Into every generation a slayer is born.
I must have heard this line a thousand times. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is my favourite television show, and I have watched it again and again. So, I approached the Buffy version of the Legendary deck-building series with a fair amount of positive bias. It was probably impossible for it to live up to my high expectations, but it has a lot of strengths.
Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a semi-co-operative deck-building game for 1–5 players, taking about 30-60 minutes. Players work together to fight all the villains that emerge from the Hellmouth, ultimately winning if they can defeat the ‘Big Bad’ four times. To do so, they will need to build up their decks, collecting heroes who can do damage, or give them more power to recruit stronger heroes. As the villains amass, they can collect innocent bystanders as hostages.
One of the best things about this game is that every play through is quite different. Each Big Bad comes with its own specific villain decks, and you can customise the hero deck to contain different Buffy characters. Each villain also has a new ‘Scheme’ which dictates the villains’ victory conditions and throws in some plot twists. These can completely change the game, as can the inclusion of a light and dark tracker that influences the consequences of certain events. This feature is the major difference from other Legendary games, and it makes perfect narrative sense, although is possibly underutilised. This game has included many features that ensure a high level of replay-ability.
The downside of this is that set-up can take a while, especially if your decks aren’t well-ordered. It can be a bit annoying finding all the correct villains for the villain deck. All the changes also mean that it takes a few plays before you feel like you really understand what’s going on or how to strategise.
For fans of the show, the cards are delightful. There are so many little details and nods to specific episodes. The customisation is also great for fans – it means I can choose to always include Anya and Spike if I want to. It also comes with a neoprene playmat which is high quality and makes it easier to keep track of which deck is which. My only complaint is that I’m not personally a fan of photographic images on cards. I would have loved it if they had splurged on an artist to recreate the characters with more of a comic book feel.
Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer has enough strategy to engage players who aren’t familiar with the show, but it’s a far superior experience for fans. I found myself wanting to pause the gameplay to check out all the cards (which is possibly not ideal in terms of pacing).
The game is genuinely fun, and the deck-building works smoothly, so that you can clearly and quickly feel yourself becoming stronger. However, the cards have a lot of special abilities and combos, but I felt like I never really got to use these. The plot twists can sometimes feel a bit arbitrary, and occasionally a badly shuffled deck can ruin the game if too many come up at once.
The rules are written in a way that can sometimes be confusing, making if difficult to play the first few times until you work it all out. I also found it a bit annoying that all of the cards have the same backs. It makes it harder to sort the decks at the end, and to tell which deck I which while playing.
For a semi-co-operative game, the interaction is minimal. For the majority of the game, you’re just doing your own thing. There’s not really any reasons to need to work together, aside from just taking a bad guy each. And there’s no real way to sabotage others, making it a little unnecessary to even have a winner. This could probably just be a co-op game.
Closing Comments on Legendary Buffy
Overall, I would say that Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a fun game - however it isn't perfect!