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Legendary Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years

Available at Your Local Game Store for between £35.00 - £40.00

This is your chance to get your hands on the best Marvel Super-Hero card game in all its glory. The top characters; Heroes and Villains, including the greatest evil Masterminds Marvel can summon, all in one box and with all the cards required - this is a stand-alone game so it includes HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. basic cards not available in any expansion (to my knowledge) only in the original starter-box sets. The major difference between this 'Basic Set' and the others in the Marvel Universe is that all the cards here are Photos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are all film-shots!

Among the mainly cards components is a 60cm x 28cm rubber playmat showing the CITY: Bridge, Streets, Rooftops, Bank and Sewers spaces as well as the Avengers HQ and more spaces along the top edge and sides where, for ease of play, the various separate cards and decks should be employed. There are also 30 large (oversize) divider cards - the Legendary logo on one side and completely blank on the other, plus there are 7 card-sized dividers bearing the same Legendary logo on each side. The remainder of the components are four sealed decks, three of which are identical in number, 100, and content. The fourth deck has a selection of Heroes: Black Widow (Silent Sniper), Captain America (A Day Like Any Other), Hawkeye (Impossible Trick Shot), Hulk (Hulk Smash), Iron Man (Quantum Breakthrough), Nick Fury (Pure Fury) and Thor (God of Thunder), Masterminds: Loki, Red Skull & Iron Monger, and Villains: Raza, Justin Hammer, Whiplash, Arnim Zola, Destroyer, Abomination and Lt General Thunderbolt Ross among the many.


The Masterminds each have 4 different Tactic cards that always accompany them plus each Mastermind has an associated group of 8 non-identical Villains and a selection from one (or more) of 10 duplicate Henchman card sets. To keep each game as interesting and enjoyable as the first game there are different Scheme cards which determine Winning conditions. These have some wonderfully exotic titles, such as: Invade Asgard, Asgard Under Siege, Destroy Cities of Earth, Super Hero Civil War, Radioactive Palladium Poisoning, Replace Earth's Leaders with Hydra, Enslave Minds with the Chitauri Scepter and Unleash the Power of the Cosmic Cubes.

There are four sets of Henchman Groups: Ten Ring Fanatics, Hydra Pilots, Hydra Spies and the Hammer Drone Army. There are 5 groups of non-identical Villains, 8 cards in each set: Mastermind: Iron Monger's 'Iron Foes', Mastermind: Red Skull's 'Hydra', and Mastermind: Loki's 'Enemies of Asgard' plus the non-associated (in this boxed set) Chitauri and Gamma Hunters.  


Anyone who knows their Marvel Universe will revel in the number of star acts (Villains & Heroes) and not so famous (or infamous) characters they will recognise here. Players who are maybe not so 'up' on the MU but have seen the latest movie or/and have Netflix will be pleased to see Peggy Carter, Happy Hogan, Jane Foster and Pepper Potts among the bystanders. 

LEGENDARY: Marvel Studios - the First Ten Years is a good way of getting into the genre of card game known as Deck Building. Each round you have the opportunity to purchase cards to add to your deck and as the game goes on your deck grows in number and stature. Obviously the earlier cards such as the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. soon become little more than in the way, preventing you from getting out the cards with the more adventurous effects - as your deck grows so it fills with cards you want to get into play and cards that were great at the beginning of the game, cheap and cheerful, but now do not have the value or strength required to allow you to buy the expensive characters and their powers or defeat the onset of Evil.


I have played LEGENDARY a lot and find it as good as, if not better than, most games of the Deck Building genre. There are so many Super-Heroes and Evil Super-Villains in and/or associated with the Marvel Universe that the game has the potential to continue to grow exponentially.

Because I have played and reviewed a number of LEGENDARY games and expansions from the multi-player aspect I decided to look at this boxed edition from the solo game point of view. The box states that this Deck Builder is for 1-5 players but apart from less than half-a-page devoted to the solo game the entire rules book is aimed at games for multi-players. No matter how many there are of you, there are always the Heroes (the players) and the Villains/Masterminds (the Game itself). The mechanic for the Evil faction is simple, in fact it is the Heroes who start the fights, the Villains don't even strike back (well very rarely) and never actually start the combat, that's down to the heroes, all the evil-doers want is to take-over the world, one bit at a time, via the Schemes (aka Missions or Goals).

To set up the solo game there are just a few adjustments. As you are in control of the Heroes against the Evil Game you get to choose three Heroes from the seven available and take all the cards associated with them to form a 42 card deck, though none of these begin in your possession. You shuffle them up really well, including the actual Hero cards and place them on the bottom right of the playmat in the allocated card space next to the Heroes HQ; this is where your deck building cards will come from. As you are only one player you take a single players amount of starter cards, 8 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and 4 Troopers of S.H.I.E.L.D to be your personal deck. Taking these cards isn't actually mentioned as part of the Solo play setup (in fact the info on page 16 is pretty sparse and more likely to dissuade any new players from trying a solo game) but if you don't start with the basic hand you cannot build up your deck. 


The Mastermind doesn't have to 'Lead' its usual villainous group, you have more groups than villains so you can always play several entertaining, challenging games with the same Mastermind and yet get totally different results due to the cards you put in their deck, but for your first games I consider it is best to keep the flavour of the Marvel Universe and give the Big Bad the henchmen he is used to. The game knows how to fight back, that is a definite.


Playing solo doesn't give you many different options. You still have to select your Heroes (though you pick 3), which Mastermind they will come up against, and what cards will be in the Mastermind's deck, which will be considerably smaller than the Heroes' deck. The most pleasure in any of these type of games, playing solo or multi-player, is building your deck and seeing how well it does against the game. If you lose badly then you need to adjust your deck by changing the heroes you use. Of course you can change the Mastermind and use the same three heroes but if you fail again you might want to consider swapping out your least effective hero. Some heroes work together better than others and some villains assist their Mastermind bosses more devilishly.


Then there is the choice of Scheme. Some Schemes look as though they should be easy, and indeed some are easier than others. Some Schemes are more challenging depending on the Mastermind and/or Villain Group/s in play - there are so many variables that keep the game alive. Take the Chitauri Villains for example. They have a 'Rooftop' ability such as Rooftops Conqueror 2, which is well explained in the rules book like every card, type, aspect and icon/symbol in the game. But for this solo game review I am looking at the last game I played and neither the Chitauri nor the Conqueror ability were involved.


It all started very well. I chose the three Heroes that were my favourites of the seven available; Iron Man (for Tech), Thor (for Strength and Power) and Black Widow (for Guile). Against these I selected Red Skull and Hydra with three of the Hammer Drone Army to accompany them, along with the other cards, 1 Bystander, 1 Master strike and the Scheme Twists listed on the chosen Scheme - in this case there were 8 Twists for the Scheme 'Unleash the Power of the Cosmic Cube'. As each Twist came into play they mounted up looking menacing until the 5th one appeared. Five and Six Twists gave me a wound, 7 upped the ante to 3 wounds and the penultimate card in the Villain's deck was the 8th Scheme which meant Evil Won as I hadn't defeated the Mastermind 4 times, I only managed 2 of his 4 'Tactical Lives'. This Scheme threw up an occurrence concerning the 'losing' conditions that I hadn't encountered before, though I have lost before many times - the Masterminds are not generally that easy to defeat.

It is the final Twist effect "8 Twists = Evil Wins" that I isn't covered particularly well in the rules and online one reviewer says you continue to play on, while another says that if you haven't defeated the Mastermind you lose. This is the first time I have had any difficulties with the rules or the game. If this is the case, you lose, then it becomes a random cat & mouse game because the Twist cards can come out at any time.


You have the regular 'each player' 12 starter cards to begin with, shuffled and placed face down as your draw pile. The Deck of hero cards are very well shuffled and placed face down with five cards drawn from the top and placed in a face up row on the HQ line. The villain deck is shuffled and placed in the row above the hero deck, the remaining decks are positioned on spaces around the playmat, all the same for Solo or Multi player games. The differences for Solo games mainly being the villain's set up. Now you deal yourself 6 cards from your 12 card deck and turn over the top villain card onto the first space next to it and act on what the villain card says. Then you play the cards from your hand one at a time, though to begin with, and when playing Solo you can just lay them out in front of you and sort them into your preferred order, counting the Scratches (Attacks) and Stars (Recruit) - later you will have cards with Abilities and Effects so the order in which you play them will be important.


You may use the Stars to recruit hero cards from the HQ line, replacing each card as you take it. You can buy as many as you can. You use your Attack value to defeat cards on the Villains row. You can defeat as many as you can. In both cases cards may only be used once. Cards defeated go into your VP pile, cards bought are placed in front of you and discarded at the end of your turn, they are not available for use until they are next drawn into your hand.

Playing with friends is obviously more enjoyable than playing Solo, but on your own you get to learn as you play without simply going through the motions as you often do in other games that offer a 'solo' mode. Despite the hiccup on the last solo game I really enjoy the challenge that the Legendary card game offers, whether solo or multi player.


The LEGENDARY games are all fun and inter-mixable. Once you have played through this I can see no reason why you cannot add the cards into any other set or expansion. The basic rules are here and any expansion has its own sheet explaining the differences between the basic and the expansion.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015