Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Old Dog Learns New Trick
I am first and foremost, a tabletop RPGer. Everything else is very secondary.
I don't play much in the way of computer or video games. I don't seem to have the patience for them.
I hate card games. OK, hate is a pretty strong word, but I really don't like any card game more complex than Guillotine or Chez Dork.
However, as you may have noticed, if you've read this blog before, I really, really like superhero games. So, it was with mixed feelings (though more optimistic than not) that I approached yesterday's Game Night. Our Pathfinder GM was out of town on Spring Break (along with about half our crew). While I offered to run Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, I knew it would be a tough sale, as one of the guys present really hates playing supers games in any existing continuity. And, sure enough, he kiboshed the idea.
However, he offered an alternative in the form of Sentinels of the Multiverse, a cooperative card game of superhero combat. He'd backed the Kickstarter for the original version and had played it a bit and thought we'd dig it. Given that everyone else was on board, I decided to give it a shot.
The game, which retails for about $40 (less on Amazon) comes with something like 600 cards. You get ten Superhero decks, each one representing powers and abilities unique to its hero; four Supervillain decks (ditto); and four Environments (which work similarly). There's no deck construction, collectibility, or anything else. You pick a hero, grab his or her deck, decide on a villain, decide on an environment and jump into play.
(The cards, by the way, are great. They're illustrated in a full color cartoony style and each one comes with an accompanying quote from a fictional comic book featuring the hero.)
Each hero deck is designed to play differently, in terms of the powers provided and the effects they generate. For instance, I played The Wraith (sort of a Batwoman-ish type). My deck largely provided equipment, which could be used to attack villains or overcome environmental hazards, or other effects appropriate to the character. For instance, one card "Trust Fund" allowed me to draw four cards and then discard any two from my hand. In the first game, this allowed The Wraith to load up on equipment very quickly. Her Utility Belt, once it came into play, let her use two powers per turn, further bolstering her effectiveness. In the second game, the Trust Fund never came up, and thanks to environmental hazards, she was scraping the bottom for equipment every turn.
As mentioned, it's a cooperative game, so staging effects can become very important, as well as understanding how the sequence of play work. Unlike, say, Wrath of Arshadalon, where the victory conditions require the entire party survive in order to win, Sentinels of the Multiverse is pretty much just concerned with defeating the bad guy. But unlike Wrath, this is far less of a certainty. Our first battle, using the easiest villain and the safest environment was a relative cake-walk. Our second, against a sentient robotics factory on Dinosaur Island was an absolute nail-biter. Pretty much from the start we got pounded. No one could draw a decent set of powers and when we did, something would happen with the environment to mess them up. We finally turned it around in the final ten minutes of the night, but there were several points where I thought we were goners. The game's owner said that it's designed to beat players, and the challenge was palpable.
Anyway, the long and short of it is, today, I ordered a copy for myself. If you like superhero battles that can play out about an hour, or challenging co-op games with excellent replay value, you should get it too.
Here's the company that produces it: Greater Than Games
You can also get it on Amazon.