Review: Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game:: 7 out of 10. Worth it but not perfect.
They say that in space, no one can hear you scream.Â But it you are sitting around a table playing this game, they can definitely hear you swear.Synopsis
A co-operative game based on the Alien franchise, you and the other players go up against various Objectives from the first four movies (Alien, Aliens, Alien3, Alien: Resurrection) with various characters from those movies and hope to complete three of those Objectives before you're all killed.
There are three Objectives and four Characters from each of the four movies and thus it is possible to play through a rough version of each of those films in order if you want; or you can put the Alien3 characters through the Aliens Objectives or the Alien characters up against the Newborn from Alien: Resurrection!Â You can even, should you be so inclined, take one character from each of the films and combine them together to go up against Objective 1 from Alien, Objective 2 from Aliens and Objective 3 from Alien3.
The combinations open to you are numerous and you could spend a lot of time mixing and matching all sorts of different Characters and Objectives together to weave your own story.Â But I assume you would only do that, of course, if that game was actually any good.Â So is it ,€¦ ?Gameplay
As with all deck building games, you start with a base deck of weak cards.Â You then use this weak deck to buy slightly stronger cards based on the four characters you have chosen to use that game.Â These slightly stronger cards are then used to buy even stronger cards and they in turn are used to buy yet more stronger cards.
All the while you are doing this, however, the enemy is slowly moving towards you.Â At the start of each players turn, a new enemy card enters play face down and pushes all other enemy cards already in play one step closer towards you.Â Should any of them reach you, they attack.Â This mechanic creates a nice sense of creeping dread as the face down cards grow in number and march towards you with inevitability.Â It is possible, however, to reveal some of these cards before they reach you and even to try and kill the enemies before they get to you.Â And you will definitely be trying to do this a lot as should an enemy reach the players, it can do a lot of damage.
However often in the early turns there is very little to actually choose to do as you are severely limited by the base deck you start with.Â There are two types of ,€ścurrency,€ť in the game; Attack which you use to reveal face down cards and fight enemies, and Recruit which you use to buy new cards.Â So if your hand is nothing but Recruit, you can't do anything about the enemies anyway so the only decision is what cards to buy.Â If you have mostly Attack, you can't get any new cards and will have to reveal some face down cards.
In the early part of the game, this can be annoying as it forces you to do things you might not have otherwise chosen to do.Â In the later part of the game, this can be devastating as you end up with a handful of Recruit and therefore can't kill the enemy that is about to attack you.Â A single ,€ścurrency,€ť that let you do either would have been better as it would have opened up more options each turn and wouldn't result in the game ending purely because you picked up 5 Recruit and 3 Strike when what you really needed was 4 Strike to stay alive ,€¦
Sure, some people will say this is a good thing as it makes the game harder and forces you to be more careful about what you buy and how you build your deck.Â But for me, it places too many constraints on a player and often means a Win or Loss will be determined too strongly by the luck of the draw, regardless of how well you might have built your deck.Â Sure, every card game has luck but this mechanic introduces too much luck in what is otherwise a good, solid game.
If you have the Attack points available to choose, knowing which enemy cards to reveal or which enemies to attack can make a big difference.Â Likewise knowing which cards to buy, should your Recruit points be enough to give you an option, can also have long-term consequences that need careful consideration.Â But if your hand only gives you 3 Attack and 4 Recruit and the options in play are to spend 2 Attack, 4 Attack, 5 Attack, 2 Recruit or 5 Recruit.Â Well then your turn pretty much plays itself.
But away from complaints about the splitting of the games ,€ścurrency,€ť, the rest of it plays well.Â The advancing cards of enemies can be tense, the Objectives are mostly well balanced and the Characters have enough variety to stop them being stale while still working well within their ,€śmovie groups,€ť (all Alien: Resurrection characters, for example, work well together).
The co-operative nature of the game works up to a point ,€“ there is one active mechanic which lets you work together, the rest of the time you are individuals working for the same goal.Â It is possible to go through the entire game without any actual active teamwork at all, just all players keep marching towards the same target.Â This isn't a terrible problem, per se, but it would have been nice to see more ways to work together ,€“ particularity in combat.
This two complaints aside (the ,€ścurrency,€ť split and the lack of much active co-operation), the game is good.Â It plays well and the mixing and matching available from the various combinations of Objectives and Characters means that the re-playability of the game is high.
The rulebook is written well, no complaints there.
The artwork, though ,€¦ I imagine paying the rights to use actual screenshots from the films would have been a nightmare, thus drawn pictures are used on all the cards.Â This is understandable but some of the art is of dubious quality on some of the cards.
However, I always say that provided nothing actually gets in the way of the game then I have no complaints!Â So no complaints from me, just one or two reservations.Summary
7 out of 10.Â A good game; good enough that I have played it many times and have ordered the expansion.Â But, as noted above, it's not perfect.
I have extensively played this game with two players many times.Â However we have always stuck to the full co-operative mode and if either of us got eliminated, the game was over for both players.
But there is an optional rule to allow a player who is eliminated to re-enter the game as an Alien player in charge of the Xenomorphs; there is an optional game mode for a ,€śhidden traitor,€ť and apparently the game gets harder the more players you add.Â I cannot comment on any of this.
If you are interested in the game for any of these modes, I hope you find a review that helps you with them.Â But this reviewer has only been able to look at the game from a point of view of two player full co-op.Note: I have learned from bitter experience with this site that I need to stress that all reviews ,€“ including this one ,€“ are entirely matters of opinion. I am not claiming that anything I have said in this review is fact, it is all entirely my opinion and I am sure that many others have different opinions. If you wish to reply with yours, I welcome it. I enjoy discussion but will not respond kindly to aggressive replies.
Source: Review: Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game:: 7 out of 10. Worth it but not perfect.
~ From http://www.boardgamegeek.com