Fiona Dickinson
United Kingdom
Horley
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Sentinels of the Multiversee is a co-operative card game for 1-5 players. The game is set in an universe of superheroes who are not part of a franchise but who are obviously based on many well known super heroes from comic books. Your group of super hero characters must fight against the odds of the environment and against the tactics of each of the unique villains.

In each game of Sentinels of the Multiverse you will select a group of superheroes, each with their own unique theming and style of play. With two players we always play with two characters each. You also select a different environment and villain which are the causes of evil in the game. On a hero turn you have a hand of cards and choose one to play – this might be a one shot to deal damage to one or more targets, some equipment or an ongoing ability. You can then play one power – where some characters deal significant damage, but others, such as Legacy, are important for co-operative play in helping boost the other heroes.

In a round, each hero will take a turn, but then a card will be played from the environment deck which typically puts an effect into play for a set period of time. The villain then also gets a turn to do their worst – generally dealing damage to one or all heroes. In the base game, the way the heroes win is typically to run the villain’s health down to zero before all of the heroes have hit zero health. This does mean that a player can be eliminated when all their heroes have run out of health.

I’ve probably played Sentinels of the Multiverse 5 or 6 times and I think I’ve only had one game I’ve truly enjoyed. I think there is a definite risk that the game just plays itself – whether I choose characters listed with low or high complexity I really seem to have very few choices in the game. Out of my hand of three cards it often seems obvious which to play, then which power to select based on the number of current targets and which targets to hit. The fun in the game for me comes from creating great combos and I just find there are too few and that they’re heavily concentrated on certain characters who then seem overpowered compared to others.

However, aside from character choice I have always found that the person most invested in the game or the theme tends to ‘run the game’ taking charge of the villain and environment turns and simply telling the rest of the players what happens to them as a consequence, or potentially even worse this player uses the companion app to simply deduct health from players so that the players are not even aware of their current stats.

I am generally happy to play Sentinels of the Multiverse because it’s a game that so many people around me seem to really enjoy – probably because I’m surrounded by geeks invested in the theme. However, I’m still much more of a fan of my puzzly co-operative games with lots of decision making and co-operative decisions. So for me Sentinels of the Multiverse gets a 5.5/10.

Please check out thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk for more weekly reviews from this UK-based board-gaming couple.

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Olaf Slomp
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This has happened to me with other co-ops.
Since I have found that co-ops like this are best to only play with a fixed group of people, so everybody is at the same experience level.
This is why I bought Pandemic Legacy to play exclusively with my wife (played Pandemic before with a very experienced player, and had no fun just executing what he told evberybody to do).

I'm sure Sentinels can suffer from this problem, but if you can avoid by getting the right group together, it's an awesome game.
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N Burghardt
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I've found with these kind of games, I have everyone hold their cards and verbally share how they can contribute. It at least requires table discussions, opening the opportunity for non-alpha types to engage more.
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Greg Austin
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Aren't you allowed four cards for a hand?
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MGS
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Weston
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The OP is probably referring that often in their games that is the situation they face. Although, as you point out, there are 4 cards in the opening hand, during the game they have 3 cards to choose the obvious one.

I don't feel this way. Except for Legacy, I think the game offers me interesting choices and different lines of play to follow in most hands and varied ways to approach a given game state.
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Josh
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It seems the OP has focused too much on 'creating combos' on an individual level, which is not what Sentinels is about. Many games *are* about that though so the confusion is an easy one to have. If you're only ever worried about what you can do for yourself with your cards then it'll seem limited. Sentinels is about working together with your team members to create joint-combos(like a team!) and pull of some great interactive stunts to turn the tide against the villain. With a 4P game even in the event people each only have 3 cards in hand, that's 12 cards, plus the cards on the table all potentials for interaction and strategy.
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Ryan Angell
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ive had a lot of fun with sentinels but I can see how it might not be for everyone.

My fun house rule is everyone must read the flavor txt on a card in character if it's the first time they play it.i find it helps add some life to the mechanical nature of the game and is hilarious when someone has Haka.

I do think there are some characters that are vastly more fun to play than others too. I've never seen anyone have a bad time playing tachyon. Magic players in particular get a big kick out of drawing all the cards. Wraith is the other crowd favorite. I end up playing legacy a lot when I teach the game to support the group but he is a snoozefest. I like ideas behind absolute zero but I think the build up is too slow when you got other dps who can open up right away.

I also rarely do random set ups. I think they can fall flat. I let people use their favorite characters and choose environments that I think fit thematically with the villain. I guess in the end I use sentinels almost like a sandbox superhero rpg sim and I think that's why it works for me.
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As someone who enjoys Sentinels of the Multiverse the fanboy in me just wants to cry "FOUL!" on so many levels of this review. The biggest being the fact that the reviewer plays with an alpha gamer. An alpha gamer can so ruin so many co-ops instead of just letting players do what they want.

The second is that the OP is playing two characters at a time. While this isn't such a bad thing, it makes me wonder if they are playing the same characters repeatedly or if they change it up. Its hard to learn certain characters and what could be some of their better "combos" if they keep changing decks. Playing as Ra, Tempest or Tachyon? Sure the game the first few times can be fun. Playing as Absolute Zero, Bunker or Visionary...and the game the first few times can be frustrating. And that's just selecting the heroes - never mind getting the chance to select the Villain or Environment which will also change the level of difficulty.

Sentinels is definitely one of those games that rewards multiple plays, and yes, while the reviewer stated that she played 5 or 6 times - what isn't stated is who they played as, who they played against or where. Those answers alone can change the game from "Hey this was pretty awesome" to "Hey, may I have something less resembling math homework?"

Finally...this irks me
Quote:
However, aside from character choice I have always found that the person most invested in the game or the theme tends to ‘run the game’ taking charge of the villain and environment turns and simply telling the rest of the players what happens to them as a consequence, or potentially even worse this player uses the companion app to simply deduct health from players so that the players are not even aware of their current stats.
Between the Alpha player telling people what to do...and then possibly being the only person aware of everyone's health in game. Yeah, I can see what you gave this game such a mediocre score. I would also if I didn't know when my hero went from healthy to barely knowing when I am alive. Sounds like a recipe for a miserable time. If you're going to use the companion app - at least pass it around the table or use a big enough tablet so people can be aware.

Everytime I've heard people having a miserable time with SotM (and other co-ops - Pandemic comes to mind) its usually because someone is calling the shots and/or the players don't make their own decisions. IMO if someone is telling you what to do, are you really playing?

I almost wish the OP could do a follow up, but this time with a "neutered" alpha. That way people can make their own choices. Also with a bit more detail as far as who they are using hero and villain wise and where they are playing in game.
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MGS
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Weston
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Sentinels is amazing, full of theme, choices and opportunities for interesting card play. The OP doesn't like it and wrote a meh/negative review. Who cares? You want the community to write enough reviews and comments to tell people how wonderful it is but also not mislead people who will ultimately not enjoy it. I think we have done it.
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Craig Hallstrom
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I love Sentinels and have taught it to a bunch of people - and it is clearly not everyone's cup of tea. The points the OP raises are some of the same issues the folks I teach who don't like it bring up. The OPs points are valid.

I thumbed up her review because it is helpful for someone deciding to make a purchase to see as many opinions as possible.

Thank you for sharing your views.
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