Looks like it should be a fantastic gaming experience! Can’t wait to get my grubby paws on this game! For my original thoughts, check here: https://spalanz.com/2014/06/20/weird-west-gaming/
Hey folks, welcome back!
After a short break, I’m here again with the second in my two-part look at the Marvel Legendary deck-building game, Legendary: Villains! You can read about the first game in the series here!
Legendary: Villains was released earlier this month and eventually made its way into the UK market last week. It follows almost exactly the same basic premise as the original Marvel: Legendary deck-building game, but with a couple of twists around the Villains theme, along with some more mechanics and stuff. It’s not really an expansion as such, as it’s more a “new” core set, but completely interchangeable with the earlier game.
I had my first game with Villains this weekend, and it was pretty awesome, I don’t mind telling you! But so far, this is the only game I’ve had, so this will be much more of a ‘first impressions’ blog than any sort of review. Once I have some more games under my belt, I think I’ll come back here and add in some more thoughts; then, once I’ve had a full-on game with heroes and villains combined, I’ll be straight back here with more!
So yeah. The basic premise is that you’re playing the Villains of the Marvel universe, and you’re fighting against the heroes and their Plot to disrupt your schemes. In the same way that you start the first game with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and buy up heroes to take on the villains and, eventually, the Mastermind, in Marvel Legendary: Villains, you start with Hydra agents to help you buy villains so that you may take on adversaries and, eventually, the Commander.
As you can see above, the game comes with a new playmat. This time, the board is replaced by a light rubber mat that rolls up into the box but unfurls beautifully for play! I kinda want one for the original game now…
Right out of the box, there are some truly lovely themes present. My favourite is the Bindings idea. Analogous to Wounds, the Bindings can be disposed of into the deck of the player to your right, rather than KO’d, in a mechanic called Betrayal, reflecting the back-stabbing nature of villain coalitions! Secondly, the adversaries are – or have been – part of the X-Men have a tactic called X-treme Attack, which reflects the team-up nature of the heroes. Hopefully as this game is expanded, we’ll see more of that!
The villains are a pretty classic line-up, featuring a cross-section of the comics including members of the Sinister Six, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Foes of Asgard, and the unaffiliated Ultron. Two of the Masterminds in the original game return here as playable villains, Magneto and Loki, but you can also play as the Kingpin, Mystique or Electro, among others.
The adversaries are likewise a good selection of the various teams, including Marvel Knights (Black Panther at last!), Uncanny X-Men, Avengers and Spider-Friends.
A new mechanic for the Villains game is the New Recruits. Chump cards like the Hydra agents, New Recruits are gained through a variety of card effects rather than purchased outright, and when played they are immediately returned to the pile rather than kept in circulation through your deck, representative of the negligent way that villains deal with their chaff soldiers. At first I was a bit perplexed by these guys, as there are 15 cards in the deck, but I was only gaining one or two at most. Then suddenly the combos started to kick in as I trimmed out the Hydra folks, and I found myself with five or six, which eventually combined with the other effects in my deck to give me something ridiculous like 22 attack points! Really pretty amazing when things like that happen!
The Commanders are all classic team-leaders from the comics, three of which have already made it into Marvel Legendary at the time of this writing. In the game I played at the weekend, I went up against Odin, who always leads the Asgardian Warriors, and has a tremendous effect whenever a Command Strike (Master Strikes in the original game) are revealed.
That brings me on to another cool twist this game has. In the original game, the villains are revealed from the deck and move across the board as they attempt to flee the city; at game-end, for every escaped villain, the players lose a victory point in final scoring. In this game, however, the adversaries are revealed from the deck and move across the board as they attempt to smash their way into the villains’ Lair. The five city spaces are reversed here, so while the villains are escaping from the sewers through the bank, onto the rooftops, into the streets, then over the bridge and out of the city, in Villains the adversaries are doing the reverse. Once they smash into the Lair, they enter the Overrun pile and affect final scoring in the same way as the original villains. However, adversaries who smash into the Lair also force you to discard one of the villains in the Lair as they work to defeat you! It’s little things like this that make me enjoy the game all the more!
I really enjoyed Villains. It plays almost exactly like the original Legendary, but with enough little twists to feel like a completely new game. It also has the benefit of being the fifth product in the line so far, so there has been quite a lot of development put in since the original game came out. As such, it’s a really nice, nuanced game while still remaining accessible to new folks. It’s a bit of a silly point to make, as well, but the game succeeded at its basic level of allowing you to play as villains and making you feel like you’re playing villains. It’s not simply a reversal of the original game, “for villains read adversaries” and such, but instead a really elegant game appears through the card effects and, indeed, the actual gameplay. If you thought you wouldn’t buy this because you prefer to play the heroes, I would still recommend it for the truly original take on the Legendary game.
So yeah, another awesome entry into the Marvel Legendary line-up, and one that I’m looking forward to checking out more as the weeks march on. And, as promised above, when I get that awesome smash-up of Heroes and Villains working together, I’ll be sure to let you guys know how it goes! I’m thinking Galactus would be the best Mastermind to go up against…
Have you had a game with Marvel Legendary: Villains yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Time for some games-talk. Because I don’t talk about games enough, as you know. Today I’m going to talk about a couple of related deck-building games, so get prepared for a two-parter as I present: Marvel Legendary!
From the good folks of Upper Deck (with decades of experience in the trading-card business), Marvel Legendary came out in 2012 to what was a phenomenal response from the gaming community. With the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the IP had arguably never been so hot, particularly after Joss Whedon’s first Avengers film had been released earlier that year. To have a game that used this world would be an incredible boon to any business’ share price, but the success of the Upper Deck card game effectively gave them a licence to print money. From what I have seen, enthusiasm among the gaming community has remained at a near-constant high ever since, culminating in the recent release of a companion game, Legendary: Villains. I’ll talk about that in the second part of this blog, however.
I’m not going to go into any great depth over the theme of this game, as I imagine the superheroes from the Marvel stable have entered into the collective consciousness of the world sufficiently that people like Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Hulk are all pretty much staples of pop culture.
The basic premise is pretty much the same as the other deck-building card games that I have previously mentioned on my blog, Street Fighter and Dark Gothic. There are one or two subtle differences, though, which make Marvel Legendary a much stronger game in my opinion. While the players aim to build a deck to defeat the evil Mastermind much as happens in Dark Gothic, there is a Scheme that the Mastermind has put into place that the players are trying to foil, and sometimes victory isn’t down to simply defeating the big bad. In addition, there are a number of villain groups that the heroes must fight, all of which are tied quite strongly to a particular theme (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Spider-Foes, etc). Each Mastermind has a specific group of villains he always leads, for example Magneto and the Brotherhood, and it’s touches like these that really make the game stand out.
Of course, the Marvel Universe has had a whole host of team-ups in virtually every combination imaginable, so when you select which heroes and which villains will be playing in the game, it promotes a creative side to come out and explain what’s going on!
You start the game, as expected, with a deck of basic cards, which allow you to buy stuff as well as fight stuff, though at the beginning you often can’t really fight anything unless you’re lucky. The villains (in the green sleeves above) emerge from the deck and, as the game moves along, they move across the board from right to left, trying to escape the city. It’s up to the heroes to prevent that, as any escaped villains at the end of the game will cost you victory points. Also within the villains deck are scheme twists and masterstrikes. The effect of scheme twists varies depending on which Scheme you’re playing (the scheme card is above the Mastermind, on the left), and the masterstrikes vary depending on which Mastermind you face.
The heroes you can buy all have different effects, some can allow you to buy better cards and some will allow you to attack more powerful villains. When you’ve eventually got enough attack strength, you can fight the Mastermind. There are four cards underneath the top Mastermind card, and the players need to defeat each one before the Final Showdown happens, where you have the opportunity to defeat the Mastermind once and for all! (That’s actually an optional rule, but I like it so much I usually always play with it).
The villains all do different stuff, much like the heroes, most often when you fight them. Some villains have an “Escape” effect, which only takes place if the villain is pushed out of the Bridge space on the left of the board. Others have an “Ambush” effect, which takes place when they are revealed. Either way, if you defeat a villain, it goes into your Victory Pile, and at the end of the game, the points in the red circle on the right of the villain cards are added up, with the victor being the person with the most.
It’s a really nice game – fairly straightforward if you know deck-builders, hugely satisfying as a game as well as having the deck-building aspect to it. People who are Marvel fans will enjoy it (at least, the Marvel fans I’ve introduced it to have!), and generally speaking, it’s worth the space in any game collection.
There have been three expansions for the game so far: one big-box expansion, Dark City, that brought slew of X-Men and Marvel Knights into the game (DareDevil! Yay!) as well as adding some new mechanics; and two small-box expansions for Fantastic Four (Galactus!) and Spider-Man. I believe another small-box expansion is on the horizon for Guardians of the Galaxy, which will tie in with the movie that’s due for release next month (though the game expansion is likely due around October).