So, which X-Man am I?
Well, uh, you don’t play as just one, technically. All five heroes we’re using for this scenario are in this deck here. We’ve got Cyclops, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Wolverine…
Okay, I want to be Wolverine.
You have to buy him first.
You have to play enough of those S.H.I.E.L.D agent cards to recruit him. Those numbers in the stars on the side there are your recruitment points, and you have to play enough to equal his cost. It’s like a signing bonus.
Oh. So we’re not actually playing as the X-Men.
Well, kind of. It’s like The Avengers movie, only strictly from the point of view of the no-name bureaucrats who run day-to-day ops on the Helicarrier.
Or like we’re the metaphysical embodiment of the idea of “teamwork,” silently guiding the heroes and influencing their actions, invisible to all.
Rest assured, you will almost definitely need all of that space.
Are we playing against each other?
Yes! But not really. I think there are a few times where you can pull a Stark and dick over everyone else in the game, but then you look like a dick. And I’m pretty sure if you do that enough we all lose.
We can lose?
You mean the game, a lifeless hunk of cardboard with more lifeless hunks of cardboard piled on top of it, can win?
Oh dear. That would be the worst way for a board game to end.
But also the best.
Okay, so I want to buy Wolverine.
Great. See, all we do is flip five cards out of the hero deck onto the Helicarrier space and—
Wait. There are two Wolverines. Is one his clone?
Oh, no. There’s just two of him. Actually, there’s fourteen of each in the deck. They’re more like “Things That Wolverine Can Do” than they are “Wolverines.”
But the manual still calls all these cards “heroes.”
So now I’m buying a Wolverine with these weird looking blond guys.
Whoops, I forgot. At the beginning of your turn you’re supposed to make a villain come out into the city. So do that.
Who the hell is “The Melter?”
He’s the guy all up in our sewers right now.
I’M ATTACKING WITH MY BERSERKER CLAW RAGE.
No, wait. You can’t.
But I have a Wolverine.
When you get a card you have to discard it.
but I just bought it.
Right. So now that card is part of your deck. The deck that you’re building. This is a deck-building game. When your turn is over you discard all the cards you played, and all the cards you didn’t play, and then you immediately draw a new hand of six cards from your personal deck.
SHIELD agents, troopers and wounds are excellent cannon fodder when knocking out cards.
What happens if you don’t have enough cards to make a hand?
You get to shuffle all your cards back together, and then draw the rest of your cards. And that’s when your Wolverine becomes potentially viable.
So you have to shuffle your cards immediately, right in the middle of the game, instead of maybe watching what other players do on their turns?
That sounds tedious.
So… my turn is done, I guess.
Okay, well, I’m going to buy this other Wolverine here, and then flip two more heroes into the Helicarrier, and, oh yeah, we need a villain so we move the Melter down a space on the city track and put… some HYDRA henchmen into the sewers and… that’s my turn.
Okay, new villain—Baron Zemo, yikes—buy a Hawkeye and… I can’t do anything else. I’m done.
Oh. Right, me. Uhh, actually I can’t do anything either. Shit.
Shit. We’re the worst heroes ever. “Hey, Spider-Man, could you help? City is kinda burning here.” “Sorry gang, like, ESPN Classic is on in the Helicarrier and…”
Hey, just for curiosity’s sake, what happens if a villain gets pushed out of the city?
They escape. We lose points and bad stuff happens.
Depending on the villain you might get wound cards, which are useless and clog up your deck, or we might have to K.O. cards into a pile, where they’re out of the game permanently. And depending on the scenario we’re playing, “X villains escape” might be one of the things that let’s the game win. ‘Cause that’s still a thing that can happen, remember. But we should be good so long as we don’t draw any—
“Scheme twist.” What does that do?
Oh. Those are extra-bad stuffs that happen. They change based on the scenario too, which is actually the neatest thing. Here it means that whoever is in the bank gets hostages.
Hostages! That is almost the exact opposite of neat! That asshole Melter is going to off J. Jonah!
Chill. As long as he doesn’t escape we’re cool. We can’t let the rogues walk off with too many civvies or—
The game wins.
Theming villain decks gets harder with every additional player, so don’t question if Magneto has to lead Doombots.
Well, I’ve got a Hawkeye and a Wolverine now, so it’s clobber sandwiching time. What’s this symbol mean under the Wolverine?
It means you get bonus attack if you play it after another card of its type. A card like that Hawkeye card.
Wha-bam! Two on the scene! Did I kill him?
Yep. Now take those two civilians and put them in another pile of cards which you have to keep separate from the other handful of decks you’re juggling. That’s your score.
I think I’m getting the hang of this.
Oh, wait. You were supposed to K.O. a card when you fight him.
Yeah. Crap, I just pulled the Lizard. He’s especially powerful in the sewers. Because he’s a lizard.
Hey, how do we win?
We just have to attack the Mastermind—in this case Red Skull—four times. Also, if you draw a “Master Strike” card out of the villain deck, he totally screws us over and makes us K.O. cards.
Uh, are we close to doing any of that?
I’m going to need, like, all the Wolverines.
You’re also going to need to stop that second Melter you just drew from blowing up another busload of tourists.
Some heroes are better than others at fighting certain villains. Here, Magneto screws you over on his Master Strike if you can’t reveal a member of the X-Men.
Legendary was designed by Devin Low and published by Upper Deck Entertainment.
Sean Clancy is a Boston-based freelance writer and totally supported Cap during Civil War. Check out his Tweet-thoughts by following @SClancy.