Sentinels of the Multiverse
Overview of the Multiverse!
Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative card game where 2-5 players take the roles of super heroes and attempt to defeat a super villain bent on world destruction, galactic domination and other lofty, evil pursuits. Each player’s hero has a unique deck of cards with powers and awesome action-packed moves that are exclusive to that hero. The Villain character “auto-plays” throughout the game and presents the heroes with devastating challenges and deadly conflicts. The game ends when either the heroes have won the day by reducing the Villain’s hit points to zero or when the Villain stands gloating above the smoking, broken bodies of the fallen. ‘Nuff said! Lets get to it!
Players choose a Hero they want to play from the 10 available heroes, take the matching deck and hero card, lay the hero card in front of them, shuffle their deck and draw four cards for a beginning hand.
One Villain is chosen from the four available Villains in the base set and that Villain’s two cards are laid out in plain sight. The main Villain card describes that Villain’s powers and lists his or her hit points. The other card lists all the game effects that take place when that Villain has a chance to wallop the heroes. Also, the accompanying Villain deck is shuffled and placed there as well.
An Environment deck is then chosen from four available in the base set. The Environment deck provides the setting where all the action in the game takes place and presents the heroes with unique obstacles and events they will have to contend with while battling the ultimate evil. The Environment deck is shuffled and also placed in the midst of the heroes.
Gameplay for Sentinels is broken up into three main phases or Turns: The Villain Turn, the Hero Turns, and the Environment Turn. Let’s take a closer look…
- Villain Turn: Three phases dictate the actions and effects of the Villain in the game. Effects listed on any cards in play that trigger at the beginning and or end of the Villain turn will activate and a new Villain card is turned over from the Villain deck, usually with really nasty results. Yipe!
- Heroes Turn: To Battle! Each player, on their turn, plays one card from their hand, uses one super power and draws one card from their deck (in that order). Also, any effects listed on any cards in play that trigger at the beginning and or end of that Hero’s turn will activate.
- Environment Turn: After all Heroes have played, it is time to see what effect the Environment has on the story. The top card is flipped from the Environment deck and its effects occur. Also, any effects listed on any cards in play that trigger at the beginning and or end of the Environment Turn will activate.
Sounds simple? It is! The gameplay and turn order is very easy to digest. But, being a card/effect driven game system, the individual choices presented to players through their unique Hero decks, and the interaction from card effects from the three decks can create many unexpected interactions. KAPOW!
The object of the game is for the Heroes to defeat the Villain by depleting his or her hit points to zero. Of course the Villain is trying to do the same to the Heroes! It’s all about causing damage! Throughout the game the Heroes and the Villain will be going to battle against each other and will use powers, attacks and equipment to damage the opposing team’s characters. Damage can take many forms, from electrical (ZAP!) to fire, cold, sonic melee and many more. Often times, card effects will prevent these certain types of damage. The Villain will also have many minions that will attack and can be attacked. Even an Environment card may need to be battled!
Survival and teamwork are crucial. However, even if a hero is defeated, they are not “out of the game.” When a hero is reduced to 0 or less hit points, that hero becomes “incapacitated.” Their deck is removed from the game, their Hero card is flipped, revealing three Abilities of which one can be used during that player’s turn.
Advanced players may want an even more lethal challenge. All Villain cards have an Advanced section on them, creating the ultimate test for the heroes!
Adam Rebotarro’s comic book art styling gives this game an irresistible look and feel. The Enhanced Edition of Sentinels of the Multiverse includes quality cardboard damage and effect counters and a sturdy box that will hold all the cards from all the current expansions. The card quality is great, easy to shuffle and doesn’t warp.
Low! Shuffle and play. As with all card effect based games, though the turn sequence is quite simple the true “curve” comes when learning the multitude of strategies that manifest themselves when the card effects interact.
Who would enjoy this game?
Originally released in 2011 at Gen Con, Sentinels of the Multiverse captured an untapped niche in the hobby market: the cooperative super-hero card game. And it took the hobby by storm… why?
Immersion. There are no super heroes in the game that you have ever heard of. What designers Christopher Badell, Adam Rebotarro and Paul Bender have done is taken the most appealing aspects of what comic book fans love and created a new intellectual property to explore. Every character back-story, every bit of flavor text on every card adds to this environment and immerses the players into the story and struggle of the heroes. This level of immersion invests the players in the game with ease. This makes for an amazing cooperative gaming experience. You feel the game becoming your own as you play – almost creating your own comic book series as the game unfolds.
Innovation. The three deck system that Sentinels introduced creates a wonderfully balanced cooperative challenge. Each player with their own Hero Deck, their own strategy and strengths (and weaknesses) facing a Villain deck, with his or her own agenda and unique deck interaction taking place in an Environment (deck) that creates unexpected hazards for everyone. The combat system is straightforward and simplistic but a host of game effects and conditions based on different types of damage make for these streamlined battle rules to become anything but simple. The game grows more and more dangerous and desperate as play continues. The stakes rise when certain game effects cause a Villain’s cards to flip which augments his or her powers; unleashing more terrible and dangerous powers – creating true peril for the heroes.
Interaction.Sentinels provides the penultimate experience in cooperative gaming since each hero must be dependent on the other heroes for survival. Although the heroes represent familiar archetypes, players are free to develop their personalities and relationships to other team members. Even though it may seem that some heroes are more powerful than others, each is designed to a unique strategy that interacts with the other hero decks uniquely. This ignites freedom and creativity into the game and its interaction. It’s a characteristic unique to Sentinels. The game has the feel of a superhero RPG where your cooperative relationships develop through gameplay.
From its humble beginnings in an IHOPS restaurant, Chris, Paul and Adam envisioned a game that they wanted to play – not a game that had the most innovative mechanics (although they are) or a game to appease an already established fan base (which it now has) nor even a game that would sell out, reprint and have reasonable financial success (which it did, has and continues to do.) This above all offers an experience that is new, fresh and untethered. A player can feel it in the design and in the gameplay. The game is personal and accessible, with nearly limitless possibilities for replay, and expansion.
Since Sentinels hit the scene, two other superhero themed card games have been released: Legendary for the Marvel Universe and DC Deck-building game. How do these games compare to Sentinels? Here are some major points:
- The main difference of course is that Sentinels is a cooperative game. This fundamentally changes the focus for players and intensifies the experience of struggling to fight and defeat the Villain together as a team. Winning or losing together typifies most comic book hero teams and Sentinels provides the perfect re-creation of that experience.
- Sentinels is not a deck builder. The hero decks in Sentinels are built and tuned. And very well tuned in most cases – even when pitted against various Villain decks and Environments. This is another quality that focuses the gameplay on the task of defeating the Nemesis rather than building or tuning a deck and strategy during the game.
- Players don’t mix heroes in Sentinels. Players take the identity of one hero and have all they need in order face the scourge of the galaxy. This gives the game its quality of personalization and immersion.
- Finally, the designers have created the world of Sentinel Comics, a new, vivid and unexplored “comic book land” to get lost in. Thus, Sentinels allows you to be more than just puppet master for your favorite superheroes, you are the hero. You create a legacy for each hero you play. What’s better than that?
All of these aspects create a surprising gaming experience. Sentinels is not just another card game or deck-builder. Sentinels of the Multiverse offers a gaming experience that becomes more of a role-playing/story creation game. The personalization of the heroes and the cooperative mechanics actually give the game a feel of a card driven RPG. It offers a grand, adventurous environment for anyone who loves the superhero genre. It’s easy to learn, promotes amazing player interaction and offers levels of immersion, innovation and interaction that just are not found in other similar games. Put on your cape or cowl and challenge this gem of a super hero card game.
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