I had a pleasure to play a 2-player game of Titans, that is coming to Kickstarter. I want to write short summary of my experience and my thoughts on the game.
Titans are an area control game (or “dudes on a map”) for 2-4 players (with a Solo Mode). Each player becomes a king of a European power form 17th Century. You can control Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Kingdom of Sweden, Tsardom of Russia and Ottoman Empire. Even though the game refers to the historical period, it’s not a typical historical game. We have here a fantasy elements, mainly in the presence of Titans (the most powerful and indestructible Unit), but also in the presence of Spirit of the Nation that helps the Nation with the Support Cards and Nation Cards. The 2-player game takes around 1 hour, from what I know, the 3/4-player game should be around 120-160 minutes. Thematically the game shouldn’t exclude any younger players, but the complexity makes it a 12+ age game in my opinion.
I have played a prototype with a lot of artwork close to the final product. Miniatures looked great, especially the Titans, artwork is amazing and the style is realistic with a small exaggeration. Many of the Cards have a lot of icons, and there is a big variant of them – they are still very intuitive and unambiguous. At first I had some questions, but after the first half of the first round (there are 3 Rounds) it all made sense to me.
Setup of the game is quick and simple. We pick a Nation, place the Capitol and Infantry Units based on the scenario (that depends on the chosen Nations and the number of players). There are some inactive Regions (I’m not a big fan of such mechanics, but it was inevitable here), and then we place our starting Units – Artillery, Cavalry and the Titan – on any of the chosen starting Regions. After that we purchase 1 Nation Card, chose our Secret Missions, and we can begin the game.
The key mechanism is the Order Card deck – in your turn you choose 1 of those Cards. Order Card Pool is revealed face-up, visible for everybody. That mechanism allows us to anticipate the movement of our opponents and prepare for upcoming turns. We can try to use the Card that would be dangerous in the hands of our opponent, especially that each of them gives you something that you want. I never felt like I didn’t like some, or all of the Order Cards – it was always beneficial, but I had to figure out how to use them for my plans and against the plans of my opponent. The actions that appear on the Order Cards are quite simple, and they allow player to move Units, get new Units, build Strongholds and purchasing Nation Cards. That’s all that we are going to do – each Order Card may have a different combination of different Actions that apply to different Units. For example one card allows you to move 3 different Units by 1 Region, another to move any 1 Unit and purchase a Nation Card and the third has Titan movement, adding new Unit and building a Stronghold.
The main purpose of the game is the Region control, since after each Round you get 1 Victory Point per each Region you control. Expanding your domain means war, so – depending on the way that you will play – sooner or later, you will Battle your opponent(s). Players are encouraged to fight since the number of Regions is limited, but also through the Secret Missions, that we draft at the beginning of the game. Luckily, the game awards the winner of the Battle, and helps the loosing player with Support Cards, so there is no “snowball effect” since the Support Cards will help us in upcoming Battles.
So, how does the Battle look like? At a first glance it reminded me of the Risk (yikes) … we enter the Region, roll the Dice and fight … but it turned out to be something completely different. Firstly, we have asymmetrical Nation Cards that help us in Battles (they work like “technology” cards). Secondly, we have a hand of Support Cards (single-use special powers that help in Battle). Thirdly, different Units have different Dice in Battles, and we can anticipate our results to some extent, and lastly we have rerolls for discarding Support Cards. And let’s not forget that all of the Support Cards, and many of the Nation Cards have requirements. There are a lot of factors that forces player to strategize, plan and prepare for Battles. Even though the game revolves around Unit movement, there is an enormous amount of planning with a simple core mechanics – I like that in games a lot!
Titans are asymmetrical, so each Nation has a different feel to it. The Victory conditions are the same, but each army has different abilities and restrictions. For example, Tsardom of Russia gets 1 additional Infantry Dice, if there was only 1 Infantry Units in their army. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had a tougher requirement (bonus for 2 Cavalry Units in army), but the bonus is bigger, as well as the Support Card Hand Limit is larger. There are plenty of differences, in the starting powers as well as unique Nation Cards.
Since I played the game once, I can’t make a full assessment. I can only give my first thoughts after that playthrough. I must say, that I was highly skeptical to Titans, I had a great time playing it. I felt like I had a lot of decisions to make, short- and long-term. There is randomness, but it’s mainly “controllable”, each of the Nations have a unique feel to it. I like the fact that I can play the same Nation multiple times, and take many different paths (due to unique Nation Cards, different Missions, etc.)
I think it is a very good game for people who enjoy Area Control – especially if you like simple rules that allow for a huge number of decisions. Off course, it’s not big and complicated as “The Forbidden Stars”, but I see that as it’s advantage. The gameplay doesn’t takt to long and we can fit two complete, fully-fledged games in the same time we would play Forbidden Stars once. I had a great time playing the game, planning long and short-term, but I must admit, that I even loved to move the army Miniatures alongside the huge Titans on the Board.
From what I know there is also a Legacy-style solo campaign in development, as well as other expansions and add-ons. What I played was enough, but I’m eager to see what’s coming.
If you are interested in the game, I know that the KS preview is already up – so check that out
• Order Card mechanics and the way you use them
• Different aspects of the Nation asymmetry
• Some randomness that you can manage
• Components and art
• I’m concerned about the balance with one of the 2-player setups, maybe there are more issues like that – author of the game was informed about that and they say that it is being double-checked right now after another wave of testing
Polish review: http://angryboardgamer.pl/rzut-oka-tytani/