Have you ever had a gaming session so bad, that you felt shame as you played? Shame for picking the game on the table, shame for subjecting your friends to the game being played? Shame for even owning a game that everyone at the table clearly isn't enjoying?
It's not a common experience thankfully, but it's one that definitely rears it's ugly head 1-2 times a year. I remember the first time it happened; with a group of 6 people who came over and we pulled out Small World to play on the spot. Playing Small World with 6 was my first mistake, playing it unprepared to teach was my second mistake. It wasn't even the game's fault, but as we muddled through a horrific experience, every slow move, every rules question...I felt horrible shame for subjecting my friends to this experience. That was the last time I pulled out a game that I was unequipped to teach and teach well.
Since then it's happened a few more times, where a game I thought well of, whether due to prior plays or ratings completely bombed at the table. The most recent incarnation of this happened this past Saturday, as I pulled out Sentinels of the Multiverse.
Now I've played Sentinels before, way back when I first started gaming and then I recently reacquired and played it solo once or twice. But then I pulled it out this week and it was horrible. Sentinels has always been fiddly, with too many modifiers than is good for any game, but I always felt it was workable and would manage to shine through despite that. This game though, I don't know if it was the grouping of characters we happened to pick but it was a terrible experience. The first turn or two went by pretty decently, but within 10 minutes the table was a mess. Every new card turned into an exercise in slowly reading and absorbing a complex set of new rules, every action and card play turned into a decision of whether to properly factor in every modifier, or just rush through it so that the game was less of a slog. Within 20 minutes I finally gave up and suggested we wrap up, a decision that was greeted with two sighs of relief from our friends and a "You're getting rid of this game right?" from my wife. And I am. I am getting rid of it.
Now don't get me wrong, I've had many enjoyable plays of Sentinels in the past and the rating is high enough to support giving it a shot ignoring my experience. At the same time speaking for myself, the "high" moments of Sentinels have never been good enough to risk another gameplay experience like this. Sure, sometimes it will be more fun...but if I can't rely on that, I won't pull it off the shelf.
You can buy a copy here :)
My concern now is Streetmasters. I've been heavily looking forward to that one, and the constant comparisons to Sentinels has me concerned that it too may provide some fun experiences but also potentially be a slog or have terrible combinations of heroes, villains and environments. Any Streetmasters fans here who have played and gotten rid of Sentinels? Should I be worried?
Or what about Aeon's End? Is that a better herolike experience? I recently acquired Aeon's End: Legacy and have been looking forward to playing that one with my wife. Worth it or not so much?
Sentinels of the Multiverse is on the trade pile. I traded it because I want to rely on a game to give me a positive experience every time I play it.