We recently got our hands on the latest ‘small box’ expansions for the Marvel-based Legendary co-operative card game – Noir, which links in thematically with the Dark City expansion, and Spider-man Homecoming, the first expansion directly linked to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So how do they compare to other Legendary expansions?
Let’s take a look at Noir first. In terms of the cards themselves, I know it can be subjective, but I honestly feel like they have the best art I’ve seen on Legendary cards in, well, ever. The art style really suits the Noir universe – an alternate Marvel universe themed around forties pulp crime novels. But moving past the aesthetics, what about the gameplay?
As is the case with these small expansions, it adds some new keywords into the game, “Investigate” has you checking a deck for a specific type of card and playing it if you find it. “Hidden Witnesses” adds face-down bystanders to city spaces which you need to pay off with recruit points before you can fight the villain there.
You get a couple of new masterminds (The Goblin and Charles Xavier – Professor of Crime) – both tie in to the new bystander gameplay – two villain sets, 5 new heroes, and some new schemes. And I have to say, some of these schemes really mix things up, changing how the game plays considerably. For example, one has you essentially building up a deck of suspects as you fight villains, which you have opportunities to inspect as the game progresses. The hero who appears most often in the deck is revealed to be a secret imposter, so you are racing to work out who that might be, instead of the usual fisticuffs, almost adding a “Cluedo” spin to the game. Another theme completely changes how the villains appear, with each city space having it’s own mini-deck, rather than all feeding from the one main villain deck. Again, these changes to how the game plays really freshens things up, rather than just giving a slightly different mix of hit points and attack values to the last 27 games you played.
So even if, like me, you are less familiar with the Noir universe, the combination of interesting schemes, excellent masterminds, and gorgeous art, make this an essential purchase for any Legendary fan.
So how does Spider-Man Homecoming compare? The first thing that stands out, is the use of photographs from the film, instead of artwork commissioned for the game. I must confess, this jarred with me, and I thought it would clash with the ‘normal’ cards, but in practice this didn’t bother me in the slightest. It feels slightly cheap to use existing photos rather than to have something exclusive to the game, but I’m sure film licenses are anything but cheap!
Gameplay-wise, it reintroduces the Wallcrawl keyword from the “Paint the Town Red” expansion, which guarantees cards you recruit are in your very next hand, and Danger Sense replicates Spidey’s famous Spider-Sense, checking the next few cards to give you advance warning of what you are up against soon. “Co-ordinate” makes its debut in Legendary, after being introduced in the Legendary Encounters series of games. This allows you to support fellow players during their turns, such as helping someone buy a hero they couldn’t otherwise afford. Given that Legendary is supposed to be a co-operative game, I’m surprised it took fourteen expansions for co-operative gameplay to get added it. Lastly the Striker keyword on some heroes and villains allows them to get stronger later in the game, based on however many Master Strikes have been played so far.
Unlike Noir, most of the Schemes here are more traditional, but the exception and the standout is the brilliant “Explosion at the Washington Monument”. Like the Noir schemes, this really changes the gameplay – you have 8 mini-decks of cards representing eight floors of the tower you have to rescue bystanders from. With each floor being destroyed every time a Scheme Twist is played, it becomes a race against time to rescue as many people as possible.
Homecoming is a great purchase for MCU fans and Spider-Man fans alike. The photographic artwork may put some off, but it gives the set a distinctive look, and adds some much needed co-operation into the game.
Both sets are great, but if I had to choose, I’d recommend Noir over Homecoming, mainly due to the more innovative schemes on offer, with the excellent artwork being a bonus.