My full review of Titans Tactics can be found here:
A full list of my board game reviews can be found on the same site here:
(Thanks to Dad's Gaming Addiction for the layout idea)
Titans Tactics is a two player tactical strategy game published by Imbalanced Games in which the goal is to become the most powerful Titan by damaging the opposing Titan's Champions. Tactical strategy games are traditionally very slow, methodical games similar to chess. Playing these games can be very rewarding if you're willing to invest a great deal of time into a single match. Imbalanced Games set out to try to capture the essence of the tactical strategy game while also keeping the play time to the equivalent of a lunch break.
Preparing for Battle
As stated above, the goal of Titans Tactics is to command a faction of three Champions into an closed arena to do battle. Each Faction has a small story behind them, such as the Crucible of Order: an army of fanatical zealots, angels, and elementals led by the Titan of Order. These Factions aren't just about the fluff, they also cater to certain play-styles as well. The Crucible of Order is about defense and small damage output, while the Created is all about continual damage output at the expense of defense.
Each of the Factions has six Champions to recruit from, but you can only take three into battle at a time so you'll want to carefully examine each Champion's abilities and perk that caters to your command style. Perks are passive powers that help out that Champion. Some Champions might have the Defender Perk which reduces all damage done to him by one while another might have the Swift Perk, giving that Champion another action while activating. Abilities, listed on the Champion card, are color-coded powers that a Champion can use against foes and allies. Some Abilities might force a Champion to take damage each time they activate, root them into place, or even affect the terrain! If there is just too much to take it on your first play, the rulebook suggests two Factions and Champions to play with. This was an absolute Godsend as my son and I spent about 15 minutes alone vetting our choices. As it turned out, the choices weren't just random but picked out to demonstrate the major features of the game.
After picking out your Champions, the board is set up and the first player is chosen. This choice is important as the turn order never changes and any ties will default to the first player. The first player will place their all of theirChampion tokens somewhere in their home row, then the second player will do the same. Each player will draw a set of 5 colored skill cards to power their Champion's colored abilities.
This whole process may seem long-winded, but in practice it took about 2-5 minutes to put setup and start the first turn. If you wish to over-think your Champion choices, it could take a a little longer.
Titans Tactics played over a series of rounds. The round starts with the first player activating a Champion of their choice. Each time a Champion activates, they will take two actions, such as moving, using a Champion Ability, or doing nothing. Abilities can be used as many times as wished during an activation so long as the player has the appropriate amount of colored skill cards.After taking two actions, a Champion can then choose to either replenish their hand with 3 more cards or take a third action. After this last choice is made, the opposing player activates a Champion of his choice.
Damage is an interesting mechanic in Titans Tactics. Each time a Champion inflicts a point of damage, the Balance Token is moved one space closer to the attacking player's side. This can lead to a tug-of-war battle for control of the Balance Token. It's worth mentioning that because Champions cannot die, players need not worry about playing conservative with their Champions. Ensuring that you can put as much damage as possible during your turn will earn you Momentum at the end of the round, and that much closer towards victory.
After all Champions have activated in a round, the player in control of the Balance Token gains one Momentum. The game will proceed on in this fashion until one player either manages to successfully push the Balance Token over to the Red End Square on their side, or earns three Momentum through control of the Balance Token at the end of the round.
There's quite a few things that Titans Tactics does right and a couple of areas where we could see improvement. Let's begin with the game presentation. Imbalanced Games put a lot of effort into making Titans Tactics a game that you can just pick up and play anywhere. You could play this on a plane seat-back tray it's that small. The board, terrain, ability, and Champion tokens were constructed for longevity. It's hard not to imagine playing this on a plane, at the camp-ground, or on a small table at a board game cafe.
The artwork on the pieces and cards is pretty great. The artwork accurately illustrated the look and feel for each Faction. Angels looked angelic, mech-style tanks looked pretty cool, swashbucklers looked.. well you get the idea. There is a small problem we had with the artwork was related to the Black Brigade Champion Faction tiles; the black on black color scheme made it hard to see if a particular Champion had been activated. Speaking of Champion tiles, while they are sufficient for the game, strategy enthusiasts would also get a lot of enjoyment from seeing a few injection molded miniatures to represent their Champions.
Titans Tactics set out to provide players with a tactical strategy game you could play in under an hour and they achieved this in spades. While the first game lasted about 45 minutes because we were learning the game mechanics, subsequent games lasted about 20-25 minutes. There's more than enough Champion combinations to keep strategy enthusiasts challenged, yet casual players won't feel at a disadvantage by their Champion choices. We look forward to seeing subsequent expansions to the game introducing more Factions and Champions to the game.
Overall, we were quite impressed with Titans Tactics. The game has all of the aspects of a full-fledged tactical strategy game, condensed into a fast-paced but rewarding experience. It's hard not to recommend this game to strategy enthusiasts and those looking to try out what the genre has to offer. You can pick up a copy of Titans Tactics either from Amazon or by having your FLGS order it for you.