Thursday, November 22, 2012

Boot To The Head: "Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition"

I was kinda pissed that I didn't get a chance to play Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition when Andrew ran it at Hal-Con this year.  But I got my chance during Game Night a few weeks ago after we finished Lords of Waterdeep in just over an hour, giving us plenty of time to break it out.

Here the description of the game right from the Bad Horse's mouth:

"Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor. Each player plays as one of 10 heroes, against one of 4 villains, and the battle takes place in one of 4 different dynamic environments.

"Each player, after selecting one of the heroes, plays a deck of 40 cards against the villain and environment decks, which 'play themselves', requiring the players to put the top card of the appropriate deck into play on the villain and environment turns. On each player's turn, they may play a card from their hand, use a power printed on one of their cards in play, and draw a card from their deck. Each round starts with the villain turn, continues clockwise around the table, then concludes with the environment turn. Each villain has various advantages, such as starting with certain cards in play, as specified by the villain character card. Play continues until the heroes reduce the villain to 0 or fewer HP, or until the villain defeats the heroes, either via a win condition or by reducing all the heroes to 0 or fewer HP.

"This re-release of Sentinels of the Multiverse comes in a larger box with space for the cards from the core game as well as the Rook City and Infernal Relics expansions. Besides the full set of dividers cards, HP tokens, modifier tokens, and improved artwork throughout the game, it also includes updated card rules to fix a few mechanics from the original print run, as well as to include the (H) mechanic introduced in the Rook City expansion, which balances the game for 3-5 players."

If that left you feeling more confused then Spider-Man after a scrap with Mysterio, check out this handy gameplay walkthrough.






"Terraforming" came out during Omnitron's first Villain Turn, which would have flushed all of our existing Environment Cards.  Since we didn't have any in play, we just ignored it and moved on.

Bunker received an "Ammo Drop", Haka got his "Taiaha" weapon and The Wraith scored a "Micro Targeting Computer".

During the Environment Turn, "Rooftop Combat" made battle even more lethal, adding +1 to all damage.  

Omnitron probed our weaknesses with an "Interpolation Beam".  

Seeing the threat inherent in this, Bunker activated his "Auxiliary Power Source" and dealt four damage to the Beam, destroying it.  With the way now clear, Haka used "Dominion" to deal three damage directly to Omni.  Then the Wraith piled on, using "Razor Ordinance" to blast the digital villain with six whopping points of damage.  

Right from the start of the round, the Heroes were forced to contend with an "Electro-Magnetic Railgun".  

Moments later, the first of several "585 Repair Droids" rolled off Omnitron's assembly line.  After Bunker co-ordinated another "Ammo Drop", Haka used his "Taiaha" to destroy the newly-minted "Drone" and drop an "Elbow Smash" on Omnitron.  After the wily Wraith produced a "Utility Belt" for her "Impromptu Invention", she blasted Omni right in the hard drive for six points of damage.

The battleground then got considerably more complicated after a "Plummeting Monorail" was thrown into the mix!


An "Electropulse Explosive" quickly replaced the destroyed "Railgun" as a new threat.  

Bunker used his "Gatling Gun" to deal two damage to it while Haka performed a "Ground Pound" to distribute three damage to both the "Explosive" and Omni.  The Wraith suddenly produced "Throwing Knives" from out of nowhere and spread three more damage around to each enemy, taking out the "Repair Drone".

Finally, "Impending Casualty" came out as a new Environmental effect.  


During the Villain Phase, Omnitron produced a nasty-looking "583 Assault Drone" as well as a brand, spankin' new "585 Repair Drone".  

The Hero team kept piling on the hurt.  After engaging his "Maintenance Unit" to heal up a bit, Bunker used combined fire from his "Gatling Gun" and "Flak Cannon" to deal two damage to the "Electropulse Explosive".  Feeling decidedly surrounded, Haka went on a one-shot "Rampage", inflicting a whopping five points of pain to every enemy target.  He immediately followed this up by nailing Omni right in the monitor for three points of damage with his "Taiaha".  From her "Combat Stance",  The Wraith clobbered the "Plummeting Monorail" for five points of damage. 

Another "Impending Casualty" threatened to undermine the Hero's efforts while the "Plummeting Monorail" forced us consider a few heart-rending discards.  In my guise as The Wraith, I had no issue chucking out a spare "Targeting Computer" if it would help turf the clearly-dangerous "Monorail". 


Omnitron's next turn had to be the TSN turning point of the entire game.  With the simple appearance of "Tech Singularity", Bunker was forced to turf three cards and take six damage as a result.  The equipment-heavy Wraith also got nailed for four points of damage, even after her Stealth was exhausted.  Haka's Taiaha also vanished, inflicting two add-insult-to-injury points of damage.  To make things worse, Omni also squeezed out another damned "585 Repair Drone".  And then, to put a turd-shaped cherry on top of this shit sundae, Omnitron developed an "Adaptive Plating Subroutine" for itself.

This completely and irredeemably threw the Heroes off of their game.  Bunker tried to begin the healing process by re-deploying a "Gatling Gun".  Haka's "Savage Mana" inched him towards a modicum of recovery.  He then played "Crush" on the Drone, which The Wraith finished off with a surgical "Throat Jab".  How this could possibly damage a freakin' robot, I have no idea.  

The "Plummeting Monorail" made its presence felt, dealing a vicious five damage to both Omni and Haka.  


As if to underscore just how much of a prick he (she?  it?) is, Omnitron dropped another "Adaptive Plating Subroutine" and "Electro-Magnetic Railgun".

Bunker's "Maintenance Unit" helped him regain one Health, which was the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.  Haka leveled a "Crush" attack, desperately trying to eliminate the "Monorail".  Feeling pretty beat up, The Wraith played "Suture Self" to regain three Hit Points.  Meanwhile, Haka's "Ground Pound" managed to prevent the "Monorail's" impending damage.

Finally the Heroes got some positive news as "Police Back-Up" arrived during the Environment Turn!     


Omnitron kept on comin', ladling on another "Assault Drone" and fixing our Heroes with an "Interpolation Beam".

Meanwhile, our Heroes did what they could to stem the tsunami of foes.  Bunker leveled one of Omni's minions with a three-point blast from his "Gatling Gun".  He also used a one-shot effect to pull out a "Flak Cannon" and deal three more damage to the "Monorail".  Haka underwent a "Vitality Surge" to get two Hit Points back and then polished off the damaged "Drone".  Finally getting back up to speed, The Wraith served up three Projectile Damage to the "Monorail" via "Razor Ordinance".

After the "Police Backup" dealt one point of damage on Omnitron, "Paparazzi Arrived on the Scene", further complicating things for the Heroes.  


Omni's "Electro-Magnetic Railgun" cut loose, delivering two damage to Haka and The Wraith.  The bad news just kept coming as "Sedative Flechettes" peppered every Hero with four points of damage, forcing Haka to turf both "Dominion" and "Savage Mana".  

The Heroes tried their best to counter-attack.  Bunker added "Heavy Plating" for defense and then blasted Omnitron for two points of damage with his "Gatling Gun".  The native New Zealander conjured up his eponymous "Haka of Shielding", allowing him to discard two cards in order to regain four Hit Points.  Targeting Omnitron's predominate Adam's apple (?), The Wraith delivered a well-placed "Throat Jab" (!) to the maniacal super-computer.

During the Environment Turn, the Heroes all discarded a card to shoo away the "Paparazzi".  As a  bonus, more "Police Backup" arrived to aid the Heroes!


Refreshed after getting two Hit Points back from a "Repair Drone", Omnitron celebrated by producing a newborn "Assault Drone".  

Bunker entered "Turret Mode" and got two Hit Points back from his "Maintenance Unit".  Somewhat fortified, he blasted away at the "Repair Drone" with his "Flak Cannon".  Haka joined in with "Ta Moko" and a two-point "Ground Pound".  Meanwhile, the Wraith contributed three points of damage via "Razor Ordinance".

A "Traffic Pile-Up" occurred during the Environment Turn while the double "Police Back Up" inflicted two damage on Omnitron.  

But then, all of a sudden, something very unusual happened.  I stopped taking notes on the game because I realized that I was bored.  Really friggin' bored.

I don't know if was because we'd just come off playing the stellar, innovative, elegant Lords of Waterdeep, but Sentinels of the Multiverse left me completely cold.  After playing the former title and experiencing virtually no breakdowns in the action, Sentinels quickly wore out its welcome as we paused incessantly to debate how a card or rule should be interpreted.   

I know that co-operative games don't often provide a huge wealth of options from turn to turn, but I really felt hamstrung while playing Sentinels.  In fact, every choice I made was about as deep as deciding to press the fire button while battling an end boss in Smash T.V.

Sadly, there's no narrative or motivation here.  I was hoping for missions and objectives.  I was hoping to battle minions while working our way up to a final confrontation with THE BIG BAD.  Instead, after all of the characters are laid out in what passes for an "Environment", they just start bashing each other over the heads with different types of clubs.  Sorry, but that's not particularly complicated nor is it  very interesting to me.    

Admittedly there is some notable distinction amongst the characters: Bunker feels like Iron Man, The Wraith plays like Batgirl and Haka is, I dunno, like who?  Thunderbird, I guess?  But this just made me pine for the real McCoys instead of a bunch of generic facsimiles.  The cutesy artwork also did very little for me and failed to lend the game any sort of gravitas.

So how did the game end?  Well, how do you think it ended?!?!  We lost!  In fact, we never quite recovered our momentum after that "Tech Singularity" card wiped out our collective tableaus.  Although, in the end, we did manage to make the game fairly close, our Hit Point hemorrhaging never stopped.  As the game's final result became abundantly clear, the three of us kept getting more and more distracted.  I, for one, became a lot more interested in watching Mike and Dean finish up their game of Space Hulk then dealing with our own inevitable defeat.

I need to play Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition one more time before I pass final judgement on it, but I have to admit: my first impression ain't very good.  In fact, it kinda reminded me of a justifiably defunct CCG from the late Nineties.     

As it stands right now for me, the game scores three pips our of six.  

Diggin' the straight-up head-bashery?  Click on the link below to order Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition from and help support the blog!         


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