Sentinels of the Multiverse: Plague Rat

Jay: For today’s Sentinels of the Multiverse battle, we take on a pest. Plague Rat, a former Rook City drug lord mutated by his own illicit product, roams the sewers of the city looking for victims. His bite transmits a terrible virus that not only damages the heroes, but potentially turns them against each other. Plague Rat’s nemesis is Chrono-Ranger, a bounty hunter who travels the timestream, hunting monsters for fun and profit.

Tom: Plague Rat doesn’t have a lot of fancy tricks because he doesn’t need them. He is a brutal damage dealing machine who heals himself up once he’s infected all the heroes. This is going to be nasty, brutish, and short.

After the jump, you dirty rat!

Jay: Last week we faced the villains of the brand new Vengeance expansion and we found the new villain system disappointing. So this week, we’ll consider the new heroes in the expansion. I’ll be using two of them alongside Chrono-Ranger. The Naturalist is a shape shifter whose cards have different effects depending on which animal form he’s assumed. Setback, the unluckiest man on earth, uses his bad luck as a weapon. He accumulates bad luck tokens that he can spend in order to change outcomes, but often at the expense of his own health pool.

Tom: I’ll be using Knyfe, an elite agent who uses powerful energy blades to cause serious damage. In fact, she puts The Wraith to shame for how she can deploy a few cards to turn herself into a reliable damage-dealing machine. She’s basically The Wraith turned up to 11. Who wouldn’t want Knyfe to go up against a brutal brawler like Plague Rat?

And that’s a bit of my concern here. I really like these new heroes, but part of why I like them is that some of them are more powerful than the old heroes. For instance, Parse has some powerful card management tricks and she can dish out damage. Parse would be an excellent hero to try to manage Plague Rat’s infection cards. Why would you ever use, say, Visionary once you’ve got Parse? I’m a bit worried that the new heroes in Vengeance are an example of add-on power creep. In other words, the idea seems to be making the new stuff better by, well, simply making it better. Power creep. Displace your old heroes in favor of these new guys, who hit harder, last longer, and play more efficiently. I refuse to let the new heroes undermine my old favorites. So for my third hero, I’m choosing Visionary instead of Parse.

Jay: Silver Gulch is a Wild West town beset by a raging time portal threatening to tear it apart. The town’s sheriff is busy fighting off a trio of larcenous brothers and someone left way too much gunpowder lying around. Sounds like the perfect place to hunt a monster.

Tom: Even if you’ve bought all the main expansions, you won’t find the Silver Gulch environment deck in your boxes of Sentinels cards. This is one of the mini-expansions you can only get directly from developer Greater Than Games. I’ve just ordered all these myself. And, as luck would have it, the random die roll for which environment to use in my Plague Rat battle is…The Final Wasteland! This is another environment only available directly from Greater Than Games. And it’s full of monsters, including Rat Beast, another nemesis to Chrono Ranger. My time cowboy is going to have his hands full in this battle.

Jay: The fight starts off as Chrono-Ranger tracks the rat to his disease-infested nest. Plague Locus is a card that starts out in play. It’s a real problem as it increases all the damage inflicted by Plague Rat. You’re asking for trouble is you leave this in play too long. All of the heroes unload on the Plague Locus hoping to destroy it before too many of them become infected. Unfortunately, the very next turn, The Naturalist is bitten and begins to show signs of madness. Imagine a giant rabid gazelle…no, a giant rabid rhino…wait, now he’s a giant infected alligator! That’s The Naturalist on Plague Rat poison. While this is bad for the heroes, it also turns out to be bad for Plague Rat. Each turn, infected heroes damage themselves, but they also get a universal damage bonus. If you can find a way to heal back the damage you are doing to yourself, you can use this damage bonus to great effect against the rat.

Tom: Plague Rat’s damage bonuses are just deadly. I keep having to deal with monsters in the Final Wasteland joining the fray, pulling my attention away from Plague Rat. Chupacabras, yetis, Jersey devils. It’s crazy. I actually welcome the appearance of a Mongolian Death Worm, because he surfaces, hurts everyone equally, and then burrows back into the deck. At least he’s not picking solely on the heroes like everything else in the Final Wasteland.

Jay: After the nest is dealt with, the heroes get another bit of good news. The sheriff of Silver Gulch arrives. Each turn, he attacks the villain or bandit target with the lowest hit points. Since Plague Rat has no other target cards in his deck, as his nest was just destroyed, the sheriff is free to lend a hand whittling down the monster.

Tom: I wish there was a sheriff in The Final Wasteland. There is a friendly base, but if you use it too long, it attracts more monsters. By the way, I’ve found that The Visionary is really good at avoiding damage by basically opting out of the game. She just hides in her Telekinetic Cocoon.

Jay: The next few rounds have the heroes and Plague Rat trading blows. Chrono-Ranger loads Plague Rat up with bounty cards that increase the damage done to the rat and add a number of other beneficial effects. The Naturalist changes into an antelope in order to heal and prance about removing villain ongoing cards, which are the basis of Plague Rat’s infections as well as some of his nastier buffs. Finally Setback manages to stumble his way into the line of fire, taking damage from all sides, which allows him to increase his token pool. He spends these tokens healing and protecting the other heroes.

Tom: The ongoing cards, namely the infection cards, are the issue for me. I keep losing this battle, partly because I have no convenient way to deal with villain ongoing cards, and partly because The Final Wasteland can be brutal. I consider changing up my roster, perhaps bringing Parse in to replace The Visionary or replacing Knyfe with someone more defensively oriented. In the end, though, Jay has the right idea. Sometimes you have to just hope for the Old West’s equivalent of the nuclear option.

Jay: Everything is going according to plan and the Silver Gulch environment with its sheriff is actually helping out. But all that changes when we draw the unstable time rift. Silver Gulch is in the process of being consumed by this rip in time and space. The rift accelerates the rate of card draw for the environment, and if the environment discard pile is ever empty, Silver Gulch is swallowed whole and lost in time. Everyone loses the game. Naturally, the heroes want to avoid this so they have to spend their own resources fighting against this unnatural disaster. Playing two cards a round from the environment deck rapidly destabilizes the situation. Within a couple of turns the environment has created a Rube Goldberg contraption of doom. Two Gunpowder Wagons are in play, which gives everyone an additional boost to their damage. One of the town’s notorious bandits has entered the scene to shoot at both the heroes and the sheriff.

Finally, the unstable rift starts tossing around blasts of energy cooking friend and foe alike. Everyone is injured and reeling from the battle. Even the mighty Plague Rat shows signs of fatigue, when the unstable rift fires another blast of energy and sets off one of the Gunpowder Wagons. This explodes, igniting the second wagon into yet another explosions that levels the town. Everything is destroyed and the smoke is so thick, it is impossible to tell if either the heroes or Plague Rat are still standing. After a furious few minutes at the table of number crunching and double checking, the smoke clears and The Naturalist is the only one left standing with a mere 2 hit points. Plague Rat, Chrono-Ranger, Setback and the town’s inhabitants have all been defeated. The heroes have won! I can imagine the scene as debris from the town falls all about him, The Naturalist slowly limps off into the sunset. These are the moments that define Sentinels of the Multiverse and keep me coming back time and again.

Next week: The Visionary confronts herself
Click here for the previous Sentinels of the Multiverse entry.