Review – Legendary: World War Hulk

Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding game – World War Hulk. Upper Deck, 2018. Devin Low, designer. Various artists.

If you read our Top 5 Games of All Time list, you know that I love Legendary. Just the base game alone comes with 15 heroes, a bunch of villains, and a ton of villain schemes (scenarios). If you only own the base game, you have hours and hours of replayability. However, where Legendary shines is in its expansions, creating even more combinations of heroes and even more complications for those heroes to face,

One of the biggest expansions for the game is Legendary: World War Hulk. Based on the comic story of the same name (as well as the Planet Hulk story), Legendary: World War Hulk adds a number of gamma-irradiated heroes like She-Hulk, Mr. Fixit, and Dr. Banner, as well as members of Hulk’s Warband, such as Korg and Miek, putting them up against villains like The Illuminati, The Red King, and M.O.D.O.K. There are 400 cards in this box, which is a LOT of cardboard. So, I guess it’s time to ask…

What’s going on?

Go read Planet Hulk and World War Hulk for the story…it’s too complicated to go into here, but those are great comics (especially Planet Hulk!). All you need to know is that through a series of betrayals and misunderstandings, the Hulk makes some new friends, makes some new enemies, decides (possibly rightfully) that some of his old friends are new enemies, and punches everything. Oh, he also gets married, almost has a kid, and then loses everything. This makes him quite upset.

The set adds (or reintroduces…it’s hard to keep track anymore) some keywords/mechanics like Transforming cards that, when conditions are met, are permanently replaced in your deck by new cards; the Smash mechanic, which allows you to discard a card to gain attack power on a Smash card; Wounded Fury, which gives a card +1 attack for each wound in your discard pile; Outwit, which has an effect if you play cards with three different costs; Feast, which KOs a card in your draw pile to give a bonus; and plenty of Cross-Dimensional Rampages, making you reveal cards with a certain word (like “Hulk” or “Illuminati”) to avoid taking wounds.

The villains in this set use some of the same keywords, too, which can be interesting if you are, say, playing a Hulk-centric hero set vs. King Hulk. That scenario may not make much sense, but Marvel continuity was always a little slippery.

What’s good here?

This is a lot of content. There are as many heroes in this expansion as there are in the base game, and there are actually more mastermind villains. There are also several villain groups and henchmen, eight new schemes, and some special bystanders. If you want to add replayability to an already infinitely replayable game, this expansion has it.

The characters are great, too. She-Hulk was sorely missing from the game, and her transformed cards let you smash with the best of them. I love that you can put the Hulk’s Warband together, as Planet Hulk is my favorite Hulk story, and you can pit them against the Red King. Even though the set is called World War Hulk, it goes beyond that story, and that’s really cool.

Also, the Illuminati as a villain group is great if you like hero vs. hero action. From a storytelling perspective, I like that you have that nuanced, two groups trying to do what they think is right, running counter to each other element.

Also, M.O.D.O.K.

What’s not so good?

This expansion can be a little fiddly. For instance, the mastermind we fought in our playthough, The Illuminati, transformed every time there was a Master Strike or if we fought them. This meant that their rules about what to do when certain conditions are met (in this cased, when we drew any amount of cards), kept changing, and we had to remember what rule to follow as we kept playing Sidekicks and other “draw a card” effects.

Also, Transforming is ostensibly a good thing, but in some situations, a transformed card may not be as good as the original. This is frustrating when you buy a card, but then have to play it at an inopportune time and transform it into something you don’t even want.

Lastly, because there are so many Hulks in this set (Joe Fixit, Amedeus Cho, Banner, Skaar, Gladiator Hulk, SHe-Hulk), sorting the cards to put away can be a bit of a pain as visually, they are very similar. Combine that with teh fact that we played a mission where we needed to have an extra hulk deck off to the side, and the clean-up took longer than usual.

Still, those are minor complaints that are outweighed by the good you get with this expansion.

What do I think?

Overall, World War Hulk is one of my favorite expansions, though my enjoyment is probably colored by my love of the comics it is based on. If you’re not a Hulk fan, or if you just haven’t read these particular Hulk stories, there’s still a lot of gameplay here, and really, you don’t need to know what’s going on to play Legendary. The new mechanics give the game a brand-new feel, and the sheer number of new characters and villains raises the already huge replayability exponentially. It’s a gamma-bomb-sized expansion for a gamma-bomb-sized game.

I’ll give it 8/10 victory points.

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