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Board Game Review: Legendary Marvel: Secret Wars Vol. 1

Updated on August 26, 2015

As an Expansion, you gotta know this...

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.

Alternate Box Art due to the pre-order
Alternate Box Art due to the pre-order

Initial Impression

Well to be honest, at the time of reviewing this I only have the base set and the Guardian of the Galaxy expansion, both are which phenomenal but I know I'm a little out of order of what to get.

However, this expansion is definitely meaty. They include some of the keywords from previous expansions (Bribe and Teleport), while handling quite a bit more. The new schemes are pretty trippy and largely ignore the actual board, and the new Masterminds are very dynamic in regards to how the game is going. There's two new hero groups as well, but they're not entirely Heroic as this expansion goes well either with the base set or the Villain set. You'll get to play with Villians such as Proxima Midnight and Maximus, as well as Thanos.

This game also affords you the opportunity to play as the Mastermind against human players, but it seems a bit too overpowered and I haven't really delved into it yet. If it's interesting enough, I'll make an entry about it later.

There's also plenty of cards that have multiple classes (such as Ranged and Strength cards) that serve to boost other cards more easily.

Without further ado, let's get into more of the specifics.

By no means am I a good photographer.
By no means am I a good photographer.

New Elements in the Game

There's the new Cross Dimensional (Wolverine/Thor/Hulk) Rampage, which causes Wounds if you don't possess a card in play or in your victory pile that is a specific character (such as how Maestro in the base set is an alternate future Hulk).

There's also a new Henchman and Villain group (among others) that become Hero cards after you defeat them, the Thor Corp and the Ultimate Marvel Universe. This might happily coincide with your deck focus or force you to unwillingly indoctrinate them, causing your deck to overflow with cards you really didn't want. You can pair these up with the Skrulls and the Secret Invasion Scene to have a low scoring game but a huge recruitment rate.

There's also a few new Bystanders called Bankers which give you a permanent bonus when recruiting Heroes underneath the Bank section. Also, there's a brand new grey card you can recruit for two points called Sidekicks! When you play these, you get to draw two cards which allows you to avoid saturating your deck. A single scheme focuses on these guys as Villains.

The Heroes themselves aren't fantastically different than previous entries. Thanos murders tons of Bystanders for deadly effect, Lady Thor, Ultimate Spiderman, and Superior Ironman are vastly improved versions of their base set versions, Black Panther and Magic focus on the Sidekicks, and Black Bolt gets bonuses depending on cards without rule text on them (ie, all Shield cards). They are a lot of fun and there are a few more strategies combining them more than usual.

The Opposition

There's 3 new Henchman groups, each with a different difficulty level. Thor Corps allows you to recruit them when you beat them, M.O.D.O.K. allows you to thin your deck and KO someone in the HQ, and then there's the terrifying Ghost Racers that are more likely to return to the city than to stay in your Victory Pile.

Then there's a huge host of Villain groups from the heroes in Days of Future Past and the Age of Apocalypse, characters from Old Man Logan (although there's no Venom T-Rex unfortunately), characters from the original Goblin Queen event, some of the Ultimate Marvel Universe characters that you recruit when you defeat them, and the terrifying Marvel Zombies which simply refuse to die. With this expansion, there are some 'potential Masterminds,' powerful Villains that become Masterminds when they escape. There's actually quite a focus on handling multiple Masterminds at once (which makes Master Strikes multiplicative and awful), which helps to change the dynamics and focus during a game.

Most interesting of course are the new Masterminds. Nimrod the Super Sentinel may be weak, but requires the player to have a respectable amount of Recruit points to hit him which helps to neutralize decks that focus on the likes of Wolverine. The Savageland Hulk (from Old Man Logan) doesn't really hit hard, but his Attack score steadily builds every time he takes a hit, starting at 7 and building up to 16. Madelyn Pryor the Goblin Queen gleefully robs the Bystander deck to provide a protective shield for herself but really gives characters like Thanos and Black Widow tons of Attack ammunition. Finally and not the least is Zombie Green Goblin, a character that's sure to resurrect both the Zombies and Ghost Racers at nearly every opportunity, as well as having a secondary effect in his Master Strike that kills off the rare Hero cards in the HQ while becoming stronger.

The Schemes themselves are fun too, adding in different dimensions to play with the City and invading Villains, fighting Sidekicks, causing Heroes to be more expensive to Recruit, adding in Masterminds and Mastermind Tactics as Villains, and so on. There's also a staggeringly simple "I'll Crush Them with my Bare Hands" that makes Scheme Twists into Master Strikes.

Closing Thoughts

Negative first. It's fairly obvious that this is just Volume 1 of the expansion theme. One Scheme references a Henchman group that is not present, and there are several Heroes (such as Captain Britain, Spider-Gwen, Falcon as Captain America, and others) that missed this grade, or even the head honcho of the Secret Wars himself, God Doom (or maybe even something to represent a Beyonder) is lacking.

Nevertheless, this expansion really delivers with its Masterminds, giving a good variety of beginner to very difficult antagonists for a game. Having Villains you can recruit is fun too, and the Sidekicks provides a happy alternative when there's nothing to recruit in the HQ. While some of the new Heroes outpace original entries, they mesh well together (especially Ultimate Spiderman and the original Spiderman).

If you don't have Dark City, you'll have to learn Teleport and Bribe (the latter is only on the Savageland Kingpin card) but they aren't a big deal. There's not a lot it feels like it's lacking from previous expansions, but as is typical with expansions, you will need one of the two base sets in order to properly play this game.

The box it came in smelled weird though. Not sure if that would affect your interest. I did order the game from the source and should be expecting the Promo Cards either this week or next (at the time of posting), so I might put those up here as well.

As it stands, this expansions is pretty phenomenal and is definitely recommended for those enjoying the Secret Wars event or wants some interesting Mastermind and Scheme cards.

Will you be picking this up?

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

See results

Tl;dr

  • Runs $30-40
  • Includes 350 New Cards
  • Fantastic Mastermind and strong Scheme cards to shake things up
  • New strategies and improvement over older Hero cards
  • A variety of quality artworks as per different 'theme' (such as Days of Future Past being a bit retro versus the unsettling images of Marvel Zombies)
  • Several new keywords to add more dimensions to the game
  • Requires only the base original or Villains set to properly play
  • Is only 'half' the Secret Wars expansion as this is Volume 1 of 2 (still worth the price though)
  • Highly recommended, although you may or may not want to invest in some of the older expansions to work your way to this new one

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 and groups larger than 5 that goes quickly each round.

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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