April 7, 2014 by brennon
With the recent release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (great film by the way) and a re-watching of Thor II: The Dark World I had a hankering for some Marvel gaming on the tabletop. Thankfully a friend of mine has Legendary by Upper Deck which allows you to draw on not only the Avengers but a whole host of good guys and bad guys from the Marvel-verse. What you get is a very quick, and incredibly expansive deck builder…
Legendary will be a very easy to pick up game for those of you who have played deck building games before. The main mechanic of the game revolves around drawing a hand of six cards and then spending or attacking based on what you have. Through building your deck by buying various cards you will begin to tailor it towards a specific purpose and therefore be able to deal with the different villains that appear in the game.
A cards basic anatomy breaks down to a cost represented by a gold circle, a fight value shown as a Wolverine-style slash, and potentially a resource which is used to buy cards, represented by a star. At the beginning of the game you will have eight cards worth one resource each and four cards worth one fight value. From that basic start you’ll be cultivating a deck over a series of turns and hoping it doesn’t fill up with too much guff!
On your turn you…
- Must draw a villain card and add it to the villain track in the centre of the board resolving any Ambush effects.
- Can elect to spend resources to buy heroes from the HQ and/or use fight value to defeat a villain on the villain track or attack the Mastermind.
- Clean up your spent cards and add them to your discard pile before refreshing to a hand of six cards.
When you draw a villain card at the start of the turn it could either turn out to be a villain, which is added to the track (resolving ambush effects as mentioned above), a Scheme Twist, which is usually the way in which the heroes lose the game, or a Masterstrike which means the Mastermind (someone like Loki, Magneto or Redskull) lashes out at the heroes using their own custom attack. In some cases you might also draw a Bystander and these hapless individuals are kept underneath the nearest villain as they have been captured.
At that point you’re open to buying cards or attacking enemies in the field. You can split your resources however you see fit buying any number of heroes from the HQ. Each time you do, fill in the space with another hero from the deck. You can, if you have the fight value, attack a villain or the Mastermind where you match their own fight value, and then claim them as victory points alongside any bystanders they have captured.
The heroes, in most cases, have to defeat the Mastermind around four times in order to win, or satisfy any other requirements according to the Schemes that are in play. You will continue going around, revealing villains and battling/buying cards until either the Mastermind wins or you manage to bring him down.
Getting Your Game On!
One of the main selling points of Legendary (away from the Marvel heroes of course) is the ability to stack abilities based on the power options of each hero. There is a range of symbology within the game which, when linked, allow you to do more devastating amounts of damage to your foes or maybe even get more resources to buy high value cards. The combo effects are entirely different from hero to hero. Wolverine for example thrives of pain and wounds whereas someone like Iron Man is powered up by other energy or tech based heroes to use his blasters to better effect.
With the mass of heroes on offer you will find a ridiculous amount of combinations to work with. Essentially it boils down to choosing your favourite heroes and then taking them into the fight. Of course when you take on harder Schemes it might be easier to tailor your deck a bit more, finding synergies between heroes, but there is nothing to say you have to do that.
Of course sometimes villains will get away and if they do you’ll end up having to trash cards (which can really hurt synergy) and even having to trash cards from your HQ as well so your choice becomes even more limited! Some villains even have extra escape effects as they run off the other end of the board which do wounds and all sorts to you. I should probably mention wounds as they are fairly important. They will be added to your discard and essentially fill it with rubbish meaning drawing the right combos can be harder. You can ‘heal’ but it uses up an entire turn to do so.
Take into consideration the mass of Villains and Schemes on offer alongside a whole bunch of different villain groups (each with their own theme – my Lord the Enemies of Asgard are painful!) and you have a game that rewards masses of play-throughs. The game also has a scoring aspect to it once you’ve completed each Scheme meaning that you can set up a High Score system (a bit like if you were playing an arcade game) and then try and beat it next time with different heroes for your own amusement. It’s quite awesome.
Legendary is not the best deck builder I’ve played but it’s very much up there. The mass of characters and different combinations is a real selling point and it is exceptionally easy to play as well. You will be getting into your stride and playing multiple games with no problem at all over a couple of hours. It does however have a few downsides.
The game tells you to randomly pick your heroes in the rules and if you do this it can end up with odd combinations that really don’t work. At that point you have made the game insanely hard for yourself and you end up losing more often than not. On top of that the board feels like a mess and although it’s nice and glossy the cards get practically lost in the detail, even with card sleeves on. Some of the artwork on the original cards is repeated across all of a particular heroes deck as well which is a bit of a disappointment. In later expansions they have solved this problem however.
Apart from that though you have a challenging and intensely replayable game that has effectively drained the Marvel universe dry when it comes to characters and villains. I have come across some I’ve never even heard of before!
There are a number of expansions for the game including Dark City, The Fantastic Four, and Paint the Town Red each adding in more heroes, villains and schemes. I highly recommend picking them up. The Galactus villain in the Fantastic Four pack is a real serious challenge.
If you get a chance to play this game give it a go. It is incredibly accessible and with Marvel fever gripping everyone right now you should have no shortage of players.
Have you played Legendary?
"The Galactus villain in the Fantastic Four pack is a real serious challenge!"