Going Analog

Where video game industry veterans introduce great board games to video gamers

6 deadly evolutions we'd like to see in Pandemic Legacy: Season 0

How we want to see the Legacy series move forward as it heads back to the past.

The end of the world is nigh. You know, because you’ve already played it. Heck, if you survived the hard months of city-hopping as you battled viruses and delivered supplies across the changing boards of Pandemic Legacy: Seasons 1 and 2, then you’ve also helped the world recover afterwards. For the third season (called Season 0), designers Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau are turning back the doomsday clock to tell a story of cold-war-era espionage, and unveil where everything went wrong. 

Suffice to say, we’ve already donned our trench coats and have packed a full complement of fedoras for our international trip. But after running into a few fun-sapping parasites as while unpacking the secret boxes and stickers of the last two Legacy games, there are some changes we’d like to see for this latest jaunt around the globe. So grab your petri dishes and dig out that chemistry textbook, because here the six ways we’d like to see Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 evolve before it unleashes its -- admittedly enjoyable -- disasters upon our tables. Be warned: This list is seriously infected with spoilers for first the first two seasons.

6 deadly evolutions we’d like to see in Pandemic Legacy: Season 0

Pandemic Legacy Season 0 board gameplay
© Z-Man Games

1. Have a little more fun with the theme

If this year has proven anything, it’s that real pandemics are a very grave matter. The Pandemic Legacy games, on the other hand, can’t seem to quite make up their minds as to how serious they want to be. 

The original brought a B-movie plot featuring zombie outbreaks and surprise betrayals yet never dared to break its somber veneer. With its Mad Max stylings and mysterious Hollow Men, we thought Season 2 was going to go all in. But sadly, the story maintained a disappointingly dour delivery throughout. Despite the undeniably silly events they contained, both seemed overly concerned with sustaining a straight face.

We’re not looking for laugh-out-loud comedy from Season 0, but we’d love to see the overarching plot embrace its hokey cinematic inspirations and have a bit more fun with the concept. Retro art and concocted disguises show up in the latest trailer, so we’ve got our fingers crossed for a lighter take on world-threatening catastrophe this time around.

2. More opportunities to kill off characters

It’s not that we crave the sweet embrace of death. It’s just that, after the entirety of Pandemic Seasons 1 and 2, we haven’t lost a single character. While we’re willing to accept that our incredible skills (not to mention our phenomenal intelligence) may be to blame, there’s also a slim chance that previous seasons may have also been quite reticent to pull the trigger -- and for good reason. Funneling upgrades into a single character made them almost indispensable; as a result, deaths became campaign-shattering events that would all but ruin several games in their wake.

If Season 0 makes more characters useful from the get-go, or rewards spreading upgrades evenly, then this problem could solve itself. The theme of undercover operatives means killing people off may not even be necessary. What we really want are more opportunities to swap characters in and out. Give us the chance to heroically save a mission but risk blowing our disguises forever. Messing up could even time an agent out for several games, forcing another agent step in while your original spy reworks their disguise.

Pandemic Legacy Season 0 board gameplay changes
© Z-Man Games

3. Actual branching paths

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 is a filthy liar. OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but it definitely did us wrong and we’re still waiting for a personal apology from Matt Leacock. At several points, the ruined world of Season 2 offered up split routes to progress, letting you pick continents of your choice to uncover. 

Sure, Europe’s gentle blue coast is easier, but pushing ourselves to set foot in Africa first will definitely yield greater rewards, right? “NO!” cries the imperious Legacy Deck. “How dare you show initiative!? For your insolence, St Petersburg shall be wiped from the face of the Earth!

Creating multiple paths is grand, but the entire concept falls apart when you dish out arbitrary punishments to those who stray from your preferred order. Season 0 should absolutely build on the options introduced in Season 2, but maybe don’t slap us in the face for making use of them this time, yeah?

4. A dossier of missions!

Speaking of ways to handle branching paths, why not let us pick missions from the manual? 

The trailer promises we’ll need to “assemble teams to complete objectives,” which could even be teasing splitting characters up between games. If so, it’d be a fantastic way to encourage diversity in character choice and transform the setup stage into an agonizingly tense decision.

Imagine laying a dossier upon the table, your collective of spymasters arguing over who should go where. Owen ‘Moustache’ McTaggart is clearly your finest agent, but he can’t be everywhere at once! Do you saddle him with a newbie in the hopes his skills will carry the side through or doom another mission to failure by pulling skilled agents away? There’s plenty of potential here, and we can’t wait to see how Season 0 shakes up the mechanical toy box.

5. Less reliance on drawing that one card

Losing a game of regular Pandemic because the one card you needed was at the bottom of the draw pile was a little frustrating. Losing the final mission of an entire legacy campaign because every copy of Johannesburg has become stowed away at the bottom of the pile? We’re not usually ones for table flipping, but Pandemic Legacy has pushed us close to a card-induced frenzy.

It’s the precise antithesis of fun to have almost everything you need for success, only to be left waiting turn after turn as epidemics wreak permanent damage across the board. Solving this problem in a card-based game is by no means an easy task, but please game designers, work your magic here if you can.

6. An explanation for all the magical powers

The world is in tatters. Civilization is on the brink of collapse. Yet Bob ‘Buildyman’ Stones is somehow capable of teleporting across the entire globe in the blink of an eye. No, telling us that he just ran really fast isn’t quite going to cut it. 

We’ve run the possibilities, and the only explanation is that the cast of earlier seasons are secretly superheroes, keeping their skills on the down-low. Go on, throw a few nods to radioactive waste or secret science facilities into Season 0. It’s the only way to shore up these glaring plot holes.

Those were the six ways we’d like to see Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 evolve from its predecessors. Have any ideas of your own? Be sure to share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Want to hear our thoughts on other upcoming releases? You’ll find the Going Analog Podcast utterly intoxicating.

Author bio: When he’s not losing himself as a mercenary in Frosthaven, Henry Stenhouse can be found scouring the web for the latest and greatest games, then wondering why he never has time to actually play them. Share your love of deck builders with him at @Fernoface on Twitter or drop an email to henry@moonrock.agency.