Marvel, check, deckbuilding, check! My family love Marvel Legendary and between you and me, I can’t believe stuff is still being made for a game first released in 2012. The sheer amount of content for this game is massive and the fact it is all plug and play is beautiful. It is not without its flaws though as this expansion shows. Let's web-sling into the review then, shall we?
For people who have not played Marvel Legendary, I will give you a quick gameplay overview. You pick a mastermind, who normally controls a group of villains, mix in any chosen sets of villains and henchmen depending on player count.
You pick a few heroes also based on player count, shuffle them together. Pick a storyline, which all has a different win/lose condition and set up rules, then you all go for it, at pace, like Hulk in a china shop.
It's a co-op game, each player starts with the same small deck and must purchase new heroes, beat up appearing villains and when powerful enough, take on the mastermind you previously selected. What makes this game really fun is when building your deck, cards can bounce off each other, have affinities, like suits of sorts and when you get a hand that wrecks everything on the board, it's both very entertaining and hugely rewarding.
Also, keeping your eye on the failure conditions, both the normal ones and the variable ones defined by the scheme you play is always amusing and sometimes quite challenging. Every game I have played, early days it seems like you are going to lose for sure. Later in the game though, as your deck evolves, you start taking control of the board, clearing enemies and taking control of your chosen story. Great stuff.
An Uru-Based Expansion
So, onto this expansion then. Fear Itself is based on a storyline I had missed in my on and off Marvel comic reading. “As the God of Fear, The Serpent, awakened by Sin, the daughter of Red Skull becomes more powerful the more fear exists on Earth.
To create as much fear as possible, The Serpent rains down evil Artifacts to Earth: Asgardian hammers as powerful as Thor’s mythic weapon itself. Superpowered Heroes and Villains who touch the hammers are transformed into The Worthy: rampaging Asgardian avatars of evil even stronger than they were before.”
So basically, well-known villains and heroes have been powered by Asgardian hammers and have become all-new overpowered beings. With this set comes 6 allies, 1 new commander and 3 new plots. It's a smaller expansion but it does add a fair few new rules and wrinkles if you're looking to spruce up your legendary collection.
New Rules, Nerkkod Approves
This expansion adds a few new rules. Mainly Uru-Enchanted Weapons, Demolishing and my personal favourite, Thrown Artifacts. Uru-Enchanted weapons, which are held by many of your rivals, which are actually heroes because you are the baddies in this, but more on that later.
For each Uru-Enchanted weapon, your opponent has you must turn over another card that adds to their strength, which reminded me heavily of the underground tunnels in Ticket To Ride Europe. It adds a bit of randomness and risk to your battles. Good times.
Demolishing is something that happens now and again and can cause you to discard cards, but my favourite bit of this expansion is the thrown artifacts. These cards are played and stay in front of you until you decide to activate them. When you use them, they return to the bottom of your deck, just like Mjolnir, they come back swiftly.
These cards combo together and enable you to make some great tactical decisions in both your deckbuilding and card play. I really liked this new addition to the game it adds a lot of tactical decisions missing in the base game.
Initially Messy, Deadpool Disapproves
The issues I have with this expansion and some of the Marvel Legendary expansions, in general, are the way some of the expansions work together and the change of terms that came with the Villains line of cards.
The massive Villains expansion changed the names of a lot of the parts of the game, the Masterminds became Commanders, the Schemes became Plots and there are a lot more term changes to boot. I do not have the Villains base set and all content is compatible so you can probably see where my problems stem from.
In the rulebook, it does clearly state that if you are playing with the original base set, not the Villains set then you must substitute a list of terms while playing. This, while not being massive is slightly irksome and especially early on, leaves you constantly referring to the rules. No one wants that when all you want to do is slap Uru-Enchanted Iron-Man upside the head.
After a few turns, these problems faded away and don't detract from the overall gameplay, I just wish things were initially smoother. Maybe I should just buy the Villain base set? Maybe that was their plan all along, both a fiendish and devilish plan but it may just work. Damn my completionist brain!
Final Fear Itself Thoughts
While wishing it was a bit of a smoother start to proceedings, I really enjoyed Fear Itself. It has new characters which were interesting, it has new storylines which are fun and the new mechanics definitely add something. It's a small cheap package and while some of the characters are lesser known, the mechanics really shine. If you need to Uru-Enchant your Marvel Legendary collection, this may be just the thing for you. Excelsior!