Apostate

“Read it again,” Fanatic says.

“I can’t,” Nightmist cries. “It’ll kill us all.”

Fanatic throws back her white cloak to reveal the dazzling silver armor underneath. She has worn it today. She has worn it for Apostate. “I know,” she says grimly. “Read it again.”

Nightmist casts a questioning look at Wraith. Wraith nods sadly.

After the jump, Sentinels of the Multiverse at its best.

Tom: My battle with Apostate is an example of everything that’s right with Sentinels of the Multiverse. It is the flip side of last week’s trainwreck of nested rules with Akash’Bhuta, which I finally abandoned in frustration. This was fast, fluid, steeped in character and strategy, with close calls and noble sacrifices. Did the heroes win? It doesn’t matter. Mostly no. But did I win? You bet.

Jay: Apostate is where the kiddie gloves come off. Many of the earlier villains; Baron Blade, Omnitron, Akash’Bhuta, can be defeated with a less than optimal strategy and a bit of luck. Apostate, however, has an answer for everything the heroes can throw at him and he will send it right back with a smile. Apostate is the Brad Pitt of villains. He looks so good while he is ruining your day that you almost enjoy the experience.

Tom: The die roll for an environment deck is a seven, which means it’s back to the Ruins of Atlantis, where we defeated Baron Blade two weeks ago. At least I know well what we’ll find down here. As for the dramatis personae, we need holy angel Fanatic, who is nemesis to infernal emissary Apostate. I’ll bring Nightmist into this battle for her powerful but unstable magic. And who better to round out the divinity and the magic than Wraith with her high-tech gadgets? Three women, each with unique sources of power, against one really evil dude!

Jay: For my struggle against this fallen angel, I choose Fanatic, Legacy and Absolute Zero. I had so much fun last week with Zero that I want to try him again, in the hopes that he can use his special bit of crazy to push this team over the top. Legacy should be able to shield him long enough to get Zero’s equipment into play. Besides, pairing Legacy with Fanatic almost seems unfair, given how the game’s mechanics double his Galvanize bonus when paired with Fanatic’s Exorcism power. Exorcism does one point of melee damage and one point of radiant damage. Each of those gets to benefit from Legacy’s Galvanize, which doubles the amount of damage Fanatic can dish out. Against Apostate, her nemesis bonus kicks in as well, turning Fanatic into a one woman machine of holy retribution. We are going to need it as we are fighting in the Realm of Discord. An alternate dimension that twists the rules and actively thwarts the heroes.

Tom: So I keep losing, but unlike throwing myself against Akash’Bhuta and her tangled rules, it’s always close enough that I want to try again. When Sentinels gets you close enough to victory, it really sings, even when you lose. If only I’d done this, or if only I’d played that power, or if only I’d found this card. If only, if only! Let’s go again.

The problem is Apostate’s relics. He has in his deck eight powerful relic cards, each of them a shield with a unique power. If you defeat him when a relic is still in play, the relic takes the hit and Apostate heals up. The trick is to time his defeat with a window when there are no relics. But so many of the cards bring out more relics or defend the relics. And when Apostate gets a line of relics deployed in front of him, it can seem hopeless. In my repeated attempts, I get him close to dead, but then another relic comes into play.

Jay: Apostate’s relics are the reason he is such a tough strategic challenge. Not only do the relics shield Apostate from defeat, but they shield themselves with some of the largest raw damage resistance you will find in Sentinels of the Multiverse. Punching through this damage resistance can be nearly impossible. It isn’t impossible, though, and the biggest challenge I face in any game against Apostate is when I should switch from damaging relics to damaging Apostate himself. At some point it becomes clear that hitting the relics is a waste of time and the only way to get them off the board is having them sacrificed to regenerate Apostate.

Tom: Here I am in my fourth attempt. Apostate is hurt badly, with only two hit points. But he has before him an array of evil relics. The Runes of Malediction are a powerful shield for all the relics. The Orb of Delirium sucks up damage directed to relics. The Corrupted Effigy will just bring the Runes straight back into play if I destroy them first. The Apostate is wearing one of his Gauntlets of Perdition. And don’t get me started on the Periapt of Woe. That infernal thing is a nigh invulnerable thorn in our side. It’s an unholy synergy of relics.

It doesn’t look good. Fanatic and Nightmist have two hit points. The Wraith has one hit point. I’ve been too aggressive, maybe even careless. Fanatic has twice used her Sacrosanct Martyr power to deal damage to herself and Apostate. After a few ill advised early Investigations — trading damage for extra cards — Nightmist has been burning through Oblivion cards like they’re candy, directing damage to friend and foe alike. Wraith has opted for her Razor Ordnance with a Micro-Targeting Computer instead of Stealth. There’s a Phosphorescent Chamber in play, boosting damage all around. Atlantis’ Mystical Defenses are firing wildly, and we’ve already run through two Leaking Rooms that have stopped us from getting cards into play while Apostate and his demons attacked.

But I see a way through this. A Hail Mary pass. A desperate plan that just might work. Fanatic dons her Aegis of Resurrection and uses her Exorcism to knock Apostate’s hit points down to zero. But Apostate doesn’t die when he dies. He instead destroys the relic with the least hit points and flips to his Dark Corruptor side, restoring himself to 20 hit points and starting a healing cycle. But this means Apsotate has to sacrifice the Periapt of Woe, which was entrenched behind overlapping relic defenses.

“Read it again,” Fanatic says.

“I can’t,” Nightmist cries. “It’ll kill us all.”

Fanatic throws back her white cloak to reveal the dazzling silver armor underneath. She has worn it today. She has worn it for Apostate. “I know,” she says grimly. “Read it again.”

Nightmist casts a questioning look at Wraith. Wraith nods sadly.

Now here comes the scorched earth. Nightmist’s Oblivion spell fires in two stages, the first dealing damage to everyone and the second dealing damage to the villains. The first wave is easily enough to kill Fanatic, Nightmist, and The Wraith. It’s an eldritch suicide bomb, knocking each of the heroes well past zero hit points. Game over?

Not quite. Fanatic’s Aegis of Resurrection restores her to ten hit points when she dies, leaving her the last woman standing. The waves of damage wash up against the newly healed Apostate and his relics. The damage surges past the Runes of Malediction and stacks up on the Orb of Delirium, shattering it. Fanatic, with a little help from her incapacitated comrades, manages to survive another two rounds of fighting, using the sword called Absolution to deliver the killing blow. Just as Apostate began with a sword called Condemnation, Fanatic ends everything as a lone survivor wielding her Absolution.

Jay: Tom’s story is how it should be. A tale of sacrifice and triumph. Where the heroes make the tough call that leads to their ultimate triumph. My story is a Cormac McCarthy novel. Over and over, Apostate is the force of evil that will not stop. He has the heroes figured out and is two steps ahead every game. Apostate isn’t Brad Pitt, he is Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh. There is no escape or daring rescue. Each time a solution presents itself, Apostate bats it away. My game ends with a literal Apocalypse. Apostate plays the card, Apocalypse, that removes everything from the board except for Apostate’s relics. Gone are Absolute Zero’s modules and tools. Gone are Legacy’s platitudes and resolve. Fanatic is denied her Absolution and with it, her salvation.

Next week, we dive into the new Sentinels expansion, Vengeance. Let’s see what a team of super villains can throw at us!
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