Getting Into…Marvel Legendary

Posted: October 6, 2016 in Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gaming

Right off the bat, I am not ashamed to say it…I have a new obsession, and it is Marvel Legendary.

Given how much of my gaming goes into and onto Heroclix and FFG’s The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get into Marvel Legendary.  I mean, I even considered the Predator version of the game to be one of the best releases of 2015…and yet here it is, the tail end of 2016 before I take the plunge into the game that started it all.

The base set you’ll be needing to embark on this great game.

The central concept of the game is relatively simple.  You choose (or randomly pick) one of the bad guys supplied (Dr Doom, Red Skull, Magneto or Loki), and assign them a “Scheme” (attempting to use the Cosmic Cube, robbing a bank, orchestrating a Civil War, etc.), and some bad guys to help them out (the Sinister Syndicate, Brotherhood of Mutants, Hydra…).  You start the game with the call just coming into SHIELD headquarters, so all you have is a bunch of SHIELD agent jobbers to stave off the impending crimewave/end of the world.
Fortunately for you, this is a deck building game, and what this means is that at all times there are a selection of five cards you can “purchase” and put into your deck.  These are always linked to a Marvel superhero that SHIELD is bringing in to tackle the problem, be it Thor, Hulk, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Rogue…or Deadpool.  Ideally, as the game progresses, you’ll be constantly improving your deck, and working towards being able to chain abilities together, knock out the evil mastermind and save the day.

Marvel Legendary is insanely addictive.  The short playing time (I’m currently averaging around forty minutes a game), means that you can get two or three games into an evening’s play, letting you see a good variety of characters and plays each time.  The turns move incredibly simply and quickly, but with lots of potential for action and levelling up each time.  Every turn counts.

Being a Marvel zombie like I am, it’s great to have so many characters that you know and love gathered together, and ready to be played with straight out of the box.  A real highlight is  how they actually feel like the characters they’re supposed to be representing.  Maria Hill never gets directly involved in combat, but does allow you to more rapidly gather resources and call in the heavier hitters.  Wolverine does vicious attacks and rapidly “heals” your deck of “wounds”.  Iron Man is all about accelerating how you play, burning through more cards to unlock greater combinations.  And Deadpool…well he’s erratic to say the least.

Marvel Legendary plays very well solo, but team games with up to five players scale very nicely indeed…although a little competitive streak has the potential to sneak in with some groups…but that doesn’t really matter all that much.  You can play Marvel Legendary fully co-operatively, or you can try and be the MVP each game.  There’s room for both playing styles.

Seeing your deck grow with more powerful cards as the game progresses is oddly satisfying, especially when you’re able to pull off a staggering chain of abilities in a turn.  When you do, there is a genuine sense of accomplishment.  It doesn’t feel like pulling of a trump or a flush.  It feels like pulling off a Fastball Special!  You can picture the superheroes working in tandem in your mind’s eye, just like a really good RPG.

What has really staggered me so far is the scope.  There are a good number of heroes and villains included in the base set, and I’m already eyeing up all of the expansions (hey, I’ve got a birthday coming up…), because I just need a Punisher and a Ghost Rider already…

As the icing on the cake, Marvel Legendary is super easy to teach, and would make a great gateway game for any superhero loving friends you have. The mechanics of chaining and deck-building are a great example of that “easy to learn, challenging to master” school that so many systems strive for, and yet very few achieve.

Look out over the next few weeks for some more Marvel Legendary related news and articles.

Brad Harmer-Barnes is a gaming and comedy writer who reads too many comics, eats too many Twinkies and has too much blood in his caffeine system.  In his spare time he edits Suppressing Fire.  You can follow him @realbradhb


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