If you’ve ever played HeroClix or other miniatures games, you know that you’re playing against one or more opponents, winning points by defeating their pieces. But what if the miniatures game had less to do with actual combat and more to do with resource management, strategic placement of figures, and leveling up to become stronger?
That is the main challenge behind the Gotham City Strategy Game. Part tongue-in-cheek role-playing game, part miniatures game, this is a situation in which the players are major Batman villains, each struggling to reign over the 12 blocks of Gotham City–but not without some intervention from Batman!
Point of the Game
Be the first villain to hit Level 10 (to be the most powerful villain in Gotham City).
- The Joker
- The Penguin
- Killer Croc
Each of these characters is represented by a Heroclix-style plastic figure, called a “SwitchClix” piece because the figure can be removed and placed on a HeroClix dial. (Batman is also a part of this game, but he is not a playable character.)
As a Batman villain, you have various tools at your disposal to attempt your takeover of Gotham City. They are:
- Threat: These tokens, labeled with a gun, are put down to take control of various blocks in Gotham City. The different villains begin the game with various numbers of Threat tokens available, and you can get more as you level up.
- Money: These green tokens are mainly used to buy Henchmen, which help you gain and keep control of city blocks. How much money you start out with depends on your villain.
- Information: These yellow tokens are mainly used for moving your figures (your Villain and his Henchmen) around the map. How much information you begin the game with depends on your villain.
Every Player Starts Out With:
- Their villain’s plastic figure
- 5 Villain Ability cards, which are chosen one by one as you level up
- Their villain’s Player Screen, a stand-up piece of cardboard which has all your pertinent information on how to level up the character. As you play, you hide your money, information, and available Henchmen behind this screen.
- The number of money and information tokens appropriate for his/her character.
Playing the Game, Turn by Turn
As one of Gotham’s villains, you must first establish your villainous presence in the city by taking over city blocks, and then maintaining and growing that presence to level up your villain. To level up, you must meet various goals within the game (for instance, one goal might be to have 5 information tokens, or to control 3 city blocks, etc.). The Criminal Plot cards, dealt out at random from a common deck until every player has 5 cards in hand, help you gain resources, attack other villains, and meet those goals.
To start the game, the player with the most speeding/parking tickets goes first; if there’s a tie, the person with the most recent ticket goes first. Then the game flow goes clockwise from there.
Every turn, you follow this procedure:
- Check to see if you can level up one (or more) levels–sometimes you can jump ahead 1 or 2 more if you’ve met all the conditions at the beginning of your turn!
- If you leveled up, check to see if you got any benefits from that level, such as being able to gain a Villain Ability.
- Play at least one Criminal Plot card from your hand (more about those below).
- Hire a Henchman if you have the money and inclination to do so.
- Spend an Information to move some or all of your figures anywhere on the map if you wish.
- Draw a new Criminal Plot card to replace the one you played this turn.
The Criminal Plot Deck
Criminal Plot cards look like this:
On the top half of the card, you’ll generally have a stipulation reading “The ruler of [a named city block] gets this block’s income,” like the one on the left above. When you play the card, whoever controls that city block gets that income, which could be Money (green icon) or Information (yellow icon). It works out great if the named block is one you control, so that you can gain the income from it, but if not, don’t worry about it too much. (On some Criminal Plot cards, like the one at right above, you’ll see a Bat-Signal icon on the top half of the card–instead of someone gaining Money or Info off the card based on controlling a city block, you have to draw a card from the Batman deck instead.)
On the bottom half of each Criminal Plot card, you’ll see a game effect described. If you want to activate that effect, make sure to pay the appropriate costs listed, and then you’ll receive the effect. If you end up with a Criminal Plot card you just can’t use or don’t want to use, you can simply discard it for either two Money tokens or two Information tokens. This counts as “playing” it.
Remember, Batman’s Watching!
I mentioned the Batman deck above–this is where the game introduces a neat little twist. Not only do you have to defend your villainous territory against other villains, but you also have to contend with Batman being a vigilante hero and messing up some of your grand plans!
When a Criminal Plot card involves a Batman card, you never know what will happen; you could end up knocked down a few pegs, or you could mess up another villain’s progress. Who knows, Batman might even end up “helping” everyone…it all depends on what Bruce Wayne feels like doing that day! (Note: Of all the villains, Two-Face is the only one who can manipulate the Batman deck–with one of his Villain Abilities, he can look at the top two cards of the deck and choose one to draw.)
Which Character Is More Your Style?
|The Penguin||The Joker||Two-Face||Killer Croc|
“Crime boss” mindset–let others do your dirty work while you build up.
Has the easiest time gaining Money and Information, but starts out with the least amount of Threat tokens. If played right, Penguin wins every time; if played wrong, Penguin loses every time.
“Prankster” mindset–toy with Batman (or other players) as you wish.
Does okay gaining Money, Information, and Threat, but not as quickly as other characters. Joker is more about setting up and thinking ahead than big splashy game effects every single turn.
“Manipulator” mindset–undoing other players’ work while advancing your own agenda.
Can gain Info and Money almost as well as Penguin, but it’s more chance-based (fittingly). He is the only one who can manipulate the Batman deck and lower the numbers of other players’ Threat tokens in a zone.
“Harasser” mindset–throwing a monkey wrench into everyone else’s plans through combat.
Starts out with the most Threat tokens, but typically has a hard time building up Money and Info. He can move around more freely than any other character, so combat is easiest for him.
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