Review – Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Upper Deck)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Gets a Legendary Deck Building Game

As an avid Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, one of the highlights of each season was the Halloween episode. In “Halloween”, the Halloween costumes that the Scoobies wear take over their personae due to a spell. In “Fear Itself”, a Halloween Frat party goes awry when a homemade haunted house unleashes a fear demon’s power and each character must find a way out of the house by battling their worse fears. Memories of great episodes like these come to life again this October 31, when Upper Deck releases latest edition of their popular Legendary deck building game series, Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


Legendary BTVS Box
Legendary BTVS Box


Legendary Gameplay

Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a semi-cooperative deck-building game for up to 5 players, There is also a solo variant where players can choose a team of heroes to fight against a Big Bad and their cronies. Much like every season of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show, the overall goal is to beat the Big Bad. Players win the game if the Big Bad is beaten four times, and lose if the Big Bad is able to complete their Scheme.


Legendary BTVS game play
Legendary BTVS game play


Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a deck building game (my personal favorite). The game is set up by selecting Heroes, Villains, a Big Bad, and a Scheme, which is an overall plot that the Big Bad is focused on, much like an episode or a story arc from a season of the TV series. Each player starts with their own deck of basic cards. At the start of your turn, you play the top card of the Villain Deck for Villains to invade the Sunnydale, capture Bystanders, and create special events. Then, you play Hero cards from your hand to generate Attack, Recruit Points, and special abilities. You use your Attack to defeat Villains. You use Recruit Points to recruit better Heroes for your deck. When a Master Strike is revealed, this indicates a massive attack from the Big Bad, who are the likes of The Master, Angelus, and Glorificus. When a Scheme Twist is revealed, this will trigger bad stuff that the Big Bad or the other Villains will do to the heroes. Every Scheme card has a part that says “Evil Wins,” which tells you how the Big Bad completes their Scheme. If the evil Scheme is completed, then the Big Bad wins the game, and everyone loses! If the Heroes defeat the Big Bad, all the players win the game for the forces of good! In addition, defeating Villains and rescuing Bystanders earns each player Victory Points. After the Big Bad is defeated, the player with the most Victory Points is the best slayer of all and the individual winner.


Legendary Content

Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a core set, with everything needed to play included. The box includes 500 cards, a silicone play mat, Light/Dark Token, Courage Tokens, rulebook, and 60 dividers.

The base set of every Legendary game includes specific cards needed to play the game. Each player starts the game with their own personal 12-card deck, made up of 8 Watchers and 4 Initiative Soldiers. Watchers are worth 1 recruit point, and are used to recruit more heroes to your team throughout the game. Initiative Soldiers are worth 1 attack point, producing attack power that lets you defeat Villains. Potential Slayers are worth 2 recruit points, and can be purchased throughout the game to add to your hero team. Bystanders are in the villain deck and on reserve, as they will be captured and rescued in various situations throughout the game. Wounds are just that – these injuries hinder your abilities but can be healed throughout the game. Scheme Twists and Master Strikes represent the attacks against you by the Big Bad and the other villains.

Bystanders are innocent onlookers that are present in Sunnydale when the action happens. These Bystanders can get captured by Villains, and if they are not rescued, they could get carried away and eaten or turned into Vampires. Each Bystander in a player’s victory pile at the end of the game is worth one Victory Point. This game includes Special Bystanders, which are characters from the TV series. Each has a special ability that triggers when they are rescued, like Joyce Summers who advances the Light on the Light/Dark Track. Other favorites appear as Bystanders, such as Clem and Herbert the Pig. And as with every first printing of a Legendary game or expansion, there is a first printing promo card. Legendary: BTVS has a Dingoes Ate My Baby first printing promo.

Dingoes Ate My Baby promo card
Dingoes Ate My Baby promo card


Legendary Heroes

There are 15 different Heroes that you can add to your team in Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, from our fan-favorite Scoobies, to The Slayers and the Initiative Soldiers. The Heroes are divided amongst 5 heroic teams:

  • Slayers: Chosen by fate and imbued with super abilities, it is the slayer’s birthright to fight the forces of darkness and evade the occasional apocalypse. The Slayers are Buffy Summers, Faith Lehane, The First Slayer, and the Potential Slayers.
  • Scoobies: When faced with the truth about the dark side of their city, these normal Sunnydale citizens have decided they want to fight the good fight. Loyal and brave, Buffy would be lost without them. The Scoobies are Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris, Cordelia Chase, Tara Maclay and Jenny Calendar.
  • Supernatural: These allies of the Slayers are demonic in nature. Out of loyalty to the Slayers, they have overcome their demon-y disposition to fight the forces of evil. The Supernatural heroes are Angel, Spike, Anya Jenkins, and Daniel “Oz” Osbourne.
  • Initiative: Now defunct, the Initiative was a clandestine U.S. Government agency whose mission was the capture and research of demons in hopes of weaponizing their abilities. Having been recruited by the Army, the Initiative’s goals are now aligned with the Scoobies. The Initiative heroes  are Riley Finn and the Initiative Soldiers.
  • Watchers: Devoted to the training and guidance of Slayers, a watcher must use their knowledge of demons and the supernatural to assist in the fight against evil. Dedication to the cause and to their slayers is the hallmark of the watchers. The Watcher heroes are Rupert Giles and the Watchers.                                   

Heroes are on only one team, but they may have one or more classes that grant a Special Ability only if you have already played another card of that hero class earlier in your turn. The Hero classes are:

  • Strength Heroes include Heroes with raw strength, but also Heroes with strength of will, determination, and strong leadership.  
  • Instinct Heroes use savagery and quick reflexes to dominate combats. Some Instinct Heroes use supernatural senses to get an edge on their opponents.
  • Covert Heroes include Heroes using trickery and deception to outwit their foes. They also include Heroes making clever battle plans and Heroes using subtle abilities to gain subtle advantages.  
  • Knowledge Heroes are intelligent, perceptive, and resourceful. They include heroes skilled in research and strategy.
  • Magic Heroes use spells and incantations to ward off their enemies. Some Magic Heroes draw from mystical sources to boost their abilities, while others flirt with the dark magicks to do raw damage.
  • Basic Heroes include all the starting Watchers and Initiative Soldiers. They are Heroes in their own way but aren’t as strong, skilled, or proficient at the all-important donut run as the rest of the Scoobies.


Legendary Big Bads and Schemes

The game includes 5 Big Bads, with 7 Villain Groups and 5 Henchmen Villain Groups that help him to accomplish one of 8 Evil Schemes.

The Big Bads are The Master, Angelus, The Mayor, Glorificus, and The First.

The Villain Groups are a group of eight Villain cards that work together with the Big Bad in the Evil Scheme. The Villains in the game are: Order of Aurelius (Anointed One, Darla, The Three, Luke), Demons (Gentlemen, Gachnar, Sweet, Halfrek),  The First’s Minions (Caleb, The First’s Avatars, Charlotte, Gnarl), The Scourge of Europe (The Judge, Drusilla, Spike, Patrice, Norman Pfister, Octarus), Mayor’s Minions (Balthazar, Faith, Mr. Trick, Kakistos), Harmony’s Gang (Peaches, Mort, Harmony Kendall, Cyrus), and Glory’s Minions (The High Priest, Queller Demon, Doc, Jinx, Ben Wilkinson).

The Henchmen are weaker Villains, and each group has 10 identical cards, which are added to the Villain Deck. The Henchmen in the game are: Turok-Han Vampires, Shark Gangsters, Hellhounds, Vampire Initiates, and Harbringers of Death.

There are 8 different Evil Schemes in the game. Some schemes are more difficult than others, especially when played with certain combinations of Big Bads or Villain Groups. The “Epic Struggle”, “Hellmouth Opening”, and “Darkness Falls” schemes work with the Light/Dark Track and Dark abilities of the Big Bad to cause more severe attacks against the heroes. The “Vile Agenda” and “Twilight Terror” schemes use the Courage Tokens by adjusting the difficulty when recruiting new heroes or limiting the number of courage tokens available to players throughout that game.


Legendary Additions

There are two new mechanisms added to this game in the Legendary series – the Light/Dark Track and Courage Tokens.

The Light/Dark Track

The Light/Dark Track is based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme – the influence of light/dark abilities having an effect on a character’s strength, either working for or against them in an attack. The Light/Dark Token is placed on the Darkness counter on the first Dark space at the start of the game. Certain card abilities will “Advance the Light” (up) or “Advance the Dark” (down). You can only use Light cards if the Darkness counter is currently on the Light side of the Darkness track. You can only use Dark cards if the Darkness counter is currently on the Dark side of the Darkness track.

There are also certain actions that will advance the Light/Dark up or down. Whenever you defeat a Villain in the Sunnydale High or Downtown spaces in Sunnydale, you advance the Light. Whenever a Villain escapes, advance the Dark.

There are beneficial or harmful things that happen if the Light/Dark counter surpasses the maximum level of 3. When the Light counter is at 3 and advances further into the Light, the active player gains 1 Courage Token, and then moves the counter to 1 Light. When the Dark counter is at 3 and advances further into the Dark, you will resolve that “Dark” ability of the Big Bad, and then move the counter to 1 Dark.

Courage Tokens

Players start the game with 1 Courage Token and may gain more by playing certain Hero cards or defeating certain Villains. Players may spend their Courage Tokens during their own turn to gain either 1 Recruit Point or 1 Attack. Courage Tokens are carried over between turns, so you could save them up to have a huge attack against a Big Bad or buy an expensive rare Hero card.

For more about the contents of this game, check out my unboxing video over at the Time to Play! YouTube channel.


Overall Impression

When Upper Deck announced the Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer edition to their popular Legendary series of games at Gen Con in 2016, I had not yet discovered the world of Legendary. Over the winter, I started to play Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, and I was instantly hooked. I am now a huge fan, and I have every Marvel expansion out there (including the newly released Spider-Man: Homecoming set) and a couple of the other Legendary Encounters games. (Side note: All of the Legendary and Legendary Encounters games are compatible. So if you want the Firefly crew to join forces with the Avengers and bring in Buffy and the Scoobies, all of the games can be combined!)

As a huge fan of Legendary, and a longtime fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, this purchase was a no-brainer. I entered a win-a-box tournament at Gen Con 50 (in which I lost terribly), after which I did not hesitate in purchasing this game at the Upper Deck booth. It is a fun addition to the Legendary series of games. The card art consists of stills from the TV series, and we see a lot of the schemes representing the story arcs from the entire series, as well as some of our favorite characters, both good and bad. So it was very fun to relive my favorite TV series in the form of my favorite game.

My only hope is that there will be a future expansion (or expansions) that will expand the game even further. There are only 5 Big Bads in this game, and there were 7 seasons of Buffy. So there are some missing. I mean, seriously, where is the Trio???


Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an October 31, 2017 release date (subject to change). It is recommended for ages 14+, with a 30-60 minute playing time. MSRP is $59.99.


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