If you’re not making a deck building game these days, you’re not trying. And so it is that Marvel announced a little while back that they would be taking their own stab at the genre from designer Devin Low and Upper Deck Entertainment called Legendary. Interestingly (?), I missed this entirely until I saw the rules posted, so I thought I would go through and see how it plays and how it looks to be shaping up. Apparently the game is set for a November release (allegedly), so we won’t have to wait too long to see how things work out in any case.
In Legendary, players start off with a deck of cards containing eight SHIELD Agents and four SHIELD troopers. A villain is chosen at random and that villain is given a ‘scheme’ (also randomly chosen) that tells the players what the game’s victory condition is. Marvel: Legendary is semi-cooperative, meaning that if the villain wins then everyone loses, but if the players win the one with the most victory points then actually wins. The villain’s deck is built by adding villain groups (themed groups of cards, for instance HYDRA), henchman groups (lesser villains), and bystanders to the deck based on the number of players. You use five of the available 15 heroes each game and each of those heroes has 14 cards that go with him creating a 70 card hero deck (more if you’re playing six players). Each player turn, the villain deck plays a card and the player then goes about playing cards and recruiting heroes in order to try and defeat the villain. You fight villains by building up your attack value until it is greater than that villain’s (including the mastermind villain, the main one for that session). You defeat the mastermind villain by defeating him four times, forcing him to discard all four of his tactics cards (the mastermind uses one tactic at a time, which gives him a certain special ability). The heroes you purchase over the course of the game are the key to building up your attack, as the heroes allow you to get extra recruit points (which let you get more heroes) or attack value for that turn (my read is that cards you play in a turn contribute to both recruit and attack if able) and some cards also let you draw additional cards, increasing your pool to purchase heroes and attack that turn. You gain victory points by defeating villains (including tactics cards) and saving bystanders, which are placed under villains when they are drawn from the villain deck. The graphic design on the game looks pretty great, but this sort of game – for me – really turns on whether it is brutally hard enough (or at least tense enough) to make players feel like they could lose at any time as the game winds down.