Legendary: Big Trouble In Little China, Rob Heinsoo

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If you watched my unboxing video then you may have got the distinct impression that I was just a tiny bit excited about Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China. This was announced at Gen Con last year and I knew I was definitely going to be buying it right off the bat. This was so greatly anticipated for me, because I knew Legendary to be a good game. I enjoyed Legendary: Marvel, I wasn’t hugely ‘into’ it (I have enjoyed a Marvel film on occasion but I’m not massively into the franchise) but found the game to be really fun and to play really well. So it didn’t matter that I wasn’t superfan familiar with all of the characters. Now, I absolutely love the movie BTILC so I was stoked to play a great game with a theme that I knew I’d love.

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I don’t know why I love the film so much, I guess it’s because I watched it as a child and some movies just stay with you. Which as an aside is why I’m also excited to get Legendary Encounters: Alien because those films were just a huge part of me growing up. I thank my Dad that I grew up watching awesome films that perhaps other young girls didn’t like Blade Runner, Terminator, The Running Man, Predator, basically anything with Arnie, or directed by Ridley Scott or James Cameron. Anyway, I’m going waaaay off topic.

The good thing about the Legendary games is that you don’t have to be familiar with the content to enjoy the game. But if you are then it’s even more enjoyable, because you recognise the scenes and characters, and you can get behind the game further.
If you’ve never played a Legendary game I’ll sum it up as briefly as I can. It’s a semi co-op deck building/combat game. When I first played it reminded me strongly of Dominion, it’s just a classic deck builder only with far more fighting. You have a board (or in BTILC’s case a playmat, and various decks of cards (400 cards in total to be exact) and you use these cards to form ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ decks. There are many factions to choose from here, heroes such as Jack Burton, Gracie Law, Wang Chi, Egg Shen, and Miao Yin. Each faction has different cards with varying costs and abilities. In the villain factions we have the Wing Kong Exchange, Warriors of Lo Pan, Monsters, the Wing Kong Gang and more.
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Each game you choose a Mastermind that pairs up with a Scheme. The Mastermind (the ultimate baddie that you must defeat) has a ‘master strike’ condition and each scheme has its own set of playing conditions. Each turn a player must draw a villain card and add it to the ‘city’ i.e- playmat. The villain cards move along the city spaces each turn until they ‘escape’ the city. And then bad things happen. If you draw a scheme twist or a masterstrike from the villain deck then further bad things will happen that start to wear down your chances of making it out alive. Depending on your chosen Mastermind and scheme you will lose badly unless you work together to fight all the baddies and destroy all the Masterminds.

How? You must recruit heroes using your starting hand of ‘mediocre heroes’ (cheap and disposable cards) to pump up your deck. The more you cards you recruit the more powerful you become, and playing certain cards in succession means special abilities are triggered. Then you can start fighting left right and centre. Your own personal victory points lie in how many villains you KO throughout the game and their value. If you win the game against the villains it’s then down to the final cards in your hand and how many villains you’ve taken out. This will give you personal victory over the other players and win you the game. So it’s a really great balance of co-op and competition.

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It’s amazing how each game can be different depending on which decks you use, and this gives Legendary a huge amount of replayability. The overall system is just easy to pick up but it can be time consuming yet fun to execute. If you’re a fan of the franchise you’ll spend lots of time spotting characters and scenes, appreciating the flavour text on the cards and enjoying the special abilities that relate to the character. I’m a particular fan of Egg Shen’s Unpredictable Magician card which allows you simply flip a coin to gain plus 2 damage or coinage. There are cards that pit you against one another slightly, cards you can trade between players…so many lovely cards. I appreciate the way that the cards work together and intertwine so well, and how much planning goes into executing your moves as the game gets ‘bigger’.
The box art, the vibrant playmat and super cool vivid art work really bring the spirit of the theme to life. I can’t really praise the Legendary system enough, I just love it. If you like deck builders, combat, semi- cooperative then you’ll probably love this as much as me! 10/10, obviously. More info here.