A Review of Legendary-A Marvel Deck Building Game
VacaBCK(1.3)(Originally Posted on Board Game Geek 3/5/14)
Assemble your team, defeat the villains before they escape the city, but don’t forget about the Mastermind who is behind this nefarious scheme before they manage to pull off their last twist. The City, no the world, is counting on you.
Legendary is a deck building game where you are a Shield Agent who is in charge of recruiting a team of Superheroes tasked with stopping the evil Mastermind. Much like all other deckbuilders you will start on your mission with a basic hand that introduces you to the types of “currency” that you will be using in the game. You have recruit points, shown on your card as a star with a numerical value and you also have attack points shown as a claw mark on your cards. You use your recruit points to recruit from the available hero pool in the Headquarters. When you recruit these heroes they go into your discard pile for you to draw in future hands. You use your attack points to defeat villains in the city or if you have enough, even take a swipe at the evil Mastermind behind everything. Defeat the Mastermind five times and the heroes win!
Each turn you draw six cards into your hand, unless otherwise instructed, you refresh the heroes in the Headquarters by filling any spots left empty from the previous players recruiting efforts and then you reveal the top villain from the villain deck and place them on the right most spot in the city, moving any remaining villains in the city to the left one spot. You resolve any Ambush effect that may happen as a result of the new villain entering the city. At this point the active player may play their cards in any order and resolve any recruiting or attacking that the player can manage to do.
And it’s as easy as that, well as easy as that if that is all you had to worry about. At the beginning of the game the players select a Mastermind, the Mastermind is the one who drives the villains to attacking the city. Along with the Mastermind, the players select a scheme for the Mastermind and his cohorts to try to carry out, this Scheme will add a set number of Scheme Twist cards to the villain deck which have a varying effects on the game. The scheme twists also hold the key for the Mastermind to defeat the Heroes. The villain deck also will contain a set number of Masterstrike cards, these cards when they come into play allow the Mastermind to attack the Heroes.
Components wise, there are a lot of cards that come with the base set, 500 to be exact. A total of 420 more cards can be added to the set from the two existing expansions, Dark City and Fantastic Four. The cards are of a nice quality, but if you plan on playing much, you might want to invest in some sleeves for them, I chose Mayday Greens and they fit the cards perfectly. The box and the insert seem to be built to handle the main set and two expansions, even with the cards sleeved, but they did not include enough card dividers to cover all that is needed with the expansions and the expansions do not come with more dividers. That complaint is easily remedied with a search through the BGG files section for the game. The box has held up very well considering the actual weight of the cards that ended up in the box. The rulebook will never be confused with the greatest rulebooks in the history of gaming, but it is pretty well put together and if you have any questions you can find a well-kept unofficial FAQ on BGG as well.
We picked up Legendary back in December of 2012 after seeing all the hype for it around GenCon that year. It got a couple plays immediately out of the box, but it didn’t show any kind of staying power and we quickly forgot about it. A few months later I added the Dark City expansion in hopes of rekindling some interest in it, even if just for solo play, but that failed to do so. So in comes the 10×10 Challenge, and this game was a perfect fit for us in this challenge so we decided to play it 10 times and see if it warranted a space in our collection after those plays. Not only did it survive the cut, it thrived.
Previously my biggest complaint about the game was that you couldn’t truly randomize the cards and have a successful game. It seemed to me that you had to “cherry pick” the heroes based on the Villains, Schemes and Masterminds. It felt like a losing cause when you just randomized things without taking those into consideration. But after playing it 10 more times in the past couple months, that really isn’t completely holding true, it can still feel tough and like a certain loss, but the more you play the heroes, the more you see the synergies that can be created between certain teams and the more you see that, the more you can find ways around taking a hit every now and then because you don’t have a certain hero “type” in your hand.
My other complaint from before the recent plays was that the game didn’t sit comfortably with us as a “competitive co-op”. We really didn’t like the idea that we were helping each other out in trying to save the city but at the end of the day, someone was a “better” hero. It just seemed awkward and led to some suboptimal plays, such as, passing up hitting the Mastermind to take out a couple villains instead because they were worth more victory points. But this time around we have felt differently about it, we’ve been happily beating on the Mastermind together and we realise that is the end goal, but there are some times when heroes just have to do hero things and do what is best for them. Some of us do that better than others, and that still shows in my W/L ratio, which is quite bad.
After playing this 10 times over the last couple months, we’ve come to appreciate this game for what it is despite some previous negative experiences. It’s a really fantastic, thematic deck building game set in a universe that is rich in history and lore. The sheer amount of options when playing this is mind boggling, so many hero combinations to try out versus so many different Masterminds trying to complete so many different Schemes. It means that the only time you ever really play the same game is when you choose to. Sure the game can be a pain in the rump to set up, but once it’s out there and on the table, it’s a really well thought out, easy to teach, game for those who love Super Heroes and Deck Builders. I am pretty glad we persevered through and played this one out, so much so that we added the Legendary:Fantastic Four expansion to our base game and expect to play even more throughout the year.