Designed by Eduardo Baraf and Christopher Hamm, with lively and attractive art by Lou Catanzaro, Sebastian Koziner and Helen Zhu, Legendary Creatures is a resource management game with an interesting inbuilt deck building mechanic.
Played over three 'days', each comprising a morning, afternoon and evening, players have identical starting decks of 12 cards representing creatures out of mythology. Players draw four cards and simultaneously decide how to deploy them. One of the cards gets sent off to join an expedition (a special action that is resolved at the end of each 'day') and the others are activated either for their magic value (the number printed on the card) or one of their special powers. Typically, creatures will generate resources (orbs) which, combined with magic, can be spent in advancing along the four scoring tracks.
With a multitude of tracks, tokens, cards and other pieces, there's quite a lot going on in this game - to the extent that the apparent complexity might put off some players who would otherwise be attracted by the Harry Potter-like theme and colourful art. In practice, however, the game is nowhere near as difficult to play as it might seem when you first tip the components out of the box.
The deck building aspect is an optional action. Once in each of their turns, a player can decide to swap one of their starting creatures for a creature displayed in the 'vast expanse', at the cost of removing your original card from the game. In most deck builders, cards acquired are dumped into a discard pile and so are only actually accessed when the card comes round after a reshuffle. Not so in Legendary Creatures. In this game, newly acquired creature cards are activated immediately, either for their magic value or a special power. If you are a deck building enthusiast, this switch in mechanics may feel like a culture shock!
Legendary Creatures is published by Pencil First Games.