This Legends Untold review was made after playing the game eight times. We were sent a copy of this game by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
What is Legends Untold?
Legends Untold is a cooperative adventure game in which you’re attempting to lead your people, the Sax, into the city of Dun Morhain after being driven out of your lands by the Newcomers. Your job is to either make it through the Weeping Caves or The Great Sewers, depending on which Legends Untold set you’re playing.
Legends Untold Gameplay
Both Legends Untold sets come with eight-episode campaigns as well as eight scenarios that can be played as one-off games. The adventures in the two boxes play out differently, but gameplay is the same.
The scenario or episode that you’re playing gives you all of the information for setup. It’ll list the number of cards that go into all of the decks, what your goals are, and any other special rules. The main deck is the adventure deck, which includes foes, discoveries, booby traps, and loot. There is also an obstacle deck, a barrier deck, and an event deck.
The event deck acts as the game’s timer. When you spend time, you place the top card of the event deck face-down in a discard pile. Any time you draw the last card of the event deck, it is resolved and removed from the game. If you ever run out of event cards, you can no longer rest at the end of a turn, so you’ll usually only have one or two more turns to try to win.
The heroes have weapons, attributes (like Brawn and Charm), and talents that improve their weapons and attributes. The talents also represent the heroes’ health, so when you take damage, you flip over (“drain”) a talent and will need to heal (by spending time) to get it back. If you ever take damage and all of your talents are already flipped, you become unconscious and will need to wait until the end of the turn to have a chance to heal.
You’re rolling three six-sided dice for pretty much everything in Legends Untold. There are obstacle, discovery, and barrier tests which require one or more heroes to roll and use their attributes to reach specific thresholds. In combat tests heroes roll and look at the table on their weapon cards to see how well they’ve done. Foes have their own unique stats that they’ll use during combat.
Each turn has four phases:
- Scouting Phase – This is when you decide where your group is moving and whether or not you want to sneak into the next location. The brightness of the new location’s entrance (bright, ambient, or dark) affects how difficult your scouting test is going to be and it can increase or decrease your chances of surprising foes. Your scouting test determines your “readiness”; if you’re “careless,” you can run into some nasty traps.
- Adventure Phase – This is the main phase of each turn. When entering a location, you have to deal with any obstacles, discoveries, and foes that are there. When you’re drawing for discoveries and foes, any loot is put off to the side and you’ll gain it if you’re successful.
- Exploration Phase – If there are any Barrier symbols on the location card, you’ll draw a barrier and can choose to attempt to resolve it or skip it. This is also when you can search a Search Zone by drawing three Adventure cards and looking for loot, spending one Time to search carefully if you’re worried about running into booby traps.
- Rest Phase – Any talents that you used during the turn are restored and you can also heal (flip over drained talents) at the cost of two Time per talent. If there happens to be a campsite at your location, healing only costs one Time per talent.
You’ll win/advance if you complete the goal of the scenario or episode. You’ll lose if all of your heroes are knocked unconscious. After wins you can level up your heroes by giving them new upgrades (weapons, equipment, and outfits) and new talents.
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- In my opinion, the most interesting decisions in Legends Untold all revolve around the time/event mechanic. Is it worth it to spend extra time healing up or should we save that time and go without a talent or two this turn? We can potentially get some cool loot if we get past this door, but is it worth it considering that we’d lose time if we fail? It puts a good amount of pressure on you and makes those decisions feel like they matter.
- I really like that the discoveries and foes can randomly have loot or not based on how you draw. That’s a unique and thematic way of handling it. It’s pretty exciting when you know that you’ll get two or three loot cards if you can just beat that one group of enemies.
- Mastery is also very cool. If you have a card with a specialty icon and you happen to face a test that also has that icon, you get to roll four dice and keep the best three. For example, a humanoid wanted me to sing a lullaby and I happened to have the “Perform” icon on a card so… I easily rocked that lullaby.
- I’m a big fan of the Staged tests. They are push-your-luck tests that can get you better and better rewards as you move through the stages, but if you fail once you’re stuck with the previous stage’s outcome.
- Leveling up definitely does the job of making you want to keep playing. After you get some new equipment or learn a new talent, you want to get right back in there and use them.
- There’s a lot of content in these small boxes. I don’t see too many people playing through the campaigns more than once, but I’ve already played one of the scenarios two times and I’d play it again with different character builds. Plus, the rulebook also includes ways for you to create your own adventures.
- The player aids really do help. They’re pretty wordy, but after a couple of scenarios they were all we needed to get through our games.
- I really like the art, especially on the hero cards.
- There are male and female versions of every hero. Always a good thing
- There is A LOT of dice rolling in Legends Untold. Initially that’s fun and exciting because you’re seeing all of the cards for the first time, which gives you a breather between tests. After you’ve gone through the decks a few times, though, it can start to feel like you’re just rolling dice over and over again. The idea was to make this feel like an RPG, which it kind of does initially, but after three or four games we started moving quickly from test to test and the theme started fading a bit since we didn’t have a GM to add in some story bits.
- There really aren’t that many tough team decisions to make. It’s usually obvious who should attempt the tests (the hero with the higher attribute rating), so most of the time there isn’t much discussion about what you should do next.
- Combat is more complicated than it needed to be. Keeping track of advantage (+2 to dice rolls) and disadvantage (-2) isn’t always easy, and there are some really strange rules for the number of melee and ranged heroes you can have after the initial combat round. I get how it all works now, but it really could have been simplified.
- The barriers are just odd to me. They’re optional tests that can potentially hurt you in multiple ways, so we rarely attempted them since the risks usually outweighed the potential rewards. Plus, even if you do get past them without losing time or taking damage, you could then immediately have to deal with a foe or a discovery.
- I like the look of the location cards, but they made some strange choices for where they put some of the icons. You have to deal with any obstacles, foes, and discoveries before you can explore a location, but for some reason the obstacle icon is right there at the entrance (where it should be) while the foe and discovery icons are off on the sidebar. You do get used to it, but I don’t know why they didn’t just put all of those icons at the entrances.
I think that list of cons makes it seem like I haven’t enjoyed playing Legends Untold, but I actually have. My plan was to play it three or four times for this review, but I ended up playing half of the Weeping Caves campaign, one episode of The Great Sewers campaign, and three scenarios from the Weeping Caves. Even though I have seen about 95% of the cards in Weeping Caves now, I’m still looking forward to playing through the rest of its campaign and scenarios. I do think the core games need more cards, though, for more variety and to make the tests more exciting.
I definitely prefer playing Legends Untold as a two-player co-op over the higher player counts. Having two heroes gives you more options for your tests… and I just find it more fun to play through the campaigns with someone else at the table. With more than two you’re really just adding in more enemies and making the game longer.
If you like chucking dice and you like the idea of playing an dungeon crawl-style game that’s quick to set up and quicker to play than most similar games, definitely check out Legends Untold.