Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Board Game Top 100 (2024) Part 41 (16-15)

#16 Sentinels of the Multiverse

In Sentinels of the Multiverse players are superheroes working together to battle the nefarious plans of a villainous big bad. The battle is played with cards. The heroes all have their own custom decks as do the villains. In addition to these, there are a variety of location decks.


Setup is simple and straightforward. All players choose a hero and take the deck of cards representing that hero. They choose a villain that they want to fight and grab that deck. (All heroes are fighting against one villain. Any minions that the villain has will be part of their deck.) Finally, pick a location and take the deck representing that location, and you're ready to play.

Pick your heroes… pick a villain… pick a location… shuffle some cards… Boom! You're off. The core set for Sentinels of the Multiverse contains several of all of these decks of cards. So, you will have lots of variability right out of the box. I own just about everything for the game, because it's awesome.

Each turn all three components of the game: Hero, Villain, Location get to do something. The Villain always goes first. You just flip the card from the top of the Villain deck and do what it says. Each villain also has a card that represents them and tells you how much life the villain has and any special rules for that villain that you need to know.

After the villain activates, all the heroes get to go. Now, it's each player taking it in turn to play a card from their hand and resolve its effect. Most of these cards are about doing damage to the villain, but there's lots more stuff than that. The heroes are all unique and all play differently.

Finally, the location card is flipped and resolved. These are events and extra complications that help give the battle a sense of place. Maybe some innocent bystanders are in danger from falling debris, or the heroes also have to deal with a runaway train on top of everything else. Fun stuff! 

Sentinels is probably the only example of a game designed for 3 or more players that Julie and I go ahead and play at two. Since it's cooperative, we just share the responsibility of the third hero and we haven't had any trouble with that at all. In fact, if one hero is defeated, the player can just switch focus to that third player and that works great.

Yeah, heroes can fall in Sentinels of the Multiverse, but even that isn't the end. A defeated hero has its hero card flipped over to its defeated side. On their turn, a defeated hero can affect the game in various ways. It's like the memory and inspiration of a fallen comrade drives the other heroes onward to greater feats of heroism.

It works well. The game and its challenges are really well balanced. By the time any hero has been defeated, the game is probably all but won (or lost) anyway. In our last game, my hero was defeated, but then the villain was beaten like two turns later. It was really exciting!


#15 Hadrian's Wall

In Hadrian's Wall players are building a defensive wall to protect their individual citystate. This is one of those "… and write" games. Players all have two score sheets just covered with different things to do. Each turn a card is flipped showing some resources. Building resources like wood, or different kinds of workers that can do different jobs.


Everyone takes the resources shown on the card that was flipped for the turn, and then decides where on their player sheets to spend those resources by marking them off with a pencil. The trick in Hadrian's Wall is that spending resources can often net other different resources. These resources can then be spent, and sometimes they will get you more resources to spend.

It's this cascading combo effect that makes Hadrian's Wall such a challenge and so much fun. You're building your wall, and your military, and your economy, and your agriculture, and your political influence, and finding ways to entertain your population with theater or gladiatorial games. There's so much to do, and everything that you do gives you more to do.

Hadrian's Wall is a thinky, challenging little puzzle. Every turn players are working simultaneously to do the best that they can with the materials that they have, and there is so much variety that no two players are going to approach the puzzle in the same way.

Game play is very heads down. I am working on my challenge while you work on yours. It's what is often referred to in board game circles as multiplayer solitaire. That's cool with me and Julie. We like focusing on our stuff, and then coming up for air to share our accomplishments before flipping the next card and diving into the next challenge.

The game is played over a number of rounds and each round players get a few unique-to-them resources in addition to those that come from the shared resource card. Because each resource has the potential to do so much, this tiny variance is enough to ensure that every round feels different for every player.

In the end, the player who handles their puzzle the best and evolves their citystate to be the strongest and the most successful will win the game.


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