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You may be forgiven for thinking that there would be little difference between the two boxed sets of SECRET WARS for the Marvel Legendary Universe, except perhaps maybe a few new characters and to a degree you would be correct. I mean the game is LEGENDARY and it is the same game basically, but it also changes with each expansion to fit and suit the cities and galaxies etc from which the Heroes came. Of course the Heroes, Villains, Henchmen and Masterminds, plus other adversaries and their Schemes came from particular universes prior to the devastation so now it could be said that the Legendary universe flows with the channges in personel and scenery. LEGENDARY and more so, SECRET WARS volume 1, saw the beginning of the end of the Marvel Universe as we knew it and now SECRET WARS volume 2 takes us a bold step onwards into what remains and what is to come.
The Marvel Legendary card game has a set of basic rules by which all expansions abide, but of course although the Marvel Universe is broad and wide and deep and ... well you get the picture, it encompasses many similar and different styles and heroes but although they are, indeed, many and different they are now all part of the newly formed Battleworld. Ask a group of Marvel fans to name their favourite Hero and their main foe and you will get a myriad different answers; the majority of heroes either never or rarely work together and similarly the villains rarely gang up either. UPPER DECK's Secret Wars expansions, having been the follow-on from the formation of Battleworld allows Marvel fans to combine all manner of Heroes and Villains to either work together or in opposing competition.
Volume 2 continues with the Illuminati and the Cabal in a Marvel Universe that has been fragmented and virtually destroyed (Marvel mega-story) with portions and characters from each of the worlds and dimensions ending up in "wildly different" regions to which they are accustomed. The players in general cooperate to defeat the game system but can also play against each other with one or more of them controlling Masterminds and Villains against the others who control groups of heroes and their support acts. The very basis of the game is for the players to control Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division) against the game controlled villains of HYDRA (not an acronym but instead a reference to the mythical Lernaean Hydra killed by Heracles (Hercules) as one of the 12 Labours). HYDRA is a fascist type organisation often compared to the Nazis of WWII though this is usually played down as it is in my opinion (and many others) an unnecessary conclusion drawn through the original leader, RED SKULL, who himself was once a high ranking member of the Nazi party.
Volume 2 of SECRET WARS introduces a few new words to the cards, Spectrum, Patrol, Charge as well as the Wall-Crawl ability, the Circle of Kung-Fu and the villainous Fatefulk Resurrection. Also, as in Volume 1 where the Ultimates and Thor Corps can switch sides from villain to hero, several of the X-Men '92 cards begin as villains but can be turned to Heroes when you combat them. Combining SECRET WARS volume 1 and SECRET WARS volume 2 is not necessity but together they make the LEGENDARY game a lot more fun. By combining the two sets you have more than enough Schemes and Ambitions to play through without ever having to replay the same game - just by changing characters changes the scenario -
As with the original Legendary boxed set, as far as I can ascertain anyway, all of the artwork for these expansion sets is based on but not taken from any of the comics; it has all been created specifically for the game and enhances the Marvel characters, good and evil, through some wonderful high-action illustrations.
When you open the Secret Wars volume 2 box you will find 4 packs of cards marked A, B, C and C. Within these packs some of the cards are identical; the two C decks are duplicated throughout. Deck A has 74 cards comprising of 3 different Bystanders: Alligator Hunters, Undercover Agents and Shapeshifted Copycats. 12 Spider-Friends, 4 of each Spider-Gwen, Silk and Agent Venom. 8 Cabal cards - Black Swan and Corvus Glaive. 8 Illuminati - 4 Beast and 4 Captain Britain (oh yes, the blurb on the back of the box mentions Captain Britiain - oops!!). 8 Marvel Knights - Shang-Chi and Dr Punisher/Soldier Supreme (one and the same believe it or not Mr Ripley). and 16 X-Men, 4 each of Soulsword Colossus, Ruby Summers, Phoenix Force Cyclops and Time-Travelling Jean Grey (what a character to play she is.
The B Deck is 86 cards of New Villain Groups - Deadpool's Secret Wars, Guardians of Knowhere, K'un-Lun, Monster Metropolis, Utopolis and X-Men '92. Plus Masterminds (4) King Hyperion, Shiklak the Demon Bride (aka Mrs Deadpool), Spider Quyeen and the Immortal Emperor Zheng-Zhu and all necessary tactical cards.8 more Schemes and 10 new Ambitions. As previously noted there are many expansions for Marvel Legendary but for players coming new to the game the basic Heroes boxed set augmented by these two Secret Wars expansions is more than enough to whet the appetite of all Marvel fans, in fact most people will be hard-pressed to name any truly possible Heroes, Villains or Masterminds not found in these three boxes. In Volume 2 we the players get to run with Deadpool, Wolverine and Howard the Duck as villainous henchmen with the possibilities of heroic overtones.
The two C Decks contain 190 cards which are 16 sets of 10 which when added to the 4 of each found in the A Deck make it 14 for each of the 16 heroes plus 3 x 10 Henchmen Villains, Magma Men, Spider Infected and Khenshu Guardians.
For players who are also collectors of the 14 Hero cards per hero (not including the hero him or her self) there are 1 Rare, 3 UnCommon and 2 x 5 Common cards. In all cases the Rare is the one with the highest value and of which there is only one whereas the UnCommon are not always, but mostly are, the second highest value cards. Exceptions to this include Dr Punisher/The Soldier Supreme, Spider-Gwen, and Silk, where all cards are valued at "2".
Masterminds found in Volumes 1 and 2 are: Madelyne Prior (Goblin Queen); Wasteland Hulk; Zombie Green Goblin; Nimrod (Super Sentinel); King Hyperion; Immortal Emperor Zheng-Zhu; Spider Queen and Shiklah the Demon Bride.
As already mentioned the artwork throughout is superb but I have a minor moan that the artwork used for the main cards and the tactics cards all use the same piece of art making it not immediately defined which is the Mastermind and which are the tactics cards, in fact at first glance there is no difference, you have to read the small text under the cards' title to see "Mastermind". Thius is only a mini quibble and because of the cost of art it is understandable why it has been presented thus, but from an aesthetic viewpoint it would have been nicer to have slightly different cards for the main ones, even just a partial blow-up of the head and shoulders would have given the impression of difference.
Overall though SECRET WARS has drawn me well into the LEGENDARY game. I don't have my own copy of LEGENDARY itself but I am lucky that I have a friend who does, so we combined his original boxed set with my SECRET WARS expansions. I will be aiming to get my own copy though so I can bring others into the fold.