Legendary Villains, the standalone semi-expansion to Upper Deck’s Legendary lineup adds in components which will perhaps look a bit different for gaming fans even if comic fans are not surprised by putting the villain in the spotlight. In recent years the role of the villain as protagonist has been a popular enough one in comics, with the likes of Magneto, Deathstroke and Sinestro each getting their own series. While this is a popular enough theme in comics, it doesn’t necessarily compute the same with my gaming fans. Many gaming fans like games because of the challenges which are posed, be that a need for cunning or dexterity, but rarely do gamers end up playing the role of the bad guy in games. In fact certain games such as “The Doom That Came to Atlantic City” are not as well liked specifically because players are forced into contests of destruction as opposed to heroism.
That being the case, this is a strange enough concept as applied to a table top board game, but it is equally true that the medium of board games has to be shaken up every now and then with something new to the mix in order to keep the games relevant and challenging enough. The question though is whether this is that game, and the answer is … not really. This game acts as primarily as game of opposites from the original Legendary base game with villains swapping places with heroes and vice versa. Although it is nice to see some characters that have been bypassed so far by the Legendary universe (for instance Wasp), they also show up only as enemies to the main characters, who are the villains. The choice of the characters is reminiscent of the original version, with a wide enough spectrum of choice – Bullseye, Dr. Octopus, Electro, Enchantress, Green Goblin, Juggernaut, Kingpin, Kraven, Loki, Magneto, Mysterio, Mystique, Sabretooth, Ultron and Venom. The commander cards are a bit more more limited in scope – Dr. Strange, Nick Fury, Odin and Professor X. As whole the game comes off as being pretty much of a copycat, except for those that want to play as villains which might be a thing for comic fans, but probably less so for the strict gamers.
While the game might struggle in terms of its applicability to non-comic fans and in its lack of originality, it also deserves some mention in its use as an expansion for the base game. As this is essentially an opposite version of the original, the game text is easily changed for interplay with the original by negating the game text (for instance bystanders are captured/freed.) While this does add a bit to the overall dynamic for the series, it also doesn’t do so by much. Whereby the expansions thus far have added to the game play by pushing the series forward in certain directions in terms of story telling, this does not do so as much. While there are instances in comics of heroes banding together with villains against a common threat, it also doesn’t happen all that often. Also due to the individuals chosen for the games, if choosing randomly from the entire selection it would be possible to play character versus characters, for instance either Kingpin or Professor X as both character and main villain/commander. One way in which this expansion does expand the game is by the use of even more specialized bystander cards, though these don’t really justify the cost of the entire game as an expansion only.
As a game this is a bit of a letdown, though still enjoyable, especially that the theme is a bit off mark. As an expansion it has similar problems, providing some fun new options but also missing the mark where it might have helped more. This thus stands as a passable game, but the bigger letdown of the series thus far.