Finished Pandemic Legacy Season 1 yesterday, wrap-up of November and December and final impressions in spoilers.
November was our first and, as it turns out, only month with the objectives provided by the completed vaccine. We easily blew up two more paramilitary bases, constructed three vaccine factories, and cured the three normal diseases. Upgrading one of the vaccine factories to permanent status and giving the operations expert the "shady background" ability to blow up paramilitary bases with merely the matching color card rather than the matching city card itself, we headed into December...
And got spanked in the first half. We maxed the outbreak track without even trying to find the stockpile and only having vaccinated four or five infected cities. But it wasn't all for nothing. The operations expert blew up the final paramilitary base, which was constructed in Osaka with the final permanent base sticker, ridding the world of the conspiracy's ground forces once and for all. He also built two more vaccine factories, which were upgraded to permanent status at the end of the half-month. The world's air transportation network was basically restored, and half of it was pumping out vaccine doses rapidly. The operations expert and the scientist both gave their lives to buy time to vaccinate a few more cities, making heroic sacrifices to stop the infect deck from doing its damage despite having no further room for scars. They knew that the only hope for success was in two of their surviving teammates doing the entire job in the second half of the month.
Their sacrifices were not in vain. In the second half of the month, the medic and the immunologist came off the bench for the first time. The team completely abandoned vaccine development of the three conventional diseases, relying on the medic to control disease hotspots on the ground while the immunologist wandered Asia and vaccinated the Faded. Cards were used for nothing but a quick flight to Atlanta to dump the search track two or three steps forward and then a quick flight back to the conventional disease hotspots for the medic and Faded territory for the immunologist.
This strategy was effective. The team blew up the stockpile and then finished off C0DA with only one outbreak in an otherwise undisturbed Buenos Aires to pay for it. At last, the war was over.
We added up the score and got somewhere in the high 600s. This gave us the second-best victory text. The peaceful global order of modern civilization was momentarily shattered by C0DA, but the disease was eradicated over the course of several months and the conspirators behind it were caught and convicted. Riots were widespread in C0DA-ravaged Asia but isolated elsewhere. Osaka was the lone collapsing city, and no city tore itself all the way down to Fallen. The operations expert and the scientist were killed in the course of their labors, the generalist will never sleep an undisturbed night again, and the treacherous quarantine expert will die behind bars.
Overall, this was a very fun game. A solid 8/10. It was a satisfying set of variations on basic Pandemic and I was always looking forward to the next month. The event deck and the advent calendar always gripped our curiosity and we frequently sat down for "just one" play that become two or three.
Gentle criticisms: The plot was a bit of a cliche-strewn railroad. I enjoyed the sensation of playing a zombie game and being genuinely surprised when the zombie outbreak happens (usually there's a zombie on the cover or in the game description that rather gives it away) but once we got on that ramp, they didn't really do anything with it that wasn't the strictest vanilla. The big lategame reveal was that the government was in on it. I was less than shocked. I couldn't help making continual unfavorable comparison to Deus Ex, where the government is in on it too but you can actually figure this out and take steps to oppose them before you turn over the plot card that says ok now it's time to flip. I wish there was some mechanic for doing that here as we had figured out the mission deck were the bad guys quite a while before the game allowed us to start opposing them.
Also, scoring. Missing one of the four searches by one month cost us 200 points. This is the equivalent of losing TEN GAMES out of the potential 24 (we actually lost 3). That's too harsh. For that kind of punishment they really needed to signal to us that we needed to stop winning games with cures/quarantines/bases and get the searches done. If the players go undefeated through the summer and fall but win a single one of those games without doing a search track (and we did, once) then Team Bravo shows up and you basically go from being scored like you batted .900 to being scored like you batted .550. Yuck.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I'm sure we will play Season 0 at some point. I'm told that's the one to go to next and is quite better than Season 2.