Jeremy Yoder
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Days of Future Past

When Sentinels of the Multiverse first came out, I jumped on it. Not for the coop nature, as I'm not a fan of those, but for the solo aspect. I was just starting to dip my toes in those waters. I enjoy superheroes and had read good things, so I figured it was a "can't miss."

Mechanically, the game was sound: Each player plays a hero with their own personal deck. You also select a Villain to fight and an Environment where you battle. On your turn, you play a card, execute a power (which are on some of your cards), and draw a card. The Environment and Villain have their own decks and on their turn, each plays a card. The Environment usually hinders you, but can help at times. Though it sounds simple, the complexity, choices, and flavor all come from the cards and how to combo them. Also, if your hero has all his life points removed, his cards are cleared out and you flip over your character card to use 1 of 3 minor abilities on your turn, so you're still in the game and can make a difference.

I also liked the cartoon style artwork on the cards. (Though I disliked the unfinished cover art look on the first edition box, which was far inferior to the cards.) While I liked the theme and the idea of the game play and theme, I disliked the awkward pen and paper book keeping. Nor did I like housing all those cards in that little box, with each hero in its own baggie. However, I understood it was a first effort from an unknown publisher. (After all, I had jumped on the Summoner Wars bandwagon when it had only a paper mat board, yet was addicted to its game play.)

First Edition box cover (bleh)...



Still, SotM, sat on my shelf. I'd pull it down, look at the jumble of cards in the box, complete with scrap paper and pencil. I'd look longingly at the cards, but recall all the modifier juggling of +1, -2 if this, +1 if that, etc. I also disliked the bland environment cards, which were just text, creating a theme disconnect. I finally sold it after 3-5 games. Even if the bones were good, it felt too inelegant to me, though I still admired it as an early game from the publisher, and wished him well.

Fast forward a couple of years...


Kraven's Last Hunt

Since then, I've done far more than dip my toe into the solo gaming waters. Simpler ones I own are Friday and SOS Titanic. Medium are Eldritch Horror, LotR Card Game, and Darkest Night (First edition). Heavier are Robinson Crusoe and Mage Knight. But here's the scoop. While I like them all to varying degrees, I most enjoy those with a fantasy theme. But they are either large to setup, long to play, and/or have artwork I don't want around my young kids. So to play my favorites, I set a game up in my office, where it sits out for a while to play in chunks over time, or late at night, making me a hermit.

After a while, that gets old.

The reasons I got Friday and SOS Titanic were their smaller footprints, shorter play time, and I could lay them out with kids watching, chiming in, or interrupting for daddy time. But the games aren't fantasy, and even if they scratch some of the itch, both have less variety and replayability.

Hence, my hunt began for a solo, fantasy, shorter, smaller, family friendly-ish game. In my search, SotM came up again and again, but I kept dismissing it due to First Edition memories. I knew of the Enhanced Edition, but questioned how much it could help. Yet it seemed to fit my parameters...

I pulled the trigger and tried it again. Wow, am I glad I did.

Enhanced Edition box cover (niiiice)...




Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

There's still the book keeping aspect, but a few things have changed. One, there are status tokens to help, though I don't use them for everything. Two, the box now looks so professional and orderly -- I open it and all my cards are organized with tabs and no baggies. Three, I've played really meaty games since First Edition, so the book keeping no longer feels quite as overwhelming. Four, I really like having artwork on the Environment cards, which makes it come alive. And five, the life counters are GREAT! They remove pen and paper, and make it MUCH simpler to take in everything at a glance.



The one minor downside (and I knew this going in) is it doesn't have a small footprint like Friday or SOS Titanic. However, I was somewhat flexible on that. Plus, given all my others specs, I'm not sure how feasible it was. After all, having lots of cards greatly increases options, replayability, and variety, which I value more, so I'm ultimately good with it.

First Edition also didn't scale well with the number of heroes, but that's been addressed to some degree now. The game is easier with 4 heroes, but that's too easy, so I play with 3, which is also more manageable for one person.

BTW, I have to extend kudos to the designer/publisher for the art. It's cartoony, over-the-top, whimsical, complete with corny quotes, etc, that harken to a previous age of comics, and I love it. For one, I can having it laying out with no worries at what my kids will see. And two, it feels like comic book heroes, especially now with comics so serious and grim. Don't get me wrong -- those can be great too -- but it's wonderful to have something stand out from the crowd by making it old school.

What more can you say other than, "Excelsior!"



And call me crazy, but I like having a new universe rather than Marvel and DC, which are everywhere. True, many of SotM characters are fairly derivative of mainstream heroes, but it's not like the designer/artist is trying to hide it. With certain artwork and other elements, he's winking at you, saying, "Do you get this reference?" I find that a wonderful, classy homage to the comic pioneers. (I chuckled at a couple of Tachyon's cards, such as Lightning Reflexes and Nimble Strike, while smiling at Haka's defeated side, etc.)


Crisis on Infinite Earths

I've played 4 games (each time with 3 heroes) which has now included all the characters, villains, and environments. I've also beaten the game all 4 times. I'm sure certain card draws would have beaten me, but truly, the game (with 3 heroes) makes you think through your turns. Contrary to how it may look, this is not an auto-pilot game, and I love knowing that at times I'd have lost if I'd gone with my first or second choice -- you truly need to think through and anticipate.

My games have taken 2+ hours, but that's because I was learning lots of new cards every game, so I know that'll drop quite a bit as I learn each deck and certain elements. I never peeked ahead at any decks, but enjoyed the surprise as I went. But do the games tell a story? As if you're play against super villains in various environments?

My 1st game, Baron Blade was not difficult. My 2nd game, Omnitron also wasn't hard, but more of a drudgery -- he's my least favorite. My 4th game I dubbed "Girls Night Out" as Visionary, Wraith, and Fanatic (the last 3 heroes I hadn't yet played) dueled Citizen Dawn in the Ruins of Atlantis. Honestly, I was surprised to win it fairly easily, given Dawn is ranked at 3. I assume it was the card draw, as the environment's Kraken kept aiding me in taking out Dawn's Citizens, while Visionary removed Dawn's Ongoing cards.

But it was my 3rd game against Grand Warlord Voss in the Wagner Mars Base where I was closest to losing, which told the best story...


Apokolips Now!

Tempest, Absolute Zero, and Bunker were doing well against this Darkseid tribute, when I drew his Forced Deployment card. I just stared at it, thinking I wonder if I'm reading wrong, as it says at the start of Voss's next turn, bring in all his minions from the trash. There were 6 in there, with 2 out now. Ouch. They swarmed next round and I survived, a lot due to Absolute Zero countering certain attacks. Things again stabilized, but my healths were waning, so Tempest kept healing everyone as best he could.

After 2-3 more rounds, I drew another Forced Deployment card. No way! There are two of these nasty cards in this deck!? But this time it'd bring 10 minions out next turn. I was half tempted to throw in the towel, assuming it'd be over in 1 or 2 rounds. However, I can never bring myself to do that, but always play my games to the bitter end... just in case.

After my heroes prepped for the onslaught, imagine my surprise when the Environment tossed out a Meteor Storm, nullifying all damage! I chuckled at my foe, as his 10 minions came out, unable to touch me. Tempest disposed of the Meteor Storm, while Absolute Zero attacked, and Bunker, in Turret Mode, blasted away with machine guns and grenades flying. I took out half the minions. I then got a big bloody nose, which took out Bunker, after which I took out the rest of the minions. Fairly low health on my 2 remaining heroes, but victory appeared imminent.

Then a third Forced Deployment came out...

General Voss smirked, knowing I couldn't survive another wave on his next turn. Realizing it was do or die, Tempest and Absolute Zero knuckled down and threw everything they could at him. But it still wasn't enough! Then, after eyeing their fallen comrade, with a cry of vengeful rage, Tempest screamed, "For Bunker!" and unleashed a final salvo against his arch nemesis, knocking General Voss back to his home planet! Absolute Zero propped the limp Bunker up in his arms, and with a wail of victory and anguish to the heavens, shook his fist and...

Oh... wait... my review...

*Ahem.*

Yeah. So. Well. It's a pretty good game.
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Markus
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JYoder wrote:
And call me crazy, but I like having a new universe rather than Marvel and DC, which are everywhere.


Agreed 100%. There is nothing original or exciting about Marvel and DC. While Sentinels is a derivative of those universes it is still a breath of fresh air.
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DeePee wrote:
JYoder wrote:
And call me crazy, but I like having a new universe rather than Marvel and DC, which are everywhere.


Agreed 100%. There is nothing original or exciting about Marvel and DC. While Sentinels is a derivative of those universes it is still a breath of fresh air.


Agreed and Agreed.

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Scott Schmitt
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This game really reflects the crazy ebbs and flows of a comic book battle. One of the reasons I love it!

Nice review. You really captured my feelings as I play.
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Daniel Himes
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Sorry for noticing this so late, but I should point out that you lose if Voss has 8 or more minions out, so you should have lost that one.

Dealing with Forced Deployment is usually a matter of having enough firepower to take down all the minions in a single round. Easier to do with certain teams and more than 3 heroes.
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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There's no indication that so many minions survived a full round or that the Forced Deployments were consecutive. He probably didn't lose due to an overrun planet, but didn't spell it out in the synopsis.

The fact that he claimed victory is rather telling, though.
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Jeremy Yoder
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catwhowalksbyhimself wrote:
Sorry for noticing this so late, but I should point out that you lose if Voss has 8 or more minions out, so you should have lost that one.

Isn't it 10 minions? Anyway, I believe you only lose if all are still in play by the time the Villain starts his next turn. I'd have to re-check the cards (only time played him this once) but I believe I got it right.
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Daniel Himes
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But he mentioned them being in play for two different rounds, I think. Could have misunderstood that though.
 
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Terry Diamantis
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It's 10 minions at the start of the villain turn for Voss to get the autowin.

As I read it, Forced Deployment brought it up to 10 minions in play but Zero and Bunker killed half of them so there only would have been 5 at the start of Voss' turn.

So still a fair win by my understanding.
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