Monday, 16 March 2015

Rulebook Design – Batman Miniatures Game

After months of waiting, my pre-ordered copy of the Batman rulebook finally landed last week. I haven't had a lot of time to go through it but thought I would do a quick post with first thoughts, with my designer head on.

It is a solid, hardback book, slightly smaller than A4 with 170+ pages and makes quite an initial impression. The front cover is very glossy and is embossed in a rather odd fashion – rather than embossing the whole of batman or the logo, they've embossed keylines across his cape.

The back cover has a matt finish except for the photo of miniatures which has the same glossy varnish and odd keyline embossing as the front cover.

Inside the pages switch between a two-column and three column grid. This appears to happen in a random way on a page by page basis. The book is chock-full of photos and artwork – they have definitely tried to get as much in there as possible, which makes for a very visually interesting book.

The first draft set of rules that was available for free online was plagued by overuse of imagery with text laid on top, rendering it illegible to most people. It was a real chore to read. Thankfully this book is a vast improvement, however, there is the odd occasion where the designer has gone for style over function. The page above show the double-page spread dealing with the rules about executing the plan. It's been made to look like a newspaper for some reason and as a consequence I flipped passed it thinking it was a filler piece. Only later did I realise that there was some important information to be found here. Style over function.

Other pages in the book has the designer flexing his creative muscles again, flowing text in and around images so that they conform to specific shapes. Again, this looks great but isn't the easiest thing to read. In the example above it doesn't really matter as it's background text from the back of the book, but you wouldn't want to be doing this with key information.

The guys at Knight Models have gone to town with their models and terrain, showcasing just what is possible. It features some of the best skirmish terrain I've seen in a very long time and a comprehensive collection of the miniatures available for the game at this time.

I haven't read the rules themselves in any depth, so I can't comment on how far things have moved on from the draft rules. The rulebook does let slip some of the upcoming gangs that will appear in the game – including the Court of Owls… awesome!

I have to say that I rather like this book. It's very garish at times from a design perspective and in your face, a pseudo comic book almost – Kris Marquardt will hate it – but it's well worth a read or adding it to your rulebook collection.

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