Super heroes and villains battling to save the world or capture it is a theme that appeals to many people. They may expect to be familiar with the characters and shy away from an unknown universe. Sentinels of the Multiverse, with characters like Legacy and Ambuscade may be off-putting to some. I admit, I was not initially drawn to the game, it’s world being one of the main reasons. But the Comic Book world of Sentinels of the Multiverse with its unknown characters is an amazing game that shouldn’t be dismissed. Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative game that I really enjoy because of its great characters, beautiful artwork, and enjoyable game play.
Components / Set-Up
Sentinels is card game that comes with a total of 578 cards! The base game comes with 10 Hero Characters and their decks, 4 villains, and 4 Environment Decks. I highly recommend the enhanced version that comes with divider cards for each hero, villain and environment. They even included ones for the Rock City and Infernal Relics. Also included in the enhanced edition are 120 round hit point tokens and 42 rectangular modifier tokens. These really help for storage and keeping track on in-game statistics.
The cards are really good card stock and after many plays and time in storage they still lay flat. The boxes are really nice and we have been able to fit almost all the large and mini expansions in two boxes thanks to the Divider Cards.
The artwork is very evocative of classic comic books. The consistency of the rulebook, the character / villain cards environments and the tokens creates a world that draws you in and keeps you engaged. The graphic design of the cards, once players get used to it, makes it easy to read and quickly understand the cards. The all caps will be off-putting to some and people may have a hard time reading the text. The artwork is very colorful, thematic and imaginative. It really makes you feel like you are playing a comic book.
The characters and environments are all unique. Because each type has a different number per deck, it is easy to check to make sure all the cards are there when storing it. You can quickly count to see if there are the 25 villain cards or 15 environment cards before you put them back in the box.
While many of the characters are unique, there are nobs to comic book favorites. The variety and depth of Sentinels of the Multiverse is absolutely remarkable. I love the little flavor text on the cards that make it seem like the quotes actually came from a real comic. I also like how different characters show up on the cards. It adds to the cooperative nature of the game when you see your friend’s character on your card. The designers have successfully created a universe, not tied to a specific history, which can in any direction they can imagine.
I love that the rulebook looks just like a real comic book, in keeping with the theme. Apart from that is always well organized and easy to read. There is a great turn order reference on the back, which sees constant use in our games. The first page is also a nice quick reference once you know how to play, but perhaps haven’t for a bit. For when you first open that game it also includes a nice “Unpacking the Game” section that will make sure you aren’t confused as you organize the cards. This is a feature I wish more games included. The rulebook is 20 pages long. The actual game rules are only four pages long. The rest of the pages are flavor with the character stories, advanced play rules, and a glossary. Another great reference chart is the Hero and Villain Comparisons that show the difficulty raring for each character. The Enhanced Version includes the expansion /promo characters in the chart as well. It’s a well-written rulebook with lots of colorful pictures and back story. The rulebook is written in all caps, which again, can be off-putting to some people.
After choosing your heroes, villain, and environment set-up is reality fast and easy. The villain and environment should be set up in their area. We like to place one at each end of the table.
As each villain is unique, players will need to follow the set-up instructions on the villain character card. Villains have to character cards that show their hit points (HP), setup, game play, and the advanced rules. There are 25 cards in each villain deck.
The environment cards have 15 cards each. These should be shuffled and placed in their play area.
Each hero has a unique deck of 40 cards. Heroes draw the top four cards of their deck to begin the game. In both the villain and hero decks there are four primary types of cards. One-shot cards have an immediate effect, and are then put into the trash. Ongoing cards stay in-play once played. These can change the way the hero / villain plays. For example they can add an extra damage or block one type of damage. Equipment, like on-going cards, stay in play once played. When a card text says “limited,” it means that you can have only one copy of that card in play. There are other types for special character-specific mechanics.
As long as your game is organized, set-up should be quick. The great dividers and organizers provided by the game do a great job helping with organization. I will recommend, if you can find them the over-sized Villain cards. I think it makes set-up even faster and they are much less fiddly and easy to read than the smaller cards.
The game is played over three turns: Villain turn, Hero turn, and Environment turn. The difficulty of the game is not in the rules, but rather in the game-play.
Start: Depending on the Villain, players follow the start of turn instructions on the villain card or any cards in play.
Play: Now, players reveal the top card of the villain deck and play it. The card’s instructions will tell you what to do.
End: Again, follow any instructions on the cards in play that occur at the end of the turn. For example, deal two damage to the hero with the fewest HP.
Start: Heroes will need to follow any instructions on any cards in play that occur at the start of the turn. For example, deal one target one damage.
Play: Now, heroes can choose one card from their hand to play and follow the instruction on the card. For example they may play a one-shot card that deals five damage to the villain.
Power: Next, hero’s can choose one power from one of their cards in play and use that power. Even if a hero can use more than one power a turn, each instance of a power may only be used once a turn.
Draw: Hero’s then draw one card from the top of their hero deck and put it into their hand.
End: At the end of their turn, hero’s follow any instructions from cards in play that occur at the end of their turn.
Start: If any card in play has “start of turn instructions follow them at the start of the turn.
Play: Next, play the top card of the environment deck and follow any instructions it may have.
End: If cards have “end of turn” instructions, follow them at the end of the Environment turn.
The most exciting part of comic books and movies are the big battle scenes. The entire game of Sentinels is all about these battles. Hero’s and villains battle it out, dealing damage in the form of hit points or HP. Any card with HP is considered a target. When a target is reduced to 0, or sometimes fewer, HP, it is defeated and put into the trash. Hero characters are not put into the trash; instead they are flipped over to reveal their incapacitated side. They can no longer deal damage but they do offer a few bonuses to help out during the rest of the battle. They have three abilities. The play can use one of those abilities on their turn. When villains are reduced to 0 or less that are defeated and the Heroes have won the game.
Heroes and villains can deal cold, energy, fire, infernal, lightning, melee, projectile, psychic, radiant, sonic and toxic damage. Some cards interact with different damage types in a variety of ways. Damage can also be irreducible. While it cannot be reduced, it can still be increased or redirected. If a target is immune to damage irreducible damage cannot be dealt to that target.
The game ends when all heroes have been defeated or the villain has been defeated.
My Thoughts – Game Play
Sentinels of the Multiverse was not a game that intrigued me for awhile, but I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it. I’m not the biggest fan of cooperative games (I just don’t like letting other players down); and Super Heroes are fun but not my first choice of theme. Once I tried it, I loved it.
This is one of the few games I own, that characters actually feel really different and it does it with just cards! You feel like you are playing a band of Super Heroes defending against an evil Super Villain. Everything combines to create an amazing thematic game. You can randomly choose your band of heroes, or pick ones that work well together. I really like the co-op nature of the cards that benefit not just one player but the entire band. This also means that choosing which cards and when to play the cards can have wide ranging effects. Players really need to play as a team to do well at the game.
Replay value is amazing with the base game alone with the amount of heroes, villains, and environments. You can play a game, switch just one thing, for example the environment, and the game can be dramatically different. This also does mean that the game can be swingy. But it keeps with the theme, where it can feel like the heroes are down for the count, with no way to win, but one card play later the villain is defeated and the heroes are rejoicing. There are many big expansions, mini-expansions and promotional cards available. There are also many fans created characters and environments for those who want even more variety in the game.
The rules for Sentinels of the Multiverse are very easy to learn and too teach. The depth of play comes from the card play and the interaction of the cards. I normally praise games for this, but for Sentinels this is where I will caution people.
The game can be mentally fiddly as you try to keep track of everything happening in the game. Like a real battle it can be a bit chaotic. Adding up and subtracting all the effects makes the players did a little bit of math. This is what causes me to caution people about the game. New gamers may be a bit overwhelmed by everything happening in the game, and turned off as things get more complicated. Using the enhanced games tokens and some of the less complicated heroes and villains does help ease people into it. Still, I would be hesitant play with new gamers. Also, since the game is co-op you can divide in conquer. Having one person keep track of the Environment effects, one person keep track of the villain and everyone keep track of their own character may help lesson the mental juggle players may face. It does get better as players get to know their characters and the environments. It also helps when players are honest and take that extra damage they forgot.
My Thoughts – Overall
I am amazed by the depth of game play and the amazing universe that has been created by Sentinels of the Multiverse. The generic nature of the universe means that there is no specific history the game must follow. The possibility for expansions and fan-made extras is amazing.
While I would hesitate to play with new gamers, I really want to recommend the game to all comic book, co-op, and card game fans. The game plays so well and is so enjoyable. I love how you start the game wondering how you are ever going to win, and then building up your character for the final blow. I’m also really enjoying getting to know all the characters and how they play. I’m glad my husband and I have our own favorite heroes to play so we aren’t fighting over a particular one.
Most games are quick, but sometimes, the game can last longer than it should. If you want to play two player I really recommend using a side-kick. We choose one hero each that we place on their incapacitated side. It really helps and makes the two player game an option.
Sentinels of the Multiverse was a surprise hit for me. Now I just need to collect all those promos….
Picture Credits: (from www.boardgamegeek.com) Christopher Badell (Skjoldulfr), my husband took all other pictures.
Thank you to you all for sharing your wonderful photos.