Okay, I know it's beginning to seem a little crazy that my game reviews as of late have been mostly about the Legendary series, but it can't be helped at this point. It's a really fun game and our level of enjoyment is clearly reflected in how quickly we've worked on acquiring the different expansions in the series. And with the addition of Secret Wars - Volume 1, I think it's safe t say that we're doing pretty well for ourselves.
And this edition ties in directly with the on-going crossover event in the comic books, which will trigger some major changes in how we know the Marvel Universe. It says a lot about how far the relationship with Upper Deck has progressed given this is a pretty big event. And for the game to have been released in such a timely manner means that the design team had a lot of access to the material early on to make it to this ship date. So good job Upper Deck and yay for us who get to play!
Synopsis: Legendary: Secret Wars -Volume 1 is a big box expansion for the Legendary Marvel Deckbuilding game created by Devin Low. The expansion adds another 350 cards to the game and still supports 1-5 players.
The game adds 14 new heroes, 6 villain groups, 3 henchman groups, 4 masterminds and 8 new schemes into the mix. The game also includes completely new card types including Ambition cards and Sidekick cards. Sidekick cards are rather interesting since they're the "good" equivalent of the New Recruit cards in Legendary Villains, but instead of giving you Strike points when returned to the stack, Sidekicks allow you to draw two cards. Sure, your net gain is only one more card in hand, but it still does a great job of cycling your deck a bit faster - something that can be crucial when facing the big bad guys of Battleworld.
The fact that the diversity of Battleworld reflects a lot of different worlds being mashed together, there's a general theme among many of the "evil" cards that involve recruiting them to your cause after you defeat them. The Thor Corps henchman group are like this when you defeat them as is the Manhattan (Earth 1610) with the Ultimate Avengers. The cards from the Sentinel Territories are particularly delightful since they're the X-Men from the Days of the Future Past timeline that all try to "change the future" and make things a little easier for the players after they are defeated. These tweaks can go either way since cards that join your deck do not give you victory points and can clutter your deck if you can't build the necessary combos with the recruited enemies.
A lot of the cards bring back the Teleport keyword introduced in Dark City. With interesting characters like Doctor Strange and Magik, Teleport becomes more than just a gimmick to move cards forward to your next turn. We also get the crazy Transdimenstional Rampage cards that penalize you with a wound unless you can show another character card with the same name as the rampaging creature. This seems to be focused on the Hulk and Wolverine for now, but I can totally see this working even for the likes of Spider-Man.
The scenarios included in this set are horribly brutal and certainly do well to reflect the diverse nature of this comic book crossover. Fragmented Realities ignores the City entirely and instead each player as a virtual City space in front of them. Thus it's very possible for villains to escape quite quickly. Smash Two Dimensions Together creates two three-space Cities and players do their best to manage the two queues of enemies as they march forward. And if that wasn't hard enough, Dark Alliance has you facing at least two Masterminds at once and thus each Master Strike becomes doubly effective. Master of Tyrants is another clever one that has Mastermind Tactic cards hidden in the Villain deck and potentially becoming new Masterminds. So crazy!
Thus far we've found it hard to play with just the characters introduced in Secret Wars when facing their scenarios. If anything, the cards seems to work even better when you mix and match characters from other expansions, which may indirectly reflect the comic book event as well. Ultimate Spider-Man (Mile Morales) is really fun to have working in tandem with all the other Spider-Man cards and so on and so forth.
Oh, and you get to play as Thanos. How can you not be excited about this prospect? As as he was a Mastermind in Guardians of the Galaxy, this time he's one of your allies! Or at least as much as you can call any member of the Cabal an ally. Good stuff.
Legendary: Secret Wars - Volume 1 is an interesting tie-in expansion that allows you to experience the diversity of Battleworld in a game environment. The cards are a little trickier to use effectively, but it'll always feel that way with any new Legendary expansion.