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Game Review – Legendary: Civil War

Game Review – Legendary: Civil War

After really enjoying my first experience of a deck building game with Legendary Marvel, we took the plunge and moved on to one of the expansions, Legendary Civil War. If you’re not familiar with the base game, you might first want to read my review of Legendary Marvel here.

Legendary Civil War is, in many ways, a very different game to the original. While still very obviously a Legendary game, players of the base game will not need to relearn any major game mechanics, but there is enough new content to make it feel like a game in its own right.

The basic setup, player turns, and aims are the same, but the specifics of certain aspects of the game are quite different.

legendary-civil-warLegendary Civil War is themed around the fight between Iron Man and Captain America over the Superhero Registration Act. Despite the potentially exciting theme, I can’t help but feel it could have been translated better into the game.

In the fight between Iron Man and Captain America, I have never really felt the need to ‘take a side’ when playing the game. Other than Iron Man being a potential Mastermind, and Captain America being a hero, there is no clear cut battle between the two during the game.

The heros are a mix of characters from both sides of the war, whereas the Masterminds, villains and henchmen lean towards the Iron Man side or common enemies. This makes gameplay a little more confused. Before opening the box, I expected to find characters from one side of the war as the villains and characters from the other side of the war as heros. Or, both sides as heroes against a common foe, but you could only collect cards from one side or the other (I think I would have preferred this version).

Despite the slightly confused split of characters, there are some interesting new keywords;

  • Size-Changing is my least favourite of the new concepts. While I think the mechanics are good, (reducing recruit cost for certain heroes or reducing the combat power for certain villains) the concept isn’t really linked to changing size.
  • Phasing on the other hand is quite fun, especially when combined with other phasing abilities. A phasing card can be swapped for the top card of your deck. This means that you can potentially save a good card for later, or use in conjunction with other abilities to know exactly what stats are on your next card. A good hand and combination of phasing cards can trigger a chain reaction where your hand size is considerably increased.
  • SHIELD Clearance means that you can’t defeat the villain without discarding a SHIELD agent card. If you’re playing with villains that instigate this rule, instead of happily KO’ing your starting cards and aiming for the best heroes as soon as possible, you need to be careful about retaining your Agents, and switch your strategy to recruiting plenty of SHIELD officers.
  • Fortify crops up in a few different ways in this game. The Mastermind Iron Man can fortify the city spaces next to him. If a villain reaches those spaces, you must defeat them before you can attack Iron Man. However fortifying a player’s deck restricts them to drawing only five cards instead of the usual six.

The big change for Legendary Civil War is the split cards. Each hero, (and there are 16 of them) in addition to having their own cards, also have split cards, which are shared with another new hero.

goliathThere are both good and bad things with the split cards for me. On the positive side, it introduces new decisions to be made when playing cards from your hand. Each side of the split hero card has it’s own unique class and ability. If you have a few split cards in your hand, you need to work out the best combination to use for that particular turn. It presents more options, but can also make decisions more difficult.

On a negative side, I feel like it dilutes the pack. The artwork is a bit sloppy on the split cards, and I don’t quite understand why some of the heroes have been matched up. I thought that maybe each side of the split could represent a different side of the war, but that’s not the case. Some split cards make sense (Peter Parker/Spiderman, Goliath) but then there are some great combos that weren’t used (Bruce Banner/Hulk) and some split cards are just two alternate abilities for the same hero (Vision/Tigra). I also think that some characters should be worthy of their own deck (Jessica Jones, Black Panther) and others are on the weaker side, appearing to have been added just to fit in as many new heroes as possible. It can also seriously slow down gameplay, with a multitude of new combos presented to the holder of split cards, working out the optimal abilities and order of play available can take considerable time.

I think the split cards add an interesting new mechanic to the game, but some part of me can’t help but think it could have been implemented better.

2016-upper-deck-legendary-civil-war-preview-card-scheme-imprisioned-superheroesSome other additions to Legendary Civil War are very welcomed, as they increase the overall difficulty of the game. Despite our love of the base game, we did think that it  was too easy in many scenarios. The grievous wounds are more difficult to heal than regular wounds, and some of the new schemes, especially when combined with particular Masterminds and Villains, present quite the challenge, such as Imprison Unregistered Superheroes and Authoritarian Iron Man.

sidekickOther new features include grievous wounds, which are more difficult to heal and two new types of bystander who come with additional benefits when saved. There’s even a bunch of furry sidekicks, but they’re one use, and we haven’t found them to be that much use in game so far.

Ironically, the Legendary pack with divided cards has divided opinion. While the theory behind the expansion has potential, we can’t help but feel that some aspects let it down. On the other hand, some new additions are really great, and it’s a toss up whether the overall verdict is that this game is a winner or not.

There’s no denying that the Legendary series is a great deck building game, so will Legendary Civil War be the marmite expansion to divide the nation?

The RRP for Legendary Civil War is £36.99, and it can be found at independent game stores, which can be found using this store locator


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