A Single Games New(s)! 05/03/18

baman, the jokerman, mr. riddles
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Quinns: Hi all! We’re not doing a full Games News today as Paul and I both happen to be moving house, but I thought I’d scribble something about this week’s top story.

Batman™: Gotham City Chronicles is the smokin’ hot, spandex-spangled new Kickstarter that launched this week, and at the time of writing it’s raised some $2.5 million (plus shipping). It could end up being one of the biggest Kickstarters of all time.

That’s hardly a surprise. Not only is it offering more than 100 Batman-related miniatures and something called a “Bat-Tablet”, it’s also the sequel to Conan, which we reviewed and loved. Kickstarters this exciting are as rare as bat’s teeth. Not only that, publishers Monolith have stated that unlike Conan, Batman will only be available through Kickstarter, so the pressure’s on! Should you buy it?!

Speaking personally?

…I’m afraid that I’m not 100% sure you should.

When we reviewed Conan, we said that while the game and production values were killer (pun intended), we were disappointed by the number of scenarios in the base game, concluding that you might want to hold off until Monolith proved they were invested in supporting the game after release.

Since then, Monolith have failed to deliver any more than the bare minimum of ways to actually play their game. Compared to other action-packed games like Gloomhaven, which offers hundreds of hours of plot and progression, or Imperial Assault, which Fantasy Flight have supported in just about every way imaginable, Conan’s online scenario database looks positively malnourished, especially so if you’re looking at it with an eye to using your stretch goal miniatures. Won’t somebody spare a thought for the poor stretch goal minis?! 16,000 plastic scorpions, or 80,000 plastic mummies (since each backer got five of those), gathering dust the world over.

Worse than that, some of the scenarios they released were simply unbalanced for one side or the other. Monolith’s somewhat mercenary attitude can also be seen in the smaller expansions they’ve released for Conan, which are I found very silly. Who wants to spend $25 on ten crossbowmen that are only used in two scenarios?

Batman will ship with 10 more scenarios than Conan, and Monolith have said that they’ll do better with regards to balance, but those seem like small improvements that barely keep pace with improvements in board gaming in the last few years.

Speaking as someone who loves Conan but hasn’t taken it out of its box in a year, what Batman sorely needed was an exciting reason to get the game out, week after week. A story mode, a campaign, tools so that players could easily design and share their own scenarios. Something, anything stating that this won’t be another dramatic but secretly impractical toybox.

I’m loathe to post a Games News which is just me displaying the nerviness of a wild deer. It sucks. Shut Up & Sit Down is supposed to be all about positivity and showing off all that board games can be… but I think sometimes that means taking steps to ensure that people don’t get a little burned, especially if money’s tight for you. I might not even be broadcasting this warning if Batman was the same price as other glossy Kickstarters like Conan or Rising Sun, but this is even more expensive. It’s $140 plus some $20 shipping.

I also might not be posting this if Monolith were bringing this game to retail, but in stating that this game will only ever be on Kickstarter, I feel like they forced my hand.

So, if you’re just backing Batman to get the cool miniatures, or you’re excited to design scenarios yourself? Awesome, back away! But if you’re backing it to get a great game that’ll hit the table again and again? I worry that you’re taking something of a risk.

There are some disappointed Conan backers out there, is all I’m saying. And a lot of dusty mummies. Ooh, and if you want a tried-and-tested Batman game, do at least check out the excellent Batman Miniatures Game first!

Anyway, what I’d REALLY LIKE is if this news post didn’t cause a comments thread choked with arguments and negativity, so please, help a guy out- what fun stuff did you get up to on the weekend, everybody?

UPDATE: Thanks to Monolith, who have taken the time to respond to this post. Their statement can be found in full below, though we’ve added links where relevant.

First, we would like to thank SUSD for giving us the opportunity to respond and we want to highlight that this is not in regards to opinions expressed in your article. We just want to address a couple of items presented as facts.

The point of the article is to help SUSD readers to decide whether they should back Batman or not.

It starts by saying that with Conan “game and production values were killer”, and continues by saying that we “failed to deliver any more than the bare minimum of ways to actually play the(ir) game”.

It is mainly this statement we would like to refute.

Since early 2017, we have been regularly posting new scenarios on our website. We currently have 18 new scenarios on top of the 8 from the core box. That is around 1 new scenario per month, and it is not over as we continue to publish them regularly, allowing Conan owners to play all their miniatures, making Conan even less of a “secretly impractical toybox”. We published a new scenario less than 2 weeks ago, sending updates and posting on our Facebook page to let people know.

We have successfully launched another Conan Kickstarter campaign offering these new scenarios with additional fluff compiled in a nice booklet, something that was requested by Conan fans.

We also created a website dedicated to the Conan game called The Overlord, gathering close to 10,000 members in English and French. This community has been and continues to be excellent and active, creating dozens upon dozens of fan-made scenarios. In fact, we decided to thank them by offering, for free, 2 [physical] compendiums which compile these fan-made scenarios, lore, and painting guides. The only thing fans paid was the shipping fees to their country. We commissioned some of the content and all of the editing, layout, and printing. This added even more content to the game.

Finally, we are going to launch a new Conan Kickstarter campaign next year, offering the first game for those who missed it, adding new expansions to continue exploring the Conan universe, and bringing back some of the improvements made in Batman.

Speaking of Batman, the article states that the game “will ship with 10 more scenarios than Conan”. It is actually 13 more and counting. These 21 scenarios directly include the core box content and the unlocked Stretch Goals.

The article also states “I might not even be broadcasting this warning if Batman was the same price as other glossy Kickstarters like Conan or Rising Sun, but this is even more expensive. It’s $140 plus some $20 shipping”. Batman is indeed $140, which is $5 more than the King Pledge of Conan that offered similar content, more than 3 years ago.

I believe we proved that we are not the kind of company that releases a game and then moves on to the next, leaving the previous one to die.

We believe that a game does not exist without a community of gamers. It is something we supported with Conan, and that we will support with Batman.

We hope that this response gives you a better sense of what Monolith does as a publisher regarding the support of their games.

Thank you.