Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 1 December 2016

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game

GameLegendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game

PublisherUpper Deck

Designer: Devin Low


We first played Marvel Legendary at a board game club over 1 year ago and it really wasn’t a hit for me. I’m not sure I quite got my head around how we were both co-operating to defeat the villain at the same time as trying to gain the most points and win on an individual basis. I’m also not sure I understood how to make combos using wither colours or allegiances rather than specific character types. We also tried Legendary Encounters: Alien at the same time, which I definitely preferred from a gameplay perspective but having never seen an Alien movie, the theme didn’t grab me. So why have we ended up with Marvel Legendary on our shelves?

Marvel Legendary is a semi co-operative deck building game in which you pit a group of Marvel superheroes against a villain of your choice. Apparently for Marvel fans (I’m not really one of them) it’s a great opportunity to create mash-ups of different heroes and see how they combine together. As with most co-operative games you are in essence battling against a deck and a time limit. The villain deck contains not only villains which you need to stay in control of throughout the game but also scheme twists which throw curve balls and story line into the mix to make a bad situation works.

The mechanics of the game, once setup, are pretty simple and common to most deck-builders. You begin the game with a small deck of weak cards, some which represent a currency to recruit better cards into your deck and other cards which represent combat abilities which you can use to beat down the villains or super villain. In Marvel Legendary, the order in which you chose to play your cards is important in terms of triggering combos which typically either boost your combat or recruit ability, allow you draw more cards or discard cards to thin your deck.

The board set-up. A really huge board for something that could probably be a lot smaller footprint!
The two elements of the game which probably get the most negative coverage. The first is set-up. Luckily I was not the one to remove this game from its shrink wrap so I didn’t get the pleasure of understanding what a pain it is initially to sort the cards, but even once this is done, you spend quite a lot of time shuffling together a hero and villain deck at the start of a game and separating it again at the end of a game, which is a little disproportionate to the length of time we spend playing the game as a two-player experience which can be as little as 30 minutes. The second negative I’ve heard is around the semi-cooperative nature. You all lose the game if the villain wins, which is typically triggered by the last scheme twist or the villain deck running out. However, you also get points for killing villains depending on their strength and balanced with the bonuses they give you when you kill them. Initially I found this difficult, but now it does seem to flow quite easily for me to make the decisions about which villains to kill at any time based upon a desire to win.

A selection of different card types in the game.
Marvel Legendary is a solid deck-builder and it’s nice to have an alternative to some of our other deck-building games like Dominion or Flip City which can feel quite themeless. There’s plenty of replayability even out of the base box with so many combinations of heroes and villains, as well as the different schemes. However, I would caution that although you’re playing with different characters, for someone like me who isn’t invested in the characters, they don’t feel like they’re a game changer. The schemes can affect a little more how the game plays.

We’re getting quite a lot of play out of Marvel Legendary as a two-player game at home. Although the semi-cooperative nature seemed weird at first, it works quite well for us because I can often get frustrated in fiercely competitive two-player games. Here we get to co-operate for a common goal but still play tactically against each other. Since it’s seeing so much table time I’m also quite keen to expand the game, but with so much content out there I’m not really sure where to start. Any advice for a Marvel movie fan (rather than a comic book reader) would be appreciated! So far the Yellow Meeple gives Marvel Legendary a 7.5/10.

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