At some point in their life, I’d wager that just about everyone thinks about the legacy they will leave behind. Be it a thriving business, a work of art, or their children, there are many ways to leave your mark on the world. Today, it’s not often we think about leaving behind a powerful dynasty of heirs, but for an 18th century noble, I’m guessing these thoughts were a pretty common way to spend their time. I mean, what else are they going to do, it’s not like they have HBO.
Today we are going to look at Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy by Portal Games (from here on out referred to as Legacy). In this worker placement game, players take on the role of a French noble looking to establish their family’s dynasty. What does it take to build your legacy? Read on to find out!
Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy is a worker placement and economic game for 1-4 players that plays in about 60 minutes. Legacy plays best with any number of players.
Legacy is played over three generations where players will be building out a family tree of heirs. Players will begin with just one patriarch or matriarch card from which to found their dynasty. Each round, players will be forming strategic marriages, producing offspring (which to marry off, of course), buying titles and going on secret missions. As the game progresses, player’s families will grow substantially larger, thus increasing their opportunities to gain money and honor (the games victory points). After three full generations (with multiple rounds in each), the player with the most honor wins.
In its square box, Legacy comes with a good amount of components. The first thing you will notice are the hundreds of cards. At first I groaned a bit when I saw them as they were the small size cards you see in many Fantasy Flight Games. I usually hate playing with these as the text is smaller and they are a pain to shuffle. However, after my first play I quickly realized this was choice of necessity. Legacy can be a table hog. If these were normal sized cards, players would need two tables to play the game. So for Legacy, I’d say this was the proper choice.
The illustration on the cards in Legacy look great and are quite unique…especially the friend cards. They are done in an artistic style that almost had me laughing at times. There is quite the spectrum of people here that will give each its own unique flavor. As much as I love the friend card’s design, I wasn’t as big of a fan of the children cards. Each one is the same (boy or girl) and the girl is sometimes hard to quickly tell which side is the adult and which is the girl. I understand why they didn’t create different art for each child (it would be very expensive), but it does take you out of the theme a little when everyone is having the same two children.
Moving on, each player gets their own board that will house their private actions and there is also shared, main board to house cards and other worker actions. These are well laid out and include player aids on them to make action selection a quick process. All together, you should absolutely felt like you are getting your gaming dollar’s worth in Legacy.
How to Play:
For the most part, the game play in Legacy is easy to pick up. Setting up the game, each player is dealt a head of family card. Its dual sided, so you can start as either a male or female. Each card is also a little different so your starting position in the game will vary slightly from your opponents.
Legacy is played over 9 rounds, divided unevenly into three generations (2, 3 and 4 rounds respectively).
Starting with the first player, a player uses one of their two pawns (or possibly one of their bonus pawns if they have one) to select an action. A player can choose from an action on their player board (no space limit) or the central board (only one pawn can occupy a space).
Possible player board actions include:
- Marry or Arrange a Marriage: This is the primary way to grow ones family. You choose a friend card from your hand and marry him/her to one of your family members. You’ll either have to pay for the wedding or receive a dowry. All friend cards have special text that will grant prestige, income, pawns or other special actions. Finally, take the top card from the child deck and give the happy couple a baby. Apparently new couples got right down to business in the 18th century!
- Have Children: Give one of your married couples another offspring. Might be a boy, might be a girl, or if you are unlucky there could be complications at birth.
- Socialize: Gain more friend cards, possibly costing you money. The more money you spend, the more friends you have. Just like in real life!
- Ask friends for Money: Gain some cash to spend, but you might lose some honor or friends in the process.
Possible central board actions include:
- Acquire a Title or Contribute to the Community: These are titles you can buy that can increase your income, prestige or friends.
- Hire a fertility doctor: This allows one of your couples to have two children, but it will cost you a friend card. That person was probably judgmental of your life decisions.
- Buy a mansion: A mansion will increase your prestige (Prestige is essentially an income track for Honor).
- Initiate a venture: Increases your income by one.
- Undertake a Mission: Allows you to draw a mission card. If you can complete the requirements during the game, you’ll gain honor or other rewards.
Play continues in a clockwise manner with each player using one pawn until each player has passed. Once that happens, each player gains income according to their income value and the pawns are retrieved. Then a new round then begins.
Once the generation has ended, a few extra steps happen. Each player receives honor points (VPs) equal to their prestige value and also one honor point for each child they had that generation.
To begin the new generation, all children become adults and are free to marry. If you had arranged marriages for them in a previous generation, they now gain the benefits from their new spouse and a child of their own. Players then draw a new random pawn and are ready to begin the next generation.
At the end of the 3rd generation, players total up the honor points and the one with the most is the winner!
I have to admit, I’ve never played a game quite like Legacy. Sure, it has your standard worker placement mechanics, but the heart of the game is really creating your family. While you need to place your workers to do so, I found myself spending the most time finding the best matches for my children (as weird as that sounds to say). This is especially true because the main action space, the marriage one, can’t be blocked by other players. So while this is a worker placement game, I wouldn’t say that mechanic is the heart of the game.
In general though, Legacy is a medium-weight euro game with a good amount of replay value. The rules are fairly easy to pick up, double so if you’ve played a worker placement game before. The one rule I’ve seen most people tripped up by are the 3rd generation mission rules. This one really isn’t the most intuitive and it usually takes some explaining on how it works. I think that’s because it runs counter to how the missions are played in the game up to that point.
That aside, Legacy is a fantastic game that does a great job of keeping your attention for the entirety of its play time. I think Legacy is probably the most thematic game I’ve seen that doesn’t actually have much in the way of flavor text. Most thematic games you play will have paragraphs of flavor text to keep you rooted into the game (Firefly: The Game, Eldritch Horror). With Legacy, you feel like you are creating the generations of your family. Everything (except the for previously mentioned mission rule) just makes sense. Couples have kids, kids get married and have kids of their own. Along the way they might acquire a title, mansion or even a family tragedy. And the best part is you get to see your whole family laid out in a giant family tree. This should feel familiar to anyone who’s done a grade school genealogy project. I think that’s where the theme really shines through. At the end of the game, you’ll have a colossal family tree that all ties back to your starting player card.
The actual game mechanics in Legacy feel very solid and turns will go by quickly. While strategically placing your workers is of utmost most important, as you only have about 2 a round, the real fun in the game is from playing matchmaker. Each one of the 80 some friend cards has their own quirks and unique traits. Many will come bearing benefits or penalties for including them in your family. There are also mechanics to reward long term planning as each family member can have both a nationality and an occupation. These can be referenced on future friend cards that might grant a bonus for having many artisans in the family, for example. This helps give players both an immediate goal and a long term one.
If Legacy had a flaw, it’d be the one most worker placement eurogames fall into. The player interaction is kept to somewhat of a minimum. Other than the usual action denial by taking a spot you know an opponent will be targeting (or drafting a friend you know they want), there is not a lot in the way of player interaction in Legacy. This can sometimes cause the game to fall into the “multiplayer solitaire” role that plagues many eurogames. Perhaps a future expansion will help address that, but for now, you’ll have to settle for creating your dynasty without too much outside influence. There are a few friend cards in the mix that will let you mess with your opponents, but those are few and far between.
With all the card drawing in Legacy, I was prepared to rail on it for dumping too much random luck on a game that needs to be strategic. But after many plays, I quickly realized that wasn’t an issue. There are actually many ways to get around the “luck of the draw” that players can take advantage of. Friend cards can be drafted from a face up stack, so you can target who you want. Babies can only have one complication per generation, so trouble in the delivery room won’t sink your dynasty. There are also a myriad of ways to gain income, prestige, honor and friends so if you find yourself lacking in one area, there are plenty of options for you to rebalance the scales.
Finally, Legacy does a great job with the scaling of the game. While I haven’t tried the solo version, it plays great with anywhere from 2-4 players. Be warned though, as mentioned earlier, Legacy is a table hog! When you have 4 players going, that 3rd generation will be tight on space for all but the biggest of gaming tables. Not that that’s a bad thing, but for those of you with a small, round table, you are probably going to want to stick with the two player version.
Legacy’s is a fresh take on the tried and true worker placement genre. I can’t really think of another game out there that does what Legacy does. By the end of the game, when you see your giant family tree created in all its glory, that’s when the theme really shines through. I have to give my compliments to Portal Games for taking a fresh concept and creating a very intriguing game play.
If you are like me, you’ll be spending a lot of time pouring over the friend cards looking for just the right matches for each of your offspring. While setting up your little girl with the Friedrich the Blackmailer might make you feel like a heartless parent on par with Tywin Lannister, sometimes the benefits that come with that nasty little man are just too good to pass up.
If you are looking for a solid, medium-weight eurogame, check out Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy. It’s easy to learn, high thematic and a lot of fun to play. Just make sure your table can fit all those little children you are going to have.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, you can get it for $45.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A clever and thematic eurogame that plays great at any player count as long as you have a big enough table.
• Player interaction is kept to a minimum
• Mission rules can be somewhat confusing