“Welcome to Mooselandia, rook. They call me Bluebird. I’m an Administrator. That means that I teleport your sorry ass back and forth from Cairo to Jacksonville so that you can drop supply cubes. Those cities miss their drops and they go dark. Just like the rest of the world. We can’t let that happen, rook. Mooselandia is all that stands between them and the wilderness. We keep those green cubes away, and we live another day.” — Bluebird.
Alana and I have been playing Pandemic since the original version came out about ten years ago/back in 2008. It checked a lot of boxes for us: 2-player, coop, under 2 hours, replayable. After dozens of playthroughs, we burned ourselves out and carefully shelved it away until…
We brought home Pandemic Legacy, Season 1 at about this time last year. S1 starts off like vanilla Pandemic but quickly ramps up with oodles of stickers, rule changes, and new plastic bits that transform the base game into a horror movie-style romp. S1 played too easy for us. We only lost one game and scored pretty high on the final scoring chart. We loved the urgency of it though and the significant changes in strategy that occurred mid-year.
How would S2 stack up? We went to find out…
Four of us got together to play through the Prologue: Bluebird (me/Marko), Ale (Alana), Burt (Quon), and Burta (Telsa). The Prologue is alt-Pandemic with bumpers. It’s straight forward and standalone. No failures (or successes) during the Prologue affect future games.
It’s a simple scenario to give you a feel for the rules before things start going up in flames.
The board in S2 is tiny tiny tiny. With only 9 cities and 3 “havens” at the start, it’s trivial to travel from one city to the next. We expect that this will change rapidly. 70% of the board is just black space where stickers will eventually go, revealing the post-apocalyptic state of the rest of the world post-outbreak.
The Prologue’s primary objective is to build three “supply centers”. These supply centers are, more or less, completely worthless in-game. They are supposed to act as headquarters, but they carry no special abilities like they did in Season 1. You can’t travel between them. You don’t create cures there. They don’t block Plague cubes from being dropped. Etc. They just count as victory points and enable you to play special Supply cards.
Building these Supply Centers has also become the primary focus of the game. You need 5 of the same, regional color to build them, in much the same way that we had needed 5 matched colors to create disease cures in S1. (NB: There are no cures here. The green Plague is eternal…)
Burta compiled our first 5 match (blue) over in NY after I passed off a fifth card to her.
You can see that Jacksonville is already depleted in supply cubes (the little black/grey cubes). These essentially act as a shield to block Plague cubes (translucent, green) from reaching those cities. Each Plague cube causes the “Incident” track to go up. Once you reach eight Incidents? Game over.
We continued a standard Pandemic strategy of two people on damage/cube control, one person assembling matched cards, and one person facilitating. Roles were a little fluid, but it seemed to work fine. Burt assembled the next set of five and plopped a supply center on Cairo. Ale had almost pulled together five yellows by then as well.
A bad Epidemic draw caught us flat-footed in London and put our first Plague cube on the ground.
We scrambled to fill in holes that were opening in the south (looking at you Jacksonville…) We couldn’t get to Lagos in time to prevent a second Plague cube from dropping, but we were able to immediately counter with a third supply center.
We wrapped up the game in under 60 minutes with three centers on the board and only two incidents. Not a perfect game, but no serious trouble either.
It was disappointing to wipe the board’s progress as if it hadn’t happened. We didn’t regret playing the Prologue, exactly, but we did regret not having time to plow straight ahead into January (Scenario 1).
We’ll get there soon enough, I guess. Until then… Bluebird out.