After much delay, Sentinels of the Multiverse: Vengeance has arrived to Kickstarter backers. Originally planned as a standalone expansion, it has since been re-branded as a “mega expansion” but could still be played on its own if you don’t mind the lack of HP tokens and possibly needing to download the core rulebook. More importantly, what Vengeance brings to the table is an entirely new way of playing Sentinels.
The marquee addition in Vengeance is Baron Blade’s team of villains, the Vengeful Five. This team of five criminals has been assembled by Blade himself to counter the Freedom Five, much like the Legion of Doom vs. The Justice League in actual comics. The Freedom vs. Vengeful conflict is literally the setting for Vengeance, as both included environments represent the two groups’ respective home turfs: Freedom Tower and Blade’s Mobile Defense Platform.
Of course, a team of villains is nothing new to Sentinels what with the Ennead in Infernal Relics and various decks that feature an array of minions. The twist here is that each member of the Vengeful Five has his or her own individual deck. Baron Blade, Ermine (think Catwoman to Wraith’s Batman), Friction (an anti-Tachyon speedster), Fright Train (a Juggernaut-like rival to Bunker) and the self-cloning Proletariat (nemesis to Absolute Zero for spurious reasons at best) each provide their own unique threat to the heroes’ victory.
A “Vengeful Five scenario” will pit your chosen team of heroes against an equivalent number of the Vengeful Five. Beginning with one of the villain decks, the play order alternates between villains and heroes as they are situated around the table, with the environment deck coming between the last hero and first villain as usual. In an additional complication, each villain deck contains multiple cards that represent minor nemeses of every hero available in the game to this point — and a couple that haven’t been introduced yet. These cards act as normal minions, but have additional abilities if their respective nemesis is in the game. Villains the become incapacitated behave like incapacitated heroes, losing all their cards in play and instead having one nuisance ability on their turns.
I really like the way this scenario plays out and hope that we see more teams like this down the road. Art on some of the cards suggest that this is coming, but not in the next expansion (Wrath of the Cosmos) which is in the more traditional four villains-two heroes-two environments mold. The Vengeful Five play together really well, and force the heroes to make some incredibly tough choices in regards to threat assessment.
Speaking of heroes, Vengeance brings five new decks’ worth of options… and eight new heroes. The reason for this discrepancy is due to The Sentinels, a team of four heroes that use the same deck, much like The Ennead villain deck. Individually each Sentinel is far weaker than any other hero (they range from 11 to 14 HP each) but have interesting teamwork abilities and often many more options than solo heroes, plus the first-time-ever ability to return an incapacitated (Sentinel) hero to active status.
Another first is the addition of a shapeshifter to the multiverse in the form(s) of the Naturalist. He has three animal forms he can assume, and many of his other cards have additional abilities depending on which form he has in play. As a gazelle, he has HP recovery and utility effects. If he needs to go defensive and draw more cards, he adopts the shape of a rhino. Enhanced offensive capabilities usually come with a crocodile’s smile.
Analyzing the situation to determine which form would be best can be tough, but maybe he should consult fellow newcomer Parse. Parse’s ability is computer-like analysis skills coupled with pinpoint accuracy with her bow. She excels in finding and exploiting weaknesses, although shines much brighter against a single opponent than she does against an opposing team.
Making up the most straightforward of Vengeance‘s heroes is KNYFE, a former FILTER agent who gained the ability to project energy blades thanks to hanging around The Block (FILTER’s inter-dimensional super-prison seen in Shattered Timelines) too long. She has some FILTER equipment to help her out, but her primary purpose is damage and lots of it.
Finally, there’s Setback. Setback takes “push your luck” to a new level, as he accumulates tokens in his “unlucky pool” that he can spend for various effects as his cards instruct… or demand. Just having tokens in his pool can sometimes have an effect as well, so you really have to manage your potential risk at all times while playing him. With enough tokens in his pool, he is capable of some amazing feats. Of course, he’s equally capable of collapsing under the weight of incredibly bad luck.
Also worth noting is that, as a “mega expansion”, Vengeance comes in a large box the size of Enhanced Edition. In addition to rows for decks, the box also includes a space that can hold oversized villain cards (the Vengeful Five do not have regular-sized character cards) and tokens, something the EE box lacked once Shattered Timelines packed it to bursting. This box and the extra cards inside it give Vengeance an MSRP of $30 compared to a normal expansion’s $20, but still less than the $40 of the base set.
Was Vengeance worth the wait? Absolutely. And as the final Sentinels expansion to be funded via Kickstarter, it represents an interesting new era for the team at Greater Than Games. The Sentinels multiverse is far from finished, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.