Spoilerific Pandemic Legacy Discussion: CHARACTERS

If you have not played Pandemic Legacy, I recommend that you do so before you read this.  There are significant portions of this game that will be less fun for you if you know that they are coming.  In this post I will be focusing on the characters we played through our journey and why we picked them.


We made a very lucky choice in our starting characters.  We picked the Generalist, Scientist, Dispatcher, and Medic.  It wasn't lucky because that combination was amazing in the game, though.  It was probably a sub-optimal choice actually, but what made it amazing was the first twist; Relationships.  These give you great advantages when you play certain characters together, but you can only put them on characters the first time they are played.  So none of the starting characters can have them unless you introduce a new character.  Because of our starting choices, we were able to replace the Generalist with the Researcher, and give him and the Scientist the Co-Worker advantage.  This was amazing since it let the Researcher feed cards to the Scientist from anywhere in the world, which was a huge advantage in many of the games.  I think this is one of the big reasons we only lost twice in the whole run of games.  And it was only possible because we had chosen not to play the Researcher on the first game.

The Dispatcher is one of my favorite characters, but we fairly quickly replaced her with the Quarantine Specialist for two reasons.  First, quarantines are very powerful.  They can prevent outbreaks like nothing else.  The other reason we switched was to get a Rival relationship going between her and the Scientist, which gave him another way to get the cards he needed to cure.  Plus she's military which was VERY useful for most of the game.

We basically played those 4 characters right up until the point that we were required to [HUGE SPOILER] kill one of them off.  The Quarantine Specialist had the paramilitary escorts, so she had to GO!  There were some points where we considered swapping one of the characters out for the soldier once the infected appeared, but we were pretty lucky in our setups in games and never felt like we really needed someone who could kill all the faded quickly.  If we had had a setup with a ton of them, we might have made a switch for that game, though.

When we were required to kill off the specialist, we switched back to the Dispatcher, and stuck with her through the rest of the game.  The only other characters we ever considered were the Soldier (as described above) and the Immunologist for the last game we played to vaccinate faster.  We did sub in the Immunologist in December and gave him a Family relationship with the Dispatcher for the extra actions, which came in handy.

The Colonel seems weak.  He can kill faded, but if the Soldier can get access to grenades, he can do it much better, and so we saved the grenades in case we ever needed them and planned to sub him in if the setup was crazy.  We also never really played with roadblocks.  They just seemed to limiting except in emergencies.  We did pull them out at such times, but never made them permanent.

The operations expert just seems so bad.  You rarely want to build anything and if you do, it's just not that difficult to get it done.  It's also possible that having the researcher around to push cards around made it easier to live without this character.

The Virologist is strong, but one dimensional.  The soldier is probably just as good in the first and probably second game you introduce him, and has a lot more versatility after that.

I hope this gave you some insight into the different characters and why you'd want to play them.

Pandemic Legacy

Oh... my... goodness.

This game is SO good.

I almost don't want to review it.  I'm afraid I'll ruin it for you or spoil some element of it.  It is best experienced cold with the sure knowledge that you are about to embark on an adventure, with twists and turns and story and surprises and fun.

I encourage you to go play a session of this game before reading any further.  And I'll post a more in depth review after I've got a few more sessions under my belt.


Cacao is a tile laying game about buying and selling cocoa beans.

At its heart it feels very similar to Carcassone.  In fact, I've heard it described as Carcassone with the meeples built into the tiles, and that's not too far from the truth.

There is a shared "deck" of tiles in the middle and each player has their own deck of tiles that are identical, but shuffled.  Each turn a player will play one of their tiles adjacent to the tiles on the board, and then fill in any spaces that border at least two player tiles.  Player tiles can only be played adjacent to common tiles and it ends up forming a checkerboard pattern.

Player tiles each have 4 meeples arranged around the outside edge with between zero and 3 meeples on a particular side.  Common tiles have cacao pods, markets, temples and other actions.  These get activated when meeples get played adjacent to them or they are placed adjacent to meeples. 

Money = points, and the player gets money by finding and selling pods, controlling temples, etc.  The player with the most points/money at the end wins, of course.

Overall, I liked this game.  

The Good:

I thought it flowed very well.  I was engaged when it wasn't my turn, because the board changes significantly and it helps to keep up with those changes.  Temple spaces, for example, are competitive, giving points to the players who have the most meeples around them, so you need to know when they get played or added to.

The Bad:

That is also a problem with the game, however.  There's a lot of information and if you aren't paying attention to what other players are doing, you'll have to try to analyze it on your turn.  This game has a lot of "AP" or Analysis Paralysis.  There are so many possible choices that in order to play "well" you need to send your brain down a lot of different paths.  You've got three possible tiles in your hand and more on the table and you need to figure out where to place your tile, and where that lets you play the board tiles.  Plus each of your tiles can be played in many different orientations with different numbers of meeples against the tiles on the board and the tiles you are playing next to them.  Should you put two meeples next to the cacao farm to get two pods and one next to the market to sell one of them, or one meeple next to the farm to get one pod and two next to the market to sell that pod and another one you have in your stores.  So many choices!

It's definitely a game that you should play once for practice.  There will be a lot of moments where you go, "OH! That's how that works!"  and you will definitely play better in the second game than you did in the first.  You'll have a better idea of how Temples work, for example, and how many of each tiles are in the common deck, and how the "water man" works, etc.  There are a lot of complex systems interacting here, and each one gives different numbers of points at different rates.  You'll spend a lot of time weighing the number of points you can get from one action versus another one; weighing a quick gain on this turn versus possible points on later turns.

There is one other small issue.  Different markets give you different prices for the pods you sell.  Most of them give 2 or 3 coins each, but one of them gives 4 coins.  Because there's only one of them in the deck, it's a bit swing when it comes out.  If there are a lot of players, it could get consumed without all the players getting a chance at it.  Also, it will depend heavily on whether you have pods to sell when it comes up.  So it's got a lot of swing and a lot of luck and can definitely have a large impact on the outcome.  I'd honestly recommend removing it or treating it as a 2 or a 3.


Play this game if you like tableau building, strategy, and balancing economies.  It is a lot of fun, but I still recommend changing the 4 market.