Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 Board Game Review

You’ve played the original Pandemic (if you haven’t, stop right here and go and do so now). 

You also loved the original Pandemic (if you didn’t, stop right here and go and take a long hard look at yourself).

Now imagine: a game of Pandemic where you don’t wipe the slate clean at the end of the game. Where your crusading successes and crushing failures aren’t forgotten. Pandemic where the decisions you make will last forever…

Don’t worry, you can proceed with peace of mind. There are NO SPOILERS AHEAD!

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
  • The epic follow up to the critically acclaimed Pandemic Legacy:...
  • Presents a unique spin on the classic Pandemic formula, with...
  • Embark on a Globe spanning struggle for the survival of humanity...

Brief Overview of Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 Board Game

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 is the second installment of the Pandemic Legacy series. This time, a plague has ravaged the world of most of its population and your team of between two and four medical experts must save what’s left of humanity.

Unlike the original Pandemic, each game you play is one episode in a larger campaign towards victory. The decisions you make permanently affect the rules and the physical game components. Throughout the campaign, you will find yourself writing on the board, putting stickers on your characters, tearing up cards, and completely rewriting the rulebook.

With the same card management and co-operative gameplay, it will feel familiar to its older brother. However, it is otherwise a different game as players battle to save what remains of the human race across 12-24 separate games (depending on how well you do).

Versions & Expansions

Alongside the original game of Pandemic and its many expansions, Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 sits as part of a legacy trilogy. The trilogy includes:

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

The first installment is the most similar to the original, using largely the same map and mechanics. You are then given specific objectives to achieve each game, alongside staying on top of the spreading diseases. As the story unfolds, new rules and components are introduced.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
  • For 2-4 Players
  • 60 minute playing time
  • Shape the world, the characters, and even the diseases

Pandemic Legacy: Season 0

Set before the previous two episodes, there’s still not a whole lot known about the yet-to-be-released Pandemic Legacy: Season 0. Its release has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but early rumors suggest it could be set in the Cold War.

Unboxing Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Unboxing Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Obviously, I can’t tell you a lot about what comes in the box. But what I say is that you’ll get:

  • 10 character cards
  • 4 pawns
  • 53 player cards
  • 8 reference cards
  • 82 Legacy cards
  • 27 infection cards
  • 4 haven worker cards
  • 2 prologue cards
  • 6 Dossiers
  • 14 markers/tokens
  • 44 cubes
  • 3 tracking  tokens
  • 2 sticker sheets
  •  8 numbered packages
  • 1 board

The board will come as a big shock to most Pandemic players. Rather than a full world map, most of it is shrouded in complete darkness. All you can see is the Atlantic Ocean, home to your three floating ‘havens’, along with a sliver of coast on the surrounding continents. The rest is there for you to explore!

You also get a bunch of sticker sheets. Stickers play a part in developing the game and most of them are hidden at this point. From new map tiles on the game board to rules you add to the rulebook, everything could be changed,.

The best bit, though, is the character cards. These start off totally blank, allowing you to choose all the specifics about each character, from the role they play to their appearance and home town. Importantly, you can even name them however you like.

Otherwise, there are a bunch of boxes that contain a lot of secret material. And here, I can’t stress this enough, the most important thing to remember when playing a legacy game is not to open anything until you’re told. The game will evolve with the story, which is a key part of the fun, so be patient.

How to Play Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

How to Play Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

The Campaign

Pandemic Legacy takes place over the course of a year, with each month being one game. Your aims will evolve each month, but ultimately you will be spending your time delivering supplies to the remaining cities and managing the continued spread of the plague.

The story evolves through the legacy deck, which dictates your objectives and other changes to the game.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I’ll try to explain the basic rules of your first game. Although these may change as the year goes by… 

Setting up

To begin, infect the board by placing the plague cubes in their specified locations. Then deal city cards to all players before building the player deck, made up of city cards, event cards, and five epidemic cards. 

Next, read the legacy deck to learn your objectives for the month and choose your characters, placing their pawns at their home haven. In the first game, you’ll get to create them from scratch!

Taking Turns

Turns work a lot like they did in the original Pandemic, but with one extra step:

  1. Check exposure 

If your pawn is in a city with a plague cube, deal one damage.

  1. Take four actions

You can now take any combination of available actions. These include:

  • Move – either go directly to an adjacent location, or use a city card to go to the destination on the card, or, if you’re in the location named on the card, go to any destination you like.
  • Make supplies – take a supply cube.
  • Deliver supplies – put supply cubes on a location.
  • Share knowledge – give a city card that matches the city you’re in to a player at the same location.
  • Build a supply center – discard five cards matching your current city’s color and build a supply center there.
  • Recon – explore unknown parts of the map. To do so, you’ll usually need a supply center nearby and various combinations of city cards.

Your characters may also have other abilities/actions depending on their role, while you could unlock other actions throughout the game, too.

  1. Draw two Player Cards

Alongside replenishing your deck, this is when you could draw an epidemic card. If you’re unfortunate enough to do so, then follow these three steps:

  • Increase – Move the Infection Rate one space up the Infection Rate track.
  • Infect – Draw the bottom card from the Infection deck and remove all supply cubes from that city. Add that card to the infection discard pile.
  • Intensify – shuffle the discard pile and put it back on top of the Infection Deck

4. Infect cities

Flip over as many infection cards from the top of the Infection Deck as the infection rate marker shows and add them to the discard pile. Remove a supply cube from that city. If it doesn’t have a supply cube, add a plague cube and move the incident marker one space up the track.

If a location already has three plague cubes, an outbreak occurs. In this instance, remove a supply cube from all connected cities, or add a plague cube if they have none. Move the incident marker one space up the track for each plague cube placed.

Once a player finishes step four, move on to the next player.

Winning And Losing

You move through the game trying to complete your objectives. If the player deck runs out or if you reach the end of the track then your team loses. If you achieve your objectives without meeting either of those two conditions, you win and move on to the next game!

Your First Game of Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Your First Game of Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Most people playing Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 will probably have played the original Pandemic before. And there are a lot of similarities between the two. However, don’t assume you know the rules! There are lots of differences and small tweaks to the rules you should know about.

Handily, there are instructions in the manual for a ‘prologue game’, which will let you practice taking turns without affecting the actual game itself. I strongly recommend at least one person running through this a couple of times, as if you muck something up there’s no going back!

Event Cards

One example of a change in the instructions comes with event cards. For those that don’t know, these are special abilities that are in the player deck and can be used by players at any time during the game – usually only once. In this version, there are two types: rationed and unrationed.

Unrationed event cards are put in the player deck every game, much like in the original. Rationed event cards, on the other hand, are limited. And you must choose only a few of them to be shuffled into the deck each game.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Uses the same mechanics that make the original Pandemic so great
  • Hugely co-operative
  • Gripping narrative
  • One of the most personalizable legacy games out there

Cons:

  • Need a committed group of players
  • Once you’ve played it through, that’s it

When you’re working with a base game as universally loved as Pandemic, then you’re always going to be starting from a strong position. And it came as no surprise how much I enjoyed this game. The co-operation, card management, and turn structure that make the original so engaging are all still there. It’s just the world around it – the objectives your team has to complete and then the story arc that evolves from one game to the next – that has changed.

Excellent Cooperative Experience

If you’ve not played Pandemic before, then you should know that it’s one of the best co-operative games out there. The strategy and interaction between players as you plan each individual action in minute detail can be captivating, made all the more impressive considering the relatively simple rules it has. Then there’s the looming sense of doom hanging over you in the form of the Infection Deck, steering the board increasingly close to an irreversible pandemic. It’s a feeling hard to match.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 has all of this, but it’s tied together with a brilliant narrative that will make it hard for players to take a break. As the gripping story unfolds and you gradually explore new parts of the map, a natural sense of team camaraderie will undoubtedly take hold. You’re in this together now. Ain’t no member being left behind.

Your Own Unique Legacy

As legacy games go, the Pandemic Legacy series has to be one of the most ambitious when it comes to personalization. In particular, I loved that you could choose your character’s name, appearance, and home haven. I built such a strong connection with Spud Lightly, my Researcher (it just sounded funny), adding an extra emotional charge to our discussions about strategy.

It Takes 4 to Tango

The main issue that people could have with Pandemic Legacy is finding a committed group of players to see it through. You need to have the same individuals each game to really make the most of it, and – for the most strategic fun – the full four-player count. As a co-operative, you could have two people play two characters each, but it’s when you have four players that the team interaction and role-playing really come into their own.

Luckily, with a game this popular, that hopefully won’t be a huge challenge!

TL;DR

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 is the legacy version of the classic co-operative game Pandemic. Played over a campaign of 12-24 games, your team of medical experts must save humanity from extinction in the wake of a deadly plague.

The gripping story transforms the already grueling Pandemic experience, and the amount of personalization and lasting effects you can have on the board won’t only create stories that will last forever, but ones that are uniquely yours.

Conclusion: Verdict?

As someone that rates Pandemic among my favorite gaming experiences ever, and also loves the concept of legacy games, you’ll not be surprised to learn I strongly recommend getting a copy of this game if you can get a group together.

The strength of the narrative makes it one of the best story-driven co-operative games on the market, while the level of personalization and evolution of the rules throughout the game put it up there as one of the best legacy interpretations of a game, too.

Prepare yourself for one of the most grueling, compelling, emotional, and exciting group board gaming experiences you will ever have. For the sake of the human race, I wish you and your comrades good luck!

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
  • The epic follow up to the critically acclaimed Pandemic Legacy:...
  • Presents a unique spin on the classic Pandemic formula, with...
  • Embark on a Globe spanning struggle for the survival of humanity...

Have you tried Pandemic Legacy Season 2? We’d love to hear your thoughts (no spoilers) so drop a comment below.

Stats at a glance

Players: 2-4

Ages: 14+

Medium

60 Mins

Publisher: Z-Man Games, Inc.

Published: 2017