The only way to win is to lead the opponent off balance. This is what I was told and fact was so firmly instilled into my head during every workout. But everyone says, that Titan can keep just one idea in their brain. In other words, they mean we are stupid. While nobody actually asked me this question ever to confirm it. Therefore, you must not shower them with many tactical advices in advance. And that was time, when signs became fashionable..
We kept our fighting old school with my coach and we started winning. Simple codes wer not enough for victory and it turned out, that Titans are not as stupid as everyone thought. I became a champion and winner of the gold belt. Today I have to defend my unbeaten record again. I have to bring opponent off balance and victory will be mine again.
You meet with Titans in new tactical game Titans Tactics from Imbalanced Games LLC, a proper name for this game. Its author is G. Kelly Toyama and game was released in 2013. Its located in a black square box, that is higher than you would originally think. But it is necessary, because under the lid, there is not printed booklet with the rules, but also cardboard game board composed of squares. You will find only forty-eight squares on it, which divide arena for the Titans.
Then there is package of cards, that contains thirty cards of champions, who belong to one of six factions. This include also cards of skills. Help cards will try to help both opponents with victory. Remaining components are of a token kind. Thirty of them correspond to already mentioned champions, but there are also chips of state, equilibrium, walls or superiority. Two big pieces representing cloud enveloping vision are also made of cardboard and they can overlay nine squares on the board.
The most important for players are those champions cards, which are divided according to color of their background and border. You will find not only name, but also the ability and one extra perk on them. Perk is a powerful passive skill, that you can use and whose icon printed in the upper left corner of the card is described in the rulebook and on help cards. These include the fiery, winged or precise perk.
At the beginning of the game, each of the rival players must choose one of six factions to fight with. Because the game of Titans Tactics can be played only with two players, there is always plenty to choose from. There is recommended composition of the first game suitable for beginners. Six heroes for a race are now standing on each side and players must now once again choose only three, which will really enter the arena. Players take their appropriate tokens. Only one of them can eventually become a real Titan, everyone will remember forever.
Adversaries put the game board among themselves and place a balance token on a green box. On both ends of the scale (creating an “U” around the board) is a red box with the Roman numeral X. Last fourth side of the board contains five-point scale of superiority. Each competitor then puts a wall tile on the game board according to his wishes, before both players deploy their champions active side up.
The only thing left to prepare is a deck of capabilities, which are split according to the back side to black and white. Each of the opponents gets one of them, which will be used to activate colors printed on the skills of their champions. Players are not forced to mix the deck, because they can choose any five cards to start the game with.
During the game players alternately activate all six champions, who are present inside the arena. Each character has two actions points, that can be used to move, activate skills or yield. At the end of their turn, players can choose between two options – either they may make one more bonus third action or instead choose three new cards from their deck into hand to suit their requirements (remember, no drawin here).
During motion, titans can move up to two squares in any direction, including diagonals. By playing cards from their hand, players can activate hero’s abilities, which is the same color as played card. By playing, a card returns to deck skills (not your hand!) and player can perform effect written on it. Abilities can be melee, ranged (all characters constantly see each other, no matter on the location), but some can also be used on themselves, for example, increase of strength following an attack for Dracolich.
This is also the right way to fight. Each property itself specifies, how much damage will be dealt to the target. These interventions but do not injure champions themselves, because their skills (and skin) are far beyond possibility of injury. Instead, they disrupt the balance and players can move pointer of equilibrium one step towards towards their target box for each point of damage. Fight ends, when one of players reaches box with the Roman numeral X on his own side.
Titans Tactics is simple maneuvering and tactical game, in which players are trying to challenge each other and use the right tactics. This is related with the right choice of colored ability card, that can be used to activate skills. Without these, your warriors are completely lost in the arena.
But we did not mention everything you will encounter during playing of Titans Tactics in our description of the rules. Once the heroes meet on adjacent fields, you must expect a fight. Although they may detach from each other, fled champion gets injuries worth two points. That is a main reason, why anyone would not want to escape. Some abilities allow characters to switch positions. To mark a permanent state of your hero, you can use one of the available tokens, which marks for example a slowdown.
At the end of each round, players are still adjusting the scale of superiority, that may be a faster (second) way to victory. Point of superiority are gained by player, who has balance (equilibrium) stone closer to his goal. If a player gets third point of superiority, he immediately becomes winner. This ensures, that even balanced game does not take more, than seven rounds.
Great weapon of this game is its variability. Five factions, each composed of six characters means, that you use only a fifth of the available arsenal during each game, not to mention possibility of combining different champions into team. All in all this guarantees, that games are different from each other.
Everything is very tactical and there is no luck anywhere in the game. Because you are moving cardboard pieces on the board, it feels a bit like chess. That’s not bad, although based on its mechanisms, Titans play more like a tactical miniatures games, such as Dungeon Command (review). This game, however, plays very fast and offers three actions for each hero.
Yet the biggest pity is, that not all combinations of heroes are well balanced. Therefore, players should pick heroes publicly and be able to respond to choice of their rival. In combination with different capabilities, there may be a noticeable benefit for one players or disadvantage for novice player, who does not know heroes well.
Author made an excellent choice with one scale, for which two rivals are fighting. Game can be reversed at all stages and you can never be sure, who will win in the end. The situation on the board is constantly evolving, and the number of characters does not change, because heroes are not able to die. Instead of this, they just patiently absorb one hit after another.
Overall it is clear, that rules are simple, although spread over a relatively large number of pages. The game includes mainly a lot of skills, that need to be clarified and their explanation will be of interest in the moment, they enter the game. The game itself is just about sequential activation of heroes, playing cards in their capacity and effort to deliver more hits to your rival.
Defensive game will definitely not lead into win in this game. Without hits, player has no chance to get a balance to their side and thus loses either by reaching ten injuries or with third superiority. The game encourages great offensive game, but also stands on tactics. Here works best the fact, that players themselves are chosing their cards, which will they use, but still maintaining maximum limit of seven cards in hand.
Game will not forgive any mistakes. Some players will not mind, that this is actually an abstract game wearing a fantasy jacket. But even that will not save the impression, that you are just moving chips here and there. The atmosphere is here, but it could be better.
Game has very nice graphics on the cards (although the mild nature of the game can be too depressed for someone), while game board remains simple. This is not necessarily a good thing. Individual icons are easily recognizable and everything is completely functional. The game can easily beat far bigger games. The more will you be pleased with the price tag, which is really low even for this small and portable box. Even space taken on table is pleasantly compact.
Titans Tactics surprised us on all fronts. We waited just another tactical combat, but we also get more. Excellent idea with choice of your own cards and dragging for superiority during combat promotes active play. Moreover, fact that your characters can not die, guarantee interesting and unexpected opportunities. In the game, there is no waiting and thanks to it, everything flows well. Game is fast, dynamic and completeable well under one hour of time. Titans Tactics are little known game, that deserves your attention.
+ no health of characters
+ option at the end of the turn - additional actions or drawing of cards
+ huge variability in assembling teams
+ dragging for the win
+ characters can not die, which brings new decisions
+ three skills for each character
+ very simple rules
+ short game time
- not all team combinations are equivalent
- benefits of being starting player
- essentially an abstract game