Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hawt Dwarf-On-Dwarf Action: "Blood Bowl"

Since my last Blood Bowl match back in January, there've only been two new games.  One match saw Andrew's All-Star Skaven team the "Hairy Lightning" run circles around his own, Dean-controlled Ogre n' Snotling Team the "Mourn Behemoths".  That one resulted in a final score of 5 to nil.

Andrew and I played the other match a few Wednesday nights ago: my noob Dwarf Team, the "Immovable Oddjects" versus Andrew's newly-minted Chaos Dwarves, the "Darkland Berserkers".

Here was my roster going into this match:

And here's Andrew's:

Since this was the inaugural contest for both teams, the matchup promised to be pretty even.  At least in theory.  

The last game I played was a completely different story.  Knowing full well that my virginal Necro squad was at serious risk of being humbled Iron Sheik-style by Dean's veteran Chaos team, I actually did a fair amount of training for that match.  And by training I mean I played a few solo matches against the nigh-vacant A.I. of the Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition PC game.  In the end, it didn't do me much good since I still got beat like a red-headed stepchild.     

Knowing that Andrew and I would be fielding comparably similar teams I must have gotten lulled into a false sense of security.  As a result, I did very little preparation for this match.  In fact, the only thing I did was set up a new Chaos Edition Dwarf campaign and play through one game, which I handily won.  In fact, I didn't even bother to look at Andrew's roster before sitting down to play this game.  In Greek tragedy, this is known as hubris.        


Immovable Oddjects (My Dwarves) vs. Darkland Berserkers (Andrew's Chaos Dwarves)



I rolled a 3: "Very Sunny" ("A glorious day, but the blinding sunshine cases a –1 modifier on all attempts to pass the ball").  Compared to last game's "Sweltering Heat" this was a relief.  Especially considering that Dwarves huck the ball as often as Snotlings Blitz.  

Fame Roll

Andrew: 9
Me:  6

Andrew got Fame +1.  What does winning this roll feel like, I wonder?  Sometimes I just sit back and dream.  Anyway, I scored $6,000 for my Gate Earnings and Andrew snagged $9,000.

Coin Toss

I won the toss, so I decided to kick.  After setting up my team Andrew quickly followed suit.  That's when I caught the first glimpse of my opponent's secret weapon.   

"What the fuck is that?!?" I demanded.

"Bull centaurs," Andrew calmly replied.  "Two of 'em.  They've got 'Sprint' and 'Sure-Feet'.  I'm hoping to use them in more then a defensive capacity."

It was then that I began to suspect that I was woefully unprepared for this game.  With my morale already starting to unravel we moved on to the next setup step.

Kick/Receiving Roll

I placed the ball deep in Andrew's territory, as far back as I could dare.

Unfortunately, on a roll of 7 and 3, the ball scattered back towards the line of scrimmage.

I then diced up an "11" on the Kick-Off Table, signaling that some lunatic in the crowd was itching to "Throw a Rock" ("An enraged fan hurls a large rock at one of the player son the opposing team").  Andrew rolled a 5 and added his +1 Fan Factor for a total of 6.  I rolled a measly "2" and one of my two Runners, # 7, Ulfgar the Swift(ish), got beaned in the melon with a well-hurled chunk of masonry.

Fortunately Ulfgar's thick cranium kept him safe from any permanent harm and he was just temporarily "Stunned" by the attack.  In other words, if he'd been hit anywhere else but the head he might have been hurt.

Andrew wasted no time putting together a flawless rush.  Keldor the Hobgoblin (# 8) picked up the ball, cut back across the field and attempted a hand-off to # 15, Bull Dozer the Centaur.  After spending a  necessary Re-Roll, the play was ruled complete and Andrew was free to ponder his next move.

For starters, this involved the elimination of #12 Dwarf Blitzer Oscar Orcbane, who'd been left to loiter alone amidst a mosh pit of Chaos Dwarf Blockers and Bull Centaurs.  This was the last photo taken of him before he was carried off the pitch.  He's the jobber with the winged helm toward the top of the snap who's about the tsunamied by a gray wave of nine enemy players.  

Accompanied by some stellar interference, Monsieur Dozer cut laterally across the pitch, hell-bent for my right flank.  Immediately I was blown away by the speed and agility of the Centaur's rush.

On the very same play, Kramaug the Hobgoblin (# 7) and Sledge Hammer the Dwarf Blocker (# 5) sent my second Blitzer, Taklinn Skullcrusher sailing back into the pitch.  Imagine...dwarves and hobgoblins commiserating together against other dwarves!  Inconceivable!

As predicted, the combination of "Sure Feet""Sure Hoof" plus "Sprint" proved to be deadly.  My momentary excitement over Andrew rolling a "1" while "Going For It" was quickly dashed with his myriad of second chances and Re-Rolls.  As you might expect, the concept of overtaking these guys was an impossible task for my stunty-legged Dwarf defenders.

And although # 10 Tordek Trollslayer managed to knock Freight Train down...

I couldn't prevent Bull from breaking tackle and hauling ass down into my end zone for Andrew's first Touchdown.

We quickly set the teams back up to facilitate my drive.  Already one man down, I wasn't looking forward to charging head-first into this intimidating phalanx:


We rolled "Changing Weather" which turned out to be "Perfect Blood Bowl Weather"!  Yay, just in time for my drive!   I was gonna need all the help I could get...

Kick/Receiving Roll

Andrew's punt was a tad better.  Although the subsequent Scatter Roll saw the ball bounce three spaces back towards the Line of Scrimmage, it was still too far away for me to pull off a simple hand off.  It was time to get dangerous.   

Thanks to a fruitful charge by Blocker Eberk Bulwark (# 5) and Blitzer Taklinn Skullcrusher (#14), I started to lay the foundations for a stout cage in which to house a hypothetical ball carrier.  Just after I got finished telling you that Dwarves never throw the ball, a successful short pass by Ulfgar the Swift(ish) allowed Einkil Offenruns to surge into Andrew's territory.

In the process, I managed to en-prone-ify a pair of Andrew's key defenders.  Since Dwarven Blood Bowl teams live or die by their ability to eliminate the opposition, I quickly became disgusted by my woefully low Injury rolls.     

To make matters worse, I'd since become acclimated to the relatively rich Movement Allowance and dexterity of the Humans and Necros.  To compensate for this, I probably should have flooded one of the two Wide Zones but I really didn't want Andrew to bury the ball so deep that I couldn't breach the line in one turn.  

By the end of my drive, the "cage" I'd constructed around Einkil was about as impregnable as a rain-soaked shoebox.  This allowed Andrew to hop up, Blitz my rusher and pop the ball loose.

Painfully aware of their complete and utter lack of Agility, I didn't want to risk sending a Dwarf into the scrum to pick the ball back up.  So I just let it sit there, hoping that Andrew might go for it and then busied myself with decking a few more of his players.  I couldn't help but chuckle as I tossed one laughably impotent Injury Roll after another.

Instead of venturing in the scrum, Andrew tried to push #10 Tordek Trollslayer back onto the ball to try and score a lucky scatter.  Since catching the ball for a Dwarf is a challenge at the best of times, the ol' boarskin rattled around like a pinball and eventually settled in a spot two spaces to my left.  Unfortunately this was also directly in front of Andrew's two Bull Centaurs.

Mercifully my Frenzy-fueled Troll Slayers managed to eke out a bit of space.  Rurik the Relentless drove Freight Train back while Tordek upended # 9 Keenig the, Hobgoblin.  Again, I failed to roll so much as a measly knockout.

Andrew's retaliation was swift, using Señor Dozer to bowl over # 14, Blitzer Taklinn Skullcrusher.  Before he could do any more damage  #7 Kramaug the Hobgoblin hit a brick wall in the form of # 4 Brottor Barrelhouse and went down on his boil-covered ass.

And with that the first half came to an end!

Darkland Berserkers       Immovable Oddjects  
1                     -                    0


To maximize my drive, I really needed to get #12 Dwarf Blitzer Oscar Orcbane back out onto the field, but alas, t'was not to be.  Here's how things looked after both teams were set up:


We managed to retain our "Perfect Blood Bowl Weather", thank Nurgle!  

Kick/Receiving Roll

Andrew served up a pretty decent little punt, rolling direction "8" straight back and then three spaces towards my end zone.  The bad news continued to pile up as a "10" was rolled on the Kick-Off Table, signaling an impending "Blitz".  

After bowling over Rurik the Relentless, Andrew sent Bull Dozer and #10 Koren the Hobgoblin hurtling down my relatively-unguarded right flank.  This photo does a great job showing the final position of the ball and the extent of Andrew's incursion into my turf, just before the start of my drive.  

Even with these crazed lunatics bearing down on my Runners, I Kept Calm and Caged On.  With a handy assist from Tordek Trollslayer, Blitzer Taklinn Skullcrusher (# 14)  and Blocker Eberk Bulwark (# 5) conspired to put Kramaug the Hobgoblin (# 7) and Back Breaker (#3) in the dirt.  Once again I could be heard lamenting the sad state of my Injury Rolls.    

With the path now reasonably clear, Einkil Offenruns (# 9) backtracked one space, snatched up the ball, ran forward four spaces and completed the hand-off to counterpart Ulfgar the Swift(ish) (# 7).  With the plucky little devil now trailing Tordek, I tried to drop a few of Andrew's defenders to safeguard my position.

After moving Rurik the Relentless into flanking position next to Bull Dozer, I went to work.  Unfortunately, in my very first hit, Barendd Bronzepate (# 2) got decked by his evil, goatee-wearin' rival Anvil (#2).  

Taking note of my already anemic-looking right flank, Andrew proceeded to eliminate the final few tackle zones that remained there.  Sledge Hammer the Dwarf Blocker (# 5) and Keenig the Hobgoblin (#9) double-teamed my Blocker Veit of Deepdelve (# 3) and sent him sprawling to the ground.  Taking advantage of my botched hit, Anvil (#2) stepped around Barendd's prone carcass and pinned Brottor Barrelhouse (# 4) while Nailz (#4) proceeded to "give him the 'bidness".

With my right flank shattered, Koren the Hobgoblin (#10) rushed in to cover Einkil Offenruns (# 9).  To make matters worse, Bull Dozer the Centaur (# 15) was now free to gallop unhindered across the full width of the pitch to put heat on Ulfgar the ball carrier.

Barendd Bronzepate (# 2) jumped back up and returned the favor on Anvil (#2).  Rurik and Tordek teamed up to wrestle Bull Dozer to the ground.  Irked by the invasion of his personal space, Einkil Offenruns (#9) shoved interloper Koren the Hobgoblin (#10) back in a westerly direction.  And although Blitzer Taklinn Skullcrusher (# 14) managed to push Keldor the Slave Hobgoblin (# 8) back a space, it did little for Ulfgar's advancement.

Backtracking to take out Bull Dozer may have seemed like a no-brainer but it left Ulfgar completely exposed.  After inviting Eberk Bulwark (# 5) to take a seat, Freight Train leant an assist to Sledge Hammer the Dwarf Blocker (# 5) who then proceeded to annihilate Ulfgar.  Grinder the Dwarf Blocker (#1) was quick to rush in and collect the now-loose ball.

To make way for a potential lateral sweep, Anvil the Dwarf Blocker (#2) sent Veit of Deepdelve (# 3) airborne.  To complete the rout on the far side of the pitch, Dwarf Blocker Tag Team Nailz (#4) and Sledge Hammer (# 5) beat ass on Brottor Barrelhouse (#4) unhindered for a little while.

My strategy for striking back was reasonably sound.  First off, Brottor Barrelhouse (# 4) swayed to his feet and Veit of Deepdelve (# 3) followed suit.  Then Rurik the Relentless (# 16) doubled back to assist Einkil Offenruns (# 9) in his successful strike on Keenig the Hobgoblin (#9).  The hit that I really needed to pull off, however, completely fizzled.  After Eberk (# 5) and Ulfgar (# 7) stood up to flank Freight Train, Tordek Trollslayer (# 10) charged at the Bull Centaur.  The effect was akin to running head down into a brick wall.

This left a gaping hole in my defense which Andrew was quick to exploit.  After Ulfgar went down again, Back Breaker (#3) leveraged an assist from Nailz (#4) and Sledge Hammer (# 5) to side-swipe Rolf of the Underdark (#1) in a vicious Blitz.  BB then joined Grinder (#1) in his mad rush downfield.  Surrounded by no less then five defenders I was certainly hard pressed to double back and prevent the inevitable.

Barendd Bronzepate (# 2) and Veit of Deepdelve (# 3) rushed back as fast as their stunty little legs would carry them.  Ulfgar (# 7) jumped up to help Taklinn Skullcrusher (# 14) deliver a haymaker on Keldor the Hobgoblin (# 8).  This liberated Eberk (# 5) from his Tackle Zone chains and he quickly scrambled to flank Grinder.  Desperate for more coverage I tried to break Rurik the Relentless (# 16) out of a tackle zone.

Yeah, that didn't work out too good.

So unopposed was Andrew that he actually risked handing the ball off to Bull Dozer the Centaur (# 15) for the touchdown!

We set up for what would likely be my last drive of the game.  Despite stuffing a handful of smelling salts up his bulbous nose, Oscar Orcbane (# 12) was still out of the game for me.  But at least I had the satisfaction of knocking Anvil the Dwarf Blocker (#2) out of commission during that last play.

Kick/Receiving Roll

We diced up "Brilliant Coaching" on the Kick-Off Table.  Mirroring Andrew's efforts thus far he scored an additional Re-Roll.  

I was rather proud of my efforts during this drive.  The kick was fairly shallow, so Ulfgar the Swift(ish) (# 7) had no problem scooping the ball up and handing it off to Einkil Offenruns (# 9).  Flanked by Eberk Bulwark (# 5), Taklinn Skullcrusher (# 14) and Rurik the Relentless (# 16), Einkil managed to make it across the threshold.    

I then set my sights on a few choice smacks.  Blocker Veit of Deepdelve (# 3) boldly surged up the line, snaring Keldor the Hobgoblin (# 8) in his zone of control.  In addition to tying up Keenig the Hobgoblin (#9), Tordek Trollslayer (# 10) provided support for a pretty effective chain of hits.  Thanks to a co-ordinated effort from Rolf of the Underdark (#1), Barendd Bronzepate (# 2) and Brottor Barrelhouse (# 4), Andrew's entire front line was soon splayed out all over the pitch.

Despite this, Andrew was completely unflappable.  After getting everyone back on their feet, he infiltrated my flawed cage with Back Breaker the Dwarf Blocker (#3), Koren the Hobgoblin (#10) and his two accursed Bull Centaurs.  Extricating myself from this mire of murderous marauders was no easy task.    

But my plucky little Dwarves were up to the task.  Thanks to a late-arriving assist from Ulfgar the Swift(ish) (# 7), Eberk Bulwark (# 5),Taklinn Skullcrusher (# 14) and Rurik the Relentless managed to paste their respective dance partners Back Breaker (#3), Freight Train and Koren the Hobgoblin (#10).  This gave Einkil Offenruns (# 9) a desperate breakout opportunity.

I really needed Bull Dozer the Centaur (# 15) to trip while extricating himself from my double coverage, but the "Sure Feet" skill made for a pretty vain hope.  Needless to say, Einkil was soon staring skyward, thinking that a particular cloud drifting overhead looked just like a refreshing, frosty mug of dwarven ale.  

Anxious to follow up on the successful hit, Kramaug (# 7) rushed in to retrieve the loose ball.  Mercifully the Hobgoblin exhibited hands of stone and the ball scattered back towards center field.  

Keen to exploit the fumble, I went to work.  On the far side of the pitch, Tordek Trollslayer (# 10) and Veit of Deepdelve (# 3) roughed up Keldor the Hobgoblin (# 8).  Closer to the action, Einkil Offenruns (# 9) jumped up to oppose Bull Dozer the Centaur (# 15), Rurik the Relentless (# 16) laid out Koren the Hobgoblin (#10) like a cheap rug and Eberk Bulwark (# 5) rushed up to guard the ball.  

Since Re-Rolls were scarcer then hen's teeth at that stage the game began to degenerate into a comedy of errors.  Keldor the Hobgoblin (# 8) charged in to aid the now-upright Keenig (#9), resulting in a stalemate with Tordek Trollslayer (# 10) and Veit of Deepdelve (# 3).  Grinder the Dwarf Blocker (#1) served up a knuckle sandwich for Rolf of the Underdark (#1).  Outnumbered by Nailz (#4) and Sledge Hammer (#5), Brottor Barrelhouse (# 4) was dropped on a two-die Block.

In his last, fairly innocuous play, Andrew propped up Koren the Hobgoblin (#10) to assist Back Breaker (#3) in pummeling Rurik the Relentless (# 16).  The Toll Slayer had no time fo' that shit, dropping BB like a bad habit.  

Things didn't go much better on my own turn.  Both Brottor Barrelhouse (# 4) and Rolf of the Underdark (#1) both jumped up to prevent Andrew from dispatching re-enforcements.  Now in the throes of a berserk fury, Rurik the Relentless (# 16) cleaned house, plastering Koren the Hobgoblin (#10) with a mailed fist right in the mush.

This left Ulfgar the (not so) Swift(ish) (# 7) a chance to be the hero.  He charged up the right Wide Zone to retrieve the unguarded ball.  Unfortunately the dumb fuck boggled it and I had absolutely no Re-Rolls left.

With the game about to end, Andrew threw a couple of last-minute hits just for shits and giggles.  Continuing their eternal rivalry, Nailz the Dwarf Blocker (#4) knocked down Brottor Barrelhouse (# 4).  Bull Dozer the Centaur (# 15) shoved Einkil Offenruns (# 9) back into the ball which sent it scattering back midfield.  Keldor the Hobgoblin (# 8) had plenty of movement left to reach the ball but not nearly enough manual dexterity.  With this failure to snatch up the ball, the game to an end.  



Darkland Berserkers       Immovable Oddjects  
2                     -                    0


MVP Award / Level Ups   

In an effort to have the MVP Awards make more thematically sense, we usually allow for one re-roll.  Even after this, Andrew ended up giving it to #8 Keldor the Hobgoblin.  My MVP wasn't quite as  inexplicable.  With his one completed pass, Ulfgar the Swift(ish) (# 7) got the duke.

With his two touchdowns, Bull Dozer Leveled Up.  Andrew picked "Break Tackle", making the Bull Centaur even more unstoppable!  Ulfgar Leveled Up for me so I was pretty quick to give him the Block skill.    

Fan Factor  

Both of us saw our Fan Factor increase by one point!


Post-Game Observations

In spite of my woefully poor Blood Bowl record, I'm constantly amazed by this incredibly deep and tactical game.  Easy to learn but hard to master, I can see why so many people make this their one and only tabletop gaming hobby.  Why Games Workshop continues to treat it like the red headed stepchild of their product line is beyond me.  

Unfortunately, as a player of limited means and interest who ends up losing a lot, I tend to focus exclusively on my mistakes and not on what I've managed to do right.  Given the limited mobility of the Dwarves I should have positioned them further back in my own zone and doubled them up to create more resilient tackle zones and greater chances for a successful swarm.  I'm hoping to explore this "scorched earth" policy a bit more in future games.

Although I wouldn't describe my luck as horrendous two misfortunes certainly played a part.  The early loss of my second Blitzer definitely impacted my game.  With him gone, I had to leave one flank relatively unguarded and I always seemed to missing a key post in my cages.  I suppose I could have spread my defense out bit more or committed an offensive flood in one of the two Wide Zones but it always felt too much of a risk to me. 

To Andrew's credit he played another great game.  Like a proficient chess master, he's got enough Blood Bowl matches under his belt now to maximize the power of every positional.  That goes double for the Bull Centaurs who served double duty as offensive and defensive star players.  Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Andrew had digested a five page "Bull Centaur" strategy guide or listened to a forty minute Chaos Dwarf-themed podcast in order to learn how to use this team so effectively.  Honestly, that doesn't really bother me because the more passionate and informed player should usually be the one to triumph.    

In addition to his encyclopedic knowledge of Blood Bowl strategy and his boundless enthusiasm for the game, this match really exemplified Andrew's other strengths as an opponent.  His action timing was flawless, he prioritized key plays by weighing the odds and his luck with the dice was strong.  Indeed, Andrew's ability to bend a game to his will is and no more apparent then in a match of Blood Bowl.  

And let's face it, this match wasn't optimal for either of us.  Granted my Block and Injury rolls were pretty toothless, but Dwarf teams have high Armor Values and are notoriously difficult to maim.  

Hopefully next time out the "Immovable Oddjects" get a nice, squishy Elf or Human team to beat up on instead of an entire squad of impregnable, evil doppelgangers controlled by a learned, passionate and infinitely more experienced coach.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for: "Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game"

In theory, superheroes should be well-suited to the realm of tabletop gaming.  But for some reason this hasn't translated into a lot of happy marriages.

In fact, my favorite superhero-related game is probably TSR's venerable Marvel Super Hero Role-Playing Game which was published way back in 1984.

Everything that's followed has either been too simplistic, overly convoluted or an outright affront to the classic, four-colored tales I read about in my misspent yoof.  And for most of my adult life, in all honesty.  

Here are some more high-flyin' releases that I've personally been witness to over the years:

Overpower (1995) Given the fact that I was collecting every other friggin' CCG in the mid-to-late Nineties it's an absolute miracle that I don't have a pallet of Overpower cards sitting in my room right now.  Thanks to some lukewarm (or at least informational) reviews in Scrye and Inquest, I quickly came to the conclusion that was nothing but a brainless beat-'em-up that did very little to replicate the true comic book experience.  Plus, the game's "XXX-TRM" style of art direction reminded me of why I wasn't reading comics at the time.

Heroclix (2002)  I still look longingly into comic book display cases which feature dozens of these colorful-looking figures.  Even though this is probably just as punch-drunk as Overpower, at least this has the toy factor going for it.  If I knew for sure that there were fairly deep scenarios and/or missions at at the heart of the game I might still be convinced to go for it.  If any of my readers want to pony up some sage advice on this one I'd be eternally grateful.

The Vs. System (2004) Although, at face value, this one blew away the infantile Overpower, I was completely poisoned by the concept of "collectible" gaming by the time of its release.  This is probably a shame since, by all accounts, it's supposed to be a real winner.  And unlike the hideous-looking Overpower, the art here looked absolutely fantastic.

Marvel Heroes (2006)  Okay, lemme get this straight: the same guys who brought us War of the Ring designed a Marvel super-hero game?  And it's being produced by Fantasy Flight?  SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!  Unfortunately the result was an unnecessarily muddled affair for folks who just wanted to get their clobber-on while retaining an appropriately thematic narrative.

Having said that, I've only played this once or twice and I think it's high time we revisit it.  In fact, I'm almost 100% that this will be my next pick for game night.  P.S. What were they thinking RE: that game board?  It looks like a giant foldable ass.  

Heroscape Marvel: The Conflict Begins (2007)  Honestly, this could have been it for me.  Fantastic production values, clear rules, infinitely expandable, mission/scenario based game play and most importantly: acquiring new characters wouldn't have boiled down to blind booster-box crapshoots.  

For any sad souls out there who actually give a poop, I discuss this one in obsessive-compulsive detail right here 'Nuff said.    


And now here comes Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game.   Will it be the (Black) Cat's meow or lamer then Paste Pot Pete?  Read on, True Believers and find out!  

First off, here's the splash page story hook for Legendary, straight from the designer's bullpen:

"Legendary is a deck-building game set in the Marvel Comics universe.

"To set up the game, players choose a number of hero decks from the likes of Spider-man, Hulk, Cyclops, or Wolverine, to name a few.  Shuffle them together (since players use only a handful of hero decks out of the fifteen included) allowing the hero deck to vary widely in terms of what's available.

"Players then choose a mastermind villain (Magneto, Loki, Dr. Doom, etc.) and stack that particular villain's attack cards underneath it.  Next, modify the villain deck as needed based on that villain's particular scheme.

"Over the course of the game, players will recruit powerful hero cards to add to their deck in order to build a stronger and more resourceful deck.

"Players need to build both their recruitment powers (to enlist more heroes) and their fighting ability (to combat the villains who keep popping up to cause trouble).

"Players recruit heroes from an array of six cards, with empty slots refilled as needed. At the start of a player's turn, he reveals a villain and adds it to the row of villains.  This row has a limited number of spaces, and if it fills up, the earliest villain to arrive escapes, possibly punishing the heroes in some way.

"Some villains also take an action when showing up for the first time, such as kidnapping an innocent bystander. The villain deck also contains 'master strike' cards, and whenever one of these shows up, the mastermind villain (controlled by the game) takes a bonus action.

"As players fight and defeat villains, they collect those cards, which will be worth points at game's end. Players can also fight the mastermind; if a player has enough fighting power, he claims one of the attack cards beneath the mastermind, which has a particular effect on the game.

"If all of these cards are claimed, the game ends and players tally their points to see who wins. If the mastermind completes his scheme, however – having a certain number of villains escape, for example, or imposing a certain number of wounds on the heroes – then the players all lose.

"Do you have what it takes to defeat the villains? Or, will you let them escape? Play the all new Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building game to find what the cards have in store for you."

Still seeking the omniscience of The Watcher?  Well, you can click on the following link to see the full rules revealed!  


Even though none of us had thoroughly read the rules prior to sitting down with this, we still managed to get up to speed rather quickly.  This really speaks volumes about the game's intuitive nature and the rulebook's clarity.  Indeed, within no time we were able to throw this puppy down, crack open the rules  and get on with the 'ol "punchy-punchy".  

We used the same villain for both games we played: zee Red Skull!!!  Ach du lieber!!!

For Game One we drew the "Replace Earth's Leaders With Killbots" Scheme Card:

Although that particular Scheme was strangely apropos, the Hero Decks that we ended up using in Game One were downright schizophrenic:

Yep, for some bizarre reason we opted to pick the most volatile mix of heroes imaginable: Wolverine, Captain America (!), Deadpool (!?), Nick Fury and Hawkeye.  Cripes, this partnership would implode if you forced these guys to have lunch together, let alone fight as a team in battle!  

I'm not even going to attempt to recap that first disastrous match; just suffice to say that we got trashed. Badly.  Now, for once, this had nothing to do with fucking up some key rule, it was because we didn't shuffle the Villain Deck very well.  And by "very well" I mean "at all".  As a result, about a zillion Bystanders all came out together in a clump, promptly followed by an equal amount of Twists.  Next thing you know we were all sitting there helplessly watching a horde of Attack Power five Killbots casually sauntering unopposed across the board.

Yeah, the less said about that first game, the better.  

For Game Two we randomly changed the Scheme to "Midtown Bank Robbery" which would see us lose if eight Villains escape with bystanders.  Petty theft seem a tad beneath the grandiose plans of the Red Skull, but, hey, whatevs.

This time I shuffled the bejesus out of the Villain Deck.  We also decided to make the Hero Deck a little more cohesive thanks to a few X-cellent selections:

Okay, so this time we had Storm, Wolverine, Gambit and Rogue.  Oh, plus Spider-Man, 'cuz...well, y'know...Spidey rawks.   Plus, technically he is a mutant.

Okay, okay, before I get a slew of nerd-rage-fueled hate posts, I already know that Spidey is actually considered to be an "altered human".  But who else did you want us pick?  Cyclops?  *PFFFTTTTT!* 

As we got into the game, a parade of Villains started trooping out, including the thematically appropriate Baron Zemo and Baron Strucker as well as a pair of Hand Ninjas.  I quickly went to work, capping off one of the silent assassins with the help of some S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers.  Mac drew a Recruitment- heavy hand of cards so he spent his turn beefing up his resources via Wolverine's "Healing Factor".   Chad and Mike also found themselves in the same boat so they helped themselves to couple of super-handy Rogue Cards.  

When it came around to me again, I was powerless to thwart the red wave of Hand Ninjas surging through the city.  I had to be content with a new card acquisition but since this turned out to be Storm's "Lightning Bolt" I finished my turn with a raging happy.  

Things started to look dire when Baron Zemo marched off the board, heralding the arrival of a multitudinous horde of Hydra Agents.  To make matters worse, that immovable, buffet-destroying, thyroid-victim the Blob waddled into the sewers, probably looking for some half-eaten chicken wings.     

Sensing the deck-manipulating potential of everyone's favorite web-head, I quickly acquired a Spidey card.  Silently I hoped that my allies would be in a better position to strike back against the forces of evil.  

Even though I'd shuffled the Villain Deck into oblivion, an inordinate amount of Twist cards seemed to surface, putting us right back behind the eight ball.  We'd have to act fast in order to avoid a repeat of Game One.     

Although Strucker and a Hand Ninja both managed to exit, stage left, I watched in rapt fascination as the embryonic decks of my team-mates began to come together.  Mac mounted a formidible five-point Rooftop defense thanks to Storm and Mike managed to knead the Blob into unconsciousness.  I did my best to mop up by pummeling two more Hand Ninjas, including one that Storm fricasseed on the Rooftops.  This created a pretty decent little gap in the bad guy's formation, thus preventing the Hydra Agents from pressing on. 

Seeing the effectiveness of the Weather Witch's attack, Chad quickly snatched up his own "Lightning Bolt" card.  

Even at this early stage in the game, the emergence of three quick Twist Cards resulted in an inordinate amount of Bystander abductions.  Once again, we found ourselves only a few disappearances away from certain defeat.    

Just as the unstoppable Juggernaut crashed our party, Mike bagged himself a Doombot.  Mac also rallied a stirring defense thanks to a pair of two-point Wolverine Attack Cards and a healthy dose of Spidey-Sense.  Although perennial Avengers-foe Whirlwind and another ubiquitous Doombot decided to show up seconds later, we were pretty pleased with our effort to keep the Villainous horde at bay.

In fact, the dearth of street-level Villains allowed us to get our first smack in on the Red Skull himself!  

As far as new deck acquisitions, I picked up a pretty decent little Rogue Card called "Copy Powers", which served me very well in the endgame.  

By this time a myriad of foes and card effects had pretty much gutted our initial contingent of  S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents and Troopers, making new acquisitions a real challenge.  Several of us had to adopt a few S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers in order to deal with the rising cost of recruitment.  

Finally the true offensive power of my deck came together, thanks to a one-two punch courtesy of Rogue and Storm.  Together these two lurvely ladies allowed me to win a Rooftop scrap with some Hydra Kidnappers and subdue a marauding Doombot Legion, the latter adding more flunkies to our already-considerable K.O. pile.     

Meanwhile a reconstituted Zemo and yet another swarm of deadly Hydra Agents created a highly volatile "bases loaded" situation.  Combined with the unexpected frequency of all those Twist / Missing Bystander draws, things were looking really grim.  

In an effort to arm ourselves against the coming tide, we acquired a new Gambit Card and kept whaling directly on the Skull.  

Despite our best efforts we couldn't prevent the Hydra Agents from saying ¡Adiós Amigos!.  Undeterred, Mike did a stellar job taking Whirlwind out of the equation.  I also used another Spidey-fueled Rogue / Storm combo to shit-can a new pack of Hydra flunkies.  This, in turn, ushered in two new Villains: the malodorous Melter and Yet Another Friggin' Hand Ninja™.  Fortunately we were able to rescue some of the captive Bystanders and postpone certain defeat.

Meanwhile, a stellar Mac attack saw Wolvie and Storm assail the Red Skull with a flurry of claws and electricity.  Chad quickly followed suit and soon we were only one haymaker away from victory.

In preparation for the final onslaught, we requisitioned a lot of new cards.  Wisely we snapped up Gambit's "Stack the Deck", Rogue's "Copy Powers" as well as another one of Storm's ever-popular "Lightning Bolts".     

Even with the City streets awash with Villainy and The Red Skull retaliating via a Masterstrike, our heroes were unbowed.  Now that my deck was firing on all cylinders, I was able to fell the mighty Juggernaut!  My team-mates also made short work of a Hand Ninja and some Doombots, making room for Melter, Mystique and more scumbag Kidnappers.

During that same round, a forward-thinking member of our team snatched up the five-Strength "Tidal Wave" Storm Card.  This alone was concrete evidence that the momentum was slowly swinging back in the direction of the Heroes!

Our final round was a truly co-operative affair.  After picking up a final piece of ammo in the form of Spidey's "Great Responsibility" Card,  Mike pummeled Zemo and I nailed Rebecca Romijn Mystique (wishful thinking).  This allowed Jennifer Lawrence Mystique and the ever-deadly Ultron to make an appearance.

But the arrival of these new enemies was soon made moot.  Chad invaded the Mastermind's lair and force-fed the Skull a knuckle sandwich,  K.O.'ing him for the win!

Individual Showdown Totals

Mac...25 points
Chad...20 points
Me...19 points
Mike...13 points


So, is Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game fun?  The answer, undeniably, is "yes".  In fact, it was so much fun that we immediately set up and partially played a third game which lasted until Dean was forced to kick us out of his home.  Indeed, the game is compulsively playable.    

I like how the Masterminds are fairly distinct from one another and I dig how their Schemes and Masterstrikes tie in together.  I really appreciate the mandatory Henchman Groups since this keeps the game thematically relevant and cuts down on the random Villains that show up.  Notice that I said "cuts down" and not "eliminates".  Not that I'm complaining since a few unexpected curve balls are always welcome.  

Bystanders are also a pretty clever mechanic, since normal, squishy humans always seem to require rescuing in the comics.  I also like how the Wound Cards hobble the effectiveness of your hand by adding a ton of dead wood.  The Hero Decks also do a fine job encapsulating all of the powers, special traits and maneuvers we've come to expect from our favorite characters.  Spidey anticipates what's to come.  Storm manipulates the game environment.  Rogue's abilities stack.  Wolvie deals mondo damage and regenerates.  Cap is a natural born leader.  Cyclops is a gigantic penis holster. 

Even though Legendary works as a series of fun mechanics, it's still not my comic book dream game.  I was kinda hoping that it would be more like Sentinels of the Multiverse, but, with real super heroes instead of generic facsimiles.  I wanted to control individual heroes, pit them against a big bad, and then have them wade through a devious set of environments rife with minions, hazards and complications.  Oh, and unlike Sentinels, I wanted it be good.

Legendary is fun, but thematically it stumbled a bit for me.  Since you aren't playing as an individual hero, you never feel as if you're down there in the trenches scrapping it out with super-villains.  Instead it feels as if you're taking on a director / leader type role: co-ordinating the efforts of a cohesive (or dysfunctionally random) super-team from afar.

Sorry, but in all my days playing that venerable Marvel Super Hero Role-Playing Game not once did I ever want to be Professor X.  

Here's the review breakdown...

  • Great art.
  • Straightforward rules and concise rulebook with plenty of examples.
  • Fun, fast-moving co-operative gameplay.
  • Card variety provides plenty of replay value.
  • You feel less like a participant in the action and more like a tactician.  In other words, you feel about as much like a super-hero while playing Legendary as you do a landowner in Dominion or an adventurer in Thunderstone.  
  • Mostly random Villains marching through a generic, four-location city is kinda blah. 
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game scores four pips out of six, with a tilt skyward.


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