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Subject: Why I love solo Sentinels of the Multiverse rss

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Dan Hughes
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This review was originally posted over on my blog http://cabbagedan.com

In many ways the superhero genre is stronger than it ever has been. Over the past few years we've had some wonderful movies thrown at us (X Men First Class, Avengers, the Batman Trilogy), some really high quality kids cartoons (Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man), and even some fairly decent live action TV shows (I don't care what anyone says, I think Arrow is bloody great - cheesy acting and ridiculous washboard stomachs included).

Somewhat ironically, audiences for superhero comics are rapidly dwindling these days due to a combination of digital piracy, ridiculous cover prices, and increasingly transparent and desperate money grabs by the big publishers (DC reboot anyone?).

Still, even though the roots are dying I'm hopeful that the genre has been well enough grafted onto other media forms for it to live on in the popular conciousness.

I've been doing my bit recently by getting well and truly addicted to a superhero board game called Sentinels of the Multiverse. (What? You didn't think you were going to get away with me not mentioning board gaming at some point did you?)

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a game for 2-5 players of ages 8 and up. It's a co-operative game where all the players act as a team. Each player uses a deck of cards representing a unique superhero in order to fight an enemy super villain that is controlled by the game itself.

Played that way it's a great game and a lot of fun. But I've found that I personally prefer to play it completely solo.

Normally the vast majority of my enjoyment of board gaming for me is very firmly wrapped up in just sitting round a table with my friends and simply having a great time. The social aspect of gaming is incredibly important, and is why playing board game adaptation apps on my iPad or even against real opponents online always feel hollow and lacking. I need to have people there with me in order to make board gaming fun.

But there is an exception to that rule - and that exception is Sentinels of the Universe.

I love this game. in fact it might well be one of my very favourites. And the reasons behind that aren't anything to do with the rules or the production quality. In fact I could even say i love the game despite these things (the game can feel a little "mathy" at times, and the artwork ion the cards could be so much better).

No, I find myself in the strange situation of loving the game for the creativity that the designers put into it, but also for the stuff that they left out.

The superhero theme of Sentinels of the Multiverse is ingrained into the very bones of the game. The love, attention , and creative verve that has been lavished on the games background and mythology is absolutely wonderful.

The superheroes and villains walk the fine line between originality and iconicism with perfect balance and none would look out of place in any superhero comic or movie. And the various locations and environments which the battles take place are fantastic too - and again all ring true for the genre without feeling tired or stereotypical.

However the designers leave enough white space in the game for the player to fill with their own imaginations. While the basics of what happens is dictated by the cards you have available, there is a fantastic amount of scope for you to flesh things out in your theatre of your mind.

This past weekend for example I played a game where Ra, the Archaeologist/Living embodiment of an Egyptian Sun God had enlisted the help of two urban street vigilantes (The Wraith and Expatriette) to prevent Citizen Dawn and her Cultists steal a valuable artefact form a museum in the corrupt and gritty Rook City. There was tension, drama, and pathos throughout the epic battles- especially at the end after two of the heroes had fallen, leaving only Expatriiette to fight on against all odd against Citizen Dawn, who also happens to be (Da-da-daaaaa) her own estranged mother!

The game excited and thrilled me from the first card I played right to the very last. At one point I realised I was actually muttering an ongoing commentary about it under my breath, exactly how i used to do when playing with my Star Wars figures when I was nine.

Look, there are flaws with this game. The art is dreadful and there can be an awful amount of bookkeeping to do. if you don't feel it's vibe i'm sure it ends up feeling a bit like manipulating a complicated spreadsheet at times.

But if this game captures your imagination then none of that is going to matter. You're going to be able to willingly suspend your disbelief in a heartbeat and catapult yourself right into that would of capes, spandex, and oversized muscles. You are going to save the world and fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

This game may not be right for everyone, but it's certainly right for me.
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Yoki Erdtman
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dghughes wrote:
The art is dreadful and there can be an awful amount of bookkeeping to do.

I agree on the bookkeeping, but with the new tokens it's fairly smooth. However, I really enjoy the art style.

The game is great, and absolutely fantastic solo.
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Ira Kalina
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Sentinel sidekick app helps the bookkeeping. Concur it is a great solo game.

As for the art, I don't know that thry will get work from DC/Marvel, but I think the art perfectly suits the game and I would think it would look perfect in an ongoing webcomic.
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David Tinney
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I love the art and the enhanced edition made it even better.

How many Heroes do you play solo with Dan? I have played 2 characters myself in a 2-player game, but I have yet to take on more.
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Scott Bender
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I also love this game solo - and you're right, it's so thematic that you really do see the action playing out in your mind's eye. I usually play with four characters, mostly because I have such a hard time choosing!

I'm with the "pro-art" crowd. It's not typical comic book art, but it's very evocative and expressive. And I, for one, don't miss the cheesecake.

Yallow wrote:
I love the art and the enhanced edition made it even better.

How many Heroes do you play solo with Dan? I have played 2 characters myself in a 2-player game, but I have yet to take on more.


Just a quick point, Yallow - the game is not well balanced for two characters and should be played with three minimum. (A common damage value is H-2 which just doesn't go with only two heroes.) It's not made real clear in the rule book, but the game is intended for 3-5 characters.
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Yoki Erdtman
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spbtc wrote:
Just a quick point, Yallow - the game is not well balanced for two characters and should be played with three minimum. (A common damage value is H-2 which just doesn't go with only two heroes.) It's not made real clear in the rule book, but the game is intended for 3-5 characters.

This is true to a point, but there is also an official Achievement for beating a villain with just 2 heroes (Two-Man Army, p. 2). The typical workaround to deal with fewer than 3 heroes is to have H equal a minimum of 3.

I play solo with 3 heroes a whole lot. The most I've played with in a solitaire game is 4, as it starts taking up too much table space to be comfortable to play for me beyond that.
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Nerds call me
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If I play solo, I use 3 Heroes. If my wife joins me, we play with 4 Heroes. And I absolutely agree with this review, Sentinels is by far my favorite solo game right now. I have over 60 solo plays and I feel like I could keep playing for several more years, especially when the next three expansions come out.
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Jonan Jello
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Nice to read you enjoyment of the game!

Sentinels is one of my favorite solitaire affairs.
When I discovered the game, I was quite put-off by the art and I'm quite tolerant of most comic styles.
It wasn't until the Enhanced Edition was released that I took a chance with the game and found the artwork to be quite pleasing.

The bookkeeping can be quite a task, but that task is completely compensated by the excellent comic book narrative and situations.
It's so entertaining when the environment and villain decks create the cosmic, bombastic fun of the comics of my youth.

I normally play with three to four heroes.
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David Tinney
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spbtc wrote:
Just a quick point, Yallow - the game is not well balanced for two characters and should be played with three minimum. (A common damage value is H-2 which just doesn't go with only two heroes.) It's not made real clear in the rule book, but the game is intended for 3-5 characters.


I was actually referring to playing a 2 player game. I take 2 characters and my partner takes 1 character and plays the environment and villain for us. I generally won't play with less than 3 heroes total. The exception is my first game in the regular edition which I was trying to learn the rules. I won with Ra solo against Baron Blade!
 
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I just bought it and I'm diggin' it.

-zombie
 
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Brian Moran
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Im thinking of picking this game up and have seen that the game is for 2-5 players, do you have to do anything special to turn it solo?

Thanks.
 
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Mike Hunnicutt
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count_zero99uk wrote:
Im thinking of picking this game up and have seen that the game is for 2-5 players, do you have to do anything special to turn it solo?

Thanks.


You just play more than one character. It's actually pretty easy with practice. I normally play a 3 hero game, choosing the heroes, villain and environment randomly.

I'd also like to come out on the pro-art side. I've only seen the enhanced version but it takes me back (to when I didn't have better things to spend money on) to some of the indie comics I read. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (The original comic; not the post-cartoon kowabunga-fest)comes to mind when I look at some of the card art.

Edited to include nerd rage. ninja
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Kyle S.
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Mr_Hunnicutt wrote:
I'd also like to come out on the pro-art side.


I'v never understood the anti-art side for Sentinels. Adam puts out a lot of great and original work.

Is it because it leans more toward the cartoon style spectrum than a more modern comic style?
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Nerds call me
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Bigfoote wrote:
Mr_Hunnicutt wrote:
I'd also like to come out on the pro-art side.


I'v never understood the anti-art side for Sentinels. Adam puts out a lot of great and original work.

Is it because it leans more toward the cartoon style spectrum than a more modern comic style?


That would be my guess. During my solo sessions, after quite a few rounds have taken place, I step back from the table to admire just how good this game looks on the table. I love the bright colors and I feel the art is a perfect fit for the game.
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