Get into Legacy Games!

It’s a big word, “Legacy”. It conjures up grand images of sprawling timelines, events that echo through generations, and actions made whose impacts are felt long into the future.

(And, for the wrestling fans among our number, a faction that proves nostalgia is a powerful beast that can make you look fondly on even the most barren creative periods.)

In our world of board games, this manifests in sprawling, intense games that twist and turn and are shaped by the decisions you make while playing. While most games exist to be whipped out and played with over and over, a legacy game will be permanently altered by the choices you make. Boards, cards, and characters within will all face lasting consequences that shape each subsequent game you play, leading to a continued narrative.

For a brilliantly written and performed explainer made by a man of discerning wit and passion (I have quite literally been paid to say this), you can watch our very own Laurie Blake’s video on the topic here:

 

And when you’ve done that, here are five games to clear some shelf space for and start a legacy all of your own…

Actually, before we do – I don’t usually do this, but I want to hand an honourable mention to Gloomhaven. It’s won countless awards, and is one of the highest rated games of all time, but does cost a pretty penny. As a result, while no list of legacy games you want to know about will ever be complete if it doesn’t feature this icon, its price makes it a title to invest in once you’ve already played your way around what is a unique and time-demanding style of game.

Ticket To Ride: Legends of the West

A brand new entry into the world of Legacy Games, attaching itself to a marquee title. I’m both an Americaphile and a closet train nerd, so this is an absolute dream of a concept for me.

Over the course of twelve connected gaming sessions, you and your opponents begin on the East Coast of the USA. You’ll each build your rail networks across the country to the West, competing to be the one to take your company to brand new heights.

Taking its cues from the classic Ticket to Ride format, the primary goal is completing your tickets, but as the game evolves around you and your players, you’ll need to adapt and develop other skills to fend off rivals and take on whatever challenges are thrown your way.

As you continue through the game, you’ll open frontier boxes that contain new rules, new challenges and much more besides.

Dust off your Stetson and grow a handlebar moustache. There’s a Wild West waiting to be tamed.

Pandemic Legacy

If you’re looking to take first steps into the Legacy game world, and you’re already a fan of the original Pandemic board game, then putting your hands together only makes sense.

It’s also helped somewhat by the fact that this is the game that basically changed the board game…game… I need a thesaurus.

Rocketing straight to the top of the Board Game Geek chart upon release, this was what really put Legacy Games on the map, taking the affection folks had for the original and turning it on its head. The plot thread throughout the game is Hollywood in its proportion, and being peculiar creatures, I reckon the global event we’ve all lived through will only add to the electricity when you sit down and open the box.

A co-operative game that can be played over 12-24 sessions, there’s an awful lot to dive into with the Season 1 edition of the game, with two additional seasons available.

The King’s Dilemma

In this piece of atmospheric magic which is sure to please anyone who has even glanced at an episode of Game of Thrones, you each play as members of the King’s Small Council, representing great houses of the land.

Cards are picked, each with a different dilemma facing the realm, and which the Council must choose how to resolve. Your choices influence how the game goes and thus what lies in store for the fate of the nation.

But those choices aren’t straightforward. First of all, every player has an agenda they’re secretly following, so what might appear to be a straightforward decision is immediately complicated by members of your “team” working with a hidden motive. That opens the door to bargaining, bribery, long game plotting to achieve your desired ends, and all manner of roleplaying if you’re of that persuasion.

But once those decisions have been made, you have to face the consequences, opening the game up to branch in dozens of directions and ensuring that

If you’re intrigued, we played King’s Dilemma on our channel and you can take a look at how the game works in action here:

 

Betrayal

Another example of a legacy version of a game you probably already know and love, this takes its universe from Betrayal at House on the Hill. It markets itself as “the story locals have been telling for generations” and that is exactly the kind of hook that makes me do a little fizzy Lore dance.

The story in question here takes place over decades. Players represent families; so, as time passes, you might play an early round as one character and then a later round as an older version of that very same character – that is assuming they live, of course.

The recurring nature of a legacy game goes so nicely with the horror genre, and particularly in this one – through the decades in this narrative, the families are drawn back to this haunted place, in much the same way that we as players reconvene in various sessions to find out what horrors the game has in store next.

It’s a perfect game for bringing a group together, and all you have to do is imagine a dark and stormy night setting in and a spooky playlist playing, while your favourite people arrive to sit around your table to crack open the box and go exploring in a haunted mansion to know that this game is a must-have.

My City

While legacy games often lend themselves to being incredibly heavy, with grandiose maps and intense stakes, demanding a long term time commitment in return for the fun they’re going to bring, that’s not a hard and fast rule.

Enter My City, a lovely game that’s very easily playable for two – if you’re stuck indoors with a housemate over a rainy day, or off on a cosy trip with a partner, or even visiting a sibling and unsure exactly how much “catching up” you can manage before slipping into mild sports talk, this could very well be the perfect game to have on hand.

Very simply, you’re building a city from laying its early foundations right through the ages into industrialisation. You each have your own city, to which you can give a very serious or, more likely, very silly name, and as cards are drawn and pieces are laid, you’ll see your city grow. It’s cosy and delightful.

What’s particularly brilliant is you can use one side of the board for repeatable play if you don’t want to commit to the legacy aspect. But if you do want to go all in, there are envelopes that come with new rules and challenges and elevate a simple game of Tetris into something brilliantly engaging.