Games Like Pandemic Legacy

Take Your Cooperative Campaign Gaming To The Next Level

Once you have played through a complete season of Pandemic Legacy you may well feel the need for more.

Working together as a team through a single developing narrative is one of the most exciting experiences that board gaming has to offer.

At its best the journey is full of surprises and twists and turns and can keep you and your friends involved for many hours.

I’m going to give you some choices about which games you could look at next if you just can’t wait to do something similar again with your friends…or even on your own.

Even though cooperative legacy and campaign designs are not common there are some which are definitely worthy of exploration. The list of recommended titles is:

  • Other seasons of Pandemic Legacy
  • Aeon’s End: Legacy
  • Betrayal Legacy
  • Gloomhaven: Jaws Of The Lion
  • Shadowrun: Crossfire or Dragonfire
  • Mechs vs. Minions

We are going to keep our search narrow, keeping only to games that do similar things to Pandemic Legacy, which means designs in which the players work together and make their way through a single developing story.

I’ll be looking at the games themselves, but also at some other factors such as recommended player count, as legacy and campaign designs always play best if you can get the same group around the table all the way through the story.

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Know What Type Of Game You Need

In order to get the best out of this article you need to ask yourself some questions about the type of game you are after.

Probably the most important thing to determine is how many players you will be able to get together and for how long.

It’s no use picking an epic campaign game that needs four players to play at its best if it is just going to be you and a friend with a couple of evenings to spare.

Also, are you happy running multiple characters on your own and, if so, would you be up for playing a solo campaign?

If so then there are also some choices for you on this list, but the more you know what you are looking for the better the recommendation we will be able to give you.

Pandemic Legacy Has Three Seasons – Maybe Try Another One?

It may seem like an obvious thing to point out, but it’s probably worth mentioning that there are now three seasons of Pandemic Legacy, so if you have finished one of them and are looking for a similar experience then you could simply get the next box in the series.

Season 1 and Season 2 were followed by Season 0, which sounds odd, but that’s because the third box is a prequel set in the middle of the Cold War.

You could in theory play them in any order, but I would run through them in the sequence I have just listed, which is the same as their order of publication.

However it may well be that you have had more than enough of Pandemic, in which case read on for some non-biological alternatives.

Aeon’s End: Legacy Is A Deck Builder With A Campaign

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Aeon’s End burst onto the gaming scene a few years ago and now has a ton of content which has been released over the years.

It can be confusing to know where to start with all the different boxes, especially as some of them are standalone designs while others are expansions, but the one I am recommending is Aeon’s End: Legacy.

Aeon’s End is a deck builder, which means that your character will begin with a small deck of rather weak cards but then gradually buy more powerful abilities and filter out the less useful ones.

All deck builders are about striking a balance between different elements and keeping your deck finely tuned, and Aeon’s End is no exception, but it also adds a couple of novel tweaks to the standard design which really take it to a new level.

They are:

  • Non-shuffled decks

and

  • Random turn order

In most deck builders you shuffle your deck when it needs to be replaced, but in Aeon’s End you put your cards into the discard pile in the order you choose and simply flip it over when you need a new draw pile.

This adds a totally new level of play to the game, and means that an enemy can really mess up with your plans just by making you shuffle your deck.

Also Aeon’s End has a random turn order so you can’t get all your characters to do things safe in the knowledge that the bad guy goes last because he could go first or even twice in a row.

There are other tweaks to a tried and tested system as well, but these two in particular keep Aeon’s End fresh and really challenging.

In the Legacy version of Aeon’s End your characters will become stronger as they continue their adventure through the game, although the story itself is not always as engaging as it could be.

However, once you have finished the campaign you can use most of the components of the game in other versions of Aeon’s End, so there is extra value in this box that is not there in some other designs.

Aeon’s End also plays particularly well with two, so it’s ideal for a couple who want to go on a deckbuilding fantasy adventure together.

Shadowrun: Crossfire and Dragonfire Do Similar Things With Different Themes

Shadowrun: Crossfire and Dragonfire are also deck building campaign games in the Aeon’s End mould, taking characters and sending them on adventures as they grow in power.

Shadowrun is quite a challenging title while Dragonfire is easier, and Aeon’s End probably sits somewhere in the middle, so if you like Aeon’s End and want more you would always try one of these for a change of pace and flavour.

Shadowrun is set in a cyberpunk world while Dragonfire has more traditional role playing characters and they play very similarly, which shouldn’t be a surprise as Dragonfire is actually a reskin of Shadowrun.

Dragonfire is also more of a traditional campaign game with eight chapters that get played through in order and Zee Garcia takes a look at it in this video.

 

On the other hand, Shadowrun: Crossfire comes with three scenarios (a later edition has five) which don’t need to be played through in strict order.

Either of these would be a decent option instead of Aeon’s End: Legacy or as something to explore after it.

Alternatively, if you play and like Aeon’s End: Legacy you could explore the Aeon’s End world even further and you would even be able to use the character you created.

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Betrayal Legacy Is A Good Choice For More Players

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While Aeon’s End is great with two, something like Betrayal Legacy works better with more players, so if you are able to get a larger group together with some regularity then this game is worth considering.

It’s based on the game Betrayal At House On The Hill in which players explore a haunted mansion, but in the legacy version the story is spread out over several decades.

It plays similarly to the original, so if you know and enjoy that game then this would be a solid choice for some legacy play.

Sometimes your characters will turn out to be part of a larger family and at other points an object that seemed insignificant might turn out to have some hidden relevance, so there is a lot to explore and enjoy.

While Aeon’s End: Legacy is about fighting and character development there is more of a sense of a large story here, so if that appeals to you then Betrayal Legacy is worth investigating.

Gloomhaven: Jaws Of The Lion Is An Epic Adventure

It would be really easy to recommend the mighty Gloomhaven as a cooperative legacy game but I’m going to plump for Gloomhaven: Jaws Of The Lion instead.

Gloomhaven itself is a massive undertaking with hours of content and around one hundred scenarios but it’s also quite complicated and tricky to run.

Jaws Of The Lion is designed as the entry level game for the system, so is much easier to understand and play, and is probably about the right level of complexity for people who have finished Pandemic Legacy.

Handily the maps are also all printed in the main booklet so you place your figure on the pages of the book rather than having to ferret around in a massive box for that little bit of terrain you just can’t find.

There are four characters, sixteen monster types and twenty five scenarios overall, so this is still a meaty proposition, but the five-scenario tutorial helps to ease players into the rules in a much more gentle fashion than the original Gloomhaven.

This game is all about exploration, character development and fighting, so while it has some similarities to Pandemic Legacy it feels more like a role playing game in cardboard form and is deep and involving.

Rodney Smith will take you through the first scenario in this video.

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Mechs vs. Minions Is Knockabout Fun

Mechs vs. Minions is a lighthearted cooperative campaign game in which you control a set of Mechs against – yes, you’ve guessed it – a horde of Minions.

You play the game by programming your Mechs in collaboration with the rest of your team so that they turn, fire and move in sequence and deal with the bad guys.

It all should be pretty simple, but then glitches creep in and malfunctions, and then there’s oil and lava…and eventually it all descends into a really fun but chaotic mess.

It is also one of the most astonishingly beautiful games out there and represents amazing value for money.

The box comes filled to the brim with figures, cards, boards, crystals, envelopes, dice, a sand-timer and a big container with something mysterious inside, and all of it is gorgeous.

The game begins with a simple tutorial scenario, but then things begin to go wrong very quickly indeed, and that is when the chaos starts.

Mechs vs. Minions is the kind of cooperative campaign you should play when you are looking to have fun with some friends and not take defeat too seriously.

Rodney Smith will show you how to play it in this video.

mechs v minions

Use This Table To Decide What’s Best For You

Hopefully you now have a good idea of which game you might want to try next for your game group, or even on your own.

Whether you want something light and breezy like Mechs vs. Minions or heavy and grindy like Gloomhaven: Jaws Of The Lion there is something here to fit almost all tastes.

Check out our handy guide below which sums up the points we’ve made in the article, and then get playing!

Style Best with Scenarios Weight Recommended Solo:
Pandemic Legacy Managing threats Four players Twelve Medium No
Aeon’s End: Legacy Fighty deckbuilder Two players Seven Medium Yes
Shadowrun: Crossfire Cyberpunk deck builder Four players Three Medium Yes
Dragonfire Fantasy deck builder Four players Eight Medium to heavy Yes
Betrayal Legacy Narrative

Exploration

Five players Thirteen Medium No
Gloomhaven: Jaws Of The Lion Role Playing

Adventure

Two players Twenty five Heavy Yes
Mechs vs. Minions Action programming Four players Ten Light to medium No

 

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About the author

James Declan discovered board gaming via a one hour sesh trying to escape Forbidden Island with his daughter and has never looked back.