Oh Marvel Legendary will you never die? Well no, of course not, it’s got the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to call on and then when it all resets after the Infinity War, it will simply keep going or start a new edition. You mark my words! Not that I mind. I still love the game, I still love superheroes and I still love Marvel so I’m riding it all the way hoping one day we’ll get a nice collectors box with custom dividers to store everything……….. yeah in your dreams Luke!
I’ve been quite excited for this one though. I haven’t even read the comic strip it’s based on (as we all know this has nothing to do with the movie which in turn was only “based” on the comic. But out of all the comics for Marvel, this one has been the one I’ve been most interested in reading (bet it will never happen, so little time!). I like the plot behind it and it’s cool seeing heroes against heroes.
But surely they’ll run out of ideas soon? Or jump the shark with really weird characters? Secret Wars was certainly a weird expansion when I reviewed that one. Is Civil War going to be fresh and not too complicated? Pick a side and let battle commence, I’ll see you on Team Iron Man!
Designer: Devin Low
Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment
Time: 60-90 minutes
So What Do We Do? We Fight!
In Legendary, players take on the roles of Marvel heroes, including the Avengers and X-Men, and team up to defeat an evil Mastermind. Legendary: Civil War is the fourth big box expansion since the Dark City release in 2013 and lets you play through the Civil War storyline from Marvel Comics.
With the Civil War expansion, you can now team up with a partner and take sides against the opposition while playing through the Civil War. The game features playable characters from both sides of the Super Hero Registration Act. Will you choose to side with Captain America or Iron Man?
If you want know more about the rules to Legendary: Civil War, you can check out the rulebook here.
Business As Usual
Without trying to sound like too much of a broken record with my Legendary reviews, expect a big box 1/4 full of cards and un-interesting dividers! It’s the standard affair that you’ll have a ton of space to fill with other expansions, though as most of them come with their own big box, that’s only going to happen if you’ve purchased the Marvel Legendary: Villains base set (see my review here!) and any of the small box expansions across the whole range. I use Villains as my starting box anyway as the design of the original set’s insert was flawed to say the least.
The artwork has been improving with the Marvel range, never reaching a point I’d consider “great”, but enough to be able to spot some gems in the box and be satisfied with the rest. That trend continues with Civil War, particularly with some of the Masterminds and the Grievous Wounds, I especially like those. It’s a shame that ironically a Legendary game will never reach Legendary art status, but I’ll settle for decent rather than what Firefly and Big Trouble In Little China gave us recently.
Simple But Effective
The new keyword abilties are interesting, but not too complex, which is the best case scenario. They provide you with some cool deck design decisions without requiring pre-planned groupings of heroes like some abilities have done in the past. Phasing is probably my favourite, allowing you to swap cards with your deck – it can lead to some great hand management shenanigans. My least favourite would be Size-Changing. Yes it’s useful to get discounts on cards, but what does changing size have to do with recruiting cards for cheap?
Animal sidekicks are weird to fathom if you’ve not read the comics, but I welcome having some more interesting characters to compose the Sidekick deck from the Secret Wars expansions – it was previously a solid implementation, but it has now made better. Grievous Wounds are a nice thematic new addition, though of course, this is just making Legendary harder to beat.
But what sets this expansion apart is the new dual purpose cards. This ups the scale on versatility within your deck, although generally they will essentially be flip versions of each other. So, one side provides recruit points, the other provides fight points. But even this alone can lead to some very effective turns as it enables more choices to be made reducing the amount of times you simply go “I’ve only got X, therefore I’ll do X”. They’re usually highly sought after when they appear in the HQ.
Uncovering A Few Plot Holes
The theme of Civil War is hit and miss. It is cool to have Iron Man as the Mastermind and have heroes fighting heroes (note, he’s definitely the tough nut of the set, bring your ‘A’ game to this fight!). Even though you don’t have to have technically “picked” a side when playing Civil War, it seems to have done so for you as there is no Captain America Mastermind version to fight against – that would have been a cool addition.
Now this may be because I’ve not read the comics, but some of the pairings on the dual cards don’t seem to make sense. Putting Spiderman with Peter Parker is perfect, but Vision and Tigra seem a little out of place. Also some of the pairings make me sad that they don’t get an entire deck to themselves in the first place. Luke Cage gets his own deck, but his partner Jessica Jones doesn’t? After watching the amazing Netflix series, she needs her own deck to complete the Defenders set or maybe that’s a future small expansion planned by Upper Deck, who knows? Actually come to think of it, that would be awesome as then Killgrave could be a Mastermind. . . . oh yes Upper Deck, make this happen!
The new schemes are certainly pretty tough, but very thematic as well and tie in to the Civil War setting nicely. I particularly enjoyed playing against the new SHIELD clearance ability and Maria Hill. It gave me a nice Agents of Shield vibe and provided a decent challenge. Some combinations will punch you in the face however in terms of difficulty – your ultimate survival mission tonight is to face Authoritarian Iron Man while attempting Imprision Unregistered Superheroes – owwwwwww! By the end of that game, the word “fortify” will be all that’s required to trigger your mental conditioning (respect if you get that movie reference!)
However I felt that some of the schemes suffered a bit in solo mode, which is a common way I like to play Legendary. Playing multi-handed is fine, but using only one player deck does make some of those schemes, in my opinion, completely impossible to beat. Though, I do not hold myself to be an expert at this game by any stretch of the imagination, I just like to take superheroes and fight!
I really ought to read some more comics. First Secret Wars and now Civil War. But Secret Wars was an OK expansion, whereas Civil War is a really cool expansion, enough to make me consider reading the comics. It falls behind Dark City, but only because the characters are more accessible to a casual Marvel fan and there were some theme nitpicks here. If you’ve read the comics however, this will likely be your favourite instead.
The variety here is impressive especially with the new dual-purpose cards. Yes they’re a little squished in, but who doesn’t like multi-use cards? There’s a decent mix between alternate versions of old heroes and brand new ones and the Masterminds range from accessible to brutally hard across the range. Even the schemes are fun and thematic as well, though some suffer a bit in solo play.
It’s a cool change to the formula to have heroes facing against heroes and the extra little bits like animal sidekicks, grevious wounds and the new keyword abilities are just icing on the cake. If you like Civil War, this is a must-have purchase, but even if like me you’ve never read it, it still beats out Secret Wars and thus should definitely be considered for later.
BROKEN RATING – 9 VOTES FOR TEAM IRON MAN
YOU WILL LIKE LEGENDARY CIVIL WAR IF:
You’ve read the comic books – there’s a lot of characters from that story line.
You enjoy Marvel Legendary and want more cards – simple as!
You like the concept of using dual-purpose hero cards.
YOU WILL NOT LIKE LEGENDARY CIVIL WAR IF:
You find the dual cards too much of a burden to read given they’re squeezed.
You’re expecting it to follow the recent movie plot – it’s not “that” Civil War!
You weren’t a fan of that story arc and tailor your expansion purchases.
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I'm known as The Broken Meeple, a blog, podcast and YouTube channel devoted to board and card games. I live in Portsmouth, UK, working as a Chartered Tax Advisor and I enjoy playing games of many genres and varieties with as many people as possible.