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Legendary Encounters – An Alien Deck Building Game

Legendary Encounters Alien Deck Building Card GameEarlier in the year we announced our Game of the Year 2014 as voted for by the GamesQuest bloggers. It was a very close call but the title was snatched away by Upper Decks – Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck-building game.

In celebration of this fantastic co-operative game, I decided to set about recording a review video so that you can see exactly what you get in the box, how to set up a game and the basic mechanics that you’ll see as you go through Legendary Encounters! I’m also going to discuss, in this post, two of the elements of Legendary Encounters that I don’t mention in the video but feel needs at least a call-out for anyone thinking of buying into this deeply thematic game.

First Things First… Introducing Legendary Encounters!!!

First off, take a look at the YouTube video I put together to get an idea of whether Legendary Encounters is the game for you!

Simple is as Simple Does… Is Setup Too Complicated???

Now that you’ve watched the review I wanted to talk about the major criticism that you’ll hear floating around about this game… Setup time…

I will confess, when you first open the box, Legendary Encounters is a nightmare to set up. There’s hundreds of mini decks that all need to be sorted into specific sets and there’s cards in one deck that are identical to another – for example eggs that appear in plot decks and the drone deck which will all get mixed together at one point or another…

Even as an avid gamer, who’s played many deck-building games, the prospect of having to sort out all of those cards was daunting to me. That being said though, when you do finally organise all of the cards and separate them with the included dividers… the setup process for a game of Legendary Encounters becomes far more smooth! In fact, sorting the cards into their mini decks after a game has finished is a far less daunting task than that initial setup time. So… If you’ve heard that the initial setup is appallingly time consuming… then you’re right… for the first ever setup… But after that, the game is a total dream!

One word of caution though… Make sure you NEVER…. EVER… tip that box… If you do, those cards are going to be all mixed together and you’re back to sifting through hundreds of cards to get it all back in place.

This is a Co-Op Game!!! Coordinate or Die!!!

As you watched the video you may have noticed a red keyword called Coordinate on some of the cards… This is a new and interesting mechanic that wasn’t in the Marvel Legendary game.

To my mind, Coordinate is a fantastic addition and gives all of the players a real sense of involvement during other players turns. Simply put, if you have a card with the Coordinate keyword on it, you can play it on any other players turn. This contributes either the attack or buying power, of that card, to the current players total. You then discard the card and draw up a new one. While playing the game, this feature becomes key to your survival, if you don’t coordinate, it’s going to be a hard slog to win the game! Of course with-holding these cards and only using them on your turn is a valid tactic if you happen to be the traitor I mentioned in the video!

As an addition to what was already a very robust system the coordinate keyword really helps to tweak the gameplay of Legendary Encounters in such a way that it really rams home the theme. Work together to win the game or die…

In Conclusion… Why Did it Win Game of the Year 2014???

If you’re on the look out for a top quality, highly entertaining, deck-building game then, in my opinion, you won’t go wrong with Legendary Encounters An Alien Deck Building Game! I’m not a deck building fan in the slightest, they always seem very dry and tedious and my experiences with Dominion left me desperate for theme… The truth is, there’s plenty of other types of game that I’d rather play… However, somehow, despite some initial reservations on my part, Legendary Encounters manages to get the formula just right!

Here’s a list of just a few of the reasons why this game is so popular.

Player count – You can play it with 1-5 players and with solo play it’s still worth playing… So many games that claim to be solo-play end up being largely disappointing, but not so with Legendary Encounters!

Dripping with theme – From scanner pings and Face-huggers  to Jonesy the Cat… Legendary Encounters slaps you in the face with theme. When you stack those mini decks you’re not just shuffling cards, you’re building a story… A terrifying story of space horror… where no-one can hear you scream…

The Play-mat…  There’s a gorgeous heavy-duty mat in the box, it’s not an additional extra, and it’s exactly what every gamer dreams of in a playmat… Need I say more?

The artwork –  I’ve heard some people state that they hate the artwork for this game… I for one do not agree with these people… I think they may need to see an optician… The artwork on the cards and the Playmet are really great!

Gameplay elements – The standard game is very similar to the other Marvel titles in the Legendary range, with only a few minor tweaks. However, the inclusion of individual avatars, roles and the alien deck add new flavour to the game. You have choices with Legendary Encounters, lot’s of choices. If you want a straight-up co-op game then play the vanilla game, if you like a bit of treachery then throw in the roles. It’s your game, play it  how you want it!

So, now that you’ve seen the video and read my other comments regarding the GamesQuest Game of the Year 2014 – Legendary Encounters An Alien Deck Building Game, I hope you’ll consider it the next time you get that deck-building urge! It really is very good and I’d love to know what other people have to say about it!

5 (100%) 4 votes
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Tom Randell

Driven Instructional Designer by day, board game fanatic by night! Tom has a long background in eLearning design and is a strong believer that story and narrative are crucial to creating excellent learning and gaming experiences. A passionate blogger, game reviewer and play tester, he enjoys spending his time playing games of all genres.