Pandemic Legacy: Season 0’s designers toyed with the idea of giving the upcoming board game a “tongue-in-cheek” tone similar to a James Bond film and considered including a working slide projector in the box, co-creator Rob Daviau has revealed.
Daviau, who has worked on the entire Pandemic Legacy trilogy alongside Matt Leacock, told Dicebreaker that as part of experimenting with the game’s Cold War setting and spy thriller story, the co-designers drew inspiration from classic spy movies such as Three Days of the Condor and the James Bond series.
“At one point, we went all the other way and sort of made it a sixties Bond film with, like, volcano lairs - not literally,” Daviau said. “But we said, ‘Okay, let's go a bit more, you know, tongue-in-cheek.’ And that didn't quite work either because you didn't take it seriously.”
Daviau said that he and Leacock ultimately aimed to find a balance between the “summer blockbuster” feel of the first two Pandemic Legacy seasons and the real-world history of the Cold War. Research included studying the political affiliation of different cities across the globe during the Cold War - something that comes into play in Season 0’s US, Soviet and neutral-affiliated locations - and studying the history of the CIA during the period.
“What we realised as we were designing it is the more that we tried to make it historical, it became difficult,” Daviau said. “Because the first two games were summer blockbuster movies; the science, you have to wave your hand a little bit to get the story to work.
“So we sort of came back to somewhere in the middle, which is movie science. Like movie politics. We don't really get into a deep dive of the structure of the CIA or the structure of different diseases or Cold War politics. We were inspired by them to create a lighter, mollified version of that time period.
“It’s not Twilight Struggle, nor is it, you know, space lasers,” he added, referencing the acclaimed two-player board game set during the Cold War.
Separately, the designers experimented with including a slide projector and microfiche - a sheet of photos similar to microfilm - as one of Season 0’s surprise legacy components.
“For a short period of time, we were trying to do something with lights and microfiche,” Daviau revealed. “You know, where you were finding a snippet or a photo and then you had a magnifying glass or something you projected - oh, it was slides, like an old slide projector, and then we would have a light and you would shine it through like onto a wall to see what it said.”
Daviau said that the idea was eventually abandoned due to the difficulty of achieving a quality image using the gadget and the extra cost required.
“We could never get the focal points to work or the light to work,” he said, “and it was a lot of money for something where you could just put a picture on a card and people got it.”
Without revealing any spoilers, Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 does include leatherette passports that players use to create multiple identities of their globetrotting secret agents, along with a new ‘debrief book’ of potential branching narrative events read by the players in response to certain actions.
Leacock assured that while Season 0 doesn’t veer into gimmickry, the third and final Pandemic Legacy game contains plenty for players to discover as they progress through its campaign.
“After doing a number of experiments and different things, [we] wanted to make sure we didn't take people away from the core experience too much to the point where they felt like they were playing a different game or, you know, playing something that wasn't Pandemic - they were doing some kind of, like, puzzle hunt thing,” he said.
“There's some mystery in there - I think we did an exploration into the psychology and certainly went pretty deep into the story, but you can do a lot of that without having a lot of crazy props.
“That said, there are some surprises in the box.”
Read our full spoiler-free interview with Leacock and Daviau to find out more about Pandemic Legacy: Season 0, and check out the full announcement of the board game ahead of its release later this year.