|Sentinels of the Multiverse |
Designers: Christopher Badell,
Paul Bender & Adam Rebottaro
Publisher: Greater Than Games
Last night I met a few new people at a local game store and got my first taste of Sentinels of the Multiverse, an expansive fixed-deck game in which the players are comic book style super heroes that work together to defeat a super villain while also dealing with the hazards of a not-so-inviting environment. There are a number of expansions to the game, allowing for dozens of heroes to be played (at least 25 by my count, but probably even more), villains (again, at least 25 possible), and environments (14?), giving literally millions of possible game variations.
The game has a very strong comic book theme, and that theme works well in the game. Each card is drawn to look like a single frame in a comic book with card text to match. Damage and other tokens used in the game all look like comic book elements. So as you play and lay out cards it feels like a story is being told. The game looks great!
But how was the gameplay? Well... Maybe it'll get easier if I play more, but I found it all a bit overwhelming. The game is played in a series of phases. First the Villain takes a turn, proceeding through several steps during the turn (Start of Turn, Play a Card, End), then each of the Heroes take a turn (start, play, use a power, draw a card, end), and then the Environment gets a turn (start, play, end). That completes a round. It all sounds pretty straight forward, and in theory it is. But in practice there is a lot to pay attention to. Depending on what cards are currently on the table different things happen at different parts of a turn. Sometimes the Villain or its minions do damage at the start of a turn, sometimes at the end of a turn, sometimes Heroes can defend against some types of damage and not other types, etc. I found that there was a lot of reading the cards displayed trying to figure out what was supposed to happen and when. There was also a lot of ambiguity for how certain situations should be resolved. We generally interpreted any situations like that as liberally in favor of the heroes as possible.
Which brings up another issue I had with the game. We played with 3 players and it seemed extremely unbalanced. The Villain was much more powerful than the three Heroes we played with. I understand that some Heroes work better as a team with other Heroes - their powers coordinate better, but even so I'm not sure how it would be possible to defeat a villain with only three players. And the person I played with that owned the game confirmed that he had never won. In a 5 or 6 player game I think the heroes would stand a much greater chance of defeating the villain, but in the 3 player game we just got slaughtered.
So, my first impression of Sentinels of the Multiverse is that it's a fun cooperative game with a great theme, but it definitely requires serious investment to play successfully. The multitude of character abilities, combinations of events, coordination of hero skills, and overall complexity of the game indicate that this is the type of game that you'll need to play frequently before you can really master it. This is not a game to pull out with non-gamer friends, or even casual gamer friends. This is the type of game that you play with a dedicated group that loves the game, and play over and over until you have all mastered the characters' abilities and weaknesses. I'm looking forward to trying this again, however it's not one I'll be getting for myself, at least not until my sons are old enough to grasp all the complexities of the game.
Preliminary Rating: 6/10
(although this may increase if I play the game often - it has potential)
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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with his family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.