Sunday, December 4, 2016


I originally invested in the Batman Miniatures game because I assumed it would be a nice game to play with friends who are new to tabletop gaming. However, when I read the rulebook I realised it was not very friendly to inexperienced players.

I actually liked a lot of the rules; the whole "using dice as allocated counters, then just picking them up and throwing them" thing was clever and elegant. However, there were probably more rules that I didn't like. I still think the movement rules are needlessly messy, for example. I find the ROF rules strangely annoying. Having to track ammo is annoying: no-one should be walking into a dangerous situation with only three bullets in their gun. Also, they use true line-of-sight rules then tell you to "imagine how the model looks if it was standing up straight on it's base"... then release a bunch of sculpts that have models standing on elevation and stuff.

Another thing is that I don't like rolling dice against a single stat for a small model count game like this. It makes sense in large unit-based games like Warhammer, and there is a bit of interaction between different stats here (you roll dice straight against the opponent's defense, but a higher attack stat allows you to make more attacks for example), but it still feels strange that your chance of a single attack landing on an opponent is purely a function of their skill, and your own skill does not come into play.

There's far too many "hidden stats": there is no "movement" stat on the card, all models have a movement stat of 10cm... except the ones that have special rules that change that. Ranged weapons have not ranged state, they all have unlimited range... except the ones that have special rules that change that. They also don't have a to-wound stat, they all use the model's strength stat... except the ones that have a special rule that gives them a different to-wound value.

I just find the mindset behind the rules strange to me; everything is handled by special rules instead of designing the base rules to be flexible. Why add a special rule to change how fast a model can move (that you need to look up and remember to account for) instead of just have a SPD stat on the model itself? Ditto for weapon range etc. I guess PP's clear, modular, well-designed rules have spoiled me.

Anyway, I decided that to play the game I would need to write a simplified version of the rules. So I did. Or rather, I am in the process of doing so. With two small but useable (I think) armies painted and ready, I decided to finally give the game (or my hybrid of it) a go. I ran Ra's Al Ghul and four ninjas, while my friend (let's call him The Watcher) got Batman and four cops.

It... did not go very well.

We were playing a simple "kill the other guy" game. We set up the table in a very basic way. Each of us placed a lamp-post.


Round 1:
I won initiative and ran my dudes, climbing on stuff. He was a bit more cagey, not going as far forwards as he could.

Round 2:
We started taking shots at each other, to little effect. I thought I could get into melee this turn, but was a bit short.
Almost there!
He needed a two, got a one. Totally expected.

Round 3:
Finally we had made it into melee. Batman got the drop on Ra's, and promptly whiffed all his attacks.

"So, we meet again, Batman!"

Ah, the age old battle, cop vs ninja...

"Oh no officer, I'm not a ninja, I was just on my way to Comicon."

Aaaaaaand then this happened....
"Fight, you must not! Through peace, the way is!"
"What's that? This is DC, I'm in the wrong universe? Screw that, I'm not a part of your system!"
Yeah, it was late and we had work the next day, so we decided to stop there.

Like I said, it wasn't working. It seems that a simplified version of the base rules wasn't enough as so many models depend on special rules to work, and I hadn't had time to work on the special rules or making custom cards for the models to better fit the simplified version we were playing, and as a result the balance seemed to be off; after several rounds only two attacks actually managed to wound, everything was just bouncing off. Unless the actual game is supposed to be like that? I dunno, the lack of objectives didn't help either as once the models made it into melee there wasn't much motivation to do anything other than just stand there and throw dice.

So now I'm not sure whether to stick with the Batman system and try to introduce enough complexity into our games for it to work, or whether to try and use an alternate system (maybe something model-agnostic like Frostgrave) instead. I understand that Knight Models will be releasing some cards allowing the Batman models to be used with their Marvel/DC game system (which I hear is more casual), so maybe that will be an option at some point.

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