Thursday, 27 October 2016

Batman: my first time

Following on from my last post, I've had my first demo game. I played the lovely James Crook at Darksphere.

It was a 200 rep (rep=points) game. It had Batgirl in it and she is super awesome:

I ran

Batman (Dark Knight Returns)
Female Cop.

James ran
2 Henchmen (one of whom was a medic)

We went with the skirmish scenario and 2 objectives each. 

Crews deployed first (up to 20cm from players board edge) then objectives. The board was covered in GW gothic ruins so the set up felt atmospheric. Clearly this was Gotham after Man of Steel & Batman v Superman. One side had some open fire lanes. Deadshot deployed to have shots down these and lock down half the board. He had a knife wielding henchmen with him for back up. Scarecrow and the medic deployed in the centre of his deployment zone. 

I deployed the cop in the centre of mine, hugging a building, with Batman and Batgirl in the corner on the opposite side to Deadshot. He had night vision so he had unlimited ranged shots and could ignore one piece of terrain when making the shot. That was really powerful against my crew of just three models - let's be honest the cop was just the first person on the scene and then she called it in, with Batman and Batgirl showing up to help. 

The game needs you to have identical shaped but different colour initiative tokens that you put in a bag to draw. Some crews like Ras Al Ghul can affect this number. To be honest dice or those coloured glass beads used in Malifaux as Soulstones would work just fine. 

I started moving the cop carefully forward. Deadshot nearly blew her arm off in response. Batgirl took to roof tops, using her Batclaw to swing herself up into the gothic ruins above ground. This was the start of a long run down the centre for her. As Scarecrow's crew didn't have any climbing equip, chasing her would be a slow and pointless exercise for them so it kept her safe and mobile. Batman began a long slow walk down the edge of the board. So slow. Clearly Bruce Wayne had been having too many Martini's at a party and he wasn't into this shit tonight. 

The game carried on for three turns of edgy moves towards objectives. Deadshot decided to do a runner as Batgirl moved from blocking terrain to blocking terrain, clearly ready to hunt him down. Scarecrow and the medic took defensive positions around the objectives, whilst Batman continued his slow, lazy walk. The cop on the other hand, made a desperate run out of cover to try to engage Deadshot, which would give Batgirl a clear run across the last bit of open ground to get to Deadshot whilst he was tied up. Sadly the movement dice came up short on her extra movement so she was left in the open. Sucks to be her. Deadshot tried a shot at Batgirl but she shrugged it off, then he did a runner, so the henchmen started attacking the exposed cop. Really sucks to be her.

[Quick note: models get a 10 cm basic move, but can allocate a certain number of counters  up to the max allowed on their card, to swap for bonus movement dice] 

Finally the game started coming to the decisive moments. Batgirl could see her chance of getting to Deadshot was blown and the cop wouldn't be able to hold two objectives against Deadshot and the Henchmen on her own. That meant I knew I had lost 3 VP there. 2 for the objectives and 1 for the inevitable take down of the cop. 

Sighing to herself about carrying Batman tonight, Batgirl launched herself at the medic near an objective, whilst shrugging off the fear gas from Scarecrow. The melee lasted a couple of turns with Batgirl getting stabbed and gased but only taking a minor wound and ending on negs on her to hit rolls. Her martial artist special skill meant she wasn't suffering neg rolls for being out numbered. 

Batman slowly walked the corner objective and seized it. The cop, blood pouring from various wounds, was somehow still on her feet and holding her opponent off. 

The game was drawing to a close. Batgirl had carried my game so far. She had forced Deadshot out of position and mostly out of the game. She was now tying up Scarecrow and a henchmen and taking a beating but keeping in the fight. Meanwhile the supposedly mighty Batman had just slowly walked across the board. 

Finally the cop was taken down. She had performed heroics but mommy would never be coming home to the family again. Deadshot grabbed the two objectives and tried a long shot at Batgirl. She avoided it. Superstar! 

With ominous music playing and an increasingly beaten up Batgirl on the line, Batman finally decided to get involved. He moved into the melee with Scarecrow, and the Henchmen. I loaded him up with AP for attacks so he would be getting a full 6 dice. Naturally he fluffed everything completely, not even causing a single stun. I can only imagine the annoyed Batgirl telling Batman to get his shit together. Despite her amazing performance, Batgirl was starting to suffer from the various fear gases, and her combat was getting less effective. Still, there was a chance. Leaving the inept Batman to flail around, she used her Batclaw to swing up to the final objective. She rolled for extra movement, needing a 2+ to grab it but sadly she came up with a 1. 

Scarecrow hit the Bat but didn't do much. Finally a plan formed in Bruce's drunken mind. "Punch something in the head" He lashed out and smashed the henchmen to the ground, then in a flash of inspiration he copied Batgirls move and swung up to the objective just grabbing it. 

The game ended with James getting a deserved 4-3 victory. Batman probably claimed the undeserved credit for scoring all the VP for my side, but honestly Batgirl was the star player. 

Lessons learned
Well this was a demo, so I learned a lot about the basic rules. Getting the hang of generating and allocating action counter is super easy. Willpower = AC. Allocate those AC on your card to various roles (defence, attack, movement). That's it. Easy.

Combat works well and is again easy. The rule book doesn't set it out as clearly as it could, but it is reasonable understandable. Combat on the table makes total sense, and is a really good base mechanic, but allows for a huge variety to be loaded on top by various weapons, combat styles and abilities.

Tokens. The game is a bit token heavy I think. You definitely should get the wound/stunned marker pack or laminate your cards. I haven't laminated mine but I think being able to do that would help. I think that Action Counters still should be placed on a card, rather than written so that your opponent sees what you have on the cards, and you have to remove a counter to spend it. Prevents misunderstandings and follows the rules nicely. 

All in all, I think that this seems a fabulous game. Really great core mechanics, amazing universe to play in, and astonishing depth. Between the scenarios, various traits and special abilities, plus weapon types, and different characters every game is unique. 

The models are expensive (partly due to scale/detail, but mostly due to licensing), but the size of the crews are really small. You could easily stick to 6-8 models and not get bored and still hit the 350 standard UK tournament size. That would not be an expensive crew and far cheaper overall than Malifaux. Plus it is light years cheaper than the bloated GW armies with massive investments even for start ups. Just looking at the price tab per blister is really misleading for this game.

I really think more people should be playing this fantastic game. 

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