No one can hear you scream in space, but your friends will certainly have to listen to your crying at the table as your character gets a xenomorph tongue through his skull in Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game, from Upper Deck Entertainment.
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game Video
Board Game Brawl’s video gives you a full run down of Legendary Encounters.
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game is not an expansion.
“Legendary, you say?” As you may remember, I talked about the original Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game in an article earlier this year. It and its expansions-and stand-alone sequel, Legendary Villains-have you taking control of popular characters from the Marvel Comics world, and semi-cooperatively working together to defeat a Mastermind who’s trying to unleash his Scheme upon the world.
Legendary Encounters has the same basic system as its forebear, but this time you are playing in the universe of the Alien movies. As in, the adventures of Ripley and her quest to destroy the dark nightmare-spawn of H.R. Giger. The deck building mechanisms are mostly the same: use recruitment points to buy better character cards to put into your starting deck of bad cards, and use combat points to defeat enemies. But while you might be forgiven for thinking this is Upper Deck’s attempt to cash in by simply re-skinning the original Legendary, Encounters actually changes things up dramatically.
Legendary Encounters | Mechanics
For starters, Encounters is purely cooperative. And it needs to be, as it will take all the teamwork you can muster to survive the tetralogy of films. In a departure from the original game, each player will get their own avatar card at the beginning (with roles such as commander, synthetic, medic, etc.), and a special corresponding card that only they get in the starting deck. Your avatar also has Health and Defense…more on that in a minute.
In Encounters, you work your way through objectives. You and your team can only win the game is you surpass all three objectives (and survive). While you may completely randomize all of the objectives, you can also set them up in such a way that you play through all four films in order, with thematic events tied to the source material. For example, to play through the events of the first film, Alien, you would use the following objectives, in order: The SOS, No One Can Hear You Scream, and The Perfect Organism. The #3 objectives always have you destroying the main xenomorph antagonist of each movie (i.e., the Queen, the Hybrid, etc.). For the Character Deck-full of cards you can purchase to strengthen your deck-you’ll use the iconic characters from each film, including no less than four different Ripleys.
Each objective also comes with its own “mini-deck” of challenges, which are stacked on top of one another and collectively called The Hive. This takes the place of the Villain Deck from the original Legendary, with a twist: the cards enter The Complex in a constantly moving row like the original, but each card is placed face down. You won’t get to see what that card is until you “Scan” it by using some of your excess combat. And that card may be anything from a xenomorph drone, to a hazard, to a random event, to your actual objective goals.
Legendary Encounters | So Many Ways To Die
But you’ll certainly need to identify those xenos nice and early and take care of them, lest they slide down to the Combat Zone. Any xeno in that zone at the end of a player’s turn will damage them, forcing them to draw a card from the Strike Deck. These represent damage and setbacks to your character. Too many Strikes, and you die and are eliminated from the game…
…except if you get nailed by a Facehugger. If a Facehugger gets on you and isn’t defeated right away, you’ll be impregnated with an alien and forced to take the Chestburster card into your deck. While you have it, xenos won’t attack you, but the next time you draw the card you die…and come back as an alien player. Complete with new character cards and your own deck of cards to completely destroy the fragile monkeys (RE: the other players). If you can accrue enough damage to surpass the heroes’ Defense, you’ll force them to draw a strike, and hasten their doom.
As if that’s not enough to give the players nightmares, Encounters gives you the option to play with an optional traitor mode. Each player is given a loyalty card card the beginning of the game. Most of the loyalty cards are Good Agendas, but one of the cards will be an Evil Agenda, representing a player who is secretly working for the Corporation. If you’re the evil player, you need to kill all the other players and escape the xenomorph infested facility. The others will eventually find out who you are, but that only hastens your desire to escape with the alien samples.
Legendary Encounters | Rating
All in all, Legendary Encounters is a worthy successor to Upper Deck’s franchise. It’s quite a bit more thematic than the original game, and does away with the irksome semi-cooperative aspects. It’s also brutally difficult, with little room for error as you and your party mill through the Complex. The violent gameplay extends to the gory artwork, which earns the game its 17+ rating and keeps it from being anywhere near a family game.
Encounters still suffers from some of the original’s faults. Long set-up and take-down times can make the game a chore at times, and this is exacerbated by the fact that all of the many, many cards are mixed up in the box when first opened, requiring an hour of sorting. Also, many copies of the game are, apparently, missing cards that must be requested from the manufacturer. The traitor mechanism is also a bit underwhelming, and it-combined with the alien avatar player-can make the game end in defeat for the heroes before it even begins.
Still, the game’s challenges and innovations are what keep me coming back. The Hive mechanisms are great, and the avatars and Strike Deck are something I’d like to see get put into all Legendary releases. And if you love the movie franchise, this one is a no-brainer. With a planned Predator expansion on the way, there’s a lot to get excited about (and be terrified of).
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
4.5 out of 5
by Board Game Brawl