Games based of intellectual properties are nothing new to the world of board games. These games tend to come out with mixed results in terms of gameplay and enjoyment. People will flock to play the new game from their favorite movie, video game, or television show, but are sometimes left empty with game mechanics.
Killer Robot Games is a relatively new publisher with their first game being Legendary Showdown. They decided to use the foremost doctor and ninja know as Dr. McNinja from the webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja as the theme for the game. In this game, players will take control of a few characters from this universe to do battle for supremacy. Let’s get to the review to see if the comic and game blend together to make a great game.
Dr. McNinja’s Legendary Showdown is a hand management fighting game for 2-7 players to play in around 30 minutes. In my experience, the game plays best with 3-5 players.
In Legendary Showdown, each player will take control of a line of characters. Each character will have a point value used to determine their strength in battle. They will not be going in alone. Players will be able to arm their characters with weapons, bonus values, and instant action cards to attempt to earn the upper hand. After all players have played their cards, the character with the highest point value remains in the game, with the others eliminated. Play will continue until only one player has characters remaining and declared the winner.
With Legendary Showdown being only a card game there isn’t much to discuss in terms of components. The cards are good quality and the box is appropriately sized. The big star component wise is the artwork on the cards. The artwork is pulled directly from the comics that is in full color and looks great. I do also enjoy the text around the cards are subtle and doesn’t take away from the artwork.
How to Play:
The game has two types of cards: character and playing cards. Players will be given five character cards that will be placed in a line. The character closest to the decks of cards in the center of the table is the one currently involved with the battle. The character cards will have that characters names, point value, unique description, and occasionally special powers.
Players will also get five playing cards at the start of the game. This collection will be used by players throughout the round to take special actions, give characters weapons, point bonuses, and take immediate actions. Once all the cards are dealt out, the player with the lowest point on their front character will go first.
On your turn you have two options, pass or play. If you play, you may play any number of cards from your hand and then the turn moves to the person on your left. Even if you passed earlier in the round, you can jump back into the fray if your turn comes up again. Play will continue until all the players around the table have passed their turn. At that point the round ends.
Players then total up the total number of points of their front character. The player with the highest total wins the round. Everyone who lost must discard their front character card and the winner moves that character card to the back of the line.
Players are allowed to discard any cards remaining from their hand and draw back up to five cards. Rounds will continue until only one player has any characters remaining and wins the game.
I had no knowledge of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja before I received this game. I admit I was a little confused when I looked through the character and playing cards and found some, let’s say unique and frankly odd, cards. After doing some research about the comic, the cards started to make a lot more sense and turned from strange to hilarious.
The things in these decks just make me smile with the off-the-wallness of the subject. Where else can you get a card that allows you to gain a bonus by duct taping a gun to a sword, use Dracula’s moon laser or fight as a robot bear? That’s right, you can’t. As you progress through a few games you will be able to see these characters and other cards combine to form ridiculous combinations.
For me, fighting a rainbow unicorn verses a clone of Ben Franklin with eye knives just makes me smile. There is a joy you see on other players faces as they figure out what card to play on their turn. This joy isn’t just to improve their chances of winning, but also the addition to the story that is unfolding on the board.
I think the biggest issues people could have with the game is the theme. Even with my thousand foot view of the characters, story, and universe, I was able to appreciate the uniqueness and find the humor in the combination of characters and items. You will have to know if you or your gaming group will enjoy this type of theme. If it isn’t, then the game might not be for you because the gameplay isn’t the star of this game.
The game has a very basic “take that” mechanic that isn’t something I clamor for in my games. However, in a shorter game or with a particularly interesting theme it will sustain my interest. Legendary Showdown fits this mold well.
First, the game doesn’t have a ton of cards that completely decimate your chances this round. There are cards that will make you discard a weapon or move your characters order, but that is not the core of the cards. Instead, it is about deciding how to buff your current characters to give you the best chance at winning. You will likely try to wait to play that powerful card at the right moment which turns the game into a hand management game.
What makes this element a little more interesting is the end of round condition. Players can not just avoid playing cards because if they all do, the round will end when enough players pass. This places some pressure on the last player in that order. In my experience, the last player will begrudgingly keep the round going by playing a card they wanted to hold onto. This responsibility does get passed around the table which keeps it from being detrimental to one player the whole round.
The game isn’t particularly deep when it comes to decision making. You have a decent idea what to do once you get your hand of cards and you will just have to adjust to what the other players are doing. One potentially frustrating part of the game is there isn’t an easy way to draw new cards during the round. You can if you have a symbol on a few of your cards, but rarely do you get the opportunity. This can lead to some rounds when you just have no chance of claiming victory. Luckily, losing one round won’t stop you from winning the game.
I enjoyed the game playing at the middle in terms of player count. With higher players there are lots of options for players to choose from causing the game to bog down. However, the game time doesn’t increase dramatically with increased player count which is a plus.
Legendary Showdown is a game that manages to have me more enamored with the theme then mechanics. The outrageous world of Dr. McNinja creates card interactions that just make me smile and wait in anticipation for what the other players are going do on their turn. While the mechanics are not the star, they do provide a solid base for people to enjoy. The game length and low number of debilitating cards give players the chance to make decisions on how they want to manage their cards and characters.
If you are a fan of Dr. McNinja, don’t hesitate to pick this up. You will enjoy seeing the artwork and characters in this game. While Legendary Showdown doesn’t have much in terms of deep strategy, which holds it back from being a great game, it is still a good one as an option for a starter game to start a night of gaming.
If you’d like to get a copy of Legendary Showdown, you can get it for about $25.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A solid combat game that despite being light on strategy keeps you entertained as you experience the world of Dr. McNinja.
• Lack of way to draw new cards during a round
• Mechanics are overly simple