This is the second expansion to the deck building game from Marvel, Legendary. In this review I won’t be going over how to play the game, if you want that then go check out my review of the base game and first expansion here. This new expansion brings four new schemes, five new heroes and two new villains and villain groups to the mix. There are also a few new concepts it introduces, and it’ll be interesting to see if they’re used again in future expansions. As with the core game it’s designed by Devin Low and published by Upper Deck.
I love having more schemes, they add a lot of flavour to the game and some of them are crazy. One of the crazier ones in this expansion is ‘Pull Reality into the Negative Zone,’ which switches recruit and attack on twists 2,4,6 and 8. This makes the game far more strategic because you have to plan for the switch, and in the first game I played of this I found it very difficult to have a balanced deck. ‘Flood the Planet with Melted Glaciers’ is a tense one as you have to KO heroes from the HQ with a cost equal to or less than the number of twists that have already appeared. In ‘Bathe the Earth in Cosmic Rays’ you have to KO a hero from your hand and then replace it with a hero of the same or lower cost from the HQ. This doesn’t sound too bad, but sometimes there aren’t any heroes with a matching cost, and that can be very frustrating. Lastly there’s ‘Invincible Force Field’ where the twists become a force field and you have to spend an extra recruit point or attack point in order to battle the mastermind.
Of these the negative zone one is my favourite because it’s so crazy and it can really wreck your plans. The others are fun too, and the force field can quickly become annoying.
The Villains (and groups):
Mole Man – Mole Man has an attack of eight, but this can quickly increase when members of his Subterranea villain group escape, which happens whenever a masterstrike occurs. He’s not the toughest but he can be frustrating, especially when combined with the force field scheme. His power will quickly increase. The Subterranea group are standard, although they have a new keyword – burrow – which is something I’ll get to a little later.
Galactus – I’m sure this is the one that gets you drooling. With a massive attack of 20 Galactus poses a huge threat, especially when combined with his heavy-hitting villain group the Heralds of Galactus. As difficult as Apocalypse and his Horsemen are I think this combination are able to rival them especially because on each masterstrike Galactus destroys a city space, which makes it more likely that a villain can escape and if the city gets destroyed completely then you’ve lost the game. I’ve only fought him a few times but I’ve yet to beat Galactus. Your jaw may have dropped when reading that it requires an attack of 20 to defeat Galactus, but there is a way to reduce the power of him and his Heralds with Cosmic Threat, which like burrow I will detail below.
The Fantasic Four are joined by the Silver Surfer and as a unit they’re very recruit focused. This took me by surprise at first and it does require a little more thought than usual to try and get enough attack in your hand so that you can actually fight people, otherwise you end up with a lot of recruit and the city can fill up pretty quickly. However, the cards have a new keyword – focus – where you can spend recruit points for other effects, so that’s quite cool. I love Mr. Fantastic because he had a lot of ‘draw extra card’ cards. The Invisible Woman is decent and The Human Torch is quite powerful. SIlver Surfer is cool and if you get enough focus he has a card that can generate 9 attack! The Thing is by far my favourite though, just for his rare card, which gives a bonus attack for every other strength hero you’ve played that turn. I can’t imagine how powerful a deck with him, Hulk and Colossus would be!
As a unit though I did find it quite tough sometimes to find the balance between recruit and attack, because it can be tempting just to get more and more recruit. I think they sync well together though, and my impressions are that they’d be good support players when paired with other heroes. They’ll always guarantee you a lot of recruit and you can focus this to draw extra cards or KO cards, or rescue bystanders. It makes the whole thing more versatile and gives you a ton of new options.
Burrow – This one is pretty simple and it’s only the Subterranea villains that can use the ability. All it means is that if you fight them anywhere other than the streets they will burrow to the streets. So you’ll still do the fight effect and rescue any bystanders they had, but you will not get to place them in your victory pile, but will have to fight them again. Once they are in the streets they can be defeated and if the streets is already occupied (or destroyed) then you can simply defeat them like usual.
It’s a pretty fun idea and it adds something to the game, but I’m not sure it’s all that annoying. In most of the games I’ve played we’ve gotten to a point where the city is mostly empty, so we just tend to leave a villain in the streets and then if a Subterranea villain enters the city we can just pick them off. I might try a variant where the villain will actually oust a villain in the streets, so they burrow no matter what. This could lead to a more challenging game and see more villains escape.
Cosmic Threat – This one is a little more complicated. Basically it means that the type of card you play have the ability to reduce the power of Galactus and his Heralds. His Heralds are each vulnerable to one type of card, so for example if you fought Morg you can reduce his power with instinct cards. Each card will reduce the villain by three, so if you had three instinct cards then you could defeat Morg without spending any attack points. Galactus is vulnerable to all types of cards, but you can only use one type per turn, and if you do defeat Galactus you cannot use Cosmic Threat more than once a turn.
I like Cosmic Threat and it certainly adds a new dimension to the game, but it does make the game a little more complicated when trying to keep all the numbers straight in your head, especially since there are so many things you can focus as well.
Focus – This is the big one and it’s the word that finds itself on a lot of cards. If a card has focus then it will show you how many recruit points you can focus. You can spend as many recruit points as you want and you can do the effect more than once a turn, so if a card said focus 2 recruit points to draw an extra card with your new hand, you could focus 6 points to draw three cards. I love that it gives you more variety and there are plenty of different things you can do with recruit points, and you can understand why the team are so recruit heavy.
More Legendary is always good and I like that the designer keeps putting in more new concepts. I am a little worried that these are going to be almost one hit wonders though and I hope that these aren’t the only villains to use burrow, for example. I imagine with a Guardians of the Galaxy expansion Cosmic Threat should make another appearance. I think the schemes are fun, and Galactus is a brutal villains. His masterstrike is insane and it makes games so tense. As a whole though I would have preferred some more attack in the cards. I understand they wanted focus to be a viable option but I do think the hero cards are skewed a little too much towards recruitment. I’m eager to see how they work in conjunction with other heroes because I have a feeling they will be more potent at supporting more attack-minded characters.
I do like the focus concept though, because sometimes I do find that either I can’t afford any heroes in the HQ or there isn’t anyone that I want to recruit, so focus gives me something else. But that, combined with Cosmic Threat does increase the numbers you have to keep track of and there’s a little more number crunching. It’s nothing too drastic or advanced but you do have to work out whether you need to focus to get more attack etc.
Overall though it’s a solid expansion and I’m glad to have more things to play with. Galactus is definitely a tough test and although I have a few negative things to say about it those are really nitpicks. I still think it’s incredibly fun and this fits in well with the rest of the game. Oh, and just to finish off, I have heard some negative things about the artwork but I didn’t have a problem with it, although one of the Mr. Fantastic Cards features Juggernaut prominently, and that makes me look twice sometimes.