A first play review by Paco Garcia Jaen
When I was a teenager I used to collect tons and tons of comic books. Pretty much anything that arrived at my local store would end up on my shelves. It was a fairly limited selection, with Marvel and a bit of DC coming along. Then, mid 90’s, came Dark Horse and Image. It was a happy time and had me wishing I could be a super hero over and over again. Yep… I was gullible!
But this is a website about games, so let’s concentrate on that one. Enter Sentinels of the Multiverse, a cooperative super hero card game from a young company called Greater than Games, where each player takes the role of a hero or heroine and defend the world from a variety of villains hell bent on destroying everything.
You can see the unboxing video of the components by clicking here, but if you don’t have the time or inclination, this is a quick description. The box is very unassuming. Not particularly sturdy, it has been put together to hold the 578 cards that create this game. No separators and no compartments. Just a cardboard box.
The rules manual is a very simple booklet with a very bright palette of colours and a comic-book style. Ish. The rules are mixed with short biographies of the super heroes that form the Freedom Five. There are more than five heroes and heroines, but the maximum number of players is five, hence the name of the group.
The cards are thick enough. They are not the best cards out there, but they do the job very nicely and they’re almost as good as Magic: The Gathering ones. Bright colours and the illustrations of the artist Adam Rebottaro make a great job of illustrating all the situations, environments and characters in the cards. The card design is simple. There are no gimmicks here to distract you from the game and everything is easy to find. Being a cooperative game there is no need to hide the cards and thus hold them in your hands, so there are no issues with accessible information if you’re left handed or right-handed. As usual, getting them in card sleeves is a good idea, though it is also recommended that you either ask for help, or reserve a good afternoon to do it. Getting over 500 cards in sleeves is time consuming!
As means of game preparation, the players must choose what hero or heroine to use, what villain to fight and what environment to fight the Villain in. There are a lot of Villains and a lot of environments, so the combinations are just fantastic.
The game play is simple. The turn sequence consists of the Villain turn, the Hero’s turn and the Environment’s turn. Each one of those turns has a few phases to draw cards, inflict damage, aid other heroes, etc. and myriad things as indicated in the cards.
The heroes have a number of hit points and so do the villains. If the heroes reduce the Villain’s points to zero, the heroes win. If the Villains do the same thing to the heroes, the villains win.
Heroes will receive more or less damage and it will happen that, at some point, one hero will go down to zero points while the rest of the heroes and heroines remain in play. Instead of leaving that player to just observe, the hero card is turned over and a new set of skills, more passive, are put into place, so there is always something to do in the defeated player’s turn. Boredom is indeed not an option!
Before you realise, you’ll have a lot of cards on the table with a ton of things happening at any given time and keeping up with a relentless enemy that will always keep you on your toes and making you fight like a true pro!
I’ll start with the stuff I don’t like. The rules need working. The three of us who played this game, did so for the first time. Although I had read the rules before we got to the table, I had to explain some things to the other two players, and finding the answer wasn’t all that easy. Admittedly, one of my players is an extremely analytical woman who needs to understand everything before we start to play. This goes against my approach of learning games. I just start to play and get on with the rules as I go along. We missed more examples of play and maybe a tutorial on how to play the game. Although the rules have most of the material you’ll need to play the game, they could do with being laid out in a slightly clearer way.
Don’t get me wrong, they are not bad, at all, but if tweaked, they could make for a much quicker gaming experience.
The game is truly excellent. The game is extremely well balanced. Even as you lose heroes, the balance of power is nicely tipped so the remaining heroes and heroines become more powerful and increase their chances of defeating the baddy without becoming overwhelmed or overwhelming. The gameplay becomes frantic; you’re fighting for your life before you notice and – and this is the most interesting aspect of the game – you are telling the story of your fight and your friend’s achievements. Quite fantastic!
Make sure you have a table big enough. Make sure you have snacks and make sure you have time. The game took longer than one hour. In fact took nearly three. However this is partly to do with the fact that it was the first game and we were feeling our way around, and that my friend’s analysis obsession slowed down the pace considerably! Still, I think it’ll take between 60 and 90 minutes to play.
For just under $40, you get a huge amount for your money. The replayability of this game is guaranteed and, with the expansion recently released, you will keep playing time and time again. Family friendly, this could be one to play with your children, though the very young ones will have difficulties keeping up with all the stuff that goes on all the time.
Highly recommended game indeed and well deserved 4 stars.