A surprise hitter for Christmas has been Batman: Shadow of the Bat. Last christmas I brought home TMNT and my younger brother kept saying no when I asked if he wanted to play it. However when I painted Batman this year he asked me to bring it home so he could play. I thought, as the two games are essentially the same, that he’d try it once and that would be that. However, he has requested it repeatedly, wanting to try different heroes and villains.
In Batman: Shadow of the Bat players take on the roles of Gotham City heroes, attempting to stop the villain of the week surrounded by a supporting cast of gangsters. Players work together by sharing their action dice with their fellow players. These dice determine the actions available to a player, but the ability to share, mixed with dice mitigation through rerolls means the game isn’t as random as it might sound. For example, if you don’t roll any move icons, make sure that one of your fellow heroes shares their movement die with you.
Batman improves on TMNT in a number of ways, the use of gadgets, for example, give players one time effects and allow them to plan efficiently for the mission at hand and the addition of more “always on” skill cards make for more unique heroes on the table. Where Batman is less interesting is in the scenario design. Every scenario uses the same minions, one of three different varieties of gangsters, while this makes it easier to remember their powers, it does mean that every scenario starts to feel samey, with only the main villain changing things up.
Batman also uses the same co-op system as TMNT which felt underbaked there and continues to do so here, with the added problem of a lack of proof reading throughout the scenario books. This means that the best way to play Batman remains the same as TMNT, as a one versus many game, with one player controlling the villains and making clever and interesting choices. But Batman is a fairly complex beast, with tons of rules, different terrain types, skills and general rules exceptions and minutiae that you can only play this way if both sides really know the game.
So we’ve been playing co-op and it’s fine, my little brother is obviously enjoying himself, which is nice, it’s just that I know there’s a better gaming experience to be had in here and I’m not having it, which I find frustrating.
On the eight day of Christmas, Santa gave to me... Eight menacing mobsters.