New York City is home to dozens of unique superheroes and teams dedicated to protecting humanity. It’s also the residence of a number of superpowered villains that want nothing more than to cause immeasurable chaos and destruction. In the vast Marvel Comics universe, few criminals enjoy the act of mass murder and destruction more than Carnage, the symbiotic offspring of Venom and one of Spider-Man’s arch-nemeses. And now, Carnage brings his own brand of mayhem to Upper Deck‘s Legendary: Marvel Deck-Building Game with new villains, new heroes and some new twists on the hit game.
For those unfamiliar with Legendary, a quick primer:
Legendary is a deck-building game cut from the same cloth as Dominion or Ascension. Players begin with a small deck of measly S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that contribute to one of the game’s two currencies, Recruit Points and Attack Power. Recruit Points are used to purchase more powerful heroes from the Marvel universe such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Hulk, and add them to your deck. Attack Power is utilized to defeat rampaging villains or the game’s evil Mastermind and earning victory points. At the end of each turn, the player’s hand is reset and new cards are drawn, and the process repeats again. The key is to acquire heroes that allow you to pull off spectacular card combinations, such as drawing extra cards or multiplying your Recruit or Attack for a turn.
Paint the Town Red is the second mini-expansion and third overall for the deck-building game. The 100 card pack includes five new heroes — Symbiote (Black) Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Black Cat, Spider-Woman, and Moon Knight — each with their own neat twists on the familiar game. One of the primary new mechanics introduced is Wall Crawl, which unlocks some potentially huge card combos with previous Legendary heroes. When a hero with the Wall Crawl ability is purchased from HQ, instead of placing him/her in your discard pile, the card goes on the top of your draw deck. By utilizing heroes that allow additional card drawing each turn, one could theoretically purchase a Wall Crawl hero and then draw and play them on the same turn. Several of the new hero cards can chain further combinations off this as well and create some verifiably epic plays.
Every hero needs supervillains to battle and the two new Masterminds, Mysterio and Carnage, introduce some interesting and stressful encounters. Carnage and his cadre of villains, Maximum Carnage, in particular are nasty and troublesome foes to defeat with the new card keyword, Feast. When someone battles an enemy with the Feast keyword, that player must KO (a.k.a. banish from the game) the top card of their deck. This can lead to some very tense moments; what if that ultra-expensive Thor card you purchased is next? Defeating someone with the Feast ability is a gamble that one has to be prepared for and losing an important hero can easily disrupt one’s deck-building engine. It’s a fun new twist on the game that I greatly enjoy and I hope future expansions continue to expand on it.
Mysterio is the other new Mastermind introduced in Paint the Town Red. On the surface, he appears as a fairly straightforward bad guy to defeat. Like the comics though, the bowl-headed master of illusions is much trickier than he seems. His Master Strike ability creates additional copies of him to defeat in the Mastermind deck, which any Legendary player will know can seriously prolong a game into dangerous territories by running out of cards. Mysterio’s not as aggressive towards the player as Carnage, but his tricks and powers can be equally frustrating (in a fun way.)
The presentation contained within the new expansion maintains the high bar of excellence of previous releases. The art for each card is fantastic and comparable to their comic book counterparts in quality. Unfortunately, that comes with its own problems when it comes to female superheroes, though the issue of under-dressed heroines stems from the comic book source and not the game directly. Black Cat has always been over-the-top with her seductiveness but her cards (and ridiculous boobs on display) are a sad reminder that even after decades, most comic books have never really grown up.
If you still enjoy bringing Legendary to your gaming table, Paint the Town Red will give you plenty of new reasons to continue saving the world. Each expansion breathes a bit of new life into the game with its new mechanics, and Wall Crawl and Feast are fantastic additions that I hope to see again in future releases. And each new Mastermind is challenging in their own manner without resorting to an insanely high attack value of someone like Galactus from the Fantastic Four expansion. Though if Legendary didn’t tickle your fancy the first time around, it’s unlikely that Paint the Town Red will change your mind as it’s essentially more of the same. But for existing fans, the new content is a worthy addition to an already entertaining deck-builder and will extend your enjoyment, at least until the next big release.