UK Games Expo 2017: Batman the Boardgame

Batman the Boardgame first look review


Quite frankly there is part of me that wants to leave this preview as just one word and some photos, but that would be unprofessional of me (although professionalism does seem to always be out of Polyhedron Collider's grasp) so custom dictates I should annotate the pictures of the quite frankly gorgeous prototype minis with some explanation and musings.

It should be noted that Batman was a particularly popular demo at the UK Games Expo, so much so that Andy and I shamelessly used our press privileges to elbow our way to the front of the entrance queue and sprint across the convention hall in order to get in on Monolith stand for the first demo of the day. And yet we still got there second!

Batman the Boardgame GCPD rescue

Our demo game involved a dastardly plot by Bane to plant bombs in an unused underground station beneath GCPD headquarters, and the Caped Crusader and his chums were to get in and disarm the bombs in time to save Gotham's finest. 3 players took on the roles of Batman, Catwoman and Red Hood, while Andy, Polyhedron Collider's resident super villain, took control of Bane and his henchmen.

Due to sitting position I was provided with Catwoman, a character who was good at movement and the odd quick attack but weak on defence, a problem I found out early on in the game when one of Andy's henchmen unloaded both barrels of a shotgun into the feline femme fatale's face and I spent the majority of the game lying in the corner hoping desperately for a saucer of milk.

Batman the Boardgame Catwoman character sheet

All the actions of the heroes are governed by action crystals. Each action; running, attacking and defusing bombs, requires the expenditure of crystals, and you'll also want to keep some on hand for defending against attacks and valuable rerolls. You'll get some crystals back each turn but you can rest, forfeiting your turn, to get even more back.

The super villains work in a similar way, with the villain player spending crystals to activate units, and then moving those units backwards on a track making them much more expensive to activate if you wish to do so a second time. Similarly the villain player can spend those resources to re-roll and defend.
Batman the Boardgame Bane miniature

If this all sounds familiar then it is because you are aware of Conan, also by Monolith, and this game is exactly the same. And I mean 95% the same game. Scenarios and characters are of course visually different and some of the skills are altered because of the setting (I know I've not read every single Conan story, but I'm pretty sure he couldn't hack a computer) but the way in which combat works is exactly the same as in the Hyborian barbarian's board game.

Now for me, this is not a bad thing, in fact, this is an amazing thing! Conan is an extremely dynamic game, disposing of the rigid turn structure found in many other games of this type and replacing it with a system that gives players a lot more choice. It's not just about rolling well on the dice it's also about careful resource management and working as a team.

Batman the Boardgame punching dogs

Now this was an early prototype and although the minis already looked beautiful there was obviously some work required to bring the graphic design up to snuff. I am also hoping that Monolith have learnt from their mistakes with the original Conan rulebook.

So in summary the worst thing about Batman the Boardgame is that it's the Conan board game with a Batman reskin, and the best thing about Batman the Boardgame is that it's the Conan board game with a Batman reskin.

Batman The Boardgame will be coming to Kickstarter late 2017 early 2018.
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