Monolith Games has recently started shipping the long awaited Kickstarter for Batman: Gotham City Chronicles. In this board game, in the normal play mode, up to three players take on the roles of Batman, Robin, and the rest of the Bat Family or GCPD members to take on the single Overlord player. The game re-uses a good number of the mechanics from their now very popular Conan board game. So, after getting my copy delivered a couple of weeks ago and getting a couple of games of it in now as the Overlord I am going to share some thoughts.
After receiving the heavy and rather large box form Ship Naked (what a company name!!! LOL!!) I happily pulled box after box out of the little packing foam pellets and smiled the whole time. As you can see, the stack of product is pretty impressive. Effectively the whole thing is the core game (2 boxes!) and then 4 expansions to the game.
In the core game, it uses a similar mechanic to Monolith’s Conan board game. The heroes and overlord players have energy cubes that also represent their health. As the heroes take actions, they assign the energy cubes to the appropriate action space and role dice typically based on the number of cubes they spent coupled with any special abilities or equipment dice they get to add. Compare the result against a target and determine if it is success or fail. Depending on the attribute, such as melee attack, different color dice are used to represent how talented (or not) the character is in that skill. Since I am a huge fan of their Conan board game, this mechanic works really well.
The energy cube system allows each hero player to meld their actions together, so if say one character wants to toss an item to another character the rules allow for that to be done in a way that seems natural and make sense. In this case, say Batman has recovered the critical data on a flash drive and the heroes need to get it off the map, Batman could move several squares and then toss it 2 squares with a manipulate action (rolling dice as appropriate) and then Nightwing could then make a manipulate action to catch the flash drive. From there, the Batman player decides to make a ranged attach against a thug that is between Nightwing and the escape zone before the Nightwing player attempts to move. All in all, very dynamic and narrative in feel.
When the heroes finish their turn and declare they are done, the overlord player takes a turn. The overlord regenerates energy cubes in the similar fashion as the heroes, but then can active up to two villain groups. Again, this uses the Conan mechanic with a “river” of villains. Each villain has a tile with a number that resides over it’s position in the river. To active all of the models in a villain group of the same type, the overlord must exhaust energy cubes equal to the number above the tile. So in order to active the Owl’s group, the villain must spend an energy cube. Immediate, you move the tile to the end of the river then where after resolving the activation, the villain player could spend the 7 energy cubes (in the case with the picture) to activate the group again!!!! Or the villain player could choose to activate any other group.
A special “Warning” tile is added to the river. This tile accounts for special events such as reinforcements to the villain or other special things such as Bane taking a titan dose and become big bashy fighty Bane!
One thing to note that is different than Conan is that in some missions it will be the villain player going first, and then the heroes. This definitely changes things. Another change is rather then having the specific heroes and gear selected for each mission, heroes are assigned a starting position and group. Player one may select from the first hero group that might contain, say Batman or Montoya. They select which hero they will play, place the miniature on the board in hero 1 starting spot and choose their equipment. This process is repeated then for hero group 2 which will be different heroes. In addition, the mission will indicate specific gear the hero starts with and in the case of heroes with utility belts (like Batman) they will get to choose from the utility belt equipment deck a number of items equal to the the character’s belt value. Utility belt items all have values of their own of 1-4 for how many slots in the character’s belt they take. This makes characters that are selected have more customization for greater replay experience.
Overall, for a board game the models are really great. I am probably a bit spoiled for the quality of Batman and super hero sculpts though because of Knight Models Batman Miniatures Game and the extremely high quality of the sculpts and figures that go with that game. That said, the detail on the models is really quite good and will paint up nicely. The plastic used is a very good plastic as well. While I am not a huge fan of their selection of poses, the models all feel like they came off a page of the comics. Comparing the miniatures in this box with games like A Song of Ice and Fire by CMON or Guild Ball and I am happier with the quality here and it’s a board game!
This game is pretty cool, though it hasn’t quite captured me with the game play quite yet like Conan did. I have only played one mission so far, though I did play it twice and felt that it was much better the second time around. I am really excited to play some more games with it and run through some of the different missions. There’s potential with this game, though I found myself liking the game play of Conan better. Most likely that’s because in Batman the mission isn’t just beat up the bad guys which is what most new players orientate towards. In both games, it’s been about 2-3 turns into the game before the heroes realize what they should have been doing and by then, they have lost time and by then they haven’t been able to recover which makes the end of the mission anti-climatic. The game is a good solid Board Game Geek rating of 7 (1 worst, 10 best) rating and could go up significantly dependent on how some of the other missions play out.