01 March 2016
Tom Randell takes to the Wilds in hunt of Predators
Upper Deck Entertainment | Deck Building | 1-5 players | 30-60 minutes | www.upperdeck.com
Legendary: a Marvel Deckbuilding Game hit the market in 2012 and was an instant success. Then in 2014, Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck-building game brought the Alien movies to our tabletops. But what would come next?
Considering the close ties and history of Alien and Predator it was almost inevitable that the Predator license would follow on from the success of Alien - cue Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck-building Game… but it just an Alien re-hash?
You start the game with a limited deck of 13 cards, from which you draw a hand of six. On your turn, you play the cards in your hand to either scan and attack foes, or purchase new cards for your deck. As the game progresses, you have a row of cards called the Wilds that represents the Predators as they advance towards you. These are the cards that you will scan and attack as they push closer or enter the combat zone. To defeat your foes you purchase stronger cards from the Barracks (or the Armoury depending on how you’re playing the game). If a Predator makes it to the combat zone, it strikes you and deals damage to your character.
Many of the cards in a Legendary Encounter chain together and provide power-boosts if played alongside cards with specific skills. This adds an element of customisation to the game and is the only way you’ll defeat the bigger, meaner, bosses without help. However, you’re not alone in this task, your comrades can play a “co-ordinate” card on your turn. These cards act as though you’d played them yourself and provide extra support when needed.
Although sharing the same core
mechanics as Alien, Upper Deck has
added enough to Predator to ensure
that it feels different and stands up as
its own title. For starters, it has added
three new abilities that really enhance
gameplay. These are:
Call for Back Up – an ability that appears on every role card and promotes teamwork. When you play your role card, the ability triggers once for each “Co-ordinate” card that your comrades play on you. For example,
with four players, if all three of your friends play a co-ordinate card on you, Call for Back Up triggers three times!
Brothers in Arms – this is my favorite of the new additions, it promotes deck diversity and represents characters banding together. You trigger this ability a number of times equal to the number of different named barracks cards you’ve played from your hand. For example if you play a Dutch card with this ability, alongside a Blain and a Dillon card, the Brothers in Arms ability triggers twice – once for Blain, and once for Dillon.
Showboating – brings to life a character’s desire to be a one-man army. It encourages players to focus in on an individual character because it only triggers when you combo cards of the same character. For example, if you play a Mac card with Showboating, alongside two other Mac cards, the ability triggers twice.
Beyond the new abilities, there are two new additions that I believe add more depth to the game, these include:
Marked – as you work your way through the enemy deck, you encounter Hazards. These cards were present in Alien, however Predator gives them a fantastic new twist. When a player reveals a Hazard, it’s placed with their avatar card. This represents the Predator marking the player as a target. ere are many cards in the deck that refer to being marked and as you play through the first movie you’ll come to understand how important these cards are to the theme.
Alternate Victories – unlike its Alien counterpart, Predator offers an alternative ending for those who reach the third and final objective. Of course, the most exciting win is to locate and defeat the “Final Enemy” a painfully powerful card with devastating attacks. However, you can also now win by achieving a minor goal that appears in the third objective mini-deck. I would always suggest killing the final enemy if you can, but as the rulebook states, achieving a minor goal is better than dying!
Brilliantly, Predator adds a new game mode that enables you to play as a Predator. You each then battle through a prey deck consisting of Prey, Gear Up and Danger cards that are added to the Wilds face-up. Prey cards occupy spaces in the wilds, Gear Up cards are replaced with gear cards that you attach to Prey already in the wilds, and Danger cards represent traps that trigger if they reach the combat zone.
Players compete to defeat prey, overcome dangers and receive honour for their troubles. Honour points are stored in a trophy room at the side of their avatar. But Predator beware, “dishonour strikes” can easily negate these prized trophies.
Duel - becoming a Predator and hunting prey is pretty cool, but the real fun for comes in the form of the new Duel keyword. Duel enables you to attack your fellow Predators in an attempt to defeat them and add their avatar card to your trophy room. This Predator vs Predator action really brings the game to life for me because, although you don’t have to use it, it’s always there hanging over you.
Tests and Challenges – for those who master the art of PvP, you can add test and challenge cards to the game. You claim a test card as a trophy by meeting the criteria on the card at any given point during the game. Whereas, challenges are personal, secret, objectives that you keep hidden and only score at the end of the game. These additional cards really spice things up and present new and interesting dynamics to the game. The Predator rulebook also provides details on how to combine your Alien and Predator sets together to create your own fantastically fun games of Alien Vs Predator.
This isn’t something that the set particularly needs, but the fact that Upper Deck bothered to consider it, really impressed me. It’s things like this that show that it’s not just about creating a game for Upper Deck, it’s about creating something that fans are going to want and enjoy!
Legendary Encounters – A Predator Deckbuilding Game is an excellent addition to
the range, it provides a similar level of gameplay to its Alien counterpart, while offering some unique and entertaining changes. I thoroughly enjoy playing the game because it presents a high level of challenge that provides a genuine sense of desperation as you strive to overcome the Predator menace.
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