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Subject: just how good is it modern day?? rss

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mark coomey
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Hi.
I've been on the hunt via ebay for a long long time, and have seen many many auctions go by for copies of Avalon Hill's epic slugfest, Titan.

I'm quite keen to add the game to my collection, at a reasonable price, but prices seem to consistantly sell for between $75-$100+ US.

The BoardGameGeek seems to give it a very mild rating with an average of 7.34 (400 users rated), which I guess, considering the number who have rated it, and the age of the game, is more than reasonable.

My question is, is it *still* a good game? If you've played it (recently), what's your slant compared to the games on offer?

I wonder whether it would get much play now due to game length. I'll admit I love the artwork, and the unusual board draws me to it. I wonder whether there are shorter, modern 'german' games that would be a good replacement to this (wizard kings?). Suggestions??

wiz
 
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John Rodriguez
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
wizardless (#34970),

I just played it last week actualy (it was about 6 months for me).

How does it stack up against current games? Well it's long, it's elimination and there can be downtime. So that makes it pretty darn differnt.

However I really enjoy the game, mostly because
a) Its unique - you won't find a game just like it. There is something just pure about it... fight until there is only one Titan remaining.

b) It has some strategy and tactical aspects. I read a recent review where someone just didn't "get it" and didn't see the strategy. It's there, trust me (try playing against a tourny player... you'll get smashed).

c) Even though it has tons of dice it's rare that simple bad luck will make you lose (though possible). I think the sheer amount of dice you throw really helps those averages.

Of course the reason I so rarely play it is because of the elimination factor (the length doesn't bother me). There are optional rules to "fix" this but in reality the entire point of the game is to be "the last man standing" so they aren't very popular. It works really good as a two player though in that respect.

As a tip: When newbies play thier first game by themselves the game tends to take FOREVER, because the players are generally less aggressive. Titan is a game that where the edge is usually with the aggressor rather than the defender. It just takes awhile to get used to it and see how it works.

Check out the colussus program here to get a jist of the gameplay:

http://colossus.sourceforge.net/

BTW another reason this games goes for so much:
There is little chance of a reprint since the artist and co-designer disappeared from the face of the earth years ago. Almost every counter is also unique as the said artist went into lots of detail. It really is a sweet game to behold.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
wizardless (#34970),

A few comments:

(1) The rating for Titan is a mix of very high and very low scores (the standard deviation is unusually high.) Some people love it and others hate it. Try it with someone else's copy and see which group you're in.

(2) Titan is a rare multi-player game in which picking on the leader is not generally an effective strategy. Since so many multi-player games have a picking on the leader problem, this is a nice feature.

(3) Titan takes an eternity to play if players are cautious, avoiding battle and focusing on recruiting. If you play aggressively, the game moves much more quickly (a battle often helps the winner.) Furthermore, aggressive play is not losing play, so it doesn't even cost you to play aggressively (when the situation allows it.) So if you play, play aggressively, at least when you're learning.

(4) The 2-player game is an excellent game, and is generally shorter than the multi-player game. This also obviates the problem of a player being eliminated and having to sit out. So try a 2-player game. It will give you almost all the feel of the game.

Eric
 
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Andrew Nick
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
Dammit, Caleb!

You don't seem to mind playing us faceless bots on ACTS, though, eh? You know you can configure Colossus for remote play against human players, don't you?

Andrew
 
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Chris Drake
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
Chump (#35528),
That's right Caleb, we are everwhere.
 
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Nicholas Jost
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
I was the one who "just didn't get it". I remain dreadfully unimpressed by Titan. Its long, has limited decisions, and encourages downtime. To me, that's just not a good game.

If your looking for interesting boards/powers some like...gosh can't remember its name right now but it caused a big stir about shilling here on the geek. Never played it. Looks like I won't like it. But, hey, it *is* cheaper.

If your looking for a good strategic game with tactical elements and are a glutton for punishment you could always go Federation and Empire or, preferably, Imperial Starfire.

As I pointed out in my review many decisions are limited to, not *where* you will move, but *if* you will move. The board locks most moves into concentric circles. In fact, the game would be loads more interesting if the whole pathing mechanic was not just a red herring for the unwarry.

NJost
 
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Jeff Laikind
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
I've also seen how two different playing styles can get frustrated with each other, as the game becomes "Concentration."

Style 1 rolls the die, looks at all of the legions, moves all of the legions, then looks at them all again to remember what is being recruited.

Style 2 remembers what everybody's legion has recruited, and therefore knows what they can recruit each time they move.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
Catwlisp (#36030),

True, but the same could be said about Chess if an expert is playing against someone who isn't completely solid on how the pieces move.

Eric
 
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Tom Swider
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
I've played Titan since it came out, took a vacation from it, and then started playing the game again during the past 9 months, both face to face and online at ACTS (http://acts.warhorsesim.com/index.asp)

I'm originally a wargamer, who then started playing negotiation games, then german style games. Keeping my biases in mind:

1) You will be able to find players, even if it's just online.
2) There are non-gamers who find their way into the hobby via Titan, and some just play Titan. Same for games like Diplomacy and Warhammer.
3) Remember that "luck" means large variance. Variation is less noticable when you roll lots of dice. People that lose sometimes kiddingly say "I would have won if I had rolled better", but most players acknowledge a very high level of skill in the game.

The biggest drawback is time, which is something I don't understand. There are people in my area who will play 4 back-to-back games of Puerto Rico who won't spend the same amount of time playing a single game that has a duration of greater than 2 hours.

You probably have enough info to make a decision based upon the feedback you've read here and of your own gaming tastes. If you buy Titan, I hope you like it. If it turns out that you don't, remember that you will likely be able to sell it at a good price and minimize your loss.
 
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Brent Ross
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
tswider (#36102),

You actually answered your own question about why people are more willing to play 4 games that take the same time as 1. In four games the variance is lower... so you're likely to get a bad break in one of the games, but in a few minutes you'll be playing another game and it's unlikely to happen twice. However, if you get squeezed or have an unlikely bad early battle board outcome in that one game of Titan, you might be sitting around for an hour of two waiting for someone to finally kill you (and longer if you want to play another game with these players). So, in short, bad luck evens out over multiple games so the more games you can play per unit time the less time you spend suffering from it.

I think a lot of the problem people have with the length is really with the fact that it requires a bit of an odd mindset. Being a long game, one would expect that it should be something that shouldn't be played "pickup" or at a game club, and that you should plan an afternoon around it with five friends. However, that's exactly wrong since it is an elimination game and so it's actually far more suited for pickup and club situtations (in a pickup game, eliminated players feel more free to go back to doing other things... at a club, eliminated players can go find another game to play with other people).
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Steve Werth
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
wizardless (#34970),

The game is worth it. When I first started playing 8 years ago, I didn't really care for it. It grew on me, and I find that as I play more and more German games, the more I long for the smackdown that Titan is. The game is probably worth $60 - if you can find copies with missing pieces for cheap, that is really not an issue at all, because in the last 10 years my version is mostly still unpunched as I only ever use 1/6 of the tiles the game provides.
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Re:just how good is it modern day??
wizardless (#34970),

My opinion, hopefully expressed in my review, is that Titan is a fundamentally fun game. There is just something nice about "growing" your armies and duking them out against opposing armies. And while the overall game is intermediate level because of the exceptions and special cases, the primary game mechanics are actually simple. However, I do not believe the game is very likely to succeed in today's gamers.

The first problem that comes to mind is the total game length. It is very difficult, amongst a busy schedule, to find a single player with five hours to burn-- much less four to six players with hours to burn.

The second and IMHO more significant problem with Titan is the significant downtime. Titan's mechanic requires each player to complete his entire turn, followed by waiting until his turn comes up again. This mechanic works when player turns generally take seconds or a minute to complete, but Titan turns can take half an hour or more. We would often give up in the middle of the game, since players would be attracted by other games, video games, or sleep. Newer games generally realize that players today have shorter attention spans and so they want to be actively "doing something" all the time. In board gaming, this means making or contemplating game decisions. Games like Puerto Rico and Twilight Imperium (3rd ed) are designed to minimize downtime by allowing players to get involved more often. You don't want players to lose interest, and the best way for that to happen is to make the player wait. For an hour or more.

To conclude, my opinion is that Titan's strengths, of growing fantasy armies and duking them out in a slugfest, continue to make it a good game. If I were to use the same standards and expectations of gamers as 10-20 years ago, Titan would still stand tall as a fundamentally fun, balanced, and enjoyable "light" wargame. However, standards and expectations change, and under today's standards, the long downtimes will absolutely kill the game. While I must be careful not to overgeneralize, I believe most players simply are not interested in playing a game that takes 5-8 hours and where they'll get a turn once every 30 minutes or more. Of course, you'll have the specialty players who precisely love this type of game-- much like how there are masters of Chess who can play the same game for days.

See my article regarding the "Simultaneous Turns" for a variant that I propose to reduce player downtime-- significantly. IMHO, this variant would make the game much more palatable for "newer" gamers.

Cheers!
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