Game Buzz – Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game

Batman has always been one of my favorite superheroes.  I think what connects to me with the guy is that he doesn’t really have super powers, just a lot of really expensive toys.  Compared to someone like Superman, I think Batman’s lack of powers makes him more human and a better character.  However, one of Batman’s appeals for me has always been the variety of villains.  I grew up watching Adam West fight The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman on reruns of the 60s TV show;   Not being much of a comic book fan, I was introduced to other villains through the animated series of the 90s – Clayface, The Mad Hatter, Two Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and (my favorite) Ra’s al Ghul.  They’re all very different from each other, and don’t run together like other comic villains seem to.  This introduction is all just my way of saying I’m very excited about playing the villains in:

image by BGG user gladpanda
image by BGG user gladpanda

Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game is a new game from WizKids, designed by Paolo Mori.  In this 2-4 player, 60 minute game, players take control of The Joker, The Penguin, Killer Croc, or Two-Face, and try to become the King of Crime in Gotham City.  Standing in your way, however, is Batman.  It’s an interesting twist on the Dark Knight mythology, and one that I’ve been looking forward to.

image by BGG user gladpanda
image by BGG user gladpanda

The game comes with a board showing Gotham City, 4 villain HeroClix figures plus dials, a Batman figure plus dial, 4 player screens, 4 villain ability tokens, 100 threat tokens, 20 henchmen figures, 10 Batman cards, 84 criminal plot cards, 20 villain ability cards, 40 money tokens, 40 information tokens, and 2 custom Batman dice.  Each villain Clix figure starts the game at level one, and each player gets a player screen, the matching figure, the villain’s ability token, their character’s 5 ability cards, and threat tokens/money/information tokens indicated on the player screen.  They also get five criminal plot cards from the deck.

On a turn, a player first checks to see if he can advance one or more levels, then plays a card from his hand.  He may also spend money to hire new henchmen and/or discard one information to move some/all of your figures on the map.  You end your turn by drawing a new card.

ADVANCING A LEVEL: The HeroClix system features miniature figures on a dial base.  This dial is frequently rotated to reveal new information.  If, at the start of your turn, you have fulfilled the conditions on your Clix dial, you can advance a level on the dial.  You could advance several levels if you have fulfilled multiple conditions.  These could be a certain amount of information or money (which must be discarded), or could be ruled blocks or recruited henchment (revealed for proof).  You could end up gaining a new ability, chosen from the five you have available.

PLAYING A CARD: Put a card from your hand in front of you and resolve it.  First, if there’s a Batman icon, you draw the top card of the Batman deck and resolve it.  This could result in the Dark Knight entering a block occupied by a Villain, resulting in a fight (a die roll which you add to the Batman level on its Clix dial and to the Villain’s number of henchmen present).  You could also earn income for whichever Villain controls a certain block.

After resolving Batman or assigning income, you can either carry out the Criminal Plot on the card or take two resources of your choice.  To carry out the plot, read the card and carry out its effect.

RECRUITING HENCHMEN: After your card is resolved, you can recruit new henchmen for $5 each, which go in your hideout.  You can only have five henchmen, and they can be used to control blocks, help you during fights, play specific cards, and fulfill advancement requirements.

MOVING FIGURES: You can spend one information to move any or all figures, either from your hideout to the map (and vice versa), or from one block to another.

DRAWING A CARD: Draw a new card.  Play passes to the left.

The game ends when a Villain makes it to level 10 (they win) or if the criminal plot deck runs out.  If this happens, each player gets one last turn, and the Villain with the highest level wins.  Ties are broken by henchmen, then information, then money.

Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game seems like a fairly straightforward game, one that probably will make more sense when I see the cards.  Generally, it seems like there’s some area control mixed into the game, and I can foresee some good tactical decisions about when to send Batman on the prowl.  The rules don’t seem to complicated to follow, and while there’s probably quite a bit of randomness in the card draw and dice rolling, I can see some manipulation of the elements making things more strategic.  This is probably not a game I need to own, but certainly one I want to try at some point.  I just want to be the Joker and do my best Mark Hammill impersonation.  Thanks for reading!

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