Cardboard Children – Legendary Encounters: Predator

Hello youse.

Here’s a fun Predator story for you. When I was in my early teens, Predator was on TV late at night. I was over-tired, but I just had to stay up and watch it. About 45 minutes in, I noticed that the jungle had actually started to sprout out of my TV set. My room filled with loops and spirals of jungle foliage, and I could feel a searing heat. I was drenched in sweat, surrounded by weird, psychedelic leaves, and burdened by the terrible notion that something was watching me. I then had a massive seizure. This week we review Legendary Encounters: Predator.

LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS: PREDATOR

Ever since that night, whenever I watch Predator, I have this terrible sense of dread about halfway through. It’s genuinely a mental trauma, a scar left behind after one of the few occasions when I had weird seizures as I made my way through puberty. Hey, what other board game review page over-shares quite like this?

So I have a weird relationship with Predator. Yeah. I love it. Love it. But I kinda feel the need to hold someone’s hand at the halfway mark. Was I going to buy the card game based on this strange relationship? You’re god damned right.

You’ll remember that I reviewed the first Legendary Encounters game not so long ago. In fact, it was my Game of the Year last year. That one was about the aliens out of the film Alien and the sequel Aliens and the terrible Alien 3 and the weird and messy Alien: Resurrection. Those aliens. You know the ones. The ones with the capital A in “alien”.

This Predator edition of the game covers just the first two films, thank fuck. Predator is wonderful, and I have a soft spot for the wackiness of Predator 2. There is no Aliens v Predator nonsense here – at least not in any sense that connects to those films. There’s still a – well, we’ll come to that.

BASICS: In the standard co-operative mode, this game plays just like the Alien deckbuilding game did. You play through scenarios tied to the first two films, dealing with the Predator threat, building decks that will save your skin by buying new cards. You start the game with a deck of low value cards. These cards let you attack (weakly) and recruit new cards. As the game progresses, you buy stronger character cards for your deck, allowing you to fend off the Predators as they descend upon you, and helping you to complete scenario-based objectives.

There’s some lovely stuff in here to twist the game towards the story of the films. Killing the Predator is considered a major victory in the game. You can also win by escaping from the threat when the GET TO THE CHOPPA objective comes out. In these games, a lot of the fun is in that little geek thrill you get from seeing things from the film click and connect in game form. When Dutch and the boys all team up in one big card play to blast the shit out of a Predator you can just visualise those gorgeous big muscles glistening. Have you seen the muscles in that film? It’s like looking into a mirror at times, I swear to god.

Okay, so if you want to know what the co-op part of this game plays like, just go read the Alien review and put the word “Predator” where “Alien” is.

BUT WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

Well, there’s an excellent competitive game in here too. In this game, every player is a Predator, and you’re hunting the human characters this time round. Every kill you make is a trophy, these award points, and you can build your deck to tool up and become an alien slaughter-machine from planet wherever-it-is. The cool thing about this game mode is that you can also attack each other. You can mess with the other players, bringing them dishonour (which loses them points) and basically being a blooming nuisance by just hitting them with traps and stuff. About three quarters of the way through the deck you’re all fighting against, an ULTIMATE HUNT TROPHY will pop out, and whenever that gets hunted – GAME OVER. Then everybody tallies their scores and finds out who the bestest Predatorest is. Of course, the game can also end if a Predator dies. Yeah, if one of you dies, get this cool stuff – they activate their mad self-destruct thing (from the film, remember?) – and all other players get only one more round to grab points and get the hell out of the place before all goes boomboom.

This mode is dynamite. It’s funny, fun, gruesome. It’s GREAT to be a Predator, hunting stuff and firing spears into your pals’ necks. And this mode isn’t in the Alien version of the game. So – heavy cool, says me.

SIR MIX-A-LOT

Okay, now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking – “Rab, can I mix my Predator stuff with the Alien stuff to create some big Alien v Predator game, like we’ve all dreamed about?” And I’m all like – “Well, I’m not sure why everybody was so obsessed with those two worlds merging anyway. They both come from entirely different places. The gothic, psycho-sexual haunted house elements of Alien are a terrible fit with the war-veteran, fear of the exotic, more narrow action-genre themes of the Predator franchise. But whatever tickles your fancy, ya great galoot.”

And you can mix them, to an extent. You can take your Predator characters, or your Predators, into the Alien scenarios and mix it with those beasts. And with a little wriggling, it feels so good.

LOOK

Look, here’s what I’m saying. If you buy the Alien game and this one, you have two different games. You have a fun, dark, creepy thematic CLASSIC in that Alien game, allowing you to play through the movies. With this Predator game you have some more of the same, in a different flavour. But you also get a great competitive mode that has you challenging each other for kills and honour. When you consider the fact that you can mix the sets?

I love these games. I love the game system. I love the settings. I love the work they’ve done to make the cards really sing. I love the laughs and thrills these games provide.

Alien fan? Get Alien. Predator fan? Get Predator.

Game fan? Get both.

25 Comments

  1. liquidsoap89 says:

    As an Alien fan I guess I’ll stay with that version. I still haven’t even managed to play it yet so it probably wouldn’t be a financially wise decision to own two games that are essentially the same…

  2. jgf1123 says:

    Waiting for Legendary Encounters: Firefly.

    • Agnosticus says:

      Thought your’re joking…but, but it’s actually coming! YES!! :D

      The alien version is sooo good and the predator one seems to be worth buying as well, but a Firefly version? Double Bullseye!

  3. malkav11 says:

    Man, I don’t know why everyone dumps on Alien 3. I mean, aside from it killing Newt and Hicks in a bullshit off-camera way, which is certainly shitty, but doesn’t speak to its quality as a film. Which is actually quite good. Fury 161 is a really screwed up, memorable place, there’s a bunch of strong actors doing various roles, and the alien complicates an already bad situation and necessitates truly desperate measures because of the complete lack of actual weapons. It’s not an all time classic like Alien or Aliens, but it’s still well worth watching (particularly the Assembly Cut). Resurrection, by contrast, is kind of bad. I like many of the people involved, but there’s not really much in the way of action or tension either one, since most of the cast either die virtually the moment the aliens get loose or are badass action heroes from some other movie, and the set design is weirdly unmemorable from a director who normally has an incredible visual style. All it really seems to contribute is a memorably WTF sequence towards the end with a very GIF-able cocooned Brad Dourif crooning “You are a beautiful, beautiful butterfly.” to a thing that is…not.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      The scene with Ripley getting Bishop’s severed head working again single handedly validates that movie for me. I absolutely love that scene!

      And I too think 3 is better than 4.

      • Triangulon says:

        Agreed. I really think Alien 3 is excellent. Of course it suffers in comparison to Alien and Aliens but it is genuinely creepy and and continues the shifts in themes between the films. From claustrophobic horror to gung ho action back to low-tech survival. I think there’s very little to dislike other than the deaths mentioned above. If you watch the making of documentaries it seems a miracle that we even got this in the end. As excited as I am by the prospect of a Neil Blomkamp Alien film the idea of it cutting Alien 3 out of canon is really disappointing.

        Regarding the game, I’ve loved playing Legendary Encounters: Alien, although I haven’t tried any of the competitive modes yet. What I can’t wait to find out is if you can mix to create a game mode of Predators hunting aliens? All it would need then is some cards for Machiko Noguchi!

        • DaveB says:

          The rulebook for Legendary Predator includes some instructions for mixing it in with Legendary Alien – and there is a booster pack available that provides revised cards (not needed, but makes things a bit easier :) )

          Hope that helps!

        • malkav11 says:

          Playing Predators hunting Aliens in the Alien locations is a mode specifically laid out in the rulebook for LE: Predator, yup.

          • Triangulon says:

            Awesome, cheers both of you. That’s sold it to me then!

    • Bull0 says:

      3 is miles better than 4, people just hate that it undoes the happy ending of Aliens. 4’s a load of old bollocks.

    • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

      Assembly cut is good overall, but they completely screwed both alien birth scenes, compared to the theatrical version.

  4. malkav11 says:

    Also, I really feel like LE: Predator should also have covered Predators. AvP 1 and 2 are super skippable (but may yet be covered, I have no idea what the rumored Alien expansion next year might entail), but Predators was decent.

    • Bugamn says:

      On the other hand, the computer games were nice. It’s putting the ultimate hunter against the ultimate beast. I guess that’s why the matching is so popular.

    • Bull0 says:

      Predators is great but it’s a little too similar to the first movie to really stand on its’ own merits. I mean, I was happy with more Predator too, but artistically speaking it’s more like a remake than a sequel.

      • malkav11 says:

        It’s not really that similar, aside from being located in a jungle and the basic “Predator hunts armed humans” scenario that’s common to all three films. The thing is, in the first Predator it’s a tight-knit commando team that runs across a single Predator in human jungles, and while extraction isn’t immediately available, they still have contact with HQ. Predators is a bunch of killers from all over Earth, none of whom trust one another, most of whom don’t know one another (and where they do, IIRC they were enemies), and some of whom don’t even speak the same language who are dropped on an alien planet (not that they even know this at first) in a specially prepped hunting ground with no known escape route and a whole group of Predators hunting them and keeping score. Very different.

        • klops says:

          Also:
          Predators is utter shit. Like every other film with Predator in it except the first one.

          And since I came here telling opinions no one cares about I can also tell the universal truth about Alien films:
          First was good, although stupid horror-movie logic of the characters is not (“yeah, let’s spread out so the killer has easier job!”).
          Aliens is good, although their hair is not.
          3 is good, although the dog-Alien is not.
          All other movies with Aliens are shit, utter (AvPs) or basic (Resurrection).

  5. Jekadu says:

    On seizures:

    Last year I watched a friend have a grand mal seizure out of nowhere. Turns out he had a benign brain tumor.

    The seizure happened while he was sleeping; he is an incredibly loud snorer and he makes all kinds of noises in his sleep, so the vocalizations he made while having the seizure didn’t sound all that different from what you normally hear. These days, I get terrified every time I hear his snoring pattern change.

    He doesn’t remember any of the three or four seizures he’s had in total (three confirmed, one suspected). I don’t want to imagine what it must be like to feel one coming on and then remembering it; witnessing one was bad enough.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Jesus. That sounds terrifying.

    • drinniol says:

      Oh, the best ones are where you have a petit mal seziure (where you’re awake and oh so aware of it) and then coming out of it not able to speak for five minutes, every second wondering if it’s permanent.

      Yay brain tumours! Mine weren’t benign.

    • thekelvingreen says:

      I used to have seizures during sleep. I don’t remember the seizures but I do remember the dreams I would have during them; I would dream often of drowning or of my spine curling back on itself so my head would be by my heels.

  6. Cinek says:

    I was so very much interested in this game… seen all of the movies with Predators, love the concept of the “Predator”, but… this game is so overwhelming with the amount of… stuff it has. I’d totally buy it if I would have someone to play with, but damn… even if I’ll get someone willing to play some tabletops with me – I doubt he has hours to learn how to juggle fuckton of cards in fuckton of piles this game requires you to get a hand of. ~_~

    • JB says:

      The Legendary Encounters games are soloable, so you don’t necessarily need someone else. Whether it’s any good solo, I can’t tell you, but it’s an option!

      • Dinoflaw says:

        Can attest that the Legendary Alien and Predator are perfectly fun as a solo experience (at least for the co-op mode). What I would say is that I house rule it to up the difficulty by reducing hand size, since otherwise you can build a monster deck by cherry picking the best cards too easily in the beginning and hence become an unstoppable killing machine in later objectives.

  7. OpT1mUs says:

    Alien 3 is great you sad person