Beyond its solid cooperative mechanics and modular gameplay, what really makes Sentinels of the Multiverse a great experience is the way the guys at Greater Then Games incorporate classic comic book tropes into its design. Where the base set covered a lot of Silver Age basics, Rook City touched on the “grim and gritty” era and Infernal Relics addressed mystical forces, the latest expansion brings one of the most classic comic themes: time travel and alternate realities. Aptly named Shattered Timelines, this new package of environments, villains and heroes will warp your experience in interesting ways.
Let’s start with the heroes. And probably no hero better exemplifies Shattered Timelines than Chrono-Ranger, the time-displaced cyber-enhanced bounty hunting cowboy (first briefly seen in his nemesis Plague Rat’s deck). Chrono-Ranger has two primary mechanics. The first are his bounties, ongoing cards that either give him benefits for destroying targets or make it easier to do so by increasing damage against those targets. He only has about six of those in his deck, but several ways to fetch them out of both his deck and his trash. His other mechanic is his trusty six-shooter, which in addition to his base power also appears as a rider on practically every one-shot in his deck. Just about every time you play a card, Chrono-Ranger is going to shoot someone. All of those incidental damage pings will definitely add up over time, and that’s ignoring the ridiculous potential of any damage boosts from bounties or other heroes.
The other hero in Shattered Timelines is a former villain… kind of. At some point in the future after repeated defeats at the hands of the heroes, rampaging robot Omnitron executed a self-examination to determine how its superior technology could be beaten. Its conclusion was that the heroes’ empathy and teamwork were to blame, so it incorporated those into its next (tenth) redesign. And then of course Omnitron-X employed that empathy to realize that it had been a villain all this time! So naturally it sent itself back in time to stop itself, because that’s the kind of logic that gets employed in comics. Just like its previous, villainous iteration, O-X employs powerful components that get wrecked if it suffers enough damage; fortunately it also has various defensive platings that can shield it from various types of harm.
Harm, in this case, comes in one of four new forms – including a six year-old girl. Yes, really. The girl in question, The Dreamer, is actually the (present-day) childhood form of The Visionary. In her backstory, The Visionary traveled back in time in order to prevent a horrible future from coming to pass. Her psychic abilities are due to government genetic modification, and that bio-engineering has finally manifested in this timeline. Unfortunately, it has manifested itself in the form of nightmarish projections. And while combating these nightmares made real, the heroes also have to make sure that no harm comes to the innocent child causing them or else that could mean serious problems for The Visionary. Given that The Dreamer only has six HP, this is no small challenge, but at least you have the option of redirecting damage to her from the environment to the hero with the lowest HP, right? Good luck with that.
In a related development, remember that horrible future The Visionary wanted to prevent? That would be the one where Baron Blade kills Legacy’s daughter (promo card Young Legacy) instead of killing Legacy himself, thus ending the Legacy bloodline. He… did not take that well. Without any future generations of Legacy to keep evil in check, Legacy came to the realization that he would have to eradicate all of them himself, right now. If you are in any way familiar with the concept of “Justice Lord Superman” then you get the idea. Now referred to as Iron Legacy, the heroes have to contain his ruthless tyranny. Iron Legacy is easily one of the toughest villains ever, so be prepared.
Not that interdimensional time pirate La Capitán and her motliest of crews aboard La Paradoja Magnifica is much easier. Anything that gets destroyed by them will later be used against the heroes when La Capitán flips, which can be quite annoying. Her various crew members are fairly annoying individually as well, not to mention the ship itself. The heroes will need to have luck on their side to keep them from running rampant across the time stream. And they will need to be even more lucky to take down Create-a-Villain contest winner Kismet, who can manipulate chance in her favor thanks to her family’s talisman. The heroes will find themselves jinxed, accidentally hitting each other instead of her, and encountering improbable obstacles all while Kismet laughs at them and their misfortunes. Unless the heroes steal the talisman, at which point Kismet might just get angry. Probably still a good idea to get it away from her, though.
The environments of Shattered Timelines aren’t quite as on-theme as the heroes and villains. Well, the “Environment Decks’ greatest hits” Time Cataclysm certainly is. But the extradimensional super-prison The Block and its FILTER Agents’ constant struggle against rebellious inmates seem somewhat out of place. Also separately available are two promo environment decks, Silver Gulch 1893 (from whence Chrono-Ranger hails) and Final Wasteland (to whence Chrono-Ranger found himself inexplicably flung) that much better capture the feel of time-travel wackiness. While you’re there you can also check out promo hero The Scholar, who is sort of a strange combination of an alchemist and The Dude.
With all of the promo decks, the Sentinels multiverse now contains 18 heroes, 18 villains and a dozen environments (16, 17 and 10 without promos), and more are on the way this fall and beyond. This game just keeps getting more awesome, and I still find myself eager for what else is in store before the game reaches its ultimate conclusion.
As with the other expansions, Shattered Timelines retails for $20, and each additional promo deck runs $5.