Legendary – Marvel Heroes Deck Building, Bonus: Teaching Games!

Last night we played Legendary: The Marvel Heroes Deck-Building Game.  I heart it and I’m going to buy it for Game Club and try to get it to take off this year.  Somehow.  While also playing BT and a DND 5th campaign…  *whew*

I’m not going to give a full run down on Legendary Marvel Deck-Building.  Let me sum up:  Legendary came out in 2012 and has a couple expansions.  It is a simultaneous cooperative and competitive deck building game that you can play 1 to 6 players.  The players represent a collection of Marvel heros, chosen before the game begins.  They fight a major Marvel villain (Magneto, Doctor Doom, the biggies) who serves as the “Mastermind”.  The Mastermind has one of over a dozen wider objectives called “Scene Twists” that happen during the game.  Just like any deck-building game, the players “purchase” cards on the field that give them the ability to be better at buying, to attack the enemy, or to get victory points.  To win, the players have to successfully attack the very powerful Mastermind four times and beat them before the players run out of hero cards from the overall supply pile.  The competitive aspect is that in fighting villains, players get victory points that will rank them for a final score if they collectively win.  Players can capture “bystanders” for extra victory points.  Some villains give “wounds” were are simply dead cards that dilute the ratio of your deck.  Although, some strength-based heros get better with wounds.

Last night we fought Mr. Sinister, who gets more powerful the more Bystanders he captures.  The variant scene Twist is that the Shield Helicarrier is being attacked and every time a Scheme twist card comes out, it damages our capability to purchase heroes. For every Scheme Twist drawn, you flip over a hero in the Helicarrier and if you flip over six in any spot that spot no longer replenishes.  Our heroes were Domino, Ice Man, Storm, Angel, Emma Frost, and the Black Widow.  I concentrated mostly on Ice Man (lots of attack power) and Domino (can use her probability powers to give either Buy or Attack), but I could never really get my deck going to its fullest.  But, being an experienced deck building player (Dominion, Resident Evil), I still managed the second most victory points.

 The reason why I haven’t talked too much about the mechanics is that you learn by doing.  The next best thing to doing is to watch someone play.  The following video is a guy and his son (maybe?) showing us how to play Legendary.  They have a YouTube series called “Watch It Played.” I’ll start you at Episode 3, when they actually start playing the game, but if you’d rather hear the rules first, you could go back to Episode 1.

Teaching Legendary

If you watched any of the videos linked above, the guy and his son do a great job of keeping the mood light and fun.  If I were sitting in front of them and they were teaching me, I would be enjoying the experience.  Sure, the dress up at the beginning of some of the episodes is corny, but its a good kind of corny.  These are techniques that teachers have been using for a long time to engage their students.

They’re also using the comments sections of their videos to engage their audience even further.  Wonderful.  “What do you think?” is a very powerful phrase for maintaining a good social and cognitive situation.  People want to be valued and have their thoughts valued.

Finally, they made a lot of mistakes during the course of playing the game and making this video.  They confront these mistakes as soon as possible and turn them into teachable moment.  If we think about these videos from the perspective of the pitfalls of teaching games, their big liability is that they don’t know the rules very deeply.  But, in this instance, they use their honest approach of confronting their mistakes to keep their audience thinking.  A teachable moment can be a powerful thing and sometimes non-examples can be just as powerful for thinking as examples.  “Why is this not a legal move?”  “How did me make a mistake here?”  “Thank you readers for pointing out a mistake here, we will correct it as soon as possible!”

Overall, they are thinking about their audience more than they are thinking about themselves.  They are empathizing with their audience.  They don’t want to be YouTube famous.  They’re genuine.  Gamers tend to be very analytical individuals because they like analytical things.  It isn’t the analytical in us that forms connections with people.  Its the human side of us.

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