As I've mentioned a few times before, when we can't manage to get everyone together on our Friday night game nights, we typically default to a board game night to unwind after a long week. With the PlatinumChick still suffering the aftereffects of an upper respiratory infection and our newest arrivals at the table AWOL for the evening, we decided to break out my newest acquisition: Greater Than Games' Sentinels of the Multiverse: Expanded Edition.
|Sentinels of the Multiverse: Expanded Edition|
by Greater Than Games
Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative card game set within the fictional world of Sentinel Comics. Players take on the roles of the Sentinel Comics heroes, but any comics fan will immediately note the similarities between these heroes and the various DC and Marvel mainstays. The Indestructible Bunker, for example, is an unabashed Iron Man homage, while The Wraith is a female pastiche of Batman. Legacy combines Captain America and Superman, while The Visionary evokes Jean Grey. Even the villains and environments--controlled collectively by the group--evoke classic Silver Age tropes, including a sentient robotic AI, a "lost world" trapped within a frozen wasteland, and even a rampaging alien warlord.
Gameplay is quick around the table and easy to understand, even as the rules on individual cards stack up. In a given turn, a player plays a card, uses a power, and draws a card. Individual cards, representing attacks, equipment, or unique powers, can alter this pattern, though the fundamental rhythm remains the same. At the end of the heroes' turns, the environment and villain each flip a card from their own decks, representing villainous weaponry, minions arriving on scene, or even events like volcanic eruptions or train collisions.
While one would normally expect such a routine to seem redundant, the exact opposite proves to be true. Rather, the static pattern allows individual games to run quickly: a single game at our table, with five people each controlling their own hero, ran around 45 minutes each, which allowed us to try out all the heroes, villains, and environments in the set. However, what really struck me about SotM--and what really made the game for me--was how unique each of the individual heroes felt, despite using the same fundamental mechanics. Tachyon, a female speedster, benefited most from burning through her deck as quickly as possible, while Bunker relied more on lasting equipment and alternated through three "modes" which allowed him to focus on either acquiring cards, assembling equipment in play, or laying down the hurt on the villain.
|The "Sentinels" of SotM: EE.|
Each with their own deck, each with their own theme,
each with a totally different feel!
I only really have one niggling frustration with Sentinels: while SotM supports play for five players, we found the game fairly easy, winning all five games we played. Our closest match was one against the alien conqueror Grand Warlord Voss, as the group of heroes we had chosen weren't able to pump off enough damage to take out Voss's dreadnaughts efficiently. Even then, we still pulled out a narrow win, with two of our heroes finishing off Voss while the others 'assisted' from their incapacitated states. I get the impression that the game would be more challenging with either three or four heroes, as we were able to control the flow of the game even from the very outset with minimal difficulties. We even took down Citizen Dawn--a superhuman-supremacist pastiche of Magneto--on her "advanced" mode without many difficulties whatsoever. Visionary and Haka (a Maori version of the Hulk) managed to lock down her minions with ease, while Bunker and Tempest laid the proverbial smackdown, with Legacy providing support and buffs. I'd like to try running a three-person game of SotM in the near future, just to see how the game runs with less players at the table. It seems like four might be the magic sweet-spot.
Sentinels has proven to be a wild hit since its release in 2011, leading to three expansions and a fourth on the way, after the massive success of the SotM: Shattered Timelines Kickstarter. Each expansion carries its own theme, bringing new heroes, villains, and environments to the table. Word is that these expansions also increase the difficulty, as the villains and environments in each are meant to challenge experienced players. That could be a welcome addition, providing additional variety to an already-varied game with tons of replay value.
Sentinels of the Multiverse was really a hit around our table and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next from Greater Than Games. I'm hoping to pick up Rook City and Infernal Relics--the first two expansions--sometime soon, though I can't say how soon that might be. FridayNightWill came away from the table looking for where he could buy his own copy, which might be the highest recommendation I could offer. These guys are doing it right, and it's great to see a self-funded independent project become so successful. I have nothing but praise for SotM--pick it up, if you're able.