How to build a comic book universe without comics

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In just 13 years, comic book superheroes have gone from a risky box office gamble to pop culture immortality. Marvel Comics made a big bet on a lesser-known hero starring a lead actor with a troubled story in 2008. But the bet paid off and paid off big with the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Another comic book universe was launched a few years later and has quietly built itself into a universe loved by millions of superhero fans. The most amazing thing about it: they did it through games.

the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game created at Gen Con in 2011. The premise was simple: players chose a deck that represented the powers, skills and abilities of a superhero to fight a supervillain and prevent their evil plan from happening. achieve. To add a little more variety to the experience, players chose where this showdown on the start page took place. These environment cards acted like a wild card sometimes helping the villain and sometimes the heroes.

The card game was a pioneer in cooperative games where players faced off rather than against each other. The heroes were all recognizable pastiches of comic book superheroes and each game played differently from the others. The Wraith, for example, has grown more powerful with the Batman-style gadgets she brings out, while Legacy’s strength lies in enhancing other teammates through leadership and nobly intercepting big bad hits from the Big Bad. Villains had nasty ideas like damaging all heroes or becoming immune to some damage types. The environments also caused the team to divide. Who would spend their turn taking care of a train suspended on the bridge? Or suffer damage to seal a damaged airlock in space? The strategic choice made with four colors made the game a success and gained customer loyalty.

The success of mouth-to-mouth play led to expansions that not only offered more play options, but also filled in the story and backstory of the characters. The rivalries between heroes and villains have been explained. The characters also reversed their allegiances, just like the comics. Much of that story was told as text on cards hinting at fictional problems in this comic book world, but creators Christopher Badell and Adam Rebottaro later decided that wasn’t enough.

They started the Letters Page podcast where they didn’t just talk about the history of the game, but the history of the fictional publishing company that published Sentinels Comics. The pastiche characters were also reflections on comic history from the shiny and gorgeous Silver Age full of space adventures and bright colors to the Iron Age gritty reboots and oh so many covers. It was one of the keys to the success of the games; While players could understand these characters through their real-world comic book counterparts, Badell and Rebottaro’s knowledge of the history of comic book publishing allowed them to fend for themselves.

The card game has also developed in the digital domain. The first came Sidekick, a tablet app that has helped players keep track of bonuses, penalties, and other statuses in the card game. Then a dedicated version of the game was released for phones, tablets and computers. It’s surprisingly addicting and can often reveal mistakes made while playing the table game. More recently, Sentinels of freedom offered a tactical superhero approach reminiscent of video games like X-Com or the late one Force of freedom.

The game built on its own take on a classic comic book staple in a massive crossover event. OblivAeon launched on Kickstarter in 2016 as the board game equivalent of Crisis on infinite earths, secret wars or Avengers: Endgame. Although it took longer than expected to arrive, it provided a final point to the story told during five years of expansion. Heroes are born, heroes are dead and the world has changed forever … for now.

Now the Sentinels history has a glimpse of the future as well as the past. Sentinels Comic RPG offers fans a chance to build new heroes in the world after the OblivAeon event. The game allows players to design their own heroes or features graphics to randomly assemble pieces for a hero. The gameplay is fast paced and built on an interesting idea as a consequence of the misses; twists and turns. Superheroes rarely fail outright, but they often encounter complications and unexpected obstacles that they must face. The Wraith will find the clue but might leave something behind that could link her to his secret identity. The inheritance may be invulnerable, but he’ll have to pay hell if he misses his daughter’s prom to stop Baron Blood’s latest ploy. The RPG allows players to choose between failure and complicated successes. More often than not, they take the success now and face the consequences later.

Until April 23, a new edition of Sentinels of the Multiverse the card game is on Kickstarter. Badell and Rebottaro have come a long way in 10 years. The game design has been updated, cleaned up, and rebuilt to make the characters better reflect the powers and personalities they have discovered over the past decade. The art style has also been improved to reflect the different eras that the heroes represent. Some cards have the appearance of a square-jawed Jack Kirby. Others feel like lost Jim Lee pages. It’s a risk to ask fans who have already invested so much in the game to start over, but with 4,000 backers as of this writing, it looks like fans of the series are ready to reward that faith.

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