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Board Game Review: Legendary Marvel- Dark City

Updated on March 29, 2016

As An Expansion...

As mentioned before, this is an expansion, not a stand alone game. However, since I enjoyed the core game so much I bought an expansion and I will be reviewing it for what it brings to the core game. At this time of writing, I only have the base game and this expansion. To find out more about the base game, check out my review. I promise, this game is loads of fun.

The box for the Dark City expansion
The box for the Dark City expansion | Source

Initial Impressions

Many of the favorite superheroes from the Marvel universe are street-level. While not exactly included in this expansion, Spider-man is a perfect representation of this, fighting villains on the street to foil city-specific plans. He interacts with characters like Daredevil, The Punisher, the Kingpin, and so forth. These characters, including a bevy of X-Men and X-Force characters are all included, as well as some other unnatural characters such as Ghost Rider, Blade, Mephisto, and other monstrous entities.

The game is tougher and a lot of the new heroes are stronger. It introduces a few new affiliations with X-Force and Marvel Knights that really haven't gotten a lot of new members since then. With Marvel Knights, you get Iron Fist, Blade, Elektra, and so forth. X-Force features Cable, Domino, a new Wolverine, and more. The X-Men roster continues to grow massively however with characters like Angel and Jean Grey (who value rescuing Bystanders), Professor X (who can control defeated villains), Nightcrawler, Iceman, and Bishop.

New features on the cards, from left to right: Versatile, Teleport, and Bribe.
New features on the cards, from left to right: Versatile, Teleport, and Bribe. | Source

New Elements in the Game

While this expansion sticks very true to the theme already in place with the original game, it does add some, interesting mechanics. You have Versatile, which is basically free points you can choose to put into either Attack or Recruit, making these characters very, wait for it, versatile. Teleport allows you to store your cards away turn after turn to make a power play later on with a much larger hand (although, definitely fear Apocalypse's Master Strike). There are also unlockable boosts on some cards that require multiple requisites, meaning you might have to play 2 Strength cards or a Covert and Energy card to get an additional boost.

Villains also have a new bold term called Bribe. You'll notice a lot of these cards are very high in comparison to other villains but Bribe allows players to use their Recruit and Attack in unison fight them. At times, you'll find your Recruit cost enough to take out some Henchmen all on its own.

This is also the first expansion that includes new kinds of Bystanders. These have unique immediate benefits once you rescue them and are shuffled into the Bystander deck.

Apocalypse, the big bad of this expansion who is much stronger than his Attack would lead you to believe
Apocalypse, the big bad of this expansion who is much stronger than his Attack would lead you to believe | Source

The Opposition

The highlight of this expansion is undeniably the the villains and Masterminds. While originally as strong Red Skull at 7, Stryfe gains more Attack for every Master Strike, making it a rush to take him down before he becomes too powerful. Mr. Sinister gains more strength by kidnapping Bystanders, and Kingpin rests comfortably at Attack 13 (with Bribe involved). Mephisto is here as well, and while he forces you to take more Wounds, he forces all Wounds to go to the top of your deck.

Still, the big bad is definitely Apocalypse. He's comparable to Galactus (at 20 Attack) and Thanos (at 24 Attack) despite only being at 12 Attack. Why is that? Well, it could be that his Master Strike practically neuters your hand by getting rid of any 1 Cost cards or higher, or the fact that his presence causes the Four Horseman (his constant followers) to get a +2 Attack, making them much more powerful. Also, if 4 of these Villains escape the city, Apocalypse wins even without fulfilling the Scheme. But still, his most devastating effect could be his Ressurection Mastermind Tactic. Drawing it at any point other than the last card will give you 6 Bystanders but you have to return the Tactic and reshuffle his Tactics pile. With bad luck, Apocalypse is essentially immortal and all your attacks can be wasted.

The rest of the Villains are interesting. There are Bribe keywords on the Maggia Goons (the only Henchman who have 4 Attack) and the Streets of New York (where you'll meet enemies with an Attack of 11). You'll also meet X-Men villains like the Maruaders, the MLF, and the aforementioned Four Horsemen. The Phalanx is also a particuarly fearsome Henchman group that will more likely KO some of your likeable heroes.

There's a couple of different schemes that are fun. A handful of them will bolster up the villains, and other will cut down on your recruiting space.

The Closing Thoughts

I greatly enjoy Marvel Legendary. It's a very good game with very good mechanics. The best part of its potential expansions is that it doesn't unbalance the main game. Take Munchkin, a game that's made to combine all decks with expansions (as per genre). You get to pick and choose what's included in each game. Think Jean Grey is too powerful? Put her aside in another game where the challenge is bigger and with similarly powerful heroes.

I'd say Dark City is better than Secret Wars Vol. 1. There are a lot more recognizable characters in this mix with a lot more fan favorites. The Villains and Masterminds prove to be a bit more of a challenge as well, including the top tier Apocalypse. It also complements the main game a bit more, creating keywords that are later included in Secret Wars. Also, while the Secret Wars pulls on a lot of random aspects of the Marvel universe, Dark City hones in on city-level characters, allowing for stronger thematic play.

This isn't to say the other expansions aren't worth it, but rather that this expansion is probably the best out of the expansions.

Assuming you have either the base Legendary game or Legendary Marvel Villains, are you interested in this expansion?

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Tl;dr

  • Expansion for Legendary Marvel
  • Runs $30-40
  • 350 New Cards (includes a different Wolverine as a Hero but whatever)
  • Strong thematic approach to street-level characters
  • Includes stronger challenges compared to base game
  • Lots of fan favorites and recognizable characters
  • Continues with excellent artwork (as compared to base game, Heroes have more varied images)

More Tabletop Games!

Enjoyed this review? You can check out some of my other thoughts on other tabletop games.

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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