Legendary – A Super-Powered Board Game

legendary

Today, we’re going to review Legendary – A Marvel Deck Building Game

  • Publisher – Upper Deck Entertainment
  • Published in 2012
  • Recommended Players – 1 to 5
  • Suggested Age – 10+

This is what the box for the main game contains:

  • Rulebook
  • Game Board
  • 560 cards, of which there are:

14 cards for each of the 15 Heroes

8 cards for each of the 7 Villain Groups

10 cards for each of the 4 Henchmen Villain Groups

40 S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Cards

20 S.H.I.E.L.D Trooper Cards

30 S.H.I.E.L.D Officer Cards

30 Bystanders

30 Wounds

4 cards for each of the 4 Masterminds

8 different Scheme cards

11 Scheme Twist cards

5 Master Strike cards

60 dividers for all your cards.

The Heroes included in the base game are Captain America, Cyclops, Deadpool,Black Widow, Emma Frost, Storm, Thor, Spider-Man, Rogue, Nick Fury, Gambit, Wolverine, Hawkeye, Hulk, and Iron Man.

The Masterminds included in the base game are Red Skull, Loki, Dr. Doom, and Magneto.

The Villain Groups included in the base game are HYDRA, The Brotherhood, Spider-Foes, Enemies of Asgard, Mutations, Masters of Evil, and Skrulls.

The Henchmen included in the base game are Hand Ninjas, Savage Land Mutates, Doombots, and Sentinels.


First, lets explain the broad category of “deck-builders”. Veteran board-game players know what that type of game is, but for the newly recruited, rules for these type of games follow a loose set of rules like the following:

  1. First, you start with a deck of very basic, and most likely very weak cards.
  2. On your turn, you use these cards to gain better cards from the pool which are put into your discard pile for the time being, or use them to attack another player or enemy.
  3. At the end of your turn, all cards in your hand are discarded (used or not), and you draw another hand of a set size.
  4. If you can’t draw that set size (for example, 6 cards), you shuffle your discard pile and it becomes your new deck. Doing this, your deck slowly becomes stronger as the game goes on and you are able to accomplish more.

Ok, now that we’ve got that handled, lets take a look at the board you’ll be playing on:

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Looks a bit daunting, just a tad overwhelming, right? Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier then it looks.

First, on the Mastermind space you place your chosen Mastermind Villain for this game (all 5 of their cards). Each has a specific Villain group that they always lead (Red Skull always leads HYDRA, so you need to include them with your Villains if you use him), and they each have a Master Strike ability. They also have health (usually 6-7, could be up to 10-12).The goal of the game is to defeat the Mastermind FOUR times. Each time you deal that much damage to them, you defeat them once. This damage has to be done all on one person’s turn, it’s not cumulative.

The space below the Mastermind is simply where you put the S.H.I.E.L.D Officers. They are a basic card you can recruit if you can’t afford, or don’t want, any of the other heroes you can recruit on your turn.

Above the Mastermind is the Scheme slot. Every Mastermind has a master Scheme they want to pull off, and there are 8 Schemes in the base game (for example, Incite a Superhero Civil War, or Unlock The Power of the Cosmic Cube). 

The K.O slot is simple. If a card tells you to K.O a hero, it goes in here. Scheme Twists, Master Strikes, etc all go in here once they are used.

The Villain Deck slot holds, you guessed it, the Villain Deck. This is comprised of a certain number of Villain Groups, Henchmen groups, Bystanders, Master Strikes, and Scheme Twists and all shuffled together. For instance, a game with 2 players would include 2 Villain Groups, 1 Henchmen group, 2 Bystanders, 5 Master Strike Cards, and about 8 Scheme Twist cards.

The Hero Deck slot is similar. In this deck, you place the 5 random Heroes you want to play with this game, and shuffle them up.

The HQ holds the heroes you can recruit. It holds 5 cards from the Hero deck, and you simply reveal the top card of the Hero deck and place them until there are 5 in the HQ. If someone recruits one, the hole immediately gets filled with another Hero.

The City above the HQ is where Villains are kept. Just like the HQ, there are 5 slots. At the start of every player’s turn, one card from the Villain Deck is drawn. If it’s a Villain (as opposed to a Scheme Twist, Bystander, or Master Strike), it gets placed in the Sewers slot closest to the deck. If there’s a villain already in that spot, that villain gets moved up a slot, into the Bank. You can attack Villains just like you can the Mastermind, and they give you Victory Points at the end of the game.

The Escaped Villain slot comes into play if you have villains on all 5 of the City slots, and you draw another villain. You have nowhere to put it, so the villain that has been out the longest “escapes”, and as a penalty makes you K.O one of your heroes.

The Wound and Bystander slots are just where the extra Bystander and Wound cards go. Bystanders are worth Victory Points, Wounds take up slots in your deck and make you less powerful as a result.

Again, that is a lot of knowledge to deal with, but turns are fairly simple in Legendary.

  1. Play the top card of the Villain Deck (Villains go into the City; Master Strike is different depending on the Mastermind, it will say on the Mastermind card; Scheme Twist cards are placed next to the Scheme and may have an effect depending on the amount of them drawn; Bystanders are kidnapped by a random Villain and are rescued if you defeat that villain for extra Victory Points).
  2. You play cards from your hand to either recruit stronger heroes or attack Villains/Masterminds
  3. Discard all cards from your hand, used or not, and draw 6 new cards. If unable to draw 6 cards, shuffle your discard pile and draw up to 6.

If you get rid of all the jargon, it’s pretty easy.

Here’s an example of one of the cards you always start with, a S.H.I.E.L.D agent:

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The circle in the bottom right is the cost of the card to recruit. Obviously, as you start with this card, the cost is 0. The star means this card gives recruit points and does not attack. You get 1 recruit point by playing this card. Obviously, if you have 6 of these cards in your hand, you will have 6 recruit points to recruit that turn. The recruited heroes go directly to your discard pile, and when you shuffle it into your new deck, you’ll have access to them.

Here’s an example of a recruited hero:

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This Deadpool card cost 3 Recruit points. The claw marks means he does 2 damage, and he has an ability that lets me re-draw my hand up to 4 cards if he’s the first Hero I play that turn.

As you build and build, suddenly you may have a turn where you can do 12 damage and have 8 recruit points. Not only can you recruit that powerful Hero, but you can damage the Mastermind himself, or maybe 1 or more Villains.

If your team successfully defeats the Mastermind 4 times, your entire team wins. There is also an individual winner, which is calculated by Victory Points. They are received for every Villain you subdue, every time you defeat the Mastermind, and every Bystander you rescue.


This is honestly one of those games that you need to play yourself in order to fully understand. I can attempt to explain it over the Internet until my fingers are bleeding, or you could play a round and you’d get it. It’s just one of those games.

Suffice it to say, this is a fun game. One of the draws to me personally is that it’s flexible enough to be played by 1 single person, or up to 5 players at once.

It helps to have an imagination, and love super heroes. You can start to get lost in the attack/recruit point stats, but it’s fun to imagine what your Heroes are doing.

“Gambit and the Hulk just took down Juggernaut in the Sewers!”

“Rogue and Deadpool just took down Magneto for the fourth time, his scheme to unlock the cosmic cube was foiled!!”

Trust me, it makes the game more fun. Seriously, trust me.

I only had a few gripes with it, all in all. The first is that when you originally buy the game, the cards are all plastic wrapped and you have to sort them into their groups. All 560 cards. That wouldn’t be so bad if they were grouped correctly, but they’re not. Instead, you have to go through and sort them yourself (took me at least 20 minutes). The game comes with dividers, but the case itself does not have the best design. The cards are constantly falling over, and the dividers are kind of useless unless you write on the top of them for reference. The last issue is simply that if you play with 4 or 5 people, this game gets easy fast. I’ve been told that the Dark City expansion adds more difficult villains such as Apocalypse, but the base game is approximately $70.00 and Dark City is another $50.00 or so. I would recommend playing the base game first before deciding to buy that expansion. There are also 4 other smaller expansions that are about $20.00, that include Guardians of the Galaxy, more Spider-Man foes/allies, Secret Wars, and Fantastic Four.

The board itself is sturdy, the cards are high quality, and the rule book is clear and concise.

If you like games with a ton of cards, and you like Marvel superheroes, I’d call it a buy.

Final Rating