December 11, 2013 by crew
As a small boy a very, very, long time ago I would read comic book stories of superheroes such as The Green Arrow, Batman or Ironman and I would daydream of the battles they could have had and the places they might have fought. I would of course end up failing to complete my homework or to pay attention in class but such was the price of comic book justice. I never got to see those battles as I lacked the skills to draw my heroes into being. Fast forward to the present day and we see that the caped fighters of avenging justice are on every screen, tablet or newsagent shelf which you can turn to.
Thanks then to the hard work, imagination and creativity of Greater Than Games there is now a chance to follow through on those mighty imagined battles. However there is a catch; these superheroes tales are ones you have likely never heard of before. Greater Than Games have released a superhero game based on fictional heroes from an entirely fictional line of comic books.
Utilising a living card game system Sentinels of the Multiverse provides a consistent mechanic which delivers the comic book drama, machinations and monologues as Superheroes battle Super Villains in environments familiar and new.
Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Enhanced Edition, to give it the full title, arrives in as box already capable of storing the 500+ cards which will be made up from the villains, environment and various heroes of the game. Along with dividers and additional card stock in the form of rounded hit point counters and rectangular update counters (BoW Ben: The original version of the game came with none of these!) and of course the instructions. A word about those dividers; as they will throw you for a curve. Greater than Games have provided more dividers than elements that arrive in the box. The dividers detail the additional collections of cards available within the Rook City, Infernal Relics and Shattered Timelines expansions.
The artwork of the cards draws from the Silver age era of comic heroes maintaining the thematic style right down to the occasional quotes extracted from those fictitious comic books from which the characters are drawn. This is a game about comic book heroes and the villains they do battle with. To this end the hero cards are represented in the style of Comic book covers incorporating the the heroes hit points as ‘fake cover’ issue numbers within the artwork. Likewise the attention to detail on the villain and environment cards maintains the allusion of their comic book origins. Every turn of a card is a moment from a comic book panel writ large upon the game board. The prospect of browsing the cards outside of a game turn feels exactly like reading a spoiler. This is not to say that this a game that will grow old quickly. The mix of heroes, villains and environments will provide those grand battles that you were previously only daydreaming of.
The theme, the art and the detail are consistent and pleasing to comic collectors and gamers so what about the gameplay ?
This is a game which requires very little set up; unlike other superhero games . The dividers having done much of the work and the allocation of hit point counters is simple enough. You pull out a Villain and an Environment and then choose your Heroes. The co-operative nature of the game builds out the super hero themes as players can play their cards openly without interrupting the atmosphere of the game. Turn wise the Villain takes the first move then the Heroes and finally the environment.Within the turns a timing mechanism divides into a start procedure in which every card currently played are activated. Then for the villains, and later the environment, a new card is played and instructions are followed then the turn ends. In doing so any cards with instructions that are active as the turn ends are enacted. Between the Villain and the Environment turns the Heroes take theirs. Playing cards from their hands to bring equipment, powers and one shots into play before playing to their powers and drawing up their hand.
It is the balance of equipment cards alongside a Heroes power that enables the team to move from defensive to offensive and act in support of each other. The fight however does not occur in a narrative vacuum and the environment cards, and some villain cards, can disable or defer a heroes equipment or powers leaving them open to attack and damage. There are moments in this game where turning an environment card can be like turning the page of the comic as your draw drops in disbelief of what happens next. The game mechanics provide for each villain a differing game condition in which they will be able to thwart the heroes attempts to defeat them. Providing each villain with their own game style from the self aware robotics factory which Omnitron spawns whilst recycling trashed drones and lasers to the enigmatic Citizen Dawn who, should she raise the right level of followers, cannot be dealt damage. The players will have to plan out how to split their abilities between the Villains, their minions all whilst battling an environment.
All the comic book archetypes are in this game from the almost invincible soldiers to muscle brained brawlers and the technically advanced mechanised suit of war through to the time or fate manipulating heroes. The work that Greater Than Games have done to enable these archetypes and set them free to tell their tales has to be admired.
Sentinels of the Multiverse works not only because the balanced gameplay and timing mechanism provide for a correctly paced play mechanism but because you are entering into an previously undiscovered world with few prejudices as to how a character might perform in a given scenario. You do not enter the world of Legacy, Tachyon or The Wraith with any preconceived notions as to a characters performance on Mars Wagner Base or the streets of Megapolis. Being free of established licenses and canon leaves the player and Greater Than Games with a greater sense of creativity and discovery as each turn unfolds.
The Multiverse is freshly created and awaiting your discovery all you have to do is turn the next card and win the next battle.
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"the attention to detail on the villain and environment cards maintains the allusion of their comic book origins"
"Sentinels of the Multiverse works not only because the balanced gameplay and timing mechanism provide for a correctly paced play mechanism but because you are entering into an previously undiscovered world with few prejudices as to how a character might perform in a given scenario."