For some reason, superheroes and gaming often have problems working together.  Numerous Marvel and DC games have come and gone, never quite working.  Sentinels of the Multiverse from Greater than Games manages to succeed by adapting some comic book archetypes and cooperative play into a fun-filled card battle of good versus dastardly evil.

In Sentinels of the Multiverse, players select their heroes (each with hit points, a power and deck of cards), villain (with hit points, special victory conditions and deck of cards), and environment (deck of cards).  The players win by reducing the villain down to zero hit points, while the villain can win by either fulfilling their specific victory conditions or reducing all heroes to zero hit points.

Gameplay consists of the Villain Turn, Hero Turns, and Environment turn.  During the Villain Turn any card effects that happen at the start of the villain turn are resolved.  Next, the top card of the villain deck is played (one-shots occur and then go in the discard pile, while ongoing and equipment cards stay in play).  Finally anything that happens at the end of the villain turn occurs.

 If the villain hasn't won. it's time for the Hero Turns!  Each hero can play a card (like the villains, a one-shot, ongoing, or equipment card), use a power (either on their character card or from a card in play), and then draw a card.  If a hero doesn't use any powers, they can draw two cards.   And when the heroes are done, it's the Environment Turn, when an environment card is drawn and played,then all environment cards are resolved (usually affecting hero and villain cards together).  Then the turn cycle begins again.

Sentinels of the  Multiverse does just about everything right.  First, the core game comes with tremendous variety: Players can select from ten heroes, four villains, and four environments.  (The box is also big enough to hold this set and two expansions.)  While the heroes aren't original -- scientist with super speed?  Not the Flash, but Tachyon; finding a staff that gives the powers of a god?  Not Thor, but Ra; -- they each have their own unique abilities that make them useful in different ways.  And when a hero is eliminated, on their turns they can use one of their three powers on the back of their hero card, so a player who would otherwise be out of the game is still playing -- and contributing to victory.

The villains are also archetypes, but with their own challenges.  Players can battle the deranged scientist Baron Blade, the conquering alien Grand Warlorl Voss, the "superhumans first!" leader Citizen Dawn, or the self-aware robot Omnitron.  And most villains gain a new ability when reduced to zero hit points.  For example, Baron Blade starts as the "Terralunar Impulsion Beam Inventor," and if he gets 15 cards in his discard pile he's crashed the moon into the Earth, winning the game!  (It doesn't help that he also starts with the Mobile Defense Platform, which must be destroyed before Baron Blade can take damage.)  If he's defeated, Baron Blade's card flips: Now he's the "Vengeful Mad Scientist" blasting the hero with the highest hit points each villain turn!

There's also substantial strategy involved in each game.  Players have to deal with the main villain, their villain cards (that almost always damage the hero), and those environment cards (deciding whether they should be gotten rid of so they don't damage the heroes, or kept around so the villain cards take damage).  Many cards let heroes protect their comrades, but sometimes damaging themselves in the process.  And it can be tough deciding whether to deal with the main villain or their villain cards -- and the wrong choice can lead to defeat.

Finally, Sentinels of the Multiverse looks and feels like a comic book.  Not only does that artwork feel like it's from a comic, but the cards have flavor text from fictional comic books, like Freedom Five Annual #5, Baptism by Fire #1, and Science and Progress One-Shot.  There are also brief biographies for all the heroes and villains too!

Sentinels of the Multiverse is very challenging, and it's also very fun.  This is a terrific game for players who want to feel what it's like as superheroes, working together against a very difficult enemy.  To victory!

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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