Titan represents a game where the iPad implementation is, in many circumstances, better than the physical play. It is an example of where the medium suits and supports the enormous amount of calculations necessary to play and thereby opens the game up to players who don’t like a lot of crunch in their game. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t take the necessary steps beyond that to make players who are not familiar with Titan able to jump in easily.
[Edit: due to Titan's recent update, we thought we'd push this back up to the top for your attention.]
Titan is a battle royale of
titanic epic proportions. As per the introduction:
“Titan is a fantasy war game for two to six players. Each player will move, muster, and engage in combat with his [sic] forces of monstrous characters. The core of each player’s forces is the Titan. Each player receives only one Titan, and if it is lost the player is out of the game and all of his forces are removed from play. The object of the game is to have the only Titan left in play, all the others having been eliminated”
Unlike many wargames, players cannot see opponent forces until they engage them in battle. Key strategic decisions include whether to split a legion into two legions, (faster recruiting vs more effecting fighting force), recruit better fighters or better recruiters, and benefits of defending vs attacking. The game has rules of moderate complexity and will typically last an hour.
The game takes place over two play arenas. There is the masterboard, which describes a large land area where your legions rove to try and collect more monsters. There is also the battlelands, which reflects on of a variety of landscapes where combat between the legions occur. If this were a Final Fantasy game, your masterboard would be your land overview and the battleland would be your battle cut scenes. Part of the strategy of this game is that you never completely know how strong your opponent’s legions are until you engage in combat. So there is a balance between mustering and trying to destroy their opponents. Each battle takes the highlander approach, meaning that all engagements must end with one combatant fleeing at the start or being completely annihilated.
During each player’s turn, they will have a chance to move their legions (at least one) according to a few preliminary parameters. Each hex will have icons on their edge that indicate whether a legion *must* move in that direction, *may* move in said direction, and whether they can backtrack across that direction. Players also have options to teleport throughout the game from tower to tower (when a six is rolled) or when their Titan is powerful enough, they can do it on their own with a roll of a six.
Combat itself is perhaps the most detailed, or if you prefer, complex aspect of the game. Battle is basically broken into a manoeuvering phase and a strike phase. You ready the individual soldiers in your legions and then pit them into battle. So clearly there is a detailed emphasis on strategy at this point. It is also possible to summon arch-angels and reinforcements. I won’t go into specifics because that would take another half page.
The biggest problem that this game faces is that the developers did not really spend much time in thinking about the over all accessibility of this game. We are talking about a massive strategy game from the 1980s that is neither casual not simple. It is not a game that you could pass away in half an hour or so and will require a time investment to 1) climb that learning curve and 2) actually play. This means that if you’re already familiar with the game, then this is definitely an accessory to the game that you’ll want.
The most egregious abuse of this implementation is the rulebook itself. I don’t intend to gloss over the absence of a tutorial here but this issue leaps right out at me. Firstly, with no two ways about it – the rules are a wall of text. At a quick glance I can see no less than 21 chapters of rules and 4 addenda. While the iPad is a great device for reading, it is a terrible device for trying to read about something that has spatial interactions that you’ve never played before. Without any illustrations or other visual guides it is a monster to try to chew and swallow.
Perhaps the worse offense though is the fact it’s clear that the text is just a cut and paste from the physical rule book. The entire book is filled with redundant instructions from how players can manage the distribution of physical monsters and rules about dice rolling. This is more than just an oversight, it’s sloppy. There’s even niggly things for me in seeing the extensive use of a serif font for an electronic medium, which is a typesetting no no. The ruleset could be much better served if it provided a visual overview, a summary of the flow of the game, and a list of the available decisions that a player can make. The iPad can take care of all the calculations, we don’t necessarily need to know that minutiae. All of this could be forgiven if it only had a tutorial.
[Edit: these are now slightly less redundant as you have the ability to observe the dice rolls and their impact on the game.]
However, I will credit the game for its design and its interface
, despite a lack of tutorial. The visuals of the game are fairly detailed and the transitions between scenes and screens is very well done. The audios of the game are nice and dramatic with an almost tribal almost baroque drum beat giving its tattoo to your march of war.
[Edit:] Since its release, Titan has implemented a video tutorial, which navigates you through most of the important features of the game. Having watched the tutorial I felt competent enough to play without having to ask big existential questions. I think the biggest hurdle about the game has been lifted and more people will be able to get into the game. Of course, this doesn’t meant you’ll understand the strategy necessary to win the game, but that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. I must admit though, being from Australia the accent on the narrator is really strong for me, and it might have been advisable to go for a more accent-neutral speaker.
6/10: Until this is fixed, this will only be a game for existing fans and those really keen war game fans who may have never discovered this in the first place. If you are a casual gamer, look elsewhere.
8/10: Having overcome its major obstacle and impediments I am happy to say that this has become a far more interesting game.Titan,