Deck building, Cooperative, Expansion
Designer: Devin Low
Artists: Anthony Spay, Maria Cristina Federico
Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment
Number of Players: 1-5
Playing time: 30-60 minutes
Marvel Legendary is a one- to five-player cooperative deck building game. Players work together to build decks of cards by recruiting Marvel superheroes in order to defeat villains, henchmen, and the mastermind that opposes the forces of good. The base game came out in 2012, and since then has released 8 expansions, a villain version (with its own expansion as well), and a version of the game for the Alien, Predator, Firefly, and Big Trouble in Little China properties.
I do need to start with a disclaimer. Marvel Legendary is one of my favorite games of all time. It's probably the first modern board game I ever owned, and it's one of the few that I go full-completionist on, grabbing every expansion that hits the shelves. Because this is an expansion review, I'm assuming you know how the base game plays. The newest expansion, released October 13th, is Legendary: Deadpool.
What's in the Box?
5 New Heroes, four of which are part of a new faction, "Mercs for Money":
- Deadpool (Mercs for Money)
- Slapstick (Mercs for Money)
- Solo (Mercs for Money)
- Stingray (Mercs for Money)
- Bob, Agent of HYDRA (HYDRA)
2 new Masterminds:
- Evil Deadpool
- Macho Gomez
2 new Villain groups:
- Deadpool's "Friends"
- Blind Al and Deuce, Taskmaster, Weasel, Sluggo
- Evil Deadpool Corpse
- D.E.A.D.P.O.O.L., Ultimate Deadpool, The Deadpool Kid, Wolverinepool
4 new Schemes:
- Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe
- Deadpool Wants a Chimichanga
- Deadpool Writes a Scheme
- Everybody Hates Deadpool
- "1/2" points - Cards now have halves included in some of their recruit and attack points. These are added together as normal, and an excess half can't be used.
- Excessive Violence - If you spend one more attack point than necessary to fight a villain, you'll receive a bonus.
- "Revenge for..." - Some Villain and Mastermind cards have "Revenge for..." with the name of a group or type of card on them, such as "Revenge for Deadpool's 'Friends.'" This means that they get an additional attack for each other villain of that type in the current player's victory pile.
Marvel Legendary is a game with a lot of solid expansions. After the release of the previous three large-box sets of Civil War, Secret Wars Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, I was beginning to wonder if there were too many expansions coming too quickly, and if they were adding a lot of complexity while making cards just to add more variety without quality. I usually prefer the smaller boxes like Deadpool, since they have a tighter feel and stronger card development (I still believe the Guardians of the Galaxy expansion is probably the best one released). This set feels like a breath of fresh air, letting Legendary fans a break before the next onslaught of expansions arrive. Deadpool reminded me of the Unglued sets for Magic: The Gathering that poked fun at the cards from within the game itself. Everything within this expansion, from the "1/2" points, to the flavor text, is silly fourth-wall breaking nonsense that the fans of Deadpool expect, and detractors detest. That's really what it comes down to: if you like Deadpool and Marvel Legendary, then this is pretty close to what you were hoping for. If you're not a fan of the character, then skip this set. Even the directions are written from Deadpool's point of view, along with his iconic yellow speech/text bubbles, (and written over an imaginary Alpha Flight rulebook, which is a nice touch).
I'm not well-read on a lot of Deadpool's earlier comics or his most recent ones. I was a regular readrt of the 2012 run by Brian Posehn, Tony Moore, and Gerry Duggan, but only until about 2014. Because of that, I'm not familiar with many of the characters, but I know they appear in the 2015 series "Mercs for Money." Despite my ignorance of the characters, their hero cards were impressive. Deadpool himself is incredibly powerful (naturally, as it is his set). One card gives you recruit or attack points based on the time of day, another cares about how much flavor text you have on all your cards, and his ultimate card gives you an extra turn (but only once, because "trilogies are stupid"). Bob, Agent of HYDRA is based around drawing more cards and using HYDRA and SHIELD heroes to your benefit. All but one of Slapstick's cards have the "Excessive Violence" keyword, one of which has an effect that cares about other player's heights. Solo works with the "1/2" points and Stingray has less conditional card draw advantages than Bob, making him an effective engine builder. There are a lot of tech cards in this set, so the tech-based abilities work well with each other. I haven't had a chance to explore mixing these heroes with past sets, but they work well enough by themselves that I don't see them doing too poorly when combined with others. My concern is that the "1/2" ratings may stand out and hurt their overall performance.
The villain groups are fun and challenging, and the "Revenge for..." keyword amps up the difficulty evenly throughout the game, especially if you're playing with multiple players. Macho Gomez is a neat Mastermind that uses the Master Strikes cards as "bounties" that inflict wounds every time a new one is revealed, but can be traded to other players by spending recruit points. Evil Deadpool is surprisingly difficult, and inflicts heavy wounds. The Schemes, however, really make the set. "Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe" sets a quick clock for players, and "Deadpool Wants a Chimichanga" turns Bystander cards into an extra threat: if six escape, it ends the game. Finally, there is no Scheme more fun or more ridiculous than "Deadpool Writes a Scheme," which is the stuff of pure nonsense. Each scheme twist revealed from the villain deck creates a new bizarre effect from "Draw 1 card" to "All villains capture 4 bystanders."
Overall, Legendary Deadpool is a big hit. Where sets like the large box expansions had maybe two or three things I enjoyed, there's almost nothing in this set I wouldn't want to include in future games. If you have Marvel Legendary and enjoy the Merc with the Mouth, there's no reason not to pick this up.