As a Mahou Tako I know exactly how it is to fight the forces of darkness. But who keeps the earth safe from evil while I am eating cupcakes or having pillow fights? It’s the superheroes of course. Being quite geeky myself I love comics and many of our spandex wearing defenders.
When my friend, the curly kitsune, gave me a game that will let me play superheroes with my friends I was super excited. I took on the identity of “The Wraith” but I was not just a superhero, when I teamed up with my friends we were “The Sentinels of the Multiverse”
Night of the Sentinels
This game is a cooperative board game in which two to five heroes face off against an automatically played villain, the goal of the game varies on which villain you are facing off against but usually means you have to defeat them in combat before they have met certain conditions. This is achieved by gathering items, tools and powers in the form of the many cards in your hero deck and sometimes even in one of the location decks.
Each hero has their own deck and their own strategy which flavorwise makes sense as well.
Tachyon for example is the speedster in this game, her deck allows her to use more actions and draw more cards than players, giving off the feeling of speed. Bunker, the armored hero has the ability to draw damage away from other players and so each hero has their unique feeling. Their individual character fits like a glove with their play style that goes way beyond simple text flavor or simple the extent of their abilities. Tachyon feels like a speedster, the wraith feels like a tech character, haka feels like a tough guy.
The gameplay itself consists out of building your hero up in the most effective way as well as managing combat against villains, minions and the environment. Because the huge difference between each card it’s hard to explain the gameplay beyond this. It follows the standard feel of most card battling games, but instead of attacking with your cards directly, you build up your hero in a way somewhat similar to a simplified deckbuilding game. Depending on the villain you face a game usually takes you about two to three hours, which seems fitting for the length of an epic superhero flick.
However depending on your knowledge of the game and the balancing of your party , the game time may be extended by a fair bit. When you start learning this game be warned that one game may take your entire night.
With great power…
Though games may last long the overall feel of the game is great. There is just so much flavor here, each card feels like a comic book panel and even the little tokens are printed perfectly in style.
The large playmat, sold separately, is just a stellar piece of work , everything ties in together in perfect harmony, no cheap choices have been made designwise.
The same can be said of the gameplay, everything breathes superhero, vibrant and alive and quite deep.
This is not just placing damage, it’s about damage mitigation, buffs, debuffs, dots and heals as well.
It’s a great strength of this game, but as a wise uncle once taught us, that strength means little if you don’t know how to use it well.
Though across the line the game feels solid it sometimes can slip away a bit in the vast amount of diversity it offers. There can be a LOT of different kind of tokens on your character +1 damage on attack , -1 damage on attack, +1 damage on defence -1 damage on defence, several sorts of damage tokens and then there are card effects that change your damage that can’t be explained with a token.
Depending on the character you play and the villain you play against you might gain extra damage and receive extra damage as well, but only if you are attacked by the villain itself or if you are attacking it. Even though it all makes sense rule wise and accounting for superhero logic, it’s rather easy to overlook a rule or two during a game. In itself I don’t mind missing a few rules if you have an enjoyable game, but during my games it happened several times that during damage calculation we realised our mistakes. Because the calculation can take up some time, that one friend who sacrifices pleasure for the sake of rule-abiding (we all have one of those) finds out we did something wrong and tries to “fix” things. When the damage tokens suddenly start moving around as well as the many other tokens due to a overlook a game can become that much more confusing. That being said, once you get the hang of this game this issue occurs less and less and becomes a moot point in the end.
Until you get the expansions of course then we start over again.
It’s actually rather funny that the second great strength of this game is also a weakness again. Like superheroes all element of this game have a double layer, behind the super power they have the face of a normal person.
The heroes identities in fact is one of these two faced strengths.
Every superhero trope is used and is used well. I can reccomend buying the expansion because they are well worth it. That is the expansions Rook City, Infernal Relics and Shattered Timelines, the rest is not as important. If you buy these you get the “famous hero” set complete.
Tachyon is like the Flash, the Wraith is like batman, Haka is like the hulk, Legacy is a blend of Green Latern and Superman and so on.
This ensures we can identify with the heroes, we know what we are gonna play before we even know the character. It is rather fun to combine the justice league and avengers in the form of a new team named the sentinels. But if we look close enough we realise something.
The Wraith is not just like Batman, she is batman! I’m batman!
The Wraith is a woman of wealth, who uses her company and trust funds to finance her vigilante actions. For this she takes the mantle of what she feared most in her youth, the night.
With her utility belt, gadgets, fast car and smarts she fights crime in the most criminal city in the world. Just look at her personal symbol on this card.
In my time with Sentinels I found these similarities both impressive and amusing as well as a bit annoying. I felt great being the Wraith, I had combo options with my team, I was sleuthing, I was stealthing, I actually felt like batman. My friend felt like the flash and yet another was the hulk.
I had so much synergy with the hulk as batman it was rather surprising.
The game does nearly everything like they game makers had super powers themselves. The vibe of a party working together, the art style and even the characters are so well designed.
There is even a rather amusing comic about them on the Sentinels website. The characters lore is fleshed out there as well for both the heroes and the villains. This is in fact the best superhero card game by far if we look at all the elements separately. It blows games like legendary out of the water.
Yet somehow I don’t fully feel like a true hero. In the end I feel like a bootleg batman.
Like one of those cheap action figures we see in chinese toy stores. One that is better designed, better painted and better working then the other action figures out there. A great toy and well worth it’s money. Yet my box says: Parker Peterson, The amazing Arachnid-Man and my suit colours are inverted. It feel wrong and confusing and though it’s not as in your face in this game I do feel that thought nibbling in the back of my head.
This game might just be the superman of superhero games but some will only be able to see Clark Kent.