Legendary®: A Deckade Building Game
In November of 2012, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game was born! Award-winning game designer Devin Low infused the game and its core system with strategy, depth, fun, and a multiverse worth of re-playability. It went on to be a 2013 Origins Awards Best Traditional Card Game nominee, and a 2013 Golden Geek Best Card Game nominee. The tabletop gaming landscape has grown and evolved so much since then, and we at Upper Deck are proud that it’s remained a popular title in the deck-building genre.
So what’s allowed Legendary to excel as an evergreen deck builder for an entire decade? The game works well as a solo experience but continues to be a game night staple thanks to its cooperative gameplay. Accommodating up to five players, Legendary unifies players against one big, bad Mastermind – controlled by the game itself! Succeeding against evil takes communication and teamwork from the players, like determining who needs to hit which Villain on their turns and who’s building up which Hero synergies. And for gamers who love a definitive winner, Legendary can be played semi-competitively with players competing for the most Victory Points. Whether you are focused on cooperative or competitive play, everyone will have to work together at some point lest the Mastermind declares victory.
The appeal of the license is also worth noting. In a world where plenty of publishers are working with Marvel’s illustrious catalog of characters, Legendary not only predates the Marvel Cinematic Universe surge but prides itself on the sheer amount of characters represented across its ten-year history – almost all of them via unique, illustrated art. Whether they’re Heroes, Villains, Masterminds, or something else; Legendary more likely than not has your favorites available. Over thirty expansions and thousands upon thousands of cards will do that, and by that, we mean effectively infinite possibilities!
Mechanically, the game is highly accessible, taking very few games to “learn” while remaining a satisfying challenge depending on your set-up or the player count. The core set alone offers a significant amount of variability with 15 different hero groups, 4 Masterminds, 4 Henchman groups, 7 Villain groups, 8 Schemes; as well as all the core cards required to play. But players who are looking for a greater challenge will find all new ways to play through our Legendary expansions. Introducing new mechanics, keywords, and gameplay features over the years has not only provided additional characters but has helped the entire Legendary deck building system grow and evolve. There have been numerous notable game changing elements that have come to Legendary over the years. Let’s take a look at two fan-favorites: Sidekicks – including Special Sidekicks – and Divided Cards.
Sidekicks made their way into Legendary in Legendary: Secret Wars Vol. 1. Previously, players could only recruit from the HQ or the S.H.I.E.L.D. Officer stack to bolster their decks. When played, a Sidekick allows you to draw two cards before returning immediately to the Sidekick stack. Now even on turns where you found yourself with extra Recruit, you would have the option of working some (always welcome) card draw into your deck. Legendary®: Civil War expanded the Sidekick Stack even further with our first batch of “Special Sidekicks” - super-powered animals known as the Pet Avengers! These Special Sidekicks have Hero Classes that can help trigger card abilities, as well as their own Keyword text. Back by popular demand, our more recent Legendary®: Messiah Complex signaled the return of Special Sidekicks. This batch included X-Men students, X-Force recruits, and members of X-Factor. This allowed for even more Marvel characters to join the game, serving unique roles alongside Heroes. Best of all, you can shuffle all Sidekicks from these 3 sets into your Sidekick Stack, letting you tailor your experience or make the most of your whole collection.
Divided Cards are another way that Legendary has grown. These were introduced in Legendary®: Civil War – pretty fitting for that expansion’s theme of division and duality! Divided Cards have two miniature cards printed on the same card. When you play a Divided Card, you choose which of its two sides to play and ignore the other side. This lets inseparable characters like Cloak and Dagger join the game as single Hero sets, reflecting that unity even when the card’s divided. More of these cards were welcomed into the game in Legendary®: X-Men, and in Legendary®: Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The newest round of Divided Cards can be found in our most recent release, Legendary®: Black Widow via the team-up of Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The additional characters and mechanics added over an entire decade demonstrates the endless potential of the Legendary system, and there are no signs of slowing down. Whether you just played your first game of Legendary®: A Marvel Deck Building Game or are eagerly awaiting the upcoming Legendary®: Marvel Studio’s Infinity Saga as the 31st expansion in your collection, we thank you for making Legendary such an enduring and prevailing board game. We hope you’ll celebrate this landmark birthday with us by recruiting your favorite Heroes, taking down the most nefarious Masterminds, and customizing your set-up with your favorite expansions.
Jade Sigmund is the Marketing Coordinator of Entertainment Products for The Upper Deck Company, a worldwide sports and entertainment company built on the pillars of quality craftsmanship, authenticity, and innovation. Upper Deck is dedicated to creating premium products that turn memorable moments into collectibles and games.