A legacy board game is a unique type of board game that permanently changes as you play it. There's often a narrative element that forces you to make decisions, and those decisions affect how the game changes—resulting in your playthrough's "legacy."
These permanent changes are often done by placing stickers on cards and game pieces. Sometimes there are special sealed packets that can only be opened after certain decisions, which opens new capabilities and options as you progress through the game.
And most legacy board games can only be played a finite number of times; when you reach the end, your legacy is set in stone. There are some, however, that you can keep playing even after you finish—with the permanent changes in tact, of course.
Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Here are the best legacy board games that offer engrossing experiences that are totally worth the money.
11. Machi Koro Legacy
We mentioned the original Machi Koro in our article on board games for people who hate board games. Lo and behold, there's now a legacy version of the board game with all the same mechanics and fun gameplay, now wrapped up in an evolving 10-game series.
Machi Koro Legacy tells a complete story within the original game's world, and your decisions in each playthrough will unlock new aspects that widen the scope and set up new things for the next!
Dragonfire is a cooperative legacy-style deckbuilding game that takes place within the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Choose your race, choose your class (cleric, rogue, fighter, or wizard), collect weapons and spells, and adventure across locations in the Forgotten Realms.
With each playthrough, your characters will level up, gain access to new equipment and abilities, and encounter new monsters. And Dragonfire really sets itself apart as a truly cooperative experience. You'll always be thinking about what's best for the group!
Charterstone is a competitive legacy board game with medium complexity. Playable with up to six players, each player has a unique set of skills to build out their city in their own unique way.
The gameplay starts off simple with a handful of choices, then grows increasingly more complex as stickers are added to the game board and become additional action spaces for players.
While Charterstone's main campaign lasts for 12 games, the resulting game board will remain replayable indefinitely—and it'll be a unique board game defined by your journey.
8. Risk Legacy
Risk Legacy is what was missing from the original Risk. It starts off the same: players battling for control over regions, using simple dice rolls to resolve engagements. But each war has lasting consequences.
Players can play as one of five different factions, which each have their own unique spins on the core rules. In every playthrough, each faction must choose between two new powers—the chosen one is permanent, and the one that isn't chosen gets destroyed.
Over the course of 15 games, each power grows in their own ways and the world itself is shaped in various ways. By the end, you'll have a one-of-a-kind copy of Risk that's far more replayable than the original.
Fun fact! Risk Legacy was the first legacy board game. Designer Rob Daviau got the idea when thinking about how Clue would make more sense to permanently change with each solved murder!
7. Betrayal Legacy
Based on the original Betrayal at House on the Hill, which involves a group exploration of a haunted mansion, Betrayal Legacy explores the idea of a haunted house that exists over decades—and the experiences that each generation would have within that house.
Told over 13 chapters, each playthrough of Betrayal Legacy represents a particular family's time at the house. Future playthroughs represent them at an older age, or their descendants, or even another family.
Every playthrough provides different bonuses, penalties, and effects that are remnants from the past. It's an interesting twist that really gives the haunted house an identity of its own.
6. My City
Designer Reinez Knizia—the genius behind board games like Modern Art, Lost Cities, Battle Line, and Amun-Re—furthers his own board game legacy with the family-friendly My City.
For two to four players, My City is a competitive legacy board game where players develop their own individual cities (on their own playing boards) over the course of 24 episodes. Every decision carries forward to future games, until the end is reached.
The game board can be flipped and set up using an alternative setup, allowing for repeatable play as well. (You'll need to play through the first four episodes to unlock what you need for this.)
5. The King's Dilemma
The King's Dilemma is a fantastic narrative experience that uses legacy board game mechanics and branching storylines to craft an experience like no other. The core premise: players are the various political houses that lead the kingdom's government.
Best played with five players, The King's Dilemma presents players with a dilemma every round, which must be resolved together—but everyone has their own individual goals to reach, and that makes cooperation and negotiations much harder.
Each dilemma in the evolving deck of event cards will only occur once, so every decision counts! A dilemma, indeed.
4. Aeon's End: Legacy of Gravehold
Aeon's End: Legacy of Gravehold is a cooperative legacy deckbuilding game that can be played with up to four players, but best played with two.
Over the course of an 8-hour campaign, you'll upgrade your characters and unlock new market items after every session, allowing you to take on increasingly stronger nemeses as you defend your home.
The best part about Aeon's End: Legacy of Gravehold is that your characters and nemeses at the end can be combined with the original Aeon's End and its expansions, allowing for even more replayability.
3. Zombie Teenz Evolution
A kid-friendly cooperative board game where up to four players work together to fend off an encroaching zombie horde? And it has legacy gameplay in the form of "Mystery" packets that alter the game rules in different ways after each playthrough?
That's Zombie Teenz Evolution in a nutshell. There's even a predecessor game called Zombie Kidz Evolution, which is similar but slightly less complex. Both games are standalone, but can be combined for even more variety!
2. Pandemic Legacy
Risk Legacy may have started the legacy board game genre, but Pandemic Legacy popularized it. It's really the perfect concept for a legacy-style game, especially due to its cooperative nature.
Pandemic Legacy will take you through 12 to 24 playthroughs—depending on how often you fail—with gameplay that initially feels very similar to the original Pandemic...
...but new cards and effects are added over time, and game components can be ripped up and lost forever. You may even lose certain characters permanently, making them unavailable forever!
We've praised Gloomhaven many times before, and we won't hesitate to praise it some more. This amazingly dense board game has tons of game pieces, tons of variety, and tons of legacy fun.
Play cooperatively with up to four players as you explore a persistent but ever-changing world and work together to vanquish monsters in dungeons. After every session, players make decisions that affect how the story progresses.
Gloomhaven is one of the few legacy board games that's just as good solo as it is with a group. And given how complex it is, you might prefer it that way since you can take your time!