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Subject: Sentinels of the Multiverse -cooperation at its finest rss

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Jon Cleare
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Sentinels of the Multiverse

      Sentinels of the Multiverse I came into a little later than most, following the Rook City expansion. I had bought both the base game and Rook City from my friendly local game store. The disparity in quality of the cards irked me a little, having to track health with a pen and paper was a little tedious, but the overall game was too fun to ignore those minor quibbles. When the kickstarter for Infernal Relics opened up with an Enhanced Edition complete with health and status counters, a box to hold all the cards, and higher quality cards for the base game (to match those from Rook City and Infernal Relics), I jumped at the chance. The end result is the basis for this review.

Components

      The cards are all of the same quality which is nice for those who were bothered by that from the original version of Sentinels of the Multiverse. The cards are thick and hold up fairly well to repeated use. There were some issues with the cards being cut to different sizes, which I only noticed because I chose to sleeve every one of them. I have read that Greater Than Games has made efforts to remedy all the incorrectly cut cards, but it hasn’t bothered me enough to take them out of their sleeves and send pictures to them for a replacement inquiry. The ink on some of the cards, especially at the corners did scratch/chip easily as I was putting them into the sleeves, which were a tighter fit than I expected on some, maybe due to the cutting error. I don’t know how big an issue the print quality would be if they were not in sleeves (would they chip or wear off from repeated shuffling?).
      The cardboard tokens were all cut properly, centered, and thick. I had thought I would appreciate the status tokens, but after playing without them for so long, I often forget they are there. The health tokens, however, are so incredibly convenient that I cannot imagine playing without them again. The box does hold all the cards without sleeves (or with cheap penny sleeves), however with higher quality (thicker) sleeves, you will need two boxes to hold everything. This is what I ended up doing. Greater Than Games sells the game box on its own for those looking to upgrade the base game. I bought an extra one to house the villains and environments. It works well and makes the game an easy transport to other people’s houses.

Rules

      The rulebook is slightly improved from the original version. It is more of a standard size, thicker paper, and more examples/illustrations. The game itself does not have that much to explain though. Once you know the turn order, the rest of the rules are contained on the cards themselves. For those looking to delve into the backstory of the Multiverse, the rulebook does contain the biography for each of the heroes you can choose to play as.

Gameplay

      The game starts with the villain and his or her minions then the heroes take their turn: play a card, use a power, draw a card, then the environment plays its cards. The base abilities of the villain/minions will affect the hero with the fewest or greatest amount of health. It’s an easy system to keep track of and (manipulate in your favor), but there is a lot of it to go through at the end of the villains turn. Each card is read in the order it came out so there is a chance that the character with the most health will vary from one minion to the next. If everyone in your group is not heavily involved during the villain’s turn, then it can lead to an issue of one or two people essentially doing all the work of the villain. This can be a drag at times, but it is a necessary element of the game.
      Where the gameplay shines is in its handling of the heroes. Each hero has his or her own deck prebuilt for the adventure. This is not like LCGs in that the player has some ability to customize his or her hero’s deck; the decks come as they are and all they will ever be. This is great for a game like this that is meant to be enjoyed by so many different people at once; you won’t need to get to them ahead of time so they can build their deck to their liking. The one problem this can create is that new players might not have a good idea as to how their character is supposed to work. Knowing what may be coming up in your hero deck is necessary to plan your actions.
      Even so, half the fun of Sentinels of the Multiverse is learning how a new hero plays. As we have it set up, people come by and flip through the different heroes and decide which one looks the neatest or most fun to play. This has led to quite a few interesting combinations of heroes with new and wonderful ways to play off of each other. I’m assuming all of these character interactions are intended, but either way it’s a brilliant aspect of the game. It is a tremendously satisfying feeling on those occasions when you figure out how to use your powers in conjunction with the other heroes (or the environment) to tip the scales in your favor. This is cooperation at its finest.
      The villains are the only part of the game that seems to be either a hit or miss with my friends. Some villains have more devastating abilities than others and need to be handled in a very specific way or you will lose horribly. The rulebook does a good job of identifying difficulty levels of villains, but that also depends on what heroes you bring with you. As mentioned before, there is a lot of reading involved and information to keep track of with the villains. This can slow the game down a bit for those villains who summon a lot of minions.
      The addition of the H mechanic helps to scale the game to less than four players (which was the sweet spot originally). I never minded playing as two heroes at once in our two player games. On some levels I preferred it as it gave me more opportunities to play the game from a different perspective. This would prove invaluable as I began teaching different hero strategies to new players. My wife and I will still play some games with two heroes apiece while other times we will use the H mechanic to play one hero each. The games do not seem noticeably easier or harder based on the number of heroes, which is an accomplishment.

Longevity

      I will never turn away someone who wants to play Sentinels of the Multiverse. It is relatively quick, an hour to two depending on how many people (and how many of those are new), and it is easy to explain. I have introduced this game to quite a few people, some of which have played games for years, while others have never played anything more complex than Texas Hold’em; all of them have had a blast with the game.
      The characters and the combination of your team make the game so interesting to come back to. I have played every character at least once and have some definite favorites (Tempest, Expatriette, and Haka), but there is no bad hero. There might be some that are not optimal based on the villain you are up against, but you can always find ways to help out regardless of who you choose. This sort of flexibility in a game makes for a load of fun and adds to the longevity of the game. I cannot see myself getting tired of this any time soon, and with all the expansions (big and small) planned for the future, I cannot see it wearing thin for years to come.

What my wife thinks

      My wife likes the number of options for female characters that aren’t your typical, scantily clad heroines. Since every character is a viable option, she can pick whoever looks interesting to her. This is the kind of pregame planning my wife likes. She also likes the spontaneity of the game (when played this way), reading what other players are doing and reacting to that. She does feel some of the villains are overpowered and getting beat down is not her favorite pastime.
      There is a little bit of math/quantitative thinking involved in Sentinels of the Multiverse which my wife finds tedious. This is fine in that I don’t mind such things, but it does add to the feeling I mentioned above about one person taking charge of the villain’s turn, which can be a bit of a drag. It’s not bad when it is just the two of us, but when there are a lot of people playing and half of them (my wife’s twin leading the conversation) are busily engaged in table talk (while you crunch the numbers), then it can wear on you. At least my wife is having fun.

Overall

      Sentinels of the Multiverse is my cooperative game of choice. Unlike other games which can feel like individuals bouts of solitaire while sharing the same space, Sentinels of the Multiverse rewards interaction and will punish you for not. This is what a cooperative game should be.

Components

Rules

Gameplay

Longevity

Overall
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Carlos "Koey"
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Great review. Next time I suggest a slightly smaller text since it kinda feels like shouting when reading it.

Also since you did not mention promo cards. I would suggest you try them out. As by replacing the Hero's starting power it changes the play style of each deck slightly. Adding even more variety of the game.
Even better since the promos do not need to be shuffled in you can easily print them off provided from BGG.
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Diz Hooper
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I'm just waiting for this to get back in stock.
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Bryan Watson
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thdizzy wrote:
I'm just waiting for this to get back in stock.


It's back in stock now at CoolStuffInc.com.

$25.99 and 20+ units in stock.
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Jon Cleare
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Koey wrote:
Great review. Next time I suggest a slightly smaller text since it kinda feels like shouting when reading it.

Also since you did not mention promo cards. I would suggest you try them out. As by replacing the Hero's starting power it changes the play style of each deck slightly. Adding even more variety of the game.
Even better since the promos do not need to be shuffled in you can easily print them off provided from BGG.


Thank you for the suggestion. It should be changed now. I was typing on my phone and it was hard to read with the smaller font (and I was getting tired of constantly zooming in). I didn't realize what the effect would look like on a computer screen. Hopefully, it looks better now.

Also, I did forget to mention the promo cards, much to my chagrin. They are one of the better additions to the game and I would recommend anyone even slightly interested in them to seek them out. I think Greater Than Games was trying to push through all their unsold stock during the last couple of kickstarters so the only way they might be available now is to print them out (as Carlos explained).

My wife, as a general rule, prefers to play female characters. One of her favorite characters to play is promo version of Legacy, Young Legacy. So much so that she has played Young Legacy more than anyone else has played the standard version of Legacy. I suppose we could play both during a game since I have two decks of Legacy. That actually might be interesting to try out. I just have to put the sleeves back on the old cards.

It amazes me how the addition of a single power on your character card can change the feel of that character so much. Yet, that is part of the genius of the system Greater Than Games has created. So many of a character's cards play off that first ability; changing that one power drastically effects if you play your character defensively, aggressively, or as calculating manipulator.
 
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Carlos "Koey"
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Typhoeus wrote:
I think Greater Than Games was trying to push through all their unsold stock during the last couple of kickstarters so the only way they might be available now is to print them out (as Carlos explained).


I believe it was said somewhere that Greater than Games will publish an unlimited version of the promo packs(with some noticeable difference from the limited promos). Possibly when the SoTM arc ends is what was rumored.
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