Monday, 3 February 2014

An Introduction to...Batman Miniatures Game

Name – Batman: Miniatures Game.
Manufacturer – Knight Models
Type - Tabletop Miniatures Game.
No. of Players - 2 (More players are possible but the game is designed for 2)
Age Range -  14+. The rule-set is a little complex at first reading and the models require assembly and painting.
Rulebook - 125 pages, Full colour. Free Download from Knight Models.

What You Need to Start.
A rulebook*, two gangs of around 200 points (around 1 – 6 models depending on the crew), some D6’s, a template set (free from Knight models), a measuring tape*, white board pens (if stat cards are laminated) or counters and a playing area of at least 3' x 3’ very heavy on multilevel terrain.

* One each would be better though.

Extras Needed – Tokens for objectives printed out and ideally laminated.

Area Needed -
3’ x 3’ play area on a 4’ by 4’ table is best so you can lay out cards and rule books and all the other things you have about you when playing.

Time Needed – Games take around 45 minutes at the 200 point level (recommended by Knight models). Your first few games will take a little longer as you get used to a few of the unique rules.

Initial Costs.
Gang sets for each faction are around the £30 mark with single characters and booster available for about £15. There are some much larger characters, (such as Killer Croc) that are a little more expensive but a proportional cost for the amount of metal involved.  

Two examples of larger this case Killer Croc and Bane...

Almost all the gang boxes are around the 200 point mark or more, but for those few that aren't blisters with booster henchmen and/or secondary leaders are available.

 Here you can see the 'core' Joker crew together with some expansion pack options.

The rulebook and templates are free to download and I recommend laminating your statistic cards (included with the miniatures) so wounds and the like can be written on the card, otherwise you will need a lot of tokens. You will also need some tokens suitable for your faction to decide priority each turn. For around £80 two players can get started assuming you have a printer and a laminator.

This presumes access to basic war-gaming gear such as measuring tapes and a playing area and terrain for it. If you’re starting from scratch then the price obviously increases.

Mantic Games do a modular building scenery set at a very reasonable price if you’re looking for buildings for a gaming table for around the £20-25 mark. I myself have built a Gotham board using a few of these packs and some Mantic gargoyles for that Tim Burton feel. I can’t stress enough though how densely packed your board should be, setting up avenues, alleys and blockades will all add to the immersion of your game.

The above costs are courtesy of my FLGS Titan Games so may vary based on your location.

Models will require assembly and some preparation (not to mention painting). So those new to the hobby may find a few overheads on top of the relatively cheap buy in, I can recommend the army painter construction sets to get you started for less than £10 and Mantic Games and Army Painter do some cheap starter sets for paints too.

Expansions – New models are constantly being released based on the DC comics, Rocksteady games and Time Warner movies. All the rules for these new models come included in the models blister pack.

A Brief Overview.
The Batman: Miniatures Game focuses round one of modern cultures most iconic characters, the dark knight himself Batman. Players take control of small gangs of heroes or villains based on Bob Kane’s creation. Games revolve round a desperate scramble for control of Gotham city. The miniatures game takes influences from not just the comics however but video-games, films and even the old 90’s Paul Dini and Bruce Tim cartoon series (well worth a watch for some inspiration).

The key to the game is it miniatures. Miniatures statistics are broken down into 7 attributes, all of which are used in different parts of the game.

Willpower - # - This dictates how many points a model can distribute to its other attributes in a turn.
Strength - #+ - Strength is how easy it is for a model to wound another, once an attack has hit the player must roll equal to or over the models strength value to wound.
Movement - # - A models movement characteristic dictates how many points of willpower it can use to move. One point of movement buys one 10cm move and every additional points adds d6 cm to this base value.
Attack - # - A models attack characteristic dictates how many points of willpower it can use to attack. A close combat attack takes one point of attack and a ranged attack takes two points. Every additional point grants another attack (for close combat), however ranged attacks are governed by the ROF characteristic of the weapon being fired. For an attack to hit the model must roll above the targets defence characteristic.
Defence - # - A models defence characteristic dictates how many points of willpower it can use to negate an attack and also is the value other models need to roll to hit it.
Endurance - # - Endurance is the amount damage a model can take before it is knocked out or taken as a casualty. There are two types of damage in Arkham city; blood and stun. Stun damage is more prevalent than blood and incapacitates a model rather than killing them. A model can take double its endurance value in stun damage before it is knocked out. Blood damage is lethal damage and once a model takes its endurance value in blood damage it is dead.

The interesting point about endurance is that every point of blood damage or two points of stun damage reduces a model’s willpower by one point. This is to represent the character getting weaker as they get a good kicking from the enemy.

Special - # - A models special characteristic dictates how many points of willpower it can use for combo actions, such as using a Batclaw, performing a combo attack or a special action.

The game itself is played on a very terrain heavy board and for full immersion should be multi layered with loads of nooks and crannies to hide in. The scenario objectives are usually terrain based and are usually things like ammo dumps, loot or containers of Titan (the super drug from the Arkham city universe). All of this adds to a great level of immersion with the board feeling really claustrophobic and dark as you'd expect from a Batman game. Light plays a big part in the game as well with models like Batman being able to hide unless they're in a direct light source from a street light or a torch for example. Additional street lights and sewer grates add a great level of detail and knight models have produced some great scenery pieces of their own specifically for this purpose.

The game takes place over six turns; similar to Warlord Games' 'Bolt Action', players place six tokens each into a bag and choose one at random at the start of a turn to see who goes first. Play then alternates, so each player activates one model before passing play to their opponent (similar to Malifaux). At the start of the turn players allocate out their action counters (generated by Willpower) to their desired characteristics. This is where players must consider what they want to achieve in a turn and hope their opponent doesn't throw a spanner in the works.

The truly great thing about the game is the special actions. These are where the character of a model really comes to life. Rather than moving Batman on the ground, you can use your Batclaw to move between levels of the board and prepare for your next strike. Whereas Joker can use his special for his one shot "Bang" pistol. The rulebook has a whole section dedicated to these special actions, and gives a great flavour to the whole game. In addition to being beautifully laid out with tons of teasers for coming models and gangs. (I myself am vibrating with anticipation for the “Court of the Owls” from the New 52 Batman comics).

The other special abilities on the card make all the characters very different, from Green Arrow's ranged skills to Bane's ability to take damage without feeling it. It's really impressive how close the miniatures feel to their fictional counter parts. So whether you’re a fan of the films, games or comics, there will be something to associate with in Batman: Miniatures Game.

It's also worth mentioning that several of the characters are available in multiple versions with slightly altered statistics based on their respective interpretations. Batman (for example) is available in a number of versions ranging through comic and movie interpretations...

...and characters such as Bane, Harley Quinn and others are available in multiple different versions as well.

Thanks to Citizen_W of the 'A Murder of Ravens' blog for writing damn near all this introduction article.

An unboxing of a sample crew starter set and a battle report will follow shortly...well...fairly shortly...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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