I should start by saying that if you happened to read a post from last year you will see that Sentinels of the Multiverse was in my top 20. All I can say is that I’ve had several recent plays and the shine has worn off. I was quite enamored with this game when I first started playing, but with each subsequent play over the last few months I enjoy it less and less.
In Sentinels of the Multiverse the players cooperate as a team of superheroes. Their task is to take down a nefarious supervillain at a key location before they go down themselves. This is a modular deck game where the whole game is played using different card decks. Each player picks a hero that possesses a unique premade deck that makes them play differently. The players then choose a villain to play against and grab their villain deck to set up. Finally, everyone chooses an environment deck and that will be where the battle will take place. Each deck is different and adds its own theme, obstacles and playstyle to the game. The game consists of the villain taking a turn, each hero taking a turn, the environment taking a turn and then repeat. The game continues until the heroes take down the villain or they all go do down themselves
What initially drew me to Sentinels and made me get into it was the theme. For just a bunch of cards this game is very thematic. Who doesn’t want to play a team of heroes taking on a big bad. What makes this game so thematic is all the different decks. When I play a hero I feel special. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses and specializes in doing different things. When I play as Legacy I feel like a powerhouse absorbing damage and protecting my team and Bunker feels like a mech changing his form to suit what abilities he needs at the moment. This is the same for all of the villains and environments as well. When I fight Baron Blade it’s a much different fight than playing against The Matriarch. Each one has a different goal and abilities. The environments can throw a variety of obstacles your way and even become a hindrance to the villain at times. With all the expansions that are available with this game all this asymmetry and adjustability make for an extremely replayable game.
Unfortunately, as I played Sentinels more and more there was one thing that kept getting to me more and more and that was how FIDDLY the game can be. Now, I will say that this is worse in solo, which is how I have primarily played. When playing with a group this problem can be alleviated a bit as different people can track different things, but solo it is difficult to track everything on your own. What I mean by this is that each villain, hero and environment can have a multitude of things to keep in line. Once you’ve been playing for a few rounds and every deck has different cards out it gets increasingly difficult to keep track of what triggers when and for whom and how it might not matter for certain characters because they’re protected, etc, etc. There are tokens that come with the game, but even these can stack up and become difficult to keep track of. This difficulty could possibly be mitigated in a couple ways, but some of these ways aren’t really possible. For one, I’ve already mentioned that if you are playing with a group each person will keep track of their own hero and can share the burden of monitoring the villain and the environment. The negative for me is that I play almost 100 percent of the time solo and it is just too much for me to keep in my head and makes the game take way too long. The other way is simply to play with less heroes. The problem with this is that the game really doesn’t play well with one here. You really need 3 or 4 I think to have a chance. That being the case you have to play multi-handed and that can get difficult for one person to handle. So, playing in a group, great! But playing solo this just made games really drag out for me and I was forgetting things constantly. After several games it left a bad taste in my mouth and I would just rather play something that wasn’t so hard to manage and played in a more acceptable time frame. So, if you play with a group pretty consistently and think they will enjoy the theme, this could be a game for you. However, if you are a big solo player and that would be your main way of getting this to the table you might want to try before you buy. I will say there is supposedly an app available to help track things, but I’ve never used it and I’m not sure how much it would help. I still think with an app it would take too long to play solo.