I've been working on a variant of Marvel Legendary that strings a series of games together where one game's results can have lasting impact on the overall story. I've gotten it to the point that this is how I play all my Legendary games now.
The basic idea of the league is that you can choose which heroes you want to use for each mission, but you start out with a very limited amount of choice for heroes at the start of the game. Playing more games gets you the resources to hire more heroes that you can swap between to fit the scheme or to counter the Mastermind. Rather than hiring your favorite / best heroes to stomp the toughest foes, the challenge is to hire a diverse team of heroes that you might not normally use in order to have a balanced enough group to handle anything that the league might throw at you. Think of it as a meta-deckbuilder.
Theoretically, the goal is to defeat all the Masterminds, and to do so before the Schemes run out. I've never actually played a league to its completion, but I've gotten fairly deep into some of them. You could just as easily use the league's intro and first few rounds as a more interesting way to choose your heroes for a game.
This league variant can be played with any combination of sets that you might own. If you don't have all the sets (*cough*Fantastic4*cough*), you can play with what heroes you have and simply add any cards from any future sets you acquire into the mix at your leisure.
In addition to this write-up, I'm also demonstrating how to play the league on YouTube. I'm uploading the videos to BGG as well, but as I type this, they currently await admin approval... and for me to figure out how to link them.
Rules are subject to change as I continue to playtest this format. Input is welcome and encouraged. Have fun!
DrakeTheDuelist’s Marvel Legendary League:
Setup the League:
1. Set up all normal randomized piles as normal (Bystanders, Wounds, Sidekicks, etc…).
2. Remove all the rare heroes and set them aside into a Hero Pool Deck. Shuffle the deck.
3. Set all the primary Mastermind cards aside into a single Mastermind Deck. Shuffle this deck.
4. Set all the Scheme cards aside into a single Scheme Deck. Shuffle this deck.
5. Set one Villain from each villain card group aside into a Villain Deck. Shuffle this deck.
6. Set one Henchmen card from each Henchmen villain group aside into a Henchmen Deck. Shuffle the deck.
7. Reveal the top five cards of the Hero Pool Deck. These become your Hero Bench.
How to Play a League Round:
1. If playing in Solo Mode, play using the Advanced Solo Mode rules printed in Marvel Legendary: Dark City, unless those rules contradict with a rule printed here.
2. Reveal the top card of the Mastermind Deck. This is the Mastermind you will face this round.
3. Reveal the top card of the Scheme Deck. This is the scheme you will be playing this round.
4. Randomly determine a number of villains and henchmen appropriate to the mission. (See “Recruit Combination Exceptions” for other special rules and clarifications on how to do this.)
5. Optional: Randomly select a number of Ambition Cards equal to the score value of the selected Mastermind. Treat these cards as Ambition Villains and add them to the Villain Deck.
6. Using your League Allowance, you may purchase heroes from the Hero Bench one at a time at this point. A hero’s cost is equal to [recruit cost of that hero’s rare card] x 5. When a hero is purchased, add that hero to your Hero Pool.
a. All heroes for the first game in the league can be purchased for free, but you may only purchase as many heroes as you need to play a regular mission (e.g. 3 for solo, 5 for 2-4 players, 6 for 5 players).
7. Select a number of heroes from your Hero Pool appropriate to the number of players and the scheme to be used in the round. These are the heroes you will use this game.
8. Play the game like normal.
League Round Results:
1. If you defeat all of every Masterminds’ Master Tactics, the game continues, but any game effect that would result in an “Evil Wins” result does not result in a total loss.
a. If you defeat the Mastermind a fifth time before any of the below conditions occurs, the game ends with a total victory. If this happens, add the Mastermind card to your Victory Pile. After calculating score, remove the Mastermind from the game.
b. The game ends in a draw, and you must shuffle the Mastermind back into the Mastermind Deck, if one of the following conditions occurs:
i. if an “Evil Wins” effect occurs before you can defeat the Mastermind a fifth time
ii. if you are incapable of replenishing the HQ because the Hero Deck has been depleted
iii. if you are incapable of playing a Villain Card because the Villain Deck has been depleted
2. If you fail to defeat all of every Masterminds’ Master Tactics before an “Evil Wins” result occurs, the game ends with a total defeat.
a. When calculating score, treat all the Villains in the City as having escaped.
b. Furthermore, randomly select one of your available unselected heroes from the Hero Bench. Place the initial Mastermind over this hero. That hero is captured. If all five of your heroes on the Hero Bench are captured, the league ends in your defeat.
3. Unless the game has ended, calculate your score from the game you just played and add the result to your league allowance.
Recruit Combination Exceptions:
1. If playing in Solo Mode, use five cards from the selected Henchmen Villain group instead of three.
2. You must always use the “Always Leads” villain / henchmen group designated by the Mastermind, even in solo mode.
3. If a mission requires you to use certain henchmen or villains, you must use all henchmen and villain groups that you are obligated to use, even if it means using more henchmen and villain groups than normally allowed. (For example, if facing the Spider Queen in Organized Crime Wave, you will always use the Spider Infected and Maggia Goons villain groups, even if there are less than three players.)
4. In any mission requiring extra heroes in the Hero Deck, pick any extra heroes as follows. After choosing your initial heroes (5 for multiplayer / 3 for solo), reveal the top card of the Hero Pool Deck and continue to do so until you have revealed enough heroes to take part in this mission. At the end of the mission, shuffle these extra heroes back into the Hero Pool Deck.
5. In any mission requiring extra heroes in the Villain Deck, pick any extra heroes as follows. Before choosing your heroes, reveal the top card of the Hero Pool Deck and continue to do so until you have revealed enough heroes to be added to the Villain Deck. These heroes are added to the villain deck. At the end of the mission, shuffle this hero back into the Hero Pool Deck.
6. Build an Army of Annihilation: After selecting the villains and henchmen groups to be used, but before determining which heroes to use, reveal the top card of the Henchmen Deck. This type of henchmen is the Annihilation Wave henchmen group.
7. Forge the Infinity Gauntlet: If “Evil Wins” because one player played four Infinity Gems, the result of the mission is a total loss. Place the scheme on top of the captured hero instead of the game’s Mastermind. This hero can only be rescued by playing this same scheme against a different random Mastermind. Additionally, if the league is won, then it is treated as an ultimate victory for the forces of evil. (Note: this is just for fun; keep playing the league as normal, but feel free to cackle like a madman now!)
8. The God-Emperor of Battleworld: If Dr. Doom is your randomly-selected Mastermind, draw another Mastermind to be used instead.
9. Transform Citizens Into Demons: If Jean Grey is on the Hero Bench, include her in the mission, but do not refill the bench, then add Jean Grey back to the bench at the end of the game. If Jean Grey is in the Hero Pool Deck, search for Jean Grey, then shuffle Jean Grey back in at the end of the game. If Jean Grey is in your Hero Pool, you may not add her to your Hero Deck.