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The Legends version of Stratego is a new way of jazzing up an old game. By intermingling a large set of abilities to all the pieces, the creators have taken the basic and somewhat boring concept of stratego and spiced it up while complicating it quite a bit. This game is easy to learn, but also takes a long time to learn (which sounds contradictory, but will be explained later.)

Those who know how to play the original stratego will immediately recognise how the game is played: numbered pieces are placed on the board so that only you know what your pieces are, and the two armies battle it out until one of them makes it to the other's base/flag. There are a lot of familiar pieces in the game as well, though they are generally under different names : you have to find your opponent's castle instead of his flag, the bombs are replaced with various magical effects that still kill anyone but certain pieces instantly, and instead of engineers to defuse bombs, you have certain pieces which can dispel magic. For some reason they flipped the numbers, however, meaning that now 10 is the most powerful unit while 1 is the 'spy' unit that almost anything can kill.

The difference in this game is that aside from the number strength of each unit, there are also a myriad of abilities for each unit. Each unit has at least one ability, most have two. Very few have three. This means that every piece is unique and can be used in a unique way. For example, some pieces can move two spaces at a time, some can "charge" (move like a chess rook), "slash" (move like a chess bishop), or fly over a series of pieces as long as they land on an empty space.

There are also some abilties that are completely unique abilites, such as a medusa piece that lets you kill all adjacent pieces, or a dragon piece that lets you give another piece the ability to temporarily fly. There are also death curses, which are only active once the unit dies. These death curses stay in place until another unit with a death curse replaces them. These curses range from benifiting one side heavily to just causing odd effects, such as causing every creature to fly.

There are 206 different, unique pieces in the game, 103 of them being the 'good' side, and 103 being the 'evil' side. However, you only receive 30 pieces for each side with the original game (although you can buy additional pieces in boxes of 15 apiece for about 10 dollars a box.) The uniqueness of each game makes the game a lot more interesting than the original stratego, and with the option to collect and add new pieces, the game can take on a whole new meaning just by putting in different pieces for each side.

However, the game's greatest strength is also the game's greatest weakness. Each unit's abilities are placed on 6 separate cards that contain about 34 units apiece, 3 cards for each side (each side is divided into 3 races, hence the reason for 6 cards instead of 2.) Thus, every time it is someone's turn, they must look at their pieces, think of which ones might be useful at the time, and then look up what those pieces to do to see which is the best move. This means that those unfamiliar with the game are in for a very long first game. After about 3 or 4 games, however, a person can quickly memorize their pieces (especially the ones that they found to be extremely useful previously.) Thus, as I explained, the game has basic rules of stratego, and is therefore easy to learn, but at the same time it takes a long time to learn what each individual piece does so that you do not have to constantly refer to your reference cards. However, this is still simpler than some games out there (particularly wargames) that have novels for instruction booklets and require 4+ hours to play.

The game as a whole looks fantastic, with artwork for each individual piece. The gameboard itself randomizes with each play, but the framing could use a little work (you can just as soon ignore the frame as long as you don't bump the board too much, though.)

The instruction manual has an optional story you can read, which helps the theme a bit, but is in no way essential for play. Because the basic rules are pretty simple, most of the time required to learn the game is done during the first game, checking reference cards to see what each unit does.

The game has a lot more replay value than the original stratego, since one can collect new pieces for either side, and improve one's army. Also, the board is somewhat randomized each time two people play, and since the pieces are also placed on the board randomly (with some minor swapping aloud so your castle isn't on the front lines and such) the game is different every time it is played.

Thus, the final verdict for this game is that although it's complex in the beginning, it remains fun even through the complexity. The game becomes more fun each time it is played, as less referencing is needed. Plus, this game is good for collectors who want to create the best army, or even collect every single piece. Thus, if you want a game you will play over and over again and can improve over time, you should definately choose this game over the original version of stratego.
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