Batman: Gotham City Chronicles

From time to time we like to cover tabletop games on this site, especially when they are pop culture related. Part of the reason is that I’m a huge tabletop gamer, and so is /Film managing editor Jacob Hall (who is out on vacation this week, probably playing board games). On Tuesday, Monolith Board Games launched a Kickstarter for their newest miniature game based on the Batman comic book universe. Batman: Gotham City Chronicles is an epic game for 2 to 4 players that lets you fight for Gotham City as the heroes or work alone as the villain.

It’s based on a game system introduced by Monolith on the Conan board game, which by all accounts was excellent (right now its rated as the 240 best game of all time, and 60th best thematic game, on Board Game Geek, which is like the tabletop equivalent of IMDb). I own Conan and love everything about it aside from having no connection to the fantasy series its based on. But as a massive fan of Batman, this game is an instabuy.

The cool thing about this game (and the Conan system its based upon) is the thematic scenarios that provide the gameplay, which uses this awesome action point system with cubes on a gameboard which is unlike anything else in the tabletop space. The player who is controlling the villains has a command center dashboard which allows them to activate the characters on the board using energy cubes. It’s not easy to explain why this is cool but it’s a ton of fun because it forces you to be strategic with your moves from turn to turn.

The core box is packed with minituares, including Batman, Catwoman, Robin (Tim Drake), Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Nightwing, The Huntress, Commissioner Gordon, a bunch of Gotham City Police Department cops, drones, SWAT troopers, civiliions, by-standers, and for the villain side of things you get Bane, Killer Croc, Clayface, Joker, Harley Quinn, The Ridley, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Poisen Ivy, a bunch of brutes, thugs, Harley Quinn’s gang, carnivorous plants, Riddler’s gang and more. The designs are all based on classic Batman comic book art, including the work of legendary artists like Jim Lee.

The two double-sided boards provide a good variety of locations, which alongside the 20 scenarios that come with the game, should be enough replayability for a long time. The scenarios are also based on classic Batman comic storylines.

They are also releasing a ton of extras, including a Wayne Maynor (which includes a colossal T-Rex mini) and Arkham Asylum expansions, each with their own boards, scenarios and minis, a versus mode pack and a huge scaled Batmobile that is playable in the game.

And unlike most board games that are crowdfunded on Kickstarter, you won’t be able to buy this game later in retail, and there is a very good reason why. Monolith explains why the game will only be released for preorder on Kickstarter:

For a very simple reason: the game contains a lot of work and high-quality components on top of the cost of the Batman license. To be able to offer you this game at a reasonable price, we had to cut our margins as low as possible. We cut them so much, in fact, that we cannot reduce them any further. Therefore, if we were to sell this game to a distributor, who then would sell it to retailers, the final price of the base game for you gamers would be multiplied by 2.5. That would be more than $350 for the base game only!

For those of you who don’t know how things work, a retailer buys a game for a discount to make money, for simplicity lets say a $50 game is bought from the distributor for $30. The distributor makes 50%, buying it from the creator for say $15. And the creator is probably making a margin off of the production cost, shipped from China. So a $50 game could essentially cost $7-15 to make, but the markup is in each of those steps.¬†Monolith is trying to go directly to consumer to keep the price down substantially.

High-quality detailed miniatures are actually very expensive to produce, and the core game has a ton of them. And that’s before you take into account all the stretch goals that are being added as more people back. At the time of this writing, the Kickstarter is approaching $2.3 million in just 48 hours, unlocking an additional 46 minis. While $140 might seem like a lot for someone who doesn’t regularly buy tabletop games (some of the Star Wars board games cost $100 at retail), I can guarantee you wont find a value like this in any other board game on the market today.

As this is primarily a movie and television site and not a platform to dig deep into tabletop games, I’ll stop here. But I wanted to be sure to share this Kickstarter campaign with the /Film readers, especially considering the limited nature of this game. No, I haven’t played it, but I have played the game it’s based on (Conan), and that was awesome. I can tell you I’m a backer of the all-in pledge, which yes, is expensive, but I know I’ll get my money’s worth.

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