August 24, 2015 by stvitusdancern
This year at Gen Con card games were all the rage and one that stood out this year was Legendary Encounters Predator from Upper Deck. Their booth was all decorated like a jungle scene in the movie and it looked really good. Legendary Encounters Predator is a follow up to the previous years’ Alien Version.
The Predator version is a stand-alone game, so you do not need the Alien version but you might just wish you had, more on that later.
What Is A Deck Building Game?
A deck building game such as Legendary Encounters Predator differs from other games such as Magic the Gathering or a Living Card Game in that all the cards to play the game are included in the box and when you play you only start out with a very basic deck of about 12 to 13 cards of the simplest types of cards, such as in the case of Legendary Encounters Predator.
What Is In The Box?
In the box there are over 700 different cards to sort into their different sets. Now you do not actually play as the characters in the movie like Schwarzenegger’s Dutch, but they do have their own decks that add to the Barracks (where you recruit characters and resources from). What you actually play is as one of five “roles” of Lieutenant, Tracker, Guerilla, CIA Agent, and Radioman.
Also included in the box is a beautiful full colour play mat that clearly marks where all the cards and decks go. It is as simple as that. The hardest part about this game, outside of beating the Predators is the initial sorting and setup of the cards. That took us around an hour to complete.
After that, if you keep the decks sorted and separated with the plentiful card separators you will have no trouble at all with set up the next time you play.
So Many Cards, What Is The Trick?
Remember, there are 700 cards in this game, and they need to be sorted based on their categories. Those are plainly marked, but the real trick is making sure that read the small print at the bottom of the cards as some are scenario specific. It will help that you have someone with really good eyesight and good light in the room as some of the print is hard to read depending on the background of the cards.
The nice thing about the cards is that the Predator cards have green printing on them to separate them out, but it can be either on top or bottom of the card. Once you have it set up you will be ready to go depending on how many players you have and whether you are playing as the Hunted or Hunters.
Hunters Or The Hunted?
Another nice option in this game is you can choose to be either the humans (the Hunted) or Predators (the Hunters). Both play mechanics are similar, it comes down to the option of playing cooperative to survive being the Predator’s next trophy or in a competitive mode of Predator versus Predator to see who can score the most kills.
This keeps the replayability high and the game fresh. I was worried at first that game can get stale after awhile only having a few scenarios to play, but every game plays differently depending on scenario and number of players and the roles they choose.
Ok, How Does It Play?
Play is very simple and we will take the Hunted game as an example. The players choose their role and get 7 experience cards (used to buy characters and abilities) and 5 Brute Strength cards (this is your attack points). You also get one specific ability card depending on the role you have chosen. Most give you some extra points to recruit or attack.
You shuffle your deck and draw 6 cards and those are what you play with, you go around the table each player taking their turn. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, here is where it gets interesting. On the top is the “Wilds” and prior to each player taking their turn you place a enemy card face down in this area and they advance towards the combat area one turn at a time, unless there is a special card that says otherwise.
Now, that does not seem fair does it? You have the option of using some of your Brute Strength cards to scan a section of the Wilds and see what that card is. This can be good or bad, good because it can be an advance warning of an oncoming attack and you or another player can kill it before it reaches the combat area. If you kill it in the Wilds then you typically do not suffer any wounds (Strikes) unless the card says otherwise.
It can also be bad as it can have a special reveal notation on the card that usually makes it a very tough going for the players, Like further strikes or bonuses to other enemy cards in your hand. Still doesn’t seem to bad does it? Well as the game progresses and the cards get tougher the cards keep coming along the Wilds path until they hit the combat zone, there they can now cause damage to the active player, if he or she cannot destroy them.
If you draw the wrong cards it make for a very nasty time. If you receive a strike from an enemy you have to draw a strike card and take whatever damage it says. Some are ok like a “flesh wound” only one point of damage to a deep gouge for many points and some can’t be healed.
What if I don’t have the required amount of points to achieve an recruitment or attack? Well, another nice option for players is you can play a “Coordinate Card” and help another player out. What a “Coordinate Card” does is allow another player to make a copy of that card to gain more points for an attack or recruitment depending on the card or you can even use the class symbol at the top to activate certain special abilities on cards that can give you bonuses like ignoring a strike this turn.
How do you gain “Coordinate Cards”, you may ask? Either by recruiting them from the Barracks or purchasing one from the Commanders deck. To win you play through three different scenarios and complete their objectives and when you are in the third scenario there is a chance you can face the Predator for a major victory if you survive or you can achieve a minor victory if you complete the last of the objectives.
We have played the game at least 7 times now and we haven’t made it out of scenario 2 yet. But, we will keep trying and I can tell you that I can see progression in our deck building skills and strategy. This game does keep you in the moment and it is an amazing feeling when you come up with a new way of defeating an obstacle from a previous turn or game.
If you decide that being the prey is not enough fun you can set up to play as a Predator and go against the other players in some good ole’ fashioned human hunting fun. You get to have a “Trophy Room” and collect all kinds of cool items such as gear, traps and oh yes prey, human that is.
It plays very similar to the other mode but, you get to see what gets placed in the Wilds and make your actions based on them. If attacking humans is getting old and boring how about drawing a card that lets you take on other Predators for some intense duels, let the best Predator win. How do you win in this version? If the Ultimate Prey dies, a Predator dies or the Prey deck runs out. You tally up points based on honour (kills and collections in your trophy room).
There are also many other options to change the difficulties in the game, again to keep it fresh. There is also the option to play through the Predator Movies both I (good movie) and II (pew stinky).
What Are Your Final Thoughts?
I am not much of a card game player, I play some Magic the Gathering and Living Card Games and such. I do find this game extremely fun and challenging, it is nice to be able to immerse yourself in game where you are familiar with the world it is set in. I can honestly say there are times, when I found myself drawn into the jungle and feeling like someone was watching me from the trees.
It is a game the whole family can pick up and play even with the more adult theme. Our younger sons picked it up pretty quickly and had a great time doing it. The exciting part for us now is that we just picked up the Aliens version and there rules on how to combine the two sets together to play Alien vs Predator.
We thought about picking up the Aliens set at Gen Con and they had a special deck to be used in conjunction with the two sets, but we decided against it and now we wish we had. You do not need the deck to play both versions together, just enhances the experience.
This is a great diversion when you need some time away from the hobby table after a marathon painting session. You get your friends or family together and have a roaring good time trying to survive the ultimate hunt.
What do you think? Is it worth adding to your game collection?
"The Predator version is a stand-alone game, so you do not need the Alien version but you might just wish you had, more on that later..."
"There are also many other options to change the difficulties in the game, again to keep it fresh. There is also the option to play through the Predator Movies both I (good movie) and II (pew stinky)..."