So, you want to be a superhero? Have you ever been bitten by a radioactive spider? Been bombarded by gamma radiation? Had adamantium fused to your skeleton? Chances are if you haven’t, you are never going to be the super hero you wish to be.
With Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, you can at least pretend to be all your favourite heroes, and make your fantasies of swinging on webs through New York City a reality…almost.
How it plays
Legendary is a Co-Operative Deck Building game for 1-5 players. You work as a team to attack the Mastermind and villains who populate the city. This game does have a competitive element, in that by defeating villains and rescuing bystanders, an individual player can earn victory points and be named the game’s “winner”. For a purely co-operative play, this step can be omitted. The player’s turn consists of three phases; play a villain card, play your hand, discard the remainder of your hand then draw back up to six new cards.
To begin, the player plays the top card on the villain’s deck. This card will either be a villain that invades the city, a bystander that gets captured by an existing villain, or it will create a special event through a master strike or scheme twist card. For latter cards, you will look to their parent cards on the board to resolve the actions involved. One scheme twist will ultimately end the game.
Next, you play the cards from your hand. These cards can attack villains (symbolized by a red three claw mark), recruit heroes to your deck by paying their recruitment cost (symbolized by stars), or use the card’s special abilities explained in their text. To attack and recruit, the amount on your cards must be equal to or above the hit points or recruitment cost to be effective. Once a villain is defeated, they are put in your victory pile and the cards used are discarded. When you recruit a hero, that card gets discarded, along with those used to recruit them, to your personal discard pile.
Special abilities are listed on each hero’s card. If there is no symbol before their ability, then you can use it when you spend the card. If there is a special symbol, you must have already played a card with the corresponding symbol to use its affect. This is how you strategize to best utilize the hero’s abilities.
Once all playable cards have been used, you discard the rest of your hand and draw back up to six new cards. If there aren’t enough cards remaining in your deck, you can shuffle your discard pile to create a new deck. The next player then begins their turn by playing the top card on the villain deck.
Avengers Assemble or Hulk Smash?
I am a huge Marvel fan. I’ve been one as far back as I can remember. DC just never did it for me (except for Batman, because, well…he’s Batman!) and whenever I got my allowance, I’d head for to the Marvel racks in my local comic book store. So right away, this game’s theme appealed to me. I play as my favourite heroes against villains I know and love! Count me in! I also really enjoy deck builders, so it was a natural fit for me.
The rule book gives you a fairly easy scenario to begin with. They tell you who to choose as your heroes, villains, Mastermind and scheme. You just have to follow the steps. I really liked this as it helped teach you the game. This is a “you have to play it to learn it” type of game and this eases you in slowly. Once you do get into a game, the rules are easy and a game should only take about an hour to play.
The beginning scenario is simple and you should be able to beat it….should being the operative word. My first time playing, we got trounced. I was so busy teaching everyone I wasn’t paying attention to just how many scheme twists had been pulled. It was a relief when a scheme twist showed up, since it meant no new villain came into play and no one escaped the city. Big mistake! The last twist caused us to lose. We never even placed a hit on the Mastermind as we focused our attention on stemming the tide of villains. Red Skull got away with the cosmic cube.
So, my advice is to focus on the twists and on the Mastermind. Unless the villain’s escape is a bad scenario, or you can’t hit the main baddie, don’t focus on the lesser villains. You have to find a balance between keeping the Mastermind’s scheme from succeeding and knocking him/her out! The game only ends when the Mastermind is defeated. The second time we played the learning scenario, we pulled off a victory!
The game requires your starting cards to be random (heroes, villains, Masterminds and schemes), which can lead to difficult circumstances. However, some of these scenarios involve knocking out specific villains that enter the city, or bystanders being captured, and then stopping the villains from escaping with them! Don’t expect to win this game every time. If it becomes too easy, there are “challenge modes” that ramp up the difficulty giving the game a lot of replay value. This, with the random draws, guarantees a fun time every time you sit down to play. The base game comes with 4 Masterminds and 8 schemes, so even though your heroes can vary from game to game, chances are the same Mastermind and scheme will appear more than once. This can get repetitive, but overall, I haven’t been bored. And, I guess that’s what expansions are for!
Overall the game play is solid and perhaps even a bit simplistic. This game isn’t a brain burner and it’s not trying to be one. There is strategy involved, either between you and the other players on how to take down the Mastermind and win the game, or how you can defeat the higher-powered villains to score the most victory points. This game is mostly luck-based so you need to draw or buy the best cards which appear randomly. The main appeal to this game is its theme. If you love Marvel, you’ll be happy, and with the popularity of the new Marvel movies, it appeals to anyone who enjoys those characters.
The game’s rules are straightforward and easy to learn and play. It would be a good introductory game to non-gamers, or gamers who haven’t played any deck builder games. However, if cards are not something you are interested in exploring, then even with the theme, this game would not be for you.
The cards in the game are good quality and it has a game board which is nice. This helps with laying out the cards and keeping them where they should be. It also eliminates remembering where each card is and what ability it possesses which I’ve found difficult with other deck builders. For example, Storm from the X-men gets a bonus when fighting villains on the rooftops. Without the board, remembering which villain is where would be impossible. The board itself is thick which should reduce any warping that might occur. I’ve had the game for a while and even though I live in a fairly dry climate, I haven’t experienced any warping. The box is also substantial and there is a lot of empty space for future expansions. Each deck must be separated to ease set up but all you have are thin card stock dividers. The game does come with moulded plastic trays, but there are no grooves for individual decks. This can lead to frustration! For the amount I paid for the game, I’d have liked a better designed insert. It isn’t even a snug fit in the box, causing it to shift during transport.
That being said, I really enjoy this game. I love the theme and even though it’s simple, the random draws can still give a challenging experience! It is also nice to have a lighter game that can be played in between heavier ones or with groups of different types of gamers. There isn’t a lot of knowledge needed and can be a great gateway to the world of heavier games. Everyone knows what a playing card is, and these are just cards with a twist!