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What Are Legacy Board Games?


If you have walked into a board game shop recently you might have come across a few games that you played before, but wait, the box is different and the word legacy is plastered on the front. What makes a legacy game different from the original game?

Legacy board games are serialized and follow a narrative allowing you to be immersed in the game even further. Legacy games change each time you play by adding new rules and components or even by destroying old components. The game’s story may ask you to do things like tear a card or add certain stickers to the game board. This adds weight to every decision you make as it will affect future plays.

What Makes a Legacy Board Game Different?

Legacy Board games follow a story that the players take part in. Sure games have themes and usually a story of some kind but for the most part, you sit down and play the game without really expanding the story or its characters. That is what Legacy board games are all about, evolving and expanding.

Most board games can be finished within the course of an hour but in order to finish a Legacy board game, you will likely be investing hours into the game. Since each time you finish a game the story advances, you may be required to play ten, fifteen, or even twenty times before finishing the game!

You can think of board games as a movie and their legacy counterparts as a television series. You can sit and watch a movie and be done within an hour and a half and never think twice about it again. Television shows consist of multiple seasons and dozens or even hundreds of episodes. It’s a much bigger time commitment and requires you to be fully invested in the story or you won’t want to keep watching.

Typically the characters that the player chooses to start with will be the only character they play as through the course of the legacy game. So make sure you are fairly invested in whatever character you chose.

Each game is self-contained and plays like normal until either the player or group wins or loses. New elements and rules will be added to each game slightly changing how you will play the game moving forward. You may be asked to destroy components too.

Can You Replay Legacy Board Games?

You are able to replay legacy board games, sort of. In legacy board games you are constantly adding new components to the game as well as destroying or writing on them. So you won’t be able to replay the story exactly the same without all of the components. 

I suppose if you manage to keep all of your components that you were supposed to destroy to the side and remember which components you added into the game and then take them out when you want to replay the story, you could replay the game. But part of the fun of a legacy board game is not knowing how the story will unfold and how the game will evolve with each play.

Legacy board games do have the option to play the game once you’re finished with the campaign, using all of the new components that you gained from the story. This turns the game back into a standard board game and won’t follow any story but allows you to keep playing with all the neat components from the legacy game.

What’s Inside a Legacy Board Game?

You will find a lot of the usual components inside a legacy board game that you would get from a standard game. What makes legacy board games interesting is that you will typically find multiple decks of cards with each warning you to stop reading the cards until you have completed a game.

These decks will tell the story of the game as well as introduce new rules into the game. This makes each time you play a legacy game slightly different. You will want to be careful not to mix up new rule cards with old ones if you are not planning on destroying the components as instructed.

You will also find multiple blind boxes inside. This is my favorite part of playing a legacy board game. You don’t open these boxes until instructed to do so by the story. You never know what you will get. Maybe it will be cool new tokens or maybe it will be shiny gems. It’s always a blast to figure out how these new components will change the game moving forward.

Other staples of a legacy board game include stickers. This is what makes it so hard to replay a legacy board game. Since you will be placing stickers all over the board and components, it will make it hard to replay with your previous game’s stuff everywhere and no new stickers to place over the old ones.

Every legacy board game is slightly different so you may find cooler goodies in one game and more generic stuff in another.

Are Legacy Board Games for You?

I would recommend a legacy board game to anyone who has a dedicated game group who gets together often. Since you will be playing the same game a dozen or more times, you will want to have a group that is ready to go on the epic quest of a legacy board game.

I’d also suggest starting with a legacy board game that you have played the regular version before. So before jumping into Betrayal Legacy, maybe try out Betrayal at House on the Hill first to get an idea of what the game is like. There’s no point in buying a board game that requires hours of dedication to finish if you don’t like the game’s mechanics.

Not every board game has a legacy version, but some of the big title board games do. Maybe you use to love playing Pandemic, but played it to death and it just got stale for your game group. Legacy board games can bring new life to your old favorites. I would take a look and see what games have gotten the legacy treatment and give it a shot.

Brings new life into old board gamesTime commitment
Each play is fresh and exciting

Legacy vs Campaign: What’s the Difference?

If you are reading this article and thinking to yourself, these legacy games sure sound a lot like a campaign board game. Although campaigns have a lot in common with legacy games there is a difference.

Legacy board games have a narrative that once completed, you cannot go back and experience it again. Campaigns, on the other hand, are completely replayable. In campaigns, you play a series of games where your decisions affect future games, just like in a legacy game. The difference is that you aren’t permanently altering the game in a campaign. Your not tearing up cards, writing on the board or putting stickers on things.

Are Legacy Board Games Worth the Money?

Legacy board games can be a bit more expensive than their normal board game counterparts. For example, you can find Pandemic on Amazon for about $25, but Pandemic Legacy is $50. So which one gives you more bang for your buck?

When people think of a Legacy board game, they think that once they have finished playing they will never play it again. Especially since you can’t go back and replay a legacy board game and experience the story all over again.

So you might think that investing twice the amount of a normal board game isn’t worth it. But you will be playing a legacy board game ten maybe twenty times before this happens and even after this you still have a completely playable game. I have plenty of normal board games that I haven’t even played three times let alone twenty!

The story that legacy games tell will make you want to keep playing and figure out how the game will evolve the next time you play. All of this really does add a whole lot of value to these types of board games and can be an absolute blast to play.

Best Legacy Board Games for Beginners

So if legacy board games sound interesting to you, here are a few that I found were easy to get started.

  • Machi Koro Legacy: This legacy game was released recently and has a very simple story and easy to learn gameplay. 2 to 4 players will be competing to build the best town possible, adding establishments and landmarks. Each game takes about 40 minutes to complete so it shouldn’t take too long to complete this one. 
  • Pandemic Legacy: Based on the popular board game Pandemic, this legacy board game has 2 to 4 players trying to save the world from multiple diseases before they outbreak. This game takes a bit longer to play, about an hour or more, so make sure your group is committed to playing this one multiple times.
  • Risk Legacy: Even if you have never played a legacy board game or even a normal board game for that matter you have probably heard of the game risk. Risk has been around for ages and it was the first board game to get the legacy treatment. 3 to 5 players will fight over territory, create history, and shape their world. This is another long game one that you will need to be prepared to commit a lot of time. The box says 60 minutes a game, but if you are playing with five people I would add another hour on to that.

There are a dozen more legacy board games available and even more in development.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found the answers to your questions. Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite legacy board games are. Which board games do you want to see get the legacy treatment? Happy Gaming!