Thursday, 5 September 2013

SENTINELS OF THE MULTIVERSE - Review



Its time for the first of two firsts for TwoLittleGamers. The first first is that today we are looking at beyond the video game spectrum and into the world of card gaming. Which leads into the second first, a guest reviewer! So I am going to hand over to MightySi, an expert in card and table gaming.

Greetings, citizens!

The futuristic city of Megalopolis
My name is Simon and I'm here today to talk to you about superheroes. Specifically, a rather natty superhero card game in which a group of players team up against the game itself to eradicate evil, vanquish villainy and negate naughtiness!
A little history first.  Sentinels of the Multiverse was released in 2011 by games company Greater Than Games, rather charmingly abbreviated >G. Since then it has captured the attention of the tabletop gaming community and spawned 3 expansions and a heap of mini-expansions as well as a reprint of the original set on better quality cardstock and with a whole host of extra bits in the box. As is becoming increasingly common, these expansions were funded by Kickstarter campaigns that went through the roof. 
The first non-Kickstarter funded ‘mega-expansion’ is set for release in February and a miniatures based tactical game based in the same universe has also been announced.

“But, Simon”, I hear you cry, “Why don’t you stop being a corporate mouthpiece and actually tell us about the game?” 

Very well. The essentials of the game are fairly straightforward. The villain\game has it’s turn, playing a card from it’s deck and following the instructions thereon (often involving bringing pain to the heroes). Then each player plays a card from their hand, uses a character’s power and draws a card. Once all the players have acted, the environment has a turn. Each game takes place in one of four locations (in the base game, the expansions contain more) that can both aid and thwart the heroes. For example, a game set in the city of Megalopolis could see citizens taken hostage, the fight taking place in cramped alleyways or even a derailed monorail train flying into your face!  Lets not talk about Atlantis and the Kraken.

From a simple mechanic, the game goes all sorts of directions. Each of the villains plays completely differently and what the heroes need to do to win will change the way they play. Baron Blade (generic mad scientist) has a ‘Terralunar Impulsion Ray’ that will pull the moon from orbit and smash it into the Earth if it gets up to full charge! This is represented by a discard pile limit. Each time one of the Baron’s cards is discarded the heroes are that much closer to obliteration. If the trash gets to 15 cards… goodnight West Coast! This will cause the heroes to be much more careful about destroying the Baron’s various gadgets and gizmo's than if they were fighting the renegade sentient robotics factory Omnitron who’s army of drone robots need taking out as soon as possible to prevent the heroes from getting swarmed.

A selection of heroes… Legacy, Tachyon and The Wraith
Each of the heroes is likewise different in how they play. The Wraith is basically Batman and has an array of different gadgets in her utility belt while Legacy is an inspiring presence that brings team buffs and healing to the mix. Bunker is an armoured war machine with pop-out Gatling cannons while Visionary predicts the future by providing methods of manipulating the decks of heroes and villains.

The Sentinels Sidekick app in action
 That's the mechanics out of the way, but how does it play?

Well, fast!
A game of Sentinels will take about 20-30 minutes, once you are familiar with it. The action doesn’t seem to get bogged down with rules queries and conflicting text like other card game seems prone to do. 

Where it can slow down somewhat is the bookkeeping aspect of things. An awful lot of effects modify numbers on the game field. A power grants all heroes +1 damage until next turn, a different power grant 1 point of damage reduction. Another card will cause villains of a certain type do X extra damage, X being the number of Y cards in play. At times it can get a little unwieldy to keep track of. So much so in fact that a smartphone app called Sentinels Sidekick has been developed and I personally find it an absolute must-have bit of kit. What this says about the game itself is obviously open for discussion. It can absolutely be played without the app, but I wouldn't unless I had to.
The only other criticism I have is on some of the artwork. The style is nicely consistent throughout the game and expansions but there are some definite odd choices and bits of art that seem ‘off’. 

Young Legacy… don’t look at her eyes!

In summary, Sentinels of the Multiverse is a darn fine game with a couple of hiccups that can slow down play, but never stop it entirely. It can be a bit of a nightmare to get hold of at the moment, especially in the UK, but the distribution is continuing and it should become easier as time goes on.
Anyway, thank you for reading! I hope I have been entertaining and informative and that you get to have a game of SotM soon.

Any questions? You can fire an email over to Two Little Gamers HQ, or contact me directly on the Twitters @MightySi

For more information on Sentinels of the Multiverse check out the website here or download the ios companion app from the App Store here.

1 comment:

  1. Good review, fair.
    I use the Sentinels Sidekick iPad app and most of the record keeping chores are handled.

    ReplyDelete

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