November 7, 2021

Pandemic Legacy: August / September (Part One)

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy. Reading this blog post if you have not yet played the game will impair your enjoyment should you decide to play it in the future.

Previously, on Pandemic Legacy…

  • We found a virologist
  • We won our first attempt at July

The title of this post probably gives a little something away about how our games during this session went, but I’ll gloss over that.

August

We opened the missing briefing for August – we have been given an optional objective to search for an immunologist. The process is similar for the search for the virologist, but the search must now take place in rioting (unrest level 2 or 3) cities in the Faded zone.

The search for the immunologist

We also have a new rule called “Self-Sacrifice”, that allows you to skip the infect step of your turn, at the cost of taking a scar. This felt very unappealing to us, as it’s such a permanent handicap, though I can see that in later games we might be prepared to take this exchange.

The new self-sacrifice rule

The optional objective to eradicate one disease entirely has now been removed, meaning we now have the following optional objectives, of which we must complete two:

  • Find the immunologist
  • Quarantine 7 Faded cities
  • Build military bases in all 6 regions

The initial disease distribution for August was very heavily balanced towards the Faded cities – exactly like in July, 11 of the 18 disease tokens in that area. Of the two starting city cards I was dealt, one was a grenade belt, so it seemed a no-brainer that I would continue playing as Pike, the soldier. The full set of characters we played for this game were:

  • Jonesy the Generalist (Gammidgy)
  • Derek the Operations Expert (Karen)
  • Pike the Soldier (Pete)
  • Colonel K*D (Susan)

Basically the same as last time, but with Derek swapped in for the Quarantine Specialist. We reasoned that this would help us to fulfil the optional objective of getting 6 military bases, but in hindsight, given that we already have 3 starting military bases, we perhaps overestimated the challenge of this particular objective. Especially as the win bonus from July allows us to place one new starting military base (which we put in Bogota) and one regular one (Khartoum), which meant that we now only needed to build one more to achieve the optional objective for this game.

Initial disease spread (Khartoum military base not yet added)

We decided to initially focus our resources on the search for the immunologist. Since the search gets harder with each epidemic, it’s worth polishing off quickly. We accidentally cheated a bit here, and forgot about the requirement to discard a city card for each search.

The first epidemic was drawn very early. We agreed to take this opportunity to play one of the 3 cards we obtained in the fabled “box 8”, allowing us to skip the epidemic entirely, at the cost of increasing the panic level in any one city. We selected Santiago as the victim here, as so far that corner of the board has been very quiet, and it only has two connections so is less likely to be involved in an outbreak cascade.

Poor Santiago

Our search for the immunologist was concluded nice and quickly, partly thanks to accidentally cheating, and also due to skipping that early epidemic, and we had that objective polished off in 5 turns total. With that dealt with, we then turned our attention towards getting lots of yellow city cards into Gammidgy’s hand so that he could find that cure. The number of Faded was dropping, thanks to our abilities in combatting that threat, though the other three diseases were growing slightly. The infection discard pile was now getting very thick indeed, and the majority of cities had at least one disease cube on them. Time would tell whether this turned out to be a wise strategy or not.

Disease everywhere

We found the cure for yellow before the second epidemic came out. This one landed in Washington. Soon thereafter we found the cure for the black disease. On this occasion, we were very thankful that it had the positive mutation that meant that it could be cured anywhere (not just in a research station) and without an action, as otherwise it would have had to wait until the next turn. At this stage we were now thinking of how to get us all into Europe so that we can consolidate our blue city cards into Gammidgy’s hand.

The next epidemic landed in Seoul, which caused a single outbreak, but thankfully no cascade. Pike and his magic grenade belt are able to stay on top the Faded quite nicely now. However, the pace of the game is now increasing, and the player deck is shrinking, and we’re all getting a little anxious.

Another epidemic landed, this time in Ho Chi Minh City. This is very unfortunate, as the city is in Fallen state so we are effectively unable to get into it. With the epidemics coming thick and fast, very few infection cards are being reshuffled back into the deck, so we’re seeing the same ones over and over.

Ho Chi Minh City epidemic

An outbreak in Paris while Jonesy was in the city resulted in her gaining a scar, and can now no longer have more than 2 equipment cards in her hand at a time. Let’s see if we remember to adhere to that one, eh?

Jonesy’s new scar

Another epidemic landed in Johannesburg, which caused an outbreak. Things are definitely unpeeling, but we’re so close to a blue cure. The question is: can we hold out?

Another epidemic card came out, which had the potential to really scupper our fun. We decided to once again play one of the “get out of jail free” cards, so that the epidemic was skipped entirely, its only trace being that another city would have to have its panic level increased. We chose Buenos Aires as the victim, this time.

Sorry, Buenos Aires

We managed to find the blue cure by the very skin of our teeth, with the player deck all but empty at the end. Bearing in mind that we needed to burn two of those epidemic-nullifying cards (leaving us with only one left for the rest of the campaign), and we were cheating in the search for the virologist, and it’s a hollow victory.

Our win bonus for August grants us some bonuses to search in September – for each game, we have the choice to either advance one search by two places, or all searches by one each. We also have some new available unfunded event cards, including the “nuclear option” which would allow us to clear out a single city entirely, at the cost of raising its panic level immediately to “Fallen”. We decided not to add this specific one to the game yet, instead choosing the following two game end upgrades:

  • I’m growing very attached to Pike. We haven’t lost a game since we started using him, and his magic respawning grenade belt trick is excellent for managing the Faded. So we gave him the very nifty new “Paramilitary Escort” upgrade, so that every time he leaves a city, 1 Faded will be automatically removed.
  • We also applied an unfunded event upgrade that could be used to place 3 roadblocks on demand.

Pike, now with Paramilitary Escort

3 free roadblocks? Seems useful

September (First Attempt)

With the dawning of September, we can now play as the virologist, the person we found back in July. She has some potentially useful powers when it comes to tackling the Faded, which could be handy. We named her Ash, and gave her a relationship with Pike, which would grant them the power to look at the top two cards of the player deck (which is where the epidemic cards lurk) if they start in the same city.

Our new resident virologist

We had a new optional objective for this month – to find the paranoid soldier. Similar principle to before, though this time the searches must take places in military bases in Faded cities, and the search track is slightly longer.

How to find a paranoid soldier

The initial disease distribution for September was generally towards the western side of the board this time, which makes a nice change to all those times when it’s been heavily biased to the Faded zone.

Not too many Faded to start this time

We chose the following characters for September:

  • Jonesy the Generalist (Gammidgy)
  • Ash the Virologist (Karen)
  • Pike the Soldier (Pete)
  • Ewan the Quarantine Specialist (Susan)

We wanted to bring the Quarantine Specialist back in as we felt that we didn’t get much out of Colonel K*D last time. And, of course, I’m playing Pike again, because Pike rules. In terms of optional objectives, as before we will be focusing on the search for the paranoid soldier, and getting up to 6 military bases.

Here’s a picture of a cat in the game box lid

With the initial distribution of city cards, we found ourselves with a lot of blue city cards clustered in North America, which made us feel optimistic that we could get them into one person’s hand and find a cure nice and quickly. Another early epidemic came out – we decided not to burn our final “get out of jail free” card, but we did play an unfunded event to skip the infect step, as with so few cards being shuffled back into the deck, there was an uncomfortably high chance of an outbreak.

In the next few minutes, we suffered an outbreak in Algiers, but discovered the blue cure shortly afterwards. A lot of cities were showing 3 cubes, which meant that the risk of outbreak was high, but they weren’t contiguous, so the risk of a cascading outbreak was relatively low.

We saw the opportunity to eliminate blue entirely, and took it. It would delay Pike’s journey to the Faded zone, and his contribution to the search for the paranoid soldier, but we felt that not having to worry about blue cubes whatsoever would be worth it. Meanwhile, other players got busy on cleaning up the black cubes, which were getting quite numerous.

The next epidemic came out in Riyadh, which didn’t worry us too much. There were still a few cities showing 3 cubes, but nothing we felt we couldn’t handle.

A bit of chaos on the west coast, but it’s all under control

Some messiness here in Asia, but nothing we can’t handle

Yeah there’s a few Faded here and there, but that white pawn is Pike and he’s about to kick their asses

So far I had not had the opportunity to make use of Pike’s Paramilitary Escort, and was rubbing my hands with glee at delight of my next turn, when I’d be able to scoop through Faded cities leaving a trail of glory in my wake.

A little Riyadh outbreak has left the black disease in a troubling state. Susan’s next turn enabled her to find the paranoid soldier in Jakarta. The good news is that he holds the key to the virus development records, which means that, in combination with the gene sequence for COdA that we found in July, we now have 2 of the 3 components required to find a vaccine. The bad news is that the disease was created in a lab, and the military are no longer our friends. Our optional objective to build 6 military bases is now gone, to be replaced with a mission to sabotage 2 military bases. But, what’s worse, a traitor has been revealed in our midst, and it’s Pike. That Paramilitary Escort upgrade I gave him? The one I never actually got to use? Yeah, in hindsight, that was a bad choice. Pike is now out of the game forever, and I would have to play the rest of this game as a weak and weedy civilian.

This revelation had a bit of a “WTF” effect on us. Any confidence we had in winning this month evaporated in an instant. We tried to stay optimistic, but it was an uphill battle. Outbreaks occurred in Toyko, in Kinshasa, in Tehran. We found a cure for the black disease, but soon thereafter an outbreak occurred in Beijing. One more outbreak would end us. I was able to destroy one military base, but a final outbreak in Hong Kong spelled disaster.

For our game end upgrades, we applied a positive mutation to the eradicated blue disease so that we no longer needed to be in a research station to cure it (similar to what we already have on the yellow and black ones), and gave a character upgrade to Jonesy that would assist in sabotaging military bases.

Jonesy can now sabotage a military base with any colour-matching card, not necessarily the specific city

Ash also picked up a scar at one point during the closing stages, from being in a city when an outbreak occurred.

Ash may now no longer move more than 2 spaces per turn

The last twenty minutes of this game utterly crushed us. To be fair, it was going pretty badly anyway, but with the new revelations, we’re going to need to rethink our strategy fairly significantly for the next game. I fear that it might be a while before we win a game again.

Pete

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