Avengers, Assemb…X-men, uni…wait Spiderman too? Out of the three deck building games that we have been playing Marvel Legendary Deck Building Game by Uppdeck has the best presentation from box to game. High quality art on the cards, although the one complaint is that the art for all the cards for a superhero are the same. Doesn’t matter which Spiderman card you play the art is the same. A minor quibble as you should read the cards before you play them anyways.
What you get when you open the box is a game board. Yes a game board for you to set up the game on and let me tell you that is very handy. No guessing where anything goes either every space is labeled and most have some art that matches the cards that are supposed to go there. The box is designed to hold all of the cards and more. Included are dividers to keep the cards divided by type. That is one thing that Marvel has over the DC and Star Trek games lots of types of cards. Each superhero is a separate mini-deck. Each villain group is a separate mini-deck. Each Scheme, more on that in a moment, is a separate mini-deck.
The mini-decks are how each game is assembled. Instead of having a couple of large stacks of cards that are always used, such as with DC the main deck is all of the main deck cards or Star Trek the starbase deck is all of the starbase cards. In Marvel you assemble the Hero or player deck and the Villain deck each game using the mini-decks. Start with picking a Mastermind such as Red Skull which tells you at a minimum one villain group that will start to form the villain deck. Then pick a Scheme. The scheme is the goal of the Mastermind, each scheme has additional set-up instructions for the villain deck and finally consult a small chart which tells you additional cards to add to the villain deck based on the number of players.
The goal of Marvel Deck Building Game is to defeat the Mastermind four times before the Mastermind completes the scheme. To do this the players build a deck starting out using SHIELD agents to purchase super-heroes, build their deck, accumulate power, and take on villains from the villain deck and eventually the Mastermind. Each turn starts with the player flipping over the top card of the villain deck to reveal a villain who gets put into play, a bystander who gets captured by a villain or Mastermind, a Scheme Twist which advances the Mastermind’s scheme and has a negative effect on the players, or a Master Strike card which represents the Mastermind coming down to smack around all of the players.
We played our first game using the suggested set-up which was the Red Skull as Mastermind, Hunt for the Cosmic Cube as his scheme. Our heroes were Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Spiderman which was one more than they suggest later in the rules. The game played fast, in a few ways a bit too fast, we were able to defeat the villains as they came out which didn’t leave much for people to do on some turns. However that also had a lot to do with the villain deck draws which were mostly low-level villains, when the higher level villains came out the game was almost over. Everybody enjoyed playing including our girl who collected Spiderman (her favorite character) and Hawkeye cards which turned out to be a bystander rescuing and card drawing machine. Barb collected Captain America with a mix of Wolverine and Cyclops, this was powerful late in the game. I went all Wolverine and Cyclops which allowed me to either generate a lot of card draw or power. My boy went with Hawkeye and Iron Man and for some odd reason never got anything going with what he had.
The game played very smoothly, didn’t last so long that the kids got bored. What was better was the realization that we could create our own combos of villains and heroes to have a lot more fun. A good example is the our girl will always want Spiderman, our boy Hulk or Iron Man, and the two adults will vary depend upon mood. Just that change will allow lots of replay.