A Review of Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Editions

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I bought the original 1st Edition of Sentinels of the Multiverse sight unseen from the Greater Than Games website back in 2012. Sentinels had been getting a lot of hits of BoardGameGeek in the “hotness”, and the idea of a cooperative superhero game seemed fantastic! I loved the cooperative games Arkham Horror 2nd Edition and Pandemic at the time, but I really wanted a thematic cooperative superhero game! Sentinels of the Multiverse 1st Edition arrived at my house sometime in 2012 and I never looked back. It very quickly became one of the favorite games of all time! Sentinels of the Multiverse makes me feel like I am playing a super hero on a team with my friends! Sure, it would have been better if I could have been an X-Man or an Avenger or a Teen Titan, but Sentinels of the Multiverse offered its own world of unique and different super heroes (probably because they didn’t want to get sued by Marvel and DC).

The original 1st Edition had a few problems:

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  • The cards were super thin
  • The art and coloring needed some clean-up
  • A few cards needed to be adjusted as they were a little unbalanced
  • The maximum Hit Points “changing all the time” was wonky 
  • The box was way too small and cheap

The 2nd Edition of the game fixed these problems and made the game a lot better.  The changes didn’t truly affect the flavor of the game that much, but the overhaul just made the game more appealing.  Anyone who had the 1st Edition easily could justify moving up to the 2nd Edition: you could get the new edition at a good price (I have found it on Amazon for $25).  And there wasn’t a lot of investment in the original 1st Edition … it was just one box.

Over the years, there have been a lot of expansions for the 2nd Edition, and I have bought them all.  Most of these expansions were a big hit, just adding new heroes, villains, and environments!  They gave the game so many choices! See above.

Definitive Edition

It’s been about 10 years since the original Sentinels of the Multiverse came out, and Greater Than Games decided it was time for an update. Greater Than Games put the Definitive Edition up on  Kickstarter back in April 2021 and it finally delivered to me about a week ago (Jan 24th, 2022).

I went full-in for the sleeves and foil cards (see above).  One of my favorite ridiculous expansions for any game has been the foil cards for Sentinels!  I had the all the foil cards for the 2nd Edition, and I wanted them for the Definitive Edition!

Unboxing 

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The “all-in” Kickstarter pledge came with sleeves and the foil cards.

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The sleeves fit EVERYTHING: the oversized cards and the extra oversized foil cards and there’s a few extra for “just in case”.

Honestly, the game looks great!

Sleeves

The game sleeves work fine and fit all the cards.  We remarked that the sleeves weren’t “extra great” quality: they felt like penny-sleeves.  Nonetheless, they worked fine.   There are two issues that come up: See above for problem one with the sleeves:  Notice how the sleeve obscure the name of the hero?  This was very much NOT the case in the 2nd Edition (see below).

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Another problem with the sleeves is that the “obvious way” to fit everything in the box, you can’t fit the black token box AND the sleeved cards together in the same box!  See below:

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With the oversized cards AND the sleeves AND the token box, everything won’t fit anymore.    I simply broke it up so that I have two boxes.

However, according to the Kickstarter Update #22, you CAN fit everything in the box, but you lose your token box if you do that.  See Update 22 link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gtgames/sentinels-of-the-multiverse-definitive-edition/posts/3321299

I chose to keep the token box for tokens.  So, you CAN fit everything in the box, but it’s a bit of a tight squeeze.  I’d rather have the heroes be just a little less packed.

Solo Play

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Congratulations on following Saunders’ Law: Sentinels of the Multiverse Definitive Edition has solo play! See above.

The 1st and 2nd Edition didn’t have solo play indicated on the box: the Definitive Edition does (see above).  Solo play has the solo player taking the role of 3 Heroes.  See below for a solo game.

It’s funny because Sentinels of the Multiverse is what inspired Saunders’ Law in the first place!  (Saunders’ Law states that every cooperate game should have a viable solo mode). The original 2nd Edition of the game DID NOT have a solo mode, so I had to make up my own solo mode to play the game by myself.  In fact, the original blog post about solo mode has 3 different ways to play Sentinels of the Multiverse solo

  1. The solo player takes control of 3 Heroes.  This is a fine solo mode once you know the game, but it is very daunting for a newer player.
  2. The solo player takes control of 2 Heroes and alternates between them, essentially playing as-if it were a 4 Hero game.  This solo mode takes less mental overhead for the new player, but the rules for “alternating heroes” can be wonky: neither the 1st, 2nd, or Definitive Edition had any notion of rules for playing a hero “twice” on a turn.  I think with just a little tweaking, this might be the best way to learn the game as a solo player.
  3. Play the App with 3 Heroes.  The app handles a lot of the rule for you, so this is a great way to learn the game.  Seriously.

I am VERY GLAD that the Definitive Edition rules address how to solo play (see above), but I wish they had gone with solution 2 instead.  Ah well, at least they addressed in the rules!

My first game was a solo game with the “dream team” (for me): Legacy, Tempest, and Wraith against Baron Blade.  One great thing that the Definitive Edition does: the first play of Baron Blade has already been “shuffled” to ensure a good experience for your first game!

This made it easy to jump right into the game!  Ares Expedition does something like this: the deck is “shuffled” when you get the same so you can just put the deck out and play!  I kind of wish EVERY game did something like this.  Anyway, kudos to the Definitive Edition to smoothing the first play.

I won my first game handily, but I am an experienced player.

Cooperative PlayIMG_9941

Sentinels works best at 3, 4  or 5 Players because each player gets to control one Super Hero. At 2, each player controls 2 heroes (which is less fun because you don’t feel like YOU are a Super Hero). If you want to be a Super Hero, play a 3,4, or 5 player game … see above for 4 players.

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As you get used to your hero, the first couple of cooperative multi-player games feel like a “multi-player solitaire”:  you are just trying to do the best you can with the hand you are given.   It’s harder to cooperate because you are too busy reading your own deck: There are a lot of rules on the cards, and you just have to be reading a lot to see what to do.

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As someone who has played all three editions, I can tell you the game shines once you know your hero’s deck.  The Definitive Edition is no different: once you know the strengths and weaknesses of a deck, the game becomes far more cooperative as you can predict what heroes you need, how to play your character, and how to work with other heroes (and combo).

To really enjoy Sentinels, you have to enjoy getting to that knowledge point: you have to enjoy just taking a new deck, playing it, and doing the best you can.  I honestly know that I’ve lost some players because they don’t enjoy the process of “just playing”.  When the hero decks becomes “second nature” is when Sentinels seems to being out “the best cooperation”.  

My group seemed to enjoy our first co-op play.  We beat Omnitron handily.

Modernization

So, when Sentinels of the Multiverse 1st Edition first came out in 2011, there were NO other cooperative super hero games around.  Period.  Now, there are so many cooperative super hero games!  Take a look at our Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Board and Card Games!   Each of these new games has brought something “new” to the field, and luckily, Sentinels of the Multiverse has embraced some of these new ideas!  

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The main modern idea in the Definitive Edition are the spinner counters: see above.  Marvel Champions used them to great effect, so it’s good to see Sentinels modernizing and including 5 Hero spinner counters and 1 Villain spinner counter.  (One minor complaint: my Villain spinner counter had a hard time turning as the wheels rubbed against each other).

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The other main idea is “better tokens”: see above. The 1st Edition of the Sentinels game had NO TOKENS WHATSOEVER: it was strictly a card game (I had to keep track of hit points on paper).  The 2nd Edition included tokens that were usable if not stunning.  See below.

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The Definitive Edition really has ratched up the art for the tokens: I think they look much more modern and dynamic!

If you compare the tokens and spinners to Marvel Champions, it feels like Marvel Champions were a major influence on the new components … and that’s a good thing!  The new tokens and spinners really help the usability of the game.  And let’s be honest, Marvel Champions is probably the biggest competitor to Sentinels.

Marvel Champions vs Sentinels of the Multiverse

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Let’s be frank: these two games are going to be compared! They are both cooperative superhero card games where you play a superhero!  If you want Marvel superheroes, well then, you only have one choice: Marvel Champions.  If you are willing to suspend your disbelief and join the Heroes in the Sentinels of the Multiverse Pantheon, there are very interesting choices! 

From a value proposition (see above), Sentinels of the Multiverse Definitive Edition beats Marvel Champions hands down! The new Definitive Edition has 12 Heroes, 5 Villains, 6 Environments normal-sized decks! Plus (see below) the large cards for the Heroes, Villains, Events, Critical Event, and First Appearances! And some amazing tokens! 

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Marvel Champions only has 5 Heroes and 3 Villains (and some of the heroes you can’t even play with each other because there aren’t enough “aspect” cards in the base game!)  From a value perspective, the Sentinels of the Multiverse Definitive Edition gives you a lot more content for the base game of Marvel Champions!  (Marvel Champions doesn’t even have dividers, which is a sore spot for a lot of people, including me: Sentinels of the Multiverse Definitive Edition definitely has dividers!!)

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One thing that I really think that Marvel Champions ought to do to up their game: add Large Hero and Villain cards like Sentinels: these looks SO much more thematic on the table (see above).

Hey, and Marvel Champions, where are my foil cards?  Foil cards are the greatest single expansion in the universe!  (See above) I adore the sheer silliness of the foil cards, especially for a comic book game!!  I think Marvel Champions could make a LOT of money if they offered oversized Hero/Villain cards and foil cards.

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In the meantime, if you want a cooperative superhero game with a lot of base content, I think Sentinels is far better than Marvel Champions.  But, I get it: sometimes it’s hard to argue with “I want to play Ant-Man” (hey, I love the Ant-Man Expansion: see here): Marvel Champions sometimes wins just because it’s Marvel. But I think you are short changing yourself if you don’t consider Sentinels.

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I’ll be honest, I like both games but I prefer Sentinels. I never understood the “fiddly” argument of Sentinels. My friends would say: “Sentinels is too fiddly!” … the people who say this are the same people with whom I play Dungeons and Dragons (arguably the most fiddly game on earth).  These same people like Marvel Champions (which has its own notion of fiddly), but they don’t like Sentinels.  I don’t get it, but whatever.  I like both of these cooperative superhero games!

Consistency and Art

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One of the things Sentinels of the Multiverse 2nd Edition got right was the art and the color palette.  I know a lot of people didn’t like the the art by Rebottaro (the main artist on editions of Sentinels), but I always thought his art worked really well for the game!  His art was very colorful, bright, had clean lines, and embraced the comic vibe.  His art reminded me of a cross of styles between Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.  (If you don’t know who Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are, I encourage you to check out their WIki pages: Stan Lee and those two helped usher in the Silver Age of Comics).  This is huge compliment: Kirby and Ditko and legendary artists.

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Take a look at some of the art and cards for from the 1st and 2nd Edition (they are mostly the same). This art style permeates Sentinels of the Multiverse 1st/2nd Edition and is pretty consistent across the entire game.  His art can be hit or miss, but in general, it works well.

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The Definitive Edition chose to make some different choices in the art.  One major choice was to make the Hero Character Cards larger and more dynamic and more modern!  I love the new Legacy card, as it’s a major improvement upon the original, but my absolute favorite piece of art in the game is the new Hero Card for Tempest!  So dynamic!  So cool!

The other choice that the Definitive Edition chose to do was to make the Hero Character  Cards use a retro art style for all (and I mean all) the character cards.  Notice that the style is reminiscent of early 1920s superman art: see below.

The color palette in the character cards is much more muted, more washed-out.  Now, this color palette and choice of colors seems to permeate all the card in the game (except the large Hero Character Cards).  Below is an example of how it looks on the table.

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Compare how Legacy’s card looks the 2nd Edition (below).

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Here’s the thing: I don’t like the new color palette and art style.  This is a comic book game! It should be Dynamic!  Exciting! Fresh! Modern!  The choice to use retro  1920’s art is a strange decision to me!  And the color palette is just not for me.  Granted, the hero cards are more “consistent” across each other, but they all kind of look alike!!  One of the GREAT things about the original 1st and 2nd Edition is that the COLOR of the cards helped distinguish them!

Consider the Legacy cards from the 2nd Edition: Superhuman Durability was very mostly orange and easy to recognize! Surge of Strength was mostly purple!  Danger Sense was bright yellow!  Motivational Charge was red!  These primary colors made the cards alive and stand out!  I could tell what a was just from the colors! AND I could tell what a card was across the table!

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The Definitive Edition versions of these cards just don’t seem to stand out.  They all kind of look the same to me.

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Some people may love the new retro art style and muted color palette. Some people may prefer the older more dynamic and bright palette.  I think I fall into the second category: I want the dynamic colors to help me distinguish the cards!  I like the Kirby/Dirko art of the 2nd Edition!  I just feel like the retro art style and palette is a mistake, especially at a time in modern board games where Sentinels is competing with a lot of beautiful modern comic book games like Marvel Champions!    But, art is subjective.  I’ll let you make your own choice: You may love the retro art and distinctive look it gives the Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition: it definitely does set it apart from Marvel Champions.

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Let’s be clear: I AM IN THE MINORITY.  I showed the two different sets of cards to my friends, and they all prefer the new cards in the Definitive Edition!!!  Although my friends agree the color palette may be a little muted in the new Definitive Edition, they think the new art is better, the new card layout is better, the cards titles are easier to read, the font is easier to read, and the style is cool and retro.   So, judge for yourself!  

Smoothing Gameplay

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The Definitive Edition is a little smoother than the previous editions.  For example, Omnitron used to have some cards that would destroy ALL Ongoing cards in play (which was devastating), and Omnitron also had some cards which would destroy ALL items in play (which was devastating).  Both of these cards are now gone form the new edition, and I can see why.  If you played the original Omnitron, you could win easily if those cards never came out. Or you could lose very quickly after you built a few turns and lost everything!!!  But it was so demoralizing to build stuff up and have it wiped out.

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So, the new Omnitron is a more “consistent” threat: there are cards that will destroy some Ongoing cards and some Item cards, but never all cards.  Now, Citizen Dawn still has a devastating Aurora (which essentially cleans out all cards), but she now only has 1 of those instead of 2.  EDIT: Whoops!  It looks like they were stuck together, she still has 2 Devastating Auroras …

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Looking at the Villain and Environment decks, it feels like the decks are “smoothed out” so there are fewer devastating events, but the cards may be a little harder.  I think the idea is really to smooth out the play so that the truly demoralizing cards are gone.

 

It’s harder to talk about the Heros because they have definitely changed.  My friend CC was telling me that Unity feels a lot easier to get stuff going that previously.  They have definitely gotten rid of some of the more unbalanced cards in the Hero decks as well.    Legacy’s Take Down used to be able to just stop the Villain deck for a turn, now it’s a little less powerful. Tempest’s deck has become much more complicated with Weather cards, but Ball Lightning is less powerful (only destroys 1 Ongoing card) and Reclaim From the Deep is less powerful.  And Tempest has lost his Into The Stratosphere Card which allowed Tempest to delay the Villain Deck: it’s gone.  These changes seem to be making the Hero Decks less powerful.

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You know what this reminds me of?  When they reboot a comic book series and “slightly change” the Hero’s powers!  I am currently very grumbly over the changing of the Hero Decks.  I used to know them inside and out, and now they are just different enough to be annoying.  The experiences are more “smoothed” out, which is a good thing for newer players, not so much for veterans of the game.  Bah, maybe I am just mad that I have to relearn everything.

Conclusion

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To be clear: Sentinels of the Multiverse is my favorite game of all time. It makes me feel like I am a superhero: I give it a rare 10/10.  So I recommend it heartily.  The new Definitive Edition is “essentially” the same game as the 1st Edition or 2nd edition (with some “smoothing”), so I can recommend it as well.  The Definitive Edition has also embraced a lot of new modern components (large cards, better tokens, spinner counters): these new modernizations which really augment the experience.

If you are interested in the game, however, you probably are wondering what edition to get.

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Is Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition right for you? If you are new to the Sentinels of Multiverse system and all your friends are new as well, I can heartily recommend it. If you are going to be starting fresh, start with the supported game!  It’s clear that Greater Than Games will be supporting the new Definitive Edition moving forward (they are teasing the first expansion already), so that’s the one to get. 

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If you never liked Sentinels of the Multiverse, this new edition won’t change your mind.  My friends who don’t like Sentinels of the Multiverse claim its “fiddly”.  The Definitive Edition doesn’t really change that much, so they would still have the same problem with it.

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Choosing between the 2nd Edition and Definitive Edition is a little tougher if you already have some investment in the 2nd edition.  You need to honestly answer some questions for yourself:

  • Do you like the new art on the player cards?  It’s consistent throughout the game: it’s an art style consistent with older Superman comics, so it’s a retro art style.  The 2nd Edition art was a little less consistent but more modern.  (Well, 2nd Edition was more Kirby meets Ditko).
  • Do you like the color palette of the cards? The color palette of the player cards  is much more subtle than previous editions.  Again, it’s very consistent across the cards.  If you like that palette,  you might describe it as “subtle and less aggressive”.  If you don’t like that palette, you might describe it as “dreary and washed out”.  
  • How invested are you in the 1st and/or 2nd Edition?  This is both a money and time question.

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I personally like the art and dynamic colors of the 2nd Edition better than the new Definitive Edition. But remember, I am in the minority on the new art and cards: all my friends like the Definitive Edition much better! I also have invested quite a bit of money and time into the 2nd Edition, so it’s hard for me to justify a brand new edition, especially since I already like the game so much as it is.  So, I will keep my original 2nd Edition and play that edition with my friends who have already invested in the 2nd Edition.  I will, however, keep the Definitive Edition around so I can introduce new people to the Sentinels world.  

I will also be very careful about updating my Sentinels of the Multiverse App on my iPad: I want to stay in the old world! I don’t want to lose the 2nd Edition gameplay!

Appendix: Look For Used?

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As the Definitive Edition starts appearing in retail, a lot of stores will be cleaning out their old Sentinels 2nd Edition supplies for cheap. Also, a lot of gamers might be selling all their old Sentinels 2nd Edition used for cheap to make way for the new edition. I suspect, for the next year, that you could get almost all of the Sentinels 2nd Edition for super cheap. At some point, the old stuff will all disappear.

My guess would be that for the next year, Sentinels 2nd Edition will be very cheap both new and used.

6 thoughts on “A Review of Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Editions

  1. I don’t think owners of SotM 2 will be selling it for cheap anytime soon, they will primarily want to compare first, and there’s the nostalgia factor. Third, there are tons of fan expansions for 2nd edition.

    But in 2023 you will be seeing a lot of sell offs, and by then, more expansions for DE will be coming out (5 expansions are planned).

    Regardless, I would like to play the game but 3 handed solo is too much for me so I’m afraid I must pass.

    Like

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