Gen Con Indy 2012 Game Review: Marvel Legendary

One of the games I was most looking forward to checking out at Gen Con Indy 2012 was the new Marvel deck-building game from Upper Deck.  I sought it out during the preview hour of the exhibit hall on Thursday morning.  I was thrilled to hear press members were getting demos of the game.  I love Marvel and was excited about the prospect of a Marvel game I could get into and easily understand.

My husband has more experience in deck-building games than I do, but I’ve at least played some in the past.  I was excited to check out this new Marvel game.  My excitement was even greater when Jason, who was running the demo, told us we were the first people outside of Upper Deck to get to play the game.  I felt pretty important and special!

Image provided by Upper Deck (the design is preliminary and subject to change)

The point of a deck-building game is to do exactly what it sounds like and build your deck.  You start with basic cards that can’t do a whole lot of stuff and use the points on those cards to buy better cards that come into play and actually allow you to do something like defeat villains and win.  The nice thing with Legendary is it really plays off the Marvel universe well.  The goal is to get enough heroes and powers so that you can defeat the villains.  Players draw a villain each turn who then goes into a line-up of five or six (I can’t remember the exact number).  Each round, the villains move over a slot to make room for new villains as needed.  Once the villains reach the end of the line, they escape.  Taking down villains gives players even more points to work with.  The ultimate goal to win is to defeat the main villain, called the Mastermind, in play at the top of the game.  Various twists and turns come up with Scheme cards along the way to keep players on their toes.

After drawing a new villain card each round, players then play with the six new cards they dealt themselves at the end of their previous turn.  You can buy things or fight villains with your cards.  It sort of depends on the luck of the draw and what you want to do.  For example, early in the game, chances are you’re buying more cards so you can actually do something because you start with basic S.H.I.E.L.D. officer cards who are low-level and don’t do much.  Later on, you end up drawing better cards and are able to actually defeat villains.  Each villain defeated is worth a certain number of points (which is denoted on the cards).  When the game ends, you add up points and the person with the highest points wins.  I liked the game all the more because I was the one who won.

What’s cool about Legendary is that it has some really nice artwork on the cards.  It’s all original to the game and looks really nice.  I love being able to play with my favorite Marvel characters and villains.  The goals of the game were clear cut and easy to define.  Legendary is one of my top two games from this year’s Gen Con that I know I’ll pick up when it releases in November for around $59.99, according to Upper Deck.

Legendary wasn’t the only deck-building game we played at Gen Con.  In all fairness, we also sampled the DC deck-building game from Cryptozoic.  It was a bit different.  Each player picked a hero to be.  I was Martian Manhunter.  His strengths came from having other heroes in play at the same time, so buying hero cards was helpful to me.  My biggest issue with the DC game was that it had less battling of villains and more buying of cards.  I know that a deck-building game is all about building a good deck, but I like a chance to fight villains, too.  Legendary had a nice mix of both while I felt the DC game was a bit more centered around building the deck.  It also seemed a bit more generic like you could have substituted in any subject matter and the game would still have made sense.  That wasn’t the case with Legendary which is designed more specific to the Marvel universe.  I did like, however, that I won the DC game as well.  I really was on a roll this Gen Con.

The final deck-building game we tried out was the Penny Arcade one, also from Cryptozoic.  It was a pretty general deck-building game with more humorous types cards based on the Penny Arcade comic.  I am not Penny Arcade faithful reader, but I’ve seen a few of the comics and my husband likes them, so we gave it a try.  I enjoyed it in a more light-hearted deck-building game fashion.  I would play it again, but truthfully I don’t feel like it’s the same sort of class to even compare to Legendary.  However, being based on a comic, it should be more light-hearted and in a different class.  It was fun nonetheless and I enjoyed it.  I also won it, which again made me happy.  I don’t have plans to pick it up any time soon, however.

In all, the deck-building game that by far stole my heart at Gen Con Indy 2012 was Marvel Legendary.  The artwork is awesome, the game is awesome and I’m sure it will be on my game shelf by the end of this Christmas season.

If I were rating, I’d give Legendary a five out of five stars.  The DC Comics deck-building game would get a three out of five stars.  And the Penny Arcade deck-building game a four out of five stars.

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