- Sebastian Adamiak(kaimada)Poland
Dudes on a map, or area control, is an extremely popular type of games in recent years. Cry Havoc, Rising Sun, Inis, Scythe and recently re-launched Kemet appeared on the polish market. What else do I think these titles have in common? Either I didn't like them from the beginning or they didn't stand the test of time. When it comes to this genre, I'm quite picky and although I like to test new titles, they lack something in my view. Sitting down to the Titans I was a moderate optimist, but I did not expect a breakthrough. My first impressions were very good, so I decided to play more and see how the game works.
After first 2 games I was looking forward to the next ones. Did my great first impression last after I have played the game 6 times?
Titans, as you have already figured out, are an area control game, where our plastic armies occupy regions, fight battles with enemy nations and perform secret missions. All that happens in a world that combines historical XVII century Europe and a fantasy flare, incorporated by the mythical Titans, spirits of the Nations that lead the armies to fight. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Kindgom of Sweden, Ottoman Empire and Tsardom of Russia fight in a central-east Europe. I liked the historical setting from the very beginning, and that lured me to Titans.
Titans – for now – have 4 Titan miniatures, a big game board, 48 Army miniatures, 16 engraved dice, 4 Player Boards, 32 Nation Cards, 16 Order Cards, 32 Support Cards, wooden cubes and over 100 different tokens. It’s hard to talk about the quality at a prototype stage, but what I saw looked very well. Miniatures are amazing in play, the board is much better than the visualizations on the KS Page, the iconography is very clear and it helps a lot. The main things you should remember about are right there on the game board.
How does the game work?
From the KS preview page I know that there will be a video rules explanation and a gameplay, so I’m not going to explain the gameplay details. I think those videos will do much better job at that.
You lead an asymmetrical faction with it’s unique ability, Titan power and a unique deck of Nation Cards. After the setup (that differs based on the number of players and the chosen Nations) you will use a shared deck of Order Cards. You pick one, complete the actions, resolve the battles and draw a Support Card at end of the turn.
The Orders will allow you to move Units and Armies, place new ones, build Strongholds and buy Nation Cards. All the cards are different and all of them seem to be balanced. On your turn you have from 2 to 5 different options and each card can be used in multiple ways. So there is a limited pool of actions, but you are never forced to do something that is useless.
If you are looking for a fantasy game, you might be very disappointed. The fantasy theme is apparent, you have the Titan, and a “magical” elements on the Nation and Support cards. But fantasy is not the main concern here.
The game has a deep historical vibe, which I really liked. Swedish army get a bonus for having a lot of Infantry in their Army, Poland uses their hussar cavalry the most, Ottoman Infantry works very well with Artillery and a single Russian Infantry has a strength of two Units. Tsar has his spies that decrease enemies morale, Ottomans may deploy countless Janissary Units, and no one fights against the Artillery better than charging Polish hussars. Those small differences appear on the Nation cards and add a lot to the theme of the game.
Titans make a great visual impression. The map looks very well and it will look even better with the major cities marked on it (author said that they will add that to the map). I like the scale of Army Units standing ready to fight and huge titans above their heads. I hope that each Nation will eventually get their own Army sculpts (again – I’ve heard that is the publishers plan here). Cards work very well and I hope that their number will grow as well.
In the game, there are some things that reminiscent other games. Order Cards look a little bit like the Rising Sun mechanics, but here we see more cards and choose them more often. Support Cards in hand are a currency to purchase Nation Cards, as well as they help in Battles – that reminds me of Inis or classical war games. The dice mitigation in battles is a little bit similar to Valhalla, or Glory: A Game of Knights. Secret Missions and their requirements remind me of the secret missions in Twilight Imperium. Nation Cards can be compared to Chaos in the Old World cards.
What makes the game stand out is the perfect combination of all those mechanical components. Thanks to the Order Cards, the game works smoothly and there is not that much downtime. I like dice in Battles, and here they work very well. The Support Card mechanism also seemed to be innovative, because we can use them when there are particular Units in our or the enemies army in Battle. So when we fight a certain opponent(s), we should pick our Support Cards based on their armies and anticipate the coming Battles. The game forces us to choose Support Cards wisely as well as think through the Nation Cards that we purchase.
I also liked the asymmetry in the 4 Nations. There are slight differences in the way you lead them, each has their own strengths. Some of the Nation cards are similar among the Nation Decks, but many of them are completely unique. There are also differences between the Titan special powers and it’s a lot of fun when two Armies meet on the battlefield, with all their differences and special powers. I have my favorite Nation – at first it seemed less attractive, but then I enjoyed playing with it the most.
There is a lot of tension and excitement in Battles and players need to choose good timing when using 1-per-Round Nation Cards. The defender takes his turn in Battles first, and the Attacker has an advantage as he responds to the Defenders Strength. But that’s not a decisive factor – first of all, quite often the attacker crushes against the defenders wall and decides to keep some of their Support Cards for upcoming Battles. Secondly, after the attack you may leave your flank open, so Attacking has a lot of advantages, but the game requires tactical and strategical thinking all the way through. In the games we have played only a few units died, I wish it happened more often. I had the same problem with Lords of Hellas – it bothered me more in LoH than in Titans, but still I like when there is a high death count in those games
The biggest problem I had with Titans is the game scaling. Of course - that topic is more based on my feelings, than raw facts – and I want to underline the fact, that the game worked well with 2, 3 and 4 players. I liked the 3-player game the most, I felt that 3-player game was balanced perfectly in regards to the number of Regions and starting positions on the map.
4-player map was too tight for us. We were positioned quite close to each other, and we got into the Battles too quickly. We also felt that in 4-player game the Order Pool might be little bigger – maybe something the author will consider, since the game is still being developed.
The 2-player game has less tension, since you only have 1 opponent in the Battle. It may be easier to anticipate what will happen - I guess I prefer more people in those types of games. The big advantage of the 2-player game was the gameplay time. After you have familiarized yourself with the rules, the 2-player game can take 60, or even 45 minutes – and that makes the game very “short” compared to the decision-making it offers.
My final verdict
What are Titans like? It is a very interesting game that has a lot to offer. Even though I complained about some things here, as I write this review I ask myself – what other area control/dudes on the map I’d like to play rather than Titans? My first answer is Small World – simpler game, that is in my TOP 5 games of all time. But as of today, I’d rather play Titans than Kemet, Inis, Lords of Hellas, Rising Sun or Scythe. Let me just add that I played Scythe only once and Rising Sun only 3 times.
Of course all of the games listed above have a huge group of fans, but they appealed to me less than Titans. I very much hope that the campaign will help to make the game even better, but I rank the gameplay at this point very high. If I were to give a final rating it would be very high, for me slightly different depending on the player count.
Finally I would encourage you to follow the project, watch the gameplay to see if you’d like the same aspects of the game as I did and make your decision based on that.
[ Disclaimer: I am a reviewer on a Polish board games blog, where I write reviews since 2016. I wrote the review based on the protype that was lent to me by the publisher. I am not affiliated with the publisher in any way, and I reached out to them since the game looked right up my alley. The review (Polish and it’s English translation you see here) was not a paid review, but since the author only lent me the game I was promised a copy of the game after it’s published. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I’ll try to answer clearly. ]
my rewiev in polish is here : https://kaimada.znadplanszy.pl/2019/09/14/tytani-wrazenia-z-...
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- Artur Felipe Barbosa de Carvalho Fonseca(Arturfel)Brazil
- Nice review man. I would like to have more information about the Titans, their Powers and How stronger they are compared tô regular trooos.
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- Magilion T(magilion)Poland
Arturfel wrote:Nice review man. I would like to have more information about the Titans, their Powers and How stronger they are compared tô regular trooos.Hej, I think all of this info you can check on the Kickstarter website, where the campagne is already available together with rule book to download https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/goonboard/titans?lang=d...
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