I am a fan of deck building games. They provide me with the the feel of playing Magic: The Gathering without the need for constant investment and the high percentage change of losing to someone who just had more money than me. I’ve written previously about the DC Deck Building game and would be remiss if I left out the the other big player in the comics industry.
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building game is made by Upper Deck. The game mechanics have a lot in common with Ascension and Dominion. The premise of the game is that you are playing agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. You are recruiting Marvel heroes to fight the evil masterminds and his various associates. There is a board where the cards are placed. It has a spots for bystanders, villains, heroes, a cityscape, the mastermind, The mastermind’s scheme, and Maria Hill. Players select a set of heroes, a set of villains, and a mastermind to begin the game.
Each player begins with a starter deck composed of two different types of agents. One type provides force used to defeat villains and one provides stars which are used to purchase other hero cards. The objective of the game is to defeat the mastermind before his scheme comes to fruition. The lose conditions are set forth on the scheme card and dictates how many scheme twist cards are in the villain deck and the outcome of the master strike card when they are placed into the cityscape. The game is cooperative in that everyone is fighting the mastermind in order to win the game. The game can be competitive as the bystanders can be used as victory points so that after defeating the villain, the player with the most bystanders is the ultimate winner.
There is a lot going on in a game of Legendary. Setup can be lengthy as the rules provide an example of simple play but beyond this varying up difficulty is left to the players. In my first game, the group chose Galactus as the mastermind and Hulk, Thor, Wolverine, and Iron Man as the heroes. We lost the game rather quickly. We went back and use the opening scenario suggestions in the rules and the game went a bit smoother.
Entry into the game was a somewhat easy for me as I was familiar with Ascension. The process of purchasing cards and building your deck is essentially the same. You purchase cards that will work well together in order to create combos that will allow you to defeat the villains and mastermind as quickly as possible while allowing you to rescue bystanders. Legendary takes cues from Dominion in that this base set includes a variety of Heroes, villains, and masterminds. This allows for a large range in replayablity as you can change up the combinations to make for a different game each time.
I will say that I am not a fan of Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building game. As much as I enjoy the selection of decks in Dominion, I did not like it in this instance. The choices made during deck selection made for a game that was either to easy or to difficult from my perspective. In play, we would get strings of villains that were easily defeated or strings where there was absolutely nothing we could do. Added to this was that every player turn had something occurring with the villain deck. It was something easily overlooked and once you started paying attention to it you lost sight of the ultimate goal of the game. I also did not enjoy playing as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. This is a Marvel game. I want to play as one of the Marvel heroes, not recruit them to my side.
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building game is a solid game mechanically that suffers from being overly fiddly. I want to be able to open the box, get the starter decks out, choose my hero, and go. I don’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time coming up with a balanced villain deck and play a normal agent that needs to influence heroes to do the right thing.