The life of a superhero never lets up. Just when you’ve cleaned out one city and banished all your supervillains to prison, the asylum, the void, wherever – another round of baddies show up with their own nefarious plans.
Infernal Relics is an expansion to Sentinels of the Multiverse (now packaged with Rook City) that adds new heroes, new villains, and new environments.
How It Plays
Why don’t you go ahead and read our review of Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition to get an idea of how to play. Already done that? Great, moving along. (We’ve also reviewed the Sentinels: Shattered Timelines and Sentinels: Rook City expansions, the latter of which is now sold together in one box with this expansion).
Infernal Relics doesn’t change the core gameplay of Sentinels at all. What it does is add a slew of new heroes and villains to toy around with. Oh, a few environments as well, all themed around the idea of magic. And relics. Infernal ones.
As far as heroes go, you’ve got Nightmist with an arsenal of magic at her fingertips and the Argent Adept who has the power of… uh… music. Okay it’s cooler than it sounds. He’s got powers that flow together as melodies and harmonies, and can unleash a composition of synchronized abilities to make the biggest, strongest villain weep like a baby.
Environments include The Realm of Discord, which is some kind of interdimensional realm where reality falls out of place a lot, along with the Tomb of Anubis which is filled with all sorts of traps and ancient relics, much like you’d expect.
Then of course you have the villains. 4 new villains enter the fray, not the least of which is GLOOMWEAVER, who might possibly be cthulhu-inspired as he uses the power of his cultists to raise an army of zombies, and his power will truly be unleashed when 3 relics are combined. Must be the titular “Infernal relics.” You’ve also got the somehwat demonic Apostate, the wierd ancient mountain god Akash’Bhuta (I might be getting that one wrong), and the Ennead. Perhaps one of the most unique of them all, the Ennead features an army of ancient Egyptian gods rather than a single villain.
This Time You’ve Gone Too Far?
Let’s not be ridiculous, subheader of this article that I wrote. The fun of Sentinels is using different combinations of heroes against different villains, to create a comic book tale of legendary feats and agonizing de-feats. There can probably never be too many villains to fight or too many heroes to try out with other heroes, unless those new heroes just use rehashes of old heroes’ abilities. Fortunately, we’re not there yet.
I want to focus in on those heroes for most of this review, because lets be honest; you don’t want me to break down the different villains, how to fight them, how to defeat them, what they do. You want to be surprised. You want to fight a villain and lose and learn his or her weaknesses and fight again and be victorious. That’s the point.
But these heroes in particular I want to talk about, especially Nightmist.
One of the complaints I have leveled against Sentinels in the past (despite the fact that I do really enjoy the game) is that players can have a hand of cards that just don’t really let them do anything. Every hero so far has great cards and powers to use in conjunction with other players’ powers, but sometimes you just draw a bunch of stuff that’s just dead weight. Sometimes that’s because the other players are doing it before you, sometimes that’s just because the situation on the table isn’t helped with your current powers, and sometimes that’s because you’ve spent the game building up your ongoing cards only to have them wiped by an environment effect or a villain attack.
But Nightmist, she changes all that. See, Nightmist’s cards all have a dual function. They have their normal ability or power or one-shot action with a variety of uses, but they also have a number – a magic level, as it were. Many of her abilities can be boosted by (or simply require in order to activate) discarding a card for its magic value. Draw X cards where X is the magic value you discard. Do X damage. Your team heals X H.P. Sure, you have to discard an extra card for these powers, but the point is, it’s interesting. You don’t get stuck with nada, or only doing some minor points of damage.
When you play Nightmist, you are always engaged, because you’re figuring out what to use and what to discard. That’s good design. It keeps you invested even when things go south, because you have a chance to refresh your hand or destroy that agonizing minion. You might be able to do either one, but doing one might require discarding the other. And you often have a chance to refresh your hand of cards, giving you more opportunities the next hand. My least favorite rule in Sentinels is how the only way to get ahead on your hand (if you don’t have an innate power) is to do nothing on your turn, and then you only get 1 extra card. Not even a whole hand refresh. Harsh, guys, harsh. Anyway, the point is I feel like Nightmist’s driving ability should almost be a built-in function of every hero, but maybe that’s just me.
The other hero is not quite as fresh as Nightmist, but he is well designed and unique compared to existing Sentinels heroes. The Argent Adept definitely relies on having cards down on the table to really maximize his effectiveness, so he is vulnerable to those cards that wipe the table clean. But, he does have a number of tools to help avoid bad hands, and when you get that superhero engine revving, the slick combination of performance cards tying together multiple abilities at once feels quite epic. He is able to keep up the pace with drawing cards, and there are a few powers in that deck that can get things jump-started.
I always check the new Villain decks for those game-crushing cards that wipe all equipment and ongoing abilities. Sentinels is at its most fun when you finally have all your powers in play and working together; it usually takes a few turns to get there, which is fine, but it really hurts when that all gets smashed away. The game needs difficulty in the form of tough opponents with lots of minions that require the heroes to work together and make smart usage of their powers, NOT difficulty by simply wiping player powers away. Okay, I admit the threat of equipment and ongoing cards being destroyed adds to the tension and challenge, but it’s rarely fun when ALL of them get wiped away.
It also helps when players can choose as a team which cards get destroyed rather than maybe a luck of the draw thing kill the cards of the player who needs them the most. Fortunately, there’s more of that in this set of villains when it comes to destroying equipment, and in some cases players can choose to take damage instead of losing valuable cards. There is one card-crushing power in the mix, however it destroys villain cards in play as well, so at least that balances out.
The more villains get added, the more they start to blend together, though. It’s hard to get away from the setup of “villain has minions, minions protect/boost villain, heroes destroy minions, minions might end up coming back” within this system. Infernal Relics sets its villains apart with the titular relics, which add a quest-like feel to some of the villains. Relics must be collected and/or destroyed to stop the villains, so there’s your unique angle. You are still generally bashing villains and their minions (cultists, bots, etc.) to bits, but the villains do add unique imagery and backstory to the game, and in my mind it’s really more about the heroes than the villains. I should mention that the Ennead is the first villain that features a whole group of villains at once, so that offers something new and fresh into the mix.
Noted designer Richard Launius is credited for assistance in developing this expansion, and I think that it shows. With unique and innovative heroes, the inclusion of relics as both something that heroes can collect in the environment and that villains use to add to mix up the tactics required to defeat them, and the army of villains featured in the Ennead, this expansion has a lot going for it.
Sentinels in and of itself is still a good game, and worthy of expansions. Infernal Relics just adds more good content into the mix, and now that it and Rook City are boxed together, this should already be on your shelf.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Greater Than Games for providing a review copy of Sentinels of the Multiverse: Infernal Relics