Jan 29, 2016

[Games] Legendary: Villains - A Marvel Deckbuilding Game

So our dedication to the Legendary franchise has just about come full circle, in a manner of speaking. From just wanting to try out the game, we're now super invested in the franchise and have been working on addressing the remaining gaps in our collection. With most of the heroic Marvel sets already safely tucked away, we've finally come back around to Legendary: Villains, where the bad guys take center stage.

To be fair, we actually got to play this game a few times before we got around to buying it. An officemate of Tobie's was nice enough to lend us his copy for a few nights and that helped us decide to eventually get the game. However we did opt to focus on all the heroic sets before we cam back to this one.

But there was never a doubt that we were going to add this game to our collection. We were already having too much fun with all the heroic Legendary games that it was only a matter of time before we'd finally get the Villains in order to further diversify our games.

Legendary: Villains - A Marvel Deckbuilding Game is a standalone game more or less based on the core Legendary system but focused on the villains on the heroes instead. The game was created by Devin Low and it still supports 2-5 players. You do not need the original Legendary to play Villains.

At its most basic level, Villains turns the tables and has you playing as a group of Marvel villains as they try to get past the Heroes. Thus you have a lot of changing of terms such as the Hero Deck now being the Ally Deck and the Villains Deck now being the Adversary Deck and so on. Thus you have the usual 14 character cards covering the abilities of a particular Marvel villain as they face off against various hero groups led by a Commander instead of a Mastermind.

But the game also features a number of system tweaks that help add to the flavor of the game. First the game introduces New Recruit cards, which are gray allies that cost 2 to recruit. To trigger their effects you need to return the Recruit to the stack and you'll get 1 strike and you can draw 1 card. It doesn't seem like much but it can really help speed up a deck since card draw is a great ability. You also have Madame Hydra instead of Maria Hill and she's a bit more painful to use since you need to discard a card in order to get her 2 recruit points even though she's still 3 recruit to purchase. And you no longer have Wounds but instead have Bindings, that seem almost the same except how removing Bindings can lead to them being transferred to other Villain players.

You also have some fun villains that range from almost reskins of hero character decks to completely original concepts. The Kingpin's cards barely give him strike or recruit points, but he is able to gain a lot of New Recruits quickly and efficiently. Loki has cards that are all about manipulation including stealing cards from other players in order to boost his own efforts.

The game also introduces a new keyword, Dodge, which basically allows you to discard the card while it is in your hand to gain a new one. Madame Hydra has this keyword, and it can be useful for clearing out less useful cards for a turn that you want to use for defeating heroes. But characters like Green Goblin and Electro actually have other abilities that trigger when a card is dodged, thus making for more creative play options. Mysterio's abilities often seem random since they rely a lot to what cards are present in the Lair (otherwise known as the HQ for heroes). And the list of character abilities goes on and on.

The game also created a system for Elusive characters, where the Elusive value represents how much recruit you need to have in a turn in order to attack that hero. Thus heroes like Ant-Man and the Wasp have very little strike but their high Elusive ratings make them pretty hard to defeat while they move through the city.

I liked the change of pace that Villains offers and the game has some pretty creative interpretations of how certain Villain abilities translate into card effects. I think I enjoy that aspect of the game more than anything since it provides an interesting challenge for play. Combined with the base Legendary games and you now have the ingredients for anti-hero villain moments when they have to work with the heroes to defeat a much larger foe. And that just adds to the flavor of the whole game experience, which is really where the Legendary games have shined throughout all these different editions.

Legendary: Villains - A Marvel Deckbuilding Game is a nice addition to the Legendary family and one that certainly opens up new kinds of stories for people. It may not always be a high priority expansion to get, but it's one that is sure to enrich your game collection. Thus the game rates a good 4 nefarious Villain attacks out of a possible 5.

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