Country: United States
Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment
Designer: Devin Low
Time: 45 min
Legendary is a co-operative deck-building card game based on Marvel Comics. Players work with S.H.I.E.L.D. to recruit iconic Marvel superheroes and take down nefarious villains with dastardly schemes ripped straight from the pages. The base game includes 15 classic Avengers and X-Men characters such as Captain America, Cyclops, Hawkeye, Deadpool, Wolverine and Spider-Man – as well as “mastermind” villains Dr. Doom, Loki, Magneto, and Red Skull. Please note that this game is separate from “Legendary: Villains” or other games in the Legendary series – those will be reviewed separately.
LEARNING CURVE: MINIMAL
One great thing about this game is that is isn’t actually that difficult to learn. The rules are simple, and you can pick it up as you play. It’s very much your standard deck-builder – you can use cards to either attack villains or recruit more powerful cards, which go into your discard pile. When your deck is empty, you shuffle the discard pile into a new, more powerful deck.
The game itself can be tricky at times – certain supervillains are very difficult to beat, and it heavily depends on the abilities of the heroes you have selected and how they work well together. The game usually starts out very difficult and gets easier as it goes on, as your deck will slowly become more powerful. I estimate the average player should win about 70% of the time if played well.
One of my most played board games and a favorite of a few of my friends, my experiences with Legendary as a whole have been very positive – and I previously was not a fan of deck-building card games. I was sold on the co-operative “players vs. the game” aspect, as I find myself a slow learner in competitive situations.
The box itself is large enough to hold several expansions, and organized with individual wells and blank “divider” cards; however, this system isn’t perfect. Cards can get mixed up, and this can be annoying and take longer to set up a game, especially if you have expansions. I recommend investing in fan-made box organizer inserts – or, if you are like me, elastic banding the cards together by character for easy reference.
Gameplay itself varies – it’s usually great, but sometimes you just have a “bad game”. This is really the luck of the draw, and is one of the only downsides of the game – A “bad game” is rare, but unpredictable.
The artwork for the box and cards are by assorted artists or taken straight from the comics, and is usually fantastic and very diverse.
Most of all, there are an endless array of expansions – if your favorite hero isn’t there yet, they will be.
Legendary: Dark City (2013) – The first “big box” expansion adds more content than the base game! This expansion adds characters from the X-Men, X-Force and “Marvel Knights” lineup, including Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Domino, Cable, and more. Face off against masterminds such as Apocalypse, Kingpin, and Mephisto, leading groups such as the Maggia or the Emissaries of Evil.
Legendary: Fantastic Four (2013): Who was missing from the base game? Marvel’s first family, of course! This small expansion adds the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer, as well as the villains Mole Man and the absolutely impossible-to-beat word-eater Galactus.
Legendary: Paint the Town Red (2014) – No such thing as too much Spidey! This small expansion includes Spider-Friends Moon Knight, Spider-Woman, Black Cat and Scarlet Spider – as well as the fan-favorite black Symbiote Suit Spider-Man, and villains Carnage and Mysterio.
Legendary: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Released shortly after the hit movie, this small expansion includes the five movie Guardians, as well as Thanos and the Kree Supreme Intelligence. It also introduces Infinity Gems shards and artifacts, which can give you an in-game boost – and if you assemble the Infinity Gauntlet before Thanos, you can destroy the villain and your friends!
Legendary: Secret Wars, Volume 1 (2015) – Based on the Secret Wars comic event, the second “big box” expansion is the first one designed to integrate with both Legendary and Legendary: Villains. True to the event, this expansion includes characters from all over the Marvel universes: including but not limited to Black Panther, Namor, “Old Man Logan” Wolverine, “X-Men: Apocalypse” Shadowcat, “Marvel Zombies” Green Goblin, and even Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. This expansion also allows one player to be the villain playing against his friends for the first time.
Legendary: Secret Wars, Volume 2 (2015) – My poor wallet didn’t realize this expansion was a two-parter. Another “big box”, this expansion includes some of the strangest characters so far – Cyclops possessed by the Phoenix Force, Colossus wielding the Soulsword, a “Planet Hulk” Captain America riding Devil Dinosaur, and a time-travelling original X-Men Jean Grey, to name a few. This expansion also adds fan favorites Hyperion, Silk and Spider-Gwen.
Legendary: Captain America 75th Anniversary (2016) – Another small expansion, this adds variants of Captain America (including Falcon) and some of his his WWII buddies. The classic 70’s artwork on Arnim Zola and Baron Zemo’s cards will almost make you not want to fight them!
Legendary: Civil War (2016) – The newest “big box” expansion, this add-on includes “divided” cards to fit with the Civil War theme: Cloak/Dagger, Black Panther/Storm, Luke Cage/Jessica Jones and even Peter Parker/Aunt May are available heroes. Waters are murky with villains such as Iron Man and Maria Hill – but the lovingly included Pet Avengers sidekicks and Great Lakes Avengers villain group will make you forget all about your conflicting feelings!
Legendary: Deadpool (2016) – This small expansion isn’t out yet, and no details have been released – but I think you get the idea.
IF YOU LIKED LEGENDARY, TRY:
Legendary: Villains – A fully integrated spin-off game from the same company; flip the script and fight the heroes!
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck-Building Game – Also from the same company, this game is more tense and is based on the Alien franchise. You can even swap out cards from Legendary for a weird crossover experience!
Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck-Building Game – Based on the Predator series, this game is a fully integrated spin-off of the Alien game above.
Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck-Building Game – Continuing Legendary Encounters’ unusual exploration of sci-fi franchises, this game based on Firefly is – believe it or not – also partially compatible with the Upper Deck games listed above.
Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China – There are no words.
Ascension – A competitive player-vs-player deck-building game. Not actually from Upper Deck, but features a similar core gameplay mechanic.