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iPad  header logo

Sentinels of the Multiverse


For: iPad   Also on: Android

Here you come to save the day

Product: Sentinels of the Multiverse | Developer: Handelabra Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Card/ board game, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Sentinels of the Multiverse iPad, thumbnail 1
Superheroes are one of the most neglected themes in board gaming. Fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to sci-fi, fantasy, or pleasing the whims of Renaissance noblemen.

But if you want to pull your pants on over your trousers and save the universe, you'll struggle to find a classic game.

Sentinels of the Multiverse proved a popular choice to fill the gap. A co-operative card game where players battle against the game system and win or lose together, it took the gaming world by storm. And most games that do that nowadays find their way to mobile.

Because it's a co-operative game it lacks online play. It's hard co-ordinating moves when turns are days apart and players in different continents.

But the card game was notoriously fiddly, with lots of numbers and effects to track. So there's big appeal in having an app to streamline solo or hotseat play.

Kapow!

Games consist of six different decks of cards. One represents the villain, with a choice of four from the evil genius Baron Blade to the robotic Omintron. Four are heroes, picked from ten, all modeled on classic comic book stereotypes.

The last deck is the neatest. The environment itself has a deck of effects that alter the course of the game. You can play in the big city, outer space, under water or, my favourite, a lost world full of dinosaurs.

Turns run in that same order. The villain and environment decks are automated by simple rules. Between them, players get to use their heroes to try and thwart the baddie by reducing his hit points to zero.

Shazam!

There's a tutorial to ease you into the game, and the app provides full text rules. The structure of the game is simple. It's in the details of card interactions that complexity emerges.

The game automates all that away to nothing, so you can concentrate on enjoying yourself.

Mechanically, there's plenty to get your teeth into. Heroes get to play one card and use one power each turn. To play well, you'll have to keep an eye on the cards available to all the heroes, as well as the ones the villain and environment have in play.

It's a lot of information to digest, and the right choices are rarely obvious.

To add to the fun, a lot of the effects in the game encourage collusion. Legacy, for instance, has a hero power that gives all the other heroes bonus damage.

Activating it means missing out on the chance to play something more immediately effective. It's taking one for the good of the group.

Uh-oh!

You may, however, struggle to see whether your strategy is having any meaningful impact on the game. With its plethora of possible combinations, Sentinels of the Multiverse would have been difficult to properly balance.

So the designers appear to have given up. The difficulty varies according to the villain, heroes and environment chosen. Some games are impossible, and some are pathetic cakewalks. Practice will demonstrate which is which, but it's a disappointing aspect of the design.

There's also a disconnect between the theme of the game and the way it plays. Superhero comics are about the narrative of finding clues and unraveling plots, culminating in a final face off.

The game feels like just the conclusion of the arc. You get to pound your nemesis right away. And they, in turn, just throw minions at you, rarely entering the fray themselves.

You do get a powerful sense of theme from the presentation. As you might expect, the cards are full of quality art that'll bring a special joy to fans of classic silver age comics.

But there's not much in the way of sound or animations. And while the game does a great job of streamlining an unweildy physical title, the interface feels slow and clumsy.

Once you're used to the rules and card effects, you want to swfitly pass over the details to get to the meat of the action. But the game insists you play at a sedate pace, responding unhurriedly to your tapping.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a brave attempt to fill an obvious gap in tabletop game market. This conversion ticks all the boxes for making it more accessible.

However, minor flaws in both the base game and its digitial overlay make this a title best suited for existing board game fans.
 
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Reviewer photo
Matt Thrower | 22 October 2014
A workmanlike conversion of a workmanlike card game, but a treat for superhero strategists
 
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