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Subject: Batman: Gotham City Chronicles A Snapshot Review rss

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Jay K
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We've all done it. Stood in front of the bathroom mirror, gave our reflection the best sneer we can manage and summoned up our most gravelly tones to utter the classic phrase: "I'm Batman!". Surely you've put you pants over your spandex and run round the house....No? That's just me then?! Ah ok. Moving on.

Full disclosure, this reviewer is an "all in" Kickstarter backer on this project. Not that I would allow that to affect my views, but I can understand how some people might think it would.

Components, Art and Graphic Design

This is Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, it uses the same system as the Conan game released on Kickstarter a couple of years ago and from the same publisher Monolith Games.

The miniatures are excellent high quality sculpts and you will get something in the order of 140 in the base game alone. The artwork in general is of an excellent standard and is evocative of the theme. The game comes with 2 reversible game boards giving you 4 possible maps to play on. I know the maps are meant to give you the feeling of dark and dingy Gotham city, but does the subway map have to be so dark that you can't really see anything on it? I think that's a shame. I will come back to the boards later.

The Graphic design is clear, crisp and clean. It is a little complex; not Race for the Galaxy complex, but it could take you some time to get it all straight in your head. Still it works pretty well.

Gameplay

So does this game feel like a superhero game? Sort of. Is this game for everybody? Definitely not.

The game has an extensive array of character skills and this makes Catwoman feel like Catwoman, climbing walls, dodging villains and disarming bombs. It gives each hero and villain the personal touch and a unique playstyle which is excellent. You will need a summary of the skills with you though, as you are likely to forget what all those icons do and some of them are quite complex. There's definitely the possibility of completing a turn only to find you forgot to trigger that all important skill, and in a game this tight it can mean the difference between success and failure.

Movement is important and like everything else very tightly managed in the game and the board has levels which make movement more varied. Characters can climb to higher levels to gain line of sight, or jump down to engage their opponents. However, these are not shown on the map and you need to refer to a separate page at the back of the Missions booklet to find the climbing, falling and jumping distances. It's a minor annoyance and hasn't really hugely affected my games, but I can see how you could easily miss this as it is not readily apparent on the game board.

The game uses energy cubes for both Heroes and Villains and this is the basis for taking actions. The Heroes spend energy cubes to move, make melee and ranged attacks and to interact with bombs, computers and other items in the environment. However, you want to hold on to some of those precious energy cubes to ensure you can make those all important defence rolls. The cube system is both simple and elegant. Choose how many cubes to place in an action slot and get that many d6 in the colour shown on your board. The heroes have three areas for cubes: "Reserve" where the cubes are ready to use. "Fatigue" and "Wounds", pretty straightforward. Each turn you move cubes from Fatigue to Reserve depending on your stance; so do you rest, lose a turn, but you get more of those precious cubes back? Or do you stay active, receive fewer cubes, but push on? It makes for a deliciously difficult decision and perhaps the biggest double edged sword about this game.

The game has tough decisions, that's certainly true and the energy cubes are hugely important and you cannot afford to squander them and therein lies the problem. The game is random, and whilst you can mitigate that randomness in your starting equipment and by making rerolls, bad rolls can hose your strategy. Also most rerolls cost you one of those precious energy cubes; the game does have free rerolls and that goes someway to mitigating the issue but it is still prevalent.

The Villain suffers from the same issues although it never feels quite as harsh on the Villain side. The Villain activates tiles in his "River". These are marked from 1 to 7 and cost that number of energy cubes to activate. So you may really want to use Bane, but if he is in space 7 are you going to consume your entire turn activating him? This is a very clever mechanic. The Villain sits opposite the heroes listening to all their planning and scheming and the heroes have little or no idea of what's going on in the Villain's head. This is a common issue with the "One versus Many" system. However, with the Villain Command Post and the River it provides the Heroes with a mine of useful information on what obstacles they are likely to meet the next turn. They know they can enter a room with Bane, because he activated last turn and so it just won't be efficient for the Villain to activate him again. Thematically it makes the heroes feel coordinated and the Villains more anarchic which is great.

The mission set ups are very tightly built and the heroes cannot hang around pummelling the bad guys if they intend to meet their objectives. I know Monolith have spent a lot of time play testing and balancing the Missions, but it does feel incredibly tough for the heroes on several of the Missions. That's not a bad thing per se and there were moments in the first Mission where Batman took down 4 bad guys in a single turn which, even though I was the Villain, felt pretty cool. However, with a few good rolls I had armed too many bombs for the heroes to stop me and by the end of the game there were 4 primed bombs in the Gotham subway.

In Summary

This game is "One versus Many" and that is not everyone's favourite game play system. This game has dice rolls that can hurt you, and the mitigation isn't that effective. That said, once you have the system down you can play a Mission in just over an hour and there is no player elimination so players are constantly involved in the game and the randomness doesn't ruin a 3 hour game experience.

As I said, the gameplay is tight, there's strategy in how you approach a Mission and tactics in how you respond to the dice rolls and your opponent(s). The system has the cinematic fight feel to it although there's a fine balance here and it may not suit everyone. How? Well let's take Nightwing as an example. That guy can kick Bane all around the park if he gets close enough and that can feel overpowered. However, Nightwing is a bit of a glass cannon and if you can hit him a few times his effectiveness drops dramatically. Some people are going to love that knife-edge nature of the game play whilst others will not.

The game looks great, plays great but has some downsides. I would give it a solid 8 or even 9 out of 10. Plus there are also some solo rules out there apparently . Not sure who wrote them, but they're great! whistle
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frederic Henry
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Hi.
Lot of thx for this very complete review. I wish it will be hepful for people. You are perfectly right, It s demanding game, not designed for casual players, because it s a tought decisions maker. Good play is all about optimize your players coordination for maximize your energie management.
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Francesco
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How did you find remembering the rules and “the teach”?
Three ways of going up or down a wall seem like a lot to take in.
 
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Greg
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Zabby wrote:
How did you find remembering the rules and “the teach”?
Three ways of going up or down a wall seem like a lot to take in.


You can't go up or down a wall. You can climb up to a higher elevation, or fall/climb down from a higher elevation to a lower one.

I'm not sure what the third way is? Jumping? That's only available in specific places marked on the board rules diagrams. It's actually not even an option on all of the boards.
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Jay K
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fred henry wrote:
Hi.
Lot of thx for this very complete review. I wish it will be hepful for people. You are perfectly right, It s demanding game, not designed for casual players, because it s a tought decisions maker. Good play is all about optimize your players coordination for maximize your energie management.


You are very welcome. Thank you for a great game.
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Francesco
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Glic2003 wrote:
Zabby wrote:
How did you find remembering the rules and “the teach”?
Three ways of going up or down a wall seem like a lot to take in.


You can't go up or down a wall. You can climb up to a higher elevation, or fall/climb down from a higher elevation to a lower one.

I'm not sure what the third way is? Jumping? That's only available in specific places marked on the board rules diagrams. It's actually not even an option on all of the boards.
i meant climb jump and fall but i’m still unsure about the difference between them.
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Thilo M.
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Zabby wrote:
Glic2003 wrote:
Zabby wrote:
How did you find remembering the rules and “the teach”?
Three ways of going up or down a wall seem like a lot to take in.


You can't go up or down a wall. You can climb up to a higher elevation, or fall/climb down from a higher elevation to a lower one.

I'm not sure what the third way is? Jumping? That's only available in specific places marked on the board rules diagrams. It's actually not even an option on all of the boards.
i meant climb jump and fall but i’m still unsure about the difference between them.


Climb costs extra movement points, fall does not but you may suffer damage.
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Francesco
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GrandKhan44 wrote:
Zabby wrote:
Glic2003 wrote:
Zabby wrote:
How did you find remembering the rules and “the teach”?
Three ways of going up or down a wall seem like a lot to take in.


You can't go up or down a wall. You can climb up to a higher elevation, or fall/climb down from a higher elevation to a lower one.

I'm not sure what the third way is? Jumping? That's only available in specific places marked on the board rules diagrams. It's actually not even an option on all of the boards.
i meant climb jump and fall but i’m still unsure about the difference between them.


Climb costs extra movement points, fall does not but you may suffer damage.
what’s the difference between jumping and climbing?
 
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tony berart
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Zabby wrote:
GrandKhan44 wrote:
Zabby wrote:
Glic2003 wrote:
Zabby wrote:
How did you find remembering the rules and “the teach”?
Three ways of going up or down a wall seem like a lot to take in.


You can't go up or down a wall. You can climb up to a higher elevation, or fall/climb down from a higher elevation to a lower one.

I'm not sure what the third way is? Jumping? That's only available in specific places marked on the board rules diagrams. It's actually not even an option on all of the boards.
i meant climb jump and fall but i’m still unsure about the difference between them.


Climb costs extra movement points, fall does not but you may suffer damage.
what’s the difference between jumping and climbing?


It's just tematical reason for the difference. Climb you go up or down. Jump it's a long jump.
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Jamie Karr
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Jump is for a horizontal leap from two areas of equal elevation and it can only be done at certain spots on each map as indicated in the scenario book. They have a jump “level” the same as climbing that adds movement required to cross.

There arent a ton of jump points across the first 4 maps.

Mostly you’ll be using climb and fall.
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