On The Tabletop - DC Universe Miniature Game

Tabletop article by A Potts on Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 12:00
Feature
Topic(s): Tabletop, Wargaming

The Age of Heroes Comes Again

The DC Universe Miniature Game from Knight Models is a skirmish wargame, featuring well known and favorite superheroes. The products featured in this article are the new release of the hardback physical rulebook, which was previously only available digitally and re-releases of the superheroes in team boxes.

Off The Shelf / On The Tabletop articles come in two halves. In Off The Shelf we will look at what's in the product along with covering how the game plays. This is followed by On The Tabletop where we talk about our first playthrough games and finish with feedback from the On The Tabletop team. The On The Tabletop playthrough articles catalog our initial experiences with a game; as a result, mistakes will be made. On The Tabletop should also not be taken as a full review. These articles are simply our first impressions of a game.

Firestorm Games

You can buy all the DC Universe Miniature Game Products from our Tabletop Sponsor, Firestorm Games.

Off The Shelf

DCU Miniature Game

To play the DC Universe Miniature Game, you need a copy of the rules. These are available for free via the Knight Models downloads page, but they have also just been released for the first time in hardback. The new physical release of the rules features updated rules, which include the FAQs, along with a huge section on character and team histories from the DC Universe, a full-color gallery of painted DC Universe Miniature Game characters, 18 game scenarios and is filled out with full-color comic artwork and illustrated examples of the rules.

Minature boxed sets are also being released, grouping together famous teams from the DCU and we'll look at a few here.

Justice League

Justice League

The Justice League box contains 5 miniatures, featuring characters based on the latest Justice League movie, which are slightly different sculpts than those based on the original comic heroes. Their stat cards are named after the actors playing them in the movie, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) for example.

The 5 characters all feel like you would expect them to. Superman is able to fly and is fast and strong. he can also see and attack through walls with heat vision. Batman has gear that gives him an edge. He works best in the shadows and is able to put effects on enemy units with 'The Plan' skill. Wonder Woman is an athletic warrior who makes use of her shield, bracelets, and lasso. Aquaman is strong and tough, with great defenses, he is also able to snap to water terrain on the board. The Flash is incredibly fast, with the highest base speed in the game, and can also get a bonus 20' move once per game for last moment objective grabs. Extremely thematically, if Flash has no power, his defense suffers as a result.

Apokolips Invasion Force

Apokolips Invasion Force

The Apokolips Invasion Force, led by Darkseid have some flexibility in their force construction if you're looking to play thematically. Darkseid is extremely powerful and takes up 50% of the points value for your team in a regular game. He is extremely tough and hard-hitting and regenerates each turn. His once per game Omega Beam attack can also do a huge amount of wounds to a character. Darksied can be combined with 3 Parademon's, who are low level, but build up when using their Swarm abilities to attack foes together, and Big Barda, who is an equal match for Wonder Woman in combat, or Steppenwolf a very strong warrior who is able to boost nearby allies.

DCU Miniature Game Boxed Sets

Also available are boxed sets for the Legion of Doom, powerful enemies, and nemesis' for the Justice League. The Crime Syndicate, villainous versions of the Justice League from an alternative dimension and the Justice League Dark, superheroes with dark and supernatural pasts and abilities.

Wonder Woman Rebirth

Our favorite new release for the DC Universe Miniature Game is the Wonder Woman (Rebirth) miniature. It's an incredible sculpt, with a fantastic scenic base. A different stat card is included for this version compared to the Justice League version, with rebirth being much more martial focused with high physical defense and a Bodyguard special ability to help defend friendly heroes.

DC Universe Miniature Game Mechanics

The standout mechanic for the DCUMG is the way actions are handled during a round. Each fighter has a power stat, which gives them a number of power tokens equal to the stat each round. Power tokens are spent to move and use abilities and attacks. Each character has a set of unique attacks, each costing different power. Attacks can also be boosted by spending additional power, which makes it easier to hit. It gives interesting choices to how power is spent each turn. For example, with a 2 power attack. It can be made 3 times, hitting or missing depending on the odds, or the attack can be boosted, and for the same 6 power, can be made twice, with increased chances of hitting each time.

Abilities also have a frequency of use. Some abilities are unlimited, like Wonder Woman's Sword of Athena attack, which can be used multiple times a turn. Other's are once per turn, like Superman's Heat Vision attack that can target an enemy through scenery. The most powerful attacks and abilities are once per game, like Darkseid's Teleportation ability, which as a reaction to an attack, can move Darksied and an ally within 3 inches, to anywhere within 10 inches. This can be used to automatically dodge enemy attacks, even once per game attacks by taking him out of range.

DCUMG Scenery
Darkseid surveys the battlefield and plans their next attack.

Scenery also plays a huge part in games of the DCUMG and every scenery piece can be destroyed, or thrown by a strong enough hero or attack. This can have a huge impact on games and objective scenarios, more so than in regular wargames where scenery can be used to block attacks and cover your advance.

On The Tabletop

DCUMG On The Tabletop Test Game
The Apokolips Invasion Force deploys in the cover of a building, ready to surge the center of the table.

For our test game of the DCUMG, we decided to play a 3-way deathmatch to test out the mechanics and get used to the characters and abilities. The DCUMG is best played with scenarios, we just wanted to play a straight-forward game before getting to grips with scenario play. Kyla took on the Justice League and Alex their dimensional opposites with the Crime Syndicate. I wanted to see how powerful Darkseid was and so took the Apokolips Invasion Force, taking both Steppenwolf and Big Barda, along with a single Parademon.

DCUMG On The Tabletop Test Game
The fighting in out DCUMG test game invariably moved to a huge pile-up in the center.

Our test game ended up with a huge pile-up in the center of the board, with Aquaman and Flash taking on Darkseid after he took out Wonder Woman with his Omega Beam. Each turn flowed well, becoming quicker as we learned the mechanics and also got used to the abilities of our heroes.

Player Thoughts

Adam: The rules for the DCUMG are extremely straight-forward. Each test is a roll of 2D8, either adding your attack stat and trying to beat your opponent's defense or trying to roll under your own ability for a test like Agility or Willpower. Where the depth of the games comes is with the power and abilities of each character. Each character card has a huge amount of detail across the stats, attacks, abilities, and skills of each character, and we regularly had to refer to the rulebook to check skills. Attacks and abilities are written in full, but skills are keywords that then need to be looked up.

I like this level of depth in low character skirmish games, as each character feels truly unique and very heroic. Knight Models have really given a true thematic feel to each character.

The DCUMG really does need a quick reference sheet for playing and this would stop the constant lookup of skill and regular rules, but aside from that, I really enjoyed it and will be playing it again.

Adam is the righteous leader of the On The Tabletop Team and is an experienced tabletop gamer. He has played physical and online CCGs to a very high competitive level. He also has a background in roleplaying, board, and wargaming and has playtested and produced content for several companies. A veteran tabletop writer who's favorite games includes Dark Souls the Card Game, The Legend of the Five Rings LCG, WarCry, and Bushido. You can read his work here on TechRaptor and follow his exploits on Twitter - @StealthBuda.

 

Alex: My initial thoughts on the DC Universe Miniature Game are mixed. It may be because we didn't play with one of the scenarios in the book but it didn't really click for me.

The first components that I saw from the game were the stat cards for the miniatures. They are chocked full of numbers, symbols, keywords, and even full sentences. This can easily overwhelm and confuse people, for me I kept getting the amount of power and the level of my character mixed, your 'level' is only used during roster building and it's the biggest number on the card. However, I did like the color coding for if an attack or superpower was once per turn, once per game or unlimited use, it was the easiest part of the card to read.

Activating a character is fairly simple and using power to limit what a character can do on their activation is very thematic. What isn't thematic for me though is the attack sequence, what it boils down to is adding 3 (or more) numbers together and comparing it to the defending characters relevant defense stat, score higher and you hit doing them X damage. With the amount of damage that most attacks do, characters aren't gonna get wiped off the board quickly, which means there's plenty of chance for counterplay.

Once you get used to which symbol does what and which each stat is used for it's a fairly simple game, the depth is definitely from the different character's superpowers and attacks. Speaking of the different characters, their superpowers are all fitting. Flash is very quick, Superman hits like a truck and is hard to kill and Aquaman likes there to be water terrain on the board.

Overall it's not a game I'm going to rush out and buy, but I'm more than willing to give it another shot using one of the scenarios to see it in a different light.

Alex is your average tabletop gamer, with a shelf of grey plastic that he'll get to eventually, and even more shelves of board games that he'll definitely get to at some point. Alex is a prominent member of the Scottish Star Wars Legion community and travels to SWL events all over the country.

 

Kyla: I'd heard a little about the game, so I was keen to give it a go, and I was pleasantly surprised. From what I'd heard about previous editions, the game had some clunky rules, but it seems like the current edition has streamlined some of these. 

I think initially the number of skills on each hero's card can seem overwhelming, and the lack of a quick cheat sheet made it a little tedious to keep scrolling through the player's guide to look between damage types and skills, but I quickly started to remember key abilities and see how my heroes could work together to take down stronger villains.

We played a simple deathmatch to explore the game mechanics so I'd be interested in seeing how one of the scenario games run.

The game is perhaps not accessible to all in terms of the fact that you do need a certain level of interest in the DC Universe to feel some sort of attachment to the heroes and villains you chose to play as, but I was pleasantly surprised to see hero incarnations specifically from the DC films.

Kyla is a 3D Artist and VFX Compositor. She is also known around the UK convention scene for her costume and prop making work. She's been a regular DM and player of Dungeons & Dragons for the last 3 years, and when she's not busy writing her own homebrew campaigns she can be found playing Zombicide with friends. You can find her on Instagram at @HallowStudios, and on her website.

 

All of the DC Universe Miniatures Game used in this article were provided by Asmodee UK.

Have you played the DC Universe Miniature Game or the Batman Miniature Game? Which faction do you play? Who's your favorite hero? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

A Potts TechRaptor

A Potts

Tabletop Editor

Adam is the Tabletop Editor for TechRaptor. He's been involved in the video game and tabletop industry since 1997, including managing communities, flavour text writing for CCGs, game development and design and has played physical and digital card games at a high competitive level.