Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

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Product– Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Producer– Upper Deck

Price– ~$60 here http://www.amazon.com/Legendary-Encounters-Alien-Deck-Building/dp/B00MU2DQAW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419960129&sr=8-1&keywords=Legendary+Encounters%3A+An+Alien+Deck+Building+Game

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30 to 60 minutes (1 to 5 players)

TL; DR– A fun, story fueled kick in the teeth!  90%

 

Basics-Let’s stick our faces over that strangely egg like thing!  Nothing bad can happen!  Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game follows the deck building strategy of games like Shadowrun Crossfire from its common buy area of cards to its mind boggling difficulty.  All players start out with a deck mostly comprised of one point attack cards as well as one point money cards.  From here, each player chooses a role card that gives them their hit points and a specific card associated with their roll.  Then, there are the main board’s decks to set up.  First, the players choose a location and objectives.  Players can choose to follow the movies, or make their own scenarios.  For ease of description, I’m just going to describe the basic scenarios from the first movie Alien.  The first deck to set up the main deck called a hive deck.  This deck is actually three separate decks all added into one.  Depending on the scenario/movie/location you’re playing through you will take cards for three scenarios( for the Alien movie, players get The S.O.S. #1, No One Can Hear You Scream #2, and the Perfect organism#3).  The cards for these sub decks are all listed with the sub deck name on them.  To each sub deck you add one card from the drone/enemy deck per player.  These are random xenomorphs you encounter and help the game scale for one to five players.  You then mix each sub deck, place deck three down, deck two on top of three, and finally deck one on top of decks two and three.  Players choose the character cards they want in the to buy deck called the barracks.  The game provides four different characters from each of the four Alien movies to keep building the different theme of the movies.  These cards all say the name of the character from that movie below the card’s real name.  Each character has several different cards that provide different bonuses.  After the character for barracks deck have been chosen, you mix those characters together and reveal five cards that can be bought for the HQ (buying area with visible cards).  To the left of HQ is a deck of Sergeant Cards.  Sergeant Cards all have different symbols, but all are worth two points to buy cards and can be used on other players’ turns to help them buy cards.  With all that set up, the game if finally ready to be played!  Turns are quick and easy.  First you add a hive deck card to the complex face down.  The complex is five spaces that cards move through.  When a card would push a sixth face down card out of the complex, the oldest card played is instead moved to the combat zone.  This card is then revealed.  You can scan cards in the complex using strikes on cards and then these cards can be attacked or if they are objects, events, or hazards different things might occur.  Next the player can spend money from cards to buy as many cards as able, use strikes to reveal face down cards card as possible or attack enemy cards, and play cards for other abilities.  Enemy cards all have a strike value, and if you play enough strikes at them, the enemy card is defeated and will not attack you.  You can only strike face up cards, so revealing cards in the complex is an import part of the game!  Also important is the order in which cards are played.  All cards have symbols on them, and some cards state that if a card with a symbol was previously played, then you can gain an extra effect.  This reflects the deck building aspect of the game and must be mastered to even stand a chance of beating this game.  Next every card in the combat zone that is an enemy will cause the player to draw wound cards from the wound deck.  These wound cards vary from close calls of no damage to five damage at a crack!  Play health varies from nine to 11 hit points, so five at a time can take a player out quite quickly.  After damage, the play discards all cards they didn’t play, draws up to six cards, and the next player does the above steps.  Play continues like this until each objective is completed.  When the third and final objective is completed, the players win.  Odds are though, they won’t!  Not all the players have to survive the game, but at least one of them does.

 

Mechanics– This game is hard!  I never felt like I had enough time to deal with all the enemies that were coming through to the combat zone, scan rooms, or buy enough cards.  Also, I felt most of the costs were a bit too high to kill an enemy, reveal a card, or buy more cards.  It’s fun, and easy to play, but the difficulty curve is extremely high.  If you can stand a beating, you’re in for a good time. For me, it’s a bit too much. 4/5

 

Theme- I love this game for its stories.  The hive deck does feel like the movies they are part of.  I have to say the different sub decks really do put enough movie scenes in this one to keep you enraptured.  I remember playing and hearing the music scores from the movies pop up in my head.  That’s excellent game design.  Also, you will really enjoy the way different events fall of the deck, and the occasional ally that pops up over the course of the game.  These different sub decks require some upfront work, but the payout is well worth it.  5/5

 

Instructions– The instructions are done well, but some of the words are pretty small especially on the cards used to build the different sub decks.  It will take a read through or two to make sure you figure out how each of the decks is constructed.  It’s not bad, but some bigger type face would really help.  Also, some zoom in shots of the cards they are showing off would really help.  A few minor changes would really knock this one out of the park.  4.5/5

 

Execution– I like this one, but I the game box is a kind of a pain.  The game box has a sturdy construction.  But, the box is basically empty save for a simple cardboard divider that moves a little bit too much.  This game takes a bunch of sorting, and if your cards get mixed up, you’re going to have a really crappy night!  The card art isn’t bad, but I would have preferred shots from the movies.  If you have the license, why not get photos!?  All the art is scenes from the movies anyway.  But, this is pretty excusable when you see the main board.  The main board is the amazing mouse pad material that is excellently detailed and laid out.  Honestly, I thought that cost extra the first time I saw the game, but that comes standard!  That right there raises this game to a 4.5.  4.5/5

 

Summary– Starting high, if you want a game that has more theme that any other co-op card game out there, here it is.  You can follow every movie with some of your favorite characters.  However, get ready for a kick in the teeth.  The game beats you down quite quickly.  Unlike the easy starting scenarios for the Lord of the Rings Card Game, Shadowrun: Crossfire, or even the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, the first scenario for Alien will stomp you down in under four turns!  Keep the difficulty options in mind on your first play through.  A turn or two without enemies might keep the players alive long enough to stand a chance of winning.  It’s a fun game, but not for the faint of heart.  90%

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