I played my first game! And I lost! Sorry I destroyed the Multiverse guys!
Oblievaeon: The Sleevening!
I meant to play my first game about two weeks ago. After I got it out, I told myself: “I should really sleeve these!” So, about 700 card sleeves and 2 hours later, it was all sleeved! At that point, I was exhausted and couldn’t play. But at least everything from the Kickstarter fits into the Oblivaeon box with sleeves …
Oblivaeon: The Rulebook-Readening!
So, the rulebook is okay. It’s concise, seems to describe everything. The font is big enough to read, and I ended up referring to it a lot during play, and it worked fine for that. I have two smallish problems with the rulebook:
- I don’t think the Comic Book font is right for the Rulebook proper. This looks something like VTC-Letterer-Pro, which is all upper-case, comic book font. And this font looks great on the cards, as it evokes the feeling of reading a panel in a comic book. It’s very thematic! But I think it is the wrong choice for the rulebook! The font isn’t very expressive (not really an italics), I feel like other fonts would be better on the eyes. For a rulebook of any substance, I think it’s too much. I had to read the rulebook from scratch, and I think the font detracted from it. (Partly because things that should have been italicized or bolded weren’t). Your mileage may vary.
- I really wanted a list/pictures of Components! This new expansion in SOTM has a lot of new concepts and cards! So, when the rulebook refers to a Scion or Battle Zone or Shield or Aeon Men or Devastation or Objective or Reward … what is it talking about? Granted, I was able to “search” the cards, but even after they were sorted in the box, there was still some hunting. It’s not the end of the world, I figured it out, but that very first set-up was daunting and cumbersome.
In general, the rules were good enough. I was able to read them, set-up, and play the game without having to go the Internet or BoardGameGeek.
Oblivaeon: The Choosening!
The first thing the rules ask you to do is to choose your starting Heroes. Since I didn’t know ANYTHING about how the game would work, I went ahead and chose my goto team: Legacy, Tempest, and Wraith (aka, Superman, Aquaman, and Batman). I’ve been able to beat just about every Villain in every environment with these three: I know their decks really well. So, since I had SO MUCH NEW STUFF to learn (see below), I wanted something familiar. I strongly encourage others to choose Heroes they know for their first game … there’s just too much otherwise.
And yes, my first game would be a solo game playing 3 characters. See here for my description of solo modes for Sentintels of the Multiverse!
Oblivaeon: The Set-Upening!
So, the rules have a nice abstract set-up page, showing what the game looks like set-up:
This is what my set-up look like on a table:
There’s a LOT of stuff here! Here’s the basic layout:
The bottom has the player area for the three Heroes.
The upper left has the two Battle Zones with two different environments and two different Scions.
The middle area is for Oblivaeon, his booklet (!), his Villain Cards, and his Shield.
The upper right is for the Devastation card and Devastation tokens.
The middle left is the Scion deck and the Scion rules, with Scion cards.
Finally, the middle right is for Aeon Men and Objectives.
Whew, a lot of components!
Battle Zones! (Not the Atari Tank Game!)
Thematically, Oblivaeon (the main bad guy) is destroying the Multiverse. If he succeeds, the players lose! (And I guess everyone else does too). So, in the game, the players (and all the bad guys) bounce between two dimensions (“Battle Zones”) to fight.
Each Zone is self-contained: there’s an environment and a Scion (really awesome Henchman of Oblivean) in each. When the Heroes are in one Battle Zone, all of their powers and effects are limited in scope to JUST THAT BATTLE ZONE. And Oblivaeon glides back and forth between them.
You can see Hero 1 (Legacy) in Battle Zone 1 and Heroes 2 and 3 (Tempest and Wraith) in Battle Zone 2. This means that Legacy’s core power (to strengthen everyone’s attack by 1) wouldn’t do anything, because the other Heroes are in the other Zone!
Oblivaeon is pretty complex. He has his own little rulebook describing how he works. Basically, he goes through 3 phases in the game: 10,000 Hit Points, 180 Hit Points, and 120 Hit Points. You really can’t do much to him until he’s in the third phase (at 120 Hit Points) anyways. You mostly just have to survive until then.
To make matters worse, there’s a Shield card (lower left)! Basically, Oblivaeon is invulnerable until you get rid of his shield! Getting rid of his Shield is messy: you have to all be in the same zone as Oblivaeon and take damage at the same time. Then, as the shield flips, he incapacitates Heroes! Once he has done that, then the shield finally goes away!
So, when Oblivaeon incapacitates a Hero, that Hero Card is taken out of the game, and the player can just become a new hero! As long as there are Hero Cards, the players can do this all day. You reclaim all cards, shuffle them up, and then start with 4 cards in hand. To be clear, you can use the original deck again, but you have to use a variant variant Hero Card (see below) to play the same deck again!
So, when Oblivaeon incapacitated my base Legacy, I chose this variant so I keep keep playing his deck!
In all the time I have played SOTM, I didn’t use the variants AT ALL. I kind of like this rule! It forced me to use my variant cards for the first time! And it’s also very thematic! Besides the “Oblivaeon is Thanos” motif of the game, there’s also a “Crisis on Infinite Earths!” motif in the game.
In “Crisis on Infinite Earths!”, there were multiple Supermans, Flashes, etc. And so it’s cool to see multiple cards for Legacy, Tempest, etc.. Very thematic!
This card handles two things:
- The Countdown! Everytime the counter goes to zero, Oblivaeon flips to his next phase (from 10,000 HP to 180 HP to 120 HP). Of course, if he flips once too often, the players lose another environment! Closer to Game over! The Countdown counts down the phases of Oblivaeon.
- The Devastation Tokens! As the game plays, the Multiverse is slowly being eroded away. Every Devastation Token added to the pool represents this erosion. When there are 12 in the pool, you must destroy an environment! There are a total of 5 environments in the game. If the last one is destroyed, GAME OVER! The Players lose!
The Devastation Tokens are particularly thematic to my mind: just a little bit of erosion every turn, but if you don’t keep it under control, the Multiverse just dies!
Objectives! (Well, Missions)
You might have noticed that there are a LOT of ways to die! Well, to balance this a little, there is now the notion of an Objective! Well, they call it a Mission in the rules, but it’s labeled Objective on the cards! On a Hero’s turn, he can choose to take, swap, shuffle objectives. He can then work towards that objective. Every objective card has the same feel: take a bit of damage/lose resources to “flip this card”. In the case above, you have to destroy some equipment cards to get a Reward!
They are potentially useful, but I never got any Objectives completed in my first game! Maybe that’s why I lost?
You need a lot of tokens to keep track of stuff! There’s the standard SOTM tokens (effects, energy types, hit points), but now there’s even more things! So, grab some extra token types as well. I went ahead and used the Stonemaier Money tokens for the Hit Points. And you know what? They worked great as hit points. And were very satisfying.
My first game: I spent 30 minutes setting up, 3 hours playing, and I lost. I didn’t really have much of a chance at the end, but I might have been able to win with 2 more turns. I fudged a few times in the game, just to see how it played out. I probably should have died much earlier.
There are two things that really keep the game going: the rulebook and some Hero summary Cards. I kept the rulebook out non-stop, as it shows the summary of turns, and so does the Scion top card. In other words, the summary sheets worked fairly well.
But, there are a lot of rules. And I mean a LOT. I love Sentinels of the Multiverse (it’s one of my favorite games of all time)! BUT, even I have to admit, it’s a little fiddly. If you don’t like fiddly, you would hate this game! There are a lot of effects and rules to keep track of as you play: Multiple Environments, Aeon’s Men, Scion effects, Oblivaeon Effects, Objectives, and all the normal SOTM effects.
At one point, I actually just didn’t care about the environment. I just drew the card and didn’t read it. There was SO MUCH going on, I didn’t want to have to try to sort “just one more thing” going on. I was exasperated!
In the end, I lost. I lost because all 5 environments were destroyed, and thus the Multiverse was destroyed! I felt like I couldn’t do a lot, if anything, to stop the devastation. The only way I could have won was to kill Oblivaeon. I just ran out of time.
I feel like I should have done more with Objectives and been smarter with incapacitating Heroes. The Objectives give some nice rewards, probably for a smallish cost. The incapacitate is actually quite useful, as you essentially heal all your hit points! (And let me tell you, your Heroes take a LOT of damage!)
I’m sure I played wrong dozens of times as there were so many rule and effects to follow. It was a little debilitating. A few times, I just didn’t follow some effects because it was just too much to handle. Now that I’ve played through a whole game, I think I could do better at it.
Oblivaeon: The Conclusioning!
So, I got to use my 20 point money markers. That made it all worthwhile!
Seriously, though, I think I liked it. I think. There’s a lot stuff going on, and this definitely is not a game for newbies, anyone who hates fiddliness, or anyone who’s only played SOTM a few times. You need to be very comfortable with SOTM before you give this a try.
It’s a fun game, but it is definitely “an event” where you need to set aside at least 3 hours to play. We’ll see what I think of it after a few more plays. Let’s hope I can convince my friends to play …