Variant: Legacy Game Logistics


Image via BGG User W Eric Martin

I really like the idea of legacy-style games. That as you play, you get a board and ultimately a game that is entirely unique to your gruop. The gameboard and components change as time goes on and you receive a campaign-like experience merging some of the best concepts from RPGs into board games. I approve.

But legacy games bring new challenges that board games had previously avoided. Specifically, because the game changes, it can be harder to swap players in and out. Some games do this better than others. Pandemic: Legacy doesn’t really have any mechanical problem with this – although you still need to provide the backstory to any new players, as well as any new rules that cropped up between their last play and the next one. But some, like SeaFall, have faction relationships that persist over time and the absence of that faction can suck a lot of the tactics out of the game.

One of the advantages that boardgames traditionally hold over RPGs is that you don’t need as consistent of a group. If Bob can’t make it to game night for whatever reason, well, you play Small World with four players instead of five. Unlike an RPG where the absence of the strongest warrior, the sneaky thief, or the powerful healer can take an ordinarily challenging scenario to almost impossible difficulty.

But Legacy games unfortunately have the byproduct of reintroducing the need for a consistent group. And while Legacy games can provide a great experience, the logistical hassle makes them sort of a turn off. For example, I’m very intrigued by SeaFall. But I probably won’t ever play it because my group is full of adults who have responsibilities and sometimes need to miss a game night.

I wonder if, as legacy style games become more common, we’ll see a decline in their popularity. Right now, the novelty of the genre encourages players to make the commitment. But when it becomes more commonplace, my guess is that the logistical hurdles will make the genre a harder sell to many groups.

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