Board games as we know them, have always had a few constants. You would set up your game, play your game with 2-5 friends and then you would put it away. Eventually you would play a game enough times that it would become stale. That all changed in 2011 with the invention of the “legacy” game, The idea of a legacy game is that every game you play will change the game and impact your next game. The average legacy game is played over the course of 12 games, spanning a year of in game story time. This concept intrigued me, since I love the idea of telling a narrative with a board game. So let's talk about legacy games!
If you have never played a legacy game, there are a few things you should know about this style of game before starting this under taking. Firstly, since it is a series of sequential games that will impact the next, you should play all the games with the same group, since a new player may not understand the story if they weren’t there the whole time. Secondly (this is the part that took me awhile to wrap my head around), you will be asked to destroy components of the game or put stickers on cards or the game board its self, leaving permanent markers. This was shocking to me since as a tabletop gamer/collector, I try to keep everything as pristine as possible, However, if you play legacy games, you will learn to get use to this process. Something unique about this process is that after you get to the end of the story mode on these legacy games, there is usually a free play mode. In this mode, you can play the game as is, which includes the unique game board you created playing through story mode.
Some notable legacy games are: Risk Legacy, and Pandemic Legacy. In Risk Legacy, while you play the game you have new secret objectives revealed and gain tactical advantages and disadvantages as the campaign progresses. Pandemic Legacy has had 2 seasons, the story continues from one to the other, so you must play them in order. I apologize if I am keeping this vague, but I am trying not to spoil any of the amazing stories from both of these games. Most recently, Betrayal Legacy has come out, which plays a lot on the trope of “why do we keep coming back” from horror movies as each player controls a family and you play over decades instead of months like most legacy games.
If you can’t wrap your head around the idea of destroying your content to play a legacy game, there are other options you have if you still want to play a narrative board game. You can find those mentioned in our article “No Dungeon Master? No Problem!”. If you want that truly immersive, emotionally invested experience then you are going to have to suck it up and destroy some games!