So, it’s finally here, the 3rd Edition of Knight Models’ Batman Miniature Game, in a vast and glorious starter box. Read on, see what you think – and, of course, there’s a contest at the end of the article, because we love you awesome Bat-Nerds.
It’s a big beast of a box, right enough, and can be used as a storage solution also (albeit not with room for scenery once assembled), with extra space for more models, tokens etc.
SCENERY & TOKENS
A huge selling point for me about this set is the funfair scenery that’s included. KM’s apartment blocks that have come in the 2nd Edition sets (Suicide Squad, Dark Knight) were pretty good, but this is on a different level, both in terms of scope and variety. It’s enough to satisfyingly scatter across a board fully, as well as adding a variety of heights to the board.
Now there are, and have been, funfair sets out there in scale before – Warcradle (formerly our friends DeathZap studios) and Knights of Dice do very respectable MDF affairs, whilst Plascraft.eu do a serviceable, albeit rather flimsy, coloured plastruct version in their Malifaux range. But here you’re getting a Ferris wheel, 3 small and 3 large booths, a couple of barriers and some small standees, all as part of the box. The card stock is not as durable as MDF, to be sure, but looks great and of course, for an entry-level product, is ready to go straight away – a huge advantage.
You also get all the tokens and templates required to play. Some of these are the same as previous editions, others are merely similar (for example, suspect tokens that reveal to be a particular objective), and some are entirely new. Crucially, it’s all there, and all are sufficiently distinct.
Opening the box, you are faced with two books: a purple START HERE Joker-themed intro campaign, which takes you through all the basic rules adding complexity at each step, and the main rulebook (also available online for free). The mini-campaign is an excellent introduction, and structurally it’s very reminiscent of The Walking Dead (you can spot Mark Latham’s fingerprints all over this). The back of the intro book includes clear construction guides for the figures and terrain also.
The only niggle – and it’s pretty minor – is that Suspect tokens are introduced within the campaign without any explanation of how they work. However, that aside, it’s a very effect intro game that a novice or young player can get their head round easily, as well as having actual replay value.
The core rules are noticeably cleaner than previous editions – what I mean by this is that generally, they are both more logical AND more logically laid out.
One of the big bones of contention online has been the variable bases sizes of leaders. Joker and Gordon come with a choice of giant 60mm display base or regular 40mm base. These have the mechanical effect of meaning your radius of Inspire (leadership, essentially) is bigger on the 60mm but you’re less mobile and easier to swarm. The figures are designed to be easy to magnetise, and certainly the display versions will look impressive, though not to everyone’s taste as game pieces. Personally, I love them, and will simply be going with the characters on 60mm bases. Not sure whether I prefer Joker’s wrecked stage or Gordon’s Bat-Signal base, though. However, I *love* the fact that base tabs on regular models now have paving stones carved into them; a simple, effective addition.
One of the great things about this set is all of the Joker goons come with 2 heads, a clown mask version or regular thug version – no mechanical difference, but a lot of choice depending on your preference – whilst the cops come with winter hat heads. Harley comes with classic or current heads whilst Mr J also comes with optional hat or gun in hand, plus there’s lots of great base scatter – Smilex fishes, for example. Sprues are well laid out and the new material, whilst quite flexible, holds detail well and has minimal slippage or mould lines to deal with.
As for the other models, Harley also has a display base – because everyone loves Harley, apparently – and the Batman design is the iconic Todd MacFarlane spiky-spawn cape version, which is nice for variety if nothing else. Deadshot likewise has head choices and a scenic base, just to keep you happy. The cops are good, but the icing on the cake – or rather donut – is a proper Bullock figure, at last.
There are a number of card decks, some familiar, some less so, in the new version of the game. First of all, the character card layout has been refined once again – taking hints from other card-driven miniature games. I know several people who’ve often been put off by the layout of both 1st and 2nd ed cards, whereas now the layout is clear and clean, with all the special rules on the back (as was seen in the later iterations of 2nd Edition), and all cards and models also being fully compatible in either direction.
The major functional difference is that movement is now in inches, with your total movement (including from abilities) is printed on the card, which is a great improvement; for older cards, you simply add 4 to their listed movement stat. As an aside, Willpower is now used against Stun, Endurance against Injury (formerly Blood damage). One thing I really, really like is that your characters can make an “Effort” – take Stun damage to improve rolls (max. 3)
You also get two sets (one per player) of the new Objective deck. Firstly, I like the simple fact that you get two copies of this, it just makes sense – but so many games would sell this separately, or just give you one. You shuffle together your faction specific objectives with your choice of generics, to make a 20-card deck, and draw 4 – and these are how you win the game. I love that everyone’s now got their own way to win, and you never quite know what your opponent is up to. Not only that, but they can instead be spent as a Resource – burned for a temporary advantage instead (but you can only do this for 3 “points” of Resource total in the game) – trading off long term for short term gain.
The Suspect tokens, mentioned earlier, are clues, loot etc. that interact with these, and are typically specified on the cards: they may, for example, reveal to be Loot or Ammo, and getting this may – or may not – be part of your overall Objectives. You also have 4 cards from the Plot deck – which both players draw from – which represent grand villain schemes. Above all, you can always keep them guessing… Between these two deck types, the game feels much more dynamic and cinematic, less of a slug-fest and more of, well, a Batman Comic!
Combined with these there are Encounter and Event decks. The Encounter deck allows you to pick or randomly determine a scenario and setup, whilst the Event deck is random, ongoing effects such as heavy rain, or Gotham in Flames. All of the cards are illustrated with comic art (and every era is covered, not just post-New 52 – love that there’s a Carrie Kelley art card for the Bat crew), of decent stock, and with clearly differentiated card backs.
The Turn sequence has undergone some modification, which may take some time to get your head round. With the demise of objective deployment, setup is now rather different. 2 sewers and lampposts per side, which get placed before deployment is determined. Fair enough, and speeds up setup.
Take the Lead: Initiative is now a dice roll; more in line with other games, but I used to quite like the tokens in bag (still there in DCU though)
Raise the Plan: Assign 4 Audacity Markers to your team. These are new, and interesting… As you’ll see.
Execute the Plan: IGOUGO as before, but you can only take one action – either movement OR Attack OR Special (if they have a Special ability) – unless you have an audacity marker. It’s a really interesting switch, and seems designed to balance goon swarms against smaller lists (as well as providing tactical variety).
For the experienced player, let’s take a quick look at the other tweaks – as opposed to the core mechanical changes – those little things that play differently from previous editions:
1) Magic Users and Speedsters are – for now – gone, having migrated to DCU. The Drowned and The Merciless have disappeared also, which is not a bad thing (especially in the case of the latter). Magic never quite sat right in BMG, and Speedsters struggled to make an impact; I think, for the time being, it’s for the best.
2) Lamps now measured from edge of base, not centre (making lamps a 9″ bubble rather than 8″ in 2e). This is fine, it was always a bit of faff to measure from the middle.
3) Skill Tests are now roll dice equal to special stat, choose 2, looking for equal or less than stat. Perfectly logical.
4) Game Length is now 4 rounds (or less!). A much quicker game, in theory.
5) Stun damage now tracks against Willpower, can be gained to add or remove dice from Attacks or Specials, and every non-KO model removes a stun at end of round. As I’ve mentioned, I love that you can “push”, feels very narrative, and the rapid recovery is likewise sensible.
6) If an un-activated model is KO/Casualty, you immediately gain a pass. I’m a bit Meh about this; I have a feeling that some lists could abuse it, though that’s more a gut response than anything else.
7) If you end the turn having not used your passes, each pass counts as +1 to the next turn roll-off. See above.
8) Models can now walk through other models, even without acrobat. Yup, perfectly ok, speeds things up.
9) Impaired movement is now just Base Movement – 4, no longer 1/2 movement. Easier to calculate, I think.
10) Knocked down models can get up as part of a move action, but count as impaired movement for that activation. Sure, that’s easy enough.
11) Outnumbered now stacks (so if you’ve got 3 models in base-to-base with an enemy, they’re now defence -2). Finally! This is one of those rules changes I’ve wanted for ages.
12) You can now shoot beyond range and/or line of sight, but at reduced RoF. Additionally, cover now reduces RoF instead of generating Pings. Pings, whilst fluffy, slowed the game down. The reduce RoF mechanics are perhaps less intuitive but very quick in game.
13) Crits are now strength die rolls of 6, cause knockdown. This is ok, I’m still a bit on the fence about KD vs KO.
14) Limited to 1 free agent for the first 350 rep now. Well, this is a hard one. Free Agents have had a very mixed time in previous editions, with there being so many leading to choice paralysis and/or massive imbalances. Does mean characters with Charismatic (may take an extra Free Agent – e.g. Penguin) just got a whole lot better. We’ll see how this shakes down.
So that’s an overview of the game box as it stands. There’s no denying that it is a big investment, but worthwhile – it’s an absolute ton of stuff.
If we’ve tempted you, how about checking it out at 10% off (just £117) from Element Games? – CLICK HERE
Or… how about entering our contest?
Yes, we love you that much, that we’re giving you the chance to win a special Bat-prize. It’s a mystery… but not a riddle…
To enter, simply comment on this post with what character you’d most like to see in 3rd Edition – for me, it’s got to be Spoiler – and remember to like both Big Comic Page AND Knight Models on Facebook.
We’ll be doing the prize draw in the next couple of weeks (let’s be honest, don’t pin us down to a date, I’ll only break your hearts), along with more reviews of goodies from KM and Hasbro (woo! Transformers!)