In 2009, after the massive success of Dominion, one of the first big games to come out using the deck-building mechanism was Thunderstone. This took the basic concept of buying cards to build a deck, and added a fantasy element where you were trying to defeat various monsters. Now, the same designer is back with another fantasy-based game with similarities to another popular game:
Lost Legends is a new game from designer Mike Elliott that is being published by Queen Games. It’s a 3-5 player game that takes 70 minutes to play (or so they say). The game was Kickstarted last November, and was released into the wild at GenCon this year. In the game, players are heroes that you build up, attempting to gain enough strength to beat monsters. The game plays very similarly to another well-known and popular game – let’s see if you can figure out which one.
In the box, you get 5 hero boards; 150 level cards (equipment and monsters for levels 1, 2, and 3); 80 hero point tokens (denominations of 1, 2, and 5); 75 legend point tokens (denominations of 1 and 5); 75 damage markers (denominations of 1 and 5); 28 trophy tokens; 5 maximum life tokens; 5 maximum mana tokens; and 15 cubes (five green for life, five blue for mana, and five black for experience). At the beginning of the game, each player takes a hero board and sets their life and mana to the indicated starting points. Experience always starts at zero. Players get hero points (money) indicated on their board. Three different equipment decks and three different monster decks are created based on the levels and the number of players. This means that equipment decks consist of cards marked with a number equal to the number of players or below, and the monster deck consists of three times as many monsters as there are players.
Lost Legends is played over three levels, or rounds. Each round has two phases. First, you’ll arrange your equipment, then you’ll fight monsters.
In the arrange equipment phase, each player will be dealt one monster card face up. An additional monster card will be dealt face up next to the monster deck. You’ll then be dealt six cards from the equipment deck. You’ll choose one of these and pass the remainder to the left. When everyone has chosen, everyone will reveal in turn order and attach the card in one of two ways:
- Enhance skills – Each player has two skill symbols printed on their boards. These can help you buy equipment more easily and enhance your weapon’s abilities. To enhance your skills, you rotate your card 180 degrees and slide it under the skill symbols. This can either add more of the same symbols already present or add new ones. If there are already cards, just make sure all symbols are visible. You gain 1-2-3 hero points, based on the level you’re on.
- Add to equipment – You may also choose to attach your card to your equipment. This will cost you hero points, but you may get a discount based on the skill symbols you have present. Before attaching, you may remove already attached equipment cards and place it in your skill area (not gaining hero points) to get a better discount. You can attach weapons, armor, spells, and artifacts. Each weapon must be of a different type (melee, range, magic, etc.), and each armor must be of a different type (breastplate, helmet, shield). Spells and artifacts just can’t be duplicates. You can only have three cards attached to a skill area.
Once everyone has played their card, you’ll pick up the cards you were passed on choose one. You do this until you have two cards left. You’ll choose one to play and discard the other.
In the fight monsters phase, players will try to defeat monsters in front of them. If there is a monster attached to your board, you can either choose to fight it or send it to another player that has no monster in front of them. If you pass the monster, you must take the face up monster or draw a new one from the deck. You also must do this if you have no monster in front of you.
You attack the monster by using a weapon and spells/artifacts that you wish to. If your total attack is equal to or greater than the monster’s health, you defeat it and claim it as a trophy. You can gain trophy tokens that are worth extra points if you are the first to beat that monster type this level or if you’ve fulfilled certain conditions. You also get experience points for yourself and hero points which are shared among the party.
If you don’t defeat the monster, it attack back and you’ll need to defend. If you can’t block all types of attack, you’ll take damage, reducing your life. If your health track reaches zero, you’re out of the round.
When all monsters have been defeated or when all players are out, the level ends. Set your health and mana back to their maximum, and get ready to start the new level. After the third level, the game is over, and bonus points are awarded based on the trophies you claimed, how many hero points you acquired, and how high you got on the experience track. Whoever has the most points wins.
I was planning to do this post today, and actually got to play the game yesterday, so I actually have a more informed opinion of it for once. Not enough to do a full review yet, but here are some impressions. First off, and let’s get this out of the way, this is 7 Wonders with a fantasy battle theme. There’s no way around it – as Elliott turned Dominion into Thunderstone, so did he turn 7 Wonders into Lost Legends. The drafting mechanism is there, and you’re trying to build up a point producing engine.
I suppose that the comparison is not entirely accurate as there are some differences – you’re fighting monsters, for example, and there aren’t quite so many ways to earn points. It does feel like there are a few ways the game tried to separate itself from 7 Wonders – you’re not revealing simultaneously, and there is slightly more interaction with the ability to send monsters to other players (though you’re not able to buy resources off your neighbors). However, the comparisons are there – you’re drafting; you’re enhancing skills just like you would pay for reasources; and those skills/resources can be used to give you discounts on equipment.
As a whole, I think the game is interesting. It feels kind of clunky, which is the exact way I felt about Thunderstone the first time I played the original edition. I would imagine that, with time, the kinks will get worked out of the system and expansions will enhance the game. However, I don’t know that Queen is going to be the best company to support what this game needs. I have no doubt that they’ll come out with an expansion or two, but I somehow doubt they’ll be as dedicated to making it a better product as AEG was with Thunderstone. They really seem to be branching out from the family-style Euros they’re known for lately, and I wonder if they have too many irons in the fire. I could be wrong.
Anyway, that’s Lost Legends. It’s enjoyable enough – certainly not one I need to own, but it’s one that I think deserves some play. So check it out, and thanks for reading!