Pandemic Legacy

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Today we played Pandemic Legacy Season 2. This was our first go at the legacy portion of this game. We did play the prelude a couple weeks ago just to re-familiarize ourselves with the game. To start you get a pretty small map and some pretty basic skills. In the prequel, we set up our character cards which were pretty cool and the guys really enjoyed being able to customize their character and make it “their own”. All the guys were pretty excited about this and have been anxiously waiting to play this game. I can’t speak too much on the gameplay as I would have to spoil the game for people who have not played it, so I won’t do that here. What I can say is that this is a game that you unlock as you go. You complete objectives as you play the game together which unlock and reveal new cards, rules, map pieces, and other cool items. I personally have never played a board game like this before and I must admit, it’s pretty freaking awesome.

The coolest part about this is how everyone is invested in working together. This game requires a lot of communication and teamwork. I think the first playthrough is setup to be one of the easier playthroughs and we still barely made it. It was neat how there was so much tension at the end of the game and some of the guys were scrambling to figure out how to best solve this problem and make it to the end of the game. There were a few times where guys were talking over one another trying to say their piece about what they should do. At one point one of the guys had to interrupt another to advocate for his peer so that he could be heard. The other guys respected him and let him speak. Turns out he had a great idea and we were able to go with it. This is a stark contrast to the last time we all played a game and those two got into an argument. This time they were respectful to one another and nothing came of it. We didn’t have the opportunity tonight to discuss how that was different or what was going on, but when we meet again I’ll be bringing that up. Unfortunately, we had to start group late, due to some other obligations and had to cut short a little early. Needless to say, I was not able to have my weekly conversation.

All in all, it was a really good group. Everyone got along, everyone was engaged and were able to work together and work through some challenges along the way. These are the sort of experiences that give me hope that guys are capable of being successful, even in tricky situations. It’s all about mindset and your willingness to work. I have noticed with this game that even though it’s hard and can be frustrating at times, it has such a huge carrot at the end that it makes you want to be successful and put your differences aside. This mimics something that I have seen so many times in my career with this agency. If you put people in the right situations and you give them a clear and obtainable goal that THEY are invested in, they are capable and usually willing to work for it, even when faced with challenges that have caused them trouble in the past. I know this is just a game and it’s a controlled and “fun” environment, but I feel like if you practice and experience positive interactions and behaviors in any way, they will begin to form into real habits and you will see improvements. However, if you do not promote and acknowledge these achievements and experiences I feel like they can be lost along the way. Therefore I feel it’s so important to have those discussions about your successes and failures in life and reflect on them as often as you can.

Anyway, at the end of the game we were able to achieve our goals and unlock some new parts of the map and some new cards. We are all excited to see how this goes and see where the story takes us. It’s neat because you are not allowed to look and so many things are hidden. You don’t know where anything really is and it’s not until you unlock certain parts of the game when you are able to figure out what to do next. It’s cool and really smart. So far it’s been a lot of fun. We are all anxious to play again and see what new thing we can uncover.

Using Pandemic Legacy is awesome. I think this game does a good job at allowing everyone an opportunity to mak a difference. Alpha players do not seem to be as much of a worry with Matt Leacock games. I could be colored by my own experiences here, but I have used Forbidden Island multiple times to good effect in therapy sessions.

I agree, the rewards in the game are great because you really get to watch the story play out. I hope you get some of you group really attached to the game and you guys can watch the whole thing unfold. This was by far one of the best gaming experiences our game group had this year.


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I had just started your recent podcast and you guys were talking about Pandemic Legacy Season 1. It sounds like you guys really like that game. We did have a little trouble with an Alpha gamer, but that game lends it self well to dealing with that as you are ultimately able to make your own choices. The crummy part about the Alpha gamer we had is that he had great ideas and they made a lot of sense, I just wish some of the guys, including myself, were able to get there on our own rather than have him spell it out for us just as soon as our turns began. Credit to him for having a awesome brain that works really well, I just wish he turned it down a little bit. Never the less it was still fun and we all enjoyed the game. I’m interested to see how tomorrow’s game goes without him.

Quite a few of the guys really love the game and are very excited to keep going. I don’t think I’ve played a game like this before so I find myself anxious to play as well.

I have heard you mention Forbidden Island before in therapy and I don’t remember exactly how you explained using it. You bringing that up reminds me that we have that game and it is a really fun game to play together. i can it being used to reflect on choices made for an individual vs the group. Is that how you use it, or do you go further than that with it?

I really enjoy the feedback you have and love the comments. Thank you for reading and I can’t wait to get more content up.

Alpha gamers lack a very important skill that we often use in therapy. It’s that sense that we empower someone to make their own choices rather than tell them what to do. I am guessing it comes from a need to feel important, a need to contribute, and a need to tell others what to do. Alpha gamers need to cultivate the ‘shut the fuck up’ skill set.

Anyway, on to Forbidden Island. This is also a game by Matt Leacock. It came out after the original pandemic. Matt was trying to develop a lower level of complexity. It’s that lower level complexity that can help this become a good tool for therapy. The way I use it is as a means to develop communication towards a common goal. In a family or group that has challenges with alpha gaming, or making impulsive decisions, or not communicating feelings, the game can be used as the backdrop to talk about the issues that get in the way, without necessarily referencing real world scenarios that may have more emotional escalation attached. So I teach the game, allow the family or group to play, mediate conflict, and then discuss what I see happening during and after the game. I will often ask at the end of the game if the conflicts that came up were similar to other conflicts. If so, then we have an opportunity to process those conflicts as part of the game story. How did you resolve your conflict? What could you have done to resolve the conflict differently? Or in the case if success, how can you use what you did in the game, to better mitigate conflict in daily living? The key is to always use the events in the game as reflective of daily living. This game has been a great tool to get into discussion about conflict and cooperation. I have seen it bring families together.


I like your thoughts on Alpha Gamers. I think they are valuable to the gaming echo system in the way that they help you to appreciate other gaming styles and in my specific situation help me to show my guys what this looks like and we can process how it feels. So far it’s been an interesting discussion point when we compare and contrast.

We have forbidden desert, which I believe is the same thing with a different theme. it’s a great game and now that you have shared what you do with it I can use it as a tool. It’s great to see how these games can be used in different situations. I am not always great at seeing that or understanding how to implement it. Thank you very much for sharing this with me that is extremely helpful.

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