One of my most played solo games of the year is Batman the Animated Series Adventures - Shadow of the Bat, and despite the unwieldy title this is one I’m still enjoying getting to the table. Shadow of the Bat takes the system originally developed for TMNT: Shadows of the Past and layers in a Batman theme, along with a solo Dark Knight mode.
In any of the AUGS Games (Adventures Universal Games Systems) players take control of four heroes. Each hero has unique dice that grant them actions in the game, typically move, attack and defend. Each turn players roll their dice and assign them to a slot, their left die is shared with the player on their left, their right die with the player on their right. In this way all players have access to five action dice they can use on their turn.
The AUGS games can then be played either co-op against an AI or competitive against a villain player, in a multitude of scenarios inspired by the comics or in the case of BTAS by the episodes from the show. With Batman you can also play in Dark Knight mode, which allows for a player to play just as Batman, either solo against the AI or two player against a villain player. This makes the game significantly easier to table. Previously in TMNT you’d need to control 4 characters at once, which is quite an ask, requiring a fair amount of brain space, as well as a significant amount of table space.
The co-op AI game does lose something in translation though. For example, the Two Face scenario I played this week has Two Face setting explosives and taking bystanders hostage. However in co-op these objectives are largely replaced with a round counter. So, where the competitive game provides a rich tactical experience for both players, the co-op vs the AI definitely feels watered down.
That said, the Dark Knight mode does offer an interesting puzzle as all enemies will target your single hero, i.e. Batman, so you want to make sure to take cover where possible, or throw smoke bombs to break line of sight. Overall though I’ve been having a lot of fun with the game, even if I’d rather play competitive, as I duck in and out of buildings, throwing a barrage of batarangs, before dropping smoke bombs and yelling I am the night... I am vengeance... I'm Batman!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Santa gave to me 9 explosive batarangs...