Pandemic Legacy and the Pains of Random

In my gaming group we like themes. So what’s better than playing Pandemic on lockdown?!

Technically we started playing it at the end of the lockdown, during which we played games that we all owned (and whose physical boards we could replicate) like The 7th Continent, Chronicles of Crime and Mansions of Madness. 

If you like Pandemic, as I do, the game is great. The legacy element is smart and enjoyable. We soared through the first four months like pros. Then we got a very grim May and lost two in a row. Now we are back on track but the sting of disappointment made me log back on BBG and change my rating of the game more than once. I’d complain that “The game is too random”, “if the decks get shuffled the wrong way you can’t win” and similar platitudes… yeah, because they are commonplaces. 

Obviously it doesn’t take much to realise that every game has a random element which will influence its outcome. That’s how you manage replay value, how you generate different situations in a game. Granted, some games are more random-based than others, and balancing the prevalence of random is a very important step in game design, but Pandemic Legacy is not one of those. So why was I so angry at the game?

That’s probably because of the legacy aspect. When you play games you invariably have to accept and come to terms with the presence of randomness. You play Eldritch Horror and you end up with a very tough and/or poorly sorted Mythos Deck (you know, that tentacled Rumor card after the very first turn…)? You can come to terms with that. Yes, you will probably lose the game but next time it’s going to be better. 

But in a LEGACY game there might NOT be a next time! And if there is, it might be a very different “time” than the one you would have had if randomness hadn’t messed with you otherwise perfectly and skillfully played session! Or that’s at least what I’ve probably been feeling. When you play legacy (or heavily campaigned games) there is this tension coming from the fact that you might miss something good because of the twists and turns that the story takes. And if you ARE going to miss something then you should at least feel like it’s YOUR fault and not chance’s. 

So I guess for me Random is OK, unless you are in a situation where you feel that a streak of bad luck might irreparably change and influence a lot more than the outcome of a single night of gaming. 

Camilo Séptimo – Navegantes

“Duele aceptar
que en realidad
somos fantasmas

Summer, the heat, the sand, moments that get burnt into your memory. That’s the essence of music to me. Camilo Séptimo’s Navegantes.

This came out in 2019 but I feel the need to go back and wallow in those moments because I don’t know they are coming back any time soon. 

Navegantes… navigating through love, pain, life – which is what the lyrics are mostly about.  But they are full of feeling, so very evocative as only (mexican) spanish can be in its sounds.  They have such a rich taste when you sing along.

The music is exquisite. 80s textures mixed with synthwave vibes (which, thinking about it, actually might come from a very similar place!), smooth production and high fidelity recording. Great musicianship, the lines of guitarist Erik Vazquez are oh so tastefully understated yet filling a lot of space. The writing is very consistent and, compared to previous outings, the band has managed to dial down the latino sugar in the melodies to a level of more universal appeal. 

My go-to soundtrack for chakras realignment. Peace & B Wild.

Painting experiments: Cthulhu Death May Die

I have recently finished painting the miniatures that come with the Cthulhu: Death May Die game we’ve been playing. They are not the greatest of achievements but… they probably look better now than they used to in plastic grey! And I don’t know why but  playing with painted minis is more fun!

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve chez Chris is a at this point a tradition of my clan. As the host I have to make things comfortable and unexpected at the same time. So, as far as the menù goes, I try to strike a balance between classics and new entries. This is what I served this year:

Sauces and marinades I made myself. I made pesto last summer with fresh basil from my vegetable garden then froze it. The Barbecue Sauce recipe I got from my friend Albano (I tweaked it here and there but it’s basically his). 

Series… enjoying wasting time, again.

I am a big fan of series. I’ve always liked the possibilities that the situation offered. Ever watched a movie and thought that it might have benefited from having a bit more time, to develop a character, to expand a narrative thread? It’s not like every story needs to be long in order to be realised, but some do and the series format can give them that.

You have space, you have time and nowadays, series being the latest gravy train, you also have budgets. And that’s where some of the fun stopped for me. Too many series, too much… fluff. And even the good stuff inevitably gets diluted by the need to monetise anything that moves (Stranger Things season 2/3 comes to mind). Stories are good when they have a reason for existing. Instead with some series it feels like they just want to “fill the space”; it’s like they decided that they had to do X episodes, Y seasons and then made up stuff as they went along just because they had to put it out there. But who am I to argue? If I don’t like series all I have to do is not watch them.

And then some happen along that still make me happy and genuinely excited. I have found The Witcher and The Mandalorian to be as good as they come. Loved the writing, the pacing, the acting and the amount of heart that those involved put into making them. You can feel that everyone loved what they were doing and it comes through. And as annoying as the wait for a season can be, you are left with something you can fondly think back to, maybe even watch again.