What the heck. I keep waffling on whether or not to spread these Legendary reviews out or put them closer together, and all this inner debate could be solved if I just broke down and wrote it all out. I’ll cover Guardians of the Galaxy on Friday and be done with it until I get my hands on Dark City (the expansion, not the movie. Mini-movie review for you: it’s amazing.).
As with Fantastic Four, Paint the Town Red introduces two new abilities to both boon and bane players. Pretty sure I used those works incorrectly. Since this is expansion centers around Spider-man, it stands to reason one of the abilities would focus on an iconic piece of his character: the wall crawl. Traditionally when players purchase a card, that card first goes into their discard pile, only having a chance to enter the rotation once it’s shuffled into their deck proper. A card with the wall-crawl ability, however, is placed on top of their deck, ready to be used the following turn. Not only is it perfect thematically, but it can make for some interesting decisions (and big combo potential) when selecting newer cards. There are times I would be able to buy a more powerful, stand-alone card, without wall-crawl, but I opted instead for the ability in order to buy it, put it on top of my deck, and then play a card allowing me to draw a card and get it in my hand right away. I’ve run into situations where I fell just short of dealing with a villain in the City with no means of taking them out, only to be able to pull off the above scenario and save myself both a wasted round and opportunity for them to escape. Though slightly innocuous on the surface, wall-crawl is an ability which has the potential to easily turn a bad situation around if handled properly, and it’s such a small thing leading to more thought-demanding card choices.
The next ability is for the Mastermind, specifically Carnage and his villain group Maximum Carnage: feast. Feast KOs the top card of the targeted player’s deck with the possibility of triggering a snowball effect depending on the villain in question or the card removed from the game. KOing a card (removing it entirely) is typically in the hands of the player, allowing them to remove unwanted cards in favor of getting their stronger ones out more quickly, or at the very least, choose between a number of cards in order to lose the least damaging to them. With Carnage and his squad, that luxury is removed, and you can run into a quick string of bad luck, scrambling to make up for lost ground while playing the remainder of the game from behind. It’s a bit of a press-your-luck mechanic when paired with wall-crawl, placing the card you want at the top of your deck, only then to have feast pop up and make you toss it before even getting the chance to use it.
Mysterio is the second Mastermind (leading the Sinister Six, finally), and quite possibly my favorite in the game so far. I mention theme time and again when speaking about Legendary, but his is nailed so perfectly. He’s (relatively) weak by other Mastermind standards coming in at just 8 attack, but his power rests not in his might, but his persistence. What makes Mysterio great is his Master Strike ability. When the card is drawn, you shuffle it into his deck, and it acts as one of Mysterio’s many illusions. For other Masterminds, you need to defeat them four times in order to win. For Mysterio, it can be up to nine if you’re really unlucky: four “real” cards, and five Master Strikes posing as Mysterio. Nasty, especially when the villain deck gets increasingly low, and you’re in danger of losing by running out of time.
This is already getting long, so rather than focus on the new heroes, I’ll just give them a quick mention: Spider-woman, Scarlet Spider, Symbiote Spider-man, Black Cat, and Moon Knight. Spider-man comes in the base set, and I’ve honestly always found him a bit boring to play – he’s a good support character though not terribly interesting, as he revolves around card-draw, and more card draw. This set at least gives him a few other friends to play off of and thus increases his focus, but he still doesn’t do much for me. Black Cat too is somewhat of a letdown, feeling more quirky and gimmicky in her style than useful, the burglar tie-in one of the times theme is more cumbersome than useful (purchases and skills revolve around being boosted either by being in the Bank location or through drawn cards, all of which seem to be a bit too random to really make for sound strategic use). And Moon Knight. On his own as a Marvel Knights character until I pick up the Dark City expansion.
Like the others I’ve discussed, Paint the Town Red takes a good game to great. Absolutely recommended. Not as strong as Fantastic Four in my opinion with the exception of Mysterio, but not a poor purchasing decision by any stretch. A definite pick-up.