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Board Game Review: Legendary

Updated on July 13, 2015

The nerds of us may remember playing any card game with Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, or Magic the Gathering either past or present. When you really got into it, you enjoyed buying the booster packs, setting up your deck around a central theme, and making every card count for that singular purpose.

Well, forget the booster packs, play with an even field, and do it with your friends all in the style of Marvel comics!

Box art for the game, a glimpse into the stellar art style that accompanies each card.
Box art for the game, a glimpse into the stellar art style that accompanies each card. | Source

What is It?

As mentioned before, Legendary is a deck building game. Not sure what that means? I'll explain it. In the case of this game, every player starts with the same generic S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent cards, 8 cards meant to recruit new cards and 4 cards meant to deal damage to the villains. That's 12 cards, and every hand is 6 (barring other effects). On your turn, you'll flip over a Villain card and then play your cards. If you can Fight a Villain (by having the same Attack points) you do it and claim its victory point. If you have enough recruit points more importantly, you'll want to recruit a more prominent Hero card such as The Hulk, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Spiderman, Rogue, Nick Fury, and so forth. Each of these heroes are stronger in some way than the cards you started with.

However, when you recruit these new cards, they join your hand in the discard pile. You'll play your next day and repeat. When you're out of enough cards to make a 6 card hand, you'll shuffle your discard pile and that becomes your new deck. The only difference is now, it has a few recruited Heroes in it, making your new hand potentially much better. As you play, you'll have better opportunities to either Fight Villains or Recruit Heroes, fashioning the deck you want. Most Hero cards have effects due to their class or roles. Playing a green/strength card and then playing a specific Hulk card will give your Hulk card double the Attack stat, giving you more reason to specialize your deck instead of just grabbing the best cards overall.

The goal of the game is to beat the Mastermind (a major villain like the Red Skull, Loki, or Dr. Doom who are all much stronger than regular Villains). Meanwhile, players can lose if the Scheme fulfills its win conditions. There are a multiple Schemes that affect the deck in different ways, usually through its Scheme Twist cards in the Villain deck. Villains will get stronger, Heroes may become Villains, players are forced to take on (mostly) useless Wound cards, and so forth. All Schemes relate to comic material, such as 'Unleash the Power of the Cosmic Cube,' Civil War, or Skrull Invasion.

That's a lot of info, but basically you build your deck, beat the Big Bad, and do it all before certain requirements are met. The game is largely cooperative where it's every Player vs the Game, but players can tally up their Victory Points (earned by defeating bad guys and rescuing bystanders) which ultimately determines who wins.

A game of Legendary in play with villains halfway to escaping and an assortment of Villains defeated.
A game of Legendary in play with villains halfway to escaping and an assortment of Villains defeated. | Source

Why is this Good?

If you're a fan of Marvel, it's fantastic. I'm still not sure what element actually reinforces this, but it's as good as any other comic-driven game that's meant to pull you into the universe you're playing at. Seeing a variety of villains come across the board with their own special abilities, all trying to escape the City you're trying to defend, specializing your deck around certain characters, and especially the Schemes that help you recall big moments in the comics. It's engrossing, and that's fantastic in any game for any medium.

There's also the perks of deck building too. While playing with a tricked-out deck is fun, it can get stale. With the base set having 15 different Heroes and each of those having numerous different cards (except Spiderman, which is interesting on his own), and not to mention their random availability, your deck will never be the same. Adding to that, the Villains and their appearance is also randomized, there are 4 different Masterminds (in the base set), and a much larger selection of Schemes that changes the lose scenario and Twists that alter the game you're playing. This game is never the same twice, and that's saying it if you only play it by yourself. Of course, playing with others adds even more variables into the mix.

Oh, and the art. It's all original but stays true to the quality one would expect from a medium that tells most of its story through pictures. You'll find yourself picking up cards in the middle of play just to look at the images. It's a nice touch on top of everything else.

Three different versions of Captain America with different roles, attributes, and token cost.
Three different versions of Captain America with different roles, attributes, and token cost. | Source

Expansions

As with so many other games I'm found of, the sky's the limit. This game is more than playable on its own, but there are different expansions of different sizes and price for consumers. A major expansion, called Dark City, adds in Masterminds like Kingpin, Apocalypse, and Mephisto while adding in Heroes like Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Cable. For cheaper expansions you can grab hold of things like Guardians of the Galaxy, Spiderman's Paint the Town Red, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and so on. Even better, there's an entirely different base set where the players take on the roles of Villains as they fight the Heroes. All of these work with another (the vanilla game and Villains game have synonyms words for cards so you can have Red Skull and Captain America fighting alongside each other if you'd like).

In addition to new cards, the expansions bring on new types of cards like Artifacts, Commanders, and Uru-weapons. I'm sure there's more, but at this point in time all I have is the base set. Unfortunately, the games run a little on the expensive side compared to some others but it provides a massive amount of replayability. If you're looking for a fun game and you've got some pocket cash to burn, you should look to invest that money this way. Personally I plan on enjoying this installment for a while before looking to augment it with other games.

Closing Thoughts

Unfortunately, it does cost a little bit and I don't think I could recommend this game to someone who is indifferent to Marvel or has never experienced (or doesn't like) deck building. However, if you like both, I would shove this thing into your face. It really is a great game and selecting cards randomly has a huge effect on what type of games you play (for example, playing against Dr. Doom and The Legacy Virus scheme, the players have so few Technology Heroes that whenever one pops up, no matter how weak it may be, it's recruited immediately to potentially avoid Wounds). At the time of this posting, I've had the game for about a week and I've played it at least once almost every day. That should help emphasize my recommendation for this entry.

Have I peaked your interest in this game?

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Tl;dr

  • Legendary is a deck-building board game outfitted with heavy Marvel cosmetics
  • Artwork is original and high quality
  • Game has plenty of options and variability for intended replayability (Heroes, Villains, Masterminds, Schemes)
  • Plays 1-5 people (it also spells out the specific rules for playing solo)
  • Game is largely cooperative but features competitive elements
  • A little pricey at around $50 (shop around before settling on a price)
  • A game runs a little under an hour but turns among players are generally quick
  • Set-up, especially for the first game, takes a little while so it's good to keep things organized to play much more quickly (utilize the dividers that come with the game and the different sleeves to organize your cards by type)
  • Boasts a large number of expansions that augment base game

More Reviews

I'm working on reviewing a few more non-traditional (ie. not Battleship, Monopoly, and the like) board games but I've only got another micro game called One Night Ultimate Werewolf which is like your card games Mafia or Werewolf where everyone gets a special ability. By the way, it's a fantastic game for parties.

I've already written a considerable bit of material for the card game Munchkin, a massive selection of games that parodies various genres in a card based D&D style play full of backstabbing and manipulating your friends just to get ahead. It also has the options of tons of Custom Cards, so if you're interested in that, I've got more than a handful of cards that can spice up your games.

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