In recent years, the deck building genre of card games has become very popular. Dominion hit the scene in 2008, and was a smash hit. In addition to a host of expansions for that game, many other deck building games have been published. Thunderstone, Ascension, Nightfall, and Rune Age have each tweaked the formula to varying degrees of success. One thing that was missing from the genre, though, was cooperation. The subject of this installment of Tabletop Co-Op, Legendary, introduces Marvel super heroes into the deck building genre, and adds co-op too!
So what exactly is a deck building game? In this type of game, each player starts with a small deck of cards. A pool of other, more powerful cards are available for adding to this starter deck. Cards drawn from the starter deck provide resources, which can be used to obtain better cards, which are then shuffled into the player's deck to be drawn again later. As the game progresses, the quality of the cards in each player's deck improves, allowing them to obtain even better cards, in a shuffling spiral of deck optimization. Win conditions typically involve victory points obtained by purchase, defeating monsters, etc. Despite problems like long setup times and excessive shuffling requirements, the genre has proven to be very successful.
Legendary was just released earlier this month, making it the latest generation of the genre. The mechanics may not be particularly innovative, but they are finely tuned and very thematically implement the super heroic action and villainous foes of the Marvel Universe. A host of heroes, villains, and schemes to choose from during setup means no two games will ever play the same. With the benefit of hindsight, learning from what worked and what didn't in other deck building games, Legendary is the pinnacle of the genre.
The main conflict in the game is the hero deck versus the villain deck. The hero deck contains special cards related to five or six heroes, chosen at the beginning of the game. These cards work basically as the super powers of the various heroes. Spider-Man's webbing, Iron Man's repulsors, Thor's hammer... all of these iconic abilities are available. You'll need to purchase them and add them to your deck to draw on future turns in order to defeat the villain deck.