I was going to hold off doing any reviews of the expansions for Marvel for a bit, but I’ve been working through the new Schemes/Masterminds introduced in Fantastic Four, and I figure I might as well talk about the add-on while it’s still fresh in my mind.
Two new Masterminds are included, Mole Man and Galactus, both great additions to the base Masterminds. Their respective Villain groups – Subterranea for Mole, Heralds of Galactus for, appropriately, Galactus – do a perfect job in both the thematic and gameplay departments.
The Subterranea Villains utilize one of the new keywords brought by the FF expansion, burrow, which adds a good strategic layer to their encounters. There are five spaces Villains can occupy on the game board (or City) – the Bridge, Rooftop, Streets, Bank, and Sewers – Villains escaping once they move beyond the Bridge location, and what makes the Subterranea group interesting with burrow, is the ability allows the Villain to, once defeated, move from their current space on the board to the Streets location, provided the Streets are unoccupied, the idea being they’re fleeing from danger and living to fight another day, as bad guys are want to do. As players, you’ll want to time attacking Villains with burrow appropriately, striking when there are other Villains in the Streets space, or when that Villain is in the space, rendering the burrow ability useless and unable to trigger. This makes for some interesting decisions as you play, choosing whether to allow Villains to proceed further into the City than you’d otherwise like in order to block the Streets as a means of moving through the more difficult Villains with a little more ease. But, you need to be mindful of allowing the board to get too full, especially of Subterranea Villains, as the Mole Man’s attack allows all Subterranea Villains within the City to escape at once, and his combat value increases with each escaped Sub. Villain, a trait which can rapidly spiral out of control if you’re not too careful. What seems like a weak Mastermind on paper can actually become quite formidable.
I’ve gone against Galactus near a dozen times now and lost every one of my attempts. I’ve come close, once, but the other goes have all been decisive defeats, which makes sense as Galactus is a world devourer, and someone with that title shouldn’t go down without a fairly decent fight. His combat value is twenty, a number astronomical from the outset, but a value which is mitigated the more you combo cards of a certain type (Instinct, Strength, Ranged, etc.). For every type you play from a single class – a distinction made before attacking Galactus – his value decreases by three so, for example, playing four Strength cards will reduce Galactus’ combat by twelve putting him at eight rather than twenty, a much more manageable figure. In this way, your choices when purchasing cards becomes more weighted to one side at times, not looking necessarily for combos which bounce well off of more another, but possibly building decks all of one type in order to face the Mastermind more efficiently.
What good would new Masterminds be without new heroes to fight them? As the expansion title suggests, you’ll finally be getting to play as one of Marvel’s most… ahem… legendary teams, the Fantastic Four: Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and Thing. Joining them as their fifth is the Silver Surfer. The second of the new keywords is focus used exclusively with these five heroes, an ability granting players an either/or choice in their card play. For instance, a card valued at 2 Recruit may also have the text “Focus: 2 Recruit –> Draw 1 card”, meaning, you can either use that card as it’s original 2 Recruit or use it to draw a card. The more costly cards – and therefore more powerful cards – offer more valuable choices, some ratcheting a single card’s combat value up to nine or more, a number which creeps close to Galactus’ often elusive hit box range. What I like so much about focus again is the same thing I’ve mentioned a handful of times in this expansion: choice. What the base game of Legendary lacked was variety, and though I’m not wanting to be overwhelmed by decisions right out of the gate, having the ability to look at my hand, realize there’s little I can do with it by traditional means and instead opting to craft some potentially lucky draws into removing a Villain or recruiting a stronger hero, helps make the game much more interesting and accessible. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you have little to do while sporting a full hand, and while that trouble still occasionally presents itself, the issue is much less prevalent here, a change I welcome.
I’m not going to discuss the new Schemes. I like the surprise of discovery in the same way I enjoy going into a movie “blind” and just seeing what comes of the experience. Maybe you feel the same way. If not, you can look them up. Know that I enjoy them, and some, when paired with a certain Mastermind, can be nasty, though a lot of fun. These Schemes are my favorites yet, for what it’s worth.
Like Paint The Town Red, the Spider-man expansion, Fantastic Four is a must-own if you enjoy Legendary. It adds so much to the game, inclusions which make an already entertaining game that much better. I’ll try and get to Paint The Town in the next week or so. Maybe even Monday. We’ll see what comes up.