Game Review: Legendary A Marvel Deck Building Game

legendaryLegendary is Upper Deck’s adaptation of the Marvel universe in a deck building game.  Deck building games have been riding a good wave now for a few years.  Although it is not the first game to do so, the mechanics of the game borrows from others such as Dominion which helped establish the format as something specifically different from customizable card games.  As opposed to games such as Magic where the person with the best deck walking in has a huge advantage, the customizable card game evens the deck for every one as they start, in that no one has any real advantage going into starting the game other than being a better in game strategist.  This takes a different approach once again when applied to Legendary as it is a cooperative game.  While some players might be able to better strategize or maybe just to pull better cards by chance, it doesn’t really matter except as it pertains to the final point count, which those who are super competitive can still use to determine the winner after the scenario is complete.

Right off the top this is going to be a problem for those that do not like cooperative games, but even for those that do, the mechanics of the game are fun, especially so for fans of comics.  A deck is used to populate the HQ, and hero cards are purchased from the HQ as they are available for the price listed.  As is common with this format of game, the cards give one of two base benefits as well as in game text that can modify that further.  The two base benefits are purchasing power and attack power.  Purchasing power is used to buy new cards as they cycle through the HQ, while attack power is used to combat the villains that cycle through the game.  The use of the villains is interesting as well which leads to the overall dynamic of the game.  The villains rotate through once per turn, with the odd exception of a few special cases for the villains deck, some of which will give the players a chance to catch their breath, others which will throw all other plans out the window.  The villains themselves are part of the criminal enterprise of the mastermind, and his scheme which involves some kind of mayhem.

On the whole it is a pretty fun game, although there are a few drawbacks.  The artwork on the cards for the characters is pretty good, but there are a limited number of characters.  Each character has fourteen cards of which there are a few duplicates in each set of fourteen, there are only one of each card worth 7 or 8, but numerous for the lesser values.  While the combination of the characters can be fun, it is also worth noting than only five heroes make up the deck.  This stands in contrast to the DC comics building game which includes a vast selection of characters that might show up in a particular hand, in this case it is going to be one of the five of Thor, Emma Frost, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Captain America, Wolverine, Deadpool, Storm, Gambit, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Hulk or Iron Man.  The characters are at least chosen before hand, which allows the players to get to play as some of their favorites, even the deck never gets very wild.  Another key problem is the masterminds and their schemes.  Some of these are fairly sedate, something like the Red Skull and a bank robbery, while others get pretty complicated.  While this is a good approach to new gamers, it is a bit of problem for more experienced gamers.  The introductory scenario is so easy that it might turn some off from the game, in that it might appear to be all about the flash of the superhero cards and not as much about the substance.  It is not the case, although it does take some time to find a combination of mastermind and scheme which are downright impossible to beat (though there are a few of these.)  Evidently some aspects like the bystanders need to be developed further as it is a fairly generic aspect of the game.

Despite a few drawbacks, the overall aspect of game play and fun is there.  This might piggy back a bit on the popularity of the comics in order to provide a fun experience, but the game works well enough on its own that even those that are not familiar with the comics will find something to draw them in.  Of course it also helps that table talk is allowed thus the individual players are not acting alone but rather can strategize together as to how to take out the bad guys.  It is a pretty fun game, and sets up the potential for further releases on the same platform which will expand the universe within the game.

Score: 8.5