Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

From: Upper Deck Entertainment
Reviewed by: Tony McRee

 Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is a new Deck/Pool Building game from Upper Deck Entertainment.

In the ever growing and crowded category of deck building games, Upper Deck Entertainment has released Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game. The game has many of the same characteristics as Ascension and Thunderstone such that those that have played these games will be able to immediately grasp the rules and strategies of Legendary. The key difference is that in Legendary players are working to defeat a common Mastermind and failure to do so results in everyone loosing. While this co-op addition is refreshing in the deck building game category, it wasn’t enough to keep it from seeming like similar games on the market.

 Something LEGENDARY is coming from Upper Deck

Other than having the name Legendary in the title, this game is similar to most deck building games thus not making it that legendary. Legendary uses two blind draw pools which is somewhat different than other games. Most games have a pool that all players can see and if there is a second pool of cards, this one is blind. The one you can see is usually the one that players will build their deck from. The blind draw deck is the one where the players end up battling over for victory points.

In Legendary the pool you use to build your hand is the hero pool. From here, five cards fill areas that allow the player to recruit cards into their hands. The second pool generates either one of four things: ‘Villains,’ ‘Scheme Twists,’ ‘Bystanders,’ or ‘Master Strike.’ If a villain appears it goes to the city area of the board so players can try and defeat them. If the card is a ‘Scheme Twists’ card, then it helps advance the end goal of the Mastermind, which if enough are revealed the players will lose the game. If a ‘Bystander’ is drawn while a villain is on the board, the Bystander(s) is captured and needs to be rescued by defeating that villain. If no villain is on the board when the ‘Bystander’ is drawn, the Mastermind captures the Bystander and will be rescued when the players defeat the Mastermind. And finally, if the ‘Master Strike’ card is drawn, the Mastermind can attack the players and do damage to them which usually equates to a wound card being added to a player’s deck.

The blind draw for the player’s hand caused me some concern in Legendary because it is a co-op game, so to me players should be working together to build strong decks. While the game has you working together to defeat the mastermind, we found ourselves not able to help one another with deck strategy. We found that by not drafting a card from the pool so someone else could have it would either waste your recruit points or hamper getting other cards into the drafting area. Often times, somebody could only recruit the card you wanted. Also, the more cards you recruit, the better chance the draw pile will reveal the more powerful hero. Therefore, the blind draw just did not seem to work in the co-op deck building part, but it did provide suspense to the villain draw.

As with all deck building games, there is that initial build that goes on during the first few rounds as players work on their strategy for their decks. With the villain pool concept, I was hoping that there would be a more intense feel to the game in those first few rounds, that there was a rush to defeat the villains so that they would not escape. But that was not the case, the villain escaped and nothing really happened to us. Now there are some villains that cause bad things to happen but even when they escaped, the consequences did not seem to impact our decks like I thought they might.

“Players must work together to successfully attack the evil Mastermind four times.”

As the game progressed and the Mastermind’s schemes were revealed, tension in the game began to develop and we started believing that the Mastermind might defeat us. That only lasted a few rounds because even though it seemed like our decks where not one consistent strategy, we began to easily work through the villains in the city and could then concentrate attacks on the Mastermind, thus removing the tension from the game and we secured a fairly easy victory.

With this game being built on the rich history of the Marvel Universe, one would believe that the game would be full of theme to tie closely in with the characters represented in the game. This was not the case for me. An example of this would be in the Spider-Man card. Here is a hero whose ability of spider sense could play well into this game. The text of the card could have taken this theme and allowed you to identify the next villain to come up in the deck by revealing the top card from the villain pool. Instead, Spider-Man allows you to draw the next card from your deck and if it that card’s recruit cost was two or less, you got to play it. While this was nice to be able to do, it kind of missed a great opportunity to take something from the Marvel Universe and apply it to the game.

Components of the game are what you would expect. The cards are of good stock. Rules are easy to follow and can be found online if you want to read through them before you purchase. The artwork on the cards is very nice and the heroes look like they should. In other words, they look like they stepped out of their respected comic books. The board used to play the game is beautifully detailed and is a nice touch instead of just having scattered piles of cards lying on the table. However, all these nice touches to the game were not enough to make up for the lackluster feeling I got from playing.

In conclusion, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is a well constructed and nice addition to the deck building genre, but the mechanics were somewhat less than desired especially since the big selling point is that this is a co-op game. If you are a big fan of the Marvel Universe and don’t have a deck building game on your shelf, then this could be the game for you. Otherwise, you might want to wait and see what Upper Deck has planned for this franchise to determine if you should add the game to your collection.

For more details on Upper Deck Entertainment and their new Deck / Pool Building game “Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game” check them out at their website http://www.upperdeck.com/Products/Entertainment/marvel/marvel-legendary.aspx, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 11 – Fairly Good

Product Summary

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game From: Upper Deck Entertainment
Type of Game: Deck / Pool Building game
Game Design by: Devin Low
Additional Art by: Julius Abrea, Bien Flores, Katrina Mae Hao, Ray Anthony Height, Jay David Ramos, Nigel Raynor, Kevin Sharpe, The Marvel Bullpen, Tony Kordos, Brian “Tots” Valerz, Will Conrad
Game Components Included:  Rulebook, game board and 500 cards (plus 60 dividers): 14 cards for each of 15 different Heroes (210 cards) (Each Hero has 1 rare, 3 uncommons, 5 of one common, and 5 of another common), 8 cards for each of 7 different Villain Groups (56 cards), 10 cards for each of 4 different Henchmen Villain Groups (40 cards), 40 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents, 20 S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers, 30 S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers, 30 Bystanders, 30 Wounds, 4 Masterminds, each with 4 Mastermind Tactics (20 cards), 8 different Schemes, 11 Scheme Twists, 5 Master Strikes, 60 Dividers
Retail Price: $ 59.95 (US)
Retail Price: $ 59.99 (Can)
Number of Players: up to 5
Player Ages: 14 and up
Play Time: 45 minutes
UPC: 053334803663
Website: http://www.upperdeck.com/Products/Entertainment/marvel/marvel-legendary.aspx

Reviewed by: Tony McRee