Insider Look - The Batman Who Laughs
By Nicholas Leeman
If you're not a denizen of Earth -22 (and you're probably glad you're not), then you'll be forgiven for not knowing this particular iteration of Batman. Long story short, this ain't your Dad's version of the Dark Knight. Consumed by a special strain of venom from The Joker, this particular Batman has become an incredibly dark hybrid and has set his sights on, not only his Earth, but Earth Prime, the world where the versions of the DC Super Heroes you know reside. The only ones who can stop him are gathered around your game table.
This cooperative spin in The Op’s popular Rising series is for 1-4 players and is designed by Patrick Marino and based on the system created by Andrew Wolf. To begin, each player will choose a team from the four available options: Power, Justice, Purpose, and Determination- led respectively by Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, and Earth Prime’s Batman. In order to save our universe, you and your friends will need to recruit additional heroes while defeating The Batman Who Laughs’ evil Dark Knights by rolling dice and matching symbols to their cards. Adding heroes to your team will give you additional dice every turn, allow you to heal your heroes, manipulate your dice results, and other heroic effects.
Sooner or later, however, every hero needs to fight, and damaging the Dark Knights and other minor villains will not only clear spaces for your fellow heroes to arrive, but also give you bonus tokens to use on later turns that affect your dice, or even allow you to slow down the game’s built-in timer. Slowly marching ever forward in this game is the Dark Knight track- a series of counters that reveal more powerful enemies to clog up the map and threaten your heroes. Neatly balanced on the edge of a Batarang, however, is the fact that you can’t fight Earth -22’s Batman until you get to the end of the track. Reveal The Batman Who Laughs from hiding, and then you can defeat him and claim ultimate victory. Fail by accumulating too many counters, losing 10 heroes, or if even one player’s entire team is wiped out- and the Earth Prime falls to an incredibly dark force. You lose. Good day, sir.
Reading up on the lore of The Batman Who Laughs for this article was a very surreal experience. The source material is incredibly dark, and The Op is known for more family-friendly tabletop experiences. While the in-game mechanics and text are pretty standard add-damage-until-defeated stuff, the overall tone and especially art, of this game is more disturbing than some gamers might be used to from The Op. That’s not to say this is a bad thing- I’m happy to see that they’re willing to take chances on different material, just let this serve as a caution. By way of examples, the centerpiece of the game is an absolutely gorgeous sculpted figure of the Batman Who Laughs with three chained Dark Robins, and none of them look like they’re going to take it easy on you.
Speaking of difficulty- while this flavor of their Rising series is punishing, as befits the material, the designers have included built-in mechanics to tone down the difficulty- a welcome addition to a game so irretrievably dependent on the roll of dice. Inevitably there will be more than one moment in your game that comes down to a single roll - and often you’re looking for one side on that die. While hero abilities and bonus tokens can give you the edge you need once in a while, victory or defeat will hinge on that throw, so steel yourself before picking this one up. The Batman Who Laughs Rising provides an absolutely harrowing hour at your table, but one that’s buoyed not only by its cooperative nature but also by its stunning physical presence. If you’re at all a fan of the DC universe and want to explore some of its more dark corners, then fly over to your FLGS and grab this one before it’s too late. Gotham City thanks you.
The Batman Who Laughs Rising is for 1-4 players, ages 15 and up, and available for $49.99 from your local game store or our online shop! Add this latest addition from our popular Rising line of cooperative card and dice games, along with Thanos Rising: Avengers—Infinity War, Harry Potter™: Death Eaters™ Rising, and SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising to your collection of light strategy activities, and introduce a new world to other fearless gamers! For more tabletop adventures in Gotham, be sure to check out our Talisman: Batman Super-Villains Edition, Batman puzzles and Batman dice set!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicholas Leeman has been writing about and reviewing board games since 2017, and currently reviews games for the YouTube channel GLHF Boardgames. He makes his home in Minneapolis, MN
Check out Nicholas' social channels:
Read Nicholas' other review articles:
BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics.