As fun as the base game of Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is, from the start there was always room for additions and improvements. Those upgrades have come in six expansions since Legendary’s creation in 2012, the most recent one hitting stores only four days ago (Secret Wars – Volume 2) Including even one of these expansions in your set significantly increases the flavor and replayability of the game, adding new heroes, villains, schemes, masterminds, mechanics and keywords, and even brand new elements.
(If you’re unfamiliar with the game, my previous post covers all the mechanics and terminology from the base game.)
The first expansion to Legendary, Dark City is themed around the underworld (literally) and street-level threats and heroes. It introduces the Marvel Knights team, featuring clandestine or crime-fighting heroes such as Daredevil and Blade, as well as their traditional foes, such as Kingpin and vampires. But Dark City goes beyond its theme, adding six X-Men heroes and five heroes for a brand new X-Force team, as well as major villains like Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister, making this a very X-Men heavy expansion.
What’s in this set – 17 heroes with two new teams, 5 Masterminds, 8 Schemes, 6 Villain Groups and 2 Henchmen Villain Groups, and 3 new types of Bystanders.
New Bystanders – Dark City brings three new types of Bystanders to add to the Bystander stack. This means that form this point on, the Bystander stack must be shuffled before games, and kept face down during games. Each of these new Bystanders has a special effect that takes place when they are rescued:
- News Reporter – Draw a card.
- Paramedic – You may KO a Wound from your hand or from any player’s discard pile.
- Radiation Scientist – You may KO one of your heroes or a hero from your discard pile.
New Keywords/Superpowers – The base game had its share of keywords (Ambush, Escape, Fight, etc.), and Dark City expands on that list, including two beneficial keywords, which apply to and appear on hero cards.
- Teleport – If you have a card with Teleport in your hand, you can choose to set the card aside instead of playing it. When you draw a new hand of cards at the end of your turn, you add any teleported cards to your new hand as extra cards. This allows you to set yourself up for some massive future hands, and prevents the waste of good cards that may not benefit your current hand. Some villain effect may allow or force you to teleport cards
- Versatile – Whenever this keyword appears, it is followed by a number (Versatile 3, for example). You get to choose whether you want that number as Attack Points or Recruit Points. It’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing; you won’t get to split the number between Attack and Recruit.
- Bribe – This keyword appears on villain cards, and signifies that you can use any combination of Attack and Recruit Points to defeat that villain.
In addition to the new keywords, Dark City also marks the first appearance of “Critical Hit” (or “Combo”) superpowers. In the base game, superpowers were activated by playing a hero of a certain class or team prior to the card with the superpower. Critical Hits, however, require more than one card to activate (such as two Tech, or one Strength and one Instinct). Critical Hits tend to be quite powerful, but may force you to sacrifice other superpowers to activate them, since a hero’s class and team can only be applied to one superpower per turn, unless a card says otherwise (Iron Man’s “+1 for each other Tech Hero you played this turn,” for example).
- Apocalypse – Loki ranked as the toughest Mastermind in the base game, but Apocalypse soundly dethroned him from that top spot. Not only does Apocalypse have a high Attack and a brutal Master Strike, he can defeat the players outright if one of each of his Four Horsemen villain group escape!
- Kingpin – Although he had the highest Attack up to this point, Kingpin can quickly get steamrolled due to his Bride keyword. Members of his villain group, Streets of New York, are also bribable.
- Mephisto – Leading the Underworld villain group of vampires and demons, Mephisto possesses a rather nasty trait, which forces players to put any Wound they gain on top of their decks, making their next hands weaker. At 10 Attack, he’s no slouch, but not devastating.
- Sinister – Not a difficult Mastermind to face, unless he racks up a large number of Bystanders, as he gets +1 Attack for every Bystander he has. His Master Strike allows him to capture a Bystander, and forces players to discard cards unless they reveal a Covert hero. He leads the Marauders villain group, who also capture Bystanders and get boosts for every Bystander captured.
- Stryfe – One of the weaker Masterminds overall, although he does increase in strength every time a Master Strike occurs. He leads the MLF (Mutant Liberation Front) villain group, who all possess interesting mechanics.
New Villain Groups – Dark City contains six villain groups: Emissaries of Evil (Spiderman villains), Four Horsemen (a challenging set), Marauders, MLF, Streets of New York, and Underworld. It also brings in two henchmen villain groups: the bribable Maggia Goons, and Phalanx.
New Heroes – The base game gave us a collection of popular Marvel heroes to recruit for the cause against evil, but left out some crucial characters. Dark City goes a long way to filling those gaps, by bringing us six X-Men heroes, six Marvel Knights, and five X-Force heroes.
Blade – The Daywalker gains benefits while battling villains in the Sewers or on the Rooftops, and possesses the ability to move foes to adjacent city spaces to help take advantage of those benefits. His focus is on Attack, but one of his commons grants him Recruit Points every time he defeats a villain in the Sewers or Rooftops. His rare rewards you for taking out several foes throughout the game, giving you +1 Attack for every villain or Mastermind in your Victory Pile.
Daredevil – The Man Without Fear relies on an unique mechanic, requiring you to pick a number, then look at the top card of your deck. If the revealed card has a cost equal to the number you picked, you gain a benefit of some kind. It’s a mechanic you can build an entire deck around, supplementing Daredevil cards with heroes who let you look at the top card of your deck. Spiderman and Gambit work well for this. If you build your deck properly, Daredevil can be quite powerful.
Elektra – At first glance, Elektra’s cards don’t seem to follow any sort of pattern, but laid out side by side, she makes a lot more sense. Her Covert common gains a boost if it is the first card played on your turn, and her Instinct common comes with a superpower activated by Covert, so these two work well if used together. These cards cost 1 and 2, respectively, which plays right into the hands of Elektra’s uncommon. In addition to its 4 Attack, the uncommon gains +1 Attack for every card costing 1 or 2 you’ve played. Like many rares, Elektra’s rare is a strong recruiting card, granting 5 Recruit up front, with another 2 locked behind an easily activated superpower. And to top it off, the next card you recruit after playing the rare goes into your hand! Although she works well with a deck built of her own cards, Elektra also easily supplements other decks, and you will probably find her used in support more than as the basis for a deck.
Ghost Rider – He has his moments, but feels a bit underwhelming. His recruit-oriented common is a strong card, granting a total of 4 Recruit with an easily-activated superpower, and his uncommon is a nice addition to a deck containing Strength cards, but his other two cards force you to KO villains from your Victory Pile in order to gain their full benefits, which makes them better in the late game, but weak early on. Ghost Rider’s rare feels especially weak when compared to the rares of other heroes.
Iron Fist – Captain America’s cards use a mechanic that grants extra Recruit or Attack (depending on the card) for each color of card you have on your turn. Iron Fist uses a similar mechanic, but relies on different costs instead of colors. This makes him potentially stronger than Captain America, as there are ten different hero costs, but only six different colors. You would have to draw multiple cards to reach the maximum potential of Iron Fist’s cards, of course, but that’s what his rare is for. His rare, besides granting an insane 8 Attack, lets you reveal cards from your deck until you’ve revealed two cards of the same cost. You then get to draw all the cards you revealed! This means you will get to draw at least two cards, and potentially a lot more! Overpowered? Yep. Do we care? As long as we have enough to recruit the card, nope!
Punisher – The Punisher is kind of a hit-or-miss hero. One of his commons is incredibly useful at purging unwanted S.H.I.E.L.D. cards from your hand, and may frequently be recruited regardless of how well it fits a deck otherwise. His other cards are situational, some coming with a cost to gain the full benefit. The Punisher is best used in support, particularly with Tech decks.
Angel – He focuses on drawing cards and manipulating your deck. Two of his cards force you to discard in order to unlock their full potential, but one of his commons works like a Cyclops card, allowing you to gain it back if a card effect makes you discard it. Angel’s rare allows you to discard any unwanted cards from your hand, then immediately replacing them with cards from your deck, thus granting a second chance at a good hand if you were not satisfied with what you already had.
Bishop – If you use his two commons together, Bishop lets you KO one of your cards, and gain Recruit Points for doing so. His uncommon is his strongest point, however, boasting 3 Attack up front, and another 3 Attack if you activate a Critical Hit Superpower via two Range heroes, a perfect addition to any Range deck. His rare can either be very, very good or simply average, depending on the other cards in your deck.
Iceman – If you want to see Iceman at his best, build a Range deck. As in, nothing but Range. Both his commons will give extra Recruit or Attack based on the number of Range cards you have. His uncommon, while not of the Range class itself, allows you to draw a card for every Range hero you do have. Then there’s his rare, which every player will want, regardless of their deck composition. It gives you 7 Attack, plus the ability to ignore a villain or Mastermind’s attempt to give you a Wound or force you to discard a card.
Jean Grey – It’s all about rescuing Bystanders for Jean Grey. Well, Bystanders and X-Men. Build a Jean Grey deck with X-Men in support, and you can rule the board. With her uncommon you get to draw cards whenever you rescue a Bystander, and one of her commons grants bonus Recruit every time you rescue a Bystander. Her other common and her rare have X-Men-activated superpowers that let you rescue Bystanders (multiple with her rare), and her rare will also supply extra Attack for each Bystander you rescue. Jean works excellently by herself and with other X-Men, but you can team her with other Bystander-rescuing heroes, or someone like Black Widow who also benefits from rescued Bystanders, with amazing success.
Nightcrawler – As befits the character, Nightcrawler is based around the Teleport keyword. Only Nightcrawler’s uncommon lacks the ability to teleport, and that card provides 6 Attack with an activated Critical Hit Superpower. Gaining success with Nightcrawler depends on how well you manage the Teleport cards. Investing Teleport cards in future turns can create monster hands, particularly through the use of his rare, which allows you to teleport up to three cards without the Teleport keyword.
Professor X – Surprisingly, the Professor doesn’t benefit heavily from other X-Men in your deck. One of his commons contains a superpower that is activated by another X-Men hero, but that’s it. However, his other cards are quite good, allowing you to manipulate both the Hero and Villain Decks through his second common and his uncommon. His rare is arguably overpowered (do we care, ha…), mind controlling every villain you defeat with him in play, adding those villains to your discard pile as heroes with Attack Points equal to their printed Attack. Essentially, this allows you to recruit with Attack Points while simultaneously clearing the city!
Cable – Both of Cable’s commons focus on the Mastermind, one as a defense against Master Strikes, and the other providing bonus Attack against Masterminds. His uncommon puts him in the role as the leader of X-Force, granting extra Attack for every other X-Force hero you played. Cable’s rare operates as both a strong attack option and as a way of purging unwanted cards from your hand, and thus your deck. Overall, a solid addition to any game, but unless you’re building an X-Force deck, he will probably be best as a support hero.
Colossus – If you could spend one Recruit Point to get a card with 3 Attack, wouldn’t you? With Collossus, you can! The catch? You gain a Wound. However, Colossus’s second common gives you a way to cancel the reception of a Wound, and lets you draw cards beside. His rare also deals with Wounds, but from a team perspective. If another player would gain a Wound, you can gain it instead, drawing a card as compensation. Combine that with his second common, and you can cancel the Wound entirely, while drawing a grand total of three cards for the effort! Colossus’s Covert uncommon brings heavy damage to his skill set, providing 4 Attack up front, with two more Attack locked behind a Strength superpower.
Domino – Adaptability is the name of the game for Domino. She focuses on the Versatile keyword, making all her cards beneficial for recruiting early game, and useful still in the Attack-heavy late game. If you activate the superpower on her rare, however, you don’t have to choose between Versatile benefits, but gain both Attack and Recruit whenever you use a Versatile ability. The best thing about Versatile cards is that they can fit in with almost any deck, so Domino is a solid addition to any set of heroes.
Forge – Featuring nothing but Tech cards, Forge is the perfect hero to build a Tech deck around. His best features are his uncommon, which grants Versatile 3, and his rare, which possesses a double-Tech Critical Hit. When activated, that Critical Hit defeats the Mastermind once for free!
Wolverine – Apparently Wolverine is so popular, Upper Deck thought it was worth making a second version! Although he still draws cards, the X-Force Wolverine is not so heavily focused on that mechanic as his X-Men counterpart until you get to his rare. If you’ve already drawn cards this turn, Wolverine’s rare lets you draw as many cards as you’ve already drawn. If you’ve built a deck around drawing cards… wow. When it comes down to it, though, the original version of Wolverine is the better set.
Dark City is an impressive addition to Legendary, but it’s just the beginning of the treasure trove of add-ons to this game. Next up, a look at the three “small box” expansions: Fantastic Four, Paint the Town Red (a Spiderman set), and Guardians of the Galaxy!
Note: it is unlikely that I will be able to review the new expansion, Secret Wars – Volume 2, prior to Christmas, so if you’re interested in taking a look at that before the holiday (and I recommend it; the set looks awesome!), go to boardgamegeek.com for the basic information. Then come back here for my full review of the expansion once I’ve acquired and had a chance to play it! (Here’s hoping for Christmas!)