Sentinels of the Multiverse: La Capitan

Jay: After copious amounts of research for this week’s challenge, which consisted of watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and yelling “Arrr” around the house, I have come to the conclusion that pirates are pushovers. Seriously, how scary can a pirate be? All they do is sing sea shanties, drink rum and apply generous amounts of mascara to themselves. In what way is any of that threatening?

Sentinels of the Multiverse knows how to make a pirate formidable. Give her a time-traveling galleon and she will rule the world, right after she destroys me and Tom.

After the jump, crossing oceans of time.

Tom: Here again is Greater Than Games flexing their creativity and showing us how much they can accomplish with a deck of cards and relatively simple gameplay mechanics. The concept for La Capitan is that she steals the heroes’ cards and flees across time. Those cards are then used to heal La Capitan and her crew.

Jay: La Capitan is so formidable that she does not have just one nemesis. It takes a whole super team to deal with her time traveling ship and crew. The Sentinels are a new “hero” introduced in the Vengeance expansion. I put hero in quotes because they’re actually four heroes rolled into one. They share a single hero deck but have four character cards, each with his or her own hitpoints and powers. You have a tremendous amount of versatility with the Sentinels, given that each turn you can heal, resist damage, deal damage, or manipulate any of the decks on the table. And those are just the base powers at the start of the game. Once you layer in the cards from their deck, they become a powerhouse.

Tom: I love the idea of the Sentinels, which are again an example of Greater Than’s creativity. But I’m not convinced the game benefits from the team within a team concept. Versatility is great, but at what point is it just more complexity? Most heroes ramp up slowly and you get a specific character build going after a few turns. But the Sentinels are often a spread of unrealized possibility loitering on the table, frail and indecisive. I guess part of the problem is that I haven’t played them much, and I’ve never been able to get them working very well. Let’s see if I can change that this time around.

Jay: Along for the ride are Knyfe and Parse. Parse is a wonderful mix of Hawkeye and the mentats from Dune. She is, of course, the result of an engineering mishap gone awry. Human computer and archer supreme all in one package. We have this fight in the bag.

Tom: I’m going the safe route so I can concentrate on getting the Sentinels up and running. So I’ve got Legacy for support duty and The Wraith for damage dealing. I randomly roll my environment and get The Final Wasteland. Seems like La Capitan’s journey through time has taken a weird turn into a strange monster-infested dimension!

Jay: When the game begins, La Capitan starts with La Paradoja Magnifica, her mighty pirate ship, in play. La Paradoja Magnifica grants her the ability to play an extra card each turn. This is time travel at its finest. She will play her cards twice as fast. So La Paradoja Magnifica moves right to the top of my priority list. That ship needs to be dealt with immediately.

Tom: That ship is the least of my problems. La Capitan immediately plays a couple of raiding party cards, each of which puts two crew members into play. Now I’ve got four crew members attacking me every turn. Again, to Greater Than’s credit, there’s a lot of creativity in these various crew members. In fact, they put the mini-nemeses in the expansion villain decks to shame! La Capitan’s crew creates vivid gameplay scenarios that I won’t soon forget. For instance, a ronin pirate attacks the hero with the lowest hitpoints. Has he no honor? I guess that’s a ronin for you! But this means he’s singling out the Sentinels, who have fewer hit points than the other heroes. The Idealist — as you might expect, she has the fewest hit points — goes down quickly. At which point Sentinels use their turn by having Dr. Medico try to revive her. The Sentinels might go down easy, but at least they can get back up!

Jay: Out of the gate, La Capitan hits hard, playing the Temporal Thief card. This lets her take the top card of each hero deck and place it under her character card. As if that wasn’t enough, she also does psychic damage to each hero. I get the feeling that she arranged this ahead of time. That’s the problem with time travel. Nothing is ever really up to chance when you can go back and fix the results. But don’t worry, I am sure everything will work out for our heroes.

The three pilfered cards mean La Capitan flips over next turn, using those stolen cards as a form of armor. I’m not sure if she is powering some advanced technological device or simply dodging between dimensions. Either way, each time La Capitan would take damage, she instead discards one of the stolen cards and prevents all the damage. After the cards are exhausted, La Capitan redirects damage back at the heroes. It wasn’t enough we had to work just to get our cards back. Now we also have to punch ourselves in the face. La Capitan does not play fair.

Tom: The Final Wasteland is putting into play monsters that I had hoped would fight La Capitan’s pirates. There’s a little of that happening. A horrid skunk ape is stinking up the joint, doing a point of damage to everyone each turn. But otherwise, the amphibious chupacabra and the rat beast are carefully singling out my heroes for attack. Meanwhile, La Capitan’s ranks have swelled to seven crew members. And I haven’t been able to keep any equipment or ongoing cards in play. This isn’t going well.

Jay: For my environment, I chose to play on the Mobile Defense Platform. It made for so many wonderful stories in Tom’s games that I wanted to try it out. Sadly, the worst possible outcome happened. The environment didn’t do anything of note. Sure, the propulsion system was on the table and there were a host of shield generators and mechanics. None of this was an issue, however, as La Capitan focused exclusively on the heroes and ignored the environment. Parse had to deal with the odd Blade Brute or Blade Gunner, but for the most part, the environment just minded its own business. While I’m glad that we didn’t fall from the sky to our doom, you don’t come to a game of Sentinels looking for quiet and dependable.

Tom: I’d gladly trade my chupacabra for a nice quiet shield generator.

Jay: It takes a long time before the heroes can get a handle on the situation. One crew member of La Capitan’s in particular becomes a thorn in my side. The Amazing Mable, former circus performer, forces the players to destroy an ongoing or equipment card at the end of each villain turn. She also allows the villain to play an additional card each turn and she keeps popping up like a bad penny. No matter how many times I send her to the trash, La Capitan finds a way to fish her out. Mable causes so many problems for me that I end up devoting Knyfe full time to Mable control, existing only to put equipment on the table as a sacrifice. Without this, Parse and the Sentinels would not be able to gear up in time to deal with La Capitan.

Tom: I love how much I hate Mable. I hate her almost as much as the ronin, Final Breath, who keeps picking off the Sentinels. It means a lot to me when I notice a particular card enough to hate it. Mable, here’s to you. You too, ronin. La Capitan’s ship shuffles her discard pile back into her deck every turn, so even when you kill a crew member, he or she might pop right back out!

Jay: Finally, after about six turns, the heroes have made progress. We’ve destroyed the ship, cleared away the crew, and finally retrieved all of our cards from the larcenous captain. La Capitan is back to being a Time Corsair and the Sentinels are on a roll. I’m a bit concerned, as all of the heroes are seriously injured, but the Sentinels are on fire. I have the right cards in play and tons of cards in my hand. The Sentinels are throwing out massive damage each round and their power combinations are just wonderful to behold. The heroes are all set to make that victory lap and pose for the photographers when I am reminded that time travel is tricky. The pirate queen plays “A Motley Crew”. Don’t worry, she isn’t starting a hair metal revival. Instead, she gets to fish out two of her deceased crew members from the trash and then play another card from the villain deck. With Amazing Mable back on the table, La Capitan goes for the killing blow and plays another “Temporal Thief” card, which refills her war chest and allows her to flip to her armored side. Welcome to my personal Kobayashi Maru. The Amazing Mable will destroy all of my equipment and ongoings, while Final Breath picks off the weakest heroes one by one. Even before this villain turn is finished, the first Sentinel is defeated, a victim of Final Breath’s opportunistic attack.

Tom: At least I lost much sooner than Jay. I’ve played this match-up a few times, and it basically comes down to getting lucky in your early turns. You have to put enough cards into play to withstand La Capitan’s theft without getting hopelessly gimped. Which I haven’t been able to do.

Jay: I admit defeat and put the cards away, knowing that I will get a rematch with La Capitan. Or maybe I already had the rematch and both won and lost in alternate dimensions. Time travel is complicated and I’m pretty sure the game was rigged, but as usual, it made for a great story.

Next week: Crows! Lots and lots of crows!
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