Last time, we looked at the options coming from the new World’s Finest set for putting together a Team Superman build. This week, it’s the turn of the Batman Family.
There are plenty of options available here, not to mention a fair amount of overlap, with multiple cards which represent the same people: Bruce Wayne and Batman, Dick Grayson, Nightwing AND Robin as three separate options, and Batgirl and Oracle. Let’s take a bit of a look at the options.
Where a Team Superman build makes a fairly strong case for assembling itself (8 characters with the affiliation, 8 spots on the team), Batman Family is a more complex undertaking. Straight away, there are 11 characters, meaning a few will need to be left out, and there are also some actions you might want to include.
The Man Himself
A good starting point for the Batman family is Mr Batman himself, Bruce Wayne. In much the same way that Clark Kent had the potential to be a real lynchpin in the Superman team, Bruce Wayne can bring your bats into action. The common, although cheap, isn’t great as it will be putting out your Batmen at level 1. My personal favourite is the uncommon, Matches Malone. Whilst he is active, every time one of your character dice is KO-ed, you can move a Batman form the bag OR used pile to the Field at level 2 (much like Clark Kent and Superman) but with the added bonus that you can also deal 2 damage to a character dice.
This feels like it has so much potential for some sneaky combos: The fact that it’s ANY of your characters getting KO-ed means you can use it multiple times in a turn, as it’s still around after triggering. More than that, you can damage your own dice with the effect, to get a chain reaction and suddenly you’ve got 4 level-2 batman dice fielded. As we go through the rest of the team, you’ll see that there are other characters out there whose destruction you could benefit from.
If we’re going to be fielding all these Batman dice, we should probably take a look at what they do. There are a few different possibilities, but again, the one that seems like the most obvious fit in a Batman Family team, is the one whose purchase cost drops by 1 for each other active Batman family character. Again, this means that within a few rounds, you can be picking them up really cheaply (they start at 5, 1 less than Superman) and be ready to flood the board via Mr Wayne.
For someone so surly, it’s surprising how often Batman has had a sidekick, and World’s Finest offers you a good range of options for fielding him. There are plenty of options, with some fairly cheap Robin characters – the 3-cost common gets +3A +3D when Batman is in play, making his stats very decent, whilst the Uncommon becomes a 2-coster when Batman is in play, which is a good deal, even with no other ability to speak of.
It’s not entirely clear which Robin we’re dealing with (to me the art the art looks like Damian, but that’s a bit of a guess), but the ambiguity is removed with the next character, Dick Grayson. Grayson has held a number of roles over the years, but my favourite here is the rare: Brand New Bat. At 6-cost, it’s not cheap, but if another Batman character leaves play, he becomes a minimum of 5 attack which is going straight onto your opponent, even if blocked. As noted earlier, there is potential for all sorts of KO-ing funny business in a Batman Family team, so he shouldn’t be too hard to trigger.
Just in case you’ve not had enough of this guy, you can round out the set with Nightwing: Nightwing is another fairly cheap Mask character (3 for the blank uncommon, 4 for the common and rare), and he does damage to opposing characters when he attacks. The rare version is a fixed 4, but divided how you like, whilst the common is 1 per different mask character you control.
Along with Batman and the boy alongside him you can also field Batgirl. Once again fairly cheap, mask energy, you can take one of two approaches with Batgirl, either using her as a hard-to-block character (the uncommon is great for this, 3-cost and cannot be blocked by Villains or Sidekicks), or as part of the KO / direct damage combination teams if you manage to get hold of the Super-rare: when she is KO-ed (not too tricky with 1, 2, 3 for defence) you can deal 4 damage to opposing characters, divided however you like.).
For Barbara Gordon fans, the choices don’t stop there, either. Alongside Batgirl, you can also field Oracle. Another mask character, costing 3 or 4, with zero total field cost, There is an Oracle dice to mess up every occasion for your opponent, increasing the cost to use action dice, field characters, use globals, or buy characters that cost 2 or less. To a large extent, the question of which oracle will be a meta call, but I really like the Hacker version which increases the field cost of all non-sidekick characters: this can hurt swarm teams that rely on fielding lots of characters in a turn, AND teams reliant on heavy-hitters, who may now find that they need to muster FOUR energy to get that big guy out.
On the side of the law
Vigilante he may be, but Batman has also had much to thank the good men and women of the GCPD for over the years, and there are two allies he can call on here. Commissioner Gordon has a few options, but if you’re running Bruce Wayne: Matches Malone, fetching Batman dice from out of play may not be of interest, and you’re probably best off with the common, “Rallying the GCPD” a 4-cost fist character who allows you to spin all of your Batman and Commissioner Gordon dice up a level when you take damage – suddenly all those free batmen are attacking for 6. Perhaps less useful is his partner Harvey Bullock, who gives you various possibilities (draw, life gain, direct damage) – but only if you can predict exactly how much energy you will roll that turn. I’ve not bothered so far, although I do very much appreciate the fact that his dice symbol is a half-eaten doughnut.
The last 2 Bats are Alfred the Butler and Catwoman. Both of these are more situational, but there’s still usage to be gotten out of them. If you’re going for a rush-type build with Uncommon Batgirl, then Catwoman: Former Burglar, who can’t be blocked by sidekicks either is a good inclusion. The various cards on offer for Alfred Pennyworth are interesting, boosting sidekicks or Batman, but don’t really feel worth inclusion given the other options. They also don’t sound like Sean Pertwee…
It’s also worth mentioning another card at this moment, one which leapt out at me as soon as I started thinking about a Batman Family team. Batmobile was a promo card from the Rainbow Draft weekend last autumn, a non-basic action which allows you to reduce the cost of cards with Batman in the title or subtitle. Aside from Batman himself, this would also work on Commissioner Gordon: Calling in Batman (although not Dick Grayson: Brand new Bat). With the burst side of this dice also allowing you to target Robin as well, it looks like a good option for inclusion, but I found that as I was generally going for the reduced cost Batman, it wasn’t worth it. Maybe if you took a different strategy where buying batman was going to be a more expensive proposition, this would be worth another look.
There are other actions out there which fit thematically into a Batman family team – Batarang and Batcave both spring to mind. Batarang in particular is always useful for targeted removal, but there’s no great synergy to be found here by putting them into this specific team.
As with the Superman Team, the Batman Family can also draw on some new basic actions from this set which provide additional benefits to them. I’ve already talked about Trusted Friend last time, and I stand by the assertion that it’s only worth bringing for the art.
Vigilante Justice allows you to potentially KO large-numbers of opposing characters, 1 for each of your characters KO-ed this turn. The only restriction is that the opposing character cannot be part of the Batman family, so with the right match-up, and all the cascading effects described above, there’s potential to not only got all of your own bats out, but to clear a big hole for them to attack into.
The last card, Dark Avenger is some good, old-fashioned direct damage. At a cost of 2 generic energy, it’s very affordable, and the modest 1 damage is doubled with an active Batman character – these sorts of cards always have potential to backfire and hurt you more than they help you, but the Batman-specific nature of this one might make it worth a look.
As our local Dice Masters community dissolves under the pressure of the punishing WizKids release schedule, I’ve struggled to get games in in recent weeks. This Batman team looks fun, with a lot more going on than you’d find in a Superman team – both feel thematic, “get big guys and smash” versus lots of chicanery. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to confront the rogues gallery with an updated Villains team…