January 15, 2024

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: August

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. 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 lost July on our first attempt and won it on our second
  • We gained the ability to build satellite towers which can be used to send city cards to other players
  • The Hollow Men have arrived – their presence in a city makes even passing through it dangerous
  • We added a permanent supply centre in Buenos Aires

August (First Attempt)

Since we forgot to check Maggot for exposure at the end of the previous session, we start by doing that today. Sadly, he gains a scar. Of the available options, a slightly increased cost to chart a sea lane seems like the most innocuous, so we choose that.

Maggot now requires one more supply cube to chart a sea lane

With a new month beginning, we have lots of good news. For starters, we are immediately given three production units to spend on character abilities.

Some free character upgrades as a little August bonus

We give Peron an increased hand limit, as this feels like it synergises well with their ability to take cards from other players.

Peron’s new ability, wonkily applied

Ophelia gets a nifty new ability to travel from a haven or supply centre to anywhere on the grid, at the cost of any city card.

Ophelia can now move about with consummate ease

And we also give Maggot a new skill, allowing him to take a supply cube from the reserve and put it on a city matching a card in his hand. Given how few supplies we get in the stockpile at the start of each game now, skills that bring supplies from the reserve are valuable.

Maggot’s new skills. Running out of spaces on that card!

We can now use the satellite towers to perform a “monitor” action, in which we can basically discard the top 4 cards from the player deck. If we time this right, we can play this when we’re pretty certain that an epidemic is due, and skip it entirely. The cost is that three perfectly good cards will also get shuffled across to the discard pile, so we need to be thoughtful about how often we use it. When playing this action, we also get to scratch off one of the panels on the frequency scanner card, which will yield mystery rewards. Our successful completion of the triangulation objective at the end of the previous game has given us a hint that three frequencies in particular might be worth targeting.

The new monitor action, and the frequency scanner card

We have very few supplies to start with, so we’re spread thin from the outset. We draw the initial 9 infections, as usual, and already we have a plague cube in Cairo. It’s a bit annoying to have a plague cube on there right from the outset, as Cairo is such a key tactical location for us.

Plague cube in Cairo

We choose the usual characters, as they are pretty well-upgraded by now:

  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Pete – Peron Peron (Immunologist)
  • Susan – Lucius (Administrator)
  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)

First Turn

Karen starts off by heading to the east coast of North America, and thanks to Ophelia getting one free move action per turn, is able to resupply both Jacksonville and Washington. Pete goes next, and goes to Cairo to make supplies there (from the reserve, thanks to Peron’s primary ability). We know that the epidemics are distributed every 8 player cards, on average, so given that Karen didn’t draw one, there’s a 66% chance that one of the next 4 cards is an epidemic. Thus it makes good strategic sense to play the monitor action now, in the hope of skipping the first epidemic. Our strategy pays off. We scratch off frequency 9.2, which was one of the ones suggested at the end of July, and it yields the instructions on how to recon from Kolkata. Smashing.

The results of our very successful debut monitoring

Cairo has plague in it, so I end my turn in Istanbul. Susan’s next, and uses her actions to pop into Cairo, resupply it, and pop back out, also to Istanbul. There’s a very good reason for her ending in the same location as me – I’ve already got three blue cards, and she’s got one. What’s more, the one she’s got also acts as a companion that reduces the cost of building supply centres by 1. Thanks to one of my character abilities, I’ll be able to take that blue card from her at the start of my next turn, leaving me with exactly enough to build a supply centre. However, since the two of us are in Istanbul with no supplies to protect us, Gammidgy uses his turn to pop in to Cairo, throw some supplies in our general direction (thanks to his “Courier” ability which must be one of our most-used abilities on any character in this game) and then retreat to Buenos Aires with the intention of doing fun things on his next turn. Our first epidemic comes up in Tripoli, and as a result one plague cube crops up in Sao Paulo.

Plague cube in Sao Paulo

Second Turn

Karen goes to London and resupplies there. After the first epidemic, the hollow men cards have been shuffled into the deck, and one of them pops up in San Francisco. This is a remote and far-flung corner of the grid, so the good news is that this hollow man isn’t interfering with movement. However, San Francisco was down to population of 1, so at the end of this game it’s almost certain that it will fall to forsaken status.

Hollow man in San Francisco

As planned, Pete takes Paris from Susan, and then moves to Moscow and builds a supply line to Tehran from there. This is needed as Baghdad, New Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are all infested, so if we want to have any chance of safely getting into Kolkata, building a supply centre and getting back out again, then a direct link to Tehran is the best way. Linking a new city into the grid also gives us progress towards one of our optional objectives, and towards getting more production units at the end of the game.

New supply line from Moscow to Tehran

Plague cubes pop up in Tripoli and New Mexico, and we’re now halfway down the infection tracker. Susan moves to Tehran and builds a supply centre there, giving us progress towards our main objective. Our intention is to make it permanent at the end of this game, so that we’ve got a good beachhead from which to assault Kolkata in the next game.

A supply centre in Tehran

Gammidgy moves to Cairo from where he can deploy supplies to Tripoli. He also moves to Istanbul, deploys supplies there, and innoculates it for good measure so that it’s less likely to come up in the infection deck.

Third Turn

Karen moves to St Petersburg and builds a supply line to Moscow. This does not add any new cities to the grid, but makes it much easier for Pete to get to a blue city on his next turn to build a supply centre. She also drops off a supply cube so that it’s not totally unprotected.

Just a supply line from St Petersburg to Moscow (note that the photo was taken before the supply cube was deposited)

Pete moves to St Petersburg. Building a supply centre would use up all the blue cards in his hand, but one of them is St Petersburg with two search panels on it, and he’s got two actions to spare, so… you see where this is going. The first search yields a companion who allows you to search for free. The second search (which is now free) allows us to build a free sea lane from St Petersburg. It’s already linked to London, which would have been the obvious choice, so we link it to New York instead.

A blurry photo of the St Petersburg search card. I also scratched too much in the top half and took off lots of the text. I don’t know my own strength.

With that business out of the way, the supply centre is built in St Petersburg, meaning we only need one more to complete our main objective. Progress on our secondary objectives is going well – the two searches have ticked off one of them, so we only need to link one more new city into the grid to complete a second.

The ingredients for a supply centre

Another epidemic hits. Thankfully, because we averted our first epidemic, the hollow men cards are now scattered quite evenly throughout the deck. That said, luck would have it that one pops out straight away, and we now have a hollow man in New York too.

North America doesn’t look great, does it?

Susan has the herbalist companion in her hand, so moves to Tripoli, innoculates, and removes the plague cube there. She ends her turn in Jacksonville, so that Karen can take a Jacksonville card off of her on her next turn. Victory is in sight – we just need to survive Gammidgy’s turn, in which he will link a new city into the grid, and then Karen will build a supply centre and win the game. Sadly we get two plague cubes here – one in Washington, and one in Cairo on top of the one that’s already there.

We’re expecting an epidemic, so Gammidgy moves to Cairo where he plays the monitor action. This successfully averts the epidemic. He produces a big pile of supplies and uses two of them to establish a new supply line to Khartoum, granting us our second optional objective.

Khartoum linked into the grid, and leftover supplies in Cairo

Sadly luck is not on our side. Plague cubes crop up in Jacksonville and Sao Paulo, and it’s game over. The narrowest of narrow defeats.

End Of Game

The legacy deck instructs us to open a few dossier doors, which just gives us some new character ability options and possible scars. We have 5 production units to spend, which go on the following:

  • Permanent supply centre in Tehran (3 production units)
  • “Lookout” ability for Peron (2 production units)

Peron can now search with cards from the discard pile. The new monitor action is great for averting epidemics, but also burns through player cards, so having skills that allow us to get stuff back from the discard pile is useful

As predicted, San Francisco is now forsaken.

Bad news about San Francisco

August (Second Attempt)

While setting up, we realise that when we linked Frankfurt into the grid at the end of June, we forgot to add the player cards and infection cards into the deck, so we did that now.

Initial infections for this attempt at August gave no plague cubes, but did leave us with a lot of cities bereft of supplies.

It will not surprise you to learn that we played with the same characters as before.

First Turn

Pete began by resupplying Jacksonville and New York. Our first plague cube emerged, and of course, having only just added the Frankfurt card to the infection deck, you know exactly where it landed.

Welcome to the game, Frankfurt

Since we are still expecting epidemics every 8 cards, on average, if the second player uses the monitor action, there’s a 66% chance that an epidemic will be averted. So Susan went to Cairo and did exactly that, and it worked. It also gave us a new city card upgrade option, that would make the selected city card act as any colour for building supply centres or recon.

Decryption key city card upgrade

Susan ended her turn in Tehran, with the intention of building a supply line to Kolkata on her next turn. A plague cube popped up, this time in Baghdad.

Susan in Tehran, plague in Baghdad

On Gammidgy’s turn he moved to London and threw supplies at St Petersburg. Karen moved to Lima to resupply there, and also use the satellite tower to monitor, as we are again expecting an epidemic. Once again, the odds were in our favour, and the epidemic was skipped. However the infection step did result in a new plague cube in New Mumbai.

Second Turn

Pete moved to Moscow and then to Frankfurt, innoculating both as he passed through. Given that the number of infection cards in the deck for a city equals the initial population, we now know these two cities to be completely safe. He ended his turn in Istanbul, as Frankfurt is not a safe place to sleep at the moment.

Susan built a supply line from Tehran to Kolkata, as planned, and then moved to London to build a satellite tower there. Having satellite towers in the same location as supply centres makes them much more useful, as we can fast travel there much easier. The one in Lima sees very little use compared to the one in Cairo. Therefore, building a satellite tower in London and converting it to a permanent one at the end of the game would make it much easier for us to pass blue city cards around in future games. In this game, however, Susan has a nice handful of blue cards already, so should be able to build a supply centre on her next turn.

A new supply line adding Kolkata to the grid

An epidemic is due, so Gammidgy used our new satellite tower to immediately play the monitor action, and once again we successfully averted an epidemic. We’ve now averted three in a row in this game, and not had one slip past us yet. The infection discard pile is getting very tall. With his remaining actions he resupplied Paris and moved to Tehran. He’s accumulating a nice stockpile of yellow cards, so he should be able to build a supply centre soon.

Karen uses the Lima satellite tower to send a Sao Paulo city card to Gammidgy, and then moved to Khartoum to do a search. The result was a one-off action allowing you to hand a city card to any other player, so she tossed the Khartoum card straight to Susan before retreating to Cairo, as Khartoum is infected and you don’t want to start your turn there.

Third Turn

Pete moved to Tripoli to resupply there. By now there are quite a lot of empty cities on the grid, and every time we draw infection cards Gammidgy mutters “shit”, regardless of which one it is. But we’ve still not had a single epidemic. We wonder what happens if the infection deck gets completely empty. The rule book doesn’t say anything, so we decide to stop monitoring for a while, and allow the next epidemic through.

Susan goes to St Petersburg and builds our first supply centre there. She uses her action to also teleport Karen to her. Our first epidemic of the game occurs, and it’s in Kinshasa. A plague cube crops up in Baghdad.

St Petersburg now has its own supply centre. It’s only one hop from London, so we won’t upgrade this to a permanent supply centre

Gammidgy moves to Santiago and uses his yellow cards to build a supply centre there, giving us two of the three needed for our main objective. There are quite a lot of supply cubes in the stockpile by now (14, to be exact) so we decide it makes sense for him to use a produce supplies card, doing the “systemwide production” which destroys the card but allows us to get all of those supplies out and into the supply centres.

Karen goes to Tehran from where she builds roads to Delhi (linking it into the grid for the first time) and New Mumbai (giving us better movement options to an existing city). She heads into New Mumbai, uses the herbalist to remove the plague cube there, and then uses her free movement action to retreat back to Tehran.

Fourth Turn

Pete moves to London and uses the satellite tower there to send a blue city card to Gammidgy, meaning Gammidgy now has enough blue cards to build a third and final supply centre on his turn. We only need to do two things between now and then: one more search, to achieve that optional objective; and survive. An epidemic is anticipated, so we play the monitor action and once again deftly avert it.

Susan moves to New Mumbai to do some searching there. Searching at sea reveals a lost haven, so we all get very excited about exploring there next time.

A lost haven, somewhere in the vicinity of the Seychelles

She’s got the actions, so might as well do a search at land as well. This just yields some lore about the hollow men. Hey, maybe they’re the good guys after all?

“Saw one of the Hollow Men down near the water. He was sketching, drawing pictures of a family. Mother. Kids. The father was clearly an image of him. He was crying silently. We kept our distance. Gain 1 action.”

New Mumbai is infected so ordinarily Susan would not want to end her turn there. However, we definitely won’t be making it round to her next turn, one way or the other, so she uses her final action to airlift Gammidgy to Pete, in London.

Gammidgy then grabs a bunch of supplies from London and carries them to Paris. With a surplus of supplies and actions, he’s able to build supply lines to Frankfurt and Istanbul to give us better movement options, and finally a supply centre in Paris to end the game in victory.

New supply lines and supply centre in Paris

End of Game

This has been one of our best games yet. Averting so many of the early epidemics has meant that we only made it halfway down the infection tracker, and avoided the hollow men entirely. Baghdad falls to population 0, but the addition of two new cities to the grid means that we pass the threshold for production units, so we now have 7 to spend. We spend them as follows:

  • Permanent satellite tower in London (3)
  • Immediately restoring Baghdad to population 1 (2)
  • City card upgrade (“Decryption Key”) on San Francisco
  • Infection card upgrade (“Well Stocked”) on Mexico City

The “Well Stocked” upgrade has been very useful on Los Angeles – by putting two supply cubes on it at the start of the game, we never have to worry about it at all, so the same trick in Mexico City seems smart.

City card and infection card upgrades

Something very interesting happened this game, both from a statistical and gameplay perspective. The vast majority of the black city cards were in the bottom half of the player deck. This meant that we barely saw any during the game. As a consequence, we had quite a good stream of blue and yellow cards, which made it easier to build supply centres in those regions. But it does mean that we made no progress towards reconning a new region from Kolkata, which we had been hoping to achieve in this game. We already know that if you don’t recon an area yourself, it gets unlocked for you, because this already happened to us once. I suspect that if the new area doesn’t get unlocked at the start of September, it definitely will at the start of October. There’s a small penalty for not finding it yourself, but not too punishing.

One of my side-missions for the next game is to find more of the lost laboratories, because the rewards that we got from finding Opal were brilliant (being able to make additional supplies in supply centres, and of course Peron Peron with their ability to make supplies from the reserve instead of the stockpile). One of the cards we were given in an earlier play session, which I apparently didn’t mention at the time, contained some co-ordinates, and I think that those might be the key to finding them.

Laboratory coordinates

There’s one we’ve already found, and two that we can’t reach yet, but it looks like Jade is in Johannesburg.

Pete

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