Jason Mack
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Okay, I've never played any version of Legendary. Or even watched others play it. Not being a Marvel fan, when the system first hit the scene, I just ignored it. <<Shrug>>

However, I am a huge Big Trouble fan and so I was super keen to check out this game. Especially on the 30th anniversary year! Woo-hoo!!

So, thought I'd share a few of my thoughts approaching the game in isolation from the other Legendary games. These ramblings might interest non-Legendary players. Well, maybe...

Manual

At first, I thought it was well crafted, but... then I started to have troubles as it felt like they assumed you already knew some of the core rules. Which was really irksome in trying to self-teach in preparation for play.

A few examples:

* If you use the combat power of a card, can you use the recruit power in the same turn? And vice versa? (Yes)
* Can you split your attack power against multi-targets? (Yes)
* Where is the KO spot on the play mat the rules keep referencing? (Uh... I think it's the bottom left unlabeled spot. Maybe...)
* Why does the grid on the back page have a column "Heroes" for details on constructing the villain deck? (This extra column isn't in the inside version of the grid. I'm guessing that maybe it's really the "Master Strike" column as you add 5 master strikes no matter the player count. Or maybe it's telling you that you have 5 hero sets for the hero deck, but those don't go in the villain deck...)
* Why do you shuffle the mediocre hero deck face down and deal out two cards to everyone if they just tell everyone the cards they got? Is it because it's the start of the hero deck? Where do you put this shuffled face down mediocre deck? On the play mat? (No, you shuffle and put it face down for no particular reason and it's no longer used for the rest of the game after the initial hand construction. Just put it away.)

Point of which, I wish they'd given the manual to someone who hadn't played Legendary before for a smell test. I kept having to go, "Wait a minute... let me check that." Especially during first play, which I thought could have gone a lot smoother.

Theme

Wholly molly, awesomeness!!! Artwork captures the spirit and energy of the movie really well. Including great attention to so many small details of the film! Kudos to the artists! For example, the Gracie Law card "Nosy but nice" perfectly captures her noble yet pretentious vibe when she meets Jack the first time. Granted, for whatever reason the artists didn't strive for exact likenesses, but the feel is definitely there!

I liked how all our favorite heroes/villains, their scenes and the challenges from the movie are everywhere to be found in the 400 cards. Yet the designers also expanded beyond the move's canon. Non-canon cards still have the flavour, but going in tangent directions. For example, Margo investigating strange relics or the master villains with variant scheme cards (win/fail conditions) delving into different aspects of the movie. Very cool and made the theme feel deeper and richer for more re-play value. (But not actually deeper/richer, but feel that way.)

Yet while it embodies the theme amazingly well, I wouldn't say it's actually thematic (e.g. it is a re-skinned game). Yes, loosely you can play through a simulation of elements of the movie, but it's more the 'spirt of' than 'story of' the movie. Which is fine, because it works!

However, it's competitive with a slight semi-co-op feel. Which felt slightly out of place here. There is a sense of working together to keep the villain line-up in check or take down the villain in-time, but that didn't feel quite right. Missed opportunity there to be co-op.

The game has all the main characters. So cool! But.. I think it's too bad you couldn't play as the characters (e.g. like DC Deck Building game). Instead everyone is constructing parallel rosters of the same characters in their decks. Missed opportunity there, I think, but I guess that's the limitation of the Legendary system.

While it has all the movie characters, clearly the roster is quite limited (compared to, say, Marvel). So.. looks like they compensated by creating three versions of Jack's character: Jack Burton, Henry Swanson (Jack 'in disguise') and Pork Chop Express (his truck, but fundamentally Jack).

But... the truck as a character?!?! Uh... odd, no? This reminded me of Flintstones vitamins from when I was a kid. The makers thought Wilma and Betty were too similar characters (shapes), so they tossed Betty and replaced her with the family car. Even as a kid I thought that was lame. Instead of the truck here, maybe Legendary could have added some of the other characters? Perhaps even Tara who Gracie was helping (too much like Miao Yin?) or any of the speaking White Tigers could've been neat. But the truck...? M'eh.

The oddest thing, though, is why are villains trying to escape the city? As villains overwhelm the city (villain line-up), they eventually push out and escape. Thematically, I don't get that. Shouldn't they be invading or taking over the city? Why are they running from a rag-tag band of semi-heroes? Hrm... I recognize this would make more thematic sense with super villains running from super heroes, but I wish they had tweaked the 'escape' angle slightly somehow.

Game play

Me Playing DC Deck Building Game: Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-sweet!!!

Me Playing BTLC Legendary Game: How many scheme cards have come up before... Boom... do you have more victory cards than me? Boom... do I have one of these cards in my discard deck... Boom... Has a particular card been played this game yet? Boom... Uh wait, I have to play this card before the other one... okay.. Boom... Is there a particular card in the hero line-up... Boom... uh... sweet?

My point is, this theme felt to me more beer-and-pretzels style that would have been more suitable to the simpler DC Cerberus engine. With the Legendary system, the game feels really fiddly to me. As Jack Burton would say, "It's all in the reflexes!" But not in this game...

Either you have to be really good remembering all the counts and occurrences or (like me) you need to keep re-counting cards in various stacks repeatedly. Even just pushing the villain line up left to right felt fiddly (especially if they have bystander cards poking out).

To that end, I'm not entirely sold this light theme benefits from having two currencies (attack and recruit). I recognize that's more common than the simplified / streamlined games like DC Deck Building. But with cards having multi-currencies and contingencies on play order, it felt like it slowed things down when they could have been... well, more in the reflexes!

I also kept expecting to find "defense" cards in the mix. Which, as far as I can tell, there aren't any. So, you're always at the mercy of your attacker. Well, maybe that would have just slow down the Legendary system even more. Okay, I can get that.

What I did find interesting is the attacking cards are less aggressive than I expected (compared to DC) and perhaps that helps in semi-co-op. The attacks often actually help the other players indirectly (e.g. thinning their deck of weak cards or allowing them to discard a weak card and re-draw). Even villain attacks can help you a lot in those respects. Mostly attacks seem to just increase interaction between players with only a few cards that I found annoying.

But I was surprised on the cumbersome setup and tear down (a lot of card sorting). Again, theme is very beer-and-pretzels, but the work involved is a lot more than just stuffing the game back in the box when finished.

Production

Whoah. Holy cheap! Card quality feels as if they were angling to try to get as close to paper while still being card stock. Okay, yeah, not the worst cards, but come on, geez, that's a lot lower quality than I expected. Maybe that's normal for Upper Deck? Unlike higher quality cards in, say the DC Deck game, these definitely need to sleeved. Started to show wear right after the first play.

Box looks cheaply made too and way too small for the scrunched up play mat provided. Not sure how well the mat will wear over time being fold / rolled to squish it in. I cut out the divider out of the box that was intended separate to the cards, sleeved them all (FFG Standard Blue), and then bagged them by type/group. Then lay the mat on top of everything. Still folded, yes, but not as bad as it came folded/rolled/crammed in one side of the box (there is actually a permanent fold crease in it from when I got it - bah!).

End Thoughts

While if it didn't come across already, I think the Cerberus system would have been a much better fit for the theme of this game than Legendary. What Legendary could have really provided was a full co-op experience (which Cerberus has horribly struggled with). But they didn't exploit that opportunity here, so it feels like theme / engine are misaligned to me. There's more complexity than needs to be here to just have fun playing through the exploits of the movie.

But... as a Big Trouble fan, I'm clearly predisposed to looking beyond the short comings. All issues aside, when it's up and running with rules understood, the game is super fun. Fiddly. But fun and that's what matters. Especially, if you have the movie playing in the background and everyone having fun swept up in the theme with their favorite scenes/characters!

I can see this continuing to hit the table as it has been. Similar to how we re-watch our old favorite movies like this BTLC. But... I can't see it being a driver game on its own right.

13 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C Sandifer
United States
Lutherville
Maryland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review. Just a few random comments.

MCKurick wrote:
At first, I thought it was well crafted, but... then I started to have troubles as it felt like they assumed you already knew some of the core rules.


The rules don't even explain what the Bribe mechanic means, so this is a fair criticism.

Quote:
* Why does the grid on the back page have a column "Heroes" for details on constructing the villain deck? ...Or maybe it's telling you that you have 5 hero sets for the hero deck, but those don't go in the villain deck...)


Yes, that's it.

Quote:
* Why do you shuffle the mediocre hero deck face down and deal out two cards to everyone if they just tell everyone the cards they got?


I think they mean that the mediocre heroes should be dealt randomly. I.e., players don't get to choose which two mediocre heroes they get.


Quote:
Point of which, I wish they'd given the manual to someone who hadn't played Legendary before for a smell test.


I agree. There are similar problems with other Legendary rulebooks (e.g., Legendary Firefly).

Quote:
Missed opportunity there to be co-op.


Fair enough, but there are already multiple Legendary games that are fully cooperative: Alien, Firefly, Predator (coop version), etc. It sounds like Upper Deck decided to go the other way and make it more competitive/interactive to differentiate it from the other products in the line, but this is still a reasonable comment.

Quote:
To that end, I'm not entirely sold this light theme benefits from having two currencies (attack and recruit). I recognize that's more common than the simplified / streamlined games like DC Deck Building.


I play and enjoy all of the Cerberus games (DC, Lord of the Rings, etc.). They're great games for families, for people new to deck-building, and for people looking for a lighter experience. A big plus is that they only take a few minutes to set up.

The biggest problem with the Cerberus games is that - because there is only a single currency (Power) - they have the worst "runaway leader" problem that I've seen for any game system. If you score an early 'high power' card and defeat a villain, that defeated villain goes into your deck, which makes you stronger, which allows you to defeat more villains, etc. I suspect that the Cerberus system also has more deck-thinning cards, which can exacerbate the problem.

In Legendary, defeated cards are set aside, so they don't ramp up your deck's power even further. I like that approach better, and the two-currency approach does seem more balanced, but your mileage may vary.

Quote:
But I was surprised on the cumbersome setup and tear down (a lot of card sorting).


My advice for any Legendary game:

- Use cheap penny sleeves for all hero cards (and wounds), as it'll save you tons of money. (I don't want to spend $50 on sleeves for a $35 game.) Don't bother sleeving the villain deck.

- Don't tear apart the hero/villain decks after every game. Play each scheme multiple times - using the same exact hero/villain decks - to avoid the setup and teardown issue. (E.g., if you usually play with four players, have the game pre-set for four players.) That way you can get up and running in a few minutes.

If I had to set up the hero and villain decks every game, I honestly would never play Legendary. So I don't do that.

Quote:
What Legendary could have really provided was a full co-op experience (which Cerberus has horribly struggled with).


We enjoy all of the Crisis co-op expansions for the DC Deck-Builder, so I'm not sure that I agree with this. (Admittedly, some of the Crisis expansions are frustrating and unwinnable with more than 3 players.) And Attack on Titan (another full co-op) was just released.

I prefer the co-op Cerberus games to the competitive ones, actually, because the runaway leader problem isn't an issue. Nobody cares if someone's deck gets insanely powerful, since everyone is on the same team.

Anyway, like I said, it was great to hear impressions from someone new to Legendary. Enjoy the game!



Edit: For other light to medium co-op deck-building fun, try Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle or The Big Book of Madness.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonan Jello
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
I'm not so dumb I got a thumb But on the phone Apposable But in re-dealing on the daily road Superiority is nothing but A friendly man with monkey hands A friendly mom with monkey pawns
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Informative and thorough review. Thank you for writing it up.
My first Legendary game was the Marvel version and I was underwhelmed.
I own and have played the Alien version many times and find it very entertaining.

Jack Burton: [pointing to Chinese writing on elevator] What does that say?
Wang Chi: [speaks Chinese] Hell of Boiling Oil.
Jack Burton: You're kidding.
Wang Chi: Yeah, I am. It says Keep Out.

I love BTiLC, but wasn't going to get it because, as far as I understood, couldn't play it solitaire.
But lo and behold, a friend recently purchased a copy and last night I had a chance to play the game at his house
Bernard Donohue
United States
Newark
California
flag msg tools
badge
Kneel puny Doomtrooper before the might of the Ezoghoul!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb



"All I know is, this Lo Pan character comes out of thin air in the middle of a goddamn alley while his buddies are flying around on wires cutting everybody to shreds, and he just stands there waiting for me to drive my truck straight through him with *light* coming out of his mouth!" - Jack Burton

Wow it was so much fun, probably more so than Alien. We were kicking @$$ but it wasn't easy with Thugs in Chinatown and chicks with staves jostling and apprehending Bystanders. Wounds filled our deck, but Uncle Chu was there to help us heal. So much fun!
It's not gory and graphic like Alien and there are so many moments to spout off lines of the movie's dialogue. (I think I do a perfect Egg Chen, but the glory could all just be in my head).

"Here's to the Army and Navy and the battles they have won; here's to America's colors, the colors that never run." - Wang Chi. "May the wings of liberty never lose a feather." - Jack Burton
The BTiLC version is not a re-skin, there are differences from Alien that make it surprisingly unique and fun in different ways.

"We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn't we, Wang?" - Jack Burton
Three victories in our game last night: Defeating the villain, tallying points, and the ran-dumb, but fun-for-heck-of-it Final Showdown!

"I'm a reasonable guy. But, I've just experienced some very unreasonable things." - Jack Burton
Yeah, the card and box quality is not so greatt and I was appalled seeing Puffinslayer's mangled player mat that had be rolled and folded in such a unaccommodating small box.


"Would you stop rubbing your body up against mine, because I can't concentrate when you do that." - Jack Burton

Regardless, I just may need to pick up this game!

"Son of a bitch must pay!" -Jack Burton
The Porchop Express as a character is just awesome.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Franklin
United States
Milton
Washington
flag msg tools
He sees you when you're sleeping; he knows when you're awake ...
badge
He knows if you've been bad or good.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MCKurick wrote:
At first, I thought it was well crafted, but... then I started to have troubles as it felt like they assumed you already knew some of the core rules. Which was really irksome in trying to self-teach in preparation for play.


We ran into this a couple of times, too. For example, we couldn't find where it spelled out that you rescued bystanders from the Bystander Deck instead of from villains.

There were a few other hiccups here and there, but all in all, we really did enjoy the game.

I was already familiar with the Legendary Encounters series, but there were enough differences that we weren't 100% sure about most of the rules questions we ran into.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.