Pandemic Legacy

One of our favorite activities on a trip with friends is to spend hours on an engaging board game. While these nights have become fewer (and, thus, more precious) as our locations have become distributed over the years, we’ve been fortunate to have access to a wonderful array of board games when we meet.

Over the past year, we’ve been on the lookout for cooperative games. As we’re all rather competitive, it is nice to channel the energy to battle the game. We tried “Forbidden Island” last year and found it a touch too simple.  We then tried Hanabi – but found it a touch too stressful because a single mistake can undo an hour of game play.

This month, however, we found a keeper and the game has a story.

Matt Leacock, the creator of the Forbidden Island game, had created another great coop game called Pandemic. In Pandemic, where you work together to solve virulent diseases around the world.

Separately, over the past decade, Rob Daviou, another talented game designer, had created a new kind of board game – “Legacy.” A Legacy game is designed through various mechanics to change permanently over a series of 10-12 sessions. Imagine a 12 part mission where the objectives and challenges keep evolving.

And, in a blessing to all board game fans around the world, Matt Leacock and Rob Daviou teamed up to create Season 1 of  “Pandemic Legacy.” To nobody’s surprise, this combination board game has been rated among the best board games of all time.

We’ve been having a blast giving Pandemic Legacy a shot and hope to complete it in our next reunion in a few months.  If you enjoy playing board games, this game comes highly recommended.

PS: If you’ve never tried board games and are interested, I’d suggest starting with Settlers of Catan and then trying Puerto Rico.

Social needs and status games

I’ve been thinking about our social needs and have begun to test a hypothesis that we have two basic social needs –

a) Fit in to a tribe where we want to belong

b) Stand out – first by seeking ways to improve the tribe’s status and then by seeking ways to improve our status within the tribe by signaling our comparative virtue

So, Jane might be a disgruntled worker in finance who doesn’t really feel a part of the tribe. She might either seek opportunities to go work in a different tribe or may be contacted by a member of said tribe. Let’s say she now has the opportunity to become an analyst at a venture capital firm.

After a year in her new job, Jane’s first need would be met. Since venture capitalists are a relatively “high status” tribe, she may only seek to improve the status of her firm within the tribe. Or, more likely, she might be focused on improving her brand within the community by signaling comparative virtue on Twitter (for example).

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to jobs. We’ve created various kinds of tribes with nations, states, faiths, religions, and so on. We’ve even created tribes around sports teams. Most of these tribes ladder up to bigger tribes.

So, for example, we have different levels of tribes when we consider politics. When things are going well for them, the people of a nation may unite under the larger national umbrella and revel in their collective high status. When things aren’t, they’ll focus instead on improving the status of their local tribe and stop caring about the larger tribes they’re part of.

Once we’re part of a tribe, the goal is always achieving higher status. So, if we feel secure about our status within a tribe and also feel secure about our tribe’s status, we can now get to work on improving our status within the tribe.

Since the goal is achieving higher status, we’re always playing status games – whether we choose to outwardly signal status or not. Choosing to not play status games is just a variant of playing the game.