I’ve been intrigued by the idea of deck building games for quite a while but had never sat down to try them out. I was mostly interested in Legendary: Marvel, but some time ago someone recommended I check out the iOS version of Star Realms as a nice way to see what the games are like without any cost of entry. I downloaded the app then but never got around to trying it out.
A few weeks ago, I got the chance to play the Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, and really enjoyed it. Since then I’ve tried out Star Realms, Legendary: Marvel, and Legendary DXP.
For the unfamiliar, all of these games run on the same basic principals.
- You start the game with a few cards that generate two different types of resources; basically attack and wealth.
- Your turn generally starts with taking an action on the villains’ behalf (usually drawing from a villain specific deck), and then using your cards to attack the villains and buy new cards.
- Cards you buy go into your discard pile, which gets shuffled and becomes your draw deck every time you run out of cards.
- The game ends when either you’ve attacked the villain enough or enough specific cards have been drawn from the villain pile to trigger their victory.
What’s nice about these games, in general, is that they are designed for players to work together against the game. I love cooperative board games, and it seems like almost this entire genre falls squarely into that category. On top of that, it seems like most of them have a bunch of unique combinations that means it never plays the same way twice.
As an example, the game of Legendary: Marvel we played was using the recommendation for an initial setup, which meant we were fighting against Red Skull, who had recruited Hydra Agents, Sentinels, and a band of Spider-Foes, and had Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, and Iron Man as heroes available in deck we were buying from. The next time we play we could just as easily have Gambit, Nick Fury, Thor, and Black Widow working together to stop Dr. Doom and his Doombots partnered with Skrulls and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! All of the different heroes and villains have slightly different mechanics to their cards, which means this game can have a huge variety of play.
Legendary: Marvel is far and away my favorite of the ones I’ve tried so far, but that’s hardly a surprise given the theming. If you’ve never tried a deck building game and want a crash course, I’d highly recommend the apps for either Star Realms or Legendary DXP as good entry points. Both are set up really nicely for you to play solo against AI. Legendary DXP uses the exact same mechanics as Marvel, just with a fantasy skin, while Star Realms is just a tad different. If pressed, I think Star Realms works better as a solo game, but they are both a lot of fun.
I’m looking forward to spending more time in this genre of board games, and I’m hoping that it ends up being something my wife and I can count on as a nice way to spend an evening together.