International TableTop Day for 2014 takes place this Saturday, April 5. What is International TableTop Day? It is a day for fans of tabletop games to come together and celebrate by playing board games whether it be at your friendly local game store (FLGS), a coffee shop, library, comic book shop, or just at home. Perhaps take out an old favorite board game or try out a new game. Find more information at TableTopDay.com.
A game that has hit the table in my home most frequently over the past year has been Upper Deck’s Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (aka Marvel Legendary). The game consists of a game board and 500 cards. Set in the Marvel Comics universe, you and up to four other players cooperate to build a team of heroes using card decks to battle evil mastermind villains and their minions. With the base game, you can set up with heroes such as Captain America, Cyclops, Hulk, Iron Man, Nick Fury, Spider-Man, Storm, Thor, and Wolverine. For masterminds, you can choose to go up against Dr. Doom, Loki, Magneto, or Red Skull. Each mastermind will bring their own team of villain groups and henchmen groups in an effort to complete one of many possible evil schemes. Can the heroes defeat evil and, if so, which player will become the most legendary?
Players start with card decks of lowly S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and troopers but will quickly need to recruit more powerful heroes during their turn to help take down the villains. As the game progresses, each player will begin to build more powerful cards into their decks and stronger combinations of fighting abilities and recruiting abilities will take shape. However, each turn will also reveal a new villain that will enter the city and players will need to deal with those villains before their escape from the city where they will wreak havoc on the heroes. The goal of the players is to build up enough fighting power to strike the mastermind, claim one of 4 attack cards, and reduce their power until there are no remaining attack cards that the mastermind can use against the heroes.
Strategically, each game can be different depending on mastermind/villain combinations, heroes in the team, and the scheme that evil will be using. There is a lot of replay value in the base set alone because of the various combinations you can play. The base set is a great introduction to the game but is not particularly challenging as you’ll find your team winning a majority of the time using the base rules. Upper Deck has subsequently released expansions for the game which have added not only new heroes and villains but also much more difficult schemes and some new ability mechanics as well which provide for much more challenging scenarios.
A must-have for those who like Marvel Legendary is the Dark City expansion. The Dark City expansion is a large expansion (350 new cards) featuring 17 new heroes such as Bishop, Blade, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Iceman, Iron Fist, Professor X, and the Punisher plus 5 new masterminds Apocalypse, Kingpin, Mephisto, Mr. Sinister, and Stryfe. This expansion definitely ramps up the difficulty level and allows for much more epic battles during game play. Yes, your team will lose often but any victory you’ve achieved will be well-earned. I’ve experienced scenarios since the Dark City expansion was incorporated in my base set where a victory was pulled when it appeared certain that evil had the upper hand and all hope was almost lost. Ultimately, that is what makes Marvel Legendary so much fun.
Smaller expansions for Marvel Legendary include the Fantastic Four set and the Paint the Town Red set, both containing 100 new cards each. The Fantastic Four set adds the heroes Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Thing, Human Torch, and Silver Surfer while adding in masterminds Galactus and MoleMan and their associated villain groups. A word of warning, Galactus is tough! To date, my son and I have not been able to defeat Galactus though we have had tons of fun trying. The recently released Paint the Town Red set, a Spider-Man centric expansion, adds Black Cat, Moon Knight, Scarlet Spider, Spider-Woman, and Symbiote Spider-Man as heroes along with Carnage and Mysterio as masterminds along with their own villain groups Maximum Carnage and the Sinister Six.
With all of the current expansions available, there is a bunch of awesome just waiting to be played. One of the minor problems with Marvel Legendary has always been set-up and take-down time because there are so many cards to shuffle together to create various decks, you do need to set aside about 10 minutes to prep and then another five minutes to reorganize cards at the end. I have found that as I play more frequently, I’m not bothered by the set-up and take-down time as much as I was when I first started playing the game a year ago.
If you find yourself having difficulty trying to piece together a team of heroes to play, I would recommend trying out some of the weekly challenges that are posted on BoardGameGeek by Jacovis. As of this writing, there are 34 weekly challenges and each challenge will put a specific mastermind, associated villain groups, heroes, and scheme together for you in a storyline so you just pick the card decks specified by the challenge and you can be up-and-running with your game pretty quickly.
Upper Deck recently announced the upcoming release of Legendary: Marvel Villains Deck Building Game, a standalone game that takes the game mechanics already established in Marvel Legendary and adds some changes. Namely, the players will be the villains trying to defeat the heroes. While the new game will be a standalone, it is also supposed to have some compatibility with the current Marvel Legendary core set allowing some villains to team up with some heroes and vice-versa in certain situations. Further details have been slim at this point but look for the Marvel Legendary Villains to be released in late-June 2014. An additional Marvel Legendary expansion is also scheduled to be released in October 2014 and is expected to be a small expansion with additional heroes, masterminds, and schemes.
I definitely recommend giving Marvel Legendary a try for International TableTop Day. I know I will be playing on April 5, and this time, I might even defeat Galactus.