Bored? Game! – Lost Legends

board game

If Mike Elliot seems a familiar name it’s because he is the designer behind Thunderstone, a long running fantasy deck building game which was first to capitalise on Donald X Vacarino’s influential game, Dominion. Whilst Dominion established the deck building genre, which sees players purchasing cards from a common area to create combos and build their deck over the course of the game, Thunderstone applied a more endearing theme to what was essentially an abstract exercise in raw mechanics. Thunderstone saw players not only going to the village to buy weapons and items, but to take their cards into a dungeon and put them to some practical use. For Dominion fans, the pleasure of building an efficient card driven engine may be an end in itself, but for the rest of us the real end was in using the cards to hit monsters repeatedly with enchanted, pointed metal objects until they were dead.

The fearless ranger enters the fray armed with a crossbow and a... red cube?
The fearless ranger enters the fray armed with a crossbow and a… red cube?

Lost Legends is arguably a follow up on a similar theme, but unlike Thunderstone there’s no faffing about in a village. Real adventurers find their weapons in the field, after all. As a band of adventurers you must work together to clear out a cave, a dungeon and a demon fortress of beasties in three progressively tougher rounds, but as with most adventurers you’ve got a proud streak and want to gain the most glory for yourself. To that end you collect trophies of slain enemies and collecting the most of one type (there are four) allows you to take the corresponding challenge trophy off the player who currently holds it. Also killing certain combinations of enemies allows you to take achievement tiles, and the first person to gain an achievement always gets a higher score (people are inherently less impressed by the tale of how you killed two dragons when you’re the third person today to tell it to them).

The player boards are superbly designed to accomodate all of your skills and equipment
The player boards are superbly designed to accomodate all of your skills and equipment

But before the killing can commence it’s time to gear up. Lost Legends borrows and adapts the wonderful card drafting mechanic of 7 Wonders to simulate the passing around of gear outside the dungeon after the barbarian’s second cousin rolls up with a cart load of weaponry. You’re dealt six cards that are a combination of armour, weapons, spells and trinkets, of which your character can hold three of each. You take one and pass the rest along, until you have five cards. Simple. Well it would be until you start thinking about choosing a spell over a piece of armour, or risk not taking a weapon in the hope that the cards passed your way will contain a better one. Then there’s the fact that all this shiny equipment has to be paid for. There’s always the option of turning an item into a skill, in which case you tuck it under your player mat to join the two you began the game with (different depending on which class you chose), which often gives you a cost reduction on buying cards or powers up certain weapons. That player board, by the way, is a fantastically well designed way of displaying all of your character’s gear and skills.

Hopefully you've drafted that dragonslayers blade...
Hopefully you’ve drafted that dragonslayers blade…

There are so many ways lady luck can shank you and throw you into the latrine

Now that you are hopefully geared up it’s time to fight. Each player begins the game with a creature in front of them, that they can now hopefully kill. If they can’t kill it (some are resistant to certain attack types) or don’t want to, they can pass it to an opponent who has no current target and draw a new one from the stack, which is a superb way to lumber your opponent with a monster that they can’t deal with whilst you cut swathes through the remaining enemies. Basically you are in the dungeon fighting back to back with your comrades, but at the end of the day it’s just as likely to be a dagger in the back that kills you than that cave dragon that someone just pushed you in front of.

Lost Legends is clearly an attempt from Mike Elliot to design a game with more player interaction, an element that was largely absent from Thunderstone. The card draft, trophies and the meta game of passing monsters between players, as well as sharing gold from kills with players to your left and right, definitely achieves this, but now there doesn’t seem to be enough control over your own fate in the game. Whereas in Thunderstone you could choose when you wanted to fight, here you’re going to be hit by something every turn, so if you were unlucky enough not to draft any armour, or it’s the wrong type, you’re stuffed. There’s only so many precautions you can take and there are so many ways lady luck can shank you and throw you into the latrine. If you die you’re knocked out of the round, which is frustrating and if it happens early enough can put you out of the running. This is a game in desperate need of a catch the leader mechanic and more ways to mitigate chance, which is a shame as it has so many interesting ideas.

FOR

AGAINST

Some interesting player interaction

Strong use of theme

Excellent graphic design

Heavily luck based and easy to slip behind

Some player elimination

Poor rules clarification

lost-legends-box

Designer: Mike Elliot
Publisher: Queen Games
Mechanic: Card Drafting
Players: 2-5 (best with 3)
Game length: 60-90 minutes
Complexity: Medium

You can buy Lost Legends here


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