Saturday, June 7, 2014

Solo Variant Review: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy by Michiel Hendriks

TLDR: Legacy uses worker placement and card management mechanics to tell the story of a dynasty, and in the solo variant, the story of a dynasty in reverse. More than anything, it tells a story.  If you have played "story" games before (such as Gloom) and enjoyed them, then Legacy is probably a game to add to your collection. I know I did!

Legacy is a game of social engineering and genealogy set in the pre-revolution era of France, but could easily be set in the world of Westeros. Through making friends, influencing people and accruing wealth, you will attempt to secure your lineage and develop a burgeoning aristocratic dynasty across generations by arranging marriages between your children and grandchildren and the wealthy elite of Europe.

That is, in the multiplayer version of Legacy.

In the single player, solo variant, you're attempting to do that in reverse: by researching your own family tree you try to piece together any tenuous connection you might have with noble lineage and carve yourself a piece of some delicious inheritance pie.

To do this, you, the player, build a family tree by piecing together relationships in an effort to fulfill "clues" the game presents; these clues represent the connections you are trying to research to show that you are in the line of succession for that significant inheritance. A simple clue might be something like "One of your grandfathers was German." A more complex clue might be "Your great granduncle was the father of a French aristocrat with a title."

In your hand you will manage both money and "friend cards". These friend cards represent various people that you are researching and potentially trying to prove were members of your ancestry. They come with both benefits and negatives, so how and where to utilize them becomes the major crux of strategy for Legacy. Adding family members can gain or lose you gold, friends, prestige, or income.

Was your grandmother a Spanish art collector who brought great prestige to your family? A Russian aristocrat with great influence and a wide social circle? Or a simple farmer's daughter who had many, many children? It's up to you to prove over the course of the game!

Each turn you have a number of actions available to you on the main board:
  • Show that your ancestor Acquired a Title
  • Show that your ancestor Hired a Fertility Doctor
  • Show that an ancestor of yours had a Mansion
  • Show that an ancestor of yours Initiated a Venture
  • Show that an ancestor Undertook a Mission
  • or Show than an ancestor Contributed to the Community
And you have actions available to you on your individual board:
  • Who Were They?
  • How Big Was My Family?
  • How Wealthy Were They?
  • Whom Did They Know?
For instance, playing a Who Were They? action (by placing one of your "worker" discs on the Who Were They? action space) allows you to replace an as-yet-unknown member of your family tree with a known character card from your hand, allowing you to reap the benefits (perhaps your great grandfather was an aristocrat in France!). The How Big Was My Family? action allows for your known family tree to expand from relationships you have already researched and secured (That great grandfather had a second son you didn't know about before!)  How Wealthy Were They and Whom Did They Know increase your money and friend card collection, respectively.

The game takes place over a series of rounds and you only have a limited number of actions per round. Once these rounds are complete, your score is tallied, and if you were able to satisfy all of the clues and requirements you were given, you win the game (and the inheritance is yours!).

But winning is truly secondary in both the solo and multiplayer versions of Legacy. What matters most is the story you tell, and the more of a storyteller you are, the more you are going to get from Legacy. Why would an aristocratic British politician end up marrying a French milkmaid? How did their daughter rise to be a Duchess, but their son end up a lowly stable boy? It's up to you! In the end, it is just placing workers and playing cards, but if you can get into the spirit of the game, you can concoct quite the legacy (pun intended)!

Plus, in the end, you have a mighty family tree to show off to friends and loved ones alike!

John H. C. Staton is a software developer is moving on up to the West side, to a deluxe two story house in the sky.  That takes up a lot of time.  He no longer has a webpage that he rarely uses because it was a waste of time and money. He also tweets occasionally at @johnhcstaton and RunKeeper hasn't tweeted in a while because he's been so freaking busy.

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