A brief history on my experience with Sentinels of the Multiverse
My friend won me over to Sentinels of the Multiverse in the right way: he asked me what I liked to play as if I were playing a D&D campaign. Without hesitation I told him Paladin, and so he gave me two options: The Sentinels or Fanatic. I grabbed the Fanatic deck, took one look at her and a few of the cards to get an idea of her background, and knew it was meant to be.
That first play was everything I had hoped for in a superhero game and more. We quickly played a second, and I used Fanatic again. The next time we got together I pulled Fanatic out to continue testing her out. My friend sent me a code to get the base game on Steam. Every game I’ve played has included Fanatic.
Last night, for the first time, I used a deck other than Fanatic. When we quickly took down Baron Blade, I asked for a my buddy to set up a challenging scenario. Environment: The Court of Blood. “Good thing you aren’t playing as Fanatic”, he told me. Then he pulled out Apostate. “Really good thing you aren’t playing as Fanatic. This setup would wreck you hard.” I blinked and slid my KNYFE deck back across the table.
“Apostate? He’s my nemesis. I have to play as Fanatic now.”
He was right, that setup wrecked me. But I did survive…barely. And we won…barely.
I’ve played over a dozen games with Fanatic for sure. I’ve played once using someone else (well, on Steam I use 2-4 other decks but I always have her), and that was a Baron Blade slaughter. Her style fits me well, and I absolutely love filling that role of walking the line between taking damage and dishing it back out. I’ve had an impressive come-from-behind-victory when all hope seemed lost, all thanks to Fanatic. There are others who are probably more qualified to write this than I am, but I want to weigh in with my own tips on how to run this deck. It is unconventional at times, to say the least, and can definitely be a source of frustration to the person who isn’t prepared for her tactics. Therefore, this is the article I shall write:
The four Fanatics
Standard version Fanatic – 30 HP, Power: Exorcism – Fanatic deals 1 Target 1 Melee Damage and 1 Radiant Damage.
The Fanatic everyone should use first is rather unremarkable, yet surprisingly consistent. Being able to deal damage on turn 1 is a great benefit, allowing you to set up her board with other non-damage cards first if you happen to draw them. Splitting her damage across two types helps when running against enemies that can change their immunities. Boosts to attack power also get boosted twice in this way, so instead of a 2+1 = 3, you get a 1+1 and a 1+1 for 4 damage when pairing her with the standard Legacy. This role defines her well as someone who can consistently deal some damage, but usually as a supporting damager.
Redeemer version Fanatic – 31 HP, Power: Redeem – Fanatic regains 1 HP. Draw a card.
This role helps define the real benefit of Fanatic: by healing herself, it allows her to take more damage. The immediate thought is that you should be using her to take an enemy or environment attack whenever possible, and that isn’t a bad way to use Fanatic. However, the more optimal use of Fanatic is through her ability to deal damage to herself in order to dish out greater damage to enemies. This role is a good one to ease into the mindset of it being okay for Fanatic to get hurt. She can take it.
Prime Wardens version Fanatic – 29 HP, Power: Resolute – Fanatic deals herself 3 radiant damage. Play the top card of your deck. One hero may now use a power.
This is the version of Fanatic that really emphasizes the point that she is meant to absorb damage. There is a reason why she has so many healing cards in her deck, as well as a few that deal damage based upon damage received. This can be a very, very powerful ability depending upon the card that flips and the abilities of the team. There are plenty of situations where it is absolutely worth that 3 HP. Until you flip an End of Days as the top card of your deck. Just don’t write off this version when you see the first sentence of her power. It really is useful, and it could be argued that this is the best version of Fanatic out there.
Xtreme Prime Wardens version Fanatic – 28 HP, Power: Kill the Spirit – Fanatic deals 1 target 1 Radiant damage. Until the end of the next turn, redirect all damage dealt by Fanatic to that target.
If the above didn’t convince you that it was the best version, maybe this one will. Dealing 1 damage isn’t anything to celebrate, although it is nice having a way to do some damage from the start. The real benefit comes from the redirect. Have you ever drawn Sacrosanct Martyr and wondered why you would ever want to deal yourself 5 damage to deal 5 damage to an enemy? Wonder no longer: that damage is bounced, dropping 5 on the enemy while leaving Fanatic unscathed. The only downside is that you have to use this power every other turn, meaning you’ll average dropping 3 per round. Which is still nice if you haven’t drawn your Absolution yet…
Obviously, with no way to mulligan a bad hand an the restriction of drawing 4 cards, there are limited ways to affect this. You’re at the mercy of the card draw. However, these are the cards that get me excited when I see them to open play and why they are great this early in the game.
This one is the most likely card to see in the hand, as there are 3 copies in the deck. Not only does this let you get a jump on dropping damage, it also allows you to draw a card. Few things are more valuable to Fanatic than getting extra cards in her hand (see closers section).
Most of the early games are spent trying to manage the board and keep it clean as long as possible. This one lets you instantly finish off a card with 4 or less health and deal up to 4 damage to the villain. Pound for pound, this is one of the best cards to open a game with unless the villain doesn’t have any smaller minions on the board. It doesn’t set her up for future turns, but it does slow down the enemy’s engine to allow everyone time to be prepared.
This is situational, depending on the villain you’re facing and their opening board. But if there is the risk of either smaller hits, or big damage drops, this one can really come in handy by reducing the damage Fanatic takes. Sadly, this is her only damage reduction card in the deck and it is very situational. But don’t let that prevent you from playing it early. Those 1 damage hits really add up over time.
This is, hands-down, the card I want to see early in the game. It opens up a combo with Zealous Offense (see closer section), which is one of the best ways she can contribute to the greater good in the game. If you aren’t playing the standard Fanatic, I’d even consider playing it if she hasn’t taken any damage yet simply because it is her best card to get out early. The ability to choose a damage type also comes in handy when facing certain villains.
An overall tactic that I tend to employ with Fanatic is to conserve cards unless they serve a good purpose of building her board state or kill off minions. Card draw is important, and once she gets a few cards out she can coast on autopilot for a few turns without playing any cards. Unless you get lucky and happen to get an early copy of Desperate Prayer and Divine Focus in your hand together. More on that combination in the next section. You might be tempted to put out an Aegis of Resurrection as soon as it is drawn, but resist that urge until she drops close to 10 HP unless you know neither the Villain nor the Environment can make her lose Equipment cards in play.
If the team needs her to drop a Conscecrated Ground to get rid of a nasty Environment card, or a Holy Nova/Divine Sacrifice to ping a slew of enemies, then feel free to play those cards. However, the ideal situation is to hold those for either Divine Focus or until that 1 damage across the board is either boosted in some way or needed to really help clear the board.
This is where Fanatic is a little harder to play at times. With the right opening board (a.k.a. Absolution), she can help chip away at all sorts of threats that pop out, or keep dropping damage on the main target. Here are a few of the cards that can be really good at this point:
Sometimes those Environment cards can be brutal. Like, really brutal. If you have Fanatic going last, this is also a great way to wipe off those nice +1 to all damage cards that might pop out, letting you gain most of the benefit from your team but taking it away before the villains can utilize the boost a second time. If she is first, it can eliminate ones that interfere with card draws or reduce your damage dealt. Depending on the board, hitting 3 things (even for 1 damage) can be helpful, but this is mostly as a great way to remove otherwise-pesky Environment cards and should be held for those situations unless you can kill 2-3 minions.
My recent match with Apostate showed how important the irreducible damage can be in a game, so this one is already worth holding onto for that situation. But it can’t be overstated how important it can be to redirect damage. Especially if either: a) the enemies deal Radiant damage or b) Fanatic has her Aegis of Resurrection out. Keeping others alive can make a world of difference, and Fanatic exists to tank some damage because she has a way to heal a good chunk of it.
Smite the Transgressor
This is a very powerful card, and I wish so much that it wasn’t a One-Shot. Being able to use standard Fanatic’s power AND strike with Absolution? Yes, please. Absolution should absolutely be one of the two powers used on this, if at all possible, to help make sure you’re getting the best mileage out of the double actions.
This card is excellent for allowing you to remain focused on the big picture of defeating the villain. We all have encountered those cards that drop a ton of damage, making you stop and put 10-15 damage onto them instead of the big baddie. This card helps to put those on the back burner where they belong, either for a few turns while waiting on the right cards or until the rest of the board is in a better state to allow you to focus your efforts.
It never seems like a good trade: 5 damage for 5 damage. And it can feel very situational (unless Xtreme Prime Warden Fanatic is being used), but don’t underestimate the ability to choose how that damage is being distributed. Need to take care of a threat that will hit everyone for 3 damage? Putting 5 on Fanatic might just be worth saving the 9-15 spread across everyone. Is someone getting low on health and there is something in play that hits the person with the lowest HP? Let Fanatic take some damage instead and get it off the board. Is Fanatic close to death with an Aegis on the board? Let her finish herself to “heal” that damage before something takes that Equipment away unexpectedly. There are plenty of situations where this card can and should be used, not to mention that Smite the Transgressor could let you use this AND Absolution to drop 10 on the villain in one swoop. That is the kind of power Fanatic is capable of.
Absolution is the card that you want driving this engine, although Sacrosanct Martyr could serve as well. If Fanatic does at least 3 damage on her turn, you get to choose two targets out there who won’t do damage this round. Say, what? This + Absolution is such a powerful board-control combination that it almost feels unfair when you pull it off.
The mid-game Fanatic is fun if the right cards come out. Absolution and Zealous Offense is the ideal situation, and the earlier you can get those both out, the better everyone will feel about the situation at hand. This is the time when you’ll want to consider putting an Aegis of Resurrection into play, especially if you’ve been taking extra damage along the way, because you’re rarely going to be high on health. You want to strike a balance between managing your health wisely and spending it to deal some damage or prevent hits on other heroes. That makes her tricky to play at times, yet it presents a fun puzzle. How much can she tank before you’re becoming too reckless with her health? I’m almost certain this is the part of the game where most people toss their hands up in frustration with Fanatic and write her off as an unplayable, not-very-fun character. But you’d be making a mistake because this next part is where she shines the brightest.
Here is where I’ve found Fanatic to be the most exciting, and there are a few cards that are the MVP in her deck at this point. She’s helped me to close out a battle a round or two early, helping to skip a chance for the Environment and Villain decks to strike and take things from bad-to-worse. She’s helped me come back from the pit of desperation, with everyone on the cusp of death, and delivered an unexpected victory. Those moments aren’t always required, but when they are they grant the most memorable endings to this game. She’s been my MVP enough times to cement her place in every lineup I will ever do because I know what she’s capable of. Everything in the game leads up to this point, and she can help you win when all seems to be hopeless.
End of Days
I was going to put this in the mid-game category, but this one is always so situational that it could potentially appear in any of the three. Being able to wipe the board is so, so helpful. Sadly, relics are immune (curse you, Apostate, and your horde of relics!) but otherwise she clears it down to your heroes versus the villain at the start of the Environment turn. Late in the game, that wipe might be the difference between victory and defeat. Knowing this card is going to be played can allow everyone to focus their efforts on the vital task at hand: defeating that villain. I always try to hold one of these for as long as I can, until it is desperately needed, because it can get you out of the worst situations.
Desperate Prayer + Divine Focus
This is the combo that can speed up the end of the game. Fill up your hand with cards and then start chucking them at the start of every turn (other heroes, environment, villain) to drop 2 damage every time. Depending on the number of players and the cards in hand, this can be a lot of damage. Desperate Prayer will let you get back up to 6, either before the damage process begins or as a way to keep the chain going. This combo becomes less appealing if the villain gets some big-health baddies out there, as it targets the villain-target with the highest HP left. But it is beyond effective in closing a game out.
The deck has one copy of this card, but it could be the most valuable card in the deck. Tossing three cards to deal over 20 damage in one strike is the best trade you can ever make, and you definitely want to do more than 20 damage with this one. I’ve taken down an Omnitron, who had exactly 27 health left, when all I had remaining was a 3 HP Fanatic. I had written off the match as a loss about 5 turns earlier when my heroes were dropping off, but I had Fanatic and some Aegis or Resurrections, and was able to keep her in play long enough to draw and play this card. And oh, how sweet it was. That remains my best Sentinels moment, although I really wish it had happened with a group of friends instead so we could all talk about it. This is the card that makes it all click: you want Fanatic close to death so she can drop mega damage when this one turns up. Even if it leads to her sacrifice, that amount of damage helps ensure it won’t likely be in vain.
Overall, Fanatic is likely to thrive at this point if you’ve been holding back a few cards or get the right cards for the situation. Even in the worst case scenario, hopefully you have Absolution and an Aegis of Resurrection out and can chip away at the baddies with little threat of a final ending to Fanatic’s health. During those games she might feel a little unremarkable, but that is because she isn’t hitting her true potential. Those three cards in the closer game are what make her invaluable to the team’s effort. She can bring order and hope to a game where things spiral out of control.
In terms of power, Fanatic might fall somewhere near the middle of the pack. She is counter-intuitive to play at times, and often you’ll be setting up and then slow-playing the middle of a battle. She excels at control in the midst of chaos, as shown by cards such as End of Days, Zealous Offense, and Chastise. She thrives on bringing things to a close with cards like Divine Focus and Wrathful Retribution. While those can be far more situational than someone like Legacy, I know that if I left out Fanatic I’d be in a situation where I wished she was part of the team.
I don’t want this to be the last of my looks at the heroes in Sentinels of the Multiverse. There are so many of them out there, and even the core set offers enough choices to cover. So here’s a chance to vote: which core set Sentinels hero would you like to read about next?
- Absolute Zero