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Subject: A Math Problem Masquerading as Superhero Game rss

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Les Marshall
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The OP makes fair points. Of course, personal preference being what it is, not everyone will share his lack of enthusiasm. However, some of the response I think miscast the essential conundrum. The problem isn't fiddlyness per se nor that math is somehow challenging nor that math isn't present or is simply better hidden in other games.

The central point is that, turn to turn, the primary action performed by each player is to decide which card will add or subtract numbers to achieve a deterministic outcome. This was precisely my problem with Dominion and why I sold it off rather quickly. You could strip the titles and art off of all the cards from Dominion and re skin them with some other theme and lose nothing in game play.

Sure math is present in most games (unless your playing party games or word games ala Pictionary or Cards Against Humanity.) However not all games have such an openly deterministic set of outcomes. Most human interactions, particularly those involving competition, are fraught with unpredictable outcomes. Additionally many games present players with dilemmas over which decisions to make among several limited options which may yield differing results requiring them to engage in "risk" assessment and this typically results in more dramatic tension.

Does Sentinels have theme? Sure. The individually tailored character decks ensure that each character plays differently so that interactions with different team mates and different villains feels "fresh". The environment deck (very clever) lends the impression that the action is taking place in unique environments with different challenges. The villains, of course, are different enough that decisions about where to apply your attacks take some thought.

Sentinels Art/Production? Excellent. The character design and art is very entertaining and evocative.

Depth of Play? Here, for me, is the achilles heel. Conflict is abstracted into a very simple application of addition. A villain/henchman takes X HP to kill and our hero's generate some discrete number of damage points as modified by various effect cards. Conversation's among team members is typically dominated by what cards offer what numerical contributions with the notion that some numerically efficient outcome can be obtained. There is no risk, no fog of war.

Is this a bad thing? The OP merely said "meh". That the mechanics, in effect, weren't especially engaging to him. The gaming community is FILLED with people who like deterministic games so there is clearly a market for them. Would I sit down and play Sentinels again? Sure, if that's what the group wanted to do, I'd go along. Might even enjoy the time spent. Given the option, I'd prefer a non co-op version with less determinism.
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Dylan Thurston
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Rulesjd wrote:
The central point is that, turn to turn, the primary action performed by each player is to decide which card will add or subtract numbers to achieve a deterministic outcome. This was precisely my problem with Dominion and why I sold it off rather quickly. You could strip the titles and art off of all the cards from Dominion and re skin them with some other theme and lose nothing in game play.
I agree totally about Dominion, and indeed several other companies did essentially reskin Dominion with very little change, hardly changing the gameplay at all. (On the other hand, I don't mind that kind of abstract experience.)

But my personal experience with Sentinels is much different: I find the theme and the mechanics much better integrated. To pick an example, in Dominion, why on earth should a Village let you get an extra action? (And why are you playing Villages from your hand each turn, anyway?) On the other hand, it makes perfect sense to me that the speedster Tachyon ought to be able to take extra actions with Lightning Reflexes from time to time.

(I know there's some sort of explanation for Dominion actions, but it is really quite thin. Dominion is still a fine game, but it's much more abstract.)

Anyway, interesting that our experiences were so different.
 
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Colin Marsh
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i completely understand what you are saying and i have felt this same way in some games of sentinels. what i've found is that certain hero / villain combos feel very much like a math problem. i think the key to enjoying this game is finding a hero you really enjoy playing and sticking with it. while typically replayability comes down to variety, most people i know who really enjoy a certain hero have more fun if they use them more than once.

i have one friend that really loves the Naturalist and another who enjoys Bunker. I personally mostly play Unity. The other factor I find is that certain villains always feel like a fiddly chore / math problem. i tend to note those and avoid using them. that's helped me play games where i felt like a superhero.
 
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Colin Marsh
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championstyle wrote:
Thanks for the review.

Most games can be reduced to math. Just seems to me you are trying to justify your dislike for whatever reason.

I personally love the game. You don't have to, but don't make up arbitrary reasons that could easily apply to the games you like to justify it.

Sentinels has loads of theme, and is a coop. That is what most people love about it.



i've played sentinels many times, generally enjoy the game and don't find his reasons arbitrary at all. in fact many people have brought up the same sense of bookkeeping / fiddliness that you can get in certain hero / villain combos in this game. i have several friends that disliked the game with one hero / villain combo describing it just as the OP did - a logic problem. they then subsequently played other combos and heroes and didn't feel that way at all. i think it really comes down the the combo of the environment, heroes & villain ability interactions; there can definitely be too many. that's when i understand the feeling of math problem described here.
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Damien
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Rulesjd wrote:
The OP makes fair points. Of course, personal preference being what it is, not everyone will share his lack of enthusiasm. However, some of the response I think miscast the essential conundrum. The problem isn't fiddlyness per se nor that math is somehow challenging nor that math isn't present or is simply better hidden in other games.


Except that if the game was less fiddly and the game state more straightforward to track, then the game would be played in a fraction of the playtime with more of your turn thinking about the theme than what each card does. It would be a different game: one with simple decisions that plays quickly instead of simple decisions that plays slowly. So I don't entirely agree that responders have misconstrued the post. When people say a game is fiddly it's usually because they mean the game makes them spend a lot of time on uninteresting aspects of play. Saying "I am OK with the bookkeeping but dont think the decisions are interesting enough" is just the flip side of the same coin. Well, maybe the distinction is the OP thought he was getting a medium weight game with a bit of bookkeeping, whereas the responders (including me) think they are playing a light game with a lot of bookkeeping.
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Vic DiGital
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I think the "argument" (in the academic sense) this probably is boiling down to, is: Is SotM a BROKEN game, or a game mostly for certain kinds of gamers?

The OP, I think, is leaning slightly more towards saying it's a broken game, and that's at the core of his dislike for the game.

Most of the rest of us are varying degrees on the other side of the line, saying, "it may not be for you or for everyone, but for us it's absolutely a fun game, with all the aspects of it that you're not experiencing." It's not disputed that the math and fiddly nature of the game can be a huge barrier for a huge swath of players. In fact, of most games I play, SotM is the one that is most binary for people liking it or not liking it. But if the math doesn't bother you, if the theme shines through brightly for you in spite of the game's flaws, then you will find a game that is one of the best of its kind. I look at other games like Pandemic, Forbidden Island, or Robinson Crusoe, which are ultimately just games about numbers representing thematic elements, and while those games are FAR more accessible to new or casual players (well, maybe not Robinson Crusoe..), once you get past the surface veneer, it's just examining the numeric options before you and picking the one that will be the most beneficial or least harmful.

For anyone reading this down the line, you'll see a lot of debate about this game, all of it justified. But in the end, you probably really just need to find someone who has a copy and ask to sit in on a game to see if the math and fiddling is too much of an issue for you. If you can get past it, SotM is really the only board or card game out there that will really give you the feeling of BEING a hero, outside of an RPG. All of the other superhero games, even the really good ones, mostly just give you the flavor of comic books.



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Dylan Thurston
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VicDigital wrote:
The OP, I think, is leaning slightly more towards saying it's a broken game, and that's at the core of his dislike for the game.
I found the OP to be quite clear that it just wasn't a game that worked for him.
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Alex Martinez
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dthurston wrote:
VicDigital wrote:
The OP, I think, is leaning slightly more towards saying it's a broken game, and that's at the core of his dislike for the game.
I found the OP to be quite clear that it just wasn't a game that worked for him.


I can say that I don't think it's "broken". Broken indicates an unplayable or poorly designed game. I think Sentinels works for certain types and obviously works well. I wouldn't call it broken based on its popularity alone.

I don't mistake a game that I find uninteresting for a broken one. I just find it to be supremely uninteresting and don't feel it's very thematic. Opinions vary.
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dthurston wrote:
VicDigital wrote:
The OP, I think, is leaning slightly more towards saying it's a broken game, and that's at the core of his dislike for the game.
I found the OP to be quite clear that it just wasn't a game that worked for him.


Yeah, this just feels like it's trying to put words in the poor guy's mouth.

I'm getting kind of annoyed at everyone trying to pick apart the OP. I disagree with him, but it's his opinion. This isn't a game for everyone, and that's fine.
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Vic DiGital
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Asmor wrote:
dthurston wrote:
VicDigital wrote:
The OP, I think, is leaning slightly more towards saying it's a broken game, and that's at the core of his dislike for the game.
I found the OP to be quite clear that it just wasn't a game that worked for him.


Yeah, this just feels like it's trying to put words in the poor guy's mouth.

I'm getting kind of annoyed at everyone trying to pick apart the OP. I disagree with him, but it's his opinion. This isn't a game for everyone, and that's fine.


Apologies. I wasn't making an accusation or trying to put words in his mouth. Just continuing the conversation and speculating about the OP's take on the game and hoping/expecting him to clarify his feelings and correct my speculation which he has, very respectfully.

And except for maybe a couple of responses early on, I think everyone has agreed with and supported the validity of the OP's stance. I don't think vocally saying, "I acknowledge the flaws of the game, but I'm one of the ones who still love it" is refuting or picking part his opinion. The fact of the matter is, that a week or month or years after this comment thread has gone cold, a potential new player of the game will stumble upon these forums, and see a thread title that is kind of on the inflammatory side (just relative to the other titles in this game's forum) and when they do come reading, I think the results of this thread will be very helpful. People will read that the mechanics of this game can very much be a turn-off and a barrier to engaging in the theme, but in spite of that, many people still really enjoy the game. There are many games where fans of the game will deny that there are any problems with the game. The fans of SotM are not unaware of the flaws, nor are they in willful denial.

Yes, SotM is indeed a math problem in the form of a game... but don't let that scare you away from trying it. The rewards will be well worth the effort...or you might still hate it anyway.
 
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fba827 fba827
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Just curious, are you playing solo or with others?

I do find if I'm playing multiple character decks then yes it is more math and less theme. Whereas when I'm playing with two other friends to allow us 3 heroes without doubling up, then I find myself much more immersed in the theme. In fact, I find it very rich in theme when I can get immersed with multiple fellow players.



KingCroc wrote:
I do not like Sentinels of the Multiverse. I know people do love it, and I don't find it to be a terrible game, but neither do I think it delivers on what I would want from a superhero-themed card game.

There's a lot of great ideas in Sentinel. I love the idea of having a deck specific to your character, the villain, and the location. I love the idea that each character has a theme, from Superman analogues to speedsters to gadgeteers. I can even see how the game is intended to work, and I think it almost does.

But, for me, it always ends up feeling like a math problem to solve and loses most of its theme in execution. This might seem like a weird complaint since all games are simply a series of rules that place limitations and install a win / loss condition. As much as I might enjoy thematic games, they too are ultimately simply rules and goals to be met. So why does Sentinels not work for me?

I've thought about this a good long while, and ultimately, I think it's because it lacks personality. I know a lot of folks will disagree with me, but I've never felt as if I was playing as a superhero. Instead, I'm playing a card that gives me a bonus. I'm not saving civilians. I'm discarding a bad card. I'm not worried about the bad guy blowing up the moon. I'm just trying to keep the lose condition from happening.

Perhaps it would help if I used a few examples:

I love Rum & Bones, which is very much a game of resource management, risk assessment, and board control. These are all important elements, and as I play, I keep them in mind. But I also feel thrilled when Stumper Pete squashes a crew of enemy deckhands or get nervous when The Specter stalks the decks, ready to finish off my heroes. Sure, I'm rolling dice to remove objectives, but when they fall, I can see the results. Lose your mainsail, and I get an advantage. Take out the enemy deck gun to keep you from firing upon my crew. And so on.

Or, to use an even simpler example, I enjoy Flash Duel, which is simply a game with numbered cards and moving back and forth on a board. Yet the theme of a back and forth battle comes across well and even the simple differences in the character styles makes it seem like more than just playing cards at one another.

I never "feel" super when playing Sentinels. I'm never eager to play a particular character. I'm never excited by it. I'm engaged, but in a very clinical way.

That said, I don't hate Sentinels. I can play it if someone wants to (though I do think it's a bit clunky in execution and not something I'd ever go out of my way to play). Its popularity used to puzzle me, but then I decided it's the superhero equivalent of Ticket to Ride or Cataan or a lot of games that are very popular, but are mostly problems to be solved. Just as trains aren't really important for Ticket and Cataan could be collecting letter cards, so Sentinels is a puzzle that happens to have superhero-themed art. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's a pass for me most of the time.

I suppose it comes down to this for me. I don't mind abstract games, and I like thematic games. But Sentinels kind of sits in the middle of those two zones, and it doesn't do a lot for me.

Is it okay to write a review that ends with "Meh"? Because that pretty much sums up my Sentinels feelings. Neither great nor terrible. There are better superhero themed games out there and more interesting abstracts, but this one's okay.
 
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Alex Martinez
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fba827 wrote:
Just curious, are you playing solo or with others?

I do find if I'm playing multiple character decks then yes it is more math and less theme. Whereas when I'm playing with two other friends to allow us 3 heroes without doubling up, then I find myself much more immersed in the theme. In fact, I find it very rich in theme when I can get immersed with multiple fellow players.




I have played it with others mostly and by myself on occasion. I have found it dull regardless.
 
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Rulesjd wrote:
The central point is that, turn to turn, the primary action performed by each player is to decide which card will add or subtract numbers to achieve a deterministic outcome.

...

Depth of Play? Here, for me, is the achilles heel. Conflict is abstracted into a very simple application of addition. A villain/henchman takes X HP to kill and our hero's generate some discrete number of damage points as modified by various effect cards. Conversation's among team members is typically dominated by what cards offer what numerical contributions with the notion that some numerically efficient outcome can be obtained. There is no risk, no fog of war.


I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. Actually, I think my experience has been the exact opposite, based on my interpretation of your comment. What I think you are saying is that during the hero turns, you have complete information about the current game state, and the individual problems presented (game rounds) are fairly straightforward and easy to optimize, and hence boring.

If this is your argument, I disagree strongly. First, unless you have excellent deck control (or you know that you will end the game this round), the environment and villain will throw things at you that are outside of your control that will require you to adapt between villain turns. If you aren't playing thinking about what might come out in the following turns, you're probably going to have a bad time. For example, Bunker playing against Omnitron, you could put out a 'Flak Cannon' and blast that drone apart, but is it worth doing if there is a high probability of 'Technological Singularity (destroy all hero equipment and deal 3 damage to each hero per equipment card of that hero destroyed)' coming out next turn? Actions between rounds are all about risk management. Granted, this is really a level of play that requires you to intimately know the decks and deck distributions, but having played enough, it's how I (and probably most highly experienced SotM players) think.

To some extent your objection holds true during the hero turns, except when it doesn't. There are enough ways to get extra card plays and extra card draws (and potentially extra villain card plays during hero turns) that what may have been an optimal decision at the start of the round may not still be optimal after several heroes have completed their turns. With low complexity heroes it is more likely that board state prior to the environment turn will be determinable from the end of the villain turn, but not guaranteed. Something as simple as Legacy playing 'Bolster Allies' as the first hero and giving every other hero additional resources can change the makeup of a round significantly (and don't get me started on Scholar's 'Don't Dismiss Anything' and Argent Adept passing out card draws and plays like candy on Halloween).

Additionally, the addition of Vengeance style villains completely turns this objection as I understand it on its head. After each hero turn, there is a villain turn, so if I'm the fifth hero, I have no idea how the board will be different on my turn from the first hero's turn. Granted, this makes the game a good deal more fiddly, but judging from your comment, I don't think you would find that a bad thing.



 
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Jason Kratz
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KingCroc wrote:
fba827 wrote:
Just curious, are you playing solo or with others?

I do find if I'm playing multiple character decks then yes it is more math and less theme. Whereas when I'm playing with two other friends to allow us 3 heroes without doubling up, then I find myself much more immersed in the theme. In fact, I find it very rich in theme when I can get immersed with multiple fellow players.


I have played it with others mostly and by myself on occasion. I have found it dull regardless.


Yeah, I've presented this game to multiple groups, and responses are so varied. For myself, I don't really notice theme in general (I prioritize mechanics), so I can't really weigh in on whether or not the game is thematic. I don't find it particularly thematic myself. From responses of others, I've found it a very personal choice. Some find it thematic, some don't, and some don't care. Some folks find it too fiddly, and some aren't bothered by the fiddliness (and yes, there is a ton of bookkeeping). And that's OK.

Personally, I've probably played well over 1000 games of SotM (mostly solo), so I obviously enjoy it. But it definitely isn't for everyone.
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Going back to Dominion for a sec, I was very late to the deckbuilding party. When deciding which one to dive in with, I read all the stuff about how themeless and dry Dominion was, especially when compared with games that came along later, like Thunderstone and Legendary. So I opted for Legendary, and wasn't disappointed. BUT... it can sometimes be a slog if the wrong combo of heroes and mastermind and villains is selected. But THEN, I finally got around to trying Dominion, and my goodness, did I enjoy it. Far from the lack of theme being a detriment, to me it boiled the game down to its purest form. I've played hundreds of games of Dominion now and have every single card and promo, but except for a few cards, I don't know that I could confidently tell you what the name of most cards are along with their actions. It's "Oh, this is the +1 Action, +1 Buy card." or "This is one that makes everything cost 1 less." Dominion is indeed dry, and abstract, two things I hate in games, but I LOVE Dominion. I still love Legendary, but if it's not the right group, it can have TOO much theme to bring out to the table.

So bringing it back around, I really think SotM is a game you need to actually try before you form a final opinion on it. Don't listen to anyone here who might love or hate it to base YOUR opinion on. Find someone who owns the game or knows how to play your FLGS's library copy. The experience of playing SotM is much much different than reading about it or watching someone play it in a video.
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VicDigital wrote:


So bringing it back around, I really think SotM is a game you need to actually try before you form a final opinion on it. Don't listen to anyone here who might love or hate it to base YOUR opinion on. Find someone who owns the game or knows how to play your FLGS's library copy. The experience of playing SotM is much much different than reading about it or watching someone play it in a video.


As the OP, I think this has some merit. Most games, you can tell how you'll generally react to them with a little information. You still might be surprised, but extreme surprises are rarer as you learn what games you enjoy and what features you're looking for in a game.

Sentinels is one of those rare wide spectrum reaction games where there's truthfully no great way of predicting how you'll feel about it until you play it (and then, perhaps you'll need more than once to really know).

That said, I've played it enough that I feel comfortable with my assessment and think people similar enough to me can use my review for what it's worth.
 
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I would really agree with this, but I can't even trust my own reviews and expectations anymore.

A game that I was certain I'd like for a wide variety of reasons similar to why I like SotM, was Mice and Mystics. Theme-heavy game, bordering on RPG or storytelling. BUT, I think I had the same reaction to M&M as the OP had to SotM. The entire time, all I experienced was an extreme disconnect between the mechanics I was using and the experience I knew I should be having. It was driving me nuts. I still haven't played it again since then, and my friend who originally purchased the game has since sold it. I still WANT to give it another try, as my reaction to the game felt so out of place.

Another similar game is T.I.M.E Stories, which I was worried I'd dislike as much as I dislike Tales of the Arabian Nights, but.. I absolutely love it, and found myself enveloped by the theme and will be eagerly getting each new overpriced expansion.

So I give up trying to predict what I'll like.
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VicDigital wrote:
I would really agree with this, but I can't even trust my own reviews and expectations anymore.

A game that I was certain I'd like for a wide variety of reasons similar to why I like SotM, was Mice and Mystics. Theme-heavy game, bordering on RPG or storytelling. BUT, I think I had the same reaction to M&M as the OP had to SotM. The entire time, all I experienced was an extreme disconnect between the mechanics I was using and the experience I knew I should be having. It was driving me nuts. I still haven't played it again since then, and my friend who originally purchased the game has since sold it. I still WANT to give it another try, as my reaction to the game felt so out of place.

Another similar game is T.I.M.E Stories, which I was worried I'd dislike as much as I dislike Tales of the Arabian Nights, but.. I absolutely love it, and found myself enveloped by the theme and will be eagerly getting each new overpriced expansion.

So I give up trying to predict what I'll like.


i know exactly what you mean here. for me it's semi-coops. i have usually hated them and actively avoided them. that said, there were so many interesting things I read about Archipelago that i decided to avoid my personal semi-coop rule and give it a try. I'm really glad I did as I really enjoy that game and always look forward to playing it. this led to me breaking my rule again and diving into Dead of Winter. In that case, the experience was the polar opposite. it reminded me of why i avoided semi-coops in the first place.

tastes are ultimately pretty arbitrary even when you think you know yourself.
 
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I'm not entirely sure i understand the original argument, as he mentions himself more or less all games can be reduced to mathematics when you boil them down.
Compared with Legendary SotM appears much more thematic, I can't see how to get a card game actually feeling more thematic, unless it's not really a card game and has more in the way of minatures/tokens, board and movement type effects.

One thing I would mention is that if you don't like the base-game don't try to fix it with expansions, while I have pretty much everything outside promo's and enjoy what the add to the game, they don't change anything up enough that they'd fix a dislike of the base game.
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Rulesjd wrote:
Depth of Play? Here, for me, is the achilles heel. Conflict is abstracted into a very simple application of addition. A villain/henchman takes X HP to kill and our hero's generate some discrete number of damage points as modified by various effect cards. Conversation's among team members is typically dominated by what cards offer what numerical contributions with the notion that some numerically efficient outcome can be obtained. There is no risk, no fog of war.

Super-belated reply since I don't think anyone addressed this specific point:

Yes, you have to rack up X damage to win, but in my experience there are significantly more layers to the game than just that. While some characters may be all about bringing the damage (looking at you Ra) , others are more about providing support and healing. Still others are about manipulating the environment/villain decks.

Perhaps the most important card we played last game was Absolute Zero's "Sub-zero environment" card - an ongoing effect that moves the villain's end-of-turn actions to the start of his (next) turn, buying our heroes much-needed breathing room.

Visionary and Wraith both have cards that allow them to peek at the top of the villain's deck and manipulate it. Visionary has another card that will let her mind-control an enemy target.

Legacy, and to a lesser extent Haka, are well-positioned to take a hit for the team if necessary.

Villains also often have victory conditions that need to be managed. Citizen Dawn becomes invulnerable if she has less than X minions in play. Kaargra Warfang's gladiatorial arena requires that your heroes also win over the crowd with individually epic feats.

And so on. Conflict is very much not just a matter of predictably accumulating enough damage. If you try to play it that way without keeping an eye on things like managing the environment and the enemy's deck, controlling which heroes are taking damage etc. then you're liable to fare poorly against the harder villains. Unless you're playing Ra - in which case just keep on doing damage.
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Vic DiGital
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An update from me also, (two YEARS later!). I'm excited that GTG sent out the email today that the long, long, long awaited Kickstarted Oblivaeon expansion is finally shipping out to some people. So I have SotM on the brain today.

Anyway, one thing I've done in the last year is listen to the podcasts put out by Adam and Christopher where they discuss the Sentinels comics line as if it's a real thing that's been around for 60-odd years. I admire their dedication to the conceit. What's most fun for me is that I've really gotten to become more familiar with the characters as CHARACTERS, rather than just faction decks in a game. I'd never enjoyed just reading the Wikipedia-style entries on the characters, so this podcast format where they do a deep dive on pretty much every character in the game, hero and villain, has been a real fun discovery. As such, it's really magnified my enjoyment of the game itself.

As stated by others, this game is highly mathematics-based, and it's super-easy to get locked into just focusing on that and optimizing the card play. But you really have to almost approach this game from a pseudo-roleplaying mindset to really enjoy it fully. When I've focused more on thematically approaching a battle and the characters involved rather than just picking the next obvious best card, the game has been immeasurably more enjoyable. If the entire team gets stomped while playing thematically correct, that FEELS so much better than coldy and efficiently maximizing card strategies and defeating the villain. Knowing the backstories of all these characters, and the "publishing history" and the various comics runs and crossover events and such has been super-fun.

It can definitely be argued that a game shouldn't HAVE to rely on immersion in the lore in order to enjoy the game. A game should be enjoyable even if all theme is stripped from the elements and it's just pure black numbers on white cards. I agree. BUT.. there are just some games that don't follow normal rules. SotM, I believe, is one of those. It's a big, messy, math-heavy, overly-fiddly card game. But if you let it, it allows for thematic enjoyment that almost no other game allows for.

 
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Ian Toltz
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I love The Letters Page. Been listening to it since day 1, and it's the only podcast I listen to as soon as it comes out (the rest just go into a queue that I listen to in chronological order).

That said, I don't go out of my way to do any roleplaying or anything like that in Sentinels. I always try to play optimally. BUT, I believe Sentinels does a fantastic job of evoking theme through its mechanics. So playing optimally usually is thematically satisfying and leads to a great narrative.
 
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Right. I don't roleplay, but knowing the backstories and having that info sloshing around in my head allows the theme to come through much clearer. I'm "remembering" when Voss first invaded as the game plays out, where before the flavor text kinda just got ignored and it otherwise slowed the game down to look at each piece of ephemera.

An even better example of this is Marvel Legendary. That's a game that's 100% math, even more than SotM. It's deckbuilding with theme plastered on it. But as mathy as that is, the Marvel theme still kinda comes through, because of the memories I bring with it, not from anything the game itself evokes. There are plenty of newer characters and storylines that I never read where those cards really do just boil down to their numerical values and effects. But even though you aren't playing as Marvel characters in Legendary, or are even remotely putting yourself in those characters shoes, the stronger overarching Marvel theme gives you those feels.

Back to SotM, I'm now at the point of wondering if this game is even fun if you aren't bringing your own lifetime of "memories" of these characters in with you. At a certain stage, it does sort of become "Pick the Best Card to Use", The Game. The mechanics themselves are solid, if five times too fiddly for their own good. But it's that fiddlyness and those mechanics that really do allow the incredibly wide variety of themes and characters to shine. There's simply not another game like this that balances theme and mechanics so precariously, but successfully. (not saying other games don't have strong mechanics and theme at the same time, but that the most annoying aspects of the mechanics are ultimately a feature, and not a bug.)

tl;dr. Agreed
 
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