Saving The World Alone in Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Board games and card games to me have mainly been a social pursuit. I never really put much thought into playing these games alone, nor did I really have much desire to do so. Of late though, I’ve had a desire to play Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game without anyone to play with. After doing some snooping around in the Board Game Geek forums, it turns out that playing it alone is a popular way to go. Within that community, they even make challenges for everyone to try out and players report back on their results. Curious, I set up all of the cards for a solo battle with Marvel’s most devious supervillains.
The rules and the number of cards in play are scaled down to accommodate for one player. Scoring is also adjusted to add replay value. In a standard game, victory points are the only measure of success. When you’re alone, scoring is calculated by taking your victory points, minus a point value based on the number of Scheme Twists played, villains escaped and bystanders escaped. This way, you can play the same scenarios repeatedly while aiming for a high score.
The official solo setup isn’t perfect. Besides the schemes that the game tells you not to use alone, there are other schemes that work very poorly in solo play, particularly any scheme where failure is predicated on bystanders or escaped villains being three times the number of players. This only leaves me with three “mistakes”, which heavily skews the game against me. If I even had one other player with me, six “mistakes” would be much bigger of a cushion.
Also, I find that the enemy to Scheme Twist/Master Strike ratio is thrown way off if you follow the rules provided. Since Scheme Twists and Master Strikes are not reduced in Advanced Solo play, they show up way more often than I would like to the point where it can unreasonably swing the balance of the game in a way that likely wouldn’t happen in a group.
Having said all that, I still think the game is fairly playable alone and can easily be adjusted with different card combinations or house rules. Once you get going, it almost feels like a more exciting and nerdier Solitaire. By playing alone, games also move much quicker. A group game can take between one and two hours while the solo game can be completed in about 20 minutes.
Playing the game alone has also opened my eyes up to some strategy. I find that in this game, getting rid of you base cards is way more important than in other deck builders I’ve played. By getting rid of your starting hand, your good cards will show up with a higher frequency. Also, I’ve grown to learn the ins-and-outs of more characters. Spiderman is a great character to buy at the start because his cards are really cheap and they help you build larger hands sooner. Nick Fury is great because many of his cards KO you’re weak cards to make room for better ones. Black Widow turns out to be absolutely ridiculous, as her ability to save bystanders at will and use them to power up her more expensive attacks can let her hit like a truck.
By optimizing your hand with smart purchases that take into account everything else you already have, you can create ridiculous combos. Pictured above is my most epic hand to date. After resolving all of the effects, I turned my starting hand of six cards into a hand with 20 cards and to 78 attack points. To put that in perspective, that was enough to hit Apocalypse six times, even though I only needed four to kill him while he was at full strength. Save for a full strength Galactus, that hand would annihilate just about anything the game could throw at me.
I will always prefer to save the Marvel universe with friends, but playing Legendary alone has proven to be a surprise. It still delivers the thrills of superheroes fighting supervillains within the confines of a deck building game to great effect. This game may not make it to the table with my circle of players very often, but it’s good to know that I can play it alone and still have fun with it. With this first solo experiment being a success, maybe I’ll consider trying out other games alone or even considering that as a part of my game-buying process.