Monday, 13 April 2015
Batman Tutorial Game
Yesterday saw Bull and I go head to head with our respective BMG crews for a couple of tutorial games to see how the thing played, using his wonderful Fairground terrain. There has been much research, reading and theorising over the past few weeks, but we would finally see it all happen for real on the tabletop.
I sat up till the early hours the night before to make sure I had everything that I needed, all painted and packed up so I wouldn't forget anything. More on the painting in a later blog post.
For the first time (ever, I think) I went into a game pretty clueless of what was going on, so it was Bull who took the lead and explained what we had to do. I had already decided that I had little chance of winning by camping objectives for Victory Points so just went out to test a few theories, try out different actions and have a bit of fun.
First turn Batman blew up a sewer and Lamp Post with his Explosive gel, plunging the area into darkness.
Tick Explosive Gel.
It didn't matter as Joker (who can see in the dark) got to use his "One Shot Gun" anyway but somehow managed to miss.
With that opening salvo resolved the dynamic duo took to the skies, using their Batclaws to scoot up to the top of the Balloon Tower, ready to pounce on the Clowns below as they shuffled towards their objectives.
Robin picked up a couple of VPs by 'solving' Riddles – about the only positive contribution he had all day as it turned out.
Batman executed the plan I had in place all week, dropping in on 'Tristan' clown and knocking the stuffing out of him – who's laughing now?
The game continued with Bull racking up tonnes of VPs by camping the objectives whilst I tried to beat some sense into the clowns, with little success – the dice stayed cold all morning. In the final turn I decided to try and batter the Joker to get some VP, only to be foiled completely… unable to inflict any damage at all. In return Robin was almost killed by an axe.
Bull ran out the big winner, something like 19-2 VP
Game 2 started with this complete nonsense (above image).
In BMG, you deploy your objectives after you deploy your crews, so Bull placed his gas canisters right next to the dynamic duo. This forced me to take Willpower rolls when I activated, or take damage – a couple of dice rolls later my boys had taken blood damage and were on the back foot before I'd moved an inch. Awful rule, but well manipulated by Bull… and so very Joker-like.
Batman managed his second KO of the day with a random Batarang throw, Knife Clown going down like a tonne weight with no idea where the shot came from. In return, Joker managed a hit with his "One Shot Gun" and Batman was on half health, now missing a couple of actions – seriously compromised!
Again, the clowns raced through to claim their objectives while the dynamic duo tried to secure their own objectives (to what end I'm not sure) but decided to kick clown ass instead.
For the second time in one session, Tristan got battered and the duo were back onto Joker, but with similarly ineffective results. Game two ended with a familiar VP scoreline of twenty-something to 3.
So Mr J ran out massive winner on the day, although poor Tristan might not agree. Aside from collecting Objective VPs the henchmen didn't do a lot (something about not hitting barn doors from a foot away?) and even Batman (who was hitting on 3+ and wounding on 3+ most times) struggled.
I have to say that the jury is definitely out at the moment, more games are needed. Not a great start to our BMG careers. Unlike first games of Malifaux and Warmachine/Hordes there was little in the way of excitement and the whole experience felt a little flat. There was no real drama, no bone-crunching action – it felt like there was a 'safety mode' engaged. Did we miss something?
On the plus side, the miniatures are so awesome you can't help but want to play this game. The rich background of the characters (and boyhood memories) gets the imagination fired up and there's an overwhelming excitement going into your first game. The rules all make sense on paper with a lot of scope for adventures.
However, the objective based scenarios are, well… boring to be blunt and not conducive to great adventures at all. It also means that my two characters had no chance to win either game as bodies definitely count. Even if I had camped my objectives, the clowns would have outscored me 7-5 per turn. In addition, neither of my characters can inflict blood damage, meaning I can never 'kill' an enemy (unless I push them off a building). This in turn means less VPs at the end of the game and never being able to tip things in my favour during it – Bull would always have 6 models on the table. I appreciate that this was down to poor crew choice on my part, but I went down a very characterful crew route and was punished for it, badly.
During the game itself there is a lot of housekeeping with all the tokens and action counters. There's almost too much choice for actions at times. Having to decide what your actions will be at the beginning of the turn is a neat idea, but many a time (due to inexperience I guess) I had made poor choices and had counters in the wrong slots, unable to take advantage and in effect wasting turns. The Joker crew's ability to change their minds with counters when activated made life a lot easier for Bull. He could react to situations as individual turns progressed. Not that he really needed to if I'm honest – Bats didn't really trouble him.
The idea of rolling 'to hit' against an opponent's defence stat (without taking into account your own character's skill) seems rather odd now that I've played it. Similarly, rolling to match your own strength stat 'to wound' seems odd as well. It all contributed to a feeling of disconnection.
It didn't help that both Bull and I rolled terribly poor dice all day and this had a massive effect on the games. Both Batman and Robin were terribly ineffective in close combat and even the Joker managed to miss with his gun and poisoned knife. To be fair, upon reflection, Robin was a complete waste of space, not able to inflict much damage on a good day, and with no obvious strengths. I thought together, my two characters would be almost unstoppable in melee as a team, but the reality was far from.
Maybe it was the dice again, but leader vs leader fights don't seem to be a good use of your characters. In games like Malifaux, having your two biggest guns go up against each other invariably leads to drama and lots of excited shouting – do or die – not so here. Being wounded and losing actions was terribly debilitating for my leader in game 2, but normally the leaders have so many tricky traits up their sleeves it's a waste of time to try and take them down, or so it would seem now.
The Batclaws were awesome. They worked just as I thought they would and created a great (theoretical) tactic for both games. They also provided (for me) the one real bit of movie inspiring action: Batman swooping down on an unsuspecting foe, then swooping away the following turn with the henchman face down in the dirt. The batarang was also great, but I didn't like the idea of Batman sitting up high being a sniper – it's just not Batman – he needs to be in the thick of it mashing faces, then disappear into the darkness!
Struggling to see the point of sewers. Sounds great in theory as a movement mechanism, but having a model not contributing for a minimum of 3 turns in a 6 turn game is madness. The lamp posts were ok, but we kept forgetting about it being dark!
Yet, the characters and models are so superb that we have to give it a second try. I will go back to the drawing board and try adding more bodies in the hope that things will become more balanced… and fun. Alas, until Knight Models bring out more creative scenarios (or we make up our own) the Dynamic Duo will have to be retired – they're just not up to the job!
Maybe the Gotham PD will prevail next time?!
To be continued…