Tag Archives: legendary: a marvel deck building game

Game Review: Legendary Villains – Fear Itself

legendaryFollowing on the perhaps poorly conceived relaunch/reintegration of the Marvel Legendary franchise from Upper Deck comes one of the most bizarre choices possible for the continuation of the series.  The previous Villains title offered some fan favorites, though acting as the protagonists rather than as the the villains, potentially strange choice for the format which has mostly favored heroes.  This expansion, the first of the Villains base game and the seventh title thus far in this series, takes on the same dynamic with the strangest inspiration yet.  While there might have been a few minor problems with previous releases, they nonetheless gave fans an outlet for their favorite characters by providing a lot of these favorites as playable characters.  For instance while some of the mechanics of the Guardians of the Galaxy expansion were a little different from what had come before, at least fans got to play as their favorite character from the books or movie.

While Marvel doesn’t tend towards the company wide crossover as much as DC Comics does, it still occurs, and one of the more recent crossovers was also one of the more lackluster – Fear Itself.  Although big things were planned for this story, it ended up as a bit of a missed opportunity for Marvel to pull out all the stops.  This crossover thus is a strange inspiration for the first expansion of this series.  After all while the villain focused approach to the games might be a little weird, it is still conceivable that someone might want to play as Magneto or Venom.  But how many comic/board games fans have always wished that they could invoke the essence of Null or Skadi?  No?  Then how about Kuurth, Nerkkod or Greithoth?  Probably also no.  It is conceivable, especially considering that the following expansion is for Secret Wars, that there is some hope of a boost to sales of trade paperbacks through these release of expansions for the Legendary Universe, because really nothing else makes sense in terms of the overall logic behind the releases.

For the non-comic fans among the gamers interested in the Legendary franchise, this will likely be more of the same, another sequence of cards that mean little outside of their in game text, but for fans of both mediums, they are likely to be somewhat confused by the choices here.  It is nice to see some of the usual Marvel heroes making an appearance here as adversaries, but once again that is only a tease for their own inclusion in the game itself as playable characters (such as Ms. Marvel.)  On the whole this is the most confusing and least sensical of all the expansions thus far, taking the direction of the otherwise fun base game(s) in a strange direction.

Score: 7.0

Game Review: Legendary Villains

legendaryLegendary Villains, the standalone semi-expansion to Upper Deck’s Legendary lineup adds in components which will perhaps look a bit different for gaming fans even if comic fans are not surprised by putting the villain in the spotlight.  In recent years the role of the villain as protagonist has been a popular enough one in comics, with the likes of Magneto, Deathstroke and Sinestro each getting their own series.  While this is a popular enough theme in comics, it doesn’t necessarily compute the same with my gaming fans.  Many gaming fans like games because of the challenges which are posed, be that a need for cunning or dexterity, but rarely do gamers end up playing the role of the bad guy in games.  In fact certain games such as “The Doom That Came to Atlantic City” are not as well liked specifically because players are forced into contests of destruction as opposed to heroism.

That being the case, this is a strange enough concept as applied to a table top board game, but it is equally true that the medium of board games has to be shaken up every now and then with something new to the mix in order to keep the games relevant and challenging enough.  The question though is whether this is that game, and the answer is … not really.  This game acts as primarily as game of opposites from the original Legendary base game with villains swapping places with heroes and vice versa.  Although it is nice to see some characters that have been bypassed so far by the Legendary universe (for instance Wasp), they also show up only as enemies to the main characters, who are the villains.  The choice of the characters is reminiscent of the original version, with a wide enough spectrum of choice – Bullseye, Dr. Octopus, Electro, Enchantress, Green Goblin, Juggernaut, Kingpin, Kraven, Loki, Magneto, Mysterio, Mystique, Sabretooth, Ultron and Venom.  The commander cards are a bit more more limited in scope – Dr. Strange, Nick Fury, Odin and Professor X.  As whole the game comes off as being pretty much of a copycat, except for those that want to play as villains which might be a thing for comic fans, but probably less so for the strict gamers.

While the game might struggle in terms of its applicability to non-comic fans and in its lack of originality, it also deserves some mention in its use as an expansion for the base game.  As this is essentially an opposite version of the original, the game text is easily changed for interplay with the original by negating the game text (for instance bystanders are captured/freed.)  While this does add a bit to the overall dynamic for the series, it also doesn’t do so by much.  Whereby the expansions thus far have added to the game play by pushing the series forward in certain directions in terms of story telling, this does not do so as much.  While there are instances in comics of heroes banding together with villains against a common threat, it also doesn’t happen all that often.  Also due to the individuals chosen for the games, if choosing randomly from the entire selection it would be possible to play character versus characters, for instance either Kingpin or Professor X as both character and main villain/commander.  One way in which this expansion does expand the game is by the use of even more specialized bystander cards, though these don’t really justify the cost of the entire game as an expansion only.

As a game this is a bit of a letdown, though still enjoyable, especially that the theme is a bit off mark.  As an expansion it has similar problems, providing some fun new options but also missing the mark where it might have helped more.  This thus stands as a passable game, but the bigger letdown of the series thus far.

Score: 7.4

Game Review: Legendary Paint The Town Red Expansion

legendaryThe “Paint the Town Red” expansion for Legendary is the third expansion in the series, and the second in a row with a stronger thematic concept.  Although the second expansion came right out and declared itself the Fantastic Four expansion, this is definitely the Spider-Man expansion even though it doesn’t really identify itself as such except for the box art.  As an overall analysis of this game series reveals, it is the street level characters that are the bigger push in terms of popularity, but it is also these characters, their villains and these villains’ schemes which make for a much easier game play experience.  The Dark City expansion helped a bit to counter this trend of the street level scenarios being that much easier to play, but this expansion goes much closer to the original trend.  As opposed to the grand schemes of certain villains, this expansion plays out a lot more like a Spider-Man comic, fun at times but never in any real danger that the characters (or in this case the players) are in much danger.

The focus here is all Spider-Man, meaning that anyone expecting more variety will be disappointed.  Instead this sticks close to the Spider-Man story lines with Black Cat, Moon Knight, Scarlet Spider, Symbiote Spider-Man and Spider-Woman.  The schemes are equally related, focusing on Carnage and Mysterio and various spider-related problems, although one does strive for a bit more by trying to take on the Clone Saga.  As with the Fantastic Four expansion, this does little to expand any of the more disappointing mechanics of the game, as the S.H.I.E.L.D. draw pile and the bystanders are once again left untouched.  This is an expansion on the same scale as the Fantastic Four expansion, incorporating in fewer cards while also adding to the refinement of the game play experience.

At this point the “street vs. skies” divide in this game might almost be moot anyway.  At the very least the base game is required to play Paint the Town Red, but by incorporating in the other expansions the imbalance between the two character types is less evident.  While heavy hitters like the Fantastic Four might have no trouble in a street level scenario, at least in this way one can face Black Cat against Galactus and see what happens.  That is the fun of these expansions, is that their price is not outlandish, and that they therefore help to build the game easily and inexpensively, even if the individual expansion offers little else new, the sum ends up being greater the parts.

Score: 8.2 

Game Review: Legendary Fantastic Four Expansion

legendaryThe Fantastic Four expansion for the Legendary Marvel Deck Building game is the first one with a strong thematic outlook.  The base game and Dark City have focused more so on an overall approach to the Marvel universe, including various characters from various inspirations.  This expansion narrows that field of view considerably by looking at Marvel’s number one family.  This is a smaller expansion, and bodes well for Marvel’s approach moving forward, to focus on smaller corners of its universe while allowing fans to pick out the pieces that interest them the most.  In this case even most non-fans are likely to be interested because of the potential of the characters involved, the core of the team plus their main hanger-on – Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, the Thing and Silver Surfer.

As a game that has been defined by either the street level scenarios and villains being rather easy to beat versus the power scenarios and villains being harder to beat, this game definitely is more in the second category.  In fact some of the scenarios and combinations are downright impossible to beat (required over five run-throughs to defeat) as the challenges are that much stronger.  Interestingly this fits thematically with the group as well, as the team itself, although powerful in a sense, has gone up against some ridiculously powerful opponents and managed to walk away victorious.

As this is a smaller expansion it does not do much to help some of the previous problem with the game.  While Dark City helped expand on the concept of the bystanders, there just isn’t enough room in this small boox to add more to the bystander deck.  Instead there are the five heroes, two new masterminds, their schemes, two villain groups and nothing else.  As opposed to Dark City which was mostly a full game without the board (though it still required the base game to play) this feels like much more of a true expansion, especially as it is smaller in scale and priced to sell as such.  The combination of theme and in-game mechanics make this the best of the series so far, dependent on the main game, but refining it to be much better with its inclusion.

Score: 8.8 

Game Review: Legendary Dark City Expansion

darkcityThe Dark City Expansion for in Upper Deck’s Legendary games is perhaps an unexpected one for the franchise.  The base game introduced a number of different characters and scenarios, but it did not really go too far in either direction in terms of the scope of the game.  Comic book characters are roughly divided into two different camps, the street level and the planet busters.  Most of the “street level” masterminds and schemes from the first game proves easy enough to beat, while the few more powerful schemes proved to be more challenging.  This led to more experienced gamers mostly focusing only on the bigger and badder schemes as opposed to the smaller scale ones.  Despite this set of mechanics, for the first expansion the series seemingly decided to go smaller and to focus on the street as opposed to the skies.

It is likely due in part to fan service that the theme behind this expansion was released second, only after the base game.  After all the street level contains a lot of the more popular characters that fans would want to play, even if the track record is that it makes for a worse game play experience.  Although there are some more obscure characters such as Cable, Domino and Forge, there are also fan favorites including Angel, Bishop, Blade, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, Iceman, Jean Grey, Professor X, The Punisher, Daredevil and already the second implementation of Wolverine.

The expansion is designed to be more street level, but it also does better to address the fact that the street level encounters in the base game were a bit too easy.  Instead here there are more complicated scenarios, some of which incorporate in some famous story arcs from the comics.  It is also worth mentioning that the bystanders are expanded upon here.  While it might be nice to see some added variety in the starting decks or in the S.H.I.E.L.D. deck (of which there are 2 and 1 different kinds of cards respectively), at least the otherwise bland bystander deck is expanded upon with news reporter, paramedic and radiation scientist.  While it is somewhat unlikely to run into too many radiation scientists on the street, this at least adds a new dynamic to these cards which no one much seems to care about, as the specific type of bystander can now have different effects.  For instance rescuing the news reporter allows the player to immediately draw another card, which could have a big effect (or no effect) on the passage of a particular hand and could theoretically turn one’s luck around.

In the end this is not kind as good as the original, but more due to a lack of strong central theme.  As opposed to other expansions which help to refine a player’s interests in the game, this one could have just as easily served as another half to the base game.  There is little to distinguish this expansion aside from the individual characters included.  Certainly some gamers that are also fans of comics are going to want to pick up this expansion solely for the ability to play as their favorite characters, but equally this expansion does little to refine the game, only to make it bigger.  It is still a fun expansion, only that perhaps more could have been done.

Score: 8.2

Game Review: Legendary A Marvel Deck Building Game

legendaryLegendary is Upper Deck’s adaptation of the Marvel universe in a deck building game.  Deck building games have been riding a good wave now for a few years.  Although it is not the first game to do so, the mechanics of the game borrows from others such as Dominion which helped establish the format as something specifically different from customizable card games.  As opposed to games such as Magic where the person with the best deck walking in has a huge advantage, the customizable card game evens the deck for every one as they start, in that no one has any real advantage going into starting the game other than being a better in game strategist.  This takes a different approach once again when applied to Legendary as it is a cooperative game.  While some players might be able to better strategize or maybe just to pull better cards by chance, it doesn’t really matter except as it pertains to the final point count, which those who are super competitive can still use to determine the winner after the scenario is complete.

Right off the top this is going to be a problem for those that do not like cooperative games, but even for those that do, the mechanics of the game are fun, especially so for fans of comics.  A deck is used to populate the HQ, and hero cards are purchased from the HQ as they are available for the price listed.  As is common with this format of game, the cards give one of two base benefits as well as in game text that can modify that further.  The two base benefits are purchasing power and attack power.  Purchasing power is used to buy new cards as they cycle through the HQ, while attack power is used to combat the villains that cycle through the game.  The use of the villains is interesting as well which leads to the overall dynamic of the game.  The villains rotate through once per turn, with the odd exception of a few special cases for the villains deck, some of which will give the players a chance to catch their breath, others which will throw all other plans out the window.  The villains themselves are part of the criminal enterprise of the mastermind, and his scheme which involves some kind of mayhem.

On the whole it is a pretty fun game, although there are a few drawbacks.  The artwork on the cards for the characters is pretty good, but there are a limited number of characters.  Each character has fourteen cards of which there are a few duplicates in each set of fourteen, there are only one of each card worth 7 or 8, but numerous for the lesser values.  While the combination of the characters can be fun, it is also worth noting than only five heroes make up the deck.  This stands in contrast to the DC comics building game which includes a vast selection of characters that might show up in a particular hand, in this case it is going to be one of the five of Thor, Emma Frost, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Captain America, Wolverine, Deadpool, Storm, Gambit, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Hulk or Iron Man.  The characters are at least chosen before hand, which allows the players to get to play as some of their favorites, even the deck never gets very wild.  Another key problem is the masterminds and their schemes.  Some of these are fairly sedate, something like the Red Skull and a bank robbery, while others get pretty complicated.  While this is a good approach to new gamers, it is a bit of problem for more experienced gamers.  The introductory scenario is so easy that it might turn some off from the game, in that it might appear to be all about the flash of the superhero cards and not as much about the substance.  It is not the case, although it does take some time to find a combination of mastermind and scheme which are downright impossible to beat (though there are a few of these.)  Evidently some aspects like the bystanders need to be developed further as it is a fairly generic aspect of the game.

Despite a few drawbacks, the overall aspect of game play and fun is there.  This might piggy back a bit on the popularity of the comics in order to provide a fun experience, but the game works well enough on its own that even those that are not familiar with the comics will find something to draw them in.  Of course it also helps that table talk is allowed thus the individual players are not acting alone but rather can strategize together as to how to take out the bad guys.  It is a pretty fun game, and sets up the potential for further releases on the same platform which will expand the universe within the game.

Score: 8.5



Game Review: Legendary Guardians of the Galaxy Expansion

2014-Upper-Deck-Marvel-Legendary-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Deck-Building-Game-ExpansionThe Guardians of the Galaxy for the Legendary Deck Building Game is the sixth release in this series, and the fourth expansion for the core game. This is the first expansion released in what is presumably trying to tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this expansion adds in new mechanics to the game while adding the core characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy – Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Drax and Rocket Racoon. Along with the new characters come new kinds of cards, infinity gems and artifacts. The game does play out pretty well, particularly focusing on what is to date the most powerful of the line’s villains in Thanos. The new scenarios also add to the overall challenge of the game, which has a tendency to be a little easy for most of the typical scenarios in a lot of the cases. In this sense this expansion is the best since the release of the Fantastic Four expansion which had introduced some harder scenarios and more challenging villains. Having only played this version as a standalone with the base rules, a player that was after a more challenging game could throw in the Heralds of Galactus into the villain deck for a near impossible challenge.

There are a few drawbacks to this game. Perhaps the most obvious is the natural evolution of deck building games. Most eventually come to resemble one another, and in so doing this expansion takes on aspects of other popular deck building games such as Dominion and the DC Deck Building Game. As well, this expansion had been rumored to include a sixth character, which is absent, but it feels as though the developers could have thrown another in there – Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel or Nova – just to expand the game a little as well. Another problem is that with the introduction of artifacts, that fans are going to wonder why this was not include earlier as artifacts are essentially just equipment, and fans of the comics are likely to want to see a lot of artefact tie-ins in the future, be them web-shooters, Captain America’s shield or even Wolverine’s claws.

On the whole though, this is a good expansion and keeps the core of the game relevant while adding a bit of new mechanics to make the game just a little different. That this was released to closely tie into the movie is also hopefully not a coincidence, and is rather an attempt by Upper Deck to tie into all Marvel movies a lot more closely which means that we will see a steady progression in this series to include most of the Marvel Universe.

Score: 8.3

Upper Deck Releases a Guaradians of the Galaxy Legendary Expansion

2014-Upper-Deck-Marvel-Legendary-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Deck-Building-Game-ExpansionUpper Deck’s Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game has become the company’s top gaming property with two core sets (Legendary & Villains) and three expansion sets (Dark City, Fantastic Four & Paint the Town Red) in the market. Now Upper Deck brings Marvel fans even more excitement with the fourth expansion in the series. With content dedicated exclusively to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy cast of characters, comic fans have enjoyed over the years and that Marvel movie fans have come to know and love as well. Legendary fans are going to be thrilled to add their favorite Guardians of the Galaxy characters to their decks as this expansion will include 100 all new playable cards featuring original artwork.

This expansion will feature the five key heroes from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Groot and Rocket Raccoon) as they get help from Nova to do battle with one of the evil masterminds; The Kree Supreme Intelligence. New game mechanics, schemes and tactics will add to the gameplay and these new cards will all be playable with cards from the previously released sets!

Gamers can play with or against each other in Upper Deck’s latest Legendary expansion for Guardians of the Galaxy when it releases on October 15, 2014.

SDCC 2014: Upper Deck's Appearance Will Be Legendary!

San Diego Comic-Con is under way and things are already buzzing. Upper Deck is heading to the show and you can find them at booth #307 in Lobby A with a variety of promotions exclusive for the convention.

As Upper Deck prepares to celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary with a new line of trading card products, the company will make four different promotional bags available to attendees for $10 each or $40 for all four. Each bag includes an exclusive San Diego Comic Con Hello Kitty promotional card and figure celebrating the pop icon through the decades – 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s – along with an Upper Deck Hello Kitty figure pack! Fans who purchase all four bags will also get a San Diego Comic Con exclusive black sparkle figure as a gift with purchase! Bags are limited to just 250 per day and will sell out! Additionally there will be a variety of Upper Deck Hello Kitty products for sale at show specials and free Hello Kitty temporary tattoos distributed to all fans. Even Hello Kitty herself will be making an appearance at the Upper Deck booth for photo opportunities with fans on Thursday from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and again on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The core comic fans however will love to check out the latest from Upper Deck on the gaming side of the business with the company’s popular Legendary™ deck building game available for purchase and to just check out. Key staff involved in the game development will be on-hand to discuss and share details on upcoming expansions of the game.

One of the most exciting opportunities for comic fans however will come on Friday and Saturday when renowned artist Joe Jusko will be appearing LIVE at the Upper Deck booth to sign free oversized cards featuring his artwork for a future product release. Joe Jusko will appear Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Saturday from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m and Sunday at 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and again at 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Additionally, artist Neal Adams will be signing some of his Upper Deck artwork at his booth in “Artist Alley,” so we encourage fans to drop in to check that out as well!



Evil Wins with Upper Deck's Latest Expansion for Legendary!

Gamers declared Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game a hit when they played as Marvel Super Heroes trying to save the day, but things are about to change. Upper Deck will be releasing the fourth series expansion, rightfully named Villains, which will flip gameplay upside down and allow fans to play as the evil Marvel villains. All of a sudden, being bad never felt so good! The Villains core set expansion will include 550 playable cards featuring incredible original artwork.

For the first time ever, fans can play as Marvel villains and attempt take out the Super Heroes who are challenged to protect the city. New for this set are 15 playable allies, seven adversary groups, four commanders, four back-up adversaries and eight new plots! Additionally, gamers will be able to use new Hydra-themed starting hands along with new bystanders!

The game will feature an assortment of Marvel’s greatest villains including Magneto, Venom and Dr. Octopus as they battle some of the most heroic characters in the Marvel Universe. With subtle changes to the game board and game play, the Villains core set provides fans with a whole new playable experience and rubberized play mat with a long-lasting and transportable board to battle on.

Play with or against friends in this evil new deck-building game from Upper Deck which will release in early July!