If you like two players' tactical combat, then you should take a close look at Titans Tactics. A quick, three-on-three fight for supremacy, Titans Tactics is laser-focused on quick, tactical battles between two players, each controlling 3 Champions. The arena that the battles are fought in is small and relatively nondescript, but the action is exciting, and there are a few neat touches in Titans Tactics mechanics that set it apart from the crowd.
Titans Tactics Uses Luck Correctly
The first thing that Titans Tactics gets right is the absence of luck. Combat isn't determined by the roll of the dice nor by any other luck-involved method. Players have complete control of how to attack and can see exactly how much damage will be dealt based entirely on their choices. This doesn't mean that luck/dice-based combat is inherently bad, but Titans Tactics' card-based system is slick and works wonderfully. This system changes the focus from the need to roll well to the need actually to play well.
Champions and Their Abilities
Each Champion in Titans Tactics has three skills, with each skill requiring a card or cards of matching color to be played in order to activate that skill and one of six Perks that give them special abilities. This means that players have to manage not only which skills they wish to activate immediately but which skills they wish to activate in the future. Burning through cards to go on an all-out offensive onslaught may seem like a good idea until the realization hits that each option taken in the present reduces the number of options that can be taken in the future, and while there are ways to draw more cards, a player that overextends and leaves themselves with no options with which to respond to their opponent can find themselves at a serious tactical disadvantage.
Another excellent mechanic of Titans Tactics is the fact that Champions are never eliminated from the game board. Many skirmish games will see players meticulously build their squad, kit them out, and deploy them only to see some of those units destroyed and removed from the game entirely before the player even got a chance to really put them to use.
Titans Tactics is More Tug-o'-War than Actual War
Instead of a unit-elimination method of scoring points, Titans Tactics uses a tug-of-war style system to keep track of how much damage is done in a round. If one player scores one point of damage, they slide a Balance token towards them on the track, with the token moving closer to their end of the board as more and more damage is done. The token moves towards their opponent's side of the board as their opponent deals damage, giving a hotly contested game of Titans Tactics a crunchy, back-and-forth as players fight to keep the token on their side of the board. If, at the end of a round, the token resides on one player's side of the board, that player scores a Momentum point, and the first player to reach 3 Momentum points wins the game.
If, during the course of a game, one player is dominant enough to get the Balance token all the way to the end of the track on their side of the board, the game immediately ends. While difficult to do, it can become obvious that one player has allowed themselves to get into a hole that they can't or won't be able to work back out of. Thankfully, a typical game of Titans Tactics plays in 15 minutes or so, so even an inevitable loss won't drag out to the point where it isn't worth finishing a game.
Factions Available in Titans Tactics
With five factions available, each containing six different Champions in the main box and an additional three per faction available in the Titans Tactics: Champions expansion, there is a ton of tactical and strategic depth on offer in the game. Trying to concoct a winning combination of Champions based on their skills, activation requirements, and Perks can be nearly as fun as playing the game itself. The game is essentially just combated though, so players looking for a story or objective-based conflict will need to look elsewhere. For those who want a quick playing, knockdown, drag-out fight using interesting Champions that can be put together in a wide variety of combinations, Titans Tactics and Titans Tactics: Champions are well worth your time.
The components and cards in Titans Tactics are good quality, and the art style is well done. The one nitpicks I have with the components is with the Status Tokens. The Status Tokens are double-sided, with each token having a different Status on the front than on the back. This is fiddly and means that you often have to search through the tokens to find the one that you need. It isn't a deal breaker but can be rather annoying.
Is Titans Tactics Worth Your Money?
Titans Tactics uses a simple yet innovative formula to create a complex and engaging tactical skirmish experience. Card advantage and smart planning come to the forefront of the game. Because the Champions are never killed or removed from the game, you are never left feeling as though you lost your best unit before you got the chance to use them properly. Titans Tactics removes luck from the equation completely and places its focus on player choice and skill, exactly where it should be for a game like this.
The copy of Titans Tactics and Titans Tactics: Champions used for this review was provided by Imbalanced Games.