Unlocking Dark Watch: Setback

The variant identity Dark Watch Setback has been unlocked!

The Dark Watch: Setback variant identity in Sentinels of the Multiverse has one of the more challenging unlock conditions: defeat the Chairman in Rook City with Setback and the rest of the Dark Watch team as their variant selves: Nightmist, Mister Fixer and Expatriette. This is a challenging setup, top to bottom.[1][2] Thus, I turned to cheese.

This is a challenging setup, top to bottom. Thus, I turned to cheese.

Now in fairness, I slogged through a lot of total failures before turning to cheese. Most of the initial batch of games, both the Chairman and his flunky, the Operative, stayed at or had been restored to full health. I think I now hate the Fence more than I do any other of the Chairman’s underbosses. But after the unmitigated suffering of a team line-up where the heavy hitter keeps destroying the equipment and ongoings that makes the other heroes effective, I turned to the internet and came upon the Friendly Fire/Dual Crowbars combo.

In short, Friendly Fire allows Setback to be dealt 2 damage anytime a hero target would deal damage. Mister Fixer’s Dual Crowbars allow him to damage a second target any time he would deal damage. So Mister Fixer hits a target, Friendly Fire allows him to hit Setback, Dual Crowbars allows a new instance of damage to split off Fixer hitting Setback, then Friendly Fire allows Fixer to hit Setback again because he just dealt damage to a target, and so on and so on until Setback is incapacitated from getting whacked on the head with a crowbar.

In the context of this particular match-up, you are essentially sacrificing Setback to take the Operative out of the game in the first turn. And that is an excellent trade. Taking out the Operative means that underbosses enter play more slowly and destroying villain targets doesn’t incur retributive damage. And incapacitated Setback gives you half a regular hero turn with a card play or power use by someone who is, frankly, probably going to be more useful than he was, so . . .

So I shifted gears from “let’s fail fast repeatedly and figure out what worked at all” to restarting the game repeatedly until Setback and Fixer had the two key cards in hand. Aside from the amount of clicking between viable setups, I made more progress than before, but it still needed tweaking. Setback should lead the team, for instance, to allow Fixer to destroy the Operative on the first round. Others have suggested Fixer should go last, to increase the chances of playing a piece of fodder for his Bitter Strike from Nightmist or Expatriette.

It can all still come down to the flop, though. The final run through led off with the Contract coming out and an unbelievable string of Falling Statuary. Once the Operative was removed, there were, amazingly, some do-nothing turns waiting for the Chairman to flip as underbosses trickled into play and were sent to the trash. Several Perfect Human Specimen plays while the Chairman was at full HP didn’t bother me at all.

Once the Chairman flipped, his retaliatory damage took out Mister Fixer in a couple hits. I lucked out with Nightmist[3] and got an Amulet of the Elder Gods out just in time for the Chairman to hit her, which she redirected to him with the amulet, causing the Chairman to hit himself in response to hitting himself. That was pretty gratifying. Expatriette did the final bit of damage on Setback’s turn, so everyone got to get their licks in by the end.

[1] Note that the weekly one-shot Ridiculous Challenge Time, which wrecked a number of mint streaks, pitted Dark Watch Fixer, Nightmist and Expatriette against the Chairman.

[2] And why I put this one off, much like Price of Freedom of Wraith and Ra, Horus of Two Horizons. The second being one achievement I still have to earn.

[3] I lucked out twice, in fact, because an early Mists of Time/Mist-Fueled Recovery one-two put Nightmist back at full health and ready to take the “highest HP” punches while everyone else hovered at the brink of single digits.

Unlocking Infinitor, Tormented Ally


Despite being rated difficulty 2, Infinitor is more than kind of a pain to play against. He’ll spam manifestations, many of which have their own unique challenges — Twisted Miscreation will only take one damage per hit, no matter how many bonuses you pile up –enjoy constant damage reduction, and do an end run around typical villain deck management techniques, because so much of his deck involves putting yet more cards into play.

So I put off unlocking Infinitor’s variant, Tormented Ally — or “Heroic Infinitor,” as he is more popularly known — because I thought it would be a pain.[1] In fact, it only took two tries, in part because I lucked out with Dark Visionary almost always being able to put a manifestation on top, rather than one of his spammy one-shots.

The trick to unlocking Heroic Infinitor is getting a construct to deal the final points of damage. The two main options are Autonomous Blade and Wounding Buffer. Wounding Buffer is tricky because it needs to take enough damage to trigger without being knocked out of play completely. By the end of the game, compulsory damage bonuses can be high enough to take out a 4 HP target immediately. Autonomous Blade on Ra is how I wound up going. Once Infinitor was low enough, Ra did the penultimate wound and Autonomous Blade finished it off.

[1] Now I’m caught up on character variant achievements, for now.

Decked! Live: Sentinels of the Multiverse

Feeling left out of the impending Snowmagepocalypticon bearing down on most of the northeast United States last night, I decided to try out streaming Decked! live to YouTube. In this case, my friend Sarah graciously joined me for a round of Sentinels of the Multiverse. I’d been mulling over my previous comments about the Steam implementation of the card game and thought I’d give Handelabra Games’ model a whirl: play with another person by way of Skype screen-sharing.

My plan is to write up a more involved description of how I went about setting this up and the issues that need ironing out, but for now, the main take-aways are it’s doable, the pass and play model is rough in that players can’t look at their cards out of turn and not without peril, as my computer experienced a total and unheralded crash moments after we concluded the live stream.

Sentinels of the Multiverse Solo Play on Steam

Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Video Game cover, with the core Sentinels arrayed in a shallow V.So Sentinels of the Multiverse launched on Steam last Monday and, as predicted, I spent a good part of last week playing through all the heroes, villains and environments. On Steam, $15 buys you the electronic equivalent of the core Sentinels set, also known as the Enhanced Edition: ten heroes, four villains and four environments. As far as the game itself goes, this is the Sentinels of the Multiverse you know and love. The rules are implemented faithfully, though sometimes it’s hard to track quite where one is in a turn, or why something’s happening at a particular moment as the program automates steps like the villain turn.

As far as the implementation goes, the Mac version provided via Steam is what I infer is the tablet interface ported for desktops. The interface is divided up into panels in the style of a comic book, with the villain and environment and their cards on one side, faced by the heroes in an array of smaller panels, and the active hero’s cards in play and and in hand in panels below that. It’s a fine layout, but what bothers me about it is it feels like I’m supposed to be dragging and swiping, as on a tablet. So far, I haven’t been able to use arrow keys or any other keyboard shortcuts to page among cards in hand, for example, or call up the “effects in play” overlay — which is super helpful for knowing how many burst cards are in Tachyon’s trash, or how deep Wraith has stacked her stealthy damage reduction. I get that in a card game, there’s going to be a lot of dragging virtual cards around to the various zones, but I’d be happier with some shortcuts and right-click options implemented, so it felt less like a tablet game, with the dragging motions confined to the space of my track pad.

Over the two-ish weeks since the game launched on Steam, I had fun playing through all the different decks. I’ve become a lot more familiar with all the core hero decks. I think I get how Absolute Zero’s damage loop works; he did a whopping 20 damage to himself, and then to a villain target at one point, which I never would have pieced together if I was doing all the math myself. I’ve unlocked all the variant cards, which is what the computer implementation calls the promo identity cards. So far, you can get G.I. Bunker, America’s Newest Legacy, Super Scientific Tachyon, Rook City Wraith, Cosmic Omnitron and Mad Bomber Blade.

Currently, in the base game, there’s a nice set of variability among heroes, though repeated plays have started to show me the always-good choices, like Tachyon, Wraith and Legacy. The villains are starting to feel a little more lackluster, unfortunately. Baron Blade, Omnitron and Voss are generally fine to play. Citizen Dawn is still annoying enough that I rarely find myself thinking it’d be fun to play against her. Fortunately, yesterday Handelabra Games announced their plan for adding expansion content to the digital version of the game in 2015. In addition to building out the boxed expansions like Rook City and Infernal Relics divided once more, I notice — there will be packs collecting the singleton expansion decks. The first such pack collects Unity, Ambuscade and Silver Gulch, 1883, so you get a hero, a villain and an environment. I will be interested to see what the price point is for these add-on packs, as I felt $15 on Steam was a little steep, considering the same game is $10 on iTunes, especially as the network multiplayer functionality is still to come.

Playing Sentinels avidly on the computer and still wanting to keep up with the Joneses in the tabletop arena is going to be weird. I want to play all the heroes and understand how they work, which pretty much calls for buying their digital implementations. But to be up to speed in the tabletop area too means buying everything twice. I can remind myself all I want that I only have to buy what I want to play, but there’s a real “gotta catch ’em all” mentality that I struggle with, and rarely triumph over.

At the moment, I’m at a standstill with playing Sentinels of the Multiverse on the computer. I’ve played enough to learn everyone’s deck for the most part, and don’t feel especially challenged — though certainly there are the villain’s advanced modes to contend with — so I feel ready for new content to mix things up. Considering that it’s been less than two weeks, that seems a little soon to feel done with the core game. And I still want to play the game with friends around a table whenever I can, but sitting alone, optimizing plays — maybe abusing the rewind feature to optimize use of Super Scientific Tachyon’s “draw two off the bottom of a deck” ability — I feel like I’ve hit a limit that would only be broken with access to new content to make the game fresh and unpredictable again. Since that happened less than two weeks into owning the game, I’m a little hesitant to stake continued enjoyment on smaller infusions of content like the scheduled digital expansion packs.

Sentinels of the Mac-verse

Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Video Game cover, with the core Sentinels arrayed in a shallow V.It’s all over now. Skimming a Greater Than Games news post, I discovered that not only is the electronic adaptation Sentinels of the Multiverse game coming to computers via Steam, but it will run on OS X. This is totally news to me, though maybe not the rest of the card-shuffling world. So I am basically not going out in the evening for a while over the holiday break — assuming the desktop implementation of the game releases soon, which “Holiday 2014” implies. I’m reminded of trying out Hearthstone and spending three nights running planted on the couch, playing that all night.

Faithful readers will recall I was on the fence previously about buying into the digital Sentinels line. I seem to be completely over that now. I like the game; I don’t get to play it enough — because basically if I got to play it enough, I have turned into the guy who always brings it along and draws people in, even when there’s something else more suitable to the situation or group. But now, apparently, I am much more okay with rebuying a bunch of content to get the chance to play more.

There is also the interesting possibility of making a foray into live streaming with this. Though I’m not sure how visually stimulating this will be unless the gimmick is “Speed runs of Sentinels of the Multiverse. How fast can he crash and burn?”

16-bit Doctor Who

Screenshot of the Dr. Who RPG video on CollegeHumor.com

Not quite the Doctor Who role-playing you may be looking for, here’s an amusing take of recent events in the show as a console RPG. Looking like it hails from the halcyon days of turn-based combat and curious choices in sentence construction, this video takes you through the last two seasons of Doctor Who, as seen through the lens of a console RPG. Companions are gained and lost, bizarre actions rendered as characters waving an arm in the air and through it all, we are reassured as to the reason for all these shenanigans.

Check out the video over on CollegeHumor.com.

Castlevania: The Something of Something

Barghest of RPG.net posted some typed-up notes for a Castlevania supplement to Adventure! I’m always delighted to see more material for my favorite pulp action system.

It also gives some insight into the Castlevania mythos, which has always interested me, but I’ve never been willing to commit the time to digging it out of the games myself. The many Belmont family bloodlines display how farspread and varied the members of the monster-hunting tradition are.

In adapting the material to the system, Barghest makes two interesting choices. The Adventure! character types are renamed to suit the premodern era of Castlevania. That’s interesting in that most people claim to disregard the divisions of stalwart, mesmerist and daredevil.

Secondly, Barghest brings a video game mechanic, sub-weapons, over to Adventure!, right down to the rigors of using them: most are destroyed upon use and using them expends internal resources, Willpower in this case.

I am curious to see if Barghest explains the rationale for hewing so closely to the rules of the video game in that respect.