Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Infernal Relics

Shit be getting mystical, yo.
I think it's fair to say that the longer any comic remains in publication, the weirder it gets. It's not surprising then that the second big expansion for the Sentinels of the Multiverse computer game is... a bit out there, even by Sentinels standards. As with 'Rook City', the 'Infernal Relics' DLC brings in all of the new cards from the expansion box of the same name: in this case 2 hero decks, 4 villains and 2 environments.

The heroes are the Argent Adept, a magical musician (or musical magician) and Nightmist, a sorceress made of fog. AA has unfortunate initials and a deck built around combos. He has some one-shots, but mostly his cards are Instruments (a specialised form of Equipment) or Ongoing cards of one of three types, Rhythm, Harmony and Melody. His intrinsic power is used only to activate the powers of the musical cards, while the instruments allow him to kick off multiple musical effects. Nightmist meanwhile has a very particular and fiddly card set. She has a number of powerful Relics, but the bulk of her repertoire is Spells. Each of her cards has a sparkly red icon with a number; when Spells are played, the top card of her deck is revealed and its number determines the magnitude of the Spell effect; and usually the damage she inflicts on herself to use it. Potentially incredibly powerful, there are a lot of gambles in playing Nightmist.

Each of these heroes brings their own nemesis to the table. AA's is Akash'bhuta, an insane extradimensional earth mother goddess determined to destroy all existence and opposed by the Virtuosi of the Void. Her deck builds 'Primal Limbs' which do her attacking, but damage her once destroyed. If that sounds easy, you should note that she has a stonking 200 health to deplete. Nightmist's archenemy is also an outsider to the universe; Gloomweaver, a demonic loa worshipped by degenerate voodoo cults. Gloomweaver rocks a combination of Zombies, Cultists (who are swapped with trashed zombies when destroyed), Relics and Voodoo Pins, a nasty new card type that attach to a Hero card and do horrible things each turn. He is nowhere near as tough as Akash'bhuta, but like the Chairman/Operative he quickly generates a wall of mooks, so you spend a lot of time riding herd.

The remaining villains pair up with heroes from the basic set. Fanatic's nemesis is Apostate, a black-winged, long-haired, shirtless angel-dude ripped from the fevered imaginings of a thousand anime fangirls. Many of his cards are Relics mirroring Fanatics, in particular his personal sword, but he also has a demon horde to call on. Finally, the Ennead is a set of nine villains, of whom only five (or possibly one per hero) are played each time. Each member of the group is a human possessed by one of the Heliopolitan Ennead, and each has an effect that triggers when certain cards are played from their deck, which can lead to quite painful chains of extra plays and damage effects (or healing; they heal a lot, so everyone jumping on one of them at a time is a good strategy.) Beside the Ennead themselves, they lack ongoing cards, and play mostly one-shots.

The environments are Gloomweaver's Realm of Discord, which plays Distortions to change the rules of the game, and the Tomb of Anubis, an Ancient Egyptian complex full of traps and tests and killer mummies.

There's a lot to get to grips with in terms of alternate mechanics in 'Infernal Relics', but overall the new challenges aren't as horrific as those of 'Rook City' and variety more than difficulty is the selling point. This makes it a better addition for a casual gamer like me, although perhaps less satisfying for those who find the game as is lacks bite.

Impressively, the drive for increased complexity and variation has not affected the strengths of the game, and the four-colour artwork and thematic deck construction remains excellent.