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Review – Marvel Legendary: Dimensions (Upper Deck)

Marvel Legendary Dimensions game box cropped for featured image

Marvel Legendary: Dimensions

The Story

Marvel Legendary: Dimensions game box
Marvel Legendary: Dimensions

Marvel Legendary is the popular tabletop card drafting series of games, with Dimensions being one of the more recent expansions. Many of the previous expansions have story so built into their boxes that the mechanics sometimes get a little bit forgotten. Also, heroes often come in who are somewhat obscure except in the context of the expansion. Dimensions only really has to deal with one half of that problem, as this set includes one of the most bizarre collections of heroes (Miss America, Jessica Jones, Squirrel Girl, Man-Thing, Howard the Duck) and a Mastermind (J. Jonah Jameson) with barely any connection to any of them. It could very well be that the characters’ appearance on the cover art is the first time that any two of them have appeared together in the history of comics, let alone all six of them together.

The only real “Dimensions” connection is Miss America, who has the super ability to break through dimensions. In truth though, this should not really come as a surprise to those who follow Marvel Legendary. Two of these characters were previously available (Howard the Duck and Man-Thing) as collectible cards and so this set seems interested in giving these two, plus a few more, a wider release. As such, there is no real story that links this set together. Instead, Marvel Legendary: Dimensions seems to focus more on cleaning up some of the leftovers from previous expansions. Those hoping for some mind-bending Kirby-esque dimensional travel will have come in with their hopes ready to be dashed.

What’s In the Box

Marvel Legendary Dimensions Man-Thing cards
Man-Thing cards

Marvel Legendary: Dimensions has 100 playable cards. There are three new heroes: Miss America, Jessica Jones, and Squirrel Girl; and two that have been recycled from a previous release: Man-Thing, and Howard the Duck. There are two groups of Henchman Villains: the Circus of Crime and Spider-Slayers, and one new Mastermind: J. Jonah Jameson. Five new bystanders round out the list of cards.

New Keywords

A few keywords reappear here (Investigate and Teleport) but the new one is Switcheroo. This allows a swap-out of the card in hand with Switcheroo for one in the HQ of the same value as the Switcheroo. For instance, a Switcheroo 5 can be swapped out with a value 5 card. The card from the hand goes to the bottom of the deck, and the one from the HQ comes into the hand.

Analysis

Marvel Legendary Dimensions Howard the Duck cards
Howard the Duck cards

Tabletop gaming comes down to one of two different pulls to get players into the game. This is either the theme (and story) or the mechanics. Typically a game needs at least one of them to have a chance at success, while the greatest games have both. Marvel Legendary as a whole was built around the idea of merging both of those together, and generally, it has been pretty successful. (It has ranked in the top 200 on BoardGameGeek for the majority of the time it has been available.)

The Cards

This is a strange step forward though, as the game’s designer, Devin Low, must have known that the comic fans picking up this expansion would not be so easily fooled by the connection among the five heroes. Low didn’t really bother to try very hard on a theme or story here. This means that the mechanics are really in question here, as the heroes are interpreted as faithfully as usual. The introduction of the keyword Switcheroo is really what sets these cards apart. This makes Jessica Jones and Squirrel Girl the relative powerhouses of this group. Squirrel Girl’s rare, the aptly-named “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl”, is a very useful card. If used at the right time it can be quite powerful.

Marvel Legendary Dimensions Henchman cards
Henchman cards

Miss America is also powerful enough, and has worked well in some “power decks”. This is contingent on the character being mixed with cards from outside this set to maximize her abilities. Howard the Duck has some odd mechanics, but they can work well, as does Man-Thing, but these latter two aren’t really heavy hitters. To be fair, though, the initial impression is that they would be weak characters and that is not necessarily the case. 

The Circus of Crime is a nice touch. They first appeared in the 1980s Howard the Duck comic series and were recurring villains there. Here they are one of the more effective henchmen groups for paring down the starting hands.

Overall Impression

legendary-dimensions-jonah-jameson-card2
J. Jonah Jameson card

Those comic fans who yearn for a strong link between theme and mechanics will probably be disappointed with this release. But the fact that these characters don’t really fit together can equally make them fit elsewhere better. There is a lot of Spider-Man related material in Marvel Legendary (he is the only character with two expansions so far) and so having J. Jonah Jameson as a mastermind makes sense as they have built the card, just not here. The same goes for the other characters who fit in well with other setups where the players are aiming for a strong narrative. For those who can look beyond the loose connection of the characters, then this set is a lot of fun.

Game Statistics

  • Release Date: May 2019
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Playing Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Age Range: 14+
  • Player Count: 1-5

 

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Edward Wendt

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