This review for Risk Legacy is spoiler free, small details of gameplay are discussed, but not in a way that would detract from the experience. No hidden content or story developments are given away.
The creator of Risk Legacy and the Legacy mechanic, Rob Daviau, was working at Hasbro and started thinking about Cluedo. You open the box and over a couple of hours a colourful cast of dinner guests find out that one of their number is a murderer. The next time you play the exact same thing happens. Last week everyone found out Colonel Mustard shouldn’t be trusted around lead pipes but they’ve invited him to another party. And they haven’t even hidden the lead pipes! The characters, Rob realised, were amnesiacs, repeating the same events and learning nothing. But what if the characters had a memory? What if the game had a memory?
The Legacy concept, making permanent changes to the board as you play a series of games. As you play you rip up cards, attach stickers, and update the rule book. The game remembers what happened and will be different because of choices you made last week
Risk Legacy - The Game
Risk Legacy is played over 15 games with three to five people. Each individual game is won by gaining victory points, whoever wins the most games is the overall winner. It’s not necessary to play every game with the same players but my advice is to keep a consistent group.
Risk Legacy begins as the flawed dice rolling game that you'll be familiar with. You have units that you move to take over territories and bonuses for owning a whole continent. If you need to fight then both players roll dice at each other until one player retreats or loses all their units.
If you've played Risk before this may be bringing back memories of deadlocked games. Risk Legacy deals with this “endless game” problem by changing how you win each game. Instead of total domination players are chasing victory points. The opening games were so quick we were able to play two in a row. We had one game where a player managed to win on their third turn.
My Risk Legacy campaign had five players, making the map overcrowded. As a result we had more aggressive games as two of us were always in a vulnerable position. I would make guess that four players would also work well but that three players wouldn't be enough to have satisfying games.
We rolled our first dice in June 2015 and the final unit died in April 2016. This was the first Legacy game any of us had played. I have no idea how I would feel about this game were I coming to it after playing Pandemic Legacy, or Charterstone. I suspect that it would seem dated and less polished by their standards. but not enough to devalue this experience as long as you go in with the right expectations.
The story is bare bones and there to give a reason to open packages. Revealing the hidden sections and discovering the extra content is an absolute joy. Conversely, destroying the components of a game feels blasphemous at first, and cements what Legacy is. Even 14 games in it’s still exciting when events change the board. You’ll forget the story justification for it happening almost immediately.
I have seen complaints of the two biggest packages being swapped. It's clear there was a manufacturing error at some point, luckily, our copy wasn't affected. This is a fatal error in a Legacy game which ruins the two biggest revels in the game at the same time. The only way you can be sure this won't happen to you is to have someone who won't be playing with you open both packages. It's not a perfect solution but I can only imagine how gutted I would have been had those reveals not happened how they were intended.
Promo cards were made for Risk Legacy and given out at Essen 2011 and have not been reprinted. Someone on BoardGameGeek has uploaded translated versions. They added a lot of enjoyment, so for the minimal effort of printing five cards I’d recommend adding them in about game four or five.
There is a hidden card under the plastic insert, there are variations of this card and we added ours after game seven. I have looked up all five versions and a couple of them would not be worth adding to the game. So, make sure you're getting approval from all players before mixing this in.
Closing Thoughts on Risk Legacy
None of the reasons I like this game are from the Risk half of the title. The reason I agreed to play it and the enjoyment I took from it are due to the Legacy aspect. The dice rolling combat mechanic is as frustrating as it always has been. You have more options to try and mitigate the randomness but roll badly all game and you'll have a terrible time.
I would recommend this game to anyone who isn’t put off by the idea of playing Risk - Especially if you can get a group of four or five people to commit to all 15 games. If you've played the more recently released legacy games you may still enjoy Risk Legacy.
Be careful who you play with, the campaign is a lot of time to spend on a game that relies on luck. Not everyone will deal with their run of bad luck well. To make sure that everyone you play with has the same commitment split the cost of the game between the group. This may lead to arguments over who owns the game once the campaign is over. Technically you can still play on the board but our group never did and I don't think you would want to very often.