A to Z 2015 : LEGENDARY

The next entry into my A to Z gaming theme features one of my favorite Deck-Builders to date. I'm now three expansions short of having a complete collection, and that fact kind of drives me mad. I want any and all cards I can get for this game, but unfortunately promos are limited to events like Gen Con, which I rarely can afford to attend.

If you are a fan of Marvel comics, movies, and/or love thematic superhero games and you haven't checked out this selection, you are missing out, because it's...

Legendary brings the Marvel universe to your tabletop in a Deck-Building game from Upper Deck. There are other games out there set in this universe like Vs., Hero Clix, and Dice Masters (another I really enjoyed, though only playing it twice), but as I've mentioned before, I love Deck-Building games. Like Ascension it shares many of the same mechanics as others of its kind. A starting hand, a Marketplace, Attack and Recruit/Buying resources, etc etc.

That may sound like more of the same, but Legendary successfully adds many new elements that offer players extensive reply value! Then you have the thematic development of the cards, which ties everything together for a great gaming experience, especially for players familiar with the characters.

One of the differences between this and Ascension is that Legendary is, at heart, a Co-Op game. You are working with your fellow players to take down an evil Mastermind. If you don't work together, you all lose. But, the player with the most Victory Points at the end of a successful game is deemed the mightiest hero! So it's quite a balancing act...

The game board comes with placeholder markings for each card type, the Marketplace area (City/HQ), and even setup instructions and turn order rules. Most of this is common game board/mat fare, but it's something I always appreciate. It really helps mitigate confusing and convoluted play areas.

The number of players, Mastermind, and chosen Scheme all play a role in determining how the board is set up.

The player count dictates how many Villain Groups, Henchmen Groups, and Bystanders go into the Villain Deck. It also sets how many Heroes you use (this is generally 5 unless playing with five players, in which case it's raised to 6 Heroes). The Mastermind dictates what 1 of the X number of Villain Groups you select must be. And Schemes list how many Scheme Twists go into the Villain Deck. The 5 Master Strike cards are always placed in the Villain Deck unless otherwise stated.

In this example with 4 players, the Mastermind Loki, and the Negative Zone Prison Breakout Scheme the breakdown is: 3 Villain Groups (1 having to be the Enemies of Asgard Villain Group as dictated by Loki and 2 others of choice)/2 Henchmen Groups (Doombot Legion and Savage Land Mutants)/8 Bystanders/8 Scheme Twists (dictated by the chosen Scheme)/5 Master Strike cards are all shuffled together to form the Villain Deck. The Heroes Wolverine/Hulk/Iron Man/Storm/Spider-Man are all shuffled together to form the Hero Deck.

In this example with 4 players, the Mastermind Loki, and the Negative Zone Prison Breakout Scheme the breakdown is: 3 Villain Groups (1 having to be the Enemies of Asgard Villain Group as dictated by Loki and 2 others of choice)/2 Henchmen Groups (Doombot Legion and Savage Land Mutants)/8 Bystanders/8 Scheme Twists (dictated by the chosen Scheme)/5 Master Strike cards are all shuffled together to form the Villain Deck.

The Heroes Wolverine/Hulk/Iron Man/Storm/Spider-Man are all shuffled together to form the Hero Deck.

NOTE: Scheme cards also state the loss conditions of the current game and what happens when a Scheme Twist is revealed from the Villain Deck. The Mastermind cards state what happens whenever a Master Strike card is revealed from the Villain Deck.

Once you have the selected cards placed in their appropriate deck, shuffle and place them on their spots indicated on the board. The top 5 Hero cards are revealed and placed in the HQ location. This is the Marketplace to recruit Heroes from. Villains and Henchmen will be revealed over time from the Villain Deck and placed on the City track. Make sure to place the stack of Officers, Bystanders, and Wounds where indicated on the board as well.

While all of the above can vary games to game, the deck each player starts with will be consistent (until expansions like Villains are added, that is). Akin to most Deck-Builders, Legendary gives players a starting deck. While most begin with a deck of 10 cards and a starting hand of 5, in this game you have a starting deck of 12 cards with a starting hand of 6.

Each player receives 8 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents (Recruit Points) and 4 S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers (Attack), shuffle them together to create their starting deck, and then draws a hand of 6 cards.

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Once setup is complete the Starting Player can begin their turn. Each turn begins with a player revealing the top card of the Villain Deck. If it's a Scheme Twist, you follow the rules on the chosen Scheme. If it's a Master Strike, you follow the rules on the Mastermind. If it's a Bystander, it goes underneath the nearest villain (or the Mastermind if no Villain is present on the City track) and is considered kidnapped. If it's a Villain, then it is placed in the first spot on the City track (Sewers), pushing all other Villains in the City down one spot accordingly.

NOTE: Sometimes villains have an Ambush ability. This triggers as soon as they are revealed and placed in the City. Some may also have an Escape ability which triggers when a villain is pushed out of the City. This has consequences with or without the villain having an Escape ability, so make sure they don't get away!

As soon as the Villain Deck reveal is resolved, a player may then play cards from their hand to either recruit Heroes from the HQ (or S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers) with Recruit Points (star emblem) or attack Villains in the City (or Mastermind) with Attack (slash symbol). At the minimum, the exact amount of either resource is needed to accomplish either task.

To recruit a Hero, a player must pay it's cost in Recruit Points, which is displayed on the lower right corner of Hero cards. Once a Hero is bought, it is placed in their Discard Pile and the top card of the Hero Deck is revealed and immediately replaces it. If having the resources, a player may recruit as many Heroes as they want. Heroes (even within the same type) have a wide variety of abilities, but most offer a player Recruit Points and/or Attack to continue building their deck and defeating foes!

NOTE: Heroes have different Hero Types and Hero Teams, which are displayed on the top left corner of Hero cards. Usually these are referred to when playing cards with Special Abilities. Check back for the Full Review for further details about Special Abilities and how they work.

To defeat a Villain, a player must spend an amount of Attack equal to the Villain's power, which is displayed in the lower right corner of the Villain cards (like Attack it's represented as a numbered slash mark). If a player defeats a Villain, the Fight condition is resolved first and then the card (and any Bystanders he has kidnapped) is placed into their Victory Pile. Each Villain is worth Victory Points, the amount depends on the adversary. Bystanders are all worth 1 Victory Point.

If a player defeats the Mastermind, the player picks one of the four cards behind the Mastermind card at random (these all depict the Mastermind, but each have different Fight conditions) and resolves its Fight condition. Then that Mastermind card (and any kidnapped Bystanders) is placed into the the player's Victory Pile.

When a player is done recruiting Heroes or attacking Villains they discards any cards they played, along with any cards still remaining in their hand, and draws a new hand of 6 cards. Their turn ends and play passes to the player to their left.

The game continues until either the players defeat the Mastermind 4 times, or the conditions of the Scheme are met and the Mastermind has conquered the heroes!

If the players win, they each individually tally up the total amount of Victory Points in their Victory Pile. The player with the most Victory Points is declared the most Legendary of Heroes!

If the Mastermind wins, well... Better luck next time!

There is a lot more involved with Legendary, than those of the same genre, and as you can tell with the different Masterminds; Villains; Schemes; and Heroes alone, there is a high replay value. It's definitely not a Gateway or Filler game, but being it's my favorite I'd encourage giving it a shot with your playgroup! It's not overly complicated once you learn the mechanics and how Special Abilities work. Before you know it, you will be chaining powerful combos and bringing Masterminds to justice!

Full Review Forthcoming

Have you ever played Legendary? If so, how did you like it? Are you a Marvel fan? If so, who is your favorite Hero? Hero Team? Villain? Villain Team? Are you looking forward to trying Legendary with your playgroup?