Monday, March 23, 2020

Return to Bloodsworn Arena

Nearly four years ago, my two sons & I created a variant for the cooperative superhero card game Sentinels of the Multiverse... which, frankly, is a family favorite. We own all of the physical expansions and we have the full digital version on our iPad. Son the Younger even has a plushy Mr. Chomps (see above).

Yes, it's a sickness. Let's not dwell on that.

When we (and when I say "we", I actually mean "I" - but it sounds better when I included my sons) pledged for the Season 2 Kickstarter of the digital version of Sentinels, one of the things we were most excited about was a Bloodsworn Arena mode. (What follows is the description from the Kickstarter page...)
How many villains can you defeat in a row with the ultimate hero team? Make your own storyline with this randomized campaign mode and last as long as you can. Fans of the game have made several versions of this idea on the tabletop.
If we can reach this goal, Handelabra Games will create an “Arena Mode” for the video game. The details and options of the new mode will be worked out when we get to the design and development stage, and we’ll be getting your input at that time. Some ideas and options include a single fixed hero team with no HP recovery; a drafting mechanic where fallen heroes are replaced; ramping up difficulty with advanced and challenge modes; and more! No matter what, this new mode will keep you on your toes.
Sadly, while the Season 2 Kickstarter was successful, it wasn't successful enough to reach this particular stretch goal.

So, after fruitlessly searching the InterWebs (Homer Simpson: "Oh, they have the internet on computers now!") for some home-brewed Arena rules, we made our own. We offer them here for you as an early Thanksgiving gift. (Homer Simpson: "And Lord, we are especially thankful for nuclear power, the cleanest, safest energy source there is—except for solar, which is just a pipe dream. Anyway, we’d like to thank you for the occasional moments of peace and love our family has experienced. Well, not today, but you saw what happened! Oh, Lord, be honest! Are we the most pathetic family in the universe or what?!")


The Arena Rules
  • We selected a number of the weaker villains
  • After choosing our team and environment, we shuffled the villains and put the first one into play.
  • We played a normal game of SotM... and when we defeated the first villain, the following things happened:
    • The current hero finished their turn.
    • All defeated Villain cards were removed from the game.
    • All Hero and Environment ongoing cards stayed in place.
    • Heroes retained their current card hand & discard pile.
    • Heroes do not refresh hit points.
    • A new Villain was taken from the stack and set up as usual.
  • The new Villain went first... skipping any Hero turns and/or Environment turns.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat... until the team goes down in a blaze of glory.
How We Did
  • The first time we played, we managed to take out four villains while trapped in Madame Mittermeier’s Fantastical Festival of Conundrums & Curiosities. Things went MUCH better this time.
  • Our team (in player order):
    • Akash'thriya
    • The Hunted Naturalist
    • Unity
  • The environment:
    • the Maerynian Refuge
      • we were working to protect them from an onslaught of villains, right?
  • The villains we defeated (in order):
    • Ambuscade
    • Baron Blade
    • Chokepoint 
    • Deadline 
    • Gloomweaver
    • Kismet
    • Grand Warlord Voss
    • Spite
    • The Ennead
    • Omnitron
    • Iron Legacy
    • Omnitron II
    • Mad Bomber Baron Blade
    • Progeny
    • Skinwalker Gloomweaver
  • The villain who took us out:
    • none of them, though Spite got closer than anyone - we called it good when we defeated the mad god version of Skinwalker Gloomweaver at just over four (4!) hours of playing team
  • Most impressive attack:
    • Unity's team of robots managed to inflict over 100 points of damage in one turn - thanks to be the full mechanical golem team being in play
Yep... four hours. But the fun we had was epic.

Some thoughts:
  • The combination of the Refuge environment and the Naturalist was strong - but adding in Akash'thryia's primordial seeds meant it was never an issue.
  • We did choose villains in sets of four - then randomized them. Progeny & Skinwalker Gloomweaver were specific choices to see if we could survie.
  • Iron Legacy was a cakewalk when we were fully outfitted - he is normally a buzzsaw.
  • We laughed - three different villains "returned" in new forms... and we beat them again.
  • Here's the link to the original Bloodsworn Arena post from November 2016.

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