By Andrew Dodson on September 25, 2013 at 9:00am
It's really no mistake that I'm writing this article while the 2012 "Avengers" movie plays in the background. Both are similar in nature, and it's hard to imagine a game like "Sentinels of the Multiverse" existing without something like the Avengers existing (or Justice League or other big superhero teams). They very much go hand in hand.
"Sentinels of the Multiverse" is card game that was released by Greater Than Games at GenCon2011. In it, players take control of superheroes and work with one another to defeat a villain. Each superhero character has a preset deck that the players use to play off of. Each deck is unique and requires a different strategy to suit that distinct superhero; they have a focus on items, powers, or supporting the other heroes. Each group of heroes needs to find its own balance to optimize against whatever the villain happens to throw out at them. When players first begin a game, this is very much unknown.
And then there is the environment: a different, separate deck of cards that sometimes works for the heroes but mostly works against them. They can add neutral creatures into the fray, random explosions, magical effects, and all kinds of other comic book insanity to make the game interesting.
The hero-villain-environment deck combinations are what makes every game of "Sentinels of the Multiverse" unique. Each hero compliments another differently. Each villain requires a different strategy to take down. Each environment adds a wild card that can help or hinder the heroes at every turn.
As it is one of my favorite card games to play with groups, I couldn't resist the chance to talk to some of the people at Greater Than Games and talk about Sentinels and the other stuff they're working on. I got ahold of Paul Bender, director of operations for Greater Than Games, and he was happy to answer some of my questions.
PT: "Sentinels of the Multiverse" is one of my favorite games right now, and it took me forever to collect all the expansions, because they're sold out *all the time*. Since its release, you've had three super successful Kickstarters to expand upon the game, and you're set to release a standalone expansion, "Vengeance," this year. How has the ride been so far at Greater Than Games? Were you expecting this level of popularity when you first premiered at GenCon in 2011?
PB: The experience of starting and running Greater Than Games has been absolutely fantastic. I often say that I enjoy games of all sorts, but my favorite game in recent years has been managing Greater Than Games. I certainly did not expect the level of popularity that Sentinels has experienced when we first launched in 2011, but fortunately we were relatively prepared to deal with whatever circumstances arose and didn't get into too much trouble from the sorts of "high class problems" that popularity can bring.
PT: What is your favorite hero to play?
PB: Either Haka, the Argent Adept, or the Scholar.
PT: What is the hardest villain and location that you've personally faced while playing?
PB: Either The Chairman or Iron Legacy in Rook City.
PT: "Vengeance" is the first standalone expansion for "Sentinels." From what I've heard it will be a 5 vs. 5 game. How will that work?
PB: "Vengeance" will still be fully cooperative. In terms of how it works, you will have to wait and see.
PT: Will the cards in "Vengeance" be compatible with the rest of the game?
PB: Absolutely. Saying that "Vengeance" is "standalone" is technically true (in that it contains five heroes), but in my opinion, [it] is best played when integrated with the other sets. There will be five heroes and two environments in "Vengeance," as well as one multi-villain scenario. The heroes and environments can be integrated into a "standard" game just like any other heroes or environments, and heroes and environments from other sets can also be used to fight against the "villain scenario".
PT: I've read recently that an app for Android and iPad tablets is coming out for "SotM" in 2014: "Sentinels Sidekick." It's been described as a companion app to the the physical card game. Can you give us any details about that project and how players should use it? Where did the idea for the "Sentinels Sidekick" originate from? How has the experience been working with Handelabra Games?
PB: "Sentinels Sidekick" is actually already available for iOS. Depending on demand, we'd love to make it available for Android, as well. It was an idea that came entirely from Handelabra Games, but because it looked so cool, we decided to formally license them the "Sentinels" IP for use in the app. We're actually also working with them to bring a full version of "Sentinels" to iOS and Android, and the experience had been great. Stay tuned for more details going forward!
PT: The art of "Sentinels of the Multiverse" and flavor text on all the cards really help build the game's universe (I mean multiverse). It really feels like the cards were taken from actual comic books. Will we ever see a "Sentinels of the Multiverse" series in comic stores?
PB: We already have one comic book available on our website and hope to occasionally make more available in that format. Beyond that, you never know.
PT: Is there a particular bit of flavor text on a card that you hold as a favorite?
PB: The flavor text on Unity's Swift Bot ("I am uptight about science and hate explosions in the lab") and the Scholar's Grace Under Fire ("If life gives you lemons, make a lemon cannon") are the two I can think of off the top of my head that I really like.
PT: I've talked a lot about "SotM," but you recently had a successful Kickstarter for a new game: "Galactic Strike Force." How is production going on that? Is the experience you've gained from "SotM" (and its expansions) helping things go smoothly, or is this a different experience all together? Can I keep "Travel the Galaxy as an Electro-Celestial War Spectre" on my calendar for October?
PB: Development is coming along well, but it is a very different game, and very different development experience than "Sentinels." We've actually delayed the release a few months, because we believe that doing so will result in a much better game. I am very excited about "GSF" as space opera, and "science fantasy" type settings are some of my favorites.
PT: If you could steal the abilities of any one "SotM" hero or villain for yourself, who would you steal from? Who would you steal from outside "SotM?"
PB: The answer to this question changes on a semi-regular basis, but right now the answer is Magneto (from outside SotM) and a currently unreleased character (from inside SotM).
This interview kind of dates itself as since we did it, Sentinels Tactics was announced at GenCon2013. "Tactics" is the next step for the "Sentinels of the Multiverse" - a hex-based game where players can act as either the heroes or the villains and try to wipe the opposing team off the map. There is different terrain on the map, tokens to represent characters, and dice to determine the effect of abilities. There is even potential for miniatures being developed for the game, but Greater Than Games wants to keep game costs affordable, so any minis will probably end up being sold separately.
"Sentinels of the Multiverse" is a wonderfully thematic card game with a potential to be unique with each and every play. From the art to the abilities and down to the flavor text on the cards, the entire game feels like it's straight out of a comic book. "Sentinels of the Multiverse" is definitely something for anyone that loves the superhero team vs. villain type of story. And with "Tactics" on horizon along the same vein, as well as "Galactic Strike Force" offering something for those who enjoy adventuring in space, Greater Then Games is definitely a developer that should not be ignored.
Greater Than Games