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jueves, 19 de mayo de 2016

BMG: Introducing the Speed Force


And with a Flash, it begins.

So, after more than a year of discussion, three seasons of a certain TV show, and two rulebooks, Knight Models has finally done it; they have gone full DC Meta Superhero.  Flash has arrived, and brought the Speed Force with him.

In this article, we are going to explore the expansion into the Batman Miniature Game that the Speed Force and its users bring.  Let’s start with a simple breakdown of the new ruleset.

*Models with the Speedster/X power are very quick.

            15cm base move and benefits to movement
*A new phase of the game comes with new counters.
            10 Speed Force Counters divided between all Speedsters
*Speed Tokens can be used to access powers on the Speed Power chart.
            Speed Force Powers are used immediately
*When using a Speed Power, a speedster may suffer a Paradox Effect.
            Roll at or above the Paradox number and get a negative effect

The Basics of Speedsters

Let’s start at the beginning.  The new Trait is called Speedster X, where X is a number.  So far we have seen Speedster 6 (Flash), Speedster 5 (Professor Zoom) and Speedster 4 (Kid Flash).  Automatically, Speedster characters gain a base speed of 15cm, have the ability to Climb without spending MC, ignore difficult ground, and don’t not count obstacles and difficult terrain as Impaired Movement.  Clearly, before even taking Speed Powers into account, Speedster characters are going to be able to move around the table quickly.  Both Flash and Professor Zoom have Move characteristics of 5 as well, and Dodge and Fast.  These guys are already wonderful objective grabbers with this part of the Trait.

Speed Phase

The second part of the Speedster Trait, the number, comes to use in the next part of the Speed Force, during the Speed Phase.

The new phase of the Batman Miniatures Game becomes important if any players have a model, or more, with the Speedster Trait.  If there are any Speedsters on the table, the Speed Phase comes into effect.  And it happens AFTER the Take the Lead phase and BEFORE the Raise the Plan Phase.

In the Speed Phase, two things happen.  First, the Speed Force Pool is replenished with 10 counters.  The Speed Force Pool is ALWAYS 10 counters, no matter the number of Speedsters in the game.  (Small complaint here; the Batman Miniatures Games does not really have a good way to deal with more than two players or scaling beyond the 300ish point games.  This 10 counter rule could be a real limitation on both multi-player games and larger scale games.)

Next, once there are 10 counters, Speedsters drain the pool, taking the counters for themselves.  If there is only one Speedster on the board, he simply takes counters until he has enough to match his Speedster Trait.  So, Flash would get 6 counters.  If only one player has Speedsters, he selects which model drains the counters first, then moves to his next model, filling to their traits if possible.  If BOTH players have Speedsters, the players take turns draining speed force counters.  Each player drains Speed Force for ONE model before the other player does the same, and continues back and forth until there are no more counters.  The player that has Taken the Lead gets to drain speed force counters first.  Also, since unused counters from the previous turn remain with the character, the availability of counters from the Speed Force Pool will be in constant flux.  Watch their use carefully

We can see, there is a real gamble here.  First, taking ANY Speedster means there may be a power struggle for counters, and thus your own Speedster may not be at full power at any moment, considering the opponent may be able to drain off the counters and leave too few to maximize your own model.  But taking NO Speedsters means the opponent, if he has one, automatically always has full Speedster.  Likewise, if a player takes more than 1 Speedster, there’s a very real possibility that the Speed Force Pool will not supply enough counters for his own models. 

Let’s take a look at the Speedsters and their role in the Speed Force Pool.  Fist, Flash wants the most at Speedster 6.  Then, Zoom wants 5, but also brings in Negative Speed Force, reducing the pool by 2, allowing only 8 Speed Force Counters per turn.  That, in itself, is a major gamble.  If a player with Zoom faces a player with Flash, the Speed Force Pool is limited to 8 counters.  If the Zoom player Raises the Plan, there is a significant dip in power available, as the Flash player would only be able to drain 3 counters, with Zoom draining 5.  But, in the same situation, if the Flash player Raises the Plan, Zoom could be left with only 2 counters.  Now, let’s throw in Kid Flash, who is Speeder 4, and Master of the Speed Force.  If all three Speedsters are on the board, there is almost certainly not going to be enough Speed Force Counters for everyone. Meanwhile, taking both Flash and Kid Flash, without an enemy Zoom, means you could have full run of the 10 counters every turn.

After draining counters from the Speed Pool, those same counters need to be used immediately.  Each Speedster, in turn following Take the Lead order, uses their counters to enact a Speed Power.  Most Speedsters are going to only be able to use 1, but Flash’s Speed Force Master allows him to use up to TWO powers in a single turn.  Let’s take a look at the Speed Force Powers:


Of major importance, please remember that these powers are enacted BEFORE the Raise the Plan Phase.  Pay special attention to your opponent, and your own model, for Speed Force Power chosen in order to best place your Action Counters. 

Finally, the Speed Force is a dangerous thing.  In order to keep Speedsters on their toes, the game has added the inclusion of Speed Force Paradoxes.  When using a Speed Force Power with a Paradox rating, the player must, immediately after declaring the use of the power, make a Paradox roll.  If the roll, on a single die, meets or exceeds the Paradox number, the Speed Force reacts negatively.  Roll 2 dice and consult the Paradox Chart:


In addition to the results of the Paradox roll, the Speed Force power fails to work.  Therefore, when using Speed Powers, its vital to watch those Paradox numbers.  In an interesting conundrum, Paradox results are both more and less dangerous as the game goes on.  More dangerous, because we can assume that damage later in the game is more likely to KO a model, and less because the scores may already be settled.

Again, remember that this is still a part of the Speed Force Phase, and therefore happens before the Raise the Plan Phase.  Thus, both players have the opportunity to plan around the Paradox.

Tactical Evaluation
OK, so here’s the thing.  This is a huge change to the game.  The addition of a full new phase to the game (especially one with more counters), close monitoring of counters, and all new abilities is adding a layer of tactics upon a good tactical game.  This is not to say it’s a bad thing.  But, it’s going to be adding more tactical play to the Batman Miniatures Game. 

Players will want to ensure they are keeping close tabs on Speedsters in the game; in particular, monitoring counters and their use.  How likely is it that Flash will use all 6 of his counters in a turn?  If he does, that possibly limits other Speedsters, since Flash is going to want to drain 6 counters in the next Speed Force Phase.  And if he does not, then the other Speedsters will be functioning at their maximum potential.  So, whenever a Flash player sees an opponent with a Speedster, he will want to make sure Flash uses all his counters.  But, if the opponent then Takes the Lead, Flash will likely be limited to 5 counters.  There’s a very real tactical game here.

And always remember what Speed Force Powers a model has chosen.  That that into consideration when Raising the Plan, whether that Speedster is on your team or not.  Their Power choices are going to help determine how aggressive or defensive nearby models need to be, or whether or not nearby models will even be able to have the Speedster in line of sight during the turn.

Final Thoughts
The Speed Force adds a new, and welcome, dimension to the Batman Miniature Game.  A new layer of tactics with its own nuances brings a game-within-a-game aspect to the preparation phases.

The Speedster models themselves are going to change the game.  With such speed and elusiveness (both Speedsters have Dodge and high Defense), it is going to be difficult to damage these models.  It may be time to read up on Grab.

Paradoxes are real hindrances.  Players with Speedsters will have to weigh the benefits against the possibility of a Paradox.  Remember that the most common, and theoretically least harmful, Paradox is 2 Stun and Knocked Down.  Not a minor issue.

And, is this a sign of more to come?  Will there be other, similar abilities?  With their own phase, their own counters, their own powers and their own downfalls?  I believe there is a notorious, chain-smoking DC character that says, “There is always a payment for power.”

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