of Queensdale uses customized dice as a part of its legacy system. There’s much more to the game than that, but what actions you’ll be able to perform revolve primarily around these dice. As you play the game, you’ll be able to customize each side of the dice giving you different abilities from your opponents.

Another interesting facet of the game is that there are some resources that can be kept from one game to the next. During the course of one round, you could perform very poorly but set yourself up with a major advantage for the next game, which is a characteristic I haven’t seen too often.

Kendra grew up playing Ravensburger games. Ravensburger is a German company that makes very clean board games, usually educational and designed for children.

What We Liked

Rise of Queensdale is a fast-paced legacy game. That’s not to say you’ll finish an entire campaign quickly, but each game within the campaign feels pacy and punchy. This means you can play back-to-back games in a single session. 

What Could Be Better

Although the components are good overall, it has to be noted that some of them don’t fit together or come apart that easily. This isn’t a game changer, but trying to prise apart components can take away from the overall flow of the game. 

I’m a bit partial to the company myself and I think they’ve done an excellent job with Rise of Queensdale. It’s not story-heavy or jam-packed with features and crazy artwork but it is a very solidly-made game that’s both strategic and challenging.

The Rise of Queensdale
$82.99 $69.99

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01/29/2023 11:30 pm GMT

Aeon’s End Legacy

Aeon's End Legacy Board Game

Players: 1-4
Playing time: 45-90 minutes

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; / Or close the wall up with our English dead.” – William Shakespeare, Henry V

An unknown breach between worlds has opened up and the Nameless monstrous hordes are pouring through.

There is hope.

The power that opened the breach can be repurposed. In the correct hands, it can be molded into magic and weapons which can be used to push back the tide of horrors. Humanity has been rebuffed to single bastion: the underground city of Gravehold.

Only the Breach Mages remain as humanity’s last hope for salvation.

If you couldn’t tell, I really like the story fluff in Aeon’s End. As far as gameplay goes, I had a lot of fun. Aeon’s End, at its core, is a weird mashup between dungeon-crawler and deck-builder card game. Players work together to defeat a series of monsters and draft cards to enhance their abilities.

It’s not going to be like Dominion where you can simply chain your entire deck into a massive combo, so you’ll have to be very careful with what goes into your deck.

Players control a Breach Mage that powers up and evolves as the game continues. It works very well with the Legacy system as well. Players start out as novice Mages and in the beginning, the rules will be fairly simple and straightforward.

As the story progresses, complexity is gradually introduced into the rules, making it very accessible for beginners.

If you’ve played Aeon’s End Legacy and still can’t get enough, Indie built a separate reset pack that’s (unfortunately) sold separately but still less than half the price of the base game. It’s always nice to be able to replay a campaign.

What We Liked

To win in Aeon’s End, players need to cooperate. There are tons of ways to do this and it feels really rewarding. Whether it’s healing another player or helping them attack, teamwork and camaraderie are at the very center of the game. 

What Could Be Better

There is an element of randomness that some players will dislike. The turn order can have a big influence on the outcome of events and this can be pretty frustrating. 

Curious about the original Aeon’s End before you attempt the legacy version? Check out our full review of Aeon’s End here.

Aeon's End: Legacy
$99.99 $85.05

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01/29/2023 11:30 pm GMT

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy Board Game

Players: 8-16
Playing time: 60 minutes

How the heck do you turn a bluffing game into a Legacy game? I was honestly baffled at this when I first heard about it.

I do really enjoy social deduction games though… so let’s take a look.

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy is broken into 5 chapters and each chapter consists of 3 different games. The individual games take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how large a group you have.

It is Werewolf, so having a player count on the higher end is going to enhance the experience much more than if you had the minimum number of players.

So what is the legacy system here all about?

Every player belongs to a different family/faction and as the story progresses, different aspects and abilities are unlocked by different groups. To top it all off, characters’ actions during a game affect what happens in the next game.

The game starts out in a small New England village in 1666 and the final chapter ends the game in 1777. So each subsequent game advances the timeline forward. You won’t be playing the same characters in each game exactly, but you’ll be from the same bloodline/family.

Speaking of bloodlines, the village starts out with only a few werewolves, but the further along you go (and depending upon what you do in previous games) there may be some more werewolves popping up.

The results of each game are recorded within a leatherbound journal that comes with the game. When the entire Ultimate Werewolf Legacy campaign is complete, you’ll have a really cool souvenir detailing all of the events throughout the game.

The components and production value here were surprisingly amazing and I was a little blown away, considering it’s a card game.

My initial thought when I first saw this was, “This one is for sure a cash grab.”

However, after I saw how it played I really wanted to try it.

Unlike some of the other games on this list, there is a replay pack sold separately that comes with an entirely new leatherbound journal and replacement cards for the ones you may have destroyed or written on, and… is about half the cost of the base game.

What We Liked

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy is a great game for a big group of players who love Werewolf. Between 9 and 16 players can join in so if you have a big group of committed players who are familiar with Werewolf, this game is perfect. 

What Could Be Better

Simply put, finding 9-16 committed players can be difficult. Although you can substitute players in and out, it’s better if you don’t. So, unless you have a gang of seriously committed gamers, Ultimate Werewolf Legacy can be hard to play all the way through. 

Final Thoughts

I’m intrigued. I don’t think I would purchase it just for myself. If I had a large enough group of friends interested, I would definitely chip in $5/person and throw a werewolf party.

It looks like a lot of fun and the idea that at the end you have a very interesting handwritten account of the game makes it a much cooler souvenir than just a used-up board.

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy
$58.74

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01/29/2023 11:04 pm GMT

Seafall

Seafall Legacy Board Game

Players: 3-5
Playing time: 120-180 minutes

Seafall is a game that you either love or hate. If you’ve heard anything about this one at all, it was super-hyped during the Kickstarter, then widely ridiculed, then hyped again, and then kind of disappeared into a niche category. You get the idea.

Overall, it’s an interesting game and because of the rollercoaster ride of popularity, you can actually find it significantly cheaper than most legacy games (around $25) and at that price, it’s without a doubt worth checking out.

It’s built around the concept of 4X games.

  • Explore
  • Expand
  • Exploit
  • Exterminate

As you start out, each player has 1 ship and there is 1 island. It’s a simple trading game at first, but as the world expands and more islands and ships are added, the rules become more complex and things start to shift.

Why all of the contention?

The game is a little complicated. The rules aren’t badly written but there’s a lot to keep track of. Then as you progress, the game adds more rules and sometimes those rules override other rules, and then you get into fistfights.

There’s also an ever-shifting element to the board. By the time it gets to your turn, the face of the board may have changed and all of the actions available could be completely different. As you may have figured out, this translates into long wait times as players reevaluate the board on their turn before committing to any actions.

Finally, there are the overall objectives. The game creates a false sense of time and empire-building. Each subsequent game requires players to gather more victory points than the last, but each game has objectives that carry over from game to game and they give a boatload of points.

It’s pretty common that someone will win suddenly after completing an objective or two.

Now that all of the negative stuff is out of the way, let’s take a look at the other side. Seafall is a very pretty game and it is a lot of fun. The strategy on offer is almost mind-boggling at times while exploring new islands and progressing the storyline is a ton of fun. Going from a single ship to a powerful fleet is a very cool touch.

What We Liked

The legacy aspect of Seafall is magnificent. Players can name and customize everything. The roleplaying aspect is also deeply immersive. 

What Could Be Better

Seafall has a lot of downtime for players. For those who are likely to suffer from analysis paralysis, Seafall can be debilitating. Large amounts of time can be spent waiting for players to finally decide on a course of action.

If I had bought this as a Kickstarter backer for full retail, I’d be okay with it, but if I got it for $25 after the hype has died down I’d be absolutely ecstatic. It’s not the most technically-sound game in the world, but it’s still a hell of an adventure and a lot of fun to play.

SeaFall
$23.94

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01/30/2023 02:30 am GMT

Shadowrun: Crossfire

Shadowrun: Crossfire Single Player Board Game

Players: 1-4
Playing time: 30-60 minutes

Shadowrun is a fascinating world. It started with humble beginnings as a Pen & Paper RPG and has branched out into a sprawling conglomeration of products. My first experience was actually the SNES game (which is still fun to play).

The main premise is in 2011 (it’s an old series), magic returns to the world. The human genetic code has been unlocked after remaining dormant and magical creatures begin to return as well. It’s all about how a modern technological world deals with the return of magic and… the consequences are not good.

Shadowrun: Crossfire is a cooperative deck-building game that also plays rather well as a solo game.

In Crossfire, players take on the role of a Shadowrunner, a hired mercenary that operates on the fringes of society.

Throughout the game, players will be building their decks with strategies, equipment, spells, and whatever else they can muster for the run.

A Legacy-Esque Cooperative Board Game

Shadowrun: Crossfire barely qualifies as a Legacy game. The farthest I would go would be to say that it has a Legacy-Esque mechanic built into it.

As you play Crossfire, each individual character earns Karma (exp points). When enough has been accumulated, that character can be upgraded with new abilities making them much deadlier.

The longer you play as a character, the stronger they’re going to be. It’s a very neat RPG element that’s thrown in. The abilities are tracked by stickers placed directly on the character’s sheet.

The reason I say that it’s more of a Legacy-Esque mechanic as opposed to a legacy game is that that is the only persistent aspect from game to game. To make it even better, the guys and gals at Catalyst Game Labs included a ton of ability stickers.

You could theoretically play through, get bored, rip off the stickers, play through again, and you’d probably still have enough stickers. If you’re really worried about sticking things permanently to game components, you could always attach it to an index card for your character.

What We Liked

Shadowrun: Crossfire is a legacy-lite game. It includes aspects of a legacy game without fully committing players to a months-long epic. This makes it a great gateway game into the legacy genre. 

What Could Be Better

Shadowrun doesn’t really work with fewer players. It makes the game too unbalanced. If possible, play with four players as this makes the game much more fun, cooperative and balanced. 

Despite the lack of legacy elements in the game, Shadowrun: Crossfire is a very cool deck-builder that does double duty as an excellent solo game. If you want to get a taste of Legacy games without actually destroying anything, then this is probably a good place to start.

Shadowrun: Crossfire

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Machi Koro Legacy

Machi Koro Legacy Board Game

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30-45 minutes

Machi Koro is a very cute city-building dice game. Players use dice to gain resources and race to build landmarks in their own sleepy little town.

It’s a very pretty gateway game that is easy to pick up and start rolling some dice. If you’re into Japanese-Esque artwork and stylings you’ll probably be naturally drawn to this box at your local game shop.

It’s simple, fast, and easy to learn.

The legacy version of Machi Koro is one of the newer Legacy games to hit the scene. It takes a lot of the original gameplay, but as with all Legacy games, it gives weight to the decisions you make throughout the game. What is built and who wins all has an impact on subsequent games.

What I thought was particularly cute was that every player names their city and you can write it in big bold letters at the top. That may give rise to a lot of weird new cities but it’s all in good fun.

This follows the same path as Charterstone, in that once the legacy elements are completed, you’re still left with a fully functional game of Machi Koro. It’s just been personalized by the players.

What We Liked

Machi Koro is just great fun. The mechanics are easy to learn, the gameplay is pacy, and the aesthetics are great. This makes it a great gateway game into the legacy genre. 

What Could Be Better

What is a blessing can also be a curse. The ease with which players can learn this game means there is little complexity. Strategy is quite limited so once you’ve played through it a few times it can feel repetitive. 

Machi Koro Legacy

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Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated & Expansion
Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated and Upper Management Expansion

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 90-120 minutes

Clank! Legacy takes the fun jaunt through a dragon-infested dungeon, and raises the stakes by …incorporating? Clank! takes their usual deck-building mechanics and then adds in legacy elements as players run and influence their own dungeon-delving corporation.

If you’re a fan of Clank, you’ll definitely be right at home with the core mechanics, but as your adventurers continue up (or down) the corporate dungeon ladder, you’ll find some fun and nasty surprises waiting for the party.

The artwork and gameplay were extremely easy to read and looks to be geared toward bringing younger kids to the gaming table with art and story-driven gameplay.

That’s not to say it’s been dumbed down. Quite the opposite. One of the biggest strengths of Clank Legacy is that they manage to target younger players while still putting out an incredible game that doesn’t talk down to its players.

What We Liked

One of the biggest strengths of Clank! Legacy is that they manage to target younger players while still putting out an incredible game that doesn’t talk down to its players.

What Could Be Better

Clank! Legacy is not a cheap game. Given that legacy games have limited replayability before you need to replace them, you might want to think twice before you take that financial hit.

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

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Centauri Saga: Abandoned

Players: 1-4
Playing time: 60-90 minutes

Centauri Saga: Abandoned is set in a dystopian future where tyranny has taken over the solar system. A group of dissidents have had enough and abscond to a far-flung star to escape from the authoritarian hellscape of their home system.

However, they are not alone. On arrival, they find an ancient human civilization who are hellbent on destroying Earth. The only thing standing in the way of the Earth’s demise is the very outcasts who escaped it in the first place. 

In this legacy expansion of Centauri Saga players take the role of these exiles and try to save the earth with nothing more than their wits and teamwork. There are 10 missions to complete, and a captain’s log helps build out the overall story.

Cooperation is essential to achieve victory. If you have played the original, Abandoned adds new mechanics and new stories while also keeping elements that made the original so popular. 

What We Liked

The overall theme is immersive and exciting. Player interaction is engaging as cooperation is key to victory. It builds on the original and gives players long-term goals to work towards. 

What Could Be Better

There are a lot of components, stickers, and rules to keep track of throughout. Given that players of this game will likely be fans of the original and not necessarily fans of legacy games, this is something to bear in mind.

Centauri Saga: Abandoned Expansion (Legacy)

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My City

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30 minutes

For people who like the idea of legacy games but aren’t really sure if they’re up for the commitment, it can be hard to know where to begin. Some legacy games are so vast and epic in scope that the casual gamer will lose interest long before the end game.

But luckily it’s not an all-or-nothing situation. Some games offer a gateway into more complex, more expansive legacy games. Or, they offer the opportunity to dabble and experience legacy-lite mechanics. My City is one such game.

The premise is very simple: You are a city developer attempting to develop the best city. Other players are trying to do much the same. Whoever develops the best city wins the game. The game is played over 8 chapters with three episodes per chapter.

If you play your cards right, this will take your city from a pre-industrial backwater to an industrial powerhouse. Games are quick, and episodes can be completed in about 15 minutes. The overall rules and mechanics are exceedingly easy to grasp so basically anyone can pick this game up and have a good time. 

What We Liked

My City is such an accessible game. This is true for board games in general, and also for legacy games. It provides an excellent gateway into more complex legacy games.

What Could Be Better

Some games can be simple to understand but offer more in the way of strategy and complexity. My City just never feels that strategic or complex. There never really seem to be any major decisions to make that require that much thinking.

My City
$34.95

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01/25/2023 10:03 am GMT

Dragonfire

Dragonfire Board Game

Players: 2-6
Playing time: 60-90 minutes

Let’s just consider all the elements of Dragonfire for a moment. It’s a cooperative deck-building legacy game set in the world of Dungeons and Dragons. What a combination! Ever since I was a kid I have loved Dungeons and Dragons. I love legacy games, deck-building, and cooperatives. On paper, this is a match made in heaven. 

So, thematically it’s great. But how does Dragonfire play? Well, a game can include 6 people and last up to 90 minutes. Players choose an adventure, with each adventure including different setups.

Each adventure includes a backstory that helps you get into character. Throughout the adventure, players need to work together to overcome all kinds of encounters and develop their characters. 

Dragonfire isn’t easy and teamwork is essential. It’s highly rewarding, as players need to work together to solve each encounter and develop and customize their characters. 

What We Liked

The overall theme is excellent and there’s a huge amount of content in this game. There are also a lot of expansions, so players can continuously experience new storylines, characters, and themes.

What Could Be Better

Character development can be a bit slow. It costs a hefty amount of XP to upgrade your character and you can feel a little frustrated as you wait until you’ve earned enough XP to purchase an upgrade.

Dragonfire
$59.00

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01/29/2023 11:00 am GMT

Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 45-90 minutes

Vampire: the Masquerade as a franchise has been around since the early 90s and spawned a number of board games and video games. Heritage marks its foray into legacy gaming. So, the overall theme is pretty predictable: Vampires. 

But what can players expect from the gameplay itself? Well, first of all, Heritage can be played as a standalone singular game. This is fine, but the game really comes into its own as a legacy game. Players begin in the 14th century clanless and powerless. Over the course of 700 years, players aim to grow their clans and earn prestige. 

Heritage starts small, but as the game advances and clans expand, it takes on a sprawling nature covering 700 years of vampire bloodlines and lore. Over 21 games an interwoven tale of vampire history and heritage will emerge. 

What We Liked

Heritage is a character-focused experience that really develops each vampire over the course of 21 games. Character building is integral to the experience. 

What Could Be Better

Some of the language and definitions in the game are basically jargon so previous experience with the world of The Masquerade will help you a lot. 

Vampire: The Masquerade - Heritage
$89.99

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Zombie Kidz Evolution

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 5-15 minutes
Ages: 7+

Zombie Kidz Evolution was billed as the first legacy game suitable for children. It’s essentially a sequel to Zombie Kidz, which itself was billed as a suitable zombie game for kids. So, what’s advertised is basically a legacy zombie game that kids can understand and enjoy without being overwhelmed or terrified. 

This is no mean feat. The artwork helps to create a slightly creepy atmosphere that allows children to imagine they are taking on the zombie hordes. However, it is cartoony enough that they won’t be kept all night with nightmares. 

The gameplay itself is very fast-paced and very easy to understand. The aim of the game is to stop the zombies from entering the school. The legacy component takes the form of 13 envelopes, which keep the game moving forward. For kids, opening up the envelopes means there is always a strong sense of anticipation. 

What We Liked

In Zombies Kidz Evolution, there is a strong sense of momentum. Games don’t take long, envelopes are full of surprises, and kids want to keep playing one more game to see what happens next. 

What Could Be Better

There is a huge amount of luck involved. If anyone in the family is likely to be upset by losing due to bad luck, the game can be frustrating. 

Zombie Kidz Evolution
$24.99

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01/26/2023 09:00 pm GMT

Zombie Teenz Evolution

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 15-25 minutes
Ages: 8+

In the sequel to Zombie Kids Evolution the zombies have returned and once again need to be vanquished. Similar to its predecessor it’s a cooperative legacy game whereby teamwork will repel the oncoming hordes of zombies

There are, however, some key differences in terms of setting and strategy. Rather than taking place in a school, Zombie Teenz Evolution takes place in an urban square. Players aim to move supplies from the edge of the board to the center while also fighting the zombies back. 

The game includes new and improved envelopes with interesting developments and mechanics. To open an envelope players need to earn progress stickers. This helps motivate children to keep playing. There is also a narrative element that immerses players within the game. 

What We Liked

Zombie Teenz Evolution includes a lot of updates to its predecessor while keeping the elements that made it great. As a sequel, this feels fresh and definitely not just a filler that is cashing in on a franchise. 

What Could Be Better

As a legacy game, it is very short. That might be expected, of course, considering it’s a legacy game targeted toward kids. However, once you’ve played through and opened all the envelopes it loses its replayability fairly immediately.

Zombie Teenz Evolution
$27.99 $24.99

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01/30/2023 01:00 pm GMT

Wrap-Up

So…

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Why would I buy a board game that has a limited shelf life?

There’s no getting around it that once a Legacy game is completed (for the most part), it’s done. It’s difficult to reset and it’s expensive.

Just to be clear, I have purchased several Legacy games using my own hard-earned money (on a teacher’s salary in the US) and I didn’t regret any of them.

One of my favorite aspects of board games is that it’s an inherently social activity and I tend to really enjoy games with a highly-thematic flair. Walking away from a table with a story instead of just a score is a huge thrill for me.

Legacy games offer a thematic story above and beyond what a normal board game can offer. It goes from a pre-generated world into one that you actually affect. It’s the same phenomenon that made RPG games of all types popular.

You’re no longer a faceless character running around completing quests. Instead, you’re playing a character that you’ve guided through trials and tribulations and carefully protected. The emotional attachment makes the game real and to top it all off, your entire gaming group is feeling the same way.

Legacy games can be pricey but for the cost, you’re getting an incredible experience.

Let’s look at Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.

This was the first Legacy game that I bought from Barnes and Noble for $70 (Yes, Barnes and Noble still exists). I played the entire campaign over the course of 3 months with Kendra and her mom.

We only lost 2 games, so the entire campaign took us 14 games.
That’s $5 per 1 – 1.5 hours of game time.
For 3 players that’s a little over $1.50 a game for an hour of entertainment.

Math FTW! I don’t know about you, but I can’t go to the movies for $1.50. When we were playing through Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, we talked about it constantly and we looked forward to playing through the next round every weekend. It was incredible and I absolutely have no regrets about the purchase.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have a group that is ready to go and commit to a weekly schedule for a Legacy game, there’s nothing saying that one person has to front the whole price by the game. Have everyone pitch in.

With a regular game, the owner can keep it and continue to play it with other groups, so it makes sense if they’re buying it for themselves. If you’re looking at Legacy games, chances are you already have a group of dedicated players. There’s no reason that one person has to shoulder the cost for everyone.

These are just my thoughts on pricing. Some people won’t touch one of these games on principle alone and many people think it’s a cash grab from the board gaming industry to pump out the Legacy system to “force” players to rebuy games.

All I can say is “maybe”. There very well could be a flood of new Legacy board games pumped out quickly to get players to buy them. My personal opinion is that hasn’t happened yet and every game I’ve seen so far has been a well-thought-out product.

What do you think about our picks for the best legacy board games? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the genre as well as your favorite board games!

SHARING IS CARING

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12 Responses

    1. Hey Dibbler, Sorry to hear you didn’t have a great experience on the GameCows site. The ads are super annoying and it was just something we were trying out. Honestly, they were getting on my nerves too and I disabled them after I saw your comment. Thanks for putting the final nail in that coffin.

      Was there anything else, in particular, you didn’t like about our site? We’re working hard to be a useful resource for boardgamers and would welcome any feedback so we could improve. Thanks for your message and we hope you do come back. All best, Kendra

  1. Thanks for this article! I am having a hard time narrowing down what board games to get with a £100 voucher and this is one of the few websites I’ve read that has held my attention and been useful rather than just overwhelming me with more games and info and confusing me more!

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading Maddie!

      I’m so happy we were able to help! Good luck with your choice. I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time with whichever game you choose. Any idea what you were leaning towards?

      Happy Holidays!
      -Bryan

  2. Have you tried Clank! Legacy?
    We’re playing through it and we’re having a ball!
    I was surprised not to see it on this list…

    1. Good catch. I don’t think it had released at the time. We’re going to try and get our hands on a copy soon, and then we’ll add it to the list. Glad you’re enjoying it. It looks like a blast.

      Cheers,
      Bryan

  3. I also was surprised not to see Clank Legacy on here but I’m looking forward to reading your opinion of it when you’ve had a chance to give it a go! My boys and I are halfway through it and are having a BLAST!!! It’s like nothing we’ve ever played. One is off to college though and I was reading your great article to find another legacy game to play with the one who is staying home. Do you have an opinion on which game(s) would be the most fun for 2 players? I’m a 51 year old mom with a 19 year old at home temporarily. My husband won’t play with us!!

    1. Hi Mimi,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I know it’s a shame I haven’t played it yet. I’m glad you’re having fun with it.

      If you’re interested I did write 2 articles on 2-player games.

      https://gamecows.com/best-2-player-board-games-for-adults/
      These are mainly heavier games on this list. They’re all age-appropriate, but I chose games that leaned toward an adult audience. Your 19-year-old will have no problems here.

      https://gamecows.com/best-2-player-board-games/T
      This one is our generic list of 2-player games.

      https://gamecows.com/best-2-player-card-games/
      Finally, we have all our favorite 2-player card games here.

      Take a look at Ascension. It’s #20 on the generic list here.

      Cheers. Let me know what you end up playing.
      -Bryan

  4. Love this article! Thanks for putting it together. Very informative and has got me excited to try some new legacy games. We’ve played through Pandemic Season 1, Aeon’s End, and are 2/3rds through Risk and have loved all of it. Pandemic Season 0 is next in line! Then perhaps Gloomhaven.

    Feels like Catan Legacy should be a thing.

    Thanks again for this great article! Happy gaming!

    1. Hey Don,

      Glad you enjoyed the article. Catan Legacy should definitely be a thing. I feel as if you could definitely customize different hex spaces. Balancing may be wonky though without having some elements from the expansions thrown in.

      As a legacy veteran, I do have a question for you. How do you and your game group feel about the increased cost of a legacy game with a limited shelf life? I’ve gotten a few friends to throw down for a game together, but most aren’t simply willing to buy it and I end buying them because I’m dying to play. Just curious how you approach it.

      Cheers & Happy Gaming,
      Bryan

  5. For what they provide I am ok with the higher cost. Usually I buy the game or its gifted to me.. We can tell a TON of work was put into these games. We only get to play about once a week so we aren’t burning through them very fast anyways. Being left with a usable game afterwords is great but that wouldn’t keep me from buying a game if it wasn’t available.

  6. Thanks for your work on this site. I found this article very helpful as I hunt for a game for my daughter and her crowd of 6-8 year olds. They are still playing lighter fare like Haba games, but have recently been getting more into more complex stuff like light RPGs, Golem, Everdell and My Little Scythe.

    We have Pandemic Season One, but have been avoiding it due to the actual Pandemic which hit our community extremely hard. I think I might invest in Machi Koro legacy thanks to your insight.

    Oh, and I recognize the huge amount of labor you all have done on the site. Labor deserves to be praised and compensated, so if ads are what it takes, I’m happy to wade through to make sure you are rewarded for your work.

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Pandemic: Legacy – Season 1 (Blue)
$69.99 $64.80

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01/27/2023 02:37 am GMT