Anyone familiar with comic books (or with superhero films or series for that matter) is familiar with the concept of the “multiverse”: a collection of so-called alternative or parallel universes of existing and established comic book worlds. In the multiverse, the craziest storylines and characters can be developed and fleshed out without having a substantial impact on ongoing storylines or character development. For example, writers can bring an evil version of Batman to life. Or several. Or even a combination of the Joker and Batman: enter The Batman Who Laughs. This laughing man bat is also the big bad in this cooperative dice game published by The Op. However this fun and challenging cooperative brawler is not just simply a laughing matter…
The Batman Who Laughs Rising is part of the Rising series of games by The OP. In the Rising games, players take on an evil villain together with their friends and allies (or solo). In Death Eaters Rising, the heroes of Hogwarts try to make Voldemort and his servants disappear in a stunning magic trick. In Thanos Rising, players try to wipe out the Marvel villain of the same name with a snap of their fingers. In all Rising games, a beautifully detailed statuette plays the central role of this villain, and The Batman Who Laughs Rising is no different. In this game, players (taking the roles of Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman, aided by all sorts of other DC heroes) take on the Batman with a grimace and the other Dark Knights: evil Batmans (Badmans?) from the multiverse. Who would have thought that a man with a low and husky voice draped in a dark robe and a penchant for (non-lethal) violence could be a good villain?
In The Batman Who Laughs Rising, the heroes take turns (in different phases) and the game ends when 10 heroes have been killed, the laughing Batman has become too strong or this villain has been made the laughing stock. Each turn, one of the heroes performs actions with the die and evil also comes into play. The active hero moves to one of the three locations of The Batman Who Laughs, then rolls the evil dice. Depending on the roll, the statue of The Batman Who Laughs moves (the direction it is pointing at determines its location for this turn) and cubes are placed on the bad guy track (this may cause new bad guys to appear in the card pile, and depending on the progression on the track, players may face The Batman Who Laughs or the game ends). Heroes at the location of The Batman Who Laughs receive damage (both the hero cards at the location or the player and recruited heroes). Any special abilities of bad guys on the same location are also activated. Murphy’s Law, but for evil events?
Next, the active hero may roll dice for himself. On each location there are three cards of with two possible sorts: bad guys and heroes. Each card also shows the required symbols that players must roll. Bad guys can be harmed by throwing the appropriate symbols and heroes can be recruited by rolling these same dice. You may roll as many times as you wish, but if you cannot or do not wish to place a symbol, but you wish to roll again, you must discard a dice. Which and how many dice a player may roll depends on the chosen hero and the recruited heroes. Each recruited hero places the player in front of him and these heroes give the player special abilities. Some special abilities require a player to roll dice to activate the ability and some abilities are “passive”.
At the end of a turn, the defeated heroes or villains (cards that receive damage get cubes) are discarded. Cards on the locations around The Batman Who Laughs are replaced by new cards from the discard pile. Are ten heroes dead or has the end of the bad guy track been reached? Then the players have failed and the bad Batman laughs last. Have enough punches been dealt to this laughing matter? Then it’s no longer a laughing matter for this dark jester.
The Batman Who Laughs Rising is a very challenging cooperative game with plenty of excitement and a healthy dose of luck. The luck factor makes it entertaining on the one hand, and also provides a healthy dose of frustration and stress that urges you to beat the game. There is a rich collection of DC heroes and villains included (and some bad guys who want to do good for a change). In the game, by making tactical decisions and taking the right actions, you try to build up a good collection of heroes who will walk through fire for you. You face many dilemmas: will I use my dice to recruit heroes to become stronger or will I defeat this villain or will I heal heroes after all? In addition, the Rising series is also easy to learn for less experienced players and the different themes are more than inviting. A laughing good time!