You might be looking at the title for this post and wondering what’s going on, and the reality is… I’m trying to redefine what’s going on the blog. Monday’s are my upcoming writing breakdown, Wednesdays are going to be me chatting about some media I’m playing with, and Friday, well, that’s a grab-bag.
Also, if you’ve been poking around this place for a while, you’ll know my content plans have a way of changing at random, so we’ll see how this goes. Regardless, on with it!
I. Am. Batman!
At least, that’s what Nicole has said each time we’ve played Batman: The Animated Series – Gotham City Under Siege, a name that just rolls off the tongue.
The game, too, has a lot of rolling. Dice, that is. In this cooperative crime-fighting adventure, every player (up to five) gets to pick their own hero from the cartoon’s main cast. You’ve got Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, and… the Gotham Police Department?
Anyway, once you have your star, you collect their dice and start staring down a fun little mock-up of Gotham with little cardboard buildings whose sole purpose is to get blown away. You, being the heroes, are meant to prevent that destruction by knocking out literal hordes of villanous thugs, henchmen, and… ninjas?
Yes, there are some oddball choices that nonetheless work, because you’re going to be spending most of your time puzzling over what you’ve rolled and how it’s going to let you conquer the requirements each of the game’s four acts gives you, how you’re going to beat the villains on the board, and how you’re going to get to the right place to stand, heroically, in the way of the enemy’s last, desperate assault.
Given that this is a cooperative game, you and all your friends are working together to place dice and use unique hero abilities to save the city. Unlike other co-ops, like Pandemic, the fact that each hero is unique, their actions are driven by dice, and there’s so much going on, it’s tough for one player to control the action.
In other words, you actually get to feel like you’re making your own choices rather than just doing what the most vocal guy at the table wants. It’s refreshing, and also fits with the theme – you’re all heroes, not some Borg-like mind-meld doing the bidding of some single ruler.
Like Pandemic, however, this game isn’t easy. Especially with more players, the story cards popping out each act can snowball. Dice rolls can be extremely fickle, with a lot of 50-50 shots that determine whether your Gotham becomes a smoldering ruin or stays pristine even as villainous armies run amok. Whether this is satisfying or not depends on your attitude.
Thankfully, the game’s colorful design and cartoon goofiness go a long way towards keeping things fun, even when random luck goes way against your team. It’s hard to hate losing to such random villains as ‘Calendar Girl’ and ‘Clayface’.
Replayability may be another strike against the game, as you’re not going to find a campaign in this box. There’s enough random elements to slightly change each play-through, but nothing like Spirit Island‘s challenges or Pandemic Legacy‘s ongoing story.
Still, if Batman’s animated antics hold any space in your heart, and your group is looking for a fresh fare to play together that lets you feel like a unique hero, Gotham City Under Siege has what you’re looking for.