Fantastic Beasts and how to lead them!
by Derek Funkhouser
July 11, 2017, 9:02pm
Publisher: Pencil First Games
Designer: Christopher Hamm
Players: 2 - 4
Time: 60-120 min.
Nervously, you approach the stand. You can feel the energy and excitement in the air. The halls of Kajan are filled with dozens of apprentices, wishing, wanting to the become the next Druid. The trials will not be easy but you’ve prepared. You studied diligently and you’re ready to prove your worth in the Trials of Nature’s Grace. With your spellbook in hand and amulet adorned around your neck, you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
You will be tested over 3 days; fighting to earn renown over your peers. Will you be the one to guide your magical and legendary creatures to victory? Are you worthy of the promotion to Druid? Will YOU be the Guardian of the Realm?
Introduction to Legendary Creatures
From the Kickstarter: “Legendary Creatures is a deck and resource management game where you cleverly combine your creatures' abilities, magic spells, and powerful amulets in a race through four elemental realms. However watch out: as you maneuver for mastery in one realm your opponents may steal the lead in another.”
How to Play
Legendary Creatures is played over 9 rounds and 3 days; morning, midday and night.
Each player starts the game with the exact 12 legendary and magical creatures.
The creatures you play each round determine player order, generate magic power/elemental orbs, and can utilize special abilities to advance your familiar through each Realm. Your progress in the game earns renown and the player to advance to the end of a Realm the quickest, will earn the most renown in that Realm. Players can also earn renown from the Expedition phase, creature abilities, some landmarks, Mind Link Spell and the Gift of Water.
Each round is comprised of a number of phases: Planning, Spell and Action.
During this phase, players draw 4 cards and place 3 of them in order, side-by-side, left to right. Your fourth creature is placed to the side and will form your Expedition Party. Your expedition party is determined by its overall Magic strength. The first card placed will determine turn order, highest being first player. If there is a tie, Kajar’s Amulet breaks all ties. Creatures are resolved from left to right.
During this phase, players may activate any of their 3 available spells. The spells are:
During this phase, players invoke a Realm and resolve their creatures.
In turn order, the active player takes his banner and places it on any of the four Realms (Serenvana, Sulfuria, Terrandel, Mystral), invoking it. The player may only move their Familiar in the invoked region (some abilities allow you to move outside the invoked realm). Players may also gain additional bonus orbs from creatures played who share the element type of the invoked Realm.
When you resolve a creature, it can generate Magic (the top left number on the card), or elemental orbs if it’s abilities does so. Additionally, players may exchange an un-resolved creature with a creature from the Vast Expanse. The newly be-friended creature may be activated and resolved immediately.
Players may spend magic and elemental orbs to move their Familiar in the invoked Realm. At the end of each Realm is a podium worth points; 18, 21 and 25. The first player to reach the podium will score the most points, followed by second and third place.
Players may also use their amulets or pay 1 renown to trade their amulet with another player. (Kajar’s Amulet is always in play and provides the passive ability to break all ties.) Players may also trade any 2 orbs for 1 orb.
End of the Round
After the last player completes their Party Step, the round is over. Return all used spells, facedown to your player board. Discard your used creatures, assign any relevant gifts to the player with the furthest along Familiar in each Realm and advance the day mark token.
End of Day
Each player adds the total magic value of the creatures in their expedition (expedition tokens add +2 strength to your party). The player with the highest total goes first, followed in descending order. Discard any expedition tokens you have and choose 1 landmark.
Update the Vast Expanse, revealing 3 new creatures for the next round.
Refresh the board by moving the day marker to morning, players turn all spells face-up and players shuffle their discard piles to create their new creature deck.
End of the Game
After completing the final Expedition after day 3, the game is over! The player with the most renown, wins!
Every 5 combined orbs is equal to 1 renown. Players reveal and total their renown tokens and the values of their final positions in each Realm.
What did I love?
The tactical and strategic options available in Legendary Creatures really surprised me. The game is deceptively simple mechanically but offers meaningful decisions every round. There are a lot of symbols to learn and track, but player’s will catch on quickly.
I loved the art. Actually, let me re-phrase that. I am twitterpated with the art. As a fan of cell shaded video games akin to Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Legendary Creatures is a cut above the rest. The game oozes theme and the realms and creatures are beautifully illustrated. In the words of my wife and gaming partner, “These creatures are adorable!”
I’m unsure I would call the game a “true” deck-builder, but the card drafting and hand management in Legendary Creatures is phenomenal and I loved it. The disbanding and culling of your deck is brilliantly implemented. Each round, 3 new creatures will become available for all players to add to their deck. If you want to add a creature, simply say goodbye to a creature you’ve played and replace it with a creature from the Vast Expanse.
4th Wall Break: It really isn’t THAT easy. ALL of these creatures are cute. Just try to say good-bye to your Woogle. I dare you.
Unlike most deck-builders, where purchased cards are sent to your discard pile, in Legendary Creatures you use the new card immediately and it’s, well, LEGENDARY.
I liked that each player starts the game powerful and throughout the game your power only increases. The game was true to its time, as our 2-player game lasted roughly 60 minutes and I can see each additional player adding 30 minutes to the gameplay however I never felt the game was slow.
I enjoyed the action selection mechanic and I can see the variable powers on each creature adding incredible depth to game strategy. Legendary Creatures will reward players with repeated plays, but no game will ever feel the same.
What would I like to see?
Honestly, there is nothing Legendary Creatures doesn’t already offer than I want included. It feels like a finished product from start to finish and I would easily hand over my money today. Of course, more Legendary Creatures would allow players even MORE options for their deck crafting but that would only be icing on an already delicious cake.
If you enjoy deck and hand management games, tactical and strategic decision making and cute themes, then Legendary Creatures is 100% the game for you! The game has a lot of symbols and may look overly complex, but don’t let it fool you! The game is simple to learn and offers a ton of replayability. Legendary Creatures is worthy of a spot on my shelf.
Positives and Negatives
- Incredible art
- Immersive gameplay and tight mechanics
- Components are well made
- Simple design and mechanics but overflows with deep strategy and combinations
- Dismissing and be-friending creatures is wonderfully fun!
- Tons of symbols can be confusing
- The game looks overly complicated
Legendary Creatures gets a “10/10 – would play again” stamp of approval from me.
You can join the legendary adventure HERE!
A copy of Legendary Creatures was provided for review.