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Legacy Board Games: Definition, History and Where to Start

If you’re new to the hobby you might be wondering what a Legacy board game is and what makes them so special.

Legacy Board Games Definitions, History and Where to Start

Legacy Board Game Definition

A legacy board game is one which typically has the following characteristics:

  • Played over the course of multiple games or rounds, usually with the same players
  • Permanent (or temporary) changes are made to components, rules, and other aspects as the game is played
  • Changes are often a result of player’s choices and actions in the game or their progress through it

All these things might sound odd for a board game but once you play one you’ll understand why they are some of the best gaming experiences you can have.   We can go a little deeper into each aspect of Legacy Board Games to give you an even better understanding.

Campaigns

Legacy board games are typically played over multiple rounds or what some would refer to as a campaign. The first round or chapter usually has the simplest rules and will be the most basic form of the game.

Once players have played through that first round, the outcome of that game will often determine what comes next.  Players will work through numerous rounds of the game with the story, gameplay, and other aspects progressing with each one. 

Changes

Players will be required to make permanent changes to rules, components, or other aspects of the game when playing through the numerous rounds of a Legacy board game.  This can be things like adding new rules dependent on previous game outcomes, physically destroying cards or components, or upgrading or changing their characters.

These changes will lead to unique game states and experiences as players’ decisions matter and often are the cause of these changes.  This means no two games will be alike when playing through a legacy campaign.The “permanent” changes though mean that most Legacy board games are only able to be played one time.  There are some workarounds such as reset kits, but they are intended to be enjoyed one time per copy.  

The truly “permanent” changes are what makes Legacy board games so special.  If you destroy a component, there is no going back, no undoing what you have done.  It’s the ultimate sign that your actions matter and affect the game.

The History of Legacy Board Games

Legacy board games are a fairly recent contribution to the modern board game hobby.  Rob Daviau is considered the creator of this novel idea when he initially joked about the characters in Clue always being invited back to dinner, ultimately pitching the idea of Clue “legacy” to Hasbro, which got rejected.

Later though, he was asked to implement the same concept in Risk, and in 2011 Risk Legacy was released.  This was the first legacy board game to be released and the start of a new wave of board game experiences. Rob Daviau later went on to design one of the most popular legacy board games of all time, Pandemic Legacy Season 1, and has continued to help progress this category of board games even further.

Are Legacy Board Games Worth It

So are these types of board games worth playing?  They often have a pretty hefty price tag and technically can usually only be played through once on top of that.  Even so, these games are absolutely worth it in our opinion.

Most of them have enough content to justify their slightly higher price with a lot of them taking many hours to play.  Sure they’re not as infinitely replayable as some other board games but there is a lot of additional value.

The story this style of game provides is like no other.  When you play with the right group it is one of the most fun, exciting, and unique board game experiences you can have.  There is nothing quite like tearing up cards, modifying game boards, and creating a one-of-a-kind playthrough of a legacy game together.

If you care about getting more of your money’s worth out of a legacy game though, many have some sort of reset kit so you can play it again, but honestly, this kind of takes away the “specialness” of permanently altering your game, so we’d recommend just taking these games for what they are and playing them as intended.

Should You Play Legacy Board Games With Two Players

Should You Play Legacy Board Games With Two Players

You know this had to be a section on this post.  Even though we’re all about gaming with just two players this is an area where we think more is typically better.  Gasp… we know but we got to be honest!

Legacy board games are all about the story and the unique and often thematic experience they give players.  Sure you could enjoy it with just two, but if you have a group of friends that are into the game, you will enjoy it that much more. So, go all out and play these types of games with the max recommended number of players (usually). 

Of course, these are very generalized opinions, and each game will have its own “best” or “preferred” player count but most of the time with Legacy board games, the more the merrier.  Now if all you have is two players, don’t let that stop you from playing some of these amazing board games, it’s still definitely worth it at this player count.

Even though playing with two might not be as fun or awesome, it has some advantages especially if that other player is your significant other.  The biggest is that it is much easier to set up game sessions.  If you are playing with people who don’t live together it can sometimes be a struggle to meet up enough to play through a Legacy game within a reasonable amount of time.

What to Do With a Legacy Board Game After Playing It

Well, you have a few options here, but it’s a matter of personal preference on what you want to do.

  1. Shelf It: Keep it as a reminder of the time you played through the game.  If it’s a game that allows you to replay the final chapter or round then this option also makes it so that is still possible.
  2. Buy a Reset Kit: Cheaper than buying another copy (more environmentally friendly too), and then you can play through the game again if you wish.
  3. Turn it into Memorabilia: Either frame or create shadowboxes with some of the more unique aspects and components that represent your playthrough.  These make excellent game room wall hangings.
  4. Reuse Components:  If you are less of a sentimental person, there are probably a lot of pieces and other things that you could find a use for if you get a little creative.  
  5. Toss It:  We get it, sometimes you just need to declutter, make sure you check with others who played the game with you before doing this one.

Where to Start

Hopefully, you know a little bit more about Legacy board games and what they are now.  If you haven’t played one yet we strongly recommend that you change that.  We’re a little biased but we think Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is the best place to start and one of the best Legacy board games of all time (and one that works quite well for just two).

There are many other options to choose from though, below is a list of some of the most popular Legacy board games that are great for both beginners and experienced gamers.

ImageLegacy GamesFeaturesBuy
Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

  • Cooperative
  • Works with just two
  • One of the best
Buy on AmazonRead Full Review
Gloomhaven Jaws of The Lion

Gloomhaven Jaws of The Lion

  • Cooperative
  • Learn as you go
  • A lot of game
Buy on Amazon
My City

My City

  • Easy to learn and play
  • Family Friendly
  • Competitive
Buy on Amazon
Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of The West

Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of The West

  • Great for those already familiar with Ticket to Ride
  • Replayable end game
Buy on Amazon
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

  • Can be as competitive or cooperative as you want to make it
  • One of the more fun and less serious legacy games
Buy on Amazon
Aeon's End: Legacy

Aeon's End: Legacy

  • Cooperative deck builder
  • Great for fans of the original
  • A lot of the content is compatible with other Aeon's End games, i.e. can be reused.
Buy on Amazon
Betrayal Legacy

Betrayal Legacy

  • Semi cooperative
  • The theme works very well for this type of game
  • One of the more fun legacy games
Buy on Amazon

 

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