Sentinels of the Multiverse Review by Kenneth

Sentinels of the Multiverse

“I am hardly amused at your worthless attempts at competence” – Baron Blade

Trust me… if your attempt at sleeving goes anything like mine, it’ll take a while…

An insane scientist holds the world hostage with his mighty TerraLunar Impulsion Beam … A tyrannical alien warlord leads his armada of genetically engineered warriors to enslave the Earth… A sentient robotic factory carves a swathe of destruction on its mission to eliminate organic life… A solar powered conqueror seeks to remake the world in her own terrible image…

Welcome to the working week…

The first game title published by Greater Than Games, LLC, Sentinels of the Multiverse is a multiplayer co-operative card game designed to simulate the four-color comic book battles between a superhero team and their villainous foes.

The core set of Sentinels of the Multiverse contains over five hundred cards, divided into 4 villain decks, 4 terrain decks and 10 hero decks. Each deck has a unique mechanic and play style, resulting in a great deal of variability and replayability while lending the game itself a good deal of flavor.

Players control individual superheroes in a team up against a ‘self-running’ villain. A great deal of thought has gone into each of these decks and they not only feel different in terms of card selection, but also play radically differently from each other. While a player playing Tachyon will blaze through her deck, frantically expending cards to power her discard pile focused abilities, another player playing Haka will instead miserly shepherd his cards in hand in preparation for huge late game payoffs. Where Ra’s play style is completely unsubtle, revolving around dealing ever escalating blasts of fire damage, Legacy relies almost entirely on soaking damage and flooding the table with status buffs to earn his place on a team.

Clockwise from upper left: Tachyon, Ra, Haka, Bunker, Fanatic, Wraith, Legacy, Absolute Zero, Tempest, and Visionary. Yes. KA MATE! KA MATE! KA ORE! KA ORE! That Haka.

The villains are likewise a diverse lot each having separate self-playing mechanics; Baron Blade accelerates his deck into his discard pile, relying on his defenses to buy him time as he activates his superweapon. Omnitron mangles its way along, constantly sprouting new weaponry while turning the heroes own gear against them. Grand Warlord Voss and Citizen Dawn flood the table with minions, overwhelming even the most stalwart of heroes in waves of disposable mooks before wading into the fray themselves. One of the great challenges of Sentinels of the Multiverse is discovering ways to circumvent villain abilities. While the hero Bunker might be able to wage a one suit war against Baron Blade, it suffers greatly against Omnitron’s regular gear-destruction effects. Although no hero will be rendered entirely deadweight against a poor matchup, repeated play has revealed that there definitely exist certain combinations of heroes who will function far more efficiently against specific villains.

“Agony is much too time consuming… My primary objective is to make you die quickly…”

One of the really cool things about Sentinels of the Multiverse is its mechanical simplicity. A turn can easily be broken down into three phases which play through the villain’s, heroes’ and environment’s turn in that order. It’s simple enough that a cursory glance at the summary sheet on the back of the rulebook is usually enough to get a game going. The real complexity of Sentinels of the Multiverse comes from the cards themselves which often allow players to ‘break rules’ or villains to trigger massive chain reactions of negative effects. Since everything that alters the rules is on the table anyway, the core simplicity of the rules are complemented by the entirely crazy amount of action taking place on the table.

This isn’t to say that Sentinels of the Multiverse is a perfect game, of course. One particular grouse I had with the game was the fact that the game was inherently balanced for four players and although the rules allow for groups of three and five heroes, the lack of scaling for villains in the core set lead to inherently unbalanced playthroughs – a team of three often just lacks the raw ‘oomph’ to take down some of the nastier villains while a team of five can often waltz right through the game without much concern. The designers themselves acknowledged this problem and the expansion pack Rook City includes scaling villains who can more efficiently challenge large hero group sizes. Another complaint is that the art quality on cards in Sentinels of the Multiverse varies dramatically. While most of it is evocative, some of the art just feels somewhat… for the want of a better word… tacky (Tachyon’s hero deck is a huge offender, especially the card ‘Sucker Punch’). Likewise, the cards themselves, while passable in quality, look like they’ll wear out ridiculously fast if unsleeved – a daunting proposition given the sheer number of cards in the game.

For all the talk about the Freedom Five, My Gut Says It’s One Hero Too Many…

Regardless, warts and all, I still love my set of Sentinels to bits. Sentinels of the Multiverse is a thematic and fast playing cooperative game – it’s not necessarily elegant with chains of effects bouncing all over the place and it has balance issues with large and small groups, but it’s a fun game to play and definitely easy to teach. If you hate comic books or loathe the whole idea behind co-op games, you might want to stay away from this, but I personally MARVEL at the Design Choices that went into this product, especially since Greater Than Games, LLC have taken much of the criticism to heart with the release of the Rook City expansion.

Besides…

When I found out you could win a game by KOing a villain with a card named “THOKK”, I decided the game was just entirely too good for me to pass up…

So I’m easily amused…

It that a crime?

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