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Sentinels Tactics Review - Tiny Heroics

Paul Goodman | 15 Sep 2014 15:00
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A mission from a scenario book.

Tactics comes with three "Scenario" books that feature a set of storyline missions focused on a villain from the core set. Humorously designed like a comic book, they contain details on how to set up the game map for a mission and any special rules it uses, along comic panels describing snippets of the scenarios' story. The scenario missions feature specific win/lose conditions (some which can affect the setup of a following story mission), special rules and specific powers for the villain player. While one or two of the special rules could use a little more clarification, the scenarios are fun to go through and having to think how to use a character's abilities in less direct ways adds a welcome challenge to what'd normally be a straight up fight between heroes and villains. The robot overlord Omnitron's missions, for example, have the villain player commanding hordes of drones in an effort to gather resources or trying to destroy the game map (through removing hex sections as "scenario markers" are destroyed) as quickly as possible, while the hero players try to figure out how best to stem the never-ending horde besides just throwing eye-beams or fireballs around.

The other method of play (as mentioned in the rulebook) is to simply run a skirmish. You and another player (or players) pick a team of characters and just battle it out to a set number of character incapacitations. This lends itself well to quicker games and also provides a good way to learn the mechanics of the game without any extraneous rules. As fun as they can be, though, they can become a little dry given the limited arenas available as there's only so many ways you can configure the included hex maps. Luckily, even if Tactics may lack the kind of mix-and-match variety seen in its Multiverse predecessor with all its various decks, Tactics' mechanics are open ended enough that there's opportunities for players to get creative and make their own custom game styles and scenarios. More dedicated players may want to purchase something supplemental, like a dry or wet erase hex map, so they can create their own arenas to use with Tactics.

Regardless of if you prefer general or structured play, the pacing of your Tactics games is going to be fast once you get the hang of the rules - in-depth strategy isn't something you need to worry much about. Understanding the strengths and weakness of each character is straightforward once you've used them a couple of times, and it's really enjoyable figuring out and using what's the best combination of powers they have at their disposal while trying to prevent your opponent from doing the same. Whether it's setting up just the right attacks to take out an enemy in one shot or rolling really well with your last surviving character to beat the odds, Tactics offers enjoyable superhero themed gameplay without a steep barrier to entry.

That said, there are a few minor issues that can add a thin layer of confusion to the game. It can be way too easy to forget to roll your character's movement value at the end of a turn, and the rulebook is fuzzy on gameplay issues like friendly fire when it comes to area of effect attacks - a problem that arose several times in the games I played for review that, I'll admit, had some hilariously unintended side effects. But with the promise of future expansions featuring new characters, rules and scenarios - The first of which, Uprising, is already on the way - Tactics is a decent start to a potentially robust minis combat game.

Bottom Line: With its smaller pool of characters and environments, Sentinels Tactics will definitely instill the desire for more content, scenarios and heroes. As it is now, it's still an enjoyable, fast paced game with light strategy and fun brawls between superheroes even if some of the math can be a little tricky to figure out from time to time.

Recommendation: If this is your first foray into miniatures combat games or a fan of the Multiverse series, Tactics does have a few less-than-thoroughly explained rules that can cause the game to snag on occasion. It does make up for it with fast pacing, easy to understand strategy and a focus on superheroes beating the crap out of supervillains.

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