I fell out of love with comic books a long time ago. Obviously there’s still been the odd flirtation, picking up the Walking Dead hardbacks and the odd graphic novel here and there, but the affair was killed the day I got a phone call from my dad. I was a DC boy through and through, with stacks of Green Lantern and Justice League lovingly bagged up and boxed in numerical order. Great days.
(Yeah, I didn’t go out much when I was younger.)
Anyway, the phone call. Dad never called with good news, usually family deaths or – in this case – worse news. He was remodelling the house and had moved a load of my stuff into the garage. And there’d been a storm. And every single comic was transformed from stories filled with wonder and super powers into a soggy pile of pulp. And with that, hundreds and hundeds of pounds worth of comics and years worth of memories were chucked into a bunch of refuse sacks and the spell was broken.
And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. About the spell. Not the comics. I promise they were beyond wrecked.
The comics may well all be gone, somewhere in a landfill in the west of Ireland, but the stories (and the love of heroes and villains) lives on, so imagine how delighted I was when a copy of Sentinels of the Multiverse arrived for me to take a look at. A new co-operative card game, Sentinels has a bunch of good guys working together (the players) to take down a Big Bad (controlled by the game) while things are going off all around. All the cards you need to play are included in the box – no boosters needed in this one – so after a bit of sorting and shuffling you’re ready to roll.
The game engine itself is very simple, so you’ll be on your feet and kicking ass in next to no time. After choosing the villain you wish to face (as well as an environment where the battle will be happening), each player selects their own hero from the ten on offer. With decks of cards representing everyone and everything laid out, it’s time to see whether good or evil will prevail!
Rounds are broken into three sections: Villain Turn, Hero Turn and Environment Turn. Most cards in the game state exactly when the card effect should occur, either at the Start or End of the turn.
The Villain Turn starts by following the instructions on any cards that need to be triggered at the start of the phase, flipping a new one off the stack and completing anything else that’s meant to happen at the end. Hero Turns are basically the same except with an additional step where a player may choose to use a single Power that they have revealed throughout the game. The Environment turn is exactly the same as the Villain Turn, and then you start the round all over again… and that’s about it. Pull the cards, follow the instructions and keep going until either you win as the Heroes or the Villain defeats your team – very simple.
But it’s not to be underestimated. Simplicity should never be confused with a poor game, and Sentinels is far from that. Sentinels is good old-fashioned fun in the style of the classic comic books on which it is based. Of course, the world in which it exists has been entirely fabricated by the game’s creators, Christopher Badell and Adam Rebottaro – you’ll find no trace of Marvel or DC in this set, but I could easily see branded characters being brought in for new editions in the future. In the meantime, you have a wide array of avatars to play with from the world of ‘Sentinel Comics’, from the heavy-hitting Bunker to more psychic-powered heroes such as The Visionary. Your approach is still essentially the same, but by mixing it up and using a range of different character types, you’ll develop entirely different stories.
Stories are what make this game enjoyable. You’re working together with the other players to create something between all of you. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it turns into a total disaster, but you’re always creating an entertaining yarn. The Heroes and Villains that are included in the game are a good mix, and it’s always fun trying out new combinations – and with ten Heroes, four Villains and four Environments to work with, you’ve got a lot of mixing to play with.
There are a couple of minor downsides – nothing terrible though. You’ll need some way of keeping track of the amount of damage you’ve incurred (or dealt out to enemies), but nothing comes in the box aside from the cards. It’s been suggested to use dice or glass beads, but you can also grab Hit Point Trackers from here – http://greaterthangames.info/wp-uploads/downloads/HP_Tracker_Cards.pdf – very useful! Also, once you crack open the package, you’ll see that there’s no real storage solution for the game – there’s no way of keeping the cards in their separate decks, and if you choose to sleeve them they barely fit in the box. It’s no game killer, of course, but it’s a bit of an annoyance.
All in all though, Greater Than Games have done really well on this first game. It brings you into the world of comic books and offers a host of different game experiences thanks to the wide range of characters available on both sides. Sure, the basic mechanics often boil down to the same thing, but there are so many different combinations on offer that you’ll often return to Sentinels of the Multiverse. It’s no brain burner, but it’s a light and relatively quick game that entertains and is open to plenty of expansion, so if you’re looking to pour yourself into some spandex and take down some giant malevolent robots, why not check it out? Especially if a family member happened to destroy years worth of comic books. It’s time to start building your own stories.
Sentinels of the Multiverse was designed by Christopher Badell and Adam Rebottaro. Released by Greater Than Games in 2011, you can pick it up from your local game store or from the GTG site for $39.95. Shazam!