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Hi, everyone! My name is Jason Walker, and this is not your typical Legendary preview. I’ve been a Marvel fan since before I could read (The Electric Company and Spidey Super Stories, anyone?) and a Legendary fan since the release in 2012. I’m an active participant on the forums at BoardGameGeek and for the past 4 years I’ve been running monthly league play to bring together solo players from all over the world. To do that, I developed LegendaryLeagues.com for players to post and compare scores. (It also has a really useful Hero Browser that you can use to search and filter for heroes that can work well together even if you don’t want to play in a league.) And for the past two years, I’ve run an Extra Life marathon, playing 24+ hours of Legendary in November to raise money for the UVA Children’s Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia.
About two and a half years ago, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the “golden ticket” to Legendary’s choclate factory from the Marvel 3D packs – the one of a kind opportunity to design a set of hero cards for an expansion. While waiting on the assignment, I started jotting down ideas for possibilities, and those eventually all went out the window. In the end, I wanted to make sure that I could design a solid utility/support character that would be fun to play with a variety of other heroes. That meant giving them either good card draw or KO abilities so they aren’t slowing you down, and also let the cards do something useful and unique. As I show you the cards, I hope you’ll agree that I accomplished those goals.
So now, fast forward to the beginning of this year and I finally get the call. I’m told that the hero I get to design is going to be Hellcat.
Oh… well… okay. I was hoping for Squirrel Girl, but Hellcat it is. Oddly enough, despite my long history with Marvel Comics, I don’t really know a lot about her. Fortunately, I wouldn’t have the weight of trying to capture a big name hero like Quicksilver so this ends up taking a lot of pressure off of me. I resolve to make the best Hellcat I can. Along with the name of the hero, I get a list of the different keywords in the set: Hyperspeed (which you’ve seen and obviously doesn’t apply to her), and two others that she might use, but are eventually cut from the set during testing. Either way, I see some trends that are useful to support.
So what do I know about her? I had recently read Charles Soule’s She-Hulk series a few years ago and remembered that she had a recurring role there, working as an investigator for She-Hulk during cases. And that’s about it. So I grab my iPad and open up Marvel Unlimited. (It’s seriously the best research tool ever.) I end up reading her first appearance from 1976 (oh, so her suit is enhancing her speed and strength), then a Thunderbolts annual from 2000 (she was dead and Hawkeye brought her back from Hell), and then the Avengers annual right after that (she can see demons that are possessing people in her town). Okay, now I have stuff to work with. Let’s get going.
To start, I wrote down the full card text and stats, put them into Word, printed and cut them out, and sleeved them up to playtest each of the cards. Some cards I locked in pretty quickly, making fairly minor changes between versions. One of them was a bit tougher, and took about 4 passes to get right. After that, I turned my designs in, and the game’s designer Devin Low made some tweaks from his experience. So here’s what you’re getting.
This is the simplest card of the set, your basic “do some damage and maybe get some more” card. It started off with just the attack boost on the Instinct trigger, but I quickly decided to try adding in the draw option too. (This goes back to one of my goals for the character.) It also had one of those mysterious keywords, but that got cut later on after I was done. On top of that, I liked the idea of making sure that she had a small card that cost 2, or was “Spider-Friendly” as I like to say. Yes, I’ve played her with Spider-Man and they work pretty well.
But now, let’s look at one of my favorites. Remember when I said she was an investigator for She Hulk?
There’s certainly a nod to the Investigate keyword here, one of my favorites in the game. (Noir is my favorite small box expansion.) With this card I wanted to hit on “unique and useful” by having something like Investigate, but a bit different. Here, you can check any deck. So you can check your deck to set up your next draw, or maybe help out that Hyperspeed card you’re going to play by getting rid of that S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent. You can check out another player’s deck and be as nice or naughty as you want. I’m sure Scarlet Witch wouldn’t mind you taking a look at the Hero deck. If you have the time, Gwenpool would like an assist on the Bystander deck.
Now, it’s important to know that there are some things that you think are decks but aren’t. They’re “stacks” and are legally distinct from “decks.” These include the Mastermind Tactics stack and the Sidekick stack. Hellcat can’t help you there. But be sure to check your particular setup and you may find a deck where you weren’t expecting! I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even think about this until after I had turned in the designs, but my favorite scheme, “Find the Split Personality Killer,” has a Murder Suspect deck. Oh yes, Hellcat can help hunt for clues. (Keep in mind that you do have to reveal the card to everyone.) Keep your eyes open, you never know when you’ll find a new deck to investigate!
For this card, the Instinct trigger originally just drew a card, but Devin decided to mirror the choice from Catlike Agility and add the option for bonus recruit. I really liked that, because I found a lot of times that I looked at my top card and didn’t want to draw it, but instead save it for next turn. Originally, I had you “Look” at the top card, but Devin changed it to “Reveal” to increase player interaction. Finally, he added the clause about not moving a Scheme Twist. Being able to put one of those on the bottom of the deck is a bad thing and is strictly forbidden! (That’s because it removes a lot of tension from the game. Once I saw that, I had to agree with him.)
Hey, what else might happen if she looks at the villain deck?
Now this was the trickiest card for me to get right. I wanted something that played off of the new ability in her post-resurrection story. I wanted to try to replicate that kind of mystic vision that she was discovering to detect hidden threats. I changed this one around the most and landed here. It could have been a replica of Soulsword Colossus’ ability to attack a demon from the bystander deck, but I liked the theme of giving her ways to focus on the villain deck (which you can set up with Part-Time PI), with this as a central piece.
I tried a few variations on what happens when you guess right. Draw a card? Not exciting enough at this level. Attack bonus? That’s good, but what if there’s nothing to fight? If it’s a villain, make it enter the city? That helped, but suddenly, this card became very risky if you couldn’t finish them off. What if you may fight the villain from the top of the deck, like an early warning? Bingo.
Devin had two minor changes here. I originally let you guess any card type, but Devin put the kibosh on Traps and Locations. (So don’t go up against the Lethal Legion with her.) He also moved the “you may fight” bonus to a team trigger. At the time, there weren’t a lot of team triggers in the set, and it made sense to focus on the Avengers more. Later on during development, her base attack dropped from 3+ to 2+.
Okay, so before we get to the rare, I want to go back to that Thunderbolts annual. At the time, Hellcat was dead and in Hell. But not just in Hell like a normal person, no. She was wrapped and bound, hung next to Mephisto’s throne, so that he could taunt Daimon Hellstrom, her ex-husband and Mephisto’s wayward son. Hawkeye and the Thunderbolts rescued her from that. I loved the idea of a hero that could take a shot at thwarting the Mastermind’s plans, giving you another way to fight back.
How many times have you played against a scheme with a timer (Twist 8: Evil Wins!), and the twists just come out at the wrong time? Or you lose right when your deck starts to work well? Or you just need one more turn? Well, now you have that chance.
Originally, this card was discarded, the twist or strike was sent to the bottom of the deck, and you played another card from the villain deck. It was a desperate move that might let you survive. As we learned before, sending that twist to the bottom is a bad idea, but shuffling it back in is okay! And refill your hand while you’re at it, no problem.
I’ve got to say, the feeling this card generates when it actually saved me from losing a game is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. Just make sure you double check your hand before you resign to defeat!
Unused alternate names for this card included: Nine Lives, Hell Can’t Stop Me, Escaped From Hell, and Cat Out of Hell
As an interesting side note, I think Hellcat is the only hero capable of extending the game by putting a villain card back in and not drawing a replacement. One thing I have to do for the solo league matches is calculate the maximum amount of turns that a player can take before reaching the end of the match. I’ve always held out hope that there wouldn’t be a hero that could extend the turn count. It turns out that I’m the one that did it. Way to go, me.
Once I had finished my designs, I sent them in to Upper Deck. Just a few days later, I received an update with Devin’s responses (he liked the designs) and the few changes that he had made. And then there was a note that basically said this:
PS – Here’s everything else in the set. Would you like to playtest it?
Yes. Yes I would.
But we’ll talk about that next time.
Legendary: Revelations releases in stores August 21.