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Cody Carlson
Game boards in Duel of Ages II, from Worldspanner, are constructed by using various interconnected "platters" and "keys."

Two new editions of classic games promise a celebration of action and adventure: Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition, a cooperative card game from Greater Than Games, and Duel of Ages II, a board game from Worldspanner.

In Sentinels of the Multiverse, two to five players take on the role of comic book superheroes with names like Legacy, Absolute Zero, Tachyon and Haka. Together they battle one of four super-villains determined to destroy the heroes.

Players begin by selecting which hero they will play and agreeing upon a villain they will all battle. Additionally, players must select a specific environment card that sets the stage for the action. Each superhero and villain has his own unique deck with special powers and tactics.

The action begins by revealing the top card from the villain's deck, which initiates some kind of an attack upon the heroes. Then each hero may take a turn, drawing or playing cards in an attempt to stop the villain. Finally, the top card from the environment deck is revealed, adding yet another challenge for the heroes to overcome.

Each hero and villain has a set number of hit points on his card and the game is essentially a race to see who will be eliminated first — the heroes or the villain.

Sentinels is a fast-paced and engaging card game that provides plenty of challenge and a lot of player options. The cooperative aspect is a lot of fun, as players must work together to best manage their cards in the most effective manner possible. Players begin to feel the heat when one of their own takes critical damage, resulting in tense combat and several near-misses.

Game play itself is fairly basic, though the theme really shines from beginning to end. Beautiful artwork draws players into this generic comic book world, and fun, unexpected twists like the arrival of paparazzi, a meteor storm or a triggered self-destruct sequence will have you alternatively laughing and sweating.

Originally released in 2011, this new Enhanced Edition features a bigger box and card dividers for easier storage, as well as tokens for hit points and other effects. Greater Than Games has already released several expansions to Sentinels if you want to take your adventures further. Recommended for ages 13 and up, Sentinels of the Multiverse plays in between 30 and 60 minutes.

Duel of Ages II takes place in the year 2384, where people from across the galaxy tune in to watch some very usual games. Two to eight players join either the black team or the white team as they engage in one of many different scenarios involving characters from history, lore, science-fiction and fantasy.

The board consists of a series of modular “platters” that are connected by several smaller, triangular “keys.” The various platters contain different terrain that your character tokens must navigate, and the keys offer starting position domes for players, team bases and more.

The heart of DOA II, however, is the character cards. Each character card contains a wealth of statistics and data about the subject, everything from intelligence and strength to stealth and honor ratings and combat values. Throughout the game, these stats must be constantly compared to adventure challenges, treasure items and combat cards.

Objectives in scenarios vary, and the game encourages experimentation. Players may wish to engage in simple elimination or might want to sabotage the other team's base, or perhaps simply get more of their characters to the other side of the board.

First of all, it needs to be said that DOA II is not for everybody. This is a very unusual game for a variety of reasons, and no doubt some gamers will be overloaded with the stats and other options. That being said, the word that best describes DOA II is simply “Wow!” The sheer level of choices offered by this game is amazing, and the combat card system is both intense and elegant. Everybody loves to roll dice, but DOA II's card combat is incredibly innovative and will have players on the edge of their seats with every draw.

The real magic is the epic stories this game tells. Where else can you have a standoff between Scotland's legendary William Wallace and World War II U.S. Army General James Gavin? The scope and combinations that this game offers are truly astounding. The game itself is a lot of fun.

The original DOA was followed by several expansions. For this new release, Worldspanner offers the base game, as well as a Master Set that includes all of the original expansions. The Master Set adds little in the way of rules, but abounds in new platters, keys, items and, most important of all, characters. The base game boasts 48 characters, and the Master Set includes 144 more. Playing the same game twice is a mathematical impossibility with DOA II.

DOA II is recommended for ages 12 and up. Play time varies with scenario.

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at SLCC. He has also appeared on many local stages, including Hale Center Theater and Off Broadway Theater. Email: [email protected].