I have been doing a lot of Alien posts the past few weeks. I have to admit it is in part because of the release of Alien Covenant, but also because I simply love this franchise. Most people have at least heard of the movies in one form or another, but there is an entire universe build around these films that people may not even be familiair with. For starters there is the comic book series that expands the story beyond the movies, but there are also a lot of novels that are just as good. In 2014 Upperdeck, the publisher of the highly succesful Marvel Legendary cardgame, released Legendary Encounters. This time you would not be playing with your favorite superheroes, but instead take on the roles of the beloved characters from the Alien movies including Ellen Ripley. Is the game any good though? How about I tell you it is one of my alltime favorite games? Let’s dive right in, and see what makes this game so much fun to play.

Components

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The intimidating black box, complete with an Alien Egg as a cover.

When you open this monstrous box of goodness the first thing you will notice is the beautifully crafted “mousepad” playing mat. Why call it a mousepad? Well because it really is a mousepad, only one that covers pretty much your entire table. This being a cardgame it will come as no surprise that the rest of the contents of this game are cards. And quite a lot of them, 600 in total to be exact. All of the cards are beautifully illustrated depicting the many characters, Xenomorphs, and other situations that can  crop up in this game. But more on that down below. Last, but not least there is ofcourse a rulebook that is pretty easy to understand, and does an okay job in teaching you the game. If you still find it hard to learn the game there are some excellent playthrough videos for this game that you can find on YouTube.

Game overview

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The “mousepad” gameboard.

This game allows you to play through all four of the original Alien movies. Yes you read that correctly, you actually get to replay the four classic films. Here is how that works. When setting up the game, you pick the scenario for the film you wish to play. Each movie has three corresponding mini decks of cards, that contain different objectives that the player needs to accomplish. But these decks also include the many enemies, and events that can seriously mess up a player’s well laid out plans. This game isn’t called a deckbuilding game for nothing. When the game starts a player has his own personal deck of standard cards. These cards can be used for two things.  The first thing you can do is purchase stronger cards. In every game the player’s can select cards from the HQ that contains new characters that, once purchased are added to a player’s deck to make it stronger. And with these new cards you are able to buy cards that are even more stronger. Hence the name deckbuilding game.

The second thing you can do is attack enemies with these cards before they are able to hurt you, as well as complete objectives in order to progress through the scenario of the film. For instance when you choose to replay the movie Aliens, you need to kill three colonists from Hadley’s Hope, set up Sentry Guns, and finally defeat the Alien Queen. All of this should feel very familiar if you love the movies, and this game certainly oozes atmosphere. Each player get’s an avatar that represents the player, and that has a certain amount of lifepoints. As with most games you are dead if your lifepoints total ever reaches zero. But this being a cooperative game it is still possible to win if the other players manage to complete the objectives. As a fun sidenote,you can also make life miserable for your fellow players by becoming an alien yourself.

Difficulty

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A closer look at how the gameboard looks after set-up.

This game is very easy to learn. The best way to learn this game is by letting someone who already knows the game teach it to you while playing it. It will take you under 10 minutes to get to know the basics of the game, and from there it is an easy road to get to the game’s finer points. Winning the game however is less easy. There are some scenarios that are pretty tough to win, and will require all of a player’s skills to overcome. You can almost hear Hudson crying “Game over man, game over” way too many times. But a win is definitely not impossible. As the game is so much fun to play, it will not bother you at all if, even through all your best efforts, the game ends up in a loss.

The verdict

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Some of the cards that you are able to buy during the game, all of them characters from the first Alien film.

If it wasn’t already clear to you, I absolutely love this game. Being a huge fan of the Aliens franchise in general, this game seriously manages to recreate the atmosphere of the original films in the best way possible. Because of the sheer number of cards, and situations that can arise during the game, no two playthroughs are ever quite the same. I have played this game primarily solo, and it works exceptionally well. It is one of the best solo games in my collection, and it is one of those games that I keep very close at hand. What might interest you to know is that there is also a Legendary Encounters: Predator version of this game. That game is just as much fun, and let’s you play through the two original Predator movies. You can even combine the two games and let Ripley face the Predator, which is awesome. Last but not least an expansion for the Aliens game was released that adds more characters, a hardmode for all four movies (as if the game was not hard enough already), but also allows a player to play as the Alien Queen herself!

All in all I cannot recommend this game enough to everyone who is a fan of the Alien films. Just remember: in space no one can hear you scream! As a final note I want to say that this review is written especially for Madame Vintage, who loves the Alien franchise just as a much as I do, and has been a great friend and supporter of my blog the past few months. If you haven’t already, check out her awesome blog of movie reviews and subscribe. You won’t be disappointed! Finally ofcourse the score for this game, which should not be too much of a surprise.

I give Legendary Encounters: an Alien Deckbuilding game a 10 out of 10 score.

 

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