Unplugged: The Multiverse gets Enhanced and Infernal

October 5, 2012

When we last left our heroes, the Sentinels of the Mulitverse, I made a comment that the team at Greater Than Games had recently started what turned out to be a crazily well-funded Kickstarter for the next expansion and a revised edition of the base set. I also said that stuff was scheduled to arrive in August. Well, typhoons around China and US Customs delayed that about a month, but the Sentinels could not be stopped and now both Enhanced Edition and Infernal Relics are loose upon the world. The timing actually turned out to be quite serendipitous, since as I write this, the disc release of The Avengers has just arrived (and I actually have it on in the background right now, which is only a mild distraction), so everyone should be in a superhero team-up kind of mood anyway.

Enhanced Edition is the Sentinels core set with various improvements. The most important of these as far as gameplay is concerned are official errata to various cards, which includes updating some of the villain decks with the scaling H mechanic introduced in Rook City to better balance the game for varying number of heroes. But other than that, the only changes have been cosmetic. Some cards got new art, others had their art touched up and all four of the environment decks made the transition from plain text to the standard layout (as also introduced in Rook City). The final Rook City upgrade that got carried over was the improved card stock, resulting in the entire game basically doubling in weight but hopefully improving in durability.

The new box should help out in that regard as well. Designed to hold all of the decks from Enhanced Edition, Rook City and Infernal Relics plus some promo decks and possibly the next expansion (as long as everything is unsleeved), the EE box is incredibly sturdy and keeps everything nicely organized with tabbed dividers. What there might not quite be room for after the next expansion are the round damage tokens and rectangular double-sided effect reminder tokens that greatly assist the various bookkeeping involved in this “cards with words” game. The damage tokens in particular are a welcome addition, as the original base set lacked any way to keep track of hit points.

And while that’s all nice, it’s still the same great Sentinels cooperative game play, and indeed the exact same game as I’ve already discussed. What’s new, however, is Infernal Relics. The second expansion (as usual) contains four new villain decks, two new environment decks, and two new heroes, all focused around powerful supernatural relics and forces.

The first new hero is Argent Adept, the Virtuoso of the Void, a musically-themed defender of order from chaos. His deck is very combo oriented, and capable of some impressive chain reactions if played well but making him one of the most complicated heroes, easily in line with Absolute Zero. His nemesis, the aforementioned primal force of Chaos itself, is represented by the massive Akash’Bhuta, a 200-hp monstrosity that turns the very earth against the heroes as she tries to bring chaos to life. Her anger is tied directly to the environment deck, but doesn’t pose much of a direct threat herself. As the heroes defeat the various animated threats, the chaotic avatar gets weakened.

The other new hero is the mystical Nightmist, guest-designed by Arkham Horror creator Richard Launius and bringing with her some Cthulhu-styled forbidden magick. Her power is somewhat self-destructive in nature, but potentially powerful, if somewhat unstable. Every card in her deck has a spell number, and several of her effects key off of these numbers, often randomly via the top card(s) of her deck. Her mission is to stop the minions of the nightmarish demon-god Gloomweaver and his fanatical cult of followers and zombies. The mission of the cult, in turn, is to assemble Gloomweaver’s three relics and summon their dark lord to our world. The heroes do not necessarily need to defeat Gloomweaver, as destroying the three Relics will be sufficient as long as all three of them are not in play simultaneously at the start of the villain turn. If that happens, however, things get much more dire.

Another heavily relic-oriented villain is the demonic corruptor Apostate, nemesis to the angelic Fanatic and very much her opposite in basically every way. He doesn’t have a lot of hit points, but he is impossible to kill as long as at least one of his deck’s many relics are in play and much like Fanatic his capability for damage output can be frightening. The final villain… is actually nine villains, collectively called The Ennead and nemeses to Egyptian sun-god Ra. Taking on the Ennead is like recreating a “Justice League vs. Legion of Doom” scenario, as they use teamwork and overwhelming numbers to defeat the heroes. Fortunately only a handful of The Ennead starts out in play, although some cards in their deck (and the group’s advanced power) can call up the others. The heroes have won when there are no members of The Ennead left standing, no matter how many might still be unplayed.

Ra actually has it kind of rough in Infernal Relics, as The Ennead isn’t the only one of his nemeses contained in that box. One of the two environments is the Tomb of Anubis and contains the first-ever non-villain nemesis card (go on, guess who it is). It also brings the Indiana Jones “ancient temple full of traps and trials” to Sentinels, as well as a couple of treasures that grant the heroes new powers should they pass a trial or two. The other environment… is just weird. The Realm of Discord is basically raw chaos and it is something of a trip, filled with distortions that change the rules of the game in unexpected ways at unexpected times. The team will have to stay on their toes if they want to survive here!

Finally, there are also two promo decks that were available to kickstarter backers and are now for sale at the >G online store. Unity is a heroic technopath and sort of intern to the Freedom Five, bringing with her an array of mechanical golems — making her the first and so far only minion-oriented hero — and a great sense of humor. On the villainous side of things is Ambuscade, a teched-out hunter with an arsenal of tricks and traps that has his eyes squarely set on Haka as “the most dangerous game”.

All in all, Sentinels of the Multiverse continues to evolve in great ways. These guys have really captured something here, and with Enhanced Edition on the shelves there is no better time to get in on the fun. If there is a downside to all of this awesome it might be the fact that due to the thicker cardstock a fully-loaded Enhanced Edition box now feels like a cardboard cinderblock when carried around, but that’s a small price to pay. Enhanced Edition retails for about $40 and Infernal Relics should be obtainable for around $20.

On a personal note, this article is my 100th Gaming Unplugged feature (there are two others from way back that aren’t mine). It’s still a little staggering to believe that I’ve covered approximately a hundred games and expansions over the last five years… give or take five year-end articles, a handful of double-features (like this one), and thus far only one accidental repeat. The only current contributor to Snackbar Games with more tenure than me is site founder Chris Rasco. Over the last seven years, and especially the last five helming this feature, I have written about the games that I enjoy so much without receiving anything for it aside from a scant number of review copies and a neat T-shirt with the site’s logo on it. This is literally a labor of love.

Snackbar Games doesn’t have the visible community that other review and gaming sites have, but we know you’re out there and appreciate your patronage. I personally never ask for much, but this one time I think I’ll make an exception. On October 20th, my board game group and I are participating in the Extra Life gaming marathon to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals (specifically Duke Children’s Hospital in our case). If you enjoy what I do here, please consider making a donation to show your appreciation; every little bit helps.

As part of the 24-hour marathon, I hope to take on all fifteen Sentinels of the Multiverse villains (not at once! One deck at a time!), including the promo variants of Baron Blade and Omnitron. Sentinels is a team game, and you only succeed through cooperation. By donating, you too can be part of the team. You, too, can be a hero to a kid who desperately needs one.