Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is set in the Marvel Comics universe. Legendary is a deck building game for 1-5 players. It has a play time of about 45 minutes and works well with any number of players. We played with 3 players (Nick, Brent and I) and the game lasted about an hour and a bit but we were learning the rules as we went.
To set up the game, players choose a mastermind villain (Magneto, Loki, Dr. Doom, etc.), stack that particular villain’s attack cards underneath it, then modify the villain deck as needed based on that villain’s particular scheme. Players then choose a number of hero decks – Spider-Man, Hulk, Cyclops, Wolverine, etc. – and shuffle them together; since players use only a handful of hero decks out of the fifteen included, the hero deck can vary widely in terms of what’s available.
In Legendary, players assemble a team of super heroes from the Marvel universe to try and thwart the schemes of an evil Mastermind.
Each player starts with a pre-determined number of SHIELD agents and Troopers. Agents add to your ability to recruit Heroes such as Spiderman, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, etc. Troopers are your basic fighting resource and they can support more powerful heroes as you battle the forces of an evil mastermind. Over the course of the game, players will recruit powerful hero cards to add to their deck in order to build a stronger and more resourceful deck. Players need to build both their recruitment powers (to enlist more heroes) and their fighting ability (to combat the villains who keep popping up to cause trouble). Players recruit heroes from an array of five cards which are based upon SHIELD’d flying HQ, with empty slots refilled as required.
At the start of a player’s turn, he reveals a villain and adds it to the row of villains. Each other villain moves one space along the city trying to escape. This row has a limited number of spaces, and if it fills up, the earliest villain to arrive escapes, possibly punishing the heroes in some way. Some villains also take an action when showing up for the first time, such as kidnapping an innocent bystander. The villain deck also contains “master strike” cards, and whenever one of these shows up, the mastermind villain (controlled by the game) takes a bonus action. It also contains Scheme Twist cards. As the evil Mastermind acquires more and more Twist cards he or she can affect the players in various ways
As players fight and defeat villains, they collect those cards, which will be worth points at game’s end. Players can also fight the mastermind; if a player has enough fighting power, he claims one of the attack cards beneath the mastermind, which has a particular effect on the game. If all of these cards are claimed, the game ends and players tally their points to see who wins. If the mastermind completes his scheme, however – having a certain number of villains escape, for example, or imposing a certain number of wounds on the heroes – then the players all lose.
The base game includes a game board and a huge 500 cards:-
- 60 starting cards (Agents and Troopers)
- 30 S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers
- 15 Hero decks (14 cards each)
- 4 Masterminds (5 cards each)
- 7 Villain Groups (8 cards each)
- 4 Henchman Villain Groups (10 cards each)
- 8 Scheme cards
- 11 Scheme Twist cards
- 5 Master Strike cards
- 30 Bystander cards
- 30 Wound cards
- 60 Divider cards
The heroes in the base set are: Black Widow, Captain America, Cyclops, Deadpool, Emma Frost, Gambit, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Nick Fury, Rogue, Spider-Man, Storm, Thor, and Wolverine. The Evil Masterminds are Dr. Doom, Loki, Magneto, and Red Skull.
How To Play
The setup of the game takes a little bit of time. The villain deck must be created (Consisting of Villains, Henchmen, Bystanders, Scheme Cards and Master Strikes). Then the hero deck must be built. You chose 5 different super heroes to play during the game and all of their cards are shuffled into 1 big deck. You then deal 5 heroes into the HQ for recruiting and you’re ready to play.
We set-up to play and our evil Mastermind was the Red Skull. We chose Captain America, Spiderman, Thor Odinson, The Hulk and Iron Man as our heroes and dealt the top five cards from the combined Hero Deck onto the board.
The turns are actually quite easy and broken down into 3 steps:
1. Villain Phase
2. Recruit and Battle
1. Villain Phase. Play the top card of the villain deck. If it’s a Villain it goes onto the villain track. The track is a series of 5 different locations around the city. As the villains progress along the track, they get closer to escaping from the heroes (bad stuff can happen if they do). Each villain has a fight strength and some unique abilities.
Other cards that may appear are bystanders (who get captured by villains), Scheme cards (the effect varies depending on the Masterminds scheme), and Master Strike cards (which are basically the Mastermind getting his hands dirty and pounding on the players).
2. Recruit and Battle This is where you can add cards to your deck by recruiting them from the SHIELD deck or the Heroes deck or battle the Villains or Evil Mastermind. Almost all of the Super Hero cards will have either a recruit number or fight number. You use your recruit points as a form of currency to add heroes from the HQ to your play deck. Fight points are used to battle the villains on the villain track. If your fight points equal his fight value, you KO him and he is added to your score pile.
Hero cards also will usually have a special ability that will help the player in some way (such as drawing more cards or adding to other cards fight/recruit power).
3. Cleanup Discard your hand and draw 6 new cards. This is the standard cleanup phase found in most all deck building games. Discard everything in play/hand and draw 6 news cards.
In our game we did manage to defeat the Red Skull and I won convincingly with 34 points worth of Villains and Masterminds versus Nicks 14 and Brents 9.
Overall I was very impressed with Legendary. Once we picked up the rules it became quite easy to play. It was only once I;d started writing this review that I realised Legendary:A Marvel Deckbuilding Game was related to another game that I had previously looked at and seriously considered Legendary:Encounters (the Aliens version of the same game).
The core box set usually retails at around £48/$60. That isn’t too bad at all for a game with the almost infinite replayability that this game does. I cannot fault the slick graphics and layout of the images which are typically Marvel…bright and engaging. There are plenty of expansions to keep this game interesting including but not limited to Legendary:Dark City, Legendary: Fantastic 4, Legendary:Guardians of the Galaxy and Legendary: Paint the Town Red. All are reasonably priced at around £20 each although Legendary:Encounters and Legendary:Dark City are stand alone games in their own right and subsequently retail at an average price of £45.