February 12, 2024

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: September

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 August on our first attempt (by a sliver) and won it on our second (convincingly)
  • We gained the “monitor” action which can be carried out at satellite towers and allows us to potentially skip epidemics, if timed right
  • We built a permanent supply centre in Tehran
  • We spot a lost haven from New Mumbai, but don’t have a link to it yet
  • We built a permanent satellite tower in London

September (First Attempt)

Setting up for September, the “Recon 1 new area” optional objectives has been destroyed and replaced with a “Recon East Asia” mandatory objective. This is fine by us, as we were planning on doing that anyway.

Our objectives for this game (two mandatory, two optional, and we need to complete three in total)

There’s also some bad news, which we’ve been braced for – remember all of that innoculating we were doing, moving infection cards into box 6? Well, they’re going to start coming back. Epidemics now require you to draw from box 6 instead of from the bottom of the deck. On the upside, the effect is slightly less severe, as you no longer have to put a plague cube on them if they are totally devoid of supplies, so that’s something.

The new rules for epidemics, slightly damaged upon removing the sticker from the dossier sheet

And here’s the new stickers on the epidemic cards themselves, which are easier to read

The rules for initial infections have changed too – instead of drawing 9 infection cards (skipping forsaken cities) and removing a supply cube from each (or adding a plague cube, if they have no supplies), we now do something slightly more severe. We still draw 9, and we do the same thing on the first 6, but for the last 3 we place a hollow man instead. You may recall, hollow men are worse than plague cubes, as you risk exposure every time you pass through a city with a hollow man in it.

The new rules for initial infections

There’s also another way to lose the game – by running out of hollow men figures.

Try not to use them all up, dear

Setting up the first game, we get hollow men in Istanbul, Khartoum and Jacksonville, meaning that we now want to avoid these three cities entirely for the duration of this game.

We play with our usual favourite characters:

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

First Turn

We really want to link to Johannesburg in this game, as we know that there is a lost laboratory there. So Gammidgy uses his turn to go to Lagos, make some supplies, and deploy them to Kinshasa. This will mean that another player (probably Pete) can easily go to Kinshasa, pick up those supplies, build a supply line to Johannesburg, and then still have an action free to move away from Kinshasa (which is an infected city, and hence you don’t want to be starting your turn there). In a turn of appalling luck, we draw an epidemic card already. The London card comes back out of box 6, and already we now have a plague cube in London, another hollow man in Khartoum, and a plague cube in Jacksonville. This is disastrous and already our chances of winning this game look slender. The good news, I suppose, is that we now know for sure that there won’t be an epidemic for a while, which means Susan doesn’t have to waste her turn doing the “monitor” action.

Not a great start

Susan wants more supplies, so Karen plays an unrationed event card that she conveniently has in her hand. It’s the sort that self-destructs after one use.

Karen played this card on Susan’s turn, bringing lots of supplies into play

Susan is able to resupply Paris. With so few cards having been reshuffled into the deck after that early epidemic, we get another plague cube in London and another hollow man in Jacksonville.

Bad things brewing on both sides of the Atlantic

By now we’ve decided that winning this game ain’t gonna happen, so instead we should focus on getting as much value from our loss as possible. If we can recon East Asia in this game, then that’s one fewer thing to worry about in the next game. To achieve that, we need to accumulate unique black cards in one person’s hand, and Susan’s would make the most sense as she can recon with one fewer card. Also, if we can get to Johannesburg and find the lost lab then that might give us some useful upgrades, as the one in Buenos Aires sure did. Our memories here played a bit of a trick on us, as we believed that the lab in Buenos Aires was responsible for our +15 supplies per month, but in fact it was the lost haven at Turtloise Rock. So we were possibly slightly overestimating the expected benefit.

For some reason I didn’t write down what Karen did on this turn, it must have been quite boring. Pete used his turn to zoom over to Cairo, transmit a black city card to Susan and then build a new supply line from Baghdad to Riyadh.

Riyadh now attached to the network

We get yet another hollow man in Santiago, and plague cubes in Washington and London. The infection tracker is now up to 5 – at this rate, we won’t survive to the end of our second turn.

Second Turn

Gammidgy used one of his abilities to place a supply cube from the reserve into London, simply by discarding the London city card from his hand. He then performed step two of the little dance he set up on his previous turn, by heading to Kinshasa and linking Johannesburg into the grid.

Hi Johannesburg, welcome to the game. It’s lovely once you’re in, honest.

This does technically complete one of our optional objectives, as we’ve now linked two cities into the grid, but talking about completion of objectives is moot in this game, as we know we’re not going to win. We’ve deliberately made no progress at all towards building supply centres, which is a mandatory objective.

Susan now has enough black city cards in her hand to head to Kolkata and recon East Asia. We open package 3 and it’s chocka with fun things, including more “hollow men gather” cards, and the ability to build shelters. Shelters are cool, they’re basically the antidote to hollow men. If you build a shelter in a city then you’ll no longer have to risk exposure when passing through, and they also stop the hollow men from causing the city to lose population. They’re cheap to build too, requiring just a city card of the matching colour.

Shelters are cool

We also pick up some lore, suggesting that some strategy to cause the hollow men to defect to our side might be in the brewing.

This plan intentionally left vague

And of course, a whole new area of the world revealed to us. We can see that most of these cities will need to be linked using sea lanes rather than ground-based supply lines, and there’s also an interesting-looking sea lane heading east out of Jakarta to who knows where.

The new area of the world that we’ve unlocked

Again, we technically now have two of our three objectives accomplished, but it’s moot because the supply centres are nowhere near ready.

Celebrate the achievements where we can

Having thoroughly explored package 3, it’s back to the standard game flow. An epidemic hits in Sao Paulo, and another plague cube in Jacksonville. We now have 3 hollow men in Khartoum.

We’re still hoping to search Johannesburg by the end of the game, so Karen deploys supplies in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo in the hope of maximising our chances of blocking another plague cube. We get hollow men in London and Istanbul but thankfully the hollow men don’t cause the infection tracker to advance.

London and Istanbul really did not have a good time of it in this game

Pete is able to use his actions to get to Johannesburg, and then one of his character abilities to pluck the Johannesburg city card from the player discard pile and search it. We find the lab, as expected.

Lost laboratory “Jade” in Johannesburg

Since we were hoping for another little “+15 supplies” sticker, we are disappointed by what we find. We do get a new character, with a quite powerful ability – it’s like a “super-innoculate” where they can destroy an infection card for their current city outright, not just move it to box 6. This action can only be used once per turn, though. We’re also unlikely to switch to using this character, because while it is a good ability, the characters we’re playing with at the moment have 4 or 5 abilities each.

We didn’t expect to last much longer, and indeed a plague cube comes out in Jacksonville and the game is over. Gammidgy storms out of the room in disgust and a cat climbs into a box lid.

Cat in box lid

End of Game

Khartoum falls to population 0 and therefore “forsaken” status. The legacy deck instructs us to open door 33, which is a very nifty rationed event, which is like a “super-monitor” – the current player can take the top 4 cards from the deck, keeping all the city cards and discarding the rest (including epidemics).

Nifty new rationed event

We have 6 production units to spend, so we go wild with character upgrades for our current favourite characters, all of which we think will be useful for exploring this new area, where we have lots of new cities to add and where city cards will be in short supply:

  • Peron gets Navigator which allows them to chart a sea lane without spending cubes (limited to one per turn)
  • Ophelia gets Investigator which allows them to swap a city card from their hand for any other city card from the discard pile (not limited to the same colour)
  • Lucius gets Scout which allows them to recon from a city without a supply centre.

Character upgrades aplenty – Navigator for Peron, Investigator for Ophelia and Scout for Lucius

Broadly this means that our plan for the next attempt at September is as follows:

  • Peron heads over to East Asia and builds sea lanes aplenty, linking in new cities and causing their respective city cards to be place in the discard pile
  • Then use their lookout ability to get the city cards back from the discard pile and into their hand
  • Build a satellite tower in Jakarta and use that to send those red city cards to Lucius
  • …who can then head to Jakarta and recon the new area

September (Second Attempt)

Note that since we completed the mandatory objective to recon East Asia in the first attempt, that carries over to this game. To win this game we therefore need to complete the mandatory objective to build 3 supply centres, plus one of the two optional objectives (either 2 new cities linked to the grid, or 2 searches done).

During the initial infections we got a plague cube in Sao Paulo, and hollow men in New York, London and Baghdad. We play with the same characters as before, of course. And having lost the previous game, we now have a funding level of 2, so are able to pick a couple of rationed event cards to go into the deck.

First Turn

Once again Gammidgy was randomly chosen to start. We could see that Susan had the makings of a decent collection of yellow cards, so Gammidgy went to Lima so that he could throw his Sao Paulo card at her, and he also resupplied Sao Paulo on the way.

Sao Paulo resupplied

We debated whether it made sense for Susan to do the monitor action on her turn, but decided to risk an epidemic and so she headed to South America to resupply Santiago. The epidemic did not come up, so it definitely made sense for Karen to do the monitoring, which she did in Cairo, resupplying while she was there. The first epidemic was revealed and averted. Coincidentally, she then drew both of our rationed event cards.

Karen has a lovely pair of rationed events

Pete zoops on over to Jakarta and gets on with the planned business of building sea lanes. We pick Ho Chi Minh City as our first target, only to realise that the Ho Chi Minh City card doesn’t have a scratch-off panel, so is not searchable, which means I won’t be able to pick it out of the discard pile this game using my special ability. Doh. I then checked the pending city cards to identify which were searchable and which weren’t, to prevent me making that mistake again.

A new sea lane to Ho Chi Minh City

Second Turn

As usual, our strategy for building supply centres is to throw cards at Susan, so Gammidgy went to London to do just that. There’s a hollow man there, so he built our first shelter, meaning that he could safely end his turn there, after having transferred Johannesburg to Susan.

London is the site of our first shelter against the hollow men

Susan was able to build a supply centre in Santiago, thanks to a combination of her character ability, and having some yellow city cards in her hand with decent upgrades on them. We were about due for an epidemic, so Karen played the “cautious approach” rationed event here, meaning that Susan could draw the next four cards from the player deck. Sadly no epidemic there, but it did leave her with enough black cards to make another supply centre already.

A supply centre in Santiago

After thinking about ways to transfer Karen’s two blue city cards to Susan, we eventually gave up trying to figure it out, and instead Karen just resupplied Tripoli on her turn. The anticipated epidemic came out, and Lagos was retrieved from box 6. Thankfully, due to the new mechanic, no plague cube was placed there despite it having no supplies. After reshuffling the discard pile onto the deck, hollow men appeared in Sao Paulo and Lagos.

Pete got all excited on his turn and did a stupid. So the plan was to link a new city in, go there, and search it. But I charged in like a fool and drew a line to Manila on the map before realising that Manila is not searchable. With my remaining actions I charted a second sea lane to Hong Kong, before immediately regretting that, as I didn’t have enough actions to go there and use my ability to immediately search it.

Hong Kong and Manila now added to the network

Third Turn

The end-game was in sight. Gammidgy resupplied Paris, and a plague cube came up in Cairo. But it didn’t matter, because Susan could travel to Moscow, build a supply centre there, and then (thanks to Karen’s other rationed event card) travel to Lima and build a supply centre there too. With three objectives complete, we had won!

End of game

Baghdad is now down to population 0, and hence forsaken. With our 7 game-end production units, we spent a couple on some infection card improvements, allowing them to potentially be totally destroyed in a future game, meaning that those cities would be totally immune.

Some infection card upgrades for Hong Kong and Jakarta

We also spent a couple of points on boosting the population of Tripoli and Jakarta, both of which were at population 1 and felt like they needed more wiggle room. The remaining 3 went on a character ability for our new scientist, who can now move supply cubes from the stockpile to a city matching a card in their hand, without having to discard the card. While we’re not necessarily planning on using this character in the next month, it would be good to have them warmed up on the substitute’s bench in case one of our current top four were to become unavailable.

Another ability for our scientist, who does not yet have a name

For the next game, we need to link up to that lost haven in the Indian Ocean. New Mumbai is probably the best way to approach it. An ongoing concern is that we have used up all of our “permanent supply centre” stickers so our fast travel into the East Asia region is likely to be severely hampered. We’re hoping that recon from Jakarta will reveal that the blue line to the east goes to a lost haven, which we can then use as a fast travel node, and maybe chart a sea lane from there direct to Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Another thing to note is that in October, the number of objectives required drops to 2, and in November it drops further to 1. We suspect that the “build 3 supply centres” mandatory objective which has kept us company since the start of the game is going to be replaced soon, and the narrative of the game will shift to finding a strategy against the hollow men, forcing their defection, and eventually taking on Utopia.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *