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10 Best Legacy Board Games

10 Best Legacy Board Games

Our guide to the best legacy board games

Legacy games are relatively new to the board game universe and are having a big moment, with both Gloomhaven and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 topping the charts. The genre is still evolving, so you’ll see a wide variety of legacy mechanics and approaches in each of the best legacy board games we’ve listed below. 

At their essence, legacy board games are games where you build your legacy. Decisions that you and your players make in one session will have dynamic and permanent differences later in the game. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions below for a more detailed history and definition of legacy games. We also provide suggestions for playing successful legacy games in our FAQ section.

Our discussion of the best legacy board games focuses on key factors that we look for when shopping for a legacy game: importance of the story, legacy elements (general), whether a game is competitive or cooperative and whether a game is replayable. We avoid spoilers in all of our reviews. 

With more legacy board game options than ever, there is something for everyone on our list! Whether you’d like to become a general specializing in war strategy, colonize land and build cities, or become a mage and defend your city against the Nameless, here is our list of the (arguably) best legacy board games available right now.

Our Top Picks – Best Legacy Board Games

Best Legacy Board Games - Gloomhaven Box Cover Art
Best Legacy Game Overall: Gloomhaven

There’s a reason Gloomhaven is #1 on Board Game Geek. This epic game provides role-playing cooperative campaign play with over 95 scenarios.

Players: 1-5 // Game time: 60-120 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Hard

Best Legacy Board Games - Machi Koro Legacy Box Cover Art
Best Legacy Game to Play With Kids: Machi Koro Legacy

With its family-friendly ease of use and subject matter, along with the eye-catching artwork, Machi Koro Legacy is a breath of fresh air in the world of legacy board games.

Players: 2-4   // Game time: 30-45 minutes // Age: 10+ // Difficulty: Easy

Most Underrated Legacy Game: The Rise of Queensdale

A creative worker placement game with a story to tell, The Rise of Queensdale slowly evolves and builds up as you play, as one of the best legacy board games out there.

Players: 2-4   // Game time: 45-60 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Medium

Best Legacy Board Games - Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated Box Cover Art
Best Legacy Game for the Story: Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

This fantasy adventure brings a sarcastic, humorous approach to the table (quite literally) that will have your group laughing and having fun in no time. 

Players: 2-4   // Game time: 90-120 minutes // Age: 13+ // Difficulty: Medium

Best Legacy Board Games - Aeon's End: Legacy Box Cover Art
Best Cooperative Legacy Game: Aeon’s End: Legacy

If a challenging, cooperative, fantasy deck-builder sounds like fun to you, you will enjoy Aeon’s End: Legacy

Players: 1-4   // Game time: 45-90 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Medium

Our Top 10 Legacy Board Games

Best Legacy Board Games - #10. First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet

Genre: Science Fiction and Survival

Players: 1-4 // Game time: 60 - 90 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Advanced // Publisher: Portal Games

First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet is based on the mechanics of the award-winning game Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. In First Martians, you are stranded in the middle of a hostile Martian environment. 

You and your fellow human colonists are working to set up Mars for future generations, working against the planet itself. It’s also beautiful. It’s translucent. It’s stark.

From the get-go, you need to work together closely to survive each mission. Fight to survive malfunctions, limited resources and unexpected surprises. You will be forced to make difficult decisions in your struggle to survive against all odds. 

Why This is Fun

First Martians is fun because your decisions actually matter- you can win the game you’re currently playing, but because of the way you won, you can actually lose the whole campaign! The great strategic experience this game offers really shines through in the campaigns. 


Each player starts off the game as an astronaut with five lives. If you run out of lives, the game ends and the mission is a failure. At the start of each game, players are provided with the goals that they need to achieve to win the game.

First Martians offers individual missions (standalone scenarios) that you can complete independently of the five-mission campaigns it offers. It also offers two campaigns, only one of which is legacy, so you can play through this game again at your leisure. 

This game is also a great game for solo play. You need to be up to the challenge and be willing to die as you learn the game. The rules are just complex enough for one person to really “grok” (learn and absorb) without the distraction of learning alongside other players. 

First Martians in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? First Martians is a co-op game.
Story There’s a narrative but you need to work at it. You get your immersion from the missions, where you experience the stress of survival in space with limited resources.
Legacy Elements You’ll unlock things through the game’s app.
Replayable? Legacy play occurs through the app. The game is replayable for both legacy and non-legacy play.

Who This Game is For

First Martians is a game for an experienced board gamer who loves science fiction. Anyone looking for a challenging, well-crafted board game to play solo or via cooperative play with teammates will enjoy this game. The gameplay is difficult and is not for the casual gamer.

Unfortunately, the game can be somewhat difficult to obtain. If it’s not on Amazon, your best bet for obtaining a copy is to go to eBay or look for it locally via avenues such as Craigslist or Board Game Geek. 

Buy First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet on Amazon

Best Legacy Board Games - #9. Machi Koro Legacy

Genre: Family

Players: 2-4 // Game time: 30 - 45 minutes // Age: 10+ // Difficulty: Easy

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Congratulations on being elected mayor of a town on the island of Machi Koro! Unfortunately, the job is much more difficult than you thought. 

Especially since your town is currently just a bit off the beaten path and consists of a bakery, a wheat field, and a single die. 

Lucky for you, your citizens have some big city planning ideas. 

In a nutshell, Machi Koro Legacy is a Japanese-inspired city-building game with dice. You take your tiny town and transform it into something incredible. The first person to build a set of special landmarks and contribute to the community landmark wins the game.

Why This is Fun

As you play, a narrative slowly unfolds and the complexities of the game increase, creating a slow-burn experience that you can savor over ten games. 


Machi Koro is one of the best legacy games because its game mechanics are stunningly simple, and the game still manages to be highly entertaining. Your goal is to earn coins to buy better buildings so you can earn more revenue, as in the regular Machi Koro. You’ll earn cards that add to your game progression, and you also use dice. Rolling dice can earn revenue, but keep in mind that your in-game choices will directly affect your playthrough. 

Machi Koro Legacy in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Competitive, with a dash of cooperative play as you work together to further community landmarks.
Story A loose narrative, though genuinely fun and charming, ties the game together.
Legacy Elements Most game components are secret when you start, with decks of cards and boxes unveiled throughout the game.
Replayable? Yes. As a personalized and fully functional game of (non-legacy) Machi Koro.

Who This Game is For

Machi Koro Legacy is for anyone looking for a beautiful game with a low barrier to entry. The gameplay mechanics are simple and easy to learn in a jiffy. This fast-paced game, which is easy to learn and teach, is especially good for immersive gameplay with kids or non-gaming family members!

Buy Machi Koro Legacy on Amazon

Best Legacy Board Games - #8. The Rise of Queensdale

Players: 2-4 // Game time: 45-60 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Ravensburger

You are an ambitious builder looking for your claim to fame! When the King announces that he wants a new city that is fit for his Queen (with a sparkly castle to boot), you jump at the opportunity. 

Because of course fame seems pretty good to you. 

As a player working towards building a quarter of the city, you control workers and resources in order to build different types of structures. A creative worker placement game with a story to tell, The Rise of Queensdale slowly evolves and builds up as you play, as one of the best legacy board games out there.

During every game in The Rise of Queensdale, you rack up fame points by currying favor with the Royal family, giving you the opportunity to reach your next “epoch goal.” Epoch goals are essentially a set number of fame points. The winner of each game is the one who meets and exceeds their epoch goal by the most points.

Why This is Fun

The Rise of Queensdale is never boring, complacent or lazy. It unfolds many legacy game elements over time, rewarding players with more actions and options. Much like a clever chameleon, this game changes and evolves. It’s practically breathing with life! You’re constantly kept on your toes throughout the compelling experience in its entirety.


At its core, The Rise of Queensdale is a dice worker placement game. Your main tool of the trade is a customizable set of dice that you use to place and move your workers. 

Jamey Stegmaier reviews the gameplay of The Rise of Queensdale.

Rise of Queensdale in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Competitive, but story immersion rewards all players. You don’t feel the sting as much when you “lose” a game. You’ll also work with your fellow city builders to achieve shared goals.
Story The narrative is well-written and memorable. The game does a good job of integrating the gameplay with the story in a seamless way.
Legacy Elements Focuses on the evolution of gameplay vs. forging new paths. You unlock dice customization options and end up modifying almost everything in the game. There is no real destruction of components. However, there are upgrades and replacements sprinkled throughout the game.
Replayable? After you’ve completed the legacy series, there are enough components and actions to allow for rebooting the game as a standard non-legacy board game. 

Who This Game is For

Do you enjoy a rich narrative-driven game that does a good job of integrating the story with actual game play? The Rise of Queensdale is a terrific choice for you. It’s challenging. It provides an ever-evolving and compelling experience. Tweeners and teens will enjoy this legacy game, so bring it out for family game night!

Buy The Rise of Queensdale on Amazon

Best Legacy Board Games - #7. The King's Dilemma

Genre: Fantasy

Players: 3-5 // Game time: 45-60 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Easy

Publisher: Horrible Games

Being the leader of a kingdom is never easy. Like Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

You’re always faced with a dilemma, no ifs, ands or buts. There’s no way around it. You gotta face it head-on. 

In The King’s Dilemma, you and each of your co-players represent the various houses leading the government of the Kingdom of Ankist. You are tasked with keeping the kingdom operating, but in this Game of Thrones-esque board game, you’ll seek to find your house every advantage possible. 

As members of the King’s inner circle, you’ll navigate the kingdom through war, famine, and/or riot. Or perhaps you’ll successfully generate wealth and foster your citizens’ well being. The state of the kingdom is in your hands, as you bargain and bribe to ensure your house comes out on top.

It’s all up to you. Just remember, every choice you make will affect your house and change the kingdom. No pressure.

Why This is Fun

Players will negotiate, vote and bid for the chance to become the most powerful house in the Royal Court. Each session in The King’s Dilemma is highly engaging and entertaining, with random dilemmas coming your way left and right.


Right at the beginning, players select royal house player screens, with the goal of preventing others from seeing what you’re doing. Each house comes with different histories, goals and abilities. 

The game board provides a status report of the health of the kingdom’s in five categories: wealth, strength, morale, food and knowledge. Each round, you will draw a card from the dilemma deck. Each card represents a problem that the Council has to resolve as emissaries of the King. 

The King’s Dilemma in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Competitive, but you work together to make the game a fun experience. Not for the uber competitive! Having one sore loser can make things miserable.
Story Has a rich theme and unique, well-written narrative. The story is the number one focus of the game.
Legacy Elements Features branching storylines, unlocking of stickers, cards and secrets, and permanent removal of cards.
Replayable? Many physical changes are made to the board and other game elements. The King’s Dilemma is not considered replayable after legacy play has been completed.

Who This is For

The King’s Dilemma is for people who love Game of Thrones! You’ll love this if you enjoy games that revolve around voting, bidding and negotiating and don’t mind when morals go out the door. It’s important to have the right group of players (sore losers need not apply), so you can create your own fun in this game.

Buy The King’s Dilemma on Amazon

Best Legacy Board Games - #6. Risk Legacy

Genre: Science Fiction / War Game

Rob Daviau, Chris Dupuis

Players: 3-5 // Game time: 60 minutes // Age: 13+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

This legacy wargame is set in the distant future where the Earth is suffering from limited resources and supplies after years of global warfare. 

The world’s top minds have developed groundbreaking technology that allows them to create new earths. Soon, colonists depart for multiple clones of Earth, looking forward to leaving war behind. But are the factions ready for peace?

You represent one of five futuristic factions on a new earth clone. Your faction definitely doesn’t want to share this new Earth with the others, because you hold on to every single past grudge you’ve ever had. It’s time for war again! 

Your number one objective is world domination for your faction! Let’s repeat:

World domination. Yesssss.

You accomplish your lofty goal by dominating every territory and destroying your opponents.

Easy enough. 

Why This is Fun

Risk: Legacy is one of several updates to the classic wargame Risk, which is considered a great gateway to wargames and board games in general. Risk: Legacy takes the mechanics from the original, then runs in a completely different direction. The legacy elements make this game unquestionably fun because it’s not afraid to shake things up. 

Get ready to rethink everything you thought you knew about Risk


The game board is divided into 42 territories that are connected either by a border or a sea-line. You will march across the world’s continents to gain control of territories. You’ll do this through actions such as:

  • Gaining reinforcements when you control territories
  • Attacking other players
  • Moving a group of armies to another adjacent territory
  • Capturing enemy bases
  • Working with allies

You’ll move your army onto different areas of the board, draft cards, and roll dice on your path to world domination. The game will change round by round as you open sealed components, tear cards and place stickers that permanently alter your board. 

Risk: Legacy in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Competitive. You’ll go head to head against your friends.
Story Like its predecessor, Risk: Legacy is more well-known for its battle and world conquest than for the story arc.
Legacy Elements You will unlock new rules, twists and turns that massively change the game. You’ll place stickers and destroy cards.
Replayable? Many physical changes are made to the board and other game elements. Risk: Legacy is not considered replayable after legacy play has been completed. However, some groups do enjoy post-legacy play.

Who This is For

Risk: Legacy is for anyone looking for a great wargame where every choice you make will affect your faction’s success. Risk fans will love this game.

Buy Risk: Legacy on Amazon

The release of Risk: Legacy in 2011 gave birth to the legacy genre. The game polarized board gamers– either you loved the idea of making permanent changes or you hated the idea of destroying a game. Risk: Legacy is in good company – other successful remakes include games such as Risk: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition, Risk: Game of Thrones and Risk: Star Wars Edition.

Best Legacy Board Games - #5. Charterstone

Genre: Medieval City Building

Jamey Stegmaier

Players: 1-6 // Game time: 45-75 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Congratulations! You are one of six special citizens that have been selected by the Forever King to colonize the unchartered lands beyond the Kingdom of Greengully.

Why me, you ask? 

Well, you’ve been hand-picked because you have mad skills! Use your unique set of skills to build, support and expand your little charter town. There are twelve rounds of campaign play where you unfold a sliver of the overall story arc. You’ll learn more about Charterstone during each round as you attempt to score the most Victory Points (and win the whole thing). 

Why This is Fun

When Charterstone came onto the scene in 2017, the beautiful artwork and game mechanics captured board gamers’ hearts. The fun in Charterstone comes from discovering what is there, but also the long term strategic choices you can make with your charter. It’s about balance- moving forward with exploration and storytelling, then also making sure your home charter has the opportunity to prosper.


You make two main decisions every turn. Will you place a worker (if you have one), or scoop up all of your workers from the board so they don’t bump other workers? 

Your goal is to get the benefits of the spaces where your workers are placed. After all, you want your charter to become the best one in the kingdom! In order to hold other charters / players  back, you can also bump another worker that’s already occupying a space so it is forced to retreat to another player’s worker supply. Strategic location of your workers is only part of the game. 

You’ll also unlock crates that allow you to scoop up resources you need, along with secret components. A surprise is always laying in wait for you- you’ve got to roll with the flow! We don’t want to give away too much of the story- that’s for you to discover as you play through the entire campaign.

Some legacy games don’t play well at the two-player level, but you can get a refreshingly clean experience with two players in Charterstone. Gameplay with two players is noticeably quicker, but you do unlock more aspects of the game with more players. It’s up to you! 

Charterstone in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Competitive, but you have free reign to focus on exploring and building vs. winning.
Story There is a light, but enjoyable narrative in the game.
Legacy Elements You’ll unlock boxes, secret components and new layers of rules. Permanent changes will be made to the game via actions such as marking cards and placing stickers.
Replayable? Replayable as a fun non-legacy worker placement game. Double-sided game board makes the legacy game replayable with the Recharge Pack.

Who This is For

Folks who enjoy moving worker tokens across boards to achieve great effects. You’ll find yourself thinking about how to unlock crates and in which order. Folks who love surprises. Tortoises, not rabbits- not every single game has to be won in order to win the whole thing.

Buy Charterstone on Amazon

The publisher of Charterstone released a Recharge Pack in 2017. The Recharge Pack adds components to give you a second go at playing the legacy game.

And did we mention there is a digital version for when you’re on the go?! The app is available to play on your computer via Steam, and on iOS and Android.

Best Legacy Board Games - #4. Aeon's End: Legacy

Genre: Fantasy and Science Fiction

Players: 1-4 // Game time: 45 - 90 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Indie Boards and Cards

Aeon’s End: Legacy is set in Gravehold, the last stronghold of humanity. Gravehold is part of a gritty futuristic apocalyptic world where a handful of sorcerers are the only defense against the Nameless. You find yourself in Gravehold as a young apprentice at the precipice of becoming a novice mage. 

The stakes are high

The future of humanity is in your hands.

Once you overcome your first ordeal, you’ll be able to select skills and abilities to hone throughout the game. You’ll become stronger and more proficient against the invading Nemeses and their minions (the Nameless) after each round of play. You are determined to live up to your role models and defend Gravehold, even if you have to make the ultimate sacrifice! 

If you’re playing with more than one player, you’ll work cooperatively with your teammate(s) to battle the Nameless and their minions during each round of play. Your goal is to defeat the Nemeses before Gravehold is overrun or the players are exhausted.

Why This is Fun

You get to start from scratch with your mage and develop their character over time. This, coupled with the fantasy/magic theme and the time-tested Aeon’s End deck-building mechanics, makes for hours of entertainment. 


There’s no complicated setup, so you’re instantly transported into the world of Aeon’s End.

You start the game as an acolyte without any special powers other than a few basic cards. You’ll navigate your character’s development over multiple rounds. 

With each round, your mage will grow in strength and awareness as you choose new upgrades and obtain new cards. You can even influence how your enemies (the Nemeses) develop. 

The game features the Aeon’s End trademark variable turn system to simulate the chaos of an attack. In addition, the deck management rules require you to carefully plan before discarding a card.

The game begins at a lower difficulty level than a typical Aeon’s End game and will adapt to your growing power. With each round, you fight off increasingly difficult enemies to defend Gravehold, ensuring a challenging gaming experience at each turn. 

Solo players can play the game solo with 1-4 mage characters. The rulebook suggests playing no more than two mages to reduce the amount of things to keep track of. If you decide to play as a single character, you may have to tweak things to make sure the level of difficulty is still there. You play through the campaign following the game’s standard rules.

Aeon’s End: Legacy in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? You’ll work closely with your teammates to defeat each enemy. You can use your abilities help other players. And the best part? You can create amazing chain attacks! 
Story The game is played over a series of chapters and doesn’t feature branching storylines. The story feels more functional than immersive and helps set the scene for the battles. 
Legacy Elements You’ll unlock new content, enemies, surprises and cards. You’ll also make permanent changes to the game. But the real fun is in developing and growing your novice mage.
Replayable? Replayable as a legacy game with a Reset Pack. May be able to use customized breach mage(s), certain cards and enemies with other Aeon’s End games.

Who This is For

Fans of the Aeon’s End collection. Gamers who love deckbuilding games. Fans of legacy games. Anyone looking for a good and challenging coop legacy game. If a challenging, cooperative, fantasy deck-builder sounds like fun to you, you will enjoy Aeon’s End: Legacy! The Aeon’s End family is a leader among deck builders, and Aeon’s End: Legacy does not disappoint.

Buy Aeon’s End: Legacy on Amazon

Best Legacy Board Games - #3. Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

Genre: Fantasy

Players: 2-4 // Game time: 90-120 minutes // Age: 13+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated brings a sarcastic, humorous approach to the table (quite literally) that will have your group laughing and having fun in no time. 

You’re a treasure hunter in a vivid fantasy world. You even own your own franchise of the infamous treasure hunting company Acquisitions Incorporated. You are prepared to go to all lengths to get your loot, including sneaking into the lair of an angry dragon. 

During each round, you’ll aim to steal an artifact from the dragon and escape safely. Your fellow treasure hunters and you are competing to get enough loot and earn the title of Greatest Thief in the Realm. 

Why This is Fun

The immersive story and exciting legacy elements are the reason this game ranks so high on our list of the best legacy board games. Players of all abilities can get together and play this game. You’ll get to laugh at the game’s humorous story elements and have hours of highly entertaining game play with your favorite people. 


Like the original Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure, this game combines elements of a strategic game with deck-building mechanics. You’ll build up your deck as you go through the game – bigger is better! Although the game can appear intimidating to infrequent board gamers at first, the system is simple to pick up and the play is intuitive. The gameplay is simple – you’ll start each turn with five cards in hand. Through your growing deck, you’ll be able to acquire new cards, fight monsters in the dungeon, and move around the board. Although each player starts Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated with the same deck, it’s fun to see how each player’s strategy unfolds as the game progresses.

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Competitive with a splash of co-op play. While you are still playing competitively head-to-head as in the original Clank!, you need to come together to accomplish certain things, like unlock new locations or reduce negative consequences to the party. 
Story Clank! Legacy features a fun story arc that draws you in and keeps your group excited about your next round of play. 
Legacy Elements Your game board, your character’s progression and even the rules will evolve from round to round. You’ll rip up cards, place stickers on your board and unlock secrets throughout the game. Each round of play has at least one exciting surprise in store for you and your fellow adventurers.
Replayable? You end up with a highly customized version of the original non-legacy Clank! you can play over and over.

Who This is For

Anyone looking for a funny, engaging and exciting game with an immersive storyline that appeals to both serious and infrequent board gamers.  

Buy Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated on Amazon

Best Legacy Board Games - #2. Pandemic: Legacy Season 1

Genre: Environmental and Medical

Players: 2-4 // Game time: 60 minutes // Age: 13+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Several virulent diseases are wreaking havoc in major population centers all over the world. 

You have twelve months to get the pandemic under control. It’s all hands on deck – the world needs your help!

Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 is set in the middle of a pandemic. You are a disease-fighting specialist working desperately to treat people in disease hotspots and research cures for each virulent disease. 

You have a strong team (your co-players) of various specialists working together to eradicate disease. Each player has a unique role with special abilities to help them fight the pandemic. Every time you play, you and your fellow specialists set out to achieve certain objectives. Usually, the objectives revolve around preventing outbreaks from happening while attempting to develop cures for the diseases.

Why This is Fun

Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 is a fun legacy game to play, particularly because it is shrouded in secrecy. Everyone knows it’s about stopping a pandemic, but throughout the game there are many twists and turns. Enough to make you stay awake at night! That’s the hallmark of a great game. 


During your turn, you’ll use your hand of cards to travel around the world, build structures, find a cure for a disease or trade cards with another player. The game takes place over a “year”- you have twelve playing sessions (months) of the game. Each month is the equivalent of 1-2 gaming sessions, so the entire playthrough can take between 12 and 24 sessions. 

The base game’s rules are simple. However, since the rules change and evolve as you play, there can be a lot to keep track of. Commit to playing this game consistently (at least once every 1-2 weeks) so you aren’t constantly re-learning all of the game’s rules and tweaks.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Since this is a cooperative game, you need to work closely with your teammates to achieve your objectives.
Story This is a story-driven game. The narrative elements push the game forward and introduce mechanics and twists. The narrative and gameplay combined create tense, high-stakes gaming sessions.
Legacy Elements Legacy aspects are unlocked in a “slow burn,” which helps emulate the stress and tension of resolving an outbreak. Legacy mechanics used in the game include writing on cards, ripping up cards, and placing permanent stickers on components. New rules, cards and components will be introduced throughout the game. Your character also changes with each session by gaining new skills or detrimental effects.
Replayable? So many changes are made to Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 that the game is not considered replayable after you’ve completed legacy play.

Who This is For

Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 is the perfect game for players who enjoy choice-and-consequence scenarios. The game evolves as a direct result of the choices you and other players make, which makes gameplay exhilarating. Couples will especially love this game and find themselves discussing the choices they made last weekend while driving the kids to soccer practice. Playing Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 is also a terrific choice for teenagers, as they get to make some weighty decisions in a safe gaming environment.

Buy Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 on Amazon

While Risk: Legacy was the first legacy game, Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 was the game that popularized and cemented legacy games’ place in the board game stratosphere. Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 is an award-winning cooperative campaign legacy game derived from the original Pandemic. The game took the board game world by storm in 2015 and 2016, winning virtually every award a board game can win. The sequel, Pandemic Legacy: Season 2, is also highly rated and worth playing after you enjoy Season 1. Pandemic Legacy: Season 0, a new addition to the Pandemic series, is a prequel to Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 and goes back in time to the Cold War era of deadly bioweapons. There are also a number of (non-legacy) Pandemic spin-offs you can check out, such as Pandemic: Fall of Rome and Pandemic: Rising Tide.

Best Legacy Board Games - #1. Gloomhaven

Genre: Adventure and Fantasy

Issac Childres

Players: 1-4 // Game time: 60-120 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Cephalofair Games

Gloomhaven is a city located in a dark corner of the world. Being shrouded in shadows, it attracts all sorts of people, many of which you probably wouldn’t want to be associated with. 

Let’s clear it all out!

You are a member of a rag-tag group of wandering adventurers working together to clear out dungeons in Gloomhaven, explore the lands beyond and accomplish tons of missions. 

The game comes with 95+ scenarios. Let that sink in. Ninety-five plus scenarios. Whoo.

In each dungeon, you’ll work together to defeat your enemies and loot money and treasure. It’s imperative to manage your time because you will become exhausted if you run out of cards to manage. Exhaustion almost always equals retreat- not exactly desirable if you want to keep that reputation of yours! 

Why This is Fun

This Euro-style dungeon crawler features challenging dungeons that can push you and your teammates to your limits. But the real thrill is levelling up and retiring characters, and unveiling new characters. Of course, there’s much more to it than that but you need to discover this for yourself!


In each dungeon, you’ll fight monsters with:

  1. A deck of battle cards that determine the order of attack, how much you move your miniature, how you attack and how much damage you inflict. 
  2. An attack modifier card for each attack, which can negate or increase your attack or you can miss altogether.

After battle, players tally up their loot and pick up their treasure. You’ll have the option of going to Gloomhaven to do errands and a City Event or do a Road Event and go straight to your next adventure. After each battle, you’ll make a decision on where to go next – some of these decisions permanently change your storyline forever!

Gloomhaven can be fiddly – there are a lot of things to keep track of! Reddit has a great list of helpful apps in the r/Gloomhaven community that can help simplify the amount of gameplay you need to monitor during a game, and reduce the game’s gigantic footprint.

Although Gloomhaven is rated for 1-4 players, many gaming groups play successfully with 5 players. There are a lot of great threads on Reddit and Board Game Geek you can check out to see if you’d like to play Gloomhaven with 5 players.

Solo players will play two to four characters throughout the game. Once you’ve hit certain criteria, you’ll unlock additional, more challenging solo scenarios designed around characters and their abilities. You can also download additional solo scenarios that were developed by the Gloomhaven game designer Isaac Childres made available to the community for free here

For solo players who prefer to cut down on set-up and the amount of elements to monitor, the digital version of Gloomhaven is a great option. This version is now available as an Early Access game on Steam. 

Gloomhaven in a Nutshell

Competitive or Co-op? Gloomhaven is a co-op game where you and your teammates work together to clear dungeons. However, there are some very competitive aspects to the game. Each of you will have a different character with different objectives, and you’ll be able to pursue your own goals.
Story Since Gloomhaven is so long and epic, the story can seem disjointed. There is no one cohesive story arc with a clear end and beginning. The game can feel like a long series of puzzles. Gloomhaven makes up for it with enough story via mini story arcs and flavor text for each dungeon that help you feel like the game is progressing and changing.
Legacy Elements Gloomhaven includes a complex and ever-branching storyline where you are developing your characters and building your legacy. When you make a decision, you can close certain storylines and locations forever. The difficulty level of the game scales as you grow, so the game never becomes too easy or too hard. The fun is in retiring and unlocking new characters that you can build up. You’ll permanently discard (or tear) certain cards and place stickers on your map.
Replayable? You have the option of saving discarded cards (instead of tearing them) and buying removable stickers. If you do this, the game is infinitely replayable.

Who This is For

Anyone looking for a challenging and strategic Euro-style dungeon crawler. You (and your teammates, if you have ‘em) need to be willing and able to invest many hours in this game. It will take all that and more to discover the secrets of Gloomhaven

Buy Gloomhaven on Amazon

Gloomhaven hit the board game universe by storm when it came out in 2017, winning virtually every Golden Geek award in 2017, including Board Game of the Year, and the 2018 SXSW Tabletop Game of the Year. With a game this popular, the good news is that there are plenty of expansions and spin-offs!

Gloomhaven: Forgotten Circles is the first expansion for Gloomhaven.

Founders of Gloomhaven is a prequel to Gloomhaven. In this city-building game, players build the City of Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a standalone prequel to Gloomhaven. This game is a beginner-friendly introduction to the world of Gloomhaven.

Frosthaven, which will be released in April 2021, includes a new 100-scenario campaign and features the same combat mechanisms of Gloomhaven.

That’s a Wrap!

As with books and movies, everyone will experience each legacy game differently. It’s important to think about your (and your group’s) preferences in all aspects, including whether you are playing with kids, your preferred duration of gameplay, theme, type of game mechanics, strength of narrative, etc.

There is something for everyone in our top 10 legacy board games. Whether you want a funny and entertaining game with an immersive story (that’s Clank! for you!), a game that’s good for solo play (Gloomhaven and First Martians), an epic 100+ hour game (looking at you, Gloomhaven) or want to play with your kids (Machi Koro Legacy, Charterstone, etc.). 

There are a few other legacy games worth mentioning: 

My City You’ll develop a city on your own playing board in this new competitive legacy game.

SeafallThough this game was widely panned for flawed game mechanics, some gaming groups really enjoyed playing this. It’s also a wallet-friendly pick.

Betrayal LegacyA horror adventure based loosely on Betrayal at House on the Hill, where players get to explore a haunted mansion as members of specific family members.

Ultimate Werewolf LegacyThe ultimate party game for 10-16 players. You get to lie and misdirect as you either try to hide the fact that you’re a werewolf or uncover the werewolves in the group.

Shadowrun CrossfireAn epic cooperative cyberpunk fantasy deckbuilding game for 1-4 players. 

Zombie Kidz EvolutionA legacy-style game developed specifically for kids. You’ll have a blast working together to save your school from cartoonish zombies! 

Legacy games offer a one-of-a-kind immersive experience. Sort of like binge-reading (or watching) the whole Harry Potter series. Or starting up Game of Thrones after the series finale aired. Once you’ve picked the legacy game that is the best fit, all you have to do is dive in and enjoy the ride!

Legacy Board Game Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you’re new to the concept of legacy games, a definition is in order. Legacy games come in all shapes and sizes, from a dungeon crawling campaign game like Gloomhaven to a medieval city building game with worker placement mechanisms like Charterstone

At its base, a legacy game can be a strategy and/or themed game (e.g. fantasy and adventure) within one or more genres (e.g. dungeon crawlers and campaign games). A legacy game can also utilize a number of game mechanics, from dice rolling and cooperative play to deck building. 

The immersive and interactive elements are what differentiate the best legacy board games from regular board games.

The popular board game community Board Game Geek defines a legacy game as:

A multi-session game in which permanent and irreversible changes to the game state carry over to future plays.

This can be done in a plethora of ways!

A few of the potential legacy approaches you’ll find in a legacy game are:

  • Opening sealed boxes or packages that are unlocked when your group hits certain milestones
  • Branching storylines
  • Unlocking new items and characters
  • Permanently modifying and/or destroying game pieces
  • Continuing stories from where your group left off from the last session
  • Building your legacy by gaining skills, items and other assets that carry over
  • Character development and growth

Find Your Tribe – Whether it’s your family members, close friends or board game friends, you’ll need a group that will commit to playing together regularly. It can be difficult to deal with turnover in most legacy games, as your fates are entwined.

Play Regularly – Some legacy games have ever-changing rules that are easy to follow when you play regularly (looking at you Pandemic Legacy). However, if you play infrequently, you’ll spend a lot of time re-learning rules and reacquainting yourself with where you are in the game.

Master the Rules – Some of the games we’ve listed below have complicated rules, which are further complicated by confusing rulebooks. However, regardless of their difficulty level we’ve found that you can usually bring in less experienced gamers if one of you has a good mastery of the rules.

Pick the Right Game – Picking the right game for your gaming group is important. For example, having a super competitive player while you are playing The King’s Dilemma can make gameplay a chore.

Some legacy games are either replayable as a legacy game and/or replayable as a non-legacy game. Others are not considered replayable once you’ve completed legacy play.

Something to keep in mind is that a game that is considered replayable may not actually be fun to play again. The secret sauce to legacy games is the unlocking of secrets, game rules and components. Once you’ve played through once, further games may not have the same allure. Some players may find that they don’t want to replay a game once legacy play is complete. And that’s okay! Check out our discussion below under Why Play a Game that May Have a Limited Shelf Life?

Legacy Game Replayable as a Legacy Game Replayable as a Non-Legacy Game Not Replayable
Aeon’s End: Legacy With Reset Pack Yes
Charterstone With Recharge Pack Yes
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated Yes Yes
First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet Yes Yes
Gloomhaven Yes Yes
The King’s Dilemma No No Yes
Machi Koro Legacy No Yes
Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 No No Yes
The Rise of Queensdale No Yes
Risk: Legacy No No Yes

Many legacy board games can only be played through once, and each playthrough is unique and determined by every decision the players make to build their legacy. For the ones that you can replay, it’s possible that the magic will be gone for any subsequent playthroughs once you have nothing new to unlock.

So why should you buy a legacy game, particularly considering their (typically) steep price tags?

The one-of-a-kind experience can offer priceless memories and hours of entertainment. You’ll even value the experience years later. The right legacy game for your group will have you talking about the next session and thinking about the game in between sessions. 

Though the price tag may seem steep, consider this. Gloomhaven, which we bought for $100, can give us over 100 hours of gameplay. This is approximately $1-2 per campaign. Which is cheaper and more immersive than going out to eat or going to the movies. Or even paying to stream the latest movie releases at home! 

You’re also more likely to play a legacy board game for many more hours than one of your regular board games.

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