Well the week started rather poorly from a geekery point of view as I took the family to the UK Games Expo to collect my copy of AvP from PRODOS but unfortunately there was no copy for me to collect so not only did I waste my money and fuel going there but also the time of my kids and better half, Lucy. Not a great start.
I consoled myself from this geek low by ordering a copy of Legendary Encounters, the Aliens variant of the Marvel Deckbuilding game I play tested last week with Brent & Nick at NAGA. I was suitably impressed by the Marvel game to invest as long as the price was right. I had seen the game at UKGE for around £45 and various sources seemed to confirm that was the average price. Being the consummate cheapskate and thrift finder extraordinaire I hunted and between Hairy Gamer Tris & I we located a copy at Gadgetsvilleltd.com for a princely sun of £39. Happy in the knowledge that this was a cracking deal I ordered. Today my copy arrived and I couldn’t be happier with it.
This co-operative deckbuilding game is produced by Upper Deck and part of the 20th Century Fox IP. It is set in the ALIEN universe.
Legendary Encounters has the same basic mechanics system as its forebear, Legendary:A Marvel Deckbuilding Game. It is set in the ALIEN universe so the characters and locations of the infamous movie franchise. Encounters will take place in locations from all four feature films: ALIEN, ALIENS, ALIEN3 and ALIEN Resurrection. As in, the adventures of Ripley and her quest to destroy the dark nightmare-spawn of H.R. Giger, the titular Alien xenomorph.
The deck building mechanisms are mostly the same: players use recruitment points to buy better character cards to put into your starting deck of basic cards, and use combat points to defeat enemies. While you might be forgiven for thinking this is Upper Deck’s attempt to cash in by simply re-skinning the original Legendary, Encounters actually changes things up dramatically.
For starters, Legendary Encounters is purely cooperative and it needs to be, as it will take all the teamwork you can muster to survive the tetralogy of films. In a departure from the original game, each player will get their own avatar card at the beginning (with typical roles such as commander, synthetic, medic), and a special corresponding card that only they get in the starting deck. Your avatar has its own Health and Defense and the idea is to survive and defeat the Facehuggers, Xenomorphs and the Alien Queen whilst simultaneously trying to avoid the ultimate chest-bursting death, becoming the victim of a Facehugger as it implants a Chestburster. If a players fate is to die at the Xeno’s hands then that player will join the ranks of the Aliens and play a Xenomorph trying to stop the surviving players from achieving their mission objectives.
In Encounters, you work your way through objectives. You and your team can only win the game is you surpass all three objectives (and survive). While you may completely randomize all of the objectives, you can also set them up in such a way that you play through all four films in order, with thematic events tied to the source material. For example, to play through the events of the first film, ALIEN, you would use the following objectives, in order: The SOS, No One Can Hear You Scream, and The Perfect Organism. The 3 objectives always end with you destroying the main xenomorph antagonist of each movie I.E. the Alien Queen, the Hybrid, etc. For the Character Deck-full of cards you can purchase to strengthen your deck-you’ll use the iconic characters from each film, including no less than four different Ripleys.
Each objective also comes with its own set of unique chapters or challenges in the form of a “mini-deck”, which are stacked on top of one another and collectively called The Hive. This takes the place of the Villain Deck from the original Legendary Marvel Deckbuilding Game. There is a twist though and this is what makes this game more than a simple re-skinning of the original game: the cards enter The Complex in a constantly moving row like the original, but each card is placed face down. You don’t get to see what that card is until you choose to “Scan” it by using some of your excess combat. And that card may be anything from a xenomorph drone, to a hazard, to a random event, to your actual objective goals. As you encounter these hazards and problems you must deal with them to stop them from escaping The Complex and damaging you.
You’ll certainly need to “scan” and identify those Xenos nice and early and take care of them, else they slide down to the Combat Zone. Any Xeno in the Combat Zone at the end of a player’s turn will damage that player, forcing them to draw a card from the Strike Deck. These represent damage, twists and setbacks to your character. Too many Strikes, and you die and are eliminated from the game……
…except if you get preyed upon by a Facehugger. If a Facehugger gets you and isn’t defeated right away, you’ll be impregnated with an Alien and forced to take the Chestburster card into your deck. While you have the Chestburster card the Xenos won’t attack you, but the next time you draw the card you die…and come back as a Xeno player in opposition to the remaining surviving players. You’ll re-enter the game with new character cards and your own deck of cards to completely destroy the fragile flesh-sacks, the other players. If you can accrue enough damage to surpass the heroes’ Defense, you’ll force them to draw a strike, and hasten their doom…..thus condemning then to the same fate as sealed your demise.
As if that’s not enough to give the players nightmares, Encounters gives you the option to play with an optional traitor mode. Each player is given a loyalty card card the beginning of the game. Most of the loyalty cards are Good Agendas, but one of the cards will be an Evil Agenda, representing a player who is secretly working for the Corporation, think of the actions of David from Prometheus or Carter Burke from ALIENS . If you’re the evil player, you need to kill all the other players and escape the xenomorph infested facility. The others will eventually find out who you are, but that only hastens your desire to escape with the alien samples.
I’ll do a proper review and a play through at some point over the weekend. Im so gald I made this investment and yearn to open my secret evil agenda for the Corporation and infect the other players returning to Earth with my valuable Xenomorph cargo.
Im hoping to get a run through at NAGA at some point in the not too distant future.