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Subject: How to speed things up, while making it feel less random? rss

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Luc VC
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I've played Titan 5 times now, plus some Colossus games.
So I'm still a noob here. But how many games should you have played for it to shine and go smoothly?

I really like the flow of the game, and I do believe that there's something really great in there. But how to get it out?

Most complaints are:
* Player elimination.
But I knew that before I bought the game.
Maybe that was my biggest mistake. (Nostalgia of the Heroes of Might
and Magic, Ogre battle and Warsong got me ;p)

* Movement feels random and goes slowely (to figure out what the
possibilities are.) Sometimes it's pretty hard to actually get into
combat.

Maybe I'm completely missing something, in which case, please enlighten me.
 
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One sure way to speed things up is to play a two-player game. Although Titan is a multi-player game, I've found it to be very enjoyable with only two. Plus, that takes the whole player elimination problem out of the equation.
Another way to get into the action more quickly is to do what the rules suggest as one of the variants: remove the low level tower creatures from the game completely and make the Ranger, Troll, and Lion the new tower creatures. This allows for faster mustering of the "big guys".
Also, one of the classic newbie "problems" is that they spend way too much time circling the board while mustering and trying to build the perfect stack. This can bog down the game a lot. As you play more, you'll find ways to force your opponent into battles, building up points, strengthening your Titan, and then being able to go for a quicker kill.

Hope this helps. Titan is an amazing game; I hope you stick with it.
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Michael Sachau
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Hello,

- Do not play with more than three players. If the first player in 3-player
game is eliminated, it is almost certain, who is going to win the game

- Do not battle "boring" fights, just make a proposal (say what you want to kill in the enemy stack and let the other player decide).

- Most important: Split stacks while another player takes his turn. Also try to plan your next moves in the downtime (works fine with next point)

- Try this movement variant: Say what number you want to use for movement, but you are not allowed to use a number, that you have used in the last N turns (we played with N = 2). So you know what you are going to roll and you can plan your moves.

- In a game with more than 2 players: Start doing your moves, while the others are still resolving the tactical phase. Most moves are not dependant on the fights by other players. If the fights are done, move the rest of your stacks.
 
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Bruno Wolff
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Wolfshade wrote:
I've played Titan 5 times now, plus some Colossus games.

Most complaints are:
* Player elimination.
But I knew that before I bought the game.
Maybe that was my biggest mistake. (Nostalgia of the Heroes of Might
and Magic, Ogre battle and Warsong got me ;p)

If you like those games, you should try Battle for Wesnoth. It's a free (gpl v2) game that has builds for Linux, Macs and Windows.
Quote:

* Movement feels random and goes slowely (to figure out what the
possibilities are.) Sometimes it's pretty hard to actually get into
combat.

Once you play a bit more, knowing where you can move will be second nature.
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David desJardins
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Some people play five games and get it. Some people play hundreds and don't. There's really no rule of thumb.
 
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Richard Young
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This is an epic slugfest from a era now passed. It has fans (myself among them), but it also has just the very features you point out. I've maintained that it would be unlikely for a game like this to get published these days - but its classic reputation and "grail" like quality appealed to the folks over at Valley Games and they found a way to have it brought back to life. A game that is as epic as this but features roll & move, player elimination and the amount of downtime that must from time to time occur makes it very much a narrow niche product. Kudos to Valley Games for resurecting this dinosaur but many of today's generation of gamers are probably not going to know quite what to make of it.

Sure, some of the "short cuts" described can be used by experienced players, but most of those are going to be people that already know and remember the old chestnut. I expect that the level of experience needed is not going to be worth the effort to gamers that are now cutting their teeth on Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and the like. Older generations of gamers had Monopoly and Risk as their gateways and so Titan would have made more sense to them.

The game is what it is. You can't change much of it without it turning it into something else entirely...
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David desJardins
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Bubslug wrote:
I expect that the level of experience needed is not going to be worth the effort to gamers that are now cutting their teeth on Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and the like. Older generations of gamers had Monopoly and Risk as their gateways and so Titan would have made more sense to them.


I was following you until this. You're saying that Monopoly and Risk require a higher level of experience to play and enjoy than Catan or Dominion? I don't see that.
 
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Luc VC
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obermeier wrote:
Hello,
- Do not play with more than three players.


That's what I was considering

obermeier wrote:

- Do not battle "boring" fights, just make a proposal (say what you want to kill in the enemy stack and let the other player decide).


I'll have to play a lot more Colossus to get a better feeling of that.

obermeier wrote:

Also try to plan your next moves in the downtime (works fine with next point)

- Try this movement variant: Say what number you want to use for movement, but you are not allowed to use a number, that you have used in the last N turns (we played with N = 2). So you know what you are going to roll and you can plan your moves.


Whoo, that's a very good suggestion. I'll try this next time
Thanks a lot!
 
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Luc VC
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TonyJF wrote:
One sure way to speed things up is to play a two-player game. Although Titan is a multi-player game, I've found it to be very enjoyable with only two. Plus, that takes the whole player elimination problem out of the equation.

Two is definitely a good option, 3 is an option.
I'll stay away from more than that for the moment .
TonyJF wrote:

Another way to get into the action more quickly is to do what the rules suggest as one of the variants: remove the low level tower creatures from the game completely and make the Ranger, Troll, and Lion the new tower creatures. This allows for faster mustering of the "big guys".

I'll also try that next time
TonyJF wrote:

"Also, one of the classic newbie "problems" is that they spend way too much time circling the board while mustering and trying to build the perfect stack. This can bog down the game a lot. As you play more, you'll find ways to force your opponent into battles, building up points, strengthening your Titan, and then being able to go for a quicker kill."

I played with only 6 legion markers last time, to avoid that.
TonyJF wrote:

Hope this helps. Titan is an amazing game; I hope you stick with it.

Tx, I'm going to play some more games to see if it grows on me.
I can see the potential of the game, and I like that there's nothing with the same feel laugh.
 
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Luc VC
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brunowolff wrote:

If you like those games, you should try Battle for Wesnoth. It's a free (gpl v2) game that has builds for Linux, Macs and Windows.


It's been a while since I played Wesnoth. Great game, thanks for reminding me .

Edit: misplaced closing quote tag.
 
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David desJardins
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obermeier wrote:
- Try this movement variant: Say what number you want to use for movement, but you are not allowed to use a number, that you have used in the last N turns (we played with N = 2). So you know what you are going to roll and you can plan your moves.


Just bear in mind that if you learn the game this way it distorts the play a lot. All of the "more selection on your dice rolls" variants have the effect of emphasizing a smaller number of key legions (because you tend to optimize for those and neglect the smaller legions). In variants like the one above, there will also be benefits for getting multiple legions into symmetrical positions where they all want the same number.
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Richard Young
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Bubslug wrote:
I expect that the level of experience needed is not going to be worth the effort to gamers that are now cutting their teeth on Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and the like. Older generations of gamers had Monopoly and Risk as their gateways and so Titan would have made more sense to them.


I was following you until this. You're saying that Monopoly and Risk require a higher level of experience to play and enjoy than Catan or Dominion? I don't see that.


That wasn't my point - but on reflection I think there is some truth to that interpretation especially with respect to Dominion. I learned to despise Settlers of Catan a lot faster than I did Risk, but that's probably just me.

No - my point is that today's gateway games are mostly Euros (by and large for good reason), and therefore do not in any way prepare you for the kind of game Titan is, whereas games like Monopoly and Risk did. They were longer games and shared many of the elements you just don't see that much anymore - longer games, driven by roll and move (in the case of Monopoly) and featuring player elimination.

I have my doubts that many of the newer generations of players are going to give Titan enough of a chance, because of things like that, and will prefer to move on to things more in line with their first experiences. Obviously there will be exceptions who would logically be found frequenting these forums.

I think it is telling that the OP appears to want to like this game but has asked some pretty predictable questions about it. I'm saying that there aren't many really useful answers out there short of changing the basic nature of the game...
 
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Bruno Wolff
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Bubslug wrote:

No - my point is that today's gateway games are mostly Euros (by and large for good reason), and therefore do not in any way prepare you for the kind of game Titan is, whereas games like Monopoly and Risk did. They were longer games and shared many of the elements you just don't see that much anymore - longer games, driven by roll and move (in the case of Monopoly) and featuring player elimination.


Monopoly isn't a long game unless you are playing it incorrectly.

Risk (pre-missions) could be longer because early on there aren't good incentives to seriously attack other players. You want to get a risk card and hold as much in bonuses as your group tolerates. Later the value of risk sets gets high enough that eliminating people for the risk cards they are holding, is worth enough that you can try to wipe out everyone in a single turn. If people are playing promptly it shouldn't really take all that long to get to that point. If you are doing lots of talking between attacks then things can drag on. (But for some players the talking may be the funnest part of the game.)
 
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Luc VC
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Bubslug wrote:

I think it is telling that the OP appears to want to like this game but has asked some pretty predictable questions about it. I'm saying that there aren't many really useful answers out there short of changing the basic nature of the game...


The basic nature of a game will always be changed by variants.
That's why I was curious what would soften the learning curve, without distorting the game feel too much. As I can't phantom all the possible impacts I thought I'd ask here.

If that would give me the opportunity to find FtF opponents I think that's not *that* bad. Once most players are into the game, we could always go back to the original rules.
 
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once you get the hang of it, titan moves pretty quickly. in my group, we can play a four player game in about three hours.

as already mentioned, splitting stacks should be done during other people's turns. while technically in the rules splitting is done at the start of your turn, if you decide when your turn comes that you don't want to split after all, just put them back together.

also, it's never a good idea to fight a battle that you're not going to win. if you're not sure if you can win, err on the side of caution, and retreat. giving half points is more damaging to the enemy than killing an extra ogre or two. this also speeds up the game.
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Chakroun Karim
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Re: How to speed things up, while making it feel less random?
what about playing with the gorgonstar rules, battle boards and muster chart?
 
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Mac Mcleod
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I agree... in our 8th hour of a 4 person, 500 point game. There have been multiple downtimes of 40 or more minutes, periods of close to an hour with no ability to muster due to bad dice rolls, and finally elimination about 3 hours ago... they continue to play. Game should end after this skirmish if the 497 pt Titan can get in a teleport or same player can engage someone.

On vacation or I would never consider playing the game and I have a monopoly background.

Extremely irritating last battle after rolling one hit on 11 dice with 1/3 odds more than once. The word "pathetic" has been spoken a good 10 to 15 times with disgust over particularly bad dice rolls.

The fun factor of the game is probably about 2 hours while the game is so much longer.

There is no substitute for a long game with slow buildup and lots of separate battles but this is crazy long.

I'd much prefer an option to take the average for most of the dice and then just roll the "odd" dice. I.e. you have 11 dice and hit on a "5-6", you can take 3 hits and roll 2 dice. We've had two 11 dice attack with one hit tonight.

Enjoy star fleet battles a lot more than this. Not the same game, but 13 hour game was a lot more fun. Not as much going for long walks on the beach while other people play (thank god for cell phones).

===

Oh yea.. and not pissed off at the game-- I asked to play it knowing what we were getting into. But I'm very aware of the five to twelve other games I didn't play that would have been more fun. So the nostalgia got me to try it--- but it'll probably be a long time before I do again unless it is two player. The worst part was the downtime from the mini battles of 6 on 6 or so figures.


 
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Ken
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Wolfshade wrote:
* Player elimination.


You can't do much about this and still be playing Titan, unfortunately. It's the nature of the game.

Quote:
* Movement feels random and goes slowely (to figure out what the
possibilities are.) Sometimes it's pretty hard to actually get into
combat.


You may be looking at movement the wrong way. When you're moving your legions, you don't just want to think about what you're about to muster, but about the possibilities for the next turn and perhaps two. Sure, landing in that jungle out of the gate may get you a cyclops, but what's it do for your recruiting next turn?

Much of the masterboard issue is typically just familiarity, though. Titan's movement is so different from other games that it's slow because you can't look at the roll, look at the board, and know where your legions can go. That only gets fixed with time.

Yes, it can be hard to get into a fight sometimes, but then the other players are probably moving to avoid fights that they don't think they'd win. Titan is a nice blend of tactics and strategy that way. And once someone gets to 400 points, odds are good that the game's gonna end pretty quickly after that.
 
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David desJardins
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maxo-texas wrote:
The fun factor of the game is probably about 2 hours while the game is so much longer.


A big problem is that it's not much fun until you know what you're doing. And unless you have someone who really knows the game to teach you, it will take you a long time to figure out how to play. And all of the games in the meantime will seem meaningless and random and no fun. I don't have a good solution to that (there is a reason that games with long learning curves, like this, are rarely published these days).

But, notwithstanding all that, it's still true that you're judging the game based on not understanding how to play it well, and many of the problems you're seeing are primarily associated with not playing well rather than intrinsic to the game itself.

I do agree it would be better to learn the game with two players.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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Quote:
A big problem is that it's not much fun until you know what you're doing.


I know what I'm doing... I've played a couple dozen games, including a 22 hour monster back in college.

The big problem is that 80% of our 11 hour game was mini-combats. I was involved in about 2.5 hours of mini battles. The rest of the time, I was on the computer, reading a book, making dinner. As were the other people. I don't know of any other game where you can go for a 45 minute walk on the beach with your cell phone and come back and it's still not your turn yet.

Quote:
But, notwithstanding all that, it's still true that you're judging the game based on not understanding how to play it well, and many of the problems you're seeing are primarily associated with not playing well rather than intrinsic to the game itself.


Unless "playing well" means, "avoid most mini-battles by quick-negotiating even most close battles to save time", then you are mistaken about how I'm judging the game. I will grant that you know a lot more about the game than I do and your certainly a lot sharper.

If played straight without the negotiating trick, the game takes a long, long, time to play. And for long periods (up to a couple hours), you may do nothing except sit and watch other people muster and battle before you get to go again.

---

One or two years ago, they had Titan at Aggiecon with folks that knew how to play at your level (which is certainly higher than mine) and it took them about 9 hours to finish. Not sure if it was to the death or point level.


 
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David desJardins
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maxo-texas wrote:
The big problem is that 80% of our 11 hour game was mini-combats.


If that is literally true, not hyperbole, then people are either fighting too much or fighting too slowly.

It is certainly true that downtime during battles that you aren't engaged in is a negative aspect of the game. I avoid games with more than 4 players for this reason (among others), and I prefer just 3.

It is also true that slow play is self-perpetuating. Once some players start to play more slowly, others will play more slowly too, and the whole thing can get out of control.

Movement variants won't help with this problem, though. And the average time for 4-player tournament games at WBC is "only" 4-5 hours.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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So, short of playing a lot, how could novice players reliably get fair deals in the less meaningful battles?



I'll surrender in a heartbeat if it is a clear loss- knowing I'm really "winning" the mini-battle by denying points. But offer me to a serpent for a hydra in brush-- and Hmmmmm. No clue if it is "fair" or not.

---

In this game, we had a lot of close battles. Two of the players were experienced gamers but had only played Titan for a couple hours at Aggiecon to learn the game.

A couple of the battles ended with one figure and netted an angel.

In another, a person went from a "clearly" losing battle to winning a stunning victory via Titan's random element (the "predetermined winner" had horrendous opening rolls while the "loser" rolled better than average all through the battle).

In another, a person went from a "50/50" battle to a smashing victory over the "titan ace" by really impressive mini-battle maneuvering. It was probably the most impressive battle of the night since both sides were almost all rangers on a battlefield with trees and since the dice behaved, the superior maneuvering really stood out.

OTH, I think there was only one negotiated loss-- the rest were either battles or surrenders.

---

So I guess it is question of what game you are playing. If you are playing the "mustering" game, then battles will be fewer- maybe even only battles at the end with your Titans. Having a good knowledge of the value of your pieces in trades would speed it up-- having a published system would allow less experienced players to feel more confident they were getting a fair trade.


 
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Ken
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maxo-texas wrote:
So, short of playing a lot, how could novice players reliably get fair deals in the less meaningful battles?



I'll surrender in a heartbeat if it is a clear loss- knowing I'm really "winning" the mini-battle by denying points. But offer me to a serpent for a hydra in brush-- and Hmmmmm. No clue if it is "fair" or not.


I guess I'm a bit confused by your post. You don't deny anyone points when negotiating. You deny them points when you flee. Once you start negotiating, either someone is getting full points for the fight or there must be a mutual elimination.

Even that's a bit beyond the point, though. The problem with anything formulaic for negotiating is that it's just about impossible to do. The variables for creatures, battleland, and which side the attacker/defender comes in on are simply too great.

But if you get that first point wrong, then you're further complicating negotiations.
 
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One of the most important skills and the key to making the game interesting and deep is that it is difficult and valuable to reliably predict the outcomes of battles. So (1) there's never going to be a very good formula for novices to predict what is a likely outcome, because that is the heart of the game, and (2) there's not going to be a successful variant that greatly simplifies and speeds combat resolution and still keeps the game interesting, because if the battles were so simple that they could be easily predicted then a lot of the depth would be gone.

That said, a ranger vs ranger battle in the woods is a prime example of an outcome that's high variance and mostly determined by dice rather than maneuvering. Because the strategies are pretty simple (take lots of rangestrikes, or swarm a few enemy characters with a bunch of yours) and the variance of the rolls and the fragility of the pieces is high.

If you're spending 9 hours per game just on battles, the main way to improve everyone's enjoyment is to fight the battles faster. That is a social problem, not a game design problem.
 
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Ken...

If I surrender, I deny you half of the points for the battle. I'll surrender in a heartbeat if it is a clear loss- knowing I'm really "winning" the mini-battle by denying you half of the points.

Sorry it wasn't clear enough.

So it sounds like, there is no way to speed up the game for new players by providing a basic guidelines for negotiation.

For example:
If one side has 200 points and the other side has 160 points, then offering 40 points worth of pieces is a fair trade.

If one side has ranged, shift that by 30 points.
If one side is native and the other isn't, then shift that by 20 points in bog, 40 points in mountains.

---

If you had a set of guidelines, it could be tuned-- but saying it's impossible means people just have to play a lot of mini battles to develop their own internal rules.

---

And even then-- we had several battles where a negotiated finish would not have resembled the actual outcome.
 
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