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Review: Sentinels of the Multiverse (Enhanced Edition, Greater Than Games, LLC)

Posted by Denny Koch on April 2, 2013

SotM_box

Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse (Enhanced Edition)

Publisher: Greater Than Games, LLC
Published in: 2011
Designers: Christopher Badell, Paul Bender, Adam Rebottaro

Game Type: Cooperative, fixed-deck Card Game
Topic: Superheroes vs. Supervillains
Contents: 578 cards (63 x 88 mm):

– 10 Hero Character CardsOFFTOPIC_rund– 10 Hero Decks of 40 cards each
8 Villain Character and Game Text Cards
4 Villain Decks of 25 cards each
– 4 Environment Decks of 15 cards each

Number of Players: 2-5 (meaning: 3-5 hero characters)

HFC Game-O-Meter: E bullet2


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 9
Playability:
8
Replay Value:
 9

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Very thematic; perhaps the most “superheroic” superhero game out there; unlimited combinations of super heroes, super villains, and environments ensure a very high replay value; easy to expand; cool universe; very diverse heroes (tanks, supporter, damage-dealer, deck controller…), villains and environments offer much variety; very simple rules but demanding gameplay; almost no setup time; well thought-out gamebox (deck dividers provide a perfect storage system)
CONTRA Hard to win with certain hero / villain / environment combinations; two players are required to take 2 heroes each or the game will be unbeatable; storage system doesn’t work with sleeved cards; some important info counters are not included in the game but have to be crafted by the players themselves

Introduction: What is “Sentinels of the Multiverse”?

Sentinels of the Multiverse” is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game based on a (non-existent) Comic book universe – it’s not Marvel, it’s not DC, but nevertheless – it conveys the authentic feeling of a rich, living, complex Comic book world.

SotM_quote

Uttering the inspiring quote while playing the card is fun!

Players take the role of a super hero. Each super hero has his or her unique back story, super powers, and own agenda. The “character card”, which shows the image of the player’s chosen character, is drawn like a comic book cover, and you can easily imagine that your hero is the hero of their own comic book series. In addition, you can even find different drawing styles for different heroes.

The hero’s fixed 40 cards deck consists of special powers, items, equipment, instant actions and you can find inspiring quotes from “Sentinels Multiverse” fictional comic books on the lower half of each card, together with a fictional reference to a non-existent comic book – which is quite nice and strongly reminds of references to other issues in Marvel comics.

Ra

Egyptian Sun God Ra is a damage dealer

In other words – Sentinels of the Multiverse (SotM) does a very nice job in “simulating” a Comic book universe. This works so good that it actually feels very thematic, very superheroic (it soon became for us the most atmospheric superhero game currently out there!). The fact that it isn’t based on Marvel or DC characters has one additional advantage: the designers are absolutely free in designing the characters. There are no limits, no restrictions on how to develop a certain character. That makes it much easier to design a “damage dealer” character, or a “deck control and support” character than in creating a Captain America or Green Lantern deck, where players have certain expectations what this character does – and does not. If you are a comic book fan, you will even recognize some of the most famous comic book heroes in SotM characters – some are obviously influenced by their “real” counterparts, but they are never a cheap copy (for example, we discovered aspects of Iron Man, the Punisher, Batman, or the Flash) .

Each SotM character, each Super Villain is very distinct and strongly differs from the other characters in the game. So playing a different character is an entirely new experience each time and you have to adjust your teamwork and tactics according to this character’s traits, strengths and weaknesses. Trying out a new deck without knowing what to expect, and finding out what it’s about, is really exciting.

Hero "Bunker" has a special armor which can switch between various "modes"

Hero “Bunker” has a special armor which can switch between various “modes”

The rule book tells the background story of “Sentinels of the Multiverse”. You will learn about the “Freedom Five” and their mission, about the Super Villains who plan to conquer or destroy the world. In the Core Game, there are four different arch enemies (varying in complexity levels). You can choose to fight Omnitron, the sentient robot factory, an Alien Warlord, Baron Blade, the mad scientist (who is somewhat inspired by Marvel’s Doctor Doom) or Citizen Dawn (with some similarities to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). In addition, you can choose among four different environments where your game takes place, for example a hostile Mars Base, the Ruins of Atlantis, or Insula Primalis, an archaic tropical volcanic island with dinosaurs!

In addition, Greater Than Games began to publish little comic book episodes (the “Freedom Four annual #1”) in addition to the character biographies on their official Sentinels website which add some spice to the background story. If you want to learn more about the characters, the environments, and the back story, this website is highly recommended. After a while, you begin to believe that SotM is an existing, fully fleshed-out comic book universe. The official forum on the same website is also recommended; here you find in-depth strategies for all characters and a lively fan community.

The game can be expanded very easily by adding new decks, villains, and environments. Since all decks are fixed, you have to learn to play with what your hero has at his or her disposal. There is no deck building, no collectible element, and each character can (and must) be played out of the box. There are several expansions available which bring more complexity to the game by adding characters with very synergistic dynamics, who need much preparation time and optimized play.  New special rules can be included in decks very easily without inflating the very lean rule book.

In the Core game, the 10 super heroes play very differently and their decks offer varying complexity levels. Some characters are easier to play because they work quite straightforward. Other characters require preparation and the combining of various effects – Absolute Zero, for example, who had an accident in a sub-zero atomizer, has the special power of dealing fire or ice damage to himself. At first, this doesn’t make much sense, because a hero is incapacitated once his Health Points have reached zero. But over the course of a game, Absolute Zero learns to deal damage others whenever he suffers fire damage or to heal himself by suffering ice damage, so this leads to very nice synergistic effects.

Villains (handled by the game’s AI) also play very differently. They have a personality created by their special rules (elegantly included into their character cards and deck), and are all very dangerous and very serious opponents which are quite hard to beat.

Last but not least, each Environment (also handled by the game’s AI) is generally hostile (both to the players and to the villain), and surprises the players with dangerous events and interruptions which can’t be ignored and have to be dealt with while fighting the super villain, adding another danger level to the game.

Graphic Presentation and Component Quality

Unboxing the Basic Game

Unboxing the Basic Game

Sentinels of the Multiverse is shipped in a solid box with a plastic inlay which is optimized for storing all decks (even the first two expansions!), separated by their deck divider cards.

The cards are standard-sized, so they can be sleeved quite easily with default card sleeves. But watch out, if you sleeve your cards (as we did), you cannot use the storage system provided by the game box, because your cards become slightly too large. It would be perfect if the designers would have added just a few millimeters to their plastic holding inlay to satisfy all players who prefer to sleeve their card games.

The cards are strong and glossy, but since they are black, they are more prone to tear and wear than white cards (this was the reason why FFG printed their LCG cards on a white background as opposed to the black CCG predecessors). So sleeving the cards is highly recommended, regardless of the fact that the overall card quality is very good.

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