Review – Marvel Legendary: S.H.I.E.L.D. (Upper Deck)


Marvel Legendary: S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Story

S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of the commonalities of Marvel Comics. The espionage/military organization shows up in nearly every Marvel title and, so far, has played a large role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has also played a big part in Marvel Legendary. That being said, S.H.I.E.L.D. is typically a supporting member of the Marvel Universe. Most people, if pressed for their favourite S.H.I.E.L.D. story, will default to one involving a superhero. With such an important role to play in the comics, it makes sense that eventually they get their own expansion. This makes for an expansion light on story, but still heavy enough on mechanics and inspiration. 

What’s in the Box

S.H.I.E.L.D. goes back to the same format as most mini-expansions. The previous expansion was Revelations, which had twice as many cards. There are four new heroes here—Phil Coulson, Deathlok, Mockingbird, and Quake. There are two groups of villains—A.I.M. Hydra Offshoot and Hydra Elite. There are two new masterminds—Hydra High Council and Hydra Super Adaptoid. There are also 16 new special S.H.I.E.L.D. Officers to go along with the Maria Hill that comes with the base game. 

New Keywords

There is a heavy thematic component in the new keywords. The first is a combination of S.H.I.E.L.D. level, Hydra level, and Undercover. Cards can be put into Undercover if they are on the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. Various other effects can add a character to either the S.H.I.E.L.D. level or the Hydra level. These cards go into either the victory pile or escape pile, depending on the affiliation. After this, effects will occur based on the respective levels. 

The other keyword is Adapt, which means that the Mastermind switches to another Mastermind card after being triggered.  This usually happens after a fight or after a Master Strike. Once again this is thematic, as it ties into the two cards. One is the Super Adaptoid. The other is the Hydra High Council made of four different masterminds. 

Overall Impression

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game – S.H.I.E.L.D.
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game – S.H.I.E.L.D.

This is a smaller set and so there is not as much here that fans might have been excited about. In fact, probably the only character that fans had been very interested in seeing, of these four, was Mockingbird. There is a departure here in terms of the thematic unity of these cards. The previous two sets (Revelations and Dimensions) had mostly unrelated characters. These are all connected through the S.H.I.E.L.D. team affiliation and thus work well together. Of note, though, is that there are only four characters here. This means that this is the first expansion that cannot be played by itself with only the characters here.

Thanks to the use of Undercover as a keyword, this also heavily favours using this group of heroes together. It is probably the most cohesive group of characters since Guardians of the Galaxy. This is also advantageous. One scheme (Hydra Helicarrier Hunts Heroes) called for a sixth character. We pulled in Rick Jones from the World War Hulk expansion, and X-13 from the Captain America expansion. Typically we would not choose these two for a random game. This expansion gave us a reason to, and breathed some life into some neglected cards. It is worth noting that, as with all expansions, the base set is required to play, but the base set has one character (Nick Fury) with the S.H.I.E.L.D. affiliation and thus can make a full slate of S.H.I.E.L.D. characters with this expansion and the base set.  

A minor point refers to Mockingbird. Fans of these games generally yearn the most for characters that have been either Avengers or X-Men. As such, Mockingbird is probably the most desired of these new cards. It would have been nice to see a connection to the Avengers team, but she is only linked to S.H.I.E.L.D. here. 

Final Analysis

Fans might be less eager for this expansion, but that would be a mistake. Though the characters are less sought-after, the S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra level dynamic is one of the most interesting ones introduced in a long time. This is the first expansion in a long time that has pulled off both theme and dynamics at the same time. It, therefore, definitely deserves a look.  

Game Statistics

  • Release Date: December 18,  2019
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Playing Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Age Range: 14+
  • Player Count: 1-5


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