Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 30-60 minutes
Play Time (Goof): 45-60 minutes
Producer: Greater than Games
Designer/s: Christopher Badell, Paul Bender and Adam Rebottaro
I walked into Ace Comics and Games in Annerly, Brisbane. I was all geared up to purchase a new game and try it out with my gaming group later that day. I was looking through their selection, and I was excited because I was trying something I’d never done before. I was going to buy a game without doing any research. I’d played my fair share of games by now; surely I could skip that step and use my expert knowledge to purchase something truly amazing. This was the first test of my powers. And with great power comes great responsibility (because I was responsible for my group having fun, or wasting hard earned money).
I spoke to the nice guy behind the counter. We’d talked previously for many hours about some great games, and he’d steered me right before.
“Have you seen this one?” he said, pointing out Sentinels of the Multiverse. “You’re into superheroes.”
Saying I’m into Superheroes is like saying Magic: The Gathering is kinda addictive.
I looked it over: artwork looked interesting, each hero looked unique and the gameplay looked like it might be something worth playing.
AND THEN I BOUGHT HEROES OF METRO CITY!!!
If only I’d listened, dear reader, to the wise man’s advice. All of this may have been avoided. But it is with great shame that I failed that day. It was my Gwen Stacy, my Ultron, my Jason Todd…
What attracted me to ‘Heroes of Metro City’ that eventually won out in the end is the same vice that leads me to pick some really shoddy RPGs in Videogames. I like making my own character. I want nothing more than to take a character I create and put them in these insane worlds of powers, magic and drama. It’s what attracts me to tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons.
Alas, good readers, it was many moons before I would play Sentinels of the Multiverse. But was the man behind the counter Charles Xavier or Mystique in disguise? Was Sentinels of the Multiverse the infinity gem I was told it would be? Or was it going to suck me into the Phantom Zone, where I would feel bored for all eternity? Let’s do the review and find out.
I’m a big fan of cooperative games. The feeling of working together to take on a difficult challenge, experienced players and new gamers working together and the feeling of triumph when (if) we overcome insurmountable odds. And I feel that the superhero theme lends itself to cooperative gaming. Yet so few superhero games are purely cooperative.
Of course with cooperative games come with their own issues: they can be too easy, too prone to having that dominating player (table captains suck) or be too luck-heavy or too strategic. Striking the correct balance can be hard.
I feel that Sentinels of the Multiverse is a decent challenge. Winning isn’t in any way guaranteed. And there are many of those “oh gawd dammit” moments when you flip over the villain cards.
The interactions of powers, cards, environmental effects and much more make the amount of combinations somewhat staggering. The amount of times we heard someone say “oh damn, I forgot this two turns ago” was staggering. And very annoying. But once we started to use the rectangle modifier tokens that came with the Enhanced Edition instead of relying on our memories, things went a lot smoother.
When I play games, one of the things I look for are options. I try my best to make sure I consider multiple options and the way which I could go forward every turn. Quickly. I’m not talking analysis paralysis. In most games you usually have enough time on other people’s turns to work out a play. There are games out there that those options are very limited, and I find them to be quite dull. But this game does not have that option. As the game goes on you’re giving yourself more options almost every turn. Do you want to play a one shot card, or play something ongoing which might give you a passive effect? During most rounds, you’re increasing the number of powers you have access to, you’re setting up future turns or you’re landing a big hit. I never feel that my options are limited by the game, only by the way in which I feel it is best to proceed.
The environment cards make for some interesting decision making moments. They don’t always target the heroes. When you’ve got an oxygen leak on the moon base it makes sense that it effects everyone, and when you’ve got a plummeting monorail about to crash in the middle of the city it might actually work in your benefit to let it hit the main villain.
When you get incapacitated in this game, all your cards are removed and your hero character card gets flipped over. This is a really cool idea as it keeps players in the game. The only issue to this is if you get eliminated really early in the game it reduces the options you’ve got and can be dull. I rarely see it happen that a player is removed too early. But I’ve seen them become incapacitated around the middle mark with about twenty minutes of play to go. If you get taken out towards the end of the game, you’re still helping your team push to come out victorious.
I don’t like the two player variant of this game. I assumed- because it’s not covered in the rule book- that the way to play with two was the same as any other number of players each choose one character and play. But it’s nigh impossible to win this way. The official way, according to their website, is to have one or both players control two heroes. I feel there are too many things going on in a players turn to play like this. You might be able to pull it off if at least one of you is very experienced in this game and a variety of characters. But you feel less connected to your hero then you do in a regular game. My suggestion? Force more people to play with you. You know, like a super villain would.
There are some unofficial fixes to this issue I’d like to try. I just feel that if you market your game as being able to play with two players, I shouldn’t have to look online for a way to fix it.
Pros: +Challenge, +Interesting interactions, +Options, +Incapacitation not elimination
Cons: –Two player variant doesn’t work
I love how much each character feels unique. Tempest feels like he creates and buffs storms while providing rejuvenation by having ongoing effects. Tachyon feels like a speedster by rapidly going through her deck until she can deliver that devastating blow. Wraith feels like the Batman-esque character with various equipment giving her a variety of options. And Bunker feels like you’re shifting between different modes by being slow and annoying and I hate playing him because he sucks (I have friends who like playing him, I don’t get it).
But that’s what makes this game so well done. If I liked all the characters there probably wouldn’t be enough variety, but I don’t. And it’s not because those characters are bad, it’s because they don’t match the way I enjoy playing. My gaming group all have different favourites because they love the idea of the character and the playstyle. I usually play Tempest because I’ve always been more of a support player in games. But when I play Absolute Zero I love the complexity and the depth. Teaming Absolute Zero up with Ra is a brutal mix that my friends and I have used many times. And it’s even better when you’ve got Tempest to keep you breathing. Even writing about this game makes me think of all the combinations of characters and the ways in which we can use teamwork to prevail against the villain. It puts me in the mind frame of the comic book team ups like Avengers, Justice League, Fantastic Four or Teen Titans.
Certain circumstances can really mess with a player who has a certain type of setup, such as relying on equipment or specific elemental powers. I remember a match we played where a friend was playing the character ‘Bunker’ and the environment cards kept destroying all equipment cards. It was frustrating, but we were having a chuckle about it and the fact it was thematic kept coming into it. If you have an angry gamer in your group…maybe make sure they select their character carefully.
The biographies of each of the heroes and villains in the rulebook give a really great understanding of the background of the world that Greater Than Games have created. And at the bottom of each card is a quote and issue number for their comic (which I’m quite sad doesn’t actually exist.)
The nemesis system doesn’t bring a whole lot to the game’s mechanics, but it brings a ton to the games theme. When you’re Legacy staring down Baron Blade’s goons, the Blade Battalion, or when you sucker punch him into space, you get a sense that the others were helping you face off against your long-time foe. It might only increase the damage dealt by one point. But when you’re getting towards the end of the fight where every hit counts, it increases that intensity to the right level. The only drawback is that the game is a bit of a tease with this (wanting you to prove your love by showering it with money). It has only two nemesis combinations in the base game and informs you that the others are in the expansions. That’s a little to be expected, with ten heroes and four villains in this game.
The heroes themselves seem modeled after existing DC and Marvel heroes. Such as Legacy being Superman, Bunker being Iron Man, Tempest being that combination of Martian Manhunter, Storm and Aquaman, and Haka being a Maori Hulk. They pull this off really smoothly, with enough similarities that you can easily identify the character type, but with a fresh and unique look that reminds me of an Elseworlds story.
I mentioned that the that the environment cards in this game don’t just target the heroes. Thematically, it makes you feel like you’re fighting in this dangerous area. And while your enemy chose the battleground, that doesn’t mean it works in their favour.
Pros: ++Unique characters, +Character backgrounds and bios, +Nemesis system, +Cool environments
I love the rulebook in the Enhanced Edition of this game. I hear this is a different response than they received with the original. But it has a comic book vibe to it. And it explains things really well, because the rules are fairly simple and straight forward. The turn order reference on the back of the book is awesome; we often have the rulebook sitting face down near the game session. This makes things so much smoother.
The artwork feels like it’s taken straight out of a comic book. I’m a huge fan. But it is a little inconsistent. I get that it’s difficult to make the same character look the same in three different drawings but there are a couple of art pieces where it feels like they belong to a different game.
I’m actually a fan of the backs of the cards for the environments and villains. They were easy to identify, look great and made artistic use of that space. However, I think the look they were going for on the back of the hero cards was a comic book issue. I think they missed the mark there. It looks bland and overly basic. Which is a real disappointment from the rest of this awesome looking game. However, while you’re playing it doesn’t jump out at you as much as the artwork on the front of the cards or other decks. So it’s not a huge loss.
The damage tokens they add in the game are quite basic but still retain that comic book feel. They have that “pow” “kablam” feel while serving as an excellent way to keep track of damage values.
The game also comes with dividers for it and several of the expansions. While they work well a dividers, we tend to use them in game to store damage and modifiers on. The artwork on them is fantastic, and they help to add a bit more colour to the playing field.
Pros: +Great rulebook, ++Awesome artwork, +Good tokens and dividers
Cons: -Inconsistent artwork
I really enjoy this game. It’s fun and the theme and artwork appeal to me on many different levels. If you’re into superheros, you absolutely need to get this game. Other superhero games have been good, but I notice they usually fall short in the teamwork department. This game feels cooperative, challenging and draws you into this crazy multiverse they’ve created.
I haven’t bought the expansions yet, but I really want to. The idea of more heroes, more villains and more environments to play with is so exciting. But I’ve been playing Sentinels for a year or so now and I still absolutely adore it.
I give Sentinels of the Multiverse:
As it turns out, this game was the mind gem-it’s completely enthralled me. I just hope there’s a money infinity gem out there so that I can afford all the various expansions.