“Hey, I’ve got a card game you might really like,” Commander Shepherd told me. “You do comics, right? Yes? Well, there’s this game called Senti-” She was cut off then by that large honking sound that rEAper lasers make. You know the one.
We kept having conversations like that over a period of months with things constantly interrupting. This is what happens when you write books or save the galaxy or run a media company – things pop up, and conversations happen by degrees. Finally, though, many moons later…
“Hey, anything apocalyptic going on? No? How about a card game?” And so Shep proved herself a paragon and introduced me to Sentinels of the Multiverse.
We played it. We loved it. We shared it. We went out and grabbed every expansion we could find. It’s an office favorite. We urge you to do the same.
Sentinels of the Multiverse (hereafter referred to as SotM) is a collectable card game where you and your friends play superheros fighting some sort of threat, which is played by the game itself. You also get to select the location that the fight takes place in, and this does play a large role in how the game proceeds.
The heroes all have unique decks that highlight the differences in their powers and philosophies, which is a tricky thing considering how many of them there are. You get your obvious Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman analogues, among others, and each of them requires a different strategy going in. In addition, certain characters are more complex than others, and take time to properly build and understand how they work. The game provides a helpful guide, letting you know what sort of difficulty you can expect, strategically speaking, from your choice.
Further, the villains span the gauntlet from Evil Egyptian Gods to Invading Alien Warlords and Mad Scientists to Time Pirates. Each villain has two difficulties depending on how tough you think you are, and share a similar level of complexity in play to their heroic counterparts. Again, the guide provides a handy warning before you get too deep in, and this is important because the villains basically run themselves.
Villain rules explain how the villains act on their turn, who they target and what sort of minions they have at their disposal. Nothing is left to chance. The ruthlessness and complexity of their plans is often multi-tiered, meaning that battle takes places over two or more scenarios each time you play.
All of this adds up to an insane amount to replay value out of a very simple game. The rules dictate three turns – the villain strikes, the heroes respond, and the environment reacts. Gameplay is fast, the stakes are high, and the villains become more difficult, the more people are playing.
Even if your hero is eliminated, however, you’re not out as a player. The game still gives you the ability to help your allies from beyond the grave. This means that even those players that are put out can still affect the outcome of the game – and with one hero gone, those remaining will need all the help they can get.
That is just one of the big things that sets SotM apart from other card games. It marks a trend in table-top gaming, moving towards gameplay wherein the players are working together towards a complex common goal. This is an important distinction from the games of old, the Monopolies and Clues of the world, where so much of the game is based around screwing your friends and building up rivalries. Who hasn’t had at least one childhood (or post-childhood) fight over a game of Monopoly?
SotM does away with that by putting you and your friends on the same side, asking you to work together as opposed to against one another. This makes for a much stronger gaming experience, and one that doesn’t end in people throwing things and pieces across the room, usually.
Sentinals of the Multiverse recommends 2-5 players, but we’ve had as many as eight without too many problems.
Games can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour, depending on the number of players and the complexity of the villains.
All the Stars. All of them. We cannot recommend this game enough.