Sunday, 29 November 2015
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, Month 1
This blog post is about our first session ('January 2016') of the game Pandemic Legacy. There is a brief summary at the beginning of what the game is about. But it's not really a review so much as it's a fictional account of the events that occurred in the game, in order that our players can jump back into the game next time round with a good idea of where it stands, and other people can read and wonder about the stories they could be telling, without getting too bogged down with mechanics (I won't for example, be mentioning every city where a single disease cube turns up). It's also worth pointing out that there ARE spoilers, so if you're planning to play, and have not reached the end of the first month in the game, you'll be ruining a few of the surprises.
Okay then. Pandemic Legacy is a spin-off of the popular co-operative board game Pandemic. The game came in a choice of red or blue box, so you can run two games at the same time, in increasingly divergent world; it's worth noting too that the box in both cases is labeled Season 1, so we can only imagine there will be a second season down the line where the world is shaken anew by a different (but thematically similar) threat.
In brief the Legacy game, like the original version, pits up to four individuals against four diseases that are spreading around the globe. in one way it's very much the reverse of the Plague Inc game that many people have played, and indeed, there's a Pandemic app that lets you play the game, playing four characters at once. In the standard game, however, losing (by one of free ways) means you've failed, the game is over, and you just start your next game afresh, the world restore to it's pre-disease ridden glory.
In Pandemic Legacy, however, events that occur during the game permanently change elements of the game, and when the game ends the world does not entirely reset. Cities that get so disease ridden that the viruses spread to neighbouring cities become unstable, and with increased outbreaks can fall to rioting and worse. Characters caught in one of these cities where a disease has run out of control get scars, psychological scars, that hinder their activities. But, at the end of each game, win or lose, there's the opportunity for characters to earn helpful new abilities from their experiences, to build permanent research stations, to mutate an eradicated disease in a positive way, or to allow some other positive events into the game. Over time the board evolves. It's even possible to have characters lost in action, forever removed from the game.
AND SO WE BEGIN - JANUARY 2016
Our starting group were four characters working for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) - although this isn't specified in the game itself, this is the organisation we started with. In alphabetically order our characters were: Si Baxter (the Di-spatcher), who sits at a computer most of the time arranging additional transportation for the other characters, by flight, ferry or road; Lofanda Cromwell (the Researcher), who meets up with other characters to give them important information; Tallulah Speakeasy (the Medic), who has extra healing powers to combat the diseases and; Jenny Spinning (the Gen-eralist), who just does things super fast and gets to perform an extra action each turn.
Called into the Atlanta office on the Friday 1st January 2016, nursing their New Years Eve hangovers, they receive their first Mission Briefing:
You know the drill. We've got four viruses causing us problems. They seem to be mutating faster than usual - we have someone looking into that. For now, keep it under control as one of them may grow beyond our capabilities.
Checking the global situation, the troubles seemed to be worse in India, specifically in Kolkata and Chennai, where one (un-named but colour coded black) virus was threaten to outbreak) and around the city of Essen ("Bloody Essen!" exclaimed Tallulah the Medic) where a third virus (colour coded blue). The blue virus had spread further to the east, and reached as far as St. Petersburg, but to not such a terrifying extent. There was news of a third virus in Sao Paulo (colour coded yellow), and a fourth in Ho Chi Minh City, amongst the islands of the Pacific Rim (colour coded red). A few isolated cases appeared in southern Japan, in central Africa and on the east coast of the United States.
Our plucky Medic raced over to Europe, stopping in Madrid. As Japan began to report further instances of the red virus, Lofonda the Researcher nipped over to Tokyo to help. As Si the Dispatcher checked the monitors that evening, events appeared to be spiraling out of control in Asia. Tehran was reporting an epidemic of the black virus that had first appeared in India, whilst outbreaks were reported in both Kolkata and Chennai and the east coast exploded. Surrounding cities reported infections as the whole country fell victim to the virus, with reports of it surfacing in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Jakarta. Si arranged transport for Tallulah the Medic and Jenny the Generalist to get to Hong Kong. And with three of the team working hard to fight the viruses in the far East, the situation in Essen blew out of control, spreading into the various countries of northern Europe.
As they watched the news reports from their hotel room in Hong Kong, Tallulah muttered "Bloody Essen..."
Jenny the Generalist raced across the northern edge of India, helping where she could, as she tried to reach northern Europe. Tallulah remained in India, helping fight back the viruses to incredible effect, though the cities remain shook up, permanently affected by what they've experienced.
In Ho Chi Minh City the red virus raged, unchecked, so Lofanda the Researcher traveled down from Hong Kong to try to help the locals deal with the problem. With Lofanda focused on the Pacific Rim, Tallulah concentrating on India and Jenny shooting across the map towards northern Europe, other parts of the world were going unchecked. As Lofanda settles in for a long night, and Si the Dispatcher looks for where he needs to be sending people next, news of an epidemic in Bogota, in South America, are reported. With little time to adjust to this new information, the four members of the team receive a Mission Briefing Update:
Worst fears confirmed. The disease…(for reasons listed on the card it was the blue virus that was selected) ...is now classified as "COdA-403a." The cure to COdA can no longer be found using known techniques.
(the game objective now becomes to discover cures for the three diseases we CAN still discover cures for)
"Essen!" Si cried, and then looked in how to best get both the Medic and the Generalist into Europe on the next available flights to deal with the newly mutated COdA strain. He then arranged a third flight to get himself to Ho Chi Minh City, to pick up some valuable research from the Researcher.
With the dawn rising on a new day news came in of increasing numbers of infected in Chennai. But worse was yet to come. Having barely arrived in Essen, Tallulah found the COdA virus has spread even further across northern Europe and in Essen, where things had been getting increasingly worse for some time, people were rioting. Flights in and out of the city were canceled. Jenny, in St. Petersburg, found that the events in Essen had had a knock on effect here, and pushed on through, spreading further east to Moscow, even as the transport the Dispatcher had arranged had been carrying her the other way. "Bloody Essen!" snapped Jenny, with the realisation of how bad things had got.
Jenny and Tallulah raced around Europe, keeping COdA in check, but as they did this, and Lofanda and Si remained in Ho Chi Minh City, events were raging out of control in South America. As Bogata remained unvisited by the desperate team, despite warnings by the Medic, a further outbreak spread from it across much of the continent and up through Central America. South Japan was reporting the highest levels seen so far of the un-named red virus that had originated in the Pacific Rim, but almost simultaneously Si, having picked up important details from Lofanda, flew back to the States, and made it to the Atlanta research station where the CDC were able to devise a cure for it.
A brief interlude had our researchers heeding the warning of a mysterious voice speaking of a world where New York was rioting and there had been multiple outbreaks of disease ravaging South America (in reality this news from the Blue Box game that had ended badly in the neighbouring room).
Upon the visitation vanishing all eyes turned to South America, as the virus got worse in Sao Paulo, and spread out further across South America, almost as if prophesied. Bogota, under an influx of diseased travelers, fell to rioting. "Nooo!" cried Lofanda, seeing watching the news in her Ho Chi Minh City hotel as the team realised they'd not managed to achieve our objectives. They'd spent maybe the best part of a week racing around the globe, and yet they'd not managed to get to all fur corners of the map. The Medic, safe in Milan, nevertheless shook her head, as she'd being saying all along they needed to get down there, to sort the problem out.
With Botaga and Essen rioting, the team were called back to Atlanta, to lick their wounds, and consider the situation anew. The Medic spent time online establishing Local Connections, so that when she is traveling the world she can get locals to travel to neighbouring cities with the required medical aid. Meanwhile the Dispatcher updated his computer software in order to have a method of better Forecasting where the infections would resurface. The Generalist had other important things to work on, and so the Scientist Carlos Edam was called in to replace her. By mid January the team was assembled in Atlanta once more, seeing how the world had changed whilst left in the hands of local healthcare workers.
Some things never change, it seems. Chennai, where the black disease had thrived before, was once more ravaged by victims of the insidious un-named virus. Riyrdh, which had not suffered terribly at the beginning of January was now gripped by the black virus. Tokyo and its surroundings was now suffering from the red virus that had previously held sway over the southern tip of Japan. Tehran, which had previously suffered an epidemic, was again reporting high numbers of sufferers, whilst COdA had begun to surface in London and Chicago. San Francisco had some reports of COdA surfacing too, and there were reports of some minor activity from the yellow virus in Africa. Though Chennai was the main harbour of disease in India there had also been reports in Karachi.
The objectives remained the same, to seek a cure for the three weaker diseases, and to keep COdA in check.
Si the Dispatcher checked to see where there was a probability of viruses appearing, and Johannesburg and Los Angeles were flagged up. He then arranged transport to get Carlos the Scientist to Milan, and then have Tallulah the Medic join him there. Whilst they'd be concentrating initially on the diseases in the Middle East and India, as they crossed the map, their presence in Europe would mean that they could keep an eye on COdA there. Si was pretty much convinced that he'd be spending the rest of the month in North America, preventing the incurable disease from getting out of control there.
Over the following day Carlos oversaw the construction of a research station in Milan, then traveled to London in the evening, via Paris. "We'll be relying on you to keep London safe," Si said to the Scientist, whilst the team where on a conference call, adding, as an afterthought "From the rioters of Essen."
As night set on Europe, a new threat was rising in the east, as an epidemic broke in Shanghai. In Riyrdh meanwhile, the existing situation had grown work, and an outbreak spread east into India and west into Africa, and threatened Baghdad to the north. In the light of a new day Tallulah raced into the Middle East to mobilise locals into helping fight back the black virus. Si meanwhile arranged for some remote treatment to be dropped into Shangai and Chennai, to keep them from causing further outbreaks. Lofanda traveled out to Tokyo, to help fight back the virus there. Even as she did so, the disease was spreading once more in Shangai, an outbreak kept at bay by the last minute medicine supplied to the city.
The Dispatcher helped get the Medic a little further east, to Tehran, before dealing with an appearance of COdA in Chicago. The Scientist mopped up some cases of COdA in London, just before further cases were reported there, as well as further cases of the black virus in Chennai. The Medic continued to continue eastwards, getting as far as Kolkata, healing people on the way. The Researcher is still present in Tokyo, as more cases appear there, that would've caused a serious outbreak had the Lofanda not already been there and working with local healthcare. Lofanda continued her work before a flight back to San Francisco, to fight the slow spread of COdA on North America's west coast.
As she settled in at San Francisco that evening, news spread of a new epidemic, this time in St. Petersburg. Carlos raced there from London to deal with it, whilst Si concentrated on the North American cities. Tallulah continued moving eastward, and into Shanghai, where she was able to heal all cases of the red virus. Awakening in San Francisco Lofanda moved back across the Pacific to Tokyo, to help there. During the various journeys she had been able to work on a lot of research into the red and yellow viruses, which she hoped to get to Carlos in Europe quickly. Si arranged transport for both of them to convene in Milan, where the research station waited for them. Carlos accepted some of the research and finds a cure for the yellow disease.
With the new found cure, Tallulah was able to fly direct to Khartoum, and concentrated on removing traces of the yellow virus, having first cleared the map of the last traces of the red virus in Tokyo. With Carlos close to curing the red virus, it looked as if the two diseases might be eradicated completely. Lofanda continued to treat victims of COdA in Europe, whilst Si treated victims of the yellow virus in Los Angeles, but before the red virus could be wiped out completely, it surfaced once more in Tokyo.
"It's not the end of the world," Carlos stated, before adding "Yet." In Milan he revealed to the world his cure for the red disease.
Tallulah spent the next day traveling into the Middle East to heal victims of the black virus. Si, temporarily relocated to Los Angeles, found COdA spreading in his absence further inland, including a full outbreak in Chicago. Si flew Tallulah down to Lima, where she was able to remove signs of the virus from Santiago too. Still, there was a desperate need to provide a cure for the black virus. The group has a brief conference call to decide whether they would take a little time out to concentrate on eradicating the yellow or red disease, naming one of them and working on methods to make it easier to defeat further down the line. Eventually though they decided to crack down on the black virus, to tackle it before something new appeared somewhere unexpected and, with vital information, Si flew out to Paris and then drove down to Algiers. Carlos drove down to meet him, whilst Tallulah used government funding to arrange for a research station to be built there. By the end of the day the station had been built, and the black virus had been cured.
The team, this time, had won. With their success they established a permanent research station at Algiers, just outside the blue Eurozone that would likely see more trouble with COdA and then helped get the Dispatcher a qualification as a Pilot (or else he now has his own personal Pilot to run errands for him), in order to help him move other players around the world without using up valuable research.
And so, we begin the next month with Essen (bloody Essen!) and Bogata dealing with riots. Chicago, Sao Paula, St Petersburg, Riyrdh, Kolkata and Chennai are all unstable, which means they're closer to rioting than any other city, but otherwise are fine. The whole region around the Pacific Rim, where the red virus continually flourishes, is so far holding fast against the menace of the viruses and refuses to acknowledge any weakness.
It's unknown when exactly we'll be playing 'February 2016', but hopefully it'll be before ACTUAL February 2016. Watch this space.