*I had originally intended to discuss Secret Wars: Volume 2 next, but the flash drive containing my write-up has inexplicably and annoyingly disappeared. Rather than delay longer while I rewrite the article, I’m skipping ahead to the expansion following Secret Wars: Volume 2. But never fear; I shall rewind and discuss Volume 2 shortly! For now, on with the show!*
2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Captain America’s first appearance in comics. In honor of such a momentous occasion, Upper Deck released a small box expansion for Legendary dedicated to the Star-Spangled hero. Upper Deck drew inspiration from various stages in Steve Rogers’s career as Captain America, with especial emphasis on his early adventures, which is reflected in the “Golden Age” artwork style for many of this set’s cards.
What’s in this set – 5 new heroes, 2 new Masterminds, 2 Villain Groups, and 4 new Schemes.
For previous Legendary sets –
New Keywords –
- Abomination – Any villain with this keyword can easily be stronger than his Attack value would suggest. An Abomination villain gets additional Attack equal to the printed Attack of the hero in the HQ space beneath him. If the hero beneath the villain does not provide any Attack, then the villain gains nothing. This means that you can manipulate the Attack value of Abominations by recruiting or otherwise moving heroes with Attack out of the HQ space beneath the villain, and hoping that the hero who replaces it has no or less Attack. A variation on this keyword, “Ultimate Abomination,” appears on the Mastermind, Arnim Zola, granting him additional Attack equal to the Attack values of all heroes in the HQ!
- Man/Woman Out of Time – A card with Out of Time operates as normal on the turn it is played, but then gets set aside instead of put in your discard pile. After playing a card from the Villain Deck on your next turn, immediately play all cards that have been “Out of Timed”. Once you play the cards on the second turn, discard them. This means that you cannot activate the Out of Time effects on the second turn, but you still get all other benefits from the cards, including team and class icons for activating superpowers. “Out of Timed” cards are not added to your hand on the second turn, although they do count as cards you “played” on that turn. This has pros and cons. On the con side, since the cards were never in your hand on the second turn, they do not count towards effects that depend on hand size (such any Master Strikes that apply only to players with exactly six cards in their hand). On the pro side, however, since the cards are not in your hand, they are protected from effects that would require you to discard or KO cards from your hand (such as Apocalypse’s Master Strike, which requires you to take all non-grey heroes out of your hand and put them on top of your deck; “Out of Timed” cards are immune to this effect).
- Savior – If you have at least three Bystanders in your Victory Pile, then you are considered to have “Savior status,” and can from that moment on use any and all Savior abilities on hero, villain, or all other cards. Savior counts as a permanent buff, provided an effect does not cause you to lose Savior status, of course. Note: if a card with a Savior ability lets you rescue a Bystander, and that Bystander causes you to gain Savior status, you may activate the Savior ability on that card immediately.
New Masterminds –
- Arnim Zola – He starts at a 6 Attack, but will rarely ever have such a low value, thanks to his Ultimate Abomination keyword. Zola gains Attack equal to the printed Attack values of all heroes in the HQ, which keeps him at an above-average Master Mind strength most of the time, and sometimes rocketing him up to massive numbers! His Master Strike removes all heroes in the HQ with less than 2 Attack and sends them to the bottom of the Hero Deck, giving him a chance to increase his Attack value, and then forces players to discard heroes. Zola’s fluctuating strength may keep him out of the ranks of the elite Masterminds, but he definitely stands as one of the tougher foes. His leads the Zola’s Creations villain group.
- Baron Heinrich Zemo – If you’re thinking about fighting Baron Zemo, check to see if you have Savior status first. Any player who is a Savior may fight Zemo at his normal strength of 9 Attack, but a non-Savior must rack up 18 Attack in order to challenge him! Zemo’s Master Strike KOs Bystanders from player’s Victory Piles, instigating a potential struggle for players to attain and maintain Savior status. To offset his advantages, Zemo brings another effect, allowing players to spend 2 Recruit to rescue a Bystander whenever they fight a villain. Not a particularly difficult Mastermind if you’re devoted to saving Bystanders, but he is capable of prolonging a game long enough for the Scheme to wreak havoc and defeat you. He leads the Master of Evil (WWII) villain group.
New Villain Groups –
- Masters of Evil (WWII) – A low-difficulty group, all of whom capture Bystanders
as Ambush effects, and whose Fight effects either reward players with Savior status or punishes them for not having it.
- Zola’s Creations – Most of the villains in this group have the Abomination keyword, making them a medium- to high-difficulty group, depending on circumstances. They are fairly straightforward otherwise, except Primus, who requires his attacker to discard a card with a prime number cost in order to fight him.
New Schemes – One of if not the biggest draw of the Cap75 expansion has to be its Schemes. Upper Deck got very creative and very crazy with the Schemes in this set, in the best way possible. All four are worth a mention here.
- Brainwash the Military – Similar to a Scheme from Secret Wars: Volume 1, this Scheme is the least creative one in this set, but it gives additional value to the only-occasionally useful S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers. Finding fresh uses for existing content is always a good thing in game like Legendary
- Change the Outcome of WWII – The Twists for this Scheme change the city size from as high as 6 spaces to a low of 1 space! Each city size change represents the Axis invading a country. If a single villain escapes, that country is conquered; if the Axis conquers three countries, the heroes lose. The constant city size changes, from less to more to back down several spaces make for hectic, intense games. It may be nuts, but it is fun to play!
- Go Back in Time to Slay Heroes’ Ancestors – Normally, you’ll be playing with five or six heroes in the Hero Deck. This Scheme starts you with eight. Every time a Twist occurs, one of the heroes is purged from the HQ permanently. As in, whenever any of that hero’s cards comes out of the Hero Deck, it is immediately KOed! As the game progresses, the pool of available heroes drops dramatically, leading to more competition between players over hero cards, and increasing the difficulty for players to create synergetic decks.
- The Unbreakable Enigma Code – Move against the Mastermind as fast as you can when playing this Scheme, because getting to the Mastermind later in the game is going to be a hassle. Each Twist takes a hero from the top of the Hero Deck and puts it face down beside the Scheme. Players must guess the color of each of those heroes in order before they can attack the Mastermind. If a player guesses incorrectly, those cards get mixed up into a new code, and the player’s turn ends immediately. Whenever a player defeats a villain, he can spend 1 Recruit to look at one card in the code, which means that in the late game an individual player must defeat five villains in order to get the full code! So, blitz the Mastermind if you can when you only have to know one or two colors in the code!
New Heroes – I admit I’m disappointed that Upper Deck didn’t take the opportunity to add an affiliation representing the Allied forces of World War II. Imagine the roster of that team: Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Nick Fury, the Howling Commandos, the original Human Torch, Canadian Special Forces Logan, Peggy Carter, etc. So many possibilities! But wishes aside, we get two more Avengers and two more S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes (both appreciated extensions, especially the S.H.I.E.L.D. members). The final hero is unaffiliated.
Captain America (1941) – Representing Captain America in his original role as champion of America and puncher of Nazis, Cap41 relies heavily on the Man Out of Time keyword. Only his uncommon lacks this ability. Savior also features on Cap41’s cards, most notably on his rare, which requires Savior in order to activate Man Out of Time. (That rare, by the way, has the most awesome card title in the game so far: “Punch Evil in the Face.”) Cap41 lacks an overarching synergy of one card triggering another and so forth, but his cards still work together. Every single one of his cards either “Out of Times” or draws a card, and one of his commons does both. A deck based around Cap41 should give you extra cards every turn, in one form or the other, which should in turn provide multiple classes per turn, generating decent attack on his second common. You’ll want to gain Savior status as soon as possible so that you can get the most out of his uncommon and rare. The uncommon helps with that by rescuing a Bystander through an easily-activated superpower. Overall, not as smooth a character design as the base game Captain; Cap41 is best as the core of a deck, and not as useful as the original version in supporting decks built around other characters.
Captain America (Falcon) – FalconCap plays very similarly to the base game Captain America, each of his cards corresponding to one of the original Captain’s. FalconCap’s first common is his Recruit focused card, but it can also rescue a Bystander if you activate an Instincts superpower. His second common provides an average 2 Attack for 4 Cost, but doubles in value if you have Savior status. His uncommon is almost a replica of the original Captain’s, generating 4 Attack and the ability to protect any player (a slight upgrade over the original, which only let you defend yourself) from gaining a Wound, and then rescuing a Bystander as a reward (a slight downgrade over the original, which draws a card). With his rare, FalconCap carries on the Captain America tradition of benefiting from “rainbow decks” of multiple classes. For every class you have, the rare generates 2 Attack, and if you are a Savior, it also provides 2 Recruit for every class, thus maxing out at 10 Attack and 10 Recruit! In comparison to the original Captain America, FalconCap has more consistent Attack on the lower end, and significantly more Recruit on the higher end, while the base game Cap has more Recruit on the lower end, but an unlimited ceiling for Attack on the higher end. Both can produce high numbers, but the original Captain will lean towards Attack, while FalconCap features more balance between Attack and Recruit. Pair the two together for even bigger numbers!
Agent X-13 – Not to be confused with Agent 13 (Sharon Carter) or X-23 (the female Wolverine clone from X-Men: Evolution), Agent X-13 is the original codename for Betsy Ross, who later became the heroine Golden Girl. Though technically not a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Upper Deck considered her spy work a precursor and inspiration for the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, thus netting her honorary S.H.I.E.L.D. status in Legendary. Her first common is an excellent card to grab early in the game, since you are all but guaranteed to activate its Woman Out of Time Critical Strike superpower with four of your starter heroes. Her uncommon also serves well in the early game, but remains useful into the later stages of the game by allowing you to choose between gaining a S.H.I.E.L.D. Officer or +2 Attack. Even choosing the Officer can be good later on, if used in conjunction with her second common, which gets additional Attack for every S.H.I.E.L.D. hero you play with a cost of 1 or more. Finally, her rare helps you purge your starter heroes, now replaced by Officers and other heroes, generating bonus Attack points if you have Savior status. Use Agent X-13 as a supplementary hero, unless playing with at least one other S.H.I.E.L.D. character, in which case you should try to only recruit S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes (Sidekicks are an obvious exception) in order to get the most out of her superpower abilities.
Steve Rogers, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. – This version of the Captain is designed to help you gain Savior status, and then profits highly from it. His first common provides +1 Recruit for every class you have, and, if you are a Savior, +1 Attack as well, thus combining the effects of the base game Captain America’s two commons, if slightly downgraded (classes rather than colors) and the full benefits locked behind a keyword. His second common uses a Critical Strike superpower of three S.H.I.E.L.D. icons to KO a S.H.I.E.L.D. hero you’ve already played that turn, rescuing a Bystander in the process. Steve’s rare also contributes to the achievement of Savior status, rescuing a Bystander by default, in addition to providing 4 Attack. But if you are a Savior, the rare jumps up to 7 Attack, plus the Bystander! His uncommon benefits from Savior status as well, triggering a Man Out of Time effect, generating 2 Attack for two turns. A solid hero to build around, whether in a S.H.I.E.L.D. oriented deck or otherwise, whose skill set strives for achieving Savior status, and whose value skyrockets when you accomplish that goal.
Winter Soldier – Like his WWII partner, the Winter Soldier’s abilities revolve around the Man Out of Time keyword. Both of his commons and his rare have tech superpowers, all triggering Man Out of Time effects, but only the rare and one of his commons are tech cards. This means that you’ll either have to supplement Bucky’s cards with other tech heroes, or ensure that you have tech heroes “Out of Timed” frequently in order to take full advantage of his superpowers, ideally both. His uncommon has the potential to generate 5 Attack points for 5 Cost, but in order to get that maximum effect, you must play at least seven cards prior to playing the uncommon. This means you’ll want to “Out of Time” and draw as many cards as possible on any given turn. Bucky’s second common can help greatly with this, drawing one card up front, with the potential to go Out of Time if you activate its tech superpower, thus giving you two extra cards on its second turn if activated. The card is also of the tech class, enabling it to trigger any of the Winter Soldier’s superpowers, such as on of his first common, a strength class with a tech superpower that sends it Out of time. Bucky’s rare is his most useful in setting up future turns, as it allows you to grant a Man Out of Time effect to any card in your hand, or any two if you activate its superpower. The rare’s superpower should always be your priority if you have to choose which one to activate. The Winter Soldier may be on the complex side, and will require some outside assistance in the form of tech hero cards, but he is very well-designed and prompts meaningful, tactical decisions when playing his cards, and arguably possesses the most fun skill set in the Cap75 expansion. He pairs well with heroes such as Black Widow or (ironically, given the premise of the Captain America: Civil War film) the base game Iron Man.
The Schemes alone are enough to justify obtaining this set, but the heroes are definitely worth the purchase, especially since it adds more S.H.I.E.L.D. characters to Legendary. The Winter Soldier, Director Rogers, and FalconCap are standouts on the hero side, and Zola’s Creations can up the difficulty of any game by their presence, whether following their leader or not. If you could only pick one small box expansion out of the four released, I would recommend this one for its Schemes, S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes, and the Winter Soldier, or Paint the Town Red for its vicious Feast villains, and its extension of the Spider Friends team.
Up next, we turn back the clock and take a look at Secret Wars: Volume 2 (for real this time!).