For fans of Batman and other DC heroes and heroines, the Batman Miniature Game from the Spanish manufacturer Knight Models is an exciting opportunity to replay adventures and hearty skirmishes. Also friends of tabletop skirmishers with tactical depth and without special superhero reference should risk a look.
Currently Knight Models celebrates the 10th anniversary of the game. Several years of development and many changes have already been made. Currently we have reached the 3rd edition, which brought significant changes compared to the two previous editions. In my opinion, all editions have their strengths and weaknesses, but the bottom line is that the current one is a well playable, fluid and entertaining version.
Officially, only current edition is still valid, which is currently in two different starter boxes. It is nice that the rulebook is available in English and German for free on the Knight Models website. So you can easily get an impression or play with this rulebook already. In earlier editions there were more detailed print books, which are probably no longer provided at the moment. A warning at this point: The German translation was once very bumpy and partly misleading. I haven’t looked at the current translation and can’t judge it, but maybe the English version (or the Spanish one) is more reliable.
Other game materials can also be found on the website for free download. That is exemplary!
“The Batman” – The Starter Box
As mentioned, there are two Starter boxes available, which make little difference in terms of content. First and foremost, the models are completely different. The Back to Gotham box, which heralded the 3rd edition, contains miniatures based on the comics. The fairly new The Batman box is based on the latest Batman movie and contains only miniatures based on the movie. Ultimately, this is a matter of taste.
I had not yet bought the Back to Gotham box, because I wanted to wait and see how well the changes of the 3rd edition are accepted. When the “Film Box” was announced, it was clear that I would definitely buy this. From my own experience, I therefore only know this box.
The starter box contains everything you need to play and start the game:
- The rulebook (identical to the .pdf above)
- Cardboard templates and markers
The only thing you definitely need to play this game in any meaningful way is terrain. Batman is a skirmisher: you play with a few characters per side and each can move completely independently. The game is designed to be played, as in a classic Batman setting, on streets, in urban canyons, on balconies and rooftops. There is great cardboard, MDF or resin terrain for this and you can build really nice game tables on which the game is even more fun. None of this is in the box though. For a quick start you can help yourself with improvisation: Shoeboxes or other boxes as house substitutes, other everyday objects as privacy screens. Beginners have to get a little creative. By the way, cardboard terrain used to be included in the starter boxes, but unfortunately that has changed.
Now for the most exciting part for many, the miniatures. 17 pieces are included. Pre-orderers got the “exclusive” “Drifter” as the 18th figure. With Knight Models it is always such a thing with “exclusive”. Apparently the Drifter is available in such a high quantity that the pre-order box with him is still available in various stores without any problems. If you want to get it, just check out some of the bigger German stores (as of August 2022). I also got it this way.
The miniatures included are divided into the side of the criminals and the “forces of law and order”. Specifically, the “good” side comes with:
Standing on the opposing side:
The pages are pretty balanced in terms of points. Of course, the question why the Riddler is not included is immediately apparent. The answer is simple: the Riddler has his own gang and would not have fit in with the miniatures included. Penguin and Falcone share the criminal thugs. The Riddler, however, has his own henchmen. In the meantime, however, Riddler and his gang are available for pre-order.
And the quality?
Well, Knight Models and miniature quality, that’s always such a thing. In the past, all figures were made of white metal, then there was a phase of very brittle resin, today they also rely on Thermoplastic, which is unloved by many. This is a type of soft resin that has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include sharp castings with few flashes and, by and large, little cleaning required. Miscasts are also rare, in my observation. These very points have not been among Knight Models’ strengths in the past. In addition, the material is soft and flexible. So far, no miniature of this material has arrived with broken parts. Those who experienced Knight Models’ Harry Potter box from the early days with the brittle resin will break out in jubilation here.
A big disadvantage, however, is that this thermoplastic is incredibly annoying to clean. If you do have casting noses or burrs, then it becomes fiddly. My tool of choice is the scalpel, but it has to be really sharp. You have to be very careful here, because you quickly run the risk of cutting away more than you want to. What you can still remove on flat surfaces becomes a real challenge at the latest with folds. With no other material is cleaning so annoying and unsatisfactory. In some places, I have to use Green Stuff again because I have visibly cut away too much, cursing profusely.
With other manufacturers, the choice of this material would weigh heavily against me. Nevertheless, the bottom line for Knight Models is a plus. For those who know the mixed quality control of the older miniatures, it is a pure blessing that with this box so far no failures are delivered. No missing parts, nothing broken off, no miscasts. Apart from the cleaning effort, one has actually “delivered” here.
A word about the difficulty of assembly:
The manufacturer has always been strongly aimed at showcase and display painters. Although they are game figures, they are intended for upscale painting. This is reflected above all in the Knight Models trend of delivering special characters with gigantic display bases. This drives up the prices and annoys all those who don’t want them. In the current box, they make refreshingly little use of this. The bases of the character models are designed and partly complex, but it is still within limits and in this case actually serves the atmostphere presentation. Only Falcone has a more challenging base with ridiculously shaggy small parts.
However, many miniatures need to be assembled and that is quite challenging. As great as the mounted policeman is, I just couldn’t manage to assemble him without any gaps without Green Stuff. Batman’s imposing cape consists of two parts. You can leave one part out and use him as is (already seen this way on Instagram), but the complete cape is also only possible for me to make with Green Stuff, despite quite a good fit. Thus, the figures are aimed at experienced miniature builders – or you don’t care about all that, then of course it works somehow.
Despite everything, of course, it must be mentioned that the design is once again beyond reproach. The miniatures correspond perfectly to their cinematic models, are instantly recognizable and come up with interesting designs. Apart from the preparatory activities, you get really beautiful miniatures here, which will make the movie fan’s heart swell.
The Batman Miniature Game is a fast skirmisher that measures in inches. The playing field is 36×36 inches (approx 91x91cm). In the game, it’s always nighttime – Sure, Batman isn’t out and about during the day. This means that each model only has a limited view of 12 inches. Accordingly, light plays an important role: be it the lanterns, flashlights or other light sources distributed on the playing field, in the vicinity of which everything can be seen.
The moves are divided into four phases:
1. Take the Lead: Each turn, a decision is made as to who will move first.
2. Raise the Plan: In secret, each player decides which model will perform which action and distributes markers.
3. Execute the Plan: the actions are executed.
4. Recount: Lick wounds, wake up from knockout, knock off dust.
The game ends after four moves at the latest. The winner is determined by victory points. You can come out of the battles badly battered and still win. This can result in nice narrative elements that embed the game in a story and even make battles a sideshow.
So much for the rough procedure. I won’t summarize the rules here, because anyone interested can read them for free via the links above – they are not very extensive. Therefore I rather want to give a personal impression:
What do I like about the game?
What I like about the game is that it lives up to its template. We’re talking about a superhero game here, which is primarily about fighting. However, in keeping with the Batman setting, everything is very grounded and the fights feel reasonably realistic. The game is designed to be dynamic, which is why the rules focus on movement and combat, similar to “Street Wars NYC“. It’s not about positional play or meticulous simulation. Running, climbing, jumping, fighting opponents. By means of a few tricks and special rules, the comic book template is nevertheless palpable (fighters can, for example, rise above themselves to strengthen or better resist an attack).
I feel that the Batman Miniature Game is quite casual. It doesn’t want to simulate serious combat. It sends Batman and the Joker with henchmen into fun melees that are handled fluidly and quickly. The fact that the core rules are only 19 pages is noticeable, yet there is no lack of complexity. Objective Cards and Mission Cards provide enough random elements and always new twists. The whole thing can be loosened up with optional event cards.
Probably nobody plays this game for its tactical depth. You play it because you want to fight battles with these characters. Then you definitely get your money’s worth. The game is fun, varied and lets the beloved heroes and villains clash, with the respective special rules bringing a lot of comic feeling into the game. Specifically, the starter box The Batman also offers the right start with two crews of comparable strength. I give both thumbs up for this successful box!