Titans. Powerful creatures; majestic, even. As deadly as they are enormous.
If only their power could be harnessed for greater things than destruction. Things like… racing at breakneck speeds across mystical landscapes for glory and prizes!
Well sir and/or madame and/or your majesty, that’s exactly what you get to do in a little game called Titan Race.
How It Plays
Titan Race pits up to 6 players against each other in an aggressive and dangerous race to the finish line. The first player to complete three laps and cross that finish line claims victory!
To begin, the first player rolls the dice – one per player. They must choose one, resolve it, then pass the remaining dice to the next player. This player then chooses one of those dice (without re-rolling any of them), resolve it, and so on. When there is only one die left, instead of being forced to choose that die, the player picks up all the dice and re-rolls them again, starting the cycle afresh.
Each side of the die corresponds to a specific set of moves and actions:
- RED: Move one space forward and place a trap in any of the 3 spaces behind you.
- BLUE: Move one space forward and one space diagonally, in either order.
- GREEN: Move two spaces diagonally (both in the same direction) and damage an adjacent Titan
- YELLOW: Move two spaces forward
- BROWN: Move three spaces diagonally (all in the same direction)
- PURPLE: Choose any of the 5 actions, but lose a life point.
Each Titan has a unique power that can be used once per turn, such as laying a trap, swapping places with an adjacent Titan, or dealing damage. In addition, players have access to Bonus cards, which can be played to grant additional abilities or protections.
Any time a player steps into a lightning bolt space, they may pick up a Bonus card, although there is a hand limit of 2.
If you slam into another Titan, you deal damage to them, but you also push them forward.
When a Titan runs out of life points, they’re knocked out. They’ll have to sit out one turn, but still choose a die (preventing another player from using it) while they’re out. After a round, they regenerate to full health and are back in the game. Incidentally, if you choose a die for your action that matches your Titan’s color, you regain a life point.
Each board has a unique feature that adds a special rule to the race. One board has ramps that let you jump over extra spaces. One has fire pits that deal extra damage. Another has magical spaces that let you re-roll your die for additional movement, at the cost of a life point of course.
The boards are relatively small, but these are magic worlds that loop back around on each other – move off the left side of the board, you appear on the right side. When you move off the end of the board, you increment your lap counter and move back to the start of the board. If you move off the end of the board on your third lap, you win the game!
Titan Rise, Titan Fall
I gotta say, these Titan Racers really know how to have a good time. Driving these titanic beasts around mystical lands, smashing into each other, setting fire to everything in sight? How about, pushing each other into lava pits!
This game is a master class in the “take that” genre, utilizing so many elements that make smashing your friends into smithereens fun, while sidestepping a lot of the common issues these sorts of games face.
For one, everyone gets in on the action. The board is small enough that you’re always close enough to another player to really do something; or at least, you can try to zoom ahead a little. All of the Titan abilities are powerful in some way, and fun to use, and usable. Combining them with bonus cards and the general crunchiness of running around on the board and you can get some pretty epic turns. I’ve seen nearly-full health Titans bite the dust in one turn thanks to a clever combination of cards, crashing, and power use.
But it doesn’t go too far. Those “take a Titan to 0 in one fell swoop” turns are few and far between, and pretty darn epic when they happen. Usually you’re knocking one or two points off a guy or gal and running on. There’s no point in being overly nasty to one player. Even when someone does get the ol’ K.O., turns run by so fast it barely takes any time at all to get back in the game, and you haven’t fallen too far behind.
I’ve played too many “take that” games which are just way too swingy, sending players from first place all the way to dead last with little hope of catching up. Often these games give players the ability to block or cancel out other player’s powers, and the winner is usually the player who just happens to get a turn when everyone’s just run out of stopping cards.
Titan Race doesn’t do that. Players jostle for position up and down the track; the infinite looping of the board keeps everyone relatively close, meaning the last-place guys can take a decent swipe at the first-place guys, but not in a magical deus-ex-machina kind of way. There’s barely any cancellation of powers here – only one card reflects an attack, and it can only send back 1 damage. A minor blow. Instead, the focus is on what you do. How can you get ahead? How can you smash your opponent to keep them from passing you? Where can you place traps to either slow the others down or force them to take damage?
Even more importantly, while doing this the game continually propagates forward to the end. The length does drag down into the muck when everyone’s fighting each other; even when you are, you tend to push each other forward, inching towards that finish line. Rare powers can move someone backwards, but not significantly. It’s a race to the finish line, and it really feels like a race.
The dice system works really well, too. It’s so simple, entertaining, and offers plenty to think about as you decide which die to choose. Rolling handfuls of dice is always fun in and of itself, and in this case you don’t need to worry about rolling the 5 instead of the 4. Every face of the die is useful in some way, it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you. Or, at the very least, blocking an opponent from their ideal move.
I mean, for what it is, the gameplay here is practically perfect. It’s not the kind of game I’m going to play every game night, but I’d never hesitate to bring it out.
The rulebook could use a little work, though. I mean, it’s mostly good – lots of illustrations and examples. But, it could stand to hold a few extra clarifications in certain sections. Mostly, it’s nothing significant – I had to assume and extrapolate a few things, but my assumptions were correct. It’s only that the clarifications would ease the uncertainty.
The biggest issue is that the rulebook leaves the overall turn structure rather unclear. I don’t know if there’s a typo or a missing line, but the rulebook definitely seems to imply that after the last player picks up the dice and re-rolls them, the first player then picks up the dice again instead of choosing from the remaining pool. It makes no sense, and my gaming group quickly reinterpreted the rules – but there’s definitely something big missing there. (I later clarified with the publisher the correct rule to ensure we got it right).
Other than that, though, my complaints are pretty small. I have one contention with the graphic design. If you choose a die matching your Titan’s color, you regain a life point, but this is the easiest rule to forget. Especially when you’re just thinking about crushing your opponents. On your Titan board, you have a space to place the die you choose for your action, and there is plenty of blank space next to it – so I’m wondering why not an icon matching the side of the die that gives you health back? Not only would it be a helpful reminder, but it would assist colorblind players who might have trouble matching the die color with their own Titan.
Other than that? I just wish the components and the board were about four times bigger. Sure, it’s a quick game with simple rules and the small box is easily portable. It’s just sort of naturally anti-climactic for a game with the word “Titan” in the title to be so tiny.
Oh well. At least the box isn’t four times larger than necessary for the components.
Also, aside from the side the components are fantastic. The Titan boards are substantial, the illustrations are grand, and the miniatures are nicely detailed and match the artwork pretty good. The boards come in 6 distinct color schemes, and the iconography is pretty darn easy to decipher.
Have I mentioned this game is great fun? So much smashing and crashing and racing, all in a 30-45 minute package. The rules are super easy to teach, and there’s tons of replay value – trying out new powers and playing on the 6 includes boards with special rules. All of the boards really change things up without being too complex, so that’s pretty cool. Can’t wait to see what expansions come out for this thing.
So if you like smashing, crashing, and clashing with your friends in a highly competitive, aggressive, take-that extravaganza that isn’t too mean and won’t drag on forever, well, you should already be ordering Titan Race.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Passport Game Studios for providing a review copy of Titan Race.