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Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Legendary: bad deck builder, bad game rss

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Gary Bradley
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Introduction
I don't think this will be a proper review. It will just be a list of my gripes with this game and why I found it a complete waste of 50 pounds (in the UK) and found it one of the worst games I have ever tried. OK that is probably a knee-jerk reaction because I feel stung by this game at the moment; however, certainly and definitely Legendary is BY FAR the poorest deck builder game I have tried.

Bit of Background
I am not big on Marvel comics I will say that up front (though my son is and he also disliked this game). I do like deck-builder games, however. I played a ton of Dominion when it came out, but I went off that game when its "programmatic" nature became apparent. It became a "solvable" game because given a set of only 10 cards to buy in a given game, there is a "program" you can write (or grab from the internet) that will always give you the optimum play each turn depending on your draw. This disillusionment with Dominion moved us on to Ascension.
I prefer the fantasy theme, by a LOT, and I soon fell in love with Ascension because it occupies the opposite end of the scale from Dominion - it is purely tactical. The available cards cannot be predicted in advance, hence tactics most be evolved on the fly. Love that! Ascension also introduced the idea of every card in your deck scoring VP at the end, making some cards very tempting to buy even if they do not fit in your deck AT ALL. This is nice level of extra tactics. I love Ascension (and all its expansions) to this day.

Why This Game Stinks
So that brings us to Legendary. The buzz around this game made me immediately curious. Tom Vassel putting it on his top-ten games of all time made it a must-have!! All I can say is, Tom, I don't trust you any more. I know you have played a ton of games - hundreds more than I have - so you putting this on your top 10 is baffling, and breaks my heart, because there can only be 2 explanations for this: either a severe case of fanboyism, or (shudder) a bribe from the publishers. Let's not go there.

So...Here are my reasons on why this game fell so flat for me (and my kids who also disliked it), ESPECIALLY after playing Ascension for so long and still loving it.

Art Work
OK let's get the obvious one out of the way. The re-use of the same art for each Hero card. Everyone knows this. I knew it going in, and thought it wouldn't bother me too much. Turns out it does. Aesthetics aside, this actually has a detrimental effect on gameplay I did not foresee. When multiple cards in HQ look identical, players need to keep reading and re-reading them to remember what's what. Very poor.

6 cards per hand
I hate this. Dominion knew 5 cards was right, so did Ascension, but Legendary had to go with 6. Bigger is better, right? Firstly, from a purely practical view, this means you are reshuffling your deck more often as more cards are used for each hand. Sounds trivial but it MATTERS. Much more importantly, however, 6-card hands results in combos being far too easy to set up and Wounds not being as serious as they should be. Both these things make it too easy on the player. A bad player can buy stupid cards and get away with it far more than he would in Dominion or Ascension. For me this lowers the skill bar for this game considerably.

Stupid, stupid rules
A few of the rules here annoyed me but the absolute king of the stupid rules is the way the game uses the effect "KO a Hero in HQ with cost less than 6". The game uses that as a punishment!! In fact, other than adding a Wound card, this is the game's most severe punishment for the players. Newsflash: this is not a punishment!! Letting players chose to bin a card in HQ is ALWAYS GOOD FOR THE PLAYERS. Never once have we came close to running out of Hero cards, so....Dumb dumb dumb.

Too Easy
This is another no-brainer. Apart from getting very unlucky in the scenario where there is a finite number of Wounds (6 per player) and losing early, never once have we been close to being beaten by the game. Villain going to escape the city? Who cares! the penalty is ignorable anyway, just smack Dr Doom again and win.

Co-op versus Competitive
The game walks this weird line between wanting to be competitive and co-operative at the same time. Castle Panic tried that. It doesn't work. Who plays Castle Panic competitively? Only a very tiny number of gaming groups are going to "get this" - I think most others will play it as a co-op. And as a co-op game it STINKS (see "Too Easy" above).

Unimaginative Card Design
OK I kept the absolute killer point till last. Here it is. Absolutely no imagination has been shown in the design of the Hero cards in this game. Almost every card in the base game is this:

a) Add an amount of Damage or Recruit
b) If you played a card of certain type before this card: add an additional effect (usually more Power or Recruit, or card drawing)

That's it.

Let that sink in.

How boring. How pointless. How to make it bloody obvious what cards a player should add to his deck. How to remove any possibility of the player being creative as he builds his deck. How to make it look like you were the first ever deck-builder, just finding your feet, and had no similar games to nick a wealth of great ideas from. How to make anyone who played Dominion or Ascension FROWN HARD at this game and shake their heads in despair.

Let me explain something. That effect I described above is the Lifebound Hero mechanic in Ascension. In later expansions it evolved into the Unite mechanic: i.e. "if you have played a card of type <blah> earlier in the turn, then this card has an enhanced effect". NEWSFLASH: This is ONE tiny mechanic in Ascension, and not even a very interesting one at that. Yet here, it is THE ENTIRE GAME. Shame on the designers.

Yeah, we were disappointed in this one...
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Jurn
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Yeah, it sucks, complete garbage whistle

You should try Legendary Encounters, it's even worse
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The Shader
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I had intended on writing a long response to you and refute your points but in the end I decided on the following.

Not every game is for every player. You are entitled to your opinion and the Legendary community wishes you luck in your future gaming with other franchises.
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Adelin Dumitru
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Newsflash, smartass, there are expansions who solve all the problems you mentioned
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Jay K
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I'll go with Tom Vasel's view on this one although you are entitled to your opinion.

It could be worse though, you could have bought the DC deckbuilder!
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Nicholas Fetter
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I like your honest opinion.

I have a few points, that hopefully will allow you to give it another chance.

1) Everything after the Base has different art for each rarity of cards. Yeah it sucks they didn't start from the beginning that way, but it is what it is and they fixed it in the later expansions.

2) Easy... the base game is easy, with a few setups that can be challenging. The expansions, especially Dark City and Fantastic Four (which is OOP unfortunately) add plenty of difficulty. It sucks that expansions add the difficulty while the base is relatively simple. My thinking is that the Base is a "tutorial", which I think it SHOULDN'T be, but it is. There are also a list of items in the Base Rules that you can "add" to the game to make it more difficult, such as Increasing the MM's Attack, or how many Villain cards are played each turn.

3) I agree with you on KOing the 6 or less in the HQ. There are have been times we let a Villain without an Escape ability escape just to clean the HQ a bit since we didn't want anyone available. (Not really a point, but definitely agreeing with you that its not a punishment.) Again, Expansions have Villains with escape abilities you really don't want to effect you.

4) Design - Again, the base game is rather simple. This isn't just true of Legendary, though. Many games (especially Card Games in any form) have very simple and rather boring effects in the beginning.


Again, I love the candid Review/Opinion piece, and do not mean to challenge you if I come across that way. Not all games are for everyone, and Legendary is no exception. Legendary also falls into the category of "It gets Better", but then again that isn't always true for everyone either.

I would suggest checking out Dark City, but as that is a big box and you were already not happy about spending £50, that may not be an option.
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Sylvain Lacroix
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I have to admit that I do not share your opinion. However, you made your point very clear and it's great for that.

You should really try with the Dark City Expansion, really racks up the difficulty level and the type of scenarios you play. On my end, I praise the high-replay value, lot of different setups to choose from and I must say, the theme (huge Marvel fan here)

Well, it's seems that some deckbuilders are different from Dominion and Ascension.
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David Hammel
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Most deck builders that rely on a random card flop tend to be weaker than their counterparts. This game has a lot of interesting things working for it, but it lacks interesting decisions or the synergy that makes a good deck builder great.
 
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Chris
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AlphaSilvr wrote:


2) Easy...

4) Design - Again, the base game is rather simple. This isn't just true of Legendary, though. Many games (especially Card Games in any form) have very simple and rather boring effects in the beginning.

I would suggest checking out Dark City, but as that is a big box and you were already not happy about spending £50, that may not be an option.


I agree with Alphasilvr on his points, Though like yourself GaryB I have never had much interest in Marvel or any other super hero type stuff.

I do however enjoy the game, it's pure entertainment, easy to play, I prefer Alien but Marvel has a less depressing brighter aesthetic and it attracts folk to it, I've played it with several non gamers of differing age groups and they enjoyed it.

I have not played with any expansions but what I have read they expand the base game considerably.
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Jacob Stick
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Well, it is good of you to come on here and express your opinion. It is interesting to hear another point of view. So, the point that I have to say with your review is that Ascension is better with the expansion and got better over time. Same with Legendary. The more things that have been released the better it has become. It was a test on the market and everyone else enjoyed it and most of us have had the same compliant, but now that the expansion have released things have become pretty great.
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Dickie Z
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A whole lotta complaining.
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Justin Hiltz
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GaryB wrote:

Why This Game Stinks
So that brings us to Legendary. The buzz around this game made me immediately curious. Tom Vassel putting it on his top-ten games of all time made it a must-have!! All I can say is, Tom, I don't trust you any more. I know you have played a ton of games - hundreds more than I have - so you putting this on your top 10 is baffling, and breaks my heart, because there can only be 2 explanations for this: either a severe case of fanboyism, or (shudder) a bribe from the publishers. Let's not go there.


I mean there's no conceivable way that someone could enjoy something for less than nefarious reasons, right?
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Tim Royal
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Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts about the game. Two of the points above are ones that I think some folks can identify with. The others are... well... rather unenlightened (six cards instead of five is not an arbitrary design choice).

I disagree with the suggestions above that you should try the expansions. I don't think they'd address your general distaste for this excellent game.

In the end, I recognize that not every game can reach down "low" enough to appeal to all gamer types.

On that note, now I'm in the mood for some Legendary.

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Scott
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I have quibbles with the game too. Non unique art in the base was a terrible mistake for immersion and quick card identifying reasons. Duplicate cards in villain groups. Teeter tottering the coop/competitive line.

In the end, I just go with it. The deck building, combo potential is ridiculously fun. While there are both cake walks and quick crushing defeats, there are those games you pull off a last minute giant combo that makes it a thrilling finale, win or lose.

That, and the scenario variety is what makes it a blast to play for me.
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BC Wendel
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JK777 wrote:
I'll go with Tom Vasel's view on this one although you are entitled to your opinion.

It could be worse though, you could have bought the DC deckbuilder!


I think Legendary is okay (the Aliens version made it a lot better IMO), but I really enjoy the DC deckbuilding game, and could care less what Tommy V has to say about it.
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Gary Tanner
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You do have some good points in there, and I can see where people may not like some of those issues. I don't like some of them myself (the same art was really just a bad move in my opinion).

That said, I enjoy the game as a light-hearted card game, and as something that involves Marvel characters (I always have a place for Marvel-related stuff). I try to look past the issues that it has.

Granted, when I play, I do everything random as far as picking characters, villains, etc. So sometimes I end up with a combination of characters that really struggles, and sometimes it's a cakewalk.

Short version - I enjoy it, but it's not for everyone.
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Gary Bradley
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AdelinDumitru wrote:
Newsflash, smartass, there are expansions who solve all the problems you mentioned


A bad game is bad regardless of whether expansions make it good, right?

And the last thing I am prepared to do is spend more money on Legendary when I disliked the base game so much.

And no need to be rude.
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Everyone's entitled to their opinion, it's unfortunate that you haven't enjoyed this game the way a great many people have.

A few points though.

Why is 5 cards right? More cards drawn doesn't necessarily equate to more re-shuffling, since more cards played may result in more cards being purchased from the HQ, increasing your deck size. Drawing and playing 6 cards rather than 5 makes it faster to get a specific card out of the deck, and more combinations. Combos are what the game is about.

A wound card takes up a spot in your deck and hand, resulting in less combos or recruit/attack power, and potentially having additional effects based on various villains or schemes in play. It's a small penalty if you have one in your deck, but having 2 or 3 in your hand will kill your turn.

"KO a Hero in HQ with cost less than 6" - While you might not see that as a punishment, you may not be seeing how it can be a punishment. By allowing this effect to occur, I can discard something from the HQ another player wants, that I do not want/can't afford for myself. It allows me a greater chance of winning. You wouldn't use it to kill off a common card to bring out a better one, you use the effect to deny your fellow players of a good card.

If you're finding it too easy, there are ways to increase the difficulty, but one of the reasons it's so easy as co-op, in the base game, is that it wasn't meant to be entirely cooperative. The goal isn't to win collectively, but to have the most points after taking down the mastermind/scheme. Things get a little harder when you change your focus to maximizing points over just taking down the boss. Not sure it's right to complain about the difficulty when one mechanic is being ignored. If you want a heavier co-op challenge, expansions do that, in addition to changing the difficulty in the decks.

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Gary Bradley
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Auzette wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts about the game. Two of the points above are ones that I think some folks can identify with. The others are... well... rather unenlightened (six cards instead of five is not an arbitrary design choice).


Care to elaborate? I explained why I thought 6 card hard were very detrimental to the game. I'd love to hear why you think it was a deliberate and (presumably) good choice?

In the end, I expected a deeper game I think. I cannot count the number of times I've played Ascension. It must be in the 1000s. I am the sort of person who will stare at the board for 5 minutes before deciding what to do in a turn. And I often win or lose by a single VP against the other addicts in the group, and I can look back and KNOW where I went wrong. Ascension is a deeply tactical game and I think it set me up for the fall for this game, which is a lot lighter and much more forgiving on bad decisions.

Like I say, had I never played a deck-builder before I might have been OK with this one.
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Gary Bradley
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sleepydyde2 wrote:
Drawing and playing 6 cards rather than 5 makes it faster to get a specific card out of the deck, and more combinations. Combos are what the game is about.


Makes it EASIER to get specific cards. Makes it more forgiving if you made bad purchases early. Also, adding cards of certain type to your deck because other cards trigger a bonus of that type is not setting up combos, that's simple set collection. Games with Wolverine were the worst in this regard, I seem to recall.

Quote:
"KO a Hero in HQ with cost less than 6" - While you might not see that as a punishment, you may not be seeing how it can be a punishment. By allowing this effect to occur, I can discard something from the HQ another player wants, that I do not want/can't afford for myself.


I can't think of a situation where I saw a card that someone wanted a lot and no one else wanted. The card are so bland in design that everyone will want everything equally, imo. Ofc we couldn't really get into the competitive aspect as I said.

Quote:
The goal isn't to win collectively, but to have the most points after taking down the mastermind/scheme. Things get a little harder when you change your focus to maximizing points over just taking down the boss.


I know this was a big issue for us. The competitive aspect just didn't gel. It was too easy for players to go into "do everything so we all lose" mode to reel in runaway leaders. If I can't win, then the world will BURN dammit!! That just blew it for us.
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Matt Jolly
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GaryB wrote:
there can only be 2 explanations for this:


If this is an example of the analysis in your piece, then it is lost. Quite apart from the tone, which could be interpreted as negative, to say the least, the quality of your assessment is undermined by this statement alone. For example, an obvious third explanation is that tastes differ.

Which is a pity, as some of what you say seems quite thoughtful. I enjoy the game (although as others have said, Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game probably edges it out). Your point about the artwork is fair, and frustrated me. I quite like drawing six cards, and suspect that five would just get me smacked down very quickly. But hell, it's a game, why not try it with five?

And as for being hard to lose, well, I enjoy comic books, and it seems to me that this maps the theme rather well. In the bleaker world of Encounters though, things are a lot tougher.

My biggest complaint is about the theme however: I don't know who I'm supposed to BE. No one hero, obviously, and also not the boss of a superhero team. So what? I rationalise it that I am actually the artist of the strip, with the editor and writer telling me what I have to put in each frame and in each page. The story starts slow with little activity by the heroes as the comic starts, and more done by the grunts and villains, and gradually the heroes get into the swing of it.

Could be rubbish but it works for me.

And as for your characterisation of the game:

"a) Add an amount of Damage or Recruit
b) If you played a card of certain type before this card: add an additional effect (usually more Power or Recruit, or card drawing)

That's it."

True but trivial. Move one piece. Automatically win any resulting combat. That's it. Chess.

Your point about the penalties for escaping villains might be right, but bystanders and the potential loss of VPs helps balance the ledger. And if I want a hard game, hell I own Ghost Stories and Mage Knight Board Game and I can get that elsewhere.

For my taste, Marvel Legendary is a pleasant piece of brain candy, and far more rewarding than DC Comics Deck-Building Game for example. But it sounds like our tastes differ,

Cheers,

Matt
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GaryB wrote:
I do like deck-builder games, however. I played a ton of Dominion when it came out, but I went off that game when its "programmatic" nature became apparent. It became a "solvable" game because given a set of only 10 cards to buy in a given game, there is a "program" you can write (or grab from the internet) that will always give you the optimum play each turn depending on your draw.


This is off the subject of legendary, but I've played a ton of Dominion (4+ players with all expansions) for years. Do you have a link to where such an optimal purchase program can be grabbed from the internet, because I'd like to see how good it is. Even confined to the base set, it's just not *possible* to determine the "optimum play" depending only on number of cards and draw. For example, take the First Game set that every Dominion player has played:

(Cellar $2, Moat $2, Village $3, Woodcutter $3, Workshop $3, Militia $4, Smith $4, Remodel $4, Market $5, Mine $5)

Your hand is five coppers. What is the "optimum play"?

[...]
Quote:
6 cards per hand
I hate this. Dominion knew 5 cards was right, so did Ascension, but Legendary had to go with 6. Bigger is better, right? Firstly, from a purely practical view, this means you are reshuffling your deck more often as more cards are used for each hand. Sounds trivial but it MATTERS. Much more importantly, however, 6-card hands results in combos being far too easy to set up and Wounds not being as serious as they should be. Both these things make it too easy on the player. A bad player can buy stupid cards and get away with it far more than he would in Dominion or Ascension. For me this lowers the skill bar for this game considerably.


Both Dominion and Legendary have a starting deck that shuffles after two hands. If you make just one purchase per turn eventually the larger hand size would result in more shuffles for legendary--however, Dominion has a limit for one purchase per turn (absent the use of +Buy kingdom cards) while Legendary does not. It's not at all clear to me that the larger hand size *will* result in more shuffles on average, though that's certainly dependent on the available cards.

If you reduced Legendary to five card hands and ten starting cards (7 recruit, 3 fight), it would certainly affect ramp, reduce the combos, and make schemes more difficult to beat. Whether this would be a good thing rather depends on your POV.

But if you don't play semi-cooperatively, the comparison to Dominion or Ascension doesn't make sense in terms of "getting away with" bad purchases. Dominion is decided by score, and if you care about score in legendary, I don't think you're going to get away with bad purchases, six-card hands or no.

Quote:
Stupid, stupid rules
A few of the rules here annoyed me but the absolute king of the stupid rules is the way the game uses the effect "KO a Hero in HQ with cost less than 6". The game uses that as a punishment!! In fact, other than adding a Wound card, this is the game's most severe punishment for the players. Newsflash: this is not a punishment!! Letting players chose to bin a card in HQ is ALWAYS GOOD FOR THE PLAYERS. Never once have we came close to running out of Hero cards, so....Dumb dumb dumb.


Yes, it's generally beneficially to cycle someone out of the HQ, and barring schemes that count non-grey KOed heroes against you, it will bring you no closer to losing. But why do you think it is meant to be a punishment? In the base game the rule only applies to escaped villains (typically meaning the city is full of unbeaten villains), and solo twists. If you've got a full city, you need help, and if you're playing solo, you need to be able to cycle out unwanted heroes.

If you're looking for punishment from villains escaping, the "escape" effect is what you're looking for, if present. I can't think of a printed escape effect that's beneficial to the players.

Quote:
Too Easy
This is another no-brainer. Apart from getting very unlucky in the scenario where there is a finite number of Wounds (6 per player) and losing early, never once have we been close to being beaten by the game. Villain going to escape the city? Who cares! the penalty is ignorable anyway, just smack Dr Doom again and win.


Varies widely by scheme and mastermind (and to a lesser extent, villain groups). Depending on escape effects or scheme, you may care about villains escaping, and if you play for score solo, you will care about villains escaping. The rules do include a section on "Adjusting Difficulty" for those who would like to adjust the difficulty, but only with experience could you be able to tell how much harder to make a particular combo.

Difficulty also is affected by player. 2-player is a lot easier than 5-player for any given scheme and mastermind.

Quote:
Co-op versus Competitive
The game walks this weird line between wanting to be competitive and co-operative at the same time. Castle Panic tried that. It doesn't work. Who plays Castle Panic competitively? Only a very tiny number of gaming groups are going to "get this" - I think most others will play it as a co-op. And as a co-op game it STINKS (see "Too Easy" above).


I don't play Castle Panic competitively, because I play it with kids and I appreciate it being on the easy side as a co-op. Still, the fact remains that if you actually played as semi co-op instead of full co-op, the "easy schemes" would still have a competitive element -- and they'd also become *harder* if people put their own interest ahead of the group.

Still, if you can't play that way, you can't play that way. As Legendary actually is a popular game, it's possible that your tastes differ from others. If you don't do semi-coop and would like it harder, you need some combination of:

1) Playing with more players
2) Trying the "Adjusting Difficulty" section of the rulebook
3) Adding more difficult schemes/masterminds via expansion

If you consider the game *uniformly* too easy, you should really take advantage of the printed challenge modes right there in the book. Otherwise you're in the position of someone who only plays Pandemic on the easiest level and complains that the game is too easy to beat. But I think the problem with the challenge modes is that the difficulty is NOT uniform (at least from Dark City and beyond). Dr Doom typically needs a boost for full-coop to be challenging. Apocolypse doesn't.

Of course, the wide variance in difficulty level is also what gives the game its variety, IMO. Playing Advanced Solo with all expansions is sufficiently challenging for my co-op tastes, but with 2+ I'd also want to compare scores.
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David Hammel
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hobowire wrote:
A whole lotta complaining.


That is the purpose of a review, isn't it? The title made it pretty clear which way he was leaning, so why jump in here with your hurt conflicting opinion and complain about someone else complaining? Doesn't seem real productive.
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Gary Bradley
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matt.jolly wrote:
GaryB wrote:
there can only be 2 explanations for this:


If this is an example of the analysis in your piece, then it is lost. Quite apart from the tone, which could be interpreted as negative, to say the least, the quality of your assessment is undermined by this statement alone. For example, an obvious third explanation is that tastes differ.


I guess I should apologize about stating that. Tom annoyed me here as I tend t have very similar tastes to him.

btw Your suggestion of house-ruling the game to have 5 cards per hand is a revelation. Now I've calmed down a bit I might well give that a try! Thanks!
 
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KEW GARDENS
New York
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hobowire wrote:
A whole lotta complaining.


Which goes well with a side of complaining about complaining.




*Went to Taqueria Kermes on Monday. Muthafuckin' Churros! Stop sleeping on this Dickster!
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