The Rules of Sentinels Decks

Howdy, all!  Some of you may know that I’ve dipped my toes into SoTM homebrew a few times.  I’ve had a lot of people asking for advice on what to do/not do for homebrew decks.  Sentinels is a game where “every rule is made to be broken-“ except for a few, anyway.  I’m trying to assemble a list of some of the common threads that would instantly raise doubts about a homebrew deck.  In short, what are the biggest “deck design sins” in Sentinels homebrew?

  • All decks should have the proper number of cards.
  • Hero decks should not have “win the game” conditions.  They should only have “lose the game” conditions in the rare case that an effect would make them indestructible with some regularity.
  • Heroes should not have keywords, except to differentiate “forms” as with Sky-Scraper.
  • Villains should not be immune to damage or damage types in such a way that certain hero teams would be unable to defeat them.
  • Environments should not have “win the game” conditions.
  • Heroes should not have more than 4 copies of any card, unless said card is a “dummy” card to fuel effects.
  • “Broken” effects are fine if you need 3+ heroes to accomplish them, but not otherwise.
  • When designing villains, remember that Savage Mana is a thing.
  • Heroes shouldn’t just negate the environment.  Even Akash takes a minute to start.
  • PvP isn’t Sentinels.

Those are just a few, and many of them have been from my own experience (in that I failed to uphold them, and then learned the rule from that failure).

One minor note on the "villain immunity to damage" front, I can think of one occasion using official decks where this becomes an issue - if you are using heroes who only deal Melée and Projectile damage and are fighting the Ennead - once Shu comes out, you're stuffed. So say you had Legacy, Wraith, and Haka, in the Freedom Tower (so no targets available for Savage Mana). I don't think those guys could deal any kind of damage other than the two Shu is immune to...?

Swap Haka for Parse, as Haka could still Haka of Battle to boost Savage Mana to deal damage to Shu. Something i’ve done at least once when all other heroes were incapped. And also a different environment, as Cryo Chamber and Legacy with Danger Sense could still achieve a win. Megalopolis maybe? It has one card that deals fire damage, but I believe that is only to heroes.

I haven't looked at a lot, but the #1 thing I see is sloppy writing. Read the cards in Sentinels and match that style. A little bit of consistency goes a long way!

Yes, it's amazing how much M:TG terminology sneaks into first drafts.

The big thing I see forgotten is sourcing damage from the heroes. Usually, it's honestly not that big a deal: "you deal damage" or just "deal damage" obviously means it's coming from the hero. But it has tripped me up in the past!

It’s not an uncommon issue across the board (not just in SotM); things like ‘heal’ vs. ‘regain’ hp and other similar verbage lead to ambiguities and corner cases that can make it hard to follow basic rules.  Hard to catch, but that’s what developers and editors are for!

I don't get the keyword thing.  Plenty of heroes have keywords like Scholar's elements or Unity's mechanical golems.  Heck even in the base game we had Absolute Zero with his module cards and Fanatic with her Relic cards.

I think he meant that the character cards themselves have no keywords with the exception of Sky-scraper’s 3 forms.

Personally, I take that as a challenge to put as many words on hero character cards as possible. >:V

On that note though, when you're designing card text, it's worth considering just how much room it's going to take up. I mean, you can have control over the font size you use and how close the letters and words are to each other, but there's a limit to how much even a person with good vision will be able to deal with when they're trying to read that card for the first time...

Yes, my new hero character card is also an Ongoing. Come at me, Citizen Dawn!

I shoulda chipped a buck into that campaign so I could keep up with updates. :/


Environment damage would have to kill Shu, in that case.  Anyway, just because it can happen already doesn’t mean that it’s a green light.  The moral of the story here is to be careful with how much type immunities you stack.  I’ve played against bosses who depended on a gauntlet of immunity at the start until you could actually hit them.  In other words, it’s hard to accidentally have no way to win against the Ennead.  If it’s easy to accidentally have no way to win against your villain, that’s bad design.

This is what I meant, yeah.  Obviously heroes can have cards with keywords (and many do).

Now I'm picturing a character card that looks like Guise's incapacitated side, but in the front side instead.

Hero name: The Fiddler

Are there any canon heroes with Indestructible cards? Is that important enough to be a rule?

Also, we know individual Sentinels can come back from the dead until all 4 are incapacitated - is that always a one-way progression? What about a ghost hero who can flip back from her Incapacitated side? Actually, now I'm thinking of an incap power to possess a non-hero target in a trash....

I for one would really like to see the game redesigned without this rule. Omnitron-X absolutely ought to be “Hero, Device”, and I’d be quite interested in a version of Sky-Scraper who is “Hero, Thorathian” (it’d obviously require a small revision to GWV). I’m sure there are other examples of how this would be cool - a Sentinels-type “group hero” concept could be made quite interesting by using keywords that can be referenced either one or multiple times on their cards.

For example:

The Trinity
Setup: Put The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit into play.
Gameplay: When you have no hero character cards in play, flip this card.

The Father
Hero, Omnipotent, Omniscient
HP: 777
Power: Great Flood - Destroy all non-character cards.

The Son
Hero, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent
HP: 7
Power: Sacrifice - When The Son is incapacitated, draw ten cards.

The Holy Spirit
Hero, Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent
HP: 77
Power: Transfiguration - Play all cards in your hand.

I leave it to the reader to imagine what The Trinity’s cards would do, but some at least of them would be variations on “Good Hero, Bad Hero”, where instead of “your lowest HP hero”, it would say “an Omnibenevolent hero”, since those are the two who have HP.