During the first lockdown, I was introduced to a podcast that talked about the various Marvel superheroes as portrayed in the comics. The premise being that one guy knows it all about the comic book world. He took on the role of teacher to someone who didn't have a clue. As I listened to the show, I thought I needed to read some of the comics to get an idea of the rich backstory, beyond what is shown in the movies. But where to start? Spiderman was where I settled. One of my favourite characters, and central to the Spiderverse movie from 2018. However, I went for the Ultimate universe so that I could learn about Miles Morales, the new Spiderman. (I'm getting there, don't worry.)
Fast forward a few months and I read as the second Superhero Civil War took place in the comics, and in the wake of this, a new team was formed, made up of the legacy heroes. The new Ms Marvel, Nova and Spiderman sought out the new Hulk and Viv Vision, daughter of The Vision. This team became a group that would fight for the world, using social media to fight against abuse of power. They were called the Champions and they were awesome. I loved the storylines and the characters and hoped that their presence would permeate more into the Marvel Universe.
Then I discovered the Marvel Legendary deck builder game, thanks to Wil Wheaton's Tabletop. I have a huge love of deckbuilding games since playing with Pokémon cards and Yu-Gi-Oh in my childhood. Later Dominion and Star Realms entered my gameplaying peripheral, but I really enjoyed the intricacies of Legendary. When I found out that there was an expansion that included my favourite team, I immediately tried to find a copy to add to my box. So here we are, the review of Marvel Legendary: Champions Expansion! This expansion pack adds the Totally Awesome Hulk, Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova, Viv Vision and Gwenpool to the hero roster. Fin Fang Foon, the ancient Monsters Unleashed characters, the Wrecking Crew and Pagliacci are all added to the villains.
How To Play
Like most deck-building games, you start off with a limited resource of buying and combat. One to five players are challenged to recruit Marvel heroes. The heroes fight against the villains who are making their way through New York. You add these heroes to your deck and use their abilities to defeat the henchmen and fiendish mastermind who wants to ruin the world with their scheme. The game can be played fully co-operatively or semi co-operatively. You can choose to be all against the villains, or score based on how well your own deck does. Defeat the mastermind four times before the scheme is complete and you win! The full how-to-play and review is available here.
Expansions such as the Marvel Legendary: Champions add to the already high replayability of the original game and can give you as much variety as you want. As a Marvel fan, I cannot recommend this expansion enough. I concede that you probably will leave at least one of the heroes in the box, but that's fine. Play how you want and with whichever characters you want to.
Several mechanics used in previous sets have returned. An example is the Versatile trait which lets players choose between stars and claws for tactical benefits. A new mechanic called Cheering Crowds represents the Champions taking inspiration from their fans and uses the rescued bystanders to let certain cards double their efforts. Something else that's new from this set is the introduction of two double-sided epic masterminds. If you want a real challenge, you can flip the mastermind card over and play with the epic side. Fin Fang Foon is tough at the best of times but turning him into a creature with a strength of 24 is brutal.
I like how the game keeps true to the comics and the artwork is in much the same vein. Some of the schemes, like stealing the earth's oxygen are only things that exist. The comic purists are probably yelling "but Gwenpool isn't a major Champion," and yes, I know that. She's included at the expense of Miles Morales, who previously appeared in the Secret Wars expansion. She is a fun addition though: there are some excellent 4th wall breaking jokes from her.
However, some of her abilities refer to something which isn't clarified in the rules and so don't feel as useful. However, the other characters more than make up for Gwenpool, and they're the reason I wanted the set. The comic book versions of the remaining Champions are wonderful additions to the Avengers and the Marvel Universe in general, so they earn a well-deserved place within my game box.