The Start Collecting series takes its first steps into the Batman Miniature Game with the Demon's Heir Bat-Box. Lured in by the beautiful miniatures produced by Knight Models. Start Collecting is a series for beginner gamers, starting out in the world of wargames, possibly with some experience in other tabletop games, video games, or no related experience at all. Maybe you have experience in other wargames but don’t know where to get started with a new system. Regardless of your experience, knowledge, or even who you are as a person, Start Collecting is for you. Wargaming and tabletop games are for everyone and our aim is to break down any barriers to entry, so join us and start collecting.
Our Start Collecting journey originally started with Warhammer 40,000 and Infinity, but the sheer volume of other fantastic tabletop miniatures games have led us to continue our journey into other systems. We were initially attracted to the Batman Miniature Game by the sheer quality of the miniatures themselves. Rather than be obvious and start our journey with Batman himself, or with one of the major villains, we decided to start with the brand new League of Assassins' Demon's Heir Bat-Box, because, well, ninjas.
The Demon's Heir Bat-Box contains 7 miniatures, an objective marker, a quickstart rulebook and a League Assassin guide.
[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="283915,283916"]
The League of Assassins are a shadowy agency and the Demon's Heir Bat-Box gives you access to Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of the League's leader, Cheshire, an deadly assassin, The Heretic, a clone of the son of Batman and Talia Al Ghul and 4 Hassassin's.
The Demon's Heir miniatures look awesome once they're together. Putting them together does require a degree of hobby skill from the start. There is a lot of excess resin on the initial miniatures that needs to be trimmed off and then filed or cut to avoid lines from the moulding process showing on them. Once all the pieces are cleaned up, some of parts are small and detailed, so can be fiddly to piece together. Talia Al Ghul comes with a scenic base of some stairs that she is striding down. Her feet are on different steps, so she needs to be glued together, whilst gluing her to the base to ensure her legs are spaced correctly. If you've got some experience with miniatures, then putting these together won't be difficult, but if this is your first time, be prepared to take it slowly to make sure they're constructed properly, as any snapped parts can be difficult to fix.
The Quickstart rulebook is an eight-page A5 rulebook that is used in conjunction with the League Assassin guide. The League Assassin guide has a scenario that is perfect for playing against an opponent with another Bat-Box. It also includes some additional rules unique to the miniatures in the box.
The Quickstart rulebook is very easy to understand and play with, it does have some written errors that will make you read-over those parts of the rules a second time, but they're all very straight-forward to understand despite this. Once the scenario is set up and miniatures are deployed, players take turns activating their individual characters.
Each hero or villain has a number of action points they can allocate each turn, these points are used to move, attack, defend or carry out special actions. Each character also has a max limit for assigning action points, Talia Al Ghul for example gets 8 action points, and can spend a maximum of 3 in movement and special, and 4 in attack and defense. You could put 2 action points in all four, 4 action points in both attack and defense or any other combination of 8 action points.
The core of the experience of the beginner Batman Miniature Game sessions are about finding the right balance of use for these action points. If you go all-in on attack and movement, it could leave you vulnerable to a counter-attack, but if you don't, you could lose out on an opportunity to remove an enemy.
Attacks are made by rolling a number of attack dice equal to the action points you spent for close combat attacks. Or by spending 2 action points to make a single ranged attack, where you roll as many dice as your weapons rate of fire. Hits occur if any rolls are above the target's defense value. Close combat attacks can be blocked by spending defense action points, and ranged attacks have a chance of missing if there is any scenery or other miniatures in the line of fire. Any hits not blocked get a roll against the strength of the attacker, or the attacker's weapon strength in the case of a ranged attack. Any rolls above the strength value deal damage to their target. All characters can take an amount of damage equal to their endurance value. When it's reached, they are knocked out, if stun damage has been dealt, or removed, if injury damage has been dealt.
Beginner games are simply a matter of those rules, plus a limited amount of character traits, depending on how indepth you want your first game to be. The character traits are all listed on the character cards, with the rules for them printed on the reverse of the cards. We played with those rules and no traits for our first game, and then added in the other character abilities in subsequent games.
The League of Shadows are very close combat orientated, and have great movement values and close combat values to get them in fast. Talia Al Ghul has some abilities that give her extra movement and make it easier for her to hit. Cheshire is a poison expert and most of her abilities are tied around that. Unfortunately, the poison rules aren't included in this Bat-Box and only come into effect when using the full rulebook. She is still an accomplished fighter, but some of her points are wasted when she can't access her point abilities.
The full Batman Miniature Game rules are available for free from the Knight Models website.
The Heretic is a combat monster. Some models reduce the amount of action points they get as they take damage. He doesn't. On top of that, his Light armour gives attackers a -1 penalty to damage rolls. As a large unit he gets an extra couple of inches of movement. Once in combat, along with getting +1 to hit when using unarmed attacks, he can spend action points from his special pool. These points can be spent to make strikes unstoppable, meaning that each strikes requires 2 blocks to stop, and/or make it a devastating blow, giving him a +1 strength bonus to wound, which he already does on a 2+, and also adds bleed to the damage.
The four Hassassin's are well rounded in speed and attacks and each has a role to play. One has throwing knives, another a poisoned weapon, one has the ability to move a little further at the start of the game and the last gets combat bonuses if injured, making him great to throw into combat early in the game.
Keeping track of all the extra rules and abilities can be tricky, but it really put the emphasis on you to learn your crew and play to their strengths. As a skirmish game with a low model count, it feels good to have each miniature, even unnamed henchmen, have something a little unique about them.
The League of Shadows Demon's Heir Bat-Box is not a polished product. The packing box feels flimsy and the quickstart rulebook needs some extra attention in terms of proof-reading. The rules themselves however, in the limited beginner games we had, feel very tight. Each character feels like an individual and especially with the Demon's Heir characters, they feel like the crew they're part of. The miniatures themselves are incredible and really capture the feel of the characters.
Some extra tokens are required to play, to randomise and to mark action points on the character cards. It feels like a missed opportunity that themed unique counters weren't included for the Bat-Box, but including items like that would increase the cost overall. The Demon's Heir Bat-Box does include several equipment cards and a strategy card unique to the League of Assassins that can be used in future games, when expanding beyond the Bat-Box to the full rules.
We will continue to explore the Batman Miniature Game, with Bat-Boxes for other forces and the full rules, along with giving a full run-down of different entry paths into the game in future articles.
This League of Assassins Demon's Heir Bat-Box used for this article was provided by Asmodee UK.
Have you played the Batman Miniature Game or are you a Batman fan? What do you think? Which is your favourite Crew or which Crew do you like the look of? Let us know in the comments below.