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Pandemic Legacy Season 1 Overview

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 Overview

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 Overview

Welcome to our spoiler-free Overview of Z-Man Games Pandemic Legacy Season 1. If you want to know what we think of this game – read our review here.

The Game – Pandemic Legacy Season 1

First and foremost, you may be asking… which edition (Red or Blue)? It doesn’t matter. Only the artwork is different.

In Pandemic Legacy Season 1, each player takes on roles within the CDC to help complete each scenario in an overall campaign of Pandemic. This Overview will explain how the regular Pandemic plays. However, we’ll also highlight what makes this game different from the original game.

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is a Campaign Legacy game. A Legacy game means that each time you and your fellow players sit down to play, you will be advancing the game’s overall story, which encompasses between 12 and 24 total scenarios. Each game is a month of the year. If you lose a game, you get to replay it once: that’s why you will play 12 -24 games. The result of each game directly affects the next. This game is also a Legacy game which means that once you complete the entire campaign, you will NOT be able to reset the game back to the beginning.

During this Overview, we’ll lightly get into that without spoiling anything specific in the campaign as we feel that would be unfair to you as the secrets in the game make the game special!

Game Components

The components listed here are the components you see when you open the box, there are additional components in the game, but the game will reveal them as you play.

  • 5 Character Cards – These are the role cards from the base Pandemic game
  • 4 Pawns
  • 61 Player Cards – consisting of 48 City Cards, 5 Epidemic Cards, and 8 Event Cards
  • 4 Player Reference Cards
  • 48 Infection cards
  • 62 Legacy cards (DO NOT Shuffle these or look at until instructed)
  • 4 Civilian Cards
  • 5 Dossiers (DO NOT look at these until instructed)
  • 1 Sticker Sheet with a variety of stickers
  • 4 Cure markers
  • 1 Infection Rate marker
  • 1 Outbreak marker
  • 1 Reminder token
  • 96 Disease cubes 24 each in the four colors
  • 6 Research Stations
  • 1 Board
  • 8 number package boxes (DO NOT open these until instructed)

Legacy Game

In Pandemic Legacy Season 1, expect to be making permanent changes to your copy of the game. What does that mean? It means you will write on the board, on the player cards, on the character cards, you will apply stickers to the board, and the game may even reveal other cards and you to destroy and rip up game cards and other pieces of the game. We know this seems counter-intuitive, but that is what makes this game so different from others.

Character Cards

Character cards in Pandemic Legacy Season 1 are different from regular Pandemic. As in the regular game, they show the character’s unique ability and provide additional spaces for you to apply character upgrades. You will also name your characters. Characters can also receive scars.


If a character is in a city when it outbreaks, they get a scar sticker representing the physical and emotional trauma of working in the Pandemic. Players do get to choose which sticker a character has to take, and if a character has no more Scar slots available, they are “Lost” See outbreaks below for a more detailed explanation on “Lost” characters.

Game Play

Overall the way you play the game is the same from month to month within the game. However, the legacy deck in the game will introduce new rules with every play session. The gameplay we will highlight here is how you play the game starting in January (the first-month scenario). As the game months progress, you will receive new rules that will either change or negate the rules we state here.


To set up the game, you will start by reading the mission briefing. This briefing consists of looking at the top card in the legacy deck and, if there is a stop sign, reading the condition written below it. If your team meets the requirement, you will then flip that card over and read the narrative on the other side. Continue taking cards off of the legacy deck until you reach another stop sign. If a card has a list of letters and numbers at the bottom, you should open the corresponding door on the Dossiers one at a time and resolve what you find. If you get stickers, the game will instruct you to apply them to other game elements.

Next, you will set up the board, laying out the cure, outbreak, and infection markers. You will also place a research station on each city with a starting research station sticker (the first game will have only one in Atlanta). In the Legacy deck, you will place objective cards along the top of the game board. Unlike regular Pandemic, your objective will change for each game in Pandemic Legacy Season 1, matching where you are in the story.

Next, you will shuffle the infection cards and draw three cards. For each of those cards, add three cubes of each color to that city. Repeat and pull three cards and now put two cubes on each city, finally pull three more cards and add one cube to each city.

Next, you will select your Funded events. In January, you will start with four events, and in subsequent months, you will get more or fewer events depending on how each game ends. Add these Funded events to the Player deck and deal out cards to each player. 4 cards in a two-player game, three cards in a three-player, and two cards in a four-player game. If you are familiar with regular Pandemic, you’ll recognize these as just plain events. We’ll get into why they are called “Funded events” in a little bit.

Next, separate all remaining player cards into five approximately equal piles, and for each stack, shuffle in 1 epidemic card the starting with the smallest stack, place each stack back in the player deck area.

Finally, select which character you want to play and which research station you want to start the game. If there are no research stations, Players begin in Atlanta.

Also, if you have any Game Win bonus from the previous game, you can then apply that. For the first game, you will not have a bonus.

There are more spaces for rules here. However, they won’t become active until a later scenario, so for now, it’s time to play!


Each player takes turns going clockwise. In their turn, they do the following: Do four actions, Draw two player cards, and Infect cities.


At the beginning of Pandemic Legacy, Season 1, you can do eight possible actions, and you are free to repeat any of them in a turn.

  • Drive/Ferry – a player can move along a white line from one city to another.
  • Direct Flight – a player may discard a card from their hand and fly to that city. Unfortunately, if the city you are currently in is rioting, collapsing, or fallen, you can not fly in or out of it. See City Conditions below.
  • Charter Flight – a player may discard a card in their hand of the same city they are currently in to fly to any other city. Unfortunately, if your city is rioting, collapsing, or fallen, you can not fly use Charter flight. See City Conditions Below
  • Shuttle Flight – If you are in a city with a research station, you can, as an action, fly to any other research station no the board
  • Build a Structure – If you have a City card for a city you are in, you can build a structure. At the beginning of the campaign, you only have research stations to make. However, that will change as the campaign progresses.
  • Treat Disease – Remove one disease cube from your city and return it to the supply. If it’s a cured disease, you may remove all diseases of that color from the board. If a city has several different disease cubes, you must select one color to treat. Finally, if you manage to remove all cured disease cubes of one color entirely, you have eradicated the disease. See Disease Eradication below
  • Share Knowledge – If you are in a city with another player and if either of you holds that city’s city card, you may either take it from the other player or give it to them. Note: DO NOT overlook this action. In Pandemic Legacy Season 1, this is probably the most crucial action you can take.
  • Cure a Disease – Discard five city cards of the same color to cure a disease at any research station. If there are no cubes of that disease’s color on the board, the disease is eradicated – flip the cure marker over to the eradicated side. See below regarding Disease Eradication.

You can take additional actions, but the game will reveal those as you play through the campaign.

Draw 2 Cards

Draw two cards from the Player deck. These may be City cards, Event cards, or Epidemics. If you cannot draw two cards since there are no more, the group has lost the game and proceed to the Game End section. If you add cards to your hand, you must discard down to 7 total. You can use event cards to do this, otherwise choose excess cards, and put them in the player discard pile.
We’ll explain Epidemics in detail below.

Infect Cities

Look at the current rate of infection below the infection deck. Turn over that number of cards in the infection deck and add them to the infection discard pile. For each, add one infection cube of that city’s color to the city. When there are three infection cubes in a city already, there is an outbreak, and do not place an additional cube in the city. See outbreaks below.


When you pull an epidemic card, don’t panic… First, increase the infection rate marker by 1. Then take the bottom card from the infection deck and look at it. Place three infection cubes in that city and add that card to the discard pile. Finally, shuffle the discard pile and place it back on top of the Infection deck. This action means cities that are infected will now be re-infected in subsequent Infect Cities steps.


Outbreaks can and do happen throughout the campaign. If a city has three cubes on it and is about to get its fourth, it doesn’t. Instead, move the outbreak marker up by 1, then look at the city that had the outbreak and raise its Panic Level by 1.
The panic level determines how easily the players can access that city for the rest of the game AND future games in the campaign. You raise the panic level by going to the sticker sheet provided in the game and adding the next numbered sticker to the city. If the city has no sticker, place a “1” sticker. If it has a “1,” put a “2,” and so on up to 5. Each level makes it harder to get into that city. See below for details on Panic Level.
Finally, add one cube of that city’s color to every city connected to it. If a connected city already has three cubes, you have a second outbreak! Repeat the above steps, but skip over the original city.
The increase in panic is why you want to knock down the infection level in cities to prevent chaining outbreaks. You can only have eight outbreaks in a game. If you reach 8, your group loses, and you need to proceed to the Game End section.
Finally, if any player is in a city when it outbreaks, you need to take a Scar. Scars are stickers on the sticker sheet, and more do come out over the campaign. Apply the Scar to the character card. Each Scar is different and will restrict that player through the rest of the campaign. If a character has two scars already and is about to get their third, they are “Lost.” Tear up (Yes, tear up!) and destroy that character. No player can not use them for the rest of the campaign, and the player playing them should take a Civilian card and continue to play as a Civilian without special abilities for the rest of the game. At the start of the next game, all players can choose which remaining character they want to play.

Panic Level

You’ll see on the board; there is a legend explaining Panic Level. There are 5 Panic levels, and these persist between games in your campaign:

  • Panic Level 1 – Unstable but no effect on the game
  • Panic Level 2 + 3 – Rioting; players can not take Direct Flights or Charter Flights into or out of a city. Research stations are destroyed. They can’t be rebuilt.
  • Panic Level 4 – Collapsing – Players must discard one city card of the color of the city to Drive/Ferry into that city
  • Panic Level 5 – Fallen – Players must discard two city cards of the city’s color to Drive/Ferry into that city. If a player is already in the city when it falls, that character is immediately “Lost.”

Disease Eradication

After you have cured disease and treated all disease of that type on the board, the disease is eradicated. Eradication is not necessary to win the game. However, if you can do this, it prevents more of that disease from coming out on the board. If, after eradication, you turn over infection cards for that color, you DO NOT add disease cubes to the board. Also, if this is the first time in the campaign you eradicated this color of disease, go ahead and give it a name and write it on the board next to the disease. This disease is now eligible for a positive mutation which we detail below.

Game End

Each Game in Pandemic Legacy Season 1 ends when one of four things happens:

  • Players complete all Mandatory objectives in a month and as many optional objects specified by the mission. For the players, this is considered a Win!
  • Players lose a month game if they have eight outbreaks in the game.
  • Players also lose if they can not place any more disease cubes of a specific color on the board because they have run out.
  • Players also lose if they can not take two Player cards after doing their actions.

If the game ends in a win, Congratulations, you and your team will move onto the next month of the game! If you lose, no worries. You will get one more chance of winning this month. If you lose a second time, you will automatically move onto the next month.

In either case of a win or loss, the group selects two-game end upgrades from the following: (reminder this list may grow as the campaign moves on)

  • Unfunded events – These stickers represent events not funded by governments and can be added directly to any city card. If added to a city card, that card can be used as either a city card or an event card when drawn in future games.
  • Starting research stations – If you built any research stations during the game, you could decide to keep one as a starting station. A starting research station means when you set up the next game, you can add a research station to the board for each of these.
  • Character Upgrades – These stickers can be affixed to each character’s sheets and give characters additional abilities that they can do. Players can only apply upgrades to characters you used in the current game.
  • Positive Mutations – If you successfully eradicated a disease (clearing all cubes off the board of a cured disease), you can add a positive mutation sticker to that disease, making it easier to cure. Each positive mutation has a tier, so start by adding Tier 1 to the board and continue increasing the positive mutation in subsequent games.

If you win the game, you will get the Win Bonus for that month. The legacy desk describes the win bonus. You will start the next game at the beginning of the month. Your funding level goes down by 2. When funding decreases, you can select two fewer events in a month than the previous month (Governments think you have everything under control). Record your outcome on the back of the rule book for the month.

If you lose the game and it’s the first time this month, you get to repeat the month. If you already repeated it, you will move on to the next month. Your funding level will go up by two, which means you get to add two more events to the next game. Governments see this as a problem and pour in more resources to solve it. Finally, record the outcome on the back of the rulebook.

This Overview of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 does not reveal what changes later in the campaign. These rules will vary and be updated. As we mentioned initially, you will be tearing up cards and overall permanently updating your copy of the game. Permanent changes to the game are by design. You should not expect to play the campaign over with your game copy when you get to the end. The changes you make to your game copy are part of the fun of playing a Legacy board game! Most importantly, Have fun!

If you enjoyed this review and want to get your own copy, we have a copy in our store.