By Phillip Melvin
TARGETS IDENTIFIED. MUTANTS. SURRENDER OR DIE.
Sentinels cannot be convinced to deviate from their programing; they relentlessly pursue their victims until they achieve their goal – the extinction of their mutant prey.
Sentinels are the newest member of the limited Affiliation club with only 3 entries on its list. All 5 Tactics Cards for this new team come bundled in the Sentinel Prime and Sentinel MK4 box, making this is a rather straightforward Affiliation to break into.
The other box you’ll need to consider is Cassandra Nova. This formally Cabal only character has long been overshadowed by other characters in her own Affiliation, and shares a box with the equally overlooked Jean Grey from the X-Men. Luckily the Sentinels Affiliation has given her a new lease on life with a character specific Tactic Card that benefits both her and her new robot pals.
At only 4 Threat, the Sentinel MK4 is going to be your basic workhorse for the Affiliation. Average Physical Defense with above average Energy/Mystic is backed up by 7 Health on the front, 6 Health on the back side. Their Sentinel Programming is their big defensive ability versus Mystic, allowing them to count Wilds as double success against Mystic Attack and giving them immunity to Advances/Pushes against Mystic attacks and Superpowers. Keep in mind that this doesn’t prevent them from being Pushed from a size-unrestricted non-Mystic attack (like Core Iron Man’s Repulsor Blast) or a size-unrestricted Throw (like Malekith’s Ferocity). Luckily control abilities against Sentinels are limited due to being Size 5, and you can prevent the worst of them with timely Tactic Cards (Brace for Impact, Indomitable, Escort to Safety).
Onto their offensive abilities, the MK4s have an interesting Energy Builder/Spender in Plasma Blast. Range 3 with only 4 dice starts a bit weak, but you can spend up to 3 Power and add that many dice to the attack. Add at least 1-2 Power and this attack likely refunds its Cost and maybe even generates a Power profit. Their true Spender Costs 3 Power and gives you a big 8 die Physical Attack and Range 3. Having lots of dice is good because it has a Wild Trigger that inflicts a condition for each Wild you roll with the choice of Incinerate, Shock, and Slow (all amazing Conditions). Their only other way to spend Power is by using 2 for Restraint Cables. This is basically Webline from various Spider-people except you need Line of Sight in order to Push someone towards you Short.
Part of the reason this Affiliation only has 3 entries is due in part to the MK4’s innate ability called Master Mold. Simply put, this lets you take two MK4s in your Roster/Squad and overrides the typical rules for same named characters. Rounding out their kit is Power Matrix which provides 2 Power at the end of their Activation (giving a net 3 Power for Activation), and the innate abilities of Flights and Immunity to Bleed/Poison.
For most characters this would be the end of the summary, but Sentinels do have some drastic gameplay affecting changes on their injured side. The easiest one to talk about is their Power Matrix becomes damaged and therefore only generates 1 Power after its Activation instead of 2. This wouldn’t be so bad, but their Builder loses its ability to generate Power. In fact it also loses its ability to spend Power and is now a 4 dice Range 2 Energy Attack. Its gets a potentially good ability in granting 2 extra dice per Critical roll, but is heavily hampered by each Critical also causing 1 damage to the Sentinel. Unless you have no power for the Spender and are desperate to take out an opposing model, this attack is a crazy trap that will more often than not just murder your own injured Sentinel.
Sentinel Prime MK4
At first glance the 5 Threat Leader character for the Affiliation looks very similar to the standard MK4s. That extra Threat does buy it extra durability with a Health increase to 10 on the front and 8 on the back. Offensively its attacks also get upgraded to MK2 versions of themselves, which translates to an extra dice on both attacks with the Physical Spender now costing 4.
The real big change for this character is its Pattern Analysis Superpower. This X power lets the Prime spend up 3 Power to give itself or allies within Range 4 re-rolls during attack or defense. This power is very similar to the one found on Wakanda’s Shuri except Prime can also give itself re-rolls whereas she is limited to just allies. Since the Prime generates 3 base Power per Activation, this means you always have a handful of re-rolls ready for the rest of your squad to access.
Moving onto the Leadership, we have Mutant Hunters. This Power generating Leadership is triggered when a member of your squad Dazes an enemy character (doesn’t activate on KOs). You then choose a number of allied characters equal to the Threat value of the Dazed target and they all gain 1 Power. Between only being able to trigger this once per Turn, and it only working on Dazes, its a rather lackluster Leadership. The Sentinels themselves are fine on Power meaning this really matters more for characters like the Affiliated Cassandra Nova and other splashes you may include.
Unlike the regular MK4s, Prime doesn’t lose his attack on its Injured side. In fact, the only change he sees is in its Power Matrix ability. Instead of gaining 2 Power at the end of Activation, you now roll 5 dice in the Power phase and gain Power equal to Hits and Crits. The downside is if you roll at least 1 Skull you take 1 damage. Hopefully this ability will provide similar Power as the non-Injured side, but it doesn’t have the potential for swingy results.
While not a new release for this Affiliation, Cassandra is so scarcely seen on the table that reviewing what she does seemed appropriate. This 5 Threat Character brings your typical wizard-esque statline with above average Mystic, average Energy, and below Average Physical Defense. She makes up for this with 13 Health (7 front/ 6 Back), Stealth by a different name (so it doesn’t get turned off by cards or abilities), and her Psychic Distraction Superpower. For only 2 Cost this ability lets her roll 4 dice when enemies get near, with each success causing damage and triggering a free Short Move if she causes at least 1 damage. If you think ok I’ll just throw stuff at her to cause auto damage, then she can use her other Superpower to negate Collision damage for 2 Power.
Cassandra sadly only generates 1 Power per turn so she is reliant on her Builder to give her the juice for those great defensive abilities. Luckily a Mystic Range 4 attack with 5 dice and Wild Sap Power should net her a few extra Power each activation. If she doesn’t mind spending 1 Power, her Mind Possession spender is bonkers in that it auto Advances an enemy target equal to the Speed in addition to the damage from a 6 die Mystic Attack. Hit someone like Black Panther with this attack and watch the opposing player cry as he is Advanced away Long.
Her 2nd spender is less likely to be used since 4 Power is so valuable for her to save. However there are times when an 8 dice Physical Attack is the right play, especially if the enemies are grouped up and the Wild Explosive Force can Push multiple targets. Instead her last ability Costs 3 and auto applies Root and Slow to target within Range 3. If you Advance a character away with Mind Possession, then hit them with these Conditions, it’ll make it quite difficult for the enemy to retaliate with that model on their next Turn.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also talk about the Cassandra Nova Tactics Card that comes in her box. Called Mental Domination, this is a non-Action using Attack Card usable by her or Jean Grey. Basically you choose a target within Range 3, Advance them Short, and make an attack from the controlled target against another enemy within Range 2. While its only a 2 die attack, you get to add dice equal to the Controlled target’s Physical Defense. You also get to re-roll any number of the opposing defense dice with this attack. While it may be difficult to fit this Tactic Card in your 5 with all the other good Sentinels Cards, it definitely worth consideration in your 10.
All 5 of the new Sentinels Cards are basically Affiliation locked (technically not Under Your Skin but might at well be), with the first 2 coming in the Prime MK4 box.
Under Your Skin is the 3rd Tactic Card released over last year that lets an unaffiliated model count as Affiliated, but only during the game and not for 51% squad construction. Check out this Article for more about the particular rules interactions with cards like this. In Sentinels, you gain very little for being true Affiliated so really all this card currently does is hand out Flight and Immunity to Poison/Bleed. Take if you want to give Flight to a Long Move splash character like Black Panther, but otherwise best leave this one at home.
The 2nd, and much better card in the box, is Online and Operational. This card has a similar feel to Age of Ultron except it isn’t a Reactive card and must be played prior to an MK4 getting KOd. Most of the time it’ll be safest to play on an MK4 soon after its been flipped to Injured since most opponent’s will actively try to prevent this cards use. The real downside of the card though is the 8 Cost coming from Prime itself. The re-roll Superpower means Prime often wants to spend its Power to benefit itself or the squad on every Attack/Defense. Prime having to save Power and hand out less re-rolls will reduce the efficiency of your Team. A powerful card with a powerful affect, and one that will easily make most roster’s 10 but may struggle to fit into the 5 chosen.
3 more Affiliated cards come in the MK4 box. The first, and what will probably be the most popular card, is Directive One. This card is cheap to play at only 1 Power from at least 2 Sentinel Affiliated models. Once used you can ignore Stealth and LOS when targeting enemy models, and enemy defensive re-rolls are turned off. Of course Web Warriors are hurt the most by the loss of re-rolls, but really most rosters these days include some kind of defensive tech and its often re-roll based. The other interesting thing about this card is the ignore Stealth and LOS part affects all allies, so splash inclusions like Winter Solder can leverage his Range 5 attack against models hiding behind terrain.
The 2nd card Efficient Machines is the Cassandra Nova card that gives her a new home in this Affiliation. A rather simple card, Nova just needs to spend 3 Power and your Sentinels plus her can count Shields as Wilds for the rest of the Round. This not only increases hit chance efficiency but also makes it that much easier for the Sentinels to hit those Wilds on their Spender Attack to apply Conditions. This card will also affect splash characters that are Affiliated due to Under Your Skin if you choose to run that card.
The last card in the box is Scrap Metal. This card can only be played when a Sentinel MK4 or Prime gets KOd and lets them cause a death explosion. Rolling 5 dice and looking for just any type of success means you’ll probably cause at least 2 damage to nearby targets. While its on your opponent to give you the chance to use this card, its pretty likely one of your robots will die each game. Be careful though, as the damage from this card affects both friend and foe that are within Range 2. If your opponent has high damage but relatively squishy characters in their squad, this card may see good use in your 5.
Out of Affiliation Choices
With only 3 entries on their Affiliation list, you’ll be forced to take splash models to make a legal 10 model roster. While I won’t go into super detail on each, here are some good options to consider when roster building
Rogue Agents – Winter Soldier will be a staple in most Sentinels Rosters if for no other reason than to help them play at all Threat levels by being a 3 Threat. Hydra Tactics also loves huge bases to bounce around, and the Directive One Tactics card lets him shred hidden targets
Movement Shenanigans – Nice Fury Sr. for 3 Threat or Medusa for 4 Threat bring Superpowers to give the Sentinels out of Activation movement and both appreciate the extra Power that the Leadership provides. Lockjaw also falls into this category but I like him the least because he is all support, whereas Fury Sr. and Medusa can get offensive work down in addition to their Movement tricks
Support models – Hood at 3 Threat will be an interesting Sentinel member as the robots are immune to the Bleed Condition caused by his Heal. If you want something cheaper then Wong brings a lesser Heal but has the bonus of being able to remove Conditions that may be hampering your Sentinels
Grunts – Sentinels are baseline a bit more expensive and squads will likely have fewer models than your opponent. Bringing a Grunt character like Nick Fury Jr. will help alleviate this model deficit. Fury’s Grunts also help the Sentinels on Extracts that are to spread out for themselves to easily grab
Sentinels Overall Thoughts
- Durable Leader model that provides massive amounts of re-rolls for his squad
- Restraint Cables provide Action economy by reducing the necessity of Movement
- Each Sentinel comes with solid Power Generation to use their tools each Turn
- Cassandra Nova gets a home that provides the Power she needs, and in Turn she brings a Tactic Card to buff the Sentinels
- Awesome sculpts with poseability options to make a group of Sentinels look dynamic
- Their low mobility can result in quick Scenario loss on certain Crises
- Lackluster Leadership
- Despite appearances, can quickly be destroyed by the other 6+ Threat models in the game
- Weak to Pushes and Throws that can affect size 5, is often pigeonholed into taking Brace for Impact and/or Indomitable in every game
Sentinels are one of the most iconic antagonists in Marvel, and their models look amazing on the tabletop. While their competitive viability is yet to be determined, just putting these big robots onto the board is fun. They are an easy Affiliation to break into with only 2 necessary to buy boxes, and they both accept splashes and can be splashed in many places effectively. As a side bonus, Sentinel sprues come with a large amount of bonus bits that a hobbyist can easily use to accent their other MCP models.
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