So this week, we’re going to have a bash at testing 2 starter gangs, Loeb’s cops and Penguin’s crew.Now in terms of the game’s balance, individuals have points costs and, in some cases, a $cost, with a basic game being set at 150 points and $500 (your dollars are also used to buy gear for your goons). Loeb, Branden and Echo come in at 148/$400; Penguin, Emperor (arguably the best basic henchman in the game), Royal and Blue from the starter at 143/$600, with Penguin giving you an extra $500 with his Lord of Business ability.
Where do the $ go? Branden and Royal have $ cost to balance assault rifles in game, so we can buy an extra ammo clips for Royal to make him a real threat, radios for the gang and a lantern for Echo so he can light up targets. My opponent is a gamer too, but new to BMG; he’s taking the Penguin gang, I’m taking the cops. Added into the mix, a further 2 friends decide to watch and learn; they are a couple who are more into card/board gaming but like superheroes – in fact, my target market!
We set up my home-made ruined cathedral terrain in what feels like a logical layout, and place our streetlights and sewer tokens (Loeb giving me an extra of each). Streetlights allow you to see people (it’s always night in Gotham), sewers provide shortcuts around the board. We choose our objectives; Riddles, ammo and loot for Penguin (plus he grants an extra loot token, hence my shiny golden duck – hey, who could resist?!), ammo, bat signal and Titan (venom drug, essentially) for the cops. Our random roles scenario requires us to have everything in the middle of the table, randomly determining where and when our gang members appear – all Penguin’s guys turn up turn 1 on his side, with the cops doing the same except Loeb on my choice of table edge.
I’m not going to recount this blow by blow, because then it would be marginally less interesting than one of Rimmer’s Risk recounts. But I’ll give you an overview and an idea, hopefully, of how the game works, as well as the feelings of those involved.
Penguin’s gang are designed to feel like, well, a gang. Players take turns to move models, but henchmen are able to circumvent this – you can get your next one to act immediately on a successful die roll, which gets progressively harder (4,5,6 for the first, 5,6 for the second, 6 for the third); penguin goons start at 3+ and the radios let them reroll. It’s a mechanical device that feels neatly cinematic – a march of the penguins, even. So Penguin’s gang neatly trot across the table, taking key positions before I can blink. Generally, it always surprises folk how quickly you can get about, and it adds a real sense of energy.
So the cops move in. Sniper on the roof, SWAT goes for the Titan drug boost, and Loeb heads for the Bat signal. Taking my time, moving into position. That might seem at odds with what I was just saying about pace, but this is a game of resource management also. Characters have a limited pool of action tokens each turn, which you assign before anyone acts; this set of cops have the ability to change the choice of 2 actions, making them reactive, careful – cops, in other words.
We trade shots (ammo is limited; like everything in BMG it’s a finite resource); even a glancing blow can stun, and close up on the middle.
I take out Emperor penguin through a mix of gunfire and repeated punching by the swat guy, but pay the price in losing him in turn to a face full of umbrella gun. I think I’ve clinched it when I get the bat signal on (many bonus points) and am on the verge of winning when I finally batter through the car door that Blue is holding to take him down – only for Mr Cobblepot to waddle over, umbrella stab Loeb through the heart and flick off the signal for the win.
Despite myself, I imagine my bent surviving sidekick, Branden, happily taking a kickback from Mr C.
Honestly, it’s a wonderfully narrative game. My opponent’s main criticism is that the reference cards are cluttered and vague, which is not unreasonable. Interestingly, both of the observers were absolutely smitten with the game – they described it as balanced, engaging and enjoyable – and immediately started planning their own Green Arrow and Wonderland gangs to get into playing. So all in all, I’d call that a success!
Thanks for reading folks, and remember this is your last chance to like, comment and/or share to bag yourself a shiny rulebook courtesy of the folks at Knight Models.