Our love for that various Legendary games goes beyond the various Marvel-related ones but also includes their efforts to branch out into other franchises like with Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game. That was actually our first Legendary game and the one that we initially thought would be the only investment we'd make into the system. But yeah things have changed since then. And we have no regrets.
The Encounters version of Legendary was unique in that it felt a lot more story focused and it found a way to simulate that sense of tension and fear you get in horror movies. With cards entering play face-down the simple fact that you don't know what your facing right away made for quite the twist on the system. And it carries well to other movies of a similar nature. And thus it totally made sense to adapt this system to the Predator movies as (1) they're in the same genre of horror science fiction movies and (2) we all just want to see Predators fighting aliens.
And this game gave us precisely that. And the experience is pretty brilliant.
Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game is a strategic deck building game for 1-5 players. The game was designed by Ben Cichowski and Daniel Mandel and is fully compatible with all other Legendary games.
The game has two distinct modes of play - one where you play the humans and one where you play the Predators. In both cases you get to play through both Predator movies with either side.
The human game is closer to Legendary Alien as it's mainly cooperative. There are a few new keywords like Call for Backup where abilities are triggered when someone uses a Coordinate card to help you, Showboat where you trigger abilities when you play multiple cards from the same character and the reverse situation with Brothers in Arms where you trigger abilities when you use cards from different characters.
As Predators, the game becomes strictly player versus player and the goal is to get the most honor, which represents victory points. Thus you can either hunt down the humans in the wilds or you can try to take down your fellow Predators on the hunt. And your injuries can be physical damage or merely loss of honor that act as penalties come end game. As a nice touch, the Predator deck does not include Leadership class cards as they're all in it for themselves.
What I Liked: It's two games in a single box and both are great. It nicely captures the feel of the movies and the Predators as well. And like the Alien game before it, it's pretty brutal and we've had a lot of trouble getting past the second movie. But despite that, we still enjoy the sense of challenge every game gives.
And the scenarios are pretty creative on the human side. Finding the rebel camp can be quite frustrating and gathering evidence can drive you nuts. But I appreciate the creativity put into the game and the serious effort to come up with something new.
What Could Be Better: There are quirky game mechanics that can make the game feel a little off-balance. For movie two, it's the challenge of the first scenario for leading the raid that drives me nuts and is the leading cause for death. Then there's the marks system that pretty much defines the hazards in the human scenarios. I wish there was more variation, but both movies have the same hazard effect and that just feel lazy. And let's face it, once you're marked in the game is not going to go well for your character.
The Predator side isn't too bad, but then just hunting alone doens't feel like quite enough challenge. And the human prey have a lot going for them given Gear to boost them and Traps to act as additional obstacles. But that's the life as an alien hunter I suppose.
TL;DR: Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game is a solid purchase and a nice addition to the Legendary family. It also is good proof that the folks at Upper Deck have a solid business model here in terms of adapting more and more genre movies into fun deck building gamess using this system. Thus the game gets a good 4 Predator Duel attacks out of a possible 5.