Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is one of the most addictive, replayable and downright entertaining games I have ever played, and the Secret Wars big box expansions adds a whole load of new content that keeps the game fresh and interesting.
So, a quick look at the main game. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is set in the Marvel Universe, where you recruit Heroes from across the comics to battle against a stack of henchvillains led by an evil Mastermind. Standard deck had heroes like the Avengers and X-Men, where you had multiple cards of a character which offered different abilities. You then had to face off against a Mastermind, such as Magneto, Loki and Doctor Doom, and offered a variety of’ ‘Schemes’ which the nefarious villains were trying to make happen.
Eventually, the game began to crank out expansions, to flesh out the rosters of heroes and villains, from Spider-Man and his amazing friends, to the Guardians of the Galaxy. These expansions varied from Small Box (which focused on specific hero circles and offered 5 new heroes, 2 Masterminds, 2 Villain Groups, and 4 new Schemes), to Big Box Expansions (which offered about as many cards as you got with the original game, which add up to 350 cards per box). Additionally, a Legendary Villains edition was produced to allow you to reverse the roles and play as your favourite villains as they attempted to thwart various heroes and their allies. This version is receiving it’s own expansions, with one based on the storyline Fear Itself out right now.
Now, onto the main review, the Secret Wars Expansion – an expansion so massive, it had to be split into two boxes.
Now, as both expansions are Big Box Sets, they each come with 350 cards, so we have 700 cards to work with. What’s worth noting is that unlike the previous Big Box Expansion Dark City, this expansion is based an actual Marvel event – specifically, the Secret Wars event which ran last year, and so contains a variety of unique heroes and villains which some people (even those familiar with Marvel) may have trouble recognising. They add some new abilities to the mix, as well as a new game-type for players to mess around with.
So, you have a whole bunch of new heroes, which I shall categorise in their various groups -Illuminati (Captain Britain, Beast, Black Bolt, Black Panther, Dr Strange, Superior Iron Man) / Cabal (Maximus, Namor, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Black Swan, Thanos) / X-Men (Old Man Logan, Apocalyptic Kitty Pryde, Ruby Summers, Time-Travelling Jean Grey, Phoenix Force Cyclops, Magik, Soulsword Colossus) / Spider Friends (Agent Venom, Spider-Gwen, Silk, Ultimate Spider-Man) / Avengers (Captain Marvel, Lady Thor, The Captain and the Devil). Addtionally, you get a new representative of SHIELD, Elsa Bloodstone, and three other members from the Secret Wars Battleworld; Shang-Chi, Dr. Punisher The Soldier Supreme, and Arkon the Magnificent.
Okay, if you took a look at that list and found yourself thinking “Wait, who the heck is that?” then you won’t be the only one…turns out Arkon was the main character in the limited series Weird World during the Secret Wars event, The Captain and the Devil is just Captain America riding on Devil Dinosaur, and Dr Punisher The Soldier Supreme is the amalgamation of Steven Strange and Frank Castle
Secret Wars introduces several new abilities, like Wall Crawl (which allows you to add the card you just purchased to the top of your deck instead of your discard pile), Teleport (you can set this card aside to add to your hand next turn) and Spectrum (where the new idea of Multiclass Heroes comes in handy, allowing you to pull an extra card or other special ability). Heroes can also Patrol certain areas (like the City, the discard stack, the KO pile), and get certain bonuses if conditions are met.
I personally love to play the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, mainly because they favour low cost and wall-crawl to allow you to collect their cards quickly and play them immediately. I also find playing as Thanos tons of fun, because his abilities revolve around sending Bystanders to the KO pile and gaining power from their demise (though the drawback is you have to play against villains who love to ambush bystanders).
Now onto the Villains! First of all, we have the new Masterminds, Zombie Green Goblin (leading the charge of the Deadlands), Immortal Emperor Zheng Zhu (Baron of K’un Lun), Nimrod, Super Sentinel (Overseer of the Sentinel Territories), King Hyperion (King of Utopolis), Wasteland Hulk (Hulk of the Wasteland), Madelyne Pryor, Goblin Queen (Queen of Limbo), Spider-Queen (Leader of the Spider-Infected), and Shiklah, Demon Bride (Regent of Monster Metropolis).
We also have some teams from Battleworld who have no affiliation with a Mastermind but still patrol the villains deck – the Guardians of Knowhere, residents from Domain of Apocalypse, the survivors of Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, an army of M.O.D.O.K.S, a gang of Ghost Riders, a hub of Magma Men, and a collection of Khonshu Guardians. Additionally, the expansion introduces the concept of villains defecting to your side following their defeat, and these are the remnants of the Ultimate Universe, the mutants from X-Men ’92, and the members of the Thor Corps.
First of all, I love the Deadlands villains. Every game I have played with them have been close games, and this is because of their ability Rise of the Living Dead. What this means is that when they enter the field, the latest villain you defeated gets resurrected and re-enters the city. If this is midway through the game, you end up having to fend of wave after wave of villains you just beat. This ability does not affect villains who now work alongside you, which means every Ultimate and Thor you beat still remains with you, which is another neat addition to the game. This resurrection isn’t restricted to the zombies though – Fateful Resurrection grants the villain a chance to res if the next card in the villain deck is a Mastermind Tactic or Scheme Twist.
Second, the game ups the difficulty by giving certain villains the ability to become a Mastermind themselves should they reach the Escape pile. This really comes into its own when you’re struggling to take down the villains, ensuring that the fight lasts a little bit longer. It also makes it that much more satisfying when you catch up, and tear them down like the mid-bosses they are to get to the final boss.
Finally, an ability which some heroes also have – Cross-Dimensional Rampage. What this essentially means is that when the effect is activated, each player must show a variant of that character (currently limited to Hulk and Wolverine) in either their hand or victory pile, or they receive a Wound card.
The expansions add a plethora of new Schemes which involve Battleworld Dimensions, mixing up the gameplay by having you face specific villains (like the Khonshu Guardians and Deadlands zombies) or by messing with the city spaces to expand the battlefield.
However, one of the more intriguing mechanics that the Secret Wars expansion adds to the game is allowing the a Player to take on the role of the Mastermind, getting their own collection of Ambition cards to add next to their deck and mix up the game just that little bit more. The Mastermind can still recruit (or in this case, corrupt) heroes from the HQ, and use these heroes to power the Ambition cards which can have devastating effects on the other players. Additionally, if you have the Legendary Villains set you can have the Mastermind play with these cards…or use the whole f the set by having three Villainous Players set against a single Heroic Commander Player!
This double-volume expansion definitely packs a whole lot more into an already impressive game. You are provided with a variety of heroes and villains to play around with and create your own scenarios. Also a nice little improvement is that each different card has a different art attached to it (whereas in the original you were stuck with that hero in the same bog-standard position which made it hard to differentiate the cards visually, especially when they were the same colour). You also have a nice variety of heroes to play around with – one game you might have all Spiders to allow you to create your own Web Warriors team, and the next you decide you want the Mad Titan Thanos to be paired with some lost Avengers to survive against the hoards of the Deadlands. It’s also relatively easy to pick up and play, though no one will mind if you keep the rules nearby just to clarify what some of the card effects mean. That’s not to say that the game is easy though – if anything, the new Masterminds and Schemes ramp up the difficulty to a whole new level, which makes the game that bit more enjoyable and challenging.
I do have some issues with this expansion though. The main issue was that when I got the expansion, I only had the Legendary Villains set but was confident I could use the expansion with this as I had been told the original wasn’t necessary. However, it does seem that this expansion was tailored for the original Legendary game, although I would like to stress that it is possible to play the expansion with just the Legenday Villains set – the problem is that the expansion feels rather limited when you take out the heroes and tailored Scheme cards. Additionally, the board seemed to get quite overcrowded with these new decks you placed on the board – I’m sure you can space it out, but it would have been nice to have got an official side-mat for Sidekicks and the like.
All in all, this expansion is a fantastic addition to an already expansive game. It adds a whole new dimension to a truly Marvelous experience, providing you with the opportunity to play by yourself or with a group of friends. It does have a few characters who were created solely for the Secret Wars event, but that doesn’t make Arkon or the Soldier Supreme any less cool and useful. In fact, it might prompt you to check out the event now that it’s over, and see how your favourite hero fared! Work together, or against a turncoat who has joined the enemy – you choose how you play!
Review copy provided by Esdevium Games