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Review of Marvel Legendary: Battling Villainy One Card at a Time

I like Marvel superheroes. I like games. I like cards. I like artwork. Oddly, I also like The 100 on the CW, but I hardly see what that has to do with Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game by Upper Deck, so one wonders why I brought it up.

Legendary is a card game for 1-5 players where each player starts with a deck of cards, then slowly add more and more superheroes to their deck. I bet you’ve already guessed that our deck of heroes are used to thwart the villains, which are conveniently also included in the Legendary base set of 560 cards.


FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY CARDS?!?! That has to be a typo [double checks the box]. Wow, it really is 560 cards, all filled with beautiful comic artwork. To start, there are 15 different heroes, each with 14  different cards written with unique flavor text and special abilities.

And because I knew you’d be curious to know, let’s list those 15 heroes:

  • Gambit (good for drawing extra cards or revealing cards from the draw deck)
  • Thor (good for stacking big attacks)
  • Cyclops (good for teaming with the other X-men or tactically removing weaker cards from your hand)
  • Iron Man (good for teaming with tech-based heroes or drawing more cards)
  • Storm (good for crowd control, fighting from the rooftops, and being elegant)
  • Nick Fury (good for interfacing with SHIELD agents and overall team versatility)
  • Spider-man (good at rescuing bystanders and anticipating future cards)
  • Hulk (good for smashing, even if it’s sometimes allies)
  • Hawkeye (good for basic utility)
  • Wolverine (good for taking away wounds and being over-saturated as a character)
  • Rogue (good for pairing with other hero abilities)
  • Deadpool (good for being an annoying character)
  • Emma Frost (good for being thematically confusing in this game)
  • Captain America (good for versatile interaction with other character types)
  • Black Widow (good for rescuing bystanders, surprisingly)

How do you play Marvel Legendary?

It’s boring for me to simply type out the rule book for you, so here’s a brief synopsis of how you play. When it’s your turn you play the top card off the villain deck, and those villains move across the board, escaping if you aren’t quick to defeat them.

To defeat the villains you add heroes to your deck using the recruiting points listed on the cards. Once you have recruited the heroes necessary, you use the attack points listed on the cards to defeat the villains.

When you are really fighting as a deck team, you challenge the mastermind – either Red Skull, Magneto, Dr. Doom, or Loki. You win the game if you defeat the mastermind 4 times.

There is also more nuance and additional cards and the inclusion of SHIELD Agents, of course, but who really cares about that when you have a HULK. So let’s move on.

Review of Marvel Legendary

Any review of Marvel Legendary I think should acknowledge that, overall, it’s a fun game. The theming is great with the superheroes and it’s satisfying to build decks to play out your comic book favorites, such as X-men versus Magneto, for example.

The cooperative aspect of the game is fun, being that the players are working together and playing against the game, not playing against other players. And the deck building mechanic is tried-and-true, so the overall play of the game lands well.

But that’s not to say the Marvel Legendary isn’t without its problems, and because this is the internet where everyone is contractually obligated to be a big cranky pants, fixating on the negatives, I’ll list out the drawbacks in ordered list format:

  1. The theming can be a little hit or miss. The game mechanics of some characters really seem to fit them narratively while a couple of them felt a little bland. This felt like a game made by a corporate licensor of an intellectual property, rather than a labor of love from a comic fan. Overall the theming was good, but it fell short of this nerd’s dream.
  2. The graphic design is atrocious. The artwork for the cards is BEAUTIFUL, but then you have tiny little graphic elements that are hard to read and placed in odd places, making the cards difficult to read. Ironically, the graphic designers decided to show up for work and went entirely overboard on designing the game board. Graphic design is a miss.
  3. The cards ship unsorted. I hesitated on including this one, because boo hoo I had to spend time organizing mountains of cards with beautiful comic artwork, but I’ll be darned if it didn’t take me longer to organize this game than it took Chris Claremont to set up a storyline in his 80s X-men run. Luckily, they included little card dividers for the box, but you have to print on them yourself, and my superpower is not handwriting.

Final Verdict on Marvel Legendary

It’s a fun game and absolutely worth adding to a game gamer’s collection. I tried typing this as I cackled and put my fingers together in a villainous pose, but that made typing difficult. I share that because it is a heap of fun to battle villains using a deck of cards comprised of your favorite heroes.

The overall game mechanic of deck building works well, which isn’t surprising since it was designed by Devin Low, former Head Developer of Magic: The Gathering. It’s like your deck is the Hulk, getting angrier and angrier, stronger and stronger as you go on. (Although sometimes it can get too good, as the last few fights can feel too easy, but better that than never figuring out how to win.)

I’d give the game a 19 out of 10 if it was up to the Marvel superhero theme alone, but it loses .1 of a point for the end game being a little too easy, then I need to ding it pretty hard for the graphic design being atrocious.

But while I can’t honestly call the game ‘legendary’, I can whole-heartedly call it fun and satisfying, so break out the spandex and let’s thwart some foes.

Review of Marvel Legendary: Epilogue

From the Fantastic Four expansion. Click to embiggen.
From the Fantastic Four expansion. Click to embiggen.

Marvel Legendary has a variety of expansions you get:

  • A big box called Dark City, which includes 17 new heroes.
  • Paint the Town Red, which is a small Spider-man themes expansion.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, which includes the popular characters from the movie, plus Thanos as a new Mastermind villain.
  • Fantastic Four, which includes the 4 heroes plus the Silver Surfer, then Galactus and the Mole Man as new villains.
  • The upcoming Secret Wars will be another big box expansion.

I only have the Fantastic Four expansion and I’m 100% pleased with the purchase. The addition of new heroes is nice, but the ability to play the Fantastic Four vs. Galactus is a lot of fun. So I want more expansions. Give me the New Mutants. Give me Alpha Flight. Give me the freakin’ West Coast Avengers!

Give Marvel Legendary a look here.

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