Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

If you’re looking for gifts for your avid gamer friends or family this Christmas, or just interested in adding something to your own collection of tabletop games, I can’t recommend a better choice than Upper Deck’s Legendary: Marvel. Legendary is a deck-building board game set in the Marvel universe. This is, of course, the comic universe rather than the movies (although the movies have certainly inspired aspects of the game), so you can play a game where the Avengers and the X-Men battle Doctor Doom while the Sinister Six attempt to forge the Infinity Gauntlet, and not have to worry about whether you’re violating someone’s film rights all the while. The game supports up to five players, with a wide array of options to customize each game, and to increase or decrease the difficulty of gameplay. There are even rules for solo play, although I personally haven’t tried it yet.

The game sets the players and their chosen group of heroes against an evil Mastermind and groups of villains, who are trying to complete a dastardly Scheme. The players collectively win the game if they defeat the Mastermind, and lose if the Mastermind and villains manage to accomplish their goals. To thwart the bad guys, the players must recruit heroes to their side, and then use them to defeat villains and, ultimately, the Mastermind.

TableTop did a  video review of Legendary a few months ago. I intend to go far more in-depth than they did, but there is a lot of information and complexity to this game (though it’s not difficult to get the hang of), and the video does a good job of presenting that information in a tangible way.



Legendary Game Board

Due to a wide selection of hero and villain options – especially if you throw some of Legendary’s expansions into the mix – setup can be a bit time-consuming and complex, but it is not as daunting as it may seem at first. There are four major components you must select before you can begin a game: the Mastermind, the Scheme, the Villain Deck, and the Hero Deck. It is best, at least at first, to set up these components in the order listed, as the Mastermind and Scheme will dictate aspects of the Villain Deck, and all three may necessitate including heroes of certain classes or teams.

Mastermind – The Mastermind is one of Marvel’s villainous elite, such as Loki, Red Skull, or Magneto. They have transcended mere villainy and achieved “super-villainy,” so any cards that affect villains specifically do not apply to them. Each Mastermind leads a group of villains closely associated with him (Magneto leads the Brotherhood of Mutants, for example); this villain group will be included in the VillainLegendary Master Strike Deck.

A Mastermind also has an unique “Master Strike,” which represents them getting their hands dirty in combat with the heroes. Master Strikes are activated when a Master Strike card is drawn from the Villain Deck, and they always make life difficult for the  heroes, although some can be countered if the players have the right cards in their decks.

The Mastermind also has four “tactics” cards, shuffled and stacked face down beneath the Mastermind card. When you successfully attack the Mastermind, you get to draw one of these tactics, which may do something good, something bad, or a bit of both. When all four of these tactics are gone, the Mastermind is defeated and the game is won. (The game includes two optional endings where you must defeat the Mastermind one final time once his tactics are gone).

The base game includes four Masterminds: Loki, Red Skull, Magneto, and Doctor Doom.

Legendary Masterminds

Scheme – The Scheme represents the villains’ goals, and exerts more influence over gameplay than anything else. Each Scheme has special setup rules, the most important being the number of “Twist” cards added to the Villain Deck. Whenever one of these

Legendary TwistTwist cards is drawn from the Villain Deck, it activates a special, always negative effect, representing the progression of the Mastermind and villains’ plans towards completion. The Scheme card contains a section describing what happens when a Twist card comes up. In addition to the number of Twist cards included, the Scheme’s setup section may also require certain villains groups in the Villain Deck, special additions to the Hero and/or Villain Decks, and more commonly, special rule changes.

At the bottom of the Scheme card there is section marked “Evil Wins.” This area describes the ultimate goals of the bad guys, and when the listed conditions are met, the game is over and the players lose! It is important to note that for some Schemes the failure conditions can be met with or without the aid of Twists. For example: if “Evil Wins” when twelve villains escape, you lose if that occurs, even if no Twist cards have been drawn at any point during the game.

Legendary Schemes

Villain Deck – Once you have chosen a Mastermind and Scheme, you will need to assemble the Villain Deck. This deck is comprised of a set number of villain groups, henchmen villain groups, and bystanders, depending on the number of players at the table. Fortunately, there is a handy chart in the upper left corner of the board, which tells you what you need based on the number of players. Also add in the five Master Strike cards, as well as anything required by the Scheme’s setup rules, including the number of Twist cards.

Legendary Chart

One of the villain or henchmen villain groups will always be the Mastermind’s group, and the Scheme may rarely require one or more. These are not additional groups, unless otherwise specified. After adding all mandatory groups, the rest you include will be entirely up to you, allowing you to customize your game by adding harder or easier groups, or simply groups that fit a theme or your whims.

Henchmen and villains groups both count as “villains” when it comes to cards that affect villains, but they differ thematically. Henchmen groups contain ten identical cards of low strength, while villain groups contain eight cards of varying strengths and characters.

The base game includes seven villain groups: the Brotherhood of Mutants (Magneto), Enemies of Asgard (Loki), HYDRA (Red Skull), Masters of Evil, Radiation, Skrulls, and Spider Foes.

The game also includes four henchmen villain groups: Doombot Legion (Doctor Doom), Hand Ninjas, Sentinels, and Savage Land Mutates.

Legendary Villain Sample

Hero Deck – Finally, assemble your heroes. Depending on the number of players, you will get four to six heroes in the Hero Deck, with fourteen cards apiece. There’s more freedom when creating the Hero Deck than with the Villain Deck, as Schemes rarely affect the former, and then, never by requiring certain heroes. However, you will probably want to select heroes with abilities and characteristics that can counter the villains, Mastermind, and Twists.

The base game includes fifteen heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Rogue, Gambit, Storm, Wolverine, Spiderman, Deadpool, and Nick Fury. (See the Hero Review section at the end for a brief analysis of each character.)


The game board includes places for each of the aforementioned components, as well as spots for three more decks: the S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers, Wounds, and Bystanders. Some of the Bystanders will be included in the Legendary Extra CardsVillain Deck (the chart on the board will tell you the number you need), but other than that all you need to do with these three decks during setup is place them in their designated spots.

Each player begins the game with a starter deck of S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes. Deal each player eight S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents and four S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers. These are the heroes you will rely on initially to attack villains and recruit stronger heroes. Shuffle your card and place them in front of you as your personal deck. Then, draw six cards from your decks.

Finally, take the top five cards of the Hero Deck and place them in the HQ area on the board. These five spots in the HQ serve as the card pool from which all players will be able to gain heroes throughout the game.



On your turn:

  1. Play the top card of the Villain Deck.
  2. Play cards from your hand.
  3. Draw a new hand of cards.


Legendary Turn Order

(1) Play the top card of the Villain Deck – Most likely this will be a villain card, but you could also turn over a Master Strike, Scheme Twist, or Bystander. If you draw a Master Strike or Twist, resolve its effect before continuing your turn. If you draw a villain, place it in the first space in the city area on the board (this will be the Sewers). If another villain is already in this space, push that villain into the next space, pushing any other villains further down the line. Note: villains do not move unless pushed, so if you have a villain on the Bridge (fifth city space) and no other villains in the city, a villain entering the Sewers will not cause the one on the Bridge to move.

Some villains possess an Ambush ability. If you draw a villain with an Ambush, resolve it immediately after putting the villain in the Sewers and pushing other villains forward.

If a villain is on the final city space and is pushed out of the city, that villain “escapes.” Put that villain on the Escaped Villains spot on the board. Some villains have an Escape ability, which works like an Ambush except it triggers when the villain gets away. Resolve an Escape immediately when the villain leaves the city. Additionally, there is a penalty for allowing a bad guy to get away. The player whose turn it is must take one of the heroes in the HQ with a printed cost of 6 or less and “KO” it. KO stands for “Knocked Out,” and it means that the card is permanently removed from gameplay, and placed in Legendary KO Spacethe large KO spot on the board. Immediately fill the vacated HQ space with the top card of the Hero Deck.

If you draw a Bystander card from the Villain Deck, the closest villain to the Villain Deck “captures” it. If there are no villains in the city, the Mastermind captures it instead. When a Bystander is captured, stick its card beneath the villain or Mastermind who captured it. Whenever a player defeats a villain or the Mastermind, that player rescues all Bystanders captured by that bad guy. These Bystanders go in a personal Victory Pile along with any defeated villains and Mastermind tactics, which will determine points if the players win the game. If a villain escapes the city with a Bystander in tow, however, all players are penalized. Not only do they KO a hero in the HQ for the escaped villain, but they must each discard a card from their hands (and do not replace it) for the captured Bystander. Fortunately, players only discard one card regardless of the number of Bystander who were carried off.

(2) Play cards from your hand – Hero cards can allow you to do one or more of three things: recruit other heroes, attack villains or the Mastermind, or cause some sort of support or utility effect. With the starter deck of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents and Troopers, you can only do the first two, but as you build a stronger deck, more options become available to you.

Let’s take a look at the S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes:

Legendary SHIELD

In the lower right corner of each card, you’ll notice a gold circle with a number on it. That is the hero’s cost. For the starter heroes, the cost is zero, but every other hero in the base game will cost two or more (the “cost” for the starter heroes is relevant for some cards, however). The cost on a card tells you how many Recruit Points you will have to spend in order to add that card to your deck.

On the lower left side of the Agent card, there is a star icon with a number. This is how Legendary SHIELD Officermany Recruit Points the card provides on your turn. Every time you play a card with a Recruit value on your turn, you gain those points, and may spend all or some to “recruit” one or multiple heroes from the HQ and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers deck. Put any card you recruit into a personal discard pile (do not play them this turn); they will eventually find their way into your deck and, ultimately, future hands.

Whenever a space in the HQ becomes vacant for whatever reason, always refill the space with another card from the Hero Deck immediately. This can be highly beneficial for you during recruitment, as you can recruit a hero and wait to see what comes up next before deciding what else to recruit!

In the lower left corner of the Trooper card, you will see a symbol like three red slash marks, accompanied by a number. This is the Attack value of the card, and designates the number of Attack Points that card provides you on your turn. You can spend Attack Points to take out villains in the city, or to fight the Mastermind. Every villain and Mastermind possesses an individual Attack value as well, located in the lower right corner of the card. All you have to do is tie a bad guy’s Attack to defeat him. If you have enough Attack Points, you can fight multiple villains and/or the Mastermind. You can even fight the Mastermind more than once per turn! Beware, however: some villains possess Fight abilities, which work like Ambush or Escape abilities, except they activate immediately after a villain is defeated. These can be good or bad, so be careful!

When you defeat a bad guy, put it in your Victory Pile.

Finally, in the upper left corner of the S.H.I.E.L.D. hero cards, there is another icon, this one with the S.H.I.E.L.D. symbol on it. This is a team icon, indicating that the Troopers and Agents (also the Officers) count as members of a specific team, in this case, S.H.I.E.L.D.  Other cards, heroes in particular, activate additional effects if members of specific teams are in play. Some Nick Fury cards, for instance, gain additional Attack for S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes you play on your turn.

Now, let’s take a look at some heroes from the Hero Deck:

Legendary Heroes Gallery

There are two major differences between these stronger heroes and the starter S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes. First, just under the team icon in the upper left corner, you’ll notice that each hero has a second icon. This is the card’s “class” or “power.” Like teams, classes can activate additional effects when played with certain cards. Each class is color-coded, but there is an important distinction between class and color in Legendary. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers, Agents, and Officers don’t have a class, but they do have a color: grey. The classes and their colors are as follows (left to right in the above image):

  • Green – Strength, fist icon. Represents physical and mental strength, as well as willpower.
  • Red – Covert, circle and arrows icon. Signifies subtlety and finesse.
  • Blue – Range, target icon. The ability to strike from a distance.
  • Black – (Looks grey, but officially counts as Black.) Tech, electronics icon. Indicates a technological advantage.
  • Yellow – Instinct, mind icon. Represents reflexes, senses, and sometimes mind powers.

The second difference is in the lower center of the cards, where you will see a text box. This contains utility or support effects, sometimes taking effect immediately when you play the card, and other times activated by classes or teams in the form of “superpowers.” The Spiderman card on the left, for instance, lets you look at the top card of your personal deck, and if the cost of that card is two or less (this includes the zero-cost  S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes), you draw it and can use it on the current turn.

The second card, one of Rogue’s, contains a superpower. Superpowers can only be activated if you play a card with the required class or team prior to playing the card with the superpower. So, if you played a card of the covert class and then played the Rogue card in the above image, you could choose to activate the superpower, but if you played the Rogue card and then another Covert hero, you would not be able to activate the superpower. This necessitates some strategic thought when playing your cards, since the order you play them can make a huge difference.

The third card is Cyclops’s “rare” card. Each hero has two sets of “common” cards with five card apiece, one set of “uncommon” with three cards, and one rare card. Commons are usually lower cost, and will serve as the backbone of players’ decks, while uncommons can bring a deck together, often building on mechanics set up by a hero’s common cards. Rares, on the other hand, are game-changing, as this Cyclops card demonstrates. It provides six Attack on its own, and for every other X-Men hero card you played (which includes other Cyclops cards), you get an extra two Attack! Of course, it takes eight Recruit Points to obtain the card, but if you’re fortunate enough to get your hands on it, and build a deck of X-Men heroes, you should be able to wipe the floor with the bad guys!

The fourth card represents a pure utility card. Note that this Iron Man card does not provide any Attack or Recruit Points, but, like all cards, it will still provide its class and team icons to help activate superpowers on other cards. It also contains a tech superpower, which would allow you to draw a second card if you can activate it with a tech hero played before it.

The fifth card possesses an unique set of mechanics. For each color of hero you have in play or in your hand, this card provides one Recruit Point. Note that this says color rather than class, meaning that the grey S.H.I.E.L.D. cards will contribute to this card. This means, with a well-crafted “rainbow deck,” this card could provide a maximum of six Recruit Points! Also, it will never give you lower than one Recruit, since due to the card’s wording, its own color counts.

When recruiting heroes, it goes without saying that it’s better to build a deck with cards that synergize, rather than a hodgepodge. This means that a deck built around a single team or class could be worlds above a deck consisting of all the best cards that were available at the time of recruitment. Sometimes it’s better to grab a weaker card with the right class, team, or mechanics for your deck, or to not recruit a hero because it would benefit another player’s deck more than yours.

(3) Draw a new hand of cards – When you are finished recruiting and fighting and playing cards, take all the cards from your turn, whether you played them or not, and put them in your discard pile. Then draw a new hand of six cards. Do not shuffle your discard pile until you run out of cards in your deck and are supposed to draw another card.


Other Effects

 Bystanders – Civilians sometimes get caught in the middle of the action, whether by accident or by the villains’ design, and they will need to be rescued. We’ve examined how Bystanders in the Villain Deck are handled, but Bystanders come into play through a Legendary Bystandercouple of other sources as well. Some Ambush effects, Master Strikes, and Scheme Twists will allow a villain or Mastermind to capture a Bystander. When this occurs, take a Bystander from the stack of Bystanders and place it beneath the villain who captured them, same as the Bystander from the Villain Deck. Additionally, some hero cards or Fight effects from defeating bad guys will allow players to rescue Bystanders directly from the Bystander stack. Whenever you rescue a Bystander, whether directly from their stack or indirectly by defeating a villain with Bystanders, place the Bystander in your Victory Pile.

Wounds – Heroes can’t expect to come out of every fight unscathed, and Legendary represents this through Wound cards. Ambush effects, Fight effects, Escape effects, Master Strikes, Scheme Twists, and even hero cards may force you to gain Wounds to Legendary Woundyour discard pile. When you reshuffle your cards, these Wounds enter your deck and will eventually make their way into your hand, which they weaken by acting as dead space. Some hero cards will allow you to KO Wounds from your hand or discard pile, but if you don’t have any such cards in your hand, the only way to get rid of Wounds is by Healing. You may heal whenever it’s your turn, provided you do not recruit any heroes or attack any bad guys at any point during the turn (although you can use utility effects, such as drawing cards). When you choose to take a Healing turn, you get to KO all Wounds from your hand.

KOing Cards – When you KO (Knock Out) a card, it is permanently removed from play and placed in the large KO section of the board.
KOing heroes can be either a good thing or a bad thing. If you are forced to KO heroes from the HQ, you are potentially losing a valuable card that someone may have wanted to recruit. On the other hand, this could give you the opportunity to get rid of an unwanted card for the chance of a better card showing up. When it comes to your personal deck, you likely will never want to KO a non-grey hero (although there are scenarios when this will benefit you), but as the game progresses, the starter S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes will begin cluttering up your hands, and being able to purge them at that point is a blessing. Villains, Masterminds, and Twists can all force you to KO heroes through their various effects, but hero cards may give you the option as well. Hero cards that do so, however, typically will permit you to KO any card from your hand and/or discard pile, rather than just heroes. A few hero cards may specifically target Wounds, allowing you to get rid of them without resorting to Healing.

Keep in mind that KOing and discarding are completely different things. When you KO a card, you and all players lose that card for the rest of the game, but when you discard, the card goes into your discard pile, meaning that while you may lose it from your hand, you maintain possession of it in your deck, and can use it on future turns.

Revealing Cards – From time to time, card effects will tell you to “reveal” a card of a specific class or team. Provided you have such a card in your hand or currently in play, all you have to do is show the other players that you have it. If you fail to produce the card type in question, you may suffer a consequence or miss out on a bonus, depending on the effect description. You are never required to reveal a card, and you can choose not to reveal one – even if the card is clearly is play in front of you – and take the effect for failing to reveal. For example: if a card requires you to reveal a strength hero or gain a Legendary Reveal MechanicWound, you might decide to take the Wound instead of revealing, because you happen to have a Hulk card that would benefit from Wounds in your deck.


Winning/Losing the Game

While a particular game’s setup – the Scheme and Mastermind in particular – may give rise to different end game scenarios, ultimately the way to win or lose is always the same: the players collectively win if they defeat the Mastermind four times, and collectively lose if the conditions in the Scheme’s “Evil Wins” section are met. The game can end without a victory for good or evil, though. Running out of cards in either the Villain or the Hero Deck forces a draw: the heroes were able to prevent the villains from carrying out their dastardly plans, but were unable to bring the Mastermind to justice, so both sides live to fight another day. You’ll want to  act fast to stop the Mastermind, but keep an eye on the number of cards left in the Hero Deck as well. If it’s getting low, slow down on recruitment; at that point all players should have worthwhile decks anyways.

If players win the game, it’s time to calculate points to see who fared the best in the conflict. For this, players turn to their Victory Piles. These stacks are where you keep all the Bystanders you rescued, all the villains you defeated, and all the Mastermind tactics you acquired by defeating the Mastermind. Each of these cards has a red circle icon withLegendary Victory Points a numerical value on its right side. The number on that symbol indicates how many points (intuitively named Victory Points) you receive for having the card in your Victory Pile at the end of the game. The player with the most points is considered the greatest hero!

Ultimately, this is a collaborative game rather than a competitive one, so individual scores aren’t that important. If you don’t feel a need to tally up Victory Points at the end of the game, then don’t worry about it. It is nice to know how well you contributed to the team’s success, however, especially when you managed to build a powerful deck!


Hero Review

I would be remiss if I didn’t go into a little more detail on each hero, particularly since I intend to do so when I examine each of the five expansions for Legendary. As this post is already rather long, I’ll save the expansions for a sequel post, followed by a review of the upcoming sixth expansion, which is set for release on December 9th.

Here are the fifteen heroes from the base game, spread over four teams:

(Card images are from left to right: common, common, uncommon, rare.)


Captain America – The Captain is a highly adaptable hero, and can mesh with nearly any deck build, although he works best if you build a deck specifically around him. His common cards benefit from having multiple colors in your deck (and Cap can contribute up to four of the six colors personally if you recruit his cards), so if you decide to build a “rainbow deck” try to assemble an even balance of colors, including grey heroes. His rare can stack to ridiculous levels of awesome if you pair it with a deck filled with Avengers. Overall, a very easy hero to get the hang of, and can round out a deck or be used as the base for one. One of my personal favorite Legendary characters.

Legendary Captain America

Iron Man – A tech-heavy hero with a little bit of range, Iron Man works best if you build a deck around tech cards. He can allow you to draw a fair amount of extra cards if you’re able to activate his superpowers, especially with his rare, which can let you draw up to four cards on its own! His uncommon is where his attack power lies, granting you three Attack on its own, and +1 Attack for every other tech card you played during your turn. Look elsewhere for Recruit Points, though, as he provides none.

Legendary Iron Man

Hulk – Pure attack, and mostly strength class, with just a dash of instinct. One of Hulk’s commons grants you the ability to KO a Wound from your hand or discard pile, and you get bonus Attack for doing so. This is both useful and necessary, as his uncommon will give you and your fellow players Wounds when they are played. You’ll want to put Hulk in a deck with a lot of strength, especially if you get your hands on his rare, which grants a whopping ten Attack with an activated superpower.

Legendary Hulk

Thor – It may seem surprising at first that the Mighty Thor is a Recruit-heavy hero, until you take a look at his rare, which allows you to use Recruit Points as Attack Points on the turn it is played! His uncommon does steady damage alone, and powerful damage when its superpower is activated. With the exception of his nearly over-powered rare, though, Thor’s cards are best used to support a deck, rather than define one.

Legendary Thor

Black Widow – A fairly low-cost hero who brings covert and tech to the battlefield, Black Widow’s skill set is centered around rescuing Bystanders, and then gaining boost from for Bystanders rescued. If you team her with other heroes who rescue Bystanders, her uncommon can be more powerful than her rare. Her rare lets you insta-kill a villain or Mastermind who has a Bystander in custody, which is nothing to sneeze at, but her uncommon will give you +1 Attack for every Bystander in your Victory Pile. With a deck built around rescuing Bystanders, her uncommon can easily provide ten or more Attack alone, and you can potentially get three of those cards!

Legendary Black Widow

Hawkeye – The title for his uncommon says it all: Team Player. Hawkeye cards tend to fill a support role, some allowing you to draw cards, and others permitting other players to do so (your fellow players will love you for playing Hawkeye cards). You’ll want other Avengers cards in your deck to trigger the superpower on his uncommon, and his rare will let you rake in Bystanders, a match made in Heaven with Black Widow’s uncommon. Strangely, Hawkeye’s cards are either of the instinct or tech classes rather than range.

Legendary Hawkeye



Cyclops – The field leader of the X-Men delivers substantial Recruit and Attack power at low cost through his commons, but you will have to discard a card in order to play those cards. His uncommon is the remedy, however. If a card effect forces you to discard it, it will return to your hand immediately. So, whenever you have to discard, choose his uncommon, and you will come through without loss! His rare, with a handful of X-Men, can kick all the butt. This is a hero you can not only build a deck around, you can build a deck with nothing but his cards, and you will field a wealth of power.

Legendary Cyclops

Emma Frost – She strikes a balance between Attack, Recruit, and utility. Her uncommon will allow each player, including yourself, to draw an extra card, but only if each player has another X-Man hero. Her rare can rack up a number of bonus Recruit Points if you defeat multiple foes on your turn, allowing you to continue expanding your deck. Overall, though, Emma feels like a filler hero; her abilities are good, but don’t exactly stand out. Best used in a supporting role.

Legendary Emma Frost

Rogue – When it comes to Rogue, “best used as support” is not a criticism, but a compliment. Her commons bring a balance of Recruit Points and respectable damage, as well as the ability to KO unwanted cards, but everyone at the table will be drooling over her uncommon and rare. Her uncommon will copy any one card you play, giving you the ability to double dip with a powerful card. Her rare works in a similar manner, except it forces every player, including yourself, to discard the top card of their decks. You then get to “play” an imaginary copy of each of those cards. Because of her ability to mimic other cards, Rogue can fit in excellently with any deck build, making her a solid addition to any game.

Legendary Rogue

Gambit – This Louisiana native’s Legendary abilities reflect his penchant for carrying a deck of cards wherever he goes. Gambit’s cards allow you to manipulate your deck, setting up stronger future turns or boosting your current one. Ultimately best when supporting a deck, particularly decks with many “draw card” options.

Legendary Gambit

Storm – She is the only character in the base game who can manipulate villains in the city, which makes her a valuable addition to any game. Her uncommon permits you to swap villains or move them around the city, taking any captured Bystanders in the process. You’ll probably want to move villains to the Rooftops or Bridge, since Storm has cards that weaken enemies in those areas. Her rare can also weaken the Mastermind, making him easier to take down. Storm works best in decks with lots of range cards. Thor, for instance, makes a good partner.

Legendary Storm

Wolverine – Logan’s loner tendencies are well-reflected in the game. His cards are entirely instinct class, provide no Recruit Points, and are best used in a deck consisting of other Wolverine cards, or at least other instinct cards. No one in the base game is better than Wolverine at drawing cards: every single one of his cards  possesses that ability, and his rare, with an activated superpower will give you +1 Attack for every extra card you’ve drawn on the turn it’s played. One of Wolverine’s commons can also KO Wounds.

Legendary Wolverine


Spider Friends:

Spiderman – He is the only member of his team in the base game, but Upper Deck intended from the start to add more in the expansions, and there are now six members of his team, with at least three more on the way. Spiderman is a very low-cost hero; all his cards cost only two Recruit. Each one provides some sort of small, up-front benefit, and all of them include the possibility of drawing the top card of your deck, provided that card costs two Recruit or less, however. This means you should either build a deck entirely around Spiderman’s mechanics, or use him sparingly in support. When used as support, his uncommon works very well with Black Widow, as it allows you to automatically rescue a Bystander, and it is of the tech class, which can activate some Black Widow superpowers, rescuing more Bystanders. If you build around Spiderman, make sure you only recruit hero cards that cost two or less, and you will probably want to keep some S.H.I.E.L.D. Troopers and Agents in your deck as well, since their cost is less than two.

Legendary Spider Man



Nick Fury – The only non-grey S.H.I.E.L.D. hero, and one of the few heroes who benefits from keeping S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents and Troopers around, Nick Fury can exchange your starter S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes for Officers, and his uncommon gains +1 Attack for every other S.H.I.E.L.D. hero in play, but it’s his rare that makes him truly worthwhile. It doesn’t grant any Attack Points, but it allows you to insta-kill any villain or Mastermind whose Attack is less than the number of S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes in the KO pile. Considering most players will try to get rid of their  S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes quickly once they start building up an army of stronger heroes, this rare can become enormously powerful midway through the game! Seriously, this is one of, if not the most powerful hero card in the entire game to date. It is affectionately referred to as “The Boot” by my gaming group, because the very first time we encountered it was with Loki as the Mastermind, and, well… there was that scene in The AvengersAnt. Boot.

Legendary Nick Fury


No Team:

Deadpool – Doesn’t play well with others? In Legendary, the answer is yes and no. One of Deadpool’s commons grants extra Attack for every hero you have with an odd-numbered cost, which is certainly a card you can build a deck around, drawing from other available heroes, as many have at least a some cards with odd-numbered costs. However, Deadpool’s other common brings with it a seemingly negative effect: it gives a villain of your choice a Bystander. With clever play, though, this can get you bonus Victory Points by handing a villain you intend to fight a Bystander, then defeating that villain and rescuing the Bystander. The best use for that common, though, is in conjunction with Black Widow’s rare. Give a villain a Bystander, and then Black Widow’s rare insta-kills that villain. Deadpool’s rare has the unique ability to pass cards from player to player, which could benefit the entire table if the players coordinate and try to pass along cards that improve their teammates’ hands, or it could cause issues if one or more players decide to dump off cards they don’t want.

Legendary Deadpool


Tune in next week as I discuss the five currently-released expansions to Legendary Marvel!

About Ross Windsor

Ross Windsor is a film and gaming enthusiast, and an alumnus of Christendom College who graduated with a theology degree. He is currently designing a fantasy RPG system, while simultaneously researching and developing a board game and film scripts based on Arthurian legends.
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17 Responses to Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

  1. This game looks amazing! It takes two of my favorite things (games and superheroes) and combines them. Definitely moving up to the top of my list of games I want to try!


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  8. Greetings from Perú!
    I am really excited by play this game and I’m gonna buy one really soon, but I have a question before, hope you can help me… It is mandatory to have first the main set? I mean, if I only buy an expansion set, I’ll be able to play it?

    Thank you very much for your response!


    • Ross Windsor says:

      You will need the main set. The starter S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes, Wounds, S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers, the bulk of the Bystanders (all the basic ones), the game board, and the full rule book can only be found in the main set.


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  11. Scott Skauge says:

    Hey Ross! I enjoy reading your in-depth coverage of the Marvel Legendary sets. Looking forward to seeing what’s included in the Civil War expansion (hint hint…) Here’s a question that’s discussed all over forums but I’d like to hear your take on it – do you sleeve your cards and if so what kind do you prefer? I am picking up the base set and a couple expansions today and can’t wait to get fighting those villains and masterminds! Once again, thanks for the great articles on Marvel Legendary.


    • Ross Windsor says:

      My apologies for taking so long to reply! I’ve been a bit busy/distracted of late, but good news – I’ve finished my analysis of Civil War and it should be out no later than Monday.

      I don’t use sleeves. I know I probably should, but it’s extra time and money I’d rather spend elsewhere. So far my cards have held up rather well, except the S.H.I.E.L.D. starter heroes that are used every single game; we can always tell when those are on top of our decks! Upper Deck could probably make some decent money if they sold a pack of extra starter heroes.


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