Sentinels of the Multiverse
I have a soft spot in my heart for co-ops … they make a good family games (everyone wins or losses together). But there are problems with coops:
- The big bossy pants. This can be avoided by group dynamics, but games with more hidden information encourage it.
- Replayability / aka “cube-pushing.” Once you’ve saved the world a few dozen times it gets samey. This isn’t just Pandemic’s problem, the original Lord of the Rings game had theme pasted on, but you were just managing resources. Both games still feel tense, but there aren’t that many surprises. Ditto Shadows Over Camelot.
Sentinels takes replayability seriously. Each hero has a deck of cards that only he uses … So while you alwasy have the same deck/bag/whatever for most coops, right away you cut out a scope. A hero you haven’t played (much) is new to you.
And there may be interesting team dynamics. For a four hero base set (10 possible heroes) you have (10 choose 4 == ) 210 possible teams. That number quickly rises.
And for every team you then pick a deck for the villain, and a deck for the environment (where you fight). By my calculation, the base set gives over 3000 combinations, and this number grows (incredibly) quickly as you add expansions.
Thematically, the game rocks. Each deck has art, flavor text, and a good feel. The comic multiverse is invented (not licensed) but feels right. When fighting the Grand Warlord Voss you draw space ships, minions, aliens and have to worry about the earth being overrun (an alternate loss condition specific to him). If you are fighting A’khash’bhuta (a malevolent Gaia spirit) you’re going to be facing vines, trees, triffids, and whatnot.
As for the environment — fight in the Ruins of Atlantis you’ll stumble across hydras, automated defenses, collapsing walls. But if you are fighting in a time portal you’ll deal with a rampaging T-Rex, temporal anomalies, and apparently a computer room. The environment deck is a mixed bag. Some cards help, some hurt, and clever play can turn the environment to your favor.
Right now I’ve had good games, full of theme. Probably the only weak point is that sometimes it becomes obvious when the good guys are going to win, but takes a few turns to finish it off. (This is not a flaw to a ten year old.)
After a few games, I sprung for a full set (promos, expansions, and whatnot). It’s a splurge, but enjoyable. And my son and I saved the world.
Rating — Suggest