On the board are 10 Riddler Trophy question marks. These represent hotspots on the board, not necessarily actual Riddler Trophies. Each player has a Set-up deck of nine cards that they shuffle and then deal five of them into a pool. Your cards are good for you and your opponent’s cards are not good for you. The Set-up cards consist of some Villains, Batman Allies, and various other things you might find in Arkham City. Both sets of Set-up cards have the same card-back, so when you shuffle the ten cards together, you won’t be able to tell them apart. These cards are then placed face-down onto the board, one per Riddler Trophy spot. Now there are some mysteries to uncover on the board, and you never know what you’re going to get. Well, that’s technically true, as they are random, but you can play the percentages…
When Batman or a face-up Villain enters a space containing a Set-up card, it is flipped face up. If the first few cards that get flipped up are good for the other player, the odds are great that the next one that gets flipped will be better for the other player. This is a two-way street. If none of your Set-up cards have been flipped, get out there and reveal some cards, as they are bound to be good. Alternately, if you get lucky and flip 2-3 of your own cards, you might want to shy away from flipping more, as the odds are they will be good for your opponent.
The Villains get to go first. The Villains are a bit loony, so they don’t get consistent, reliable turns. The Villain player rolls 4 dice at the start of his turn. The six-sided dice have three Arkham symbols and three Bat symbols. The Villains always want to roll Arkham symbols and Batman always wants to roll Bats.
For each Arkham symbol the Villain player rolls, he gets to perform one action. I won’t into of the actions here, as it is covered in great detail in the rulebook. The Villain player is going to need to choose a strategy fairly quickly:
-Should I try to sneak past Batman, or should I make a run for it?
-Should I uncover Set-up card and possible take some hotages, or should I maneuver around the Set-up cards?
-Should I hold certain Villains in my hand to wait for better synergies to show up, or should I just get as many Villains onto the baord as possible to overwhelm the Batman?
A sneaky strategy means your Villains will want to stay face down for as long as possible. When you spend an action to move your face-down Villains, all of your face-down Villains get to move 1 space in any direction. That’s very efficient, but keep in mind that you may only use this action once per turn. Staying face down also allows you to spring some traps on Batman, if he stumbles onto certain Villains.
Making a run for it involves flipping your Villains face up so that they’ll move faster than face-down Villains. When you use an action to move a face-up Villain, that Villain moves up to 2 spaces. However, only one Villain moves, not all of your face-up Villains. In order to stay mobile, you will want to avoid taking Hostages. When a Villain enters the same space (or uncovers) a Batman Ally, that Ally becomes a Hostage. However, if you want to drag that Hostage out of Arkham, your Villain will only move 1 space instead of 2. They just won’t come willingly! However, a Villain can abandon a Hostage at any time and continue moving 2 spaces at a time instead. Note that a Villain may only move once per turn, so you can’t run all the way across the map in one turn. This strategy is probably best employed when you have several high value Villains on the board. Each Villain has a Victory Point value between 1 and 3. If the Villain escapes, the Villain player scores that many VPs. If Batman captures it, Batman scores that many VPs.
Holding onto Villains in your hand, waiting for the right moment is a more advanced strategy. The Penguin works very well with Henchmen. Hugo Strange works well with Lunatics. Poison Ivy will allow you to flip some of your Villains face down, which is great for Villains who work like traps when Batman uncovers them. This strategy can be very rewarding, but just look out if your opponent has employed the Cryptographic Sequencer!