Sentinels of the Multiverse Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 2 to 5 players
  • About 1 hour to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Cooperative & Team Play
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative

  • Take on the role of a superhero and fight fantastic villains in this cooperative card game

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

The City sleeps, unaware that with the dawn comes a new danger. Evil lurks in the shadows and plots to destroy the very Earth. For those in the City and the world, they have little hope of defending themselves against such forces, but there are others. These are men and women with super powers who have put aside their own agendas and instead live and fight for the innocent. As the sun rises in the east, the long shadows begin to grow, but above the darkness are the ever watchful Sentinels who guard us all. Their strength and determination is about to be tested like never before, but they stand ready to face it.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is comprised of 4 Villan decks (27 cards each), 4 Environment decks (15 cards each), and 10 Hero decks (41 cards each). Not included in the game, but needed to play, is a method to keep track of Hit Points. This can be done with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil, dice, or you can download a free PDF file that has print-and-cut HP tracker cards.

You should also consider using some form of counters to keep track of individual Hit Points on minions. We used small glass red beads (useful for many different games) and it worked perfectly. You can pick these up at any craft store you accidentally walk into.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, first have each player select one of the Hero decks (or just randomly assign). Each Hero deck represents a unique hero with specific super powers. Each player will represent one superhero on the team who will be fighting the villain.

Next, select a Villan deck and an Environment deck. This can be done randomly or the players can specifically choose. A complete list of all the Villains can be found on the game’s web site.

Shuffle all the decks (keeping them separate). Find and place the Villain character cards on the table in the middle of the playing area. Note that there are two sides. The Villain’s character card will help you identify which side should be face-up. Next to these cards, place the rest of the Villain deck, face-down. Now place the Environment deck to one side of the Villain deck face-down, making sure there is enough room between the two so that the cards played off both decks do not overlap.

Each player should place their specific Hero card out in front of them. A complete list of all the Heroes can be found on the game’s web site. Note that there are two sides. The side that does not show the Hero hurt should be place face-up. Then shuffle the remaining cards, draw 4, and place the rest of the deck face-down next to the Hero deck. When you are done, your playing area might look something like the following:

Example of one possible way to interpret the game set up play area

You are now ready to go fight evil!

Fighting Criminal Scum

The game is played in rounds, with the Villain taking the first turn, then all the Heroes, and then finally the Environment. It is important to note that this is a cooperative game and the players are only in control of their Heroes. They must work as a team to defeat the Villain in the dangerous environment where they battle. The Villain and Environment cards are played by the players, but not controlled by them. The cards will do all the driving.

A game round is as follows:

Villain’s Turn

Note: The first time it is the Villain’s turn, be sure to read their character card. It will tell you how to start the initial set-up of the Villain. Afterwards, refer back to this card as it tells you when certain actions occur. Regardless of the card’s instructions, you will do the following in sequential order.

  1. Start: Following the instructions on all the cards in play that require an action at the beginning of the Villain’s turn
  2. Play: Draw and read the top card off the Villain deck and play it by following the instructions on the card (no limit to the number of cards in play)
  3. End: Follow the instructions on all the cards in play that require an action at the end of the Villain’s turn

Heroes Turn

Note: The Heroes will take turns, with each player completing the following sequential steps. The turn order never changes for the players. Before starting the Heroes Turn for the first time, make sure all the players are OK withe the turn order as some Heroes might be better up front and first verus in the back and last.

  1. Start: Following the instructions on all the cards in play that require an action at the beginning of the Hero’s turn
  2. Play: The player may select one card from their hand to play to the table, following any instructions on the card
  3. Power: The player may choose to use one power from a card in play that has a power listed – only once instance of each power can be used during a player’s turn, but multiple powers can be used if they are different
  4. Draw: The player may draw the top card of their Hero deck (there is no limit to the number of cards a player holds in their hand)
  5. End: Follow the instructions on all the cards in play that require an action at the end of the Hero’s turn

If  a player does not play a card or use a power on their turn, they may draw an additional card during the Draw step of their turn. Players who skip their entire turn, do not.

Environment’s Turn

  1. Start: Following the instructions on all the cards in play that require an action at the beginning of the Environment’s turn
  2. Play: Draw and read the top card off the Environment deck and play it by following the instructions on the card (no limit to the number of cards in play)
  3. End: Follow the instructions on all the cards in play that require an action at the end of the Environment’s turn

Refresh

If at anytime a deck should be exhausted, simply reshuffle and place face-down again. This should be done immediately during the Draw step if for any reason a card cannot be drawn.

Epic Battles of Epicness

This wouldn’t be much of a superhero game if there weren’t battles between good and evil. Lucky for the players, there’s a lot of opportunity to kick some evil villain butt. Unfortunately for the players, the villain will fight back and fights dirty. Again, it is important to note that this is a cooperative game. The players must work together to win. No one Hero can do it alone.

All battles take place in the environments described by the Environment cards. The Environment cards will continue to change and shift the ground underneath the Villain and the Heroes. Sometimes this will be beneficial, sometimes not.  Battles themselves are very straight forward and easy. The Villain cards will describe how much damage is being dealt and to which Hero. Sometimes the Hero will be random, sometimes the Hero with a specific value will be the target.

All damage comes in a form of a “type”. These types are sometimes blocked and do not cause any damage whatsoever because of another card in play that blocks that specific type of damage. Some examples of damage types include “cold”, “energy”, and “melee”.

Damage reduces a card’s Hit Points (HP). Any card that has an HP value can be the target of an attack. What happens to the card when the HP is reduces to zero or less is dependent on if it is a Villain or Hero card.

Hero character cards, once they are reduces to zero or less HP, immediately require all the Hero cards to be removed from the game, but the Hero character card remains in play. The character card is flipped over, showing an incapacitated version of the Hero. Even though they are down, the Hero (and player) can still influence the game. Each incapacitated Hero has a special ability available to them. On the player’s turn, they use this and only this ability to help the other players.

Villain cards are trashed once their HP is reduced to zero or less. Unless the Villain character card states otherwise, the Villain is defeated if their HP is reduced to zero or less.

There are some cards that will give HP back. Once these are played, add the appropriate number of HP to the character’s total, but the total number of HP can never be greater than the card’s starting HP value.

Some Heroes have Villains as a nemesis (or is it the other way around?). This is indicated with a picture of the Hero’s icon on the Villain card. Nemeses have a very special love/hate relationship that results in both characters doing more damage to each other. All damage dealt is increased by +1, but only when the Villain is specifically attacking that Hero and when that Hero is specifically attacking that Villain.

Timing is Everything

As the game progresses, more and more cards will be put out on the table. When some cards have effects that happen simultaneously or have competing effects, the cards that were played first go first. This makes it important to keep a clean and well-organized game space to ensure the right cards go at the right time. Failure to do so might incorrectly target a Hero with much more damage than they should have been given.

The Two Faces of Evil

Every Villain has a dark side and an even darker side. The Villain character card will “flip over” when a specific condition is met. This could be as little as once per game or every round. Every Villain is different. When they do flip, things usually go from bad to worse. All player’s should make sure they read the rules and special abilities of the flipped Villain to ensure they still know the foe they are fighting.

Advanced Play

As if the game is not challenging enough, players who truly want to be pushed up against the wall have the option of using the Villain’s “Advanced Mode”. Doing so will increase the difficulty of the game and will tip the balance in favor of the Villain. This is not to suggest the Villain is going to win by default, but it will make any victory the players obtain a hard, uphill battle. Long story short, don’t do it unless you are looking to beat the odds, as the odds will most certainly be beating up on you.

Winning the Game

The game does not end until either all the Heroes have perished or the Villain does. If just one Heroes is left standing at the end of the game when the Villain breathes their last, the Heroes have prevailed. Depending on how well they played will determine what price they paid for their victory.

To learn more about Sentinels of the Multiverse, see the game’s official web site.

Prediction

Cooperative games are a lot of fun to play with little geeks. Instead of being their opponent, you are an ally. You get to team up and work together, where victory is truly a group effort. But they can also be very frustrating and sometimes will do more to reduce the “fun value” of a game than improve it. From our experience, we have found that the most severe of negative outcomes come from one player attempting to control the rest and when a player feels like they have nothing to contribute. Both of these situations are cooperative game killers. They are also really easy to spot and can be handled well before the game takes a total nosedive.

For my little geek, the only fear I have is him deciding he can’t contribute and he stops playing. This game reads like an intense battle and the limited choices based on cards in hand might make him feel that he is either being beaten up or a big, useless target. We have played other cooperative games in the past and this is exactly what happened. Little geeks get frustrated, they stop playing and the parents try to rally them, but oftentimes the game takes a plunge. Fortunately, my 7-year-old has greatly matured emotionally and he has enough game experience under his belt to give him a higher level of confidence in his ability to play games.

For my 4-year-old, this is not a game he can play. Emotional coping skills aside, the game requires a tremendous amount of reading and reading comprehension, as well as math that he is just not able to complete yet. Soon, my little geek, soon, but until then he must fight evil from the advantage point of my lap. My 7-year-old is good to go and shouldn’t have any problems.

Teaching the game doesn’t take long. The steps are very straight forward. What did take a long time was addressing all the little rule changes and card actions. He also wanted to go through each Hero to determine what their weaknesses and strengths were. I can thank my love of comic books which I have shared with my little geeks for his intense interest in knowing all about the Heroes. As a very nice little “add”, the game publishers provided short bios of each Hero in the rule book. After looking through all the cards, he declared “Bunker” (an Iron Man like hero) to be his favorite and we were ready.

While I set up the game, I asked him what he thought of it so far.

“This is really different from the other card and team games we have played. I really like how I get to be a superhero!” ~ Liam (age 7)

He and I are both excited, although he might be just a bit more. Let’s see if we can keep the energy up and our morale high as we battle evil.

Final Word

Out of the three games I played, my little geek and I were defeated twice. Not that we cared one bit, mind you. We loved it. Each battle was a close one, and one battle was just a complete mess from the start. We couldn’t get our cards right and we weren’t working together with our Heroes. This was my little geek’s idea as he wanted to be the “leader”, which I was happy to let him take. He attempted to control our team by telling me what I should do and when. I’m pretty sure it all made sense to him in his head, but on the game table, it just fell apart.

He loved the game, though, and played it very well. By his third and final game, he was able to do everything by himself and only had a few questions about what cards should be played and how some of the timing worked. The key to success with this game when teaching it to new players is to focus on the repetitive nature of the game play. The cards will make everything feel different and that could lead players to see the game as chaotic. However, the game’s play is very straight forward and structured. I focused on this and my little geek did great.

Parent Geeks also liked it, but only the Parent Geeks who also liked to play games. The non-gamers just didn’t get it, although they were interested in learning more about cooperative games. For the Parent Geeks who knew games well, they were able t pick up the rules and go with it. There is a learning curve here, but for adults, it is not terrible. The adult mind was able to recognize the game structure faster than the little geek mind (thus the learning curve difference). The only real difference between the Parent Geeks and the Child geeks play was the level of swearing at the table.

Gamer Geeks greatly enjoyed this game. Some thought it to be borderline chaotic and others believing the game was exceedingly tight. It all depends on your definition of “game balance”, I suppose, but none of the Gamer Geeks had any problems learning, playing, and smashing the Villain. When a few of them complained the game was too easy, I reminded them that more than one of their Heroes had died. This didn’t seem to faze them so I introduced Advanced Play. They stopped complaining after that…

Gamer Geeks, this is a unique cooperative card game with a tremendous amount of replay value. All the player’s have their own unique Hero deck and each Hero plays slightly differently. The players will have to learn what each Hero’s strength and weakness is in order to be victorious at the table. The Villains are merciless and will steamroll over the players if they do not take the fight to the Villain. That being said, there is downtime to the game, but all the players need to be paying attention and contributing to the conversation at all times. The game feels like a battle between comic book heroes with all the pros and cons you can imagine that comes with that statement. Near misses, outrageous hits, and sometimes complete turnarounds you never saw coming.

Parent Geeks, this is a challenging cooperative game that is easy to teach and to play, but all the players need to be fairly active at all times. The Heroes are only as strong as the weakest player, so to speak. A player who is not really “into the game” will impact the other players. This is because, even though the game is cooperative, the players do not share cards or share their card-hands. Each player has to make their own choice. If the player is paying attention, their choices will be beneficial. If not, mistakes will be made. Still, wonderfully rewarding and thrilling when you get it down right with the right group of people.

Child Geeks, this is a game that will challenge you, make you focus, and feel like work unless you go into it with an attitude that you are part of a larger team and everyone is depending on you. Epic, yes! And epic it is! You get to play as a powerful superhero, but you cannot defeat evil alone. You must work with the other superheroes, and no matter how strong or fast you are, you will need them and they will need you.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a lot of fun to play and keeps me coming back for more. Admittedly, I am a comic book geek, but even a person who is not will enjoy the game. Comics and comic book heroes are nothing more than the theme and serve as the narrative for the game play. But it’s not pasted on. Oh no, is certainly is not! The characters are surprisingly well developed and you get a very good sense of what their strengths and weakness are just by playing them. Of all the cooperative games I have played to date, Sentinels of the Multiverse is my favorite. Fresh every time I play it, challenging, social, and engaging. Simply awesome.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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12 Responses to Sentinels of the Multiverse Game Review

  1. Marty Connell says:

    I tried this game at Origins with a couple guys and it didn’t go over very well. The game play was pretty good and we liked the rules, but we were concerned about longevity. Each one of us are ex-CCGers so we love to customize decks. The lack of customization was what finally made us decide to pass.

    However, aside from that, it was a fun game. And the designer of the game was very friendly and enjoyable to talk to.

    • Cyrus says:

      There is zero customization of decks in Sentinels of the Multiverse. None. Zilch. This is not a deck building game. Strongly suggest anyone who is looking for such a game check out Fantasy Flight’s Living Card Games. Awesome stuff there for deck builders who are looking to jump off the CCG train and not go cold turkey.

      If you play with one Hero deck all the time, you will become very familiar with it, quickly. Liam only plays with Bunker and refuses to play any other Hero deck.

      The saving grace is the number of different decks that come with the game and the ability to randomize not only the Heroes but also the Villains and the Environment. This makes the challenge different every time.

    • Marty Connell says:

      Yes, random heroes and villians can keep it fresh. The non-deck building aspect is very good for casual players and child geeks.

      And I am a huge fan of the LCG format. I currently play Lord of the Rings and will get NetRunner when it comes out.

    • Cyrus says:

      I’m saving my children’s college fund for the new Star Wars LCG.

    • Marty Connell says:

      I tried out the SW LCG at GenCon last year. The big complaint was that it was too much like LotR. So I was glad to see they decided to revamp and I’m really curious to see what changes they made

  2. Peter Schott says:

    Really appreciated the review. How much did you have to help Liam with the card choices? Did you play in some sort of “open hand” style or did you chat during the parts where you were deciding which cards to play in which order? We have our copy and a little bummed that getting the newer (H) cards is somewhat expensive because it sounds like that changed the dynamic from the original quite a bit.

    We’ve played a couple of rounds against Baron Blade – 2 heroes per player in a two player game. The first time I’d mis-read the setup rules so we forgot to deal the first four cards (that makes a HUGE difference). We lost fast. The second time we barely squeaked by with a different set of heroes. At that point we just started catching on to Tachyon’s “burst” abilities. Like you noted, once you get a bit more familiar with the heroes, it helps the gameplay. Having the right combo of heroes, villain, and environment makes a difference, too. Some combos just make it much more difficult.

    I loved the “introduced Advanced play. They stopped complaining…” line. I’ve found it just challenging enough to keep it fun. The theme and play keep it interesting for me, though it’s harder to get to the table just due to time constraints (and my wife loving Lords of Waterdeep right now 🙂 ).

    • Cyrus says:

      Thanks for reading, Peter.

      The first thing I did was strongly encourage (but not require) my son to select and stay with a specific hero. This would allow him to learn the game without needing to re-learn a new hero’s strengths and weaknesses. This is, after all, a cooperative game and I wanted him to feel like he was really contributing.

      We then went through all of the selected hero’s cards, making sure he understood what each one did. Once he successfully demonstrated a sufficient level of comfort and understanding with his hero, we moved on to the game play.

      The first game was open handed, but he made all the choices. He asked me for advice, and we would talk about our options. Note that sometimes it is best to do nothing. This lack of action was the most difficult for him to understand during the first game.

      The second and third game was closed handed, but I was always there to help out. You can and always should engage table talk when playing a cooperative game. Otherwise, I don’t see the point.

      The difference between Advanced and normal play is balance. As in there in none in Advanced play. It’s like the heroes challenge the villain to a knife fight and the villain brings a Bazooka. Personally, I don’t care for it because there is very little give-and-take. It’s mostly just a one-sided pounding the game gives the players.

      But to your earlier comment, yes, read those rules! One wrong interpretation or missing a crucial step will change the game’s balance. Not the dynamics, however, but certainly the odds of a win.

      Good luck with your fight against evil and too much play of Lords of Waterdeep! The odds are not in your favor, though… 🙂

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  7. Eric says:

    I play quite often with my 8 year old son. I have found the best way to keep him happy is to give him the direct damage, less complex heroes like Wraith, Haka or Ra. In this way, the contribution is obvious and clear. While some of the other characters may be more powerful or interesting, there’s nothing wrong in little the little guy be the “go to” person for buffs.

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