Review: Legendary “A Marvel Deck Building Game”

Deck-building games is a fast-growing genre that is gaining more and more fans around the world. You start out with a lame deck consisting of a few basic cards and then all options are open. It’s up to you to find the best combos of cards, add them to your deck and gradually build a “machine” that works better than other players’. It all started with Dominion, then came Thunderstone, Ascention, Nightfall… and now Legendary! But Legendary is much more than a simple deck-building game. Read on to find what’s different about it.

The game’s storyline is quite compelling thanks to the Marvel license. Here are all your favourite guys: the good ones like Wolverine, Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America, Iron-Man and many more, and the bad ones: Dr. Doom, Magneto, Loki and Red Skul. One of the evil Masterminds decided to bring horror to the city, by trying to accomplish a scheme and recruiting many villains to help him do just that. You have the difficult task to stop him by recruiting the best super heroes out there and fighting the villains and the Mastermind himself. However you are not alone. Your fellow players are on your side trying to do just the same as you. Players don’t take the role of super heroes. Instead heroes are available for any player to add them to his deck from a common pool. So, is this a co-operative game? Up to one point yes. You all try to defeat the bad guys but one of you is going to do better than others. By defeating villains or fighting the Mastermind, players earn victory points and at the end of the game, the player with the most victory points is the winner.

This is a game for 1-5 players each player starting with the same deck of basic Hero cards, 8 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents and 4 S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers. During set-up, which by the way takes some time, you choose a Mastermind to fight at random. Each Mastermind comes together with 4 Mastermind tactics cards, placed underneath the Mastermind on a special place on the board. Then you choose a Scheme card at random too. On the Scheme card there there are details about how the Mastermind operates which influences the way the villain deck is formed.

Then you get to build the villain deck which consists of the following types of cards:

  • “Scheme twist” cards. A Scheme Twist card represents the Scheme moving forward towards victory for the evil Mastermind. Every Scheme works in a different way, with its Scheme Twists doing a specific thing related to that Scheme. The number of “Scheme twist” cards in the Villain deck depends on the Mastermind card.
  • “Master Strike” cards. A Master Strike card represents the evil Mastermind coming down to get their hands dirty and smash the Heroes themselves. Each Mastermind card has its own specific Master Strike effect. 5 of these identical cards are added to the villain deck.
  • Villain groups. Each group consists of eight villains that work together. The number of groups added depends on the number of players.
  • Henchmen groups. Henchmen are weaker Villains where each group consists of ten identical cards. The number of groups added depends on the number of players.
  • Bystanders. These are innocent citizens that turn out to be at the wrong place, the wrong time. Villains snatch them and carry them with them. When you defeat a Villain who has captured a bystander, you get an extra victory point for rescuing the poor guy/girl.

After the Villain deck, you build the Hero Deck. There are fifteen different heroes and you get to choose five of them (six when playing with 6 players). For each hero there are 14 corresponding cards (1 rare, 3 uncommons, 5 of one common, and 5 of another common).

ll decks are shuffled and put facedown on their special reserved places on the board. 5 cards are flipped from the Hero deck and put one next to the other into the 5 Hero Spaces in the HQ. Players shuffle their decks too and draw 6 cards. A starting player is chosen and players take turns in clockwise order.

Each player on his turn does 3 things:

  1. Play the top card of the Villain Deck. The villain makes a spectacular appearance in the city through the… sewers!! There are 5 spaces (places in the city) through which villains move: Sewers, Bank, Rooftops, Streets and the Bridge. Each time a new villain enters a city space, if there is already someone there, he gets pushed one space to the left, towards the bridge. This may cause a chain reaction when a new villain appears. But be careful, if a villain is pushed left of the bridge, which is the final fifth space on the board, he forever escapes the city. If a certain number of villains, depending on the chosen scheme, manage to escape, then evil wins and all players lose.
  2. Play cards from their hand, using them to recruit and fight. Each hero card has special symbols and text describing his abilities. A hero may provide gold which is used to recruit more heroes and/or attack points used to fight Villains. They also usually have a superpower ability that requires a hero of the same hero class having played this turn in order to activate it. Super powers can have many different effects such as drawing more cards, adding more attack points, getting rid of wounds or basic heroes and much more. Whenever a player defeats a villain he puts him on his personal Victory Pile.
  3. Discard his hand and draw six new cards

The game is over when players defeat the Mastermind four times or if the Mastermind wins. Then players add the victory points they earned during the game.