There's a new superteam in town in Sentinels of the Multiverse

Title There's a new superteam in town in Sentinels of the Multiverse
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Game reviews
When September 30, 2013

There are a few sequences in The Avengers when the various superheroes team up for combo moves. The Hulk positions a shard of armor plating and Thor hammers it into the giant space worm's back..

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Absolute great game. I think your review nails it

There's an iOS app that might help with the piece tracking:

Glad we put a sock in THIS guy in the forums:

"Okay, so Sentinels of the Multiverse is co-op. Ugh. I am now officially uninterested." -- T. Chick.

I'm rubbing it in, but it's not often I get to say "I told you so." And I love this game so much, I can't stand to see it dismissed. (That's despite the fact that I dismissed it for months as a colorful Ameritrash game.)

But you're totally right, that the characters and the world-building is what makes this game shine. I love some of these characters as much as I ever loved a Marvel character (not that I'm a huge comics nerd). Have you read the official comic they produced? http://sentinelsofthemultivers... You'll love Tachyon even more than ever after reading it. She's the coolest.

I don't think I've ever had many huge rules conundrums like timing issues, etc., but I think that's because in a co-op game I feel very comfortable following the rule (an official rule!) that if there are rules questions, the players decide the outcome amongst themselves. For the tone of the game, this doesn't feel like a cop-out or a spoiler at all.

My biggest issue with the game is that its length can be quite variable. And like other highly random games (Betrayal at House on the Hill is the most flamboyant example), there are some sessions that just don't quite end up as fun as others because of how things shake out. But I've had so many memorable games of this, and I've played it more than any game since 7 Wonders, so it's easily my tabletop game of the year.

What are your favorite heroes, everyone? I wasn't expecting to (despite the Cthulhu theme), but I really love Nightmist.

If you just put the cards in order as they come out that part's really not that hard to remember, in my experience. Leftmost is oldest, rightmost newest, is how we typically do it. Also generally speaking the cards do exactly what they say on the card, in the order they say on the card. (For example, Omnitron X can blow up Omnitron's Component cards when he uses Self-Detonate...well, I think that's what the card's called. This is entirely intentional.)

I dunno. I haven't found clarity to be an issue and have only had one or two clarifications I've needed to look up (keeping the above principles in mind). I could definitely see losing track of certain effects if you have a bunch of cards out, though.

Other than that, I'm glad to see you gave Sentinels a shot and thrilled you enjoyed it as much as many of us on the forum do.

This is a great article, Tom. I think you nailed the real joy in this game. I love creating the story as I play all the goofy combinations. My kids laugh at me as I try to figure out some convoluted reason that Haka, Nightmist and The Scholar are fighting The Chairman in the Realm of Discord. While it is not a perfect game by any means (I think in every game I screw up some rule or order of operation because there are so darn many) it is still my favorite game. Set up is super quick because each deck is self contained and that is such a blessing after playing a game like Legendary.

Need to give it another go, but playing this game felt like doing taxes. Play card. Use a power. Draw a card. Rinse and Repeat.

Yeah, I don't know what that guy's deal was! :) I still resist co-op gaming that doesn't have some sort of competitive mechanic -- Pathfinder's greed-is-good character building, for instance! -- but in a game this good, I'm willing to make exceptions. :) I've also been enjoying this solitaire as a way to explore the interaction and gameplay mechanics.

And I get what you're saying about the co-op making it easier to gloss over rules issues, but for me, it doesn't get Sentinels off the hook for a lot of murkiness. In co-op, for a lot of people, it's easier to just hand-wave away issues in a way that you can't in head-to-head games, where the hand-waving is almost always going to benefit one person over another. But I'm a bona fide, hard-ass, by-the-book, systems-based, let's-take-however-long-it-takes-to-look-it-up-by-golly rules lawyer when it comes to boardgames. Just because there's no computer to track everything and enforce the systems doesn't mean developers get a pass for difficult situations that come up. I love all the interactions in Sentinels, but I feel many of the parameters weren't very well thought out by Greater Than Games.

As for favorite character? My favorite so far is probably Wraith because she's so easy to play. Some of the other heroes are certainly more gratifying, but I really like rolling out an early trust fund or impromptu invention followed by a line-up of bad-ass gadgets. The constant option to stealth avoid damage is also always welcome. Also, she was my "first", so there's that.

Left-to-right for oldest-to-newest is fine for each character. Now multiply that by the number of players and add a villain and environment. Now deal with the fact that the timing rule isn't universal because some cards supersede other cards regardless of timing. It's a clunky system, and a lot of it is clunky because of poor wording. As much as I love this game, it has all the signs of being a first-time game from new developers.

Note to self: don't ask Shieldwolf for tax advice. :)

You usually don't need to worry about the order of character cards (though there are a few exceptions) so you're mostly just concerning yourself with the villain and environment. And I have no idea what you're referring to when you say that the timing rule isn't universal. Could you provide an example of what sort of card you might be talking about?

Sure, the game is full of them. For instance, Bunker's innate power tells him to draw a card. Bunker's turret mode tells him he can't draw a card. The innate power pre-dates the turret mode, but the turret mode is clearly intended to override the innate power. Sentinels has exceptions to the timing rule, which seems like an after-the-fact attempt to shore up some of the murkiness.

Don't get me wrong: I love the game. But it makes too many rookie mistakes in terms of the sort of clarity a tabletop game needs. Even in the second edition. Did you know the second edition nowhere explains what you're supposed to do when a deck runs out? How do they include six pages of bios but neglect to mention that?

But that's not an exception to the timing rule. The timing rule comes into play when you're resolving simultaneous (primarily start of turn/end of turn phase) effects. Constants (like Turret Mode's "you may not play a card"), one time card plays, and activated powers won't generally interact with the timing rule because they don't generate simultaneous effects.

Here's a pretty thorough errata/clarification document, compiled from developer responses by a fan, just for future reference:

I find that most of the questions in it are pretty straightforwardly answered by "play it exactly as written." Some of the wording is pretty precise and making small errors in reading it can make for a significant difference in effect. I suppose this isn't necessarily good game design but I dunno. It makes me happy.

But you are correct that they neglect to say what to do when a deck runs out in the rulebook. It's unsurprisingly just "reshuffle and keep going", but it really ought to say that.

Oh, it's not an exception to the timing rule? That small bit in the manual about card conflicts doesn't apply? So I can use Bunker's Initialize power when he's in turret mode because it was put into play earlier? See what I mean? It's not at all clear unless you now break down for me the distinction between activated powers and constant powers, which is a distinction that exists entirely outside the included rules. Go ahead and check your manual if you don't believe me. I'll wait. Read those couple of sentences on page 8. Check through the glossary. Did you find it yet? Nope, you didn't. Good luck parsing cards like Twist the Ether and Imbue Fire. You're gonna need it!

And it's ridiculous that you suggest you only need to track activated powers for each character singly. Which sure is fun with a character where you might want to arrange the cards in a specific way to help you relate how they interact. You've obviously never played Argent Adept, for instance.

I'm glad the game makes you happy. It makes me happy, too. But as is clear to anyone who's played and tried to parse the rules consistently, Sentinels has very real issues reconciling how some of the cards work together. Hand waving it away by linking to the "errata/clarification document" -- I've read it several times, thankyouverymuch -- doesn't change that fact.

You don't need to track order for most player cards because, except for start and end of turn effects, they don't happen simultaneously. And very few characters have start or end of turn effects beyond card self-destruction, much less multiple such effects.

Cards in play either have an ongoing effect, trigger at specified times, or grant a new power as indicated by the Power: prefix. The former apply while the card is in play. The latter are activated and don't trigger the first-in-first-out timing scheme because they don't occur simultaneously. (You also generally only get to do one per turn.) All applicable modifiers apply, including "you can't do this". The only time where the timing rule you mention is likely to be invoked is on the middle kind of effect because multiple effects could be triggered by the same trigger. (For example, the start of turn phase, or the end of turn phase.)

So no, it's not an exception to the timing rule, because you're reading the timing rule as applying to the entire game when it only applies to a specific type of card interaction.

I think they probably don't explain certain rules-level mechanics as well as they should, as evidenced by your confusion over the timing rule, and the fact that it's not explicit what happens if, say, an effect adds more cards with effects that happen in a given phase while that phase is ongoing, or in the middle of resolving a particular effect. But I do think those mechanics are clear and internally consistent when they have been explained, and they are consistently applied. And I, at least, find the cards themselves all very clearly and precisely worded.

I link to the FAQ not because it excuses failings in the rules, but as a reference to consult when you run across them.

The amount of words you're having to use to convince me the rules are fine as is serves as plenty of evidence to the contrary. :) You can't rules lawyer a rules laywer, Mr. Wiley.

The rules are fine. The rulebook, maybe not so much.

"Captain America uses his shield to bounces"