In late 2017 the Batman Miniature Game 2nd Edition hit the shelves across the globe. It was the culmination of 5 years of Batman Miniature Gaming by Spain-based gaming company Knight Models.
Finally having had to chance to play a proper number of games with the new edition, it’s time for a review. What’s changed? What’s the game like, now? Let’s find out.
Batman Miniature Game 2nd Edition Review: Some History
First off: thanks to Knight Models will providing us some of the excellent new resin models to review. More on those further down.
The Batman Miniature Game has a special place in my heart. I still remember my very first Batman Miniature Game miniature: Batman, Arkham City version. Probably the very first model that was released for the game, along with the Joker and his goons. I got it for free with a bunch of Infinity models I’d ordered from a vendor.
I’m a huge Batman fan and have been since I saw the animated series as a kid in the 90s. I was instantly intrigued by the prospect of combining two of my passions (miniature gaming and Batman). After some digging, I found more promising aspects to the game: the rules were available for free and the game was written by the guy who won the first Infinity ITS season back in the day.
With the rules in hand, however, some problems quickly arose. The English rules were horribly translated. It was really hard to make out some of the actual rules as written, because… they weren’t written in legible English. And my Spanish was, as it still is now, a bit rusty!
Not long after, however, Knight Models hired a proper copywriter. Who produced what we now know as the 1.0 rules (with the glossy hardcover books featuring Batman and, if you got the limited edition, Joker). More books followed: a Flash and Arrow expansion and an Arkham Knight campaign book.
Something of a 2.0 followed with the release of the Suicide Squad starter set. This was around the same time that movie hit theaters in 2016.
Within the year, however, the Batman Miniature Game 2nd Edition was announced. Causing many to raise their eyebrows at the timing: after all, hadn’t they just invested in a starter set?
Batman Miniature Game 2nd Edition: Is it, Really?
Now, to be fair, at this point in time things had gotten a little confusing. Some of the rules were spread out over a couple of books. The rules did need clarification in many areas. And many opportunities for streamlining remained.
The good news is: that’s exactly what’s happened with this 2nd edition. Things have been streamlined, rules have been rewritten. All the rules have been consolidated into a single volume (with the Arkham Knight campaign rules remaining separately available).
Not an overhaul
But that’s also the bad news: it’s really not a 2nd edition. It’s not a major overhaul of the rules and no fundamental aspects of the game have been changed.
Disappointing? Well, if it aint broke. And I honestly didn’t play the game enough before 2nd to give proper commentary. From my very casual perspective, a bunch of sensible changes have been made. Movement is a lot more direct. Many “special” ways of movement have been streamlined (less conditions, fewer effects) and some, like running, were simply removed.
The result is that the movement phase does flow a lot better, which is good. I hate having to remember a truckload of different ways of really doing just one thing.
Otherwise, the rules remain largely unchanged (but if some of you hardcore fans out there take offense to that, do let me know in the comments what major things I missed!).
Much more interesting, to me anyway, was the switch to resin models. There seems to be a general dislike of resin in the market. Me, I’ve always liked the detail on resin models and the new BMG models do not disappoint in this regard.
In fact, there were many issues with the metal models Knight Models was putting out. The switch to resin might even come as a relief to many. Sure enough, some issues have been reported, but overall quality seems to be more consistent.
What that said, you can’t fault the miniature design. They’re simply stunning; even more so than they already were in metal. They are realistically proportioned and their slightly-larger-than-28mm size (35mm) makes them that much more impressive on the tabletop.
As with most miniature ranges that evolve in time, the BMG’s models have grown bigger over the years. The resins continue that trend, with the new “starter set” Bats towering over my very first BMG miniature Bats mentioned at the start of this review.
I consider this a good thing, as the increased quality (not just in detail, but also in poses) is big enough to overlook any differences in scale (which, in the end, is just a minor qualm).
Batman Miniature Game 2nd Edition: How Does It Play?
I will say one thing about 2nd edition: it finally got me into this game. Whereas before I’d play a handful of games, I’ve now been more consistently playing BMG. I can certainly say the improvements made to the rules are to be credited here.
In my experience, there are two sorts of miniature wargames. The first is the “beer & pretzels” variant. Often featuring simple rules, they are generally intended as an excuse to push painted figures across the table. And that’s not a judgment: I enjoy those kind of games, too.
The Batman Miniature Game settles firmly into the second sort. Which are tournament-viable games. Meaning that they feature a balanced rule set and an emphasis on skill over chance. BMG is the first of these games for me since I played Infinity a few years ago. And I’ve been massively enjoying it.
Don’t get me wrong: you won’t ever see me at a tournament. Okay, maybe, if I get really good at it (big “if”). But I’m a dedicated casual player. I play for fun. BUT – I also like to win. And I like winning when I make better decisions than my opponent. I love it when a game allows you to come up with a plan and then execute it. Sure, B&P games allow that to some extent. But BMG is truly tactical.
One way you’ll notice this is how close the games are. My group is all at a comparable level, with one more experienced player. In our campaign (home-brewn and nothing too serious), that player is firmly winning all his games (though not always easily). The other players are fairly matched.
BMG has several mechanics that I think make it a solid tactical game experience. The planning phase really makes you plan your turn – and plan for whatever the enemy is thinking. Alternate activation allows you (no, requires you!) to adapt to the turn as it develops. And the list building aspect of the game is fun, but not overpowering at all. Yes, certain builds are more viable than others – but player skill trumps all.
Speaking of player skill. What does that mean in this game? It means a player’s ability to position his models. To know what they do and how he can use them. It means knowledge of what your opponent’s models can do. Reading into his plan and trying to sabotage that.
While dice are still a big part of this game, skill is the determining factor. That automatically makes a bit fanatical when I play (since I know it’s largely up to me). But there is something relaxing about playing an intense game and coming out of the end of that tunnel – even on a Friday night after a busy week!
The Batman Miniature Game 2nd edition is not an overhaul of the game. It’s a polishing of that was already good, making it better. The new rules are clearer and then ever. The new direction taking with the models I consider to be a success. The game is a generally balanced and tactical gaming experience. If you like skill-based wargames (vs chance-based) then you’ll love this.