Board Games

Pandemic Legacy

The board game lets gamers indulge in a little cooperative epidemiological roleplay.


Working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) probably isn't much fun, but the board game Pandemic found success letting gamers indulge in a little epidemiological roleplay. A cooperative game where participants win or lose together as they work to fight disease, a game can typically be finished in 45 minutes.

With plenty of time to pass in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who wanted to dive deeper turned to Pandemic's trio of legacy games, where elements of each gameplay carry over into the next session. It can get quite complicated, with rule changes, challenges, upgrades, and plot developing over the course of a "year" (with each "month" comprising one or two game sessions).

In Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, for example, players can become medics, scientists, researchers, and other roles as the game progresses. In a nod to a peculiarity of government budgeting, players get less funding when they're successful and more help when they're failing.

In an all-too-familiar plot point, an incurable disease starts ravaging the globe. Quarantines are futile and the virus mutates. Hope lies not in a cure but in a vaccine created by nonstate actors. And much like the COVID-19 "lab leak" theory, a conspiracy theory about government-engineered viruses might just turn out to be true. Pretty prescient for a game originally released in 2015.