Posted by: gschloesser | September 21, 2011

Sentinels of the Multiverse – Thoughts

By:  Paul Schuck

After thinking about Sentinels of the Multiverse some, I realized that I didn’t make any meaningful decisions.  The game pretty much played itself.

The comic book theme is strong, but I wasn’t much into comic books as a kid.  I did have a subscription to GI Joe and still have about 50 comics, but I never ventured into the marvel heroes.

I normally like chaotic games.  Innovation, Cosmic Encounter and Robo Rally are games that I enjoy and Sentinels has a lot of chaos, but I realized I need meaningful decision with the chaos for it to be more enjoyable.

I had an enjoyable time playing.  The story the game creates is amazing.  Taking Baron Blade out with T-rex and a Raptor was just cool.  The 2nd game where the supposedly “super” heroes get killed by a falling hallway and then do more in death than alive put a great twist on the game.

If I felt like I had tough decisions that made a difference in the final outcome, I would probably rate the game around an 8.  It has all the other elements I enjoy in a game.  Instead, the game plays out like a puzzle.  Flip over the environment, minion … then group talk and determine the best way to handle the problem.  Optimize the puzzle and the decision tree is fairly simple.

Part of the issue might have been my hero.  I had two cards in hand that were situational and never had a need to be played.  The other card did two points of damage and another did three.  Which one am I going to choose?

Maybe I’d have a different feel for the game if I tried a different hero?

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Responses

  1. Paul, I’m curious to know about your experiences with other cooperative games. In parts of what you wrote, it seems like you felt there were decisions, but they were made as part of a group, which felt less satisfying to you. If that is the case, that is slightly different than saying there weren’t decisions to make.

    I do also think that some of the heroes offer a different play experience. Ra (and to an extent Haka) are pretty straight forward, they mostly just do damage. The psychic lady is an interesting character, but she has no equipment, few powers and few ongoing cards, so it can feel like there’s less to do with her in some situations. Legacy, Fanatic, Tachyon and a couple of others seem to have a more complex flavour.

  2. I have played two other cooperative games, Pandemic (many times) and Arkham Horror (once). Arkham horror was a very individualistic game. There was very little group strategizing and most my turns were spent trying to stay alive.

    Pandemic has a very similar feel to Sentinels, but the decision process is not as obvious. That was my main criticism of Sentinels. You flip over the environment and minion card and it becomes a small puzzle. How can you use your (group) resources to overcome potential problems? Which problems are most important to fix now and which ones can wait until next turn? The puzzle aspect was really easy to solve such that for most turns, the solution was obvious. There was one optimal play and it was quickly determined. That created the feel of the game playing itself.

    It’s not the group decision that is less satisfying. It’s when the decision is obvious that it’s less satisfying.

    For the record, I played Fanatic and it was fairly obvious which card I should play each time. 1) Play equipment, 2) Play a situational card that was of use 3) Pick the card that does the most damage. That was my decision tree the whole game.

  3. I’ve only played on game of Sentinels. I had quite a bit of fun playing Bunker, although the game was way too easy for 3 expereinced players and myself. The game’s ability to generate a story goes far with me, and I did have some decisions that I felt were not obvious. Bunker has a piece of equipment that builds up a larger and larger blast IF you bury cards from your hand under it, thus not using their abilities. You risk losing all you’ve invested if that piece of equipment is destroyed.

    Bunker’s “mode” cards (he’s a gadgeteer that can retool himself for offense defense, etc.) seemed interesting, but are more in the line Paul discusses. They were decisions, but they did seem fairly obvious.

    I hope this game can grow like Magic: the Gathering did. There is room for more sophistication in mechanics… a lot of room for this game to grow. If we played in the more difficult mode, I think this game would be a 7 for me, at least for a few plays as I tried out the different decks. If the developers find interesting directions to take the game with more nuanced decisions, Sentinels could have the kind of staying power that normally only comes from OAF armor and 3-quarters damage reduction.

  4. Thanks for expanding on your point, Paul, I understand much better what you were getting at.


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