Learnin’ DC Universe – Part 2: Dice and Character Action Mechanics

We’re back again to continue our journey through the DC Universe Miniatures game by Knight Models, get your copy of the rules here. In the first part of this series we got a brief summary on how the game rounds work and detailed the character cards. In this post we’ll begin looking at how the game actually plays. Using Batman Vs Superman Batman as the example card for this post as I believe the backbone of my team of heroes will be this Batman and Dr.Fate. I’ve never seen the movie batman vs superman, in fact I don’t really like formulaic superhero movies in general. I do dig comicbooks though. We talked a lot about rolls in the last post when defining character attributes but what is a roll? Well there are many different types, and each are used in specific instances but a roll is 2d8, add the results and declare the total. Let’s check out some common roll types.
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The first is the Hit roll, and it’s used to hit your target, then we’ve got Agility rolls that succeed when the total is less than or equal to the characters agility score, used for things like avoiding template damage and being agile. Stamina rolls are successful when the roll is equal to or lower than the characters Stamina attribute used mostly to avoid going KO. Willpower rolls also need to be lower or equal to the associated attribute, these are used to avoid certain types of damage. Line of Sight in the game is similar to Malifaux in that you must be able to draw an unobscured line from the target to the acting model. For this kind of thing they make cool laser pointers that put a straight line down on the table or you could just eyeball it like most will do. Something worth pointing out here is that models do not block LoS to the models behind them. All models have a 360 degree facing too. We talked about the Power rating of each character last post but if you don’t recall the POW represents the number of counters the character can spend on actions per turn. You can do all sorts of things with power counters, like move, jump, throw things, grab and bolster your defenses as well as using special powers. Each time your character acts remove power counters until they are out or they can’t do anything with their remaining counters. Unused power counters don’t roll over to the next round. Now, the details of power counter use.
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BMvsSMBats.png
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Movement Actions are the first type of actions to spend power counters on. Characters can only make one movement action per round. Characters can spend 1/2/3 power counters to move the first/second/third speed stat in inches. Since Batman only has speed 4/7 I believe he has no 3 cost speed. Characters can’t move through other models and if they wish to melee attack they need to move into base contact with their desired target. Characters can jump gaps or over obstacles up to half their height for a single extra power counter when moving this doesn’t add any extra distance just measure it horizontally as normal. Objects higher than half the characters height can not be jumped and must be climbed, it costs one power counter to begin the climb and the model must have enough speed to end the move in a valid position on the table top. But let’s say batman here goes running up a three story building, he spends 3 POW, 2 for his highest speed stat of 7 and 1 to begin the climb. Ol’ bats can’t make it to the top in his clunky superman proof armor. His only option is to ‘Jump into the void’, the game’s fancy term for ‘rapidly descending’ which is an 18th century gentleman’s term for ‘Controlled Falling’. Jumping into the Void (read; controlled falling) cannot be done during a movement action but instead must be done after\before\as needed. Characters must be on the very edge of the terrain on which they plan to jump from. To initiate the jump one POW counter must be spent. Then look at the falling table for results. Since the fall is controlled the distance fallen is counted as one level lower. Provided the character survived the fall they are placed at the bottom and may continue acting normally if they have POW counters remaining.
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fallTable.png
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Now for legit Falling, models can get pushed\thrown and such and when that happens they suffer damage based on the fall table above. All falling damage is physical (shield with an x icon) and blunt (hammer icon). Some characters have special powers with movement effects those with “Move this character” or “Displace this character” text actions are not considered movement actions. Speaking of special powers, they make each character unique. They are used by declaring the power you want to use, choose a target if needed, pay the POW cost and resolve the effects. The cost, target needs and effects are all listed on the special power profile lines of character cards. Each attack action has a cost which is the number of POW counters to initiate it. Then there is the frequency, this denoted by the colored boxes. Green are basic powers that can be used all the time, Blue are extraordinary that can be used once per round and red are unique that can be used once per game. The use field of the specail power profile will have an A for active, P for Passive or R for Reactive. Range will list the max range for the power, then the power is named so you can shout it in your hero voice. The symbols on the tail end of each special power are the Nature and Type of Damage, we’ll look at different damage nature and types later. Lastly special effects and rules related to the special power used are listed. Like Batman could use his once per game bat claw to displace up that 3 story building from earlier then he could take his movement action to jump to the next building over and such. Note Active powers act like regular attacks, Passive powers are always in effect and reactive powers must be triggered by some in game thing described in the effects text. If you do decide to react you have to decide it before your opponent makes any dice rolls.
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There are three flavors of regular attack actions Melee, Ranged, Expansive Wave and Spray. Characters may attack as many times as they can paying for each attack with POW until they run out. The way attacks work is similar to special powers. Declare which attack the character will use, choose the target (ttargetting is different depending on the flavor of attack being done) pay the POW cost if any including overloads (no idea what these are yet). This is the point where an opponent may have model with triggers that may react or passives that take place, only one can be used against each attack. Also at this stage the target may choose a defensive improvement ( more on those later). Next you resolve to hit rolls against the targets defense, taking into account the attacks nature. If the To Hit roll is a success then resolve damage and effects from the attack. Attacks are presented on the character card in the same way as special powers.  With a name, then a cost and frequency (denoted by color) followed by the attack nature and type. Looking below as an example Reinforced Gloves has a 2 POW cost and can be cast normally (green) the shield with the x means it’s a Physical type of attack and the hammer means the daamage is blunt. The fist represents a melee range, if the attack is ranged here the distance in inches is listed next to a target symbol.
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sampleAttack
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As far as attack types go there are melee which require models being in base to base or within range if the melee attack has one. Then Ranged attacks which can not be performed if enemies are within 2″, targets of ranged attacks must also be further than 2″ away. When determining LoS for attacks the target gets cover if at least 50% of their volume is obscured from sight. The third type of attack is Expansive Wave, these are like pulse attacks that hit everything within range of the attacking model. Models hit can make an agility roll to reduce the damage by half (round down to minimum of 1) and avoid the effects of the attack. Models must be in full cover to avoid this attack, 50% cover is ignored. Spray attacks are similar but use a spray template, models hit can agility roll to avoid half damage and effects of the attack. All this talk about attacks let’s get down to how they work. It all starts with a ‘to hit’ roll, done by adding 2d8 + attackers Attack value. Compare that result to the appropriate defense on the target card, attacker must beat the value to damage the target, ties go to defender. Overload! is an option players have to boost their abilities. Spend 1 additional POW when paying for the attack to overload it and add another d8 to the roll. Some powers have alternate overload rules where a d8 isn’t added but some other thing occurs unique to the character. players choose which of these to use at the time of attack. If two or more of your d8 hit the same number when attacking you’ve just made a critical hit, add 1 point of damage on top of regular effects. Some attacks have their own crit rules, these must be used over the standard +1 damage. There is a defensive version of Overload! called Defensive Improvements. Defender can sped a POW to acquire a defensive bonus until their next activation. Characters may only ever have one bonus active but may change it for another 1 POW. The defensive improvement options are Combat Stance (+2 physical defense), Evasive Action (+2 Energy Defense) and Concentration (+2 Mental Defense).
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We’ve covered a major chunk of the game in this article with basic dice mechanics, movement and attack options we’re about ready to hit the streets with our teams. In the next post we’ll detail damage, KOs and Scenery as well as grabbing and throwing. Thanks for reading and learnin’ alongside me. Check out the archives for past voracious gaming goodness. Find me on twitter @vorgames.
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**Still plauged by some WordPress bug that doesn’t let me put any space between my paragraphs and images. using new lines beginning with a ‘.’ as a work around for now.
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