The table has been cleared, but not for dinner. Everyone has their favorite drink settled on a coaster, the pizza bites are in the oven, and the huge collector’s box that came as Kickstarter rewards for this, the final expansion of Sentinels of the Multiverse, is pulled out.
Our story begins on a bright, cold Sunday morning. The rest of the Multiverse may be relaxing, oblivious to the dangers that face them, but that’s okay. We’re about to save everyone by playing Sentinels of the Multiverse.
Who are these Sentinels, and why are they in my Multiverse?
Greater Than Games’ card game Sentinels of the Multiverse is a versatile, many-expansioned offering set in the Multiverse of comics lore. This Multiverse is a result of an entirely new set of superheroes who are original and refreshing, yet still manage to pay homage to the great comic book companies of the ’60s and ’70s. The final expansion, Oblivaeon, recently shipped to its Kickstarter backers and is now available at many game stores.
If you’d like more information on the mechanics of Sentinels of the Multiverse, GeekDad Greg wrote a fantastic article on them a couple of months ago. The base game itself is a fantastic, easy to learn, scalable difficulty jaunt into the life of a superhero, and it’s a fantastic family friendly game. Sentinels is one of my family’s all time favorites. Cooperative games are essential in our household to balance everyone’s competitive nature, and Sentinels fits the bill perfectly.
What’s so different about ‘Oblivaeon’?
If you’ve ever played Sentinels of the Multiverse, you know that the base gameplay mechanics are super easy (play a card, use a power, draw a card) and the cards tell you what to do. Some heroes, villains, or environments are a little more complex than others, but that’s what makes Sentinels so great to teach to gamers of all experience levels. I knew that gameplay with Oblivaeon would be different from a normal Sentinels of the Multiverse game, and the stakes were higher than ever before. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to learn that while some complexity was added, and new decks, the rules booklet made the transition easy. We got a good feel for the game within a round or two, and even the kids were able to call out where we were in each round.
Why get ‘Oblivaeon’?
The final expansion, Oblivaeon, was a no brainer for me. We’ve followed these heroes for years now, and a “final” knock-down, drag-out fight to save the entire Multiverse seemed like a fitting final expansion.
We really liked the idea of knowing our game is complete, without needing to save any more space for more expansions later. While Greg has his own custom made everything box, our family chose to get the branded Collector’s Box. Be warned, when it’s full, this box is HEAVY. Don’t let your six year old pick it up.
In addition to being able to hold everything, the Collector’s Box actually has a PLACE for everything too. This makes sorting and playing much easier, and I’m grateful we got it.
Once we played Oblivaeon, we were even more secure in our decision to back this expansion. What a wild and fun ride we had.
What was playing like?
One of the first things you’ve got to do when you play Sentinels is pick your hero. The more you play, the more your play style evolves. The more your style evolves, the more you’ll gravitate to heroes that fit. For me, that means I enjoy the heck out of support characters who also tend to have occasional big whammies of damage in their individual decks. Two of my favorite heroes are Tachyon, from the original set, and Parse, from the Vengeance expansion.
My husband likes playing hard hitting or goofy characters. He’s most often found playing Guise, who was his own mini expansion. Derp prefers balance and depth (and apparently self-sacrifice that can turn into self-healing?), so two of his favorites are Absolute Zero and Fanatic, both from the original box set. That leaves Squirrel, whose penchant for damage and ease of play led him to Bunker from the original box set.
For Oblivaeon, though, Squirrel recommended that we consider playing one of the established teams from Sentinels of the Multiverse lore. After all, Sentinels isn’t just about playing a card game. The creators also compiled full backstories for individuals and teams. Squirrel pointed out that since we would be playing five heroes, which is the maximum allowable, we should play the Freedom Five team, who according to lore is who fought the supervillain Oblivaeon anyhow. If you’re good at math, you may note that there were only four of us at the table. Yours truly got to play two characters. With that in mind, I played Legacy and Tachyon, Derp played Absolute Zero, Squirrel played Bunker, and my husband played Wraith.
How long did it take to set up?
It took quite a bit of time to get everything in order for this game the first time around. Thankfully, a table layout example is included in the rulebook for Oblivaeon along with step by step setup instructions.
All Sentinels games and expansions are fantastic at explaining setup, rules, and turn order. Oblivaeon is no different. The back of the Oblivaeon rulebook and some of the cards have a round order reminder, which was referred to many times throughout the game.
Even within a hero turn, we need reminders of how the phases go, because it’s unlike a normal game of Sentinels of the Multiverse. Thankfully, every player has a reminder card that helps straighten it all out.
What was the game actually like?
Once everyone chose their characters and we got the game set up, play began in earnest. Using the reminder cards and round guide, we started talking each other through the steps. To make everything easier, we kept our hero hands face up on the table, and everyone had the opportunity to offer feedback for each other’s plays. This method not only helps teach the kids strategy, but allows people who like to play the same characters over and over (cough*me*cough) to learn about all the others.
Because Oblivaeon is such a cataclysmic event, there are essentially three villain turns and two battle areas. Heroes can only help each other and fight villains in the battle area where they physically are. This makes strategy extra vital, as Oblivaeon can also only cause damage in the battle area where he is as well. Unlike other villains, who have character cards that can often flip to create new situations, Oblivaeon needs an entire book as his character card.
Oblivaeon starts the game with a shield that renders him immune to damage and ten THOUSAND hit points. Thankfully, it’s not necessary to take him all the way down. Instead, the heroes work together to diminish the shield and create conditions that cause Oblivaeon’s character booklet to turn the page. Hooray, he’s only got 180 hit points this time!
Hero turns are the same as they’ve always been, with added actions at the beginning of the turn. This introduces a new mechanic: objectives and rewards. There is a new mission deck, where a hero can accept a mission and, upon achieving the demands of the objective, flips the card and now has access to its reward. The rewards are as varied and useful as the heroes, and assist with fighting Oblivaeon and all of the villain cards that invade both battle zones.
The gameplay itself is eventful. The family has never worked together for so long or with such fervor. I start to wonder if Sentinels of the Multiverse is training the kids to get along. One by one, though, we drop like flies. It takes a while, but eventually Squirrel’s Bunker is the last one standing. Then a loss condition trips, and the Multiverse is lost. And so are the four hours of cooperation and brotherly love.
When we decide to play again after a short break, Squirrel opts out. Four hours was long enough for him to sit in one spot, even if it did earn him junk food and hot cocoa. The rest of us, however, are bound and determined to win this game, and it’s still fairly early in the evening, so we select new heroes, reset the play area, and start anew. This time, we succeed just in time for bed.
What can we learn from this?
Oblivaeon is a fantastic offering with high replay value. A twelve year old who struggles to sit through longer games managed this one pretty well. A sixteen year old was kind and generous to his brother and parents. Everyone worked together because the threat of Oblivaeon was so significant, it couldn’t be ignored. This was like being in a comic book movie where people who traditionally don’t get along suddenly put it all aside for the greater good. If you’re familiar with Sentinels of the Multiverse, Oblivaeon is definitely an expansion worth owning. If not, you’re better off familiarizing yourself with the base game first.
It’s pretty safe to say we ate leftovers that night. Oblivaeon is not a game to be undertaken on an evening after school and work. While a normal game of Sentinels of the Multiverse is feasible in under an hour, Oblivaeon is something that probably can’t be done in under three hours. Losing took us four. Winning took us five. We’ve only managed two games so far, but I’m anxious for another weekend afternoon where sibling rivalry is set aside and helping each other is easy again.
Get ‘Oblivaeon’ for yourself
Oblivaeon is out now and available at retailers, including Amazon. Suggested retail is $39.95.
Oblivaeon requires at least the base game of Sentinels of the Multiverse. Suggested retail is $39.99.
All Sentinels of the Multiverse imagery is copyright Greater Than Games.