Batman is a new game to me. It follows the current zeitgeist of low model skirmish type games. The setting is in the DC universe (as you might expect), but tends to follow TVs Gotham and the Arkham video game series than the comic series, certainly in style. It was brought to my attention as its popular at my FLGS, and as that is a 5 minute walk from where I live, it made sense to put a toe in the water. There was a tournament coming up and I thought I’d enter that – as that is usually a good way to get bloodied in the rule mechanics. So I committed to enter and picked a crew to paint up. I painted up Joker, just for no other reason that he took my fancy and the models were in store. The models are 32mm , and fine in detail. As they have a ‘realistic’ proportional style the details are delicate. The castings are ‘average’ with a bit of work required, and they do require a bit of effort to paint to make them look good.
The game itself it pretty simple, but has solid mechanics with some depth. Its alternate model activation rather than IGOUGO, with a mechanism for first player each round that it not novel but has a reasonable twist. Each turn has a planning phase (make the plan), where each model has action point to plan in to movement , attack , defence or special actions . As each character gets damages their action points go down. So all sensible so far. After the plans have been made then its time to execute them. Each character then spends these points until their activation is complete. Nothing earth shattering here… things like base movement (MC) 10cm, but if you spend a special (SC) then you can sprint double – in a straight line. Combat has either 2 or 3 dice phases to complete. Roll to hit (on opponents defence) , the opponent then can defend (if they have defence counters to spend) , then any hits roll to wound. Damage ie either ‘stun’or ‘lethal’ (blood). A model can take up to their endurance in damage with the sum total of both markers. If they hit their endurance with blood, they are dead. If in stun (or stun /blood combined) then they are KO’d. KO can be recovered from, as can stun damage in a recovery phase.
Each character has a set on individual traits and equipment that gives them flavour. It starts to look a bit like Warmachine as this point where its rules by caveat and exception. But as the model count if just lower its not quite so bad. Each crew is only about 4-12 models. You have a fighting chance of remembering!
The meat of the game, however, is the scenarios. They are objective based, with a few different types, which has some in-game effect and a VP score. So ammo for instance allows you reload your firearms and score you points. The objectives are largely placed on the board where have to plan to move. They are either in or close to your opponents deployment – or in no man’s land. You score objectives each turn (and they score 1-3 each), a KO or Kill scores you 1- 4 points. Given the game is 5-6 turns long there is a possibility of ~12-20 points available to score. To Kill a crew is probably going to net you 12~. You probably need to play for both but you certainly don’t have to concentrate of killing the opposition as the only root to victory.
My brief games at the Titan games event
My Crew was –
- Master of Ceremonies
So 2 firearm armed clowns , 2 axe armed clowns and Joker to control them. My beatstick being Deathstroke (who is nearly ½ of my army in cost)
Game 1 , Steve with League of Shadows
- Ra’s al Ghul
- some ninjas.
Only my second game ever (the first being a demo in store). We both were cautious as neither of us were greatly familiar with the rules. We both had a similar plan – grab the closest objective and drag it back closer to the baseline. I had rushed Deathstroke up to try to eliminate 2 ninjas. This had a neat effect in game of concentrating the activation in this section of the board. As I had fewer models I could then spend activations elsewhere to some effect. What it meant is that I always got the drop on Deadshot who was lurking at the back. From his rooftop position sniggering with his AK, peppered Deadshot over 2 turns. Luckily I managed 2 hits (Deadshot get several ‘pings’ and dodges) but 2 solid hits (3 blood each) neutralised him. I was later to realise that this was a vital event as Deadshot being the go to guy. All my opponents taking him
On the other flank Deathstroke was having trouble taking down these Ninjas and had attracted the attention of Ra’s (who is another power piece). So I was ended up being outnumbered. Deathstroke being a martial artist doesn’t count the outnumbering rule (which is pretty catastrophic) BUT I fell into the trap of rather than concentrating on 1 opponent ended up attacking on then the other. Deathstoke has put blood on all of opponent (including Ra’s) but now he was taking blood too. He used his soul armour special to remove blood – but his time was up. Rather than go down fighting he used his acrobat ability to escape the combat, and dash toward the rest of the crew (as he was somewhat isolated) . However, Ra’s caught up with him and delivered the coup de grace. However, in my favourite cinematic moment of the day. Joker you had been camping loot in a building near the back stepped around the corner and pulled his one shot gun. The fact that the combat had moved back 24cm meant that Ra’s was now in range – BOOM> the one shot gun did the trick and Ra’s was done for too. However, being immortal he can’t die so I only gained the KO points. But that wrapped up that game. You totted up the points, and it was an exact draw with 28 points each. I was happy with this start a good game
Game 2 , Leon with Black Mask
Leon’s crew was a hodgepotch of free agents rather than a glut of gangsters. He has
- Black Mask
- some Blackmask goons (one with a automatic rifle with night sights)
I enjoyed this game and Leon did a great job of explaining the rules and mechanics (thanks Leon). With 2 powerful shooters both with good vantage points I was a loss on what to go. I send Deathstroke round the long way (as he is fast with advance deployment). Leon was worried about this and moved away from that area. Catwoman grabbed a loot counter and batarang’d to a high rooftop and camped there (its great vignettes of action like this make this game special IMHO) Her special ability allows her to get an extra VP each time she score loot. So on the roof he was going to easily get 10 points just from this action (over 5 turns). I had nothing that could easily climb (not thinking about this). So it was unlikely that I would much from this game.
I somewhat sacrificed some clowns running down the road. Deadshot an Mesh(?) with his nightscope has some full tapping those goons. But that did allow Deathstroke to turn the corner , leap a fence (acrobat) and sprint and catch Deadshot in the street. With a snik-swish of katana action Deadshot was somewhat diminished. He staggered back to get away but was low on action (bleeding heavily). 2 Blackmask goons joined the fray. Deadshot was KO’d by Joker (with is remote control teeth?!). But the game timed out. Leon has a solid victory . I did have few points on the board with the Deadshot KO
Game 3 , Martin with Suicide squad
- Deadshot (seeing a pattern?)
- Mr Hammer
- some Harley and joker goons.
Martin was practicing for a big comp next week so was testing out his tournament build. This was game was painful and I should forget. I was a masterclass on not what to do. My ambush ability meant my opponent had to deploy first and he duly split his force into 2 halves. I thought I’d try a rush with Deathstroke into 1 half. Given his advance deploy , acrobat and going first I reckoned I could make it into combat on the first turn. With a sprint and 2 MS (2d6 extra cm) I needed a 9 , scoring a 5 … so ended up short , right under a lamppost ( light! All of the game are in dark Gotham, the only light sources being lampposts ) . Deadshot from his rooftop advantage stepped up and fired. Harley pulled her semi auto and let fly , after taking a lot of blood she stepped up and battered Deathstoke. He was KO’d… However, he did pace his endurance roll to wake from the KO and when into defence mode. So he tried to use his soul armoured to heal 2 blood. But with the loss of action counters it was never going to be enough. Harleys goods with the chainsaw stepped up and finished him in no uncertain manner. Deadshot shot Sniggering (my AK clown) who had climbed to the rooftop to try gain a good vantage. So in 2 turns my crew had been gutted. The rest of the boys ran up but in a hail of automatic fire followed up with brutal close combat it wasn’t even funny. A violating experience, giving me food for thought!
So in conclusion, was it any good? Well I think it was. The game itself has great flavour and character and that goes a long way. The rules seem solid and have multiple options for victory. I would be little wary of the night scope assassin type. Most people seemed to have something like this in their crew. Given a good vantage point they seemed to be able to assassinate a model each turn. Given they have 3-4 shots (ammo) per game you just can’t walk down the street ! So I’ll have to think about that … Its probably not a deal breaker and if you can feed them goons at least they will be occupied while you win elsewhere. I suspect you want quite a high model count to just do a lot in the game (objective wise). So thumbs up from me. If you are a fan of the DC universe and the recent TV spin offs then I’ve say this is worth a go.
I won the best painted crew prize too so, all good for me!