All killer, no filler? Oh yes!
I love a good filler game. There are just some times where 20 minutes setup and a couple of hours of gameplay just seem like far too much effort. A couple of people that I game with have the attention span of… Ooooh shiny! What was I saying?
Oh yes, Titan Race neatly fits into the low price, big game bracket. It’s a light filler game which has something for me which most others don’t; playability for my kids. Fun Forge recommend players 8+ but I managed to play just fine with a 6 and 3 year old. Oh, and a 32 year old manchild too.
When I started playing games I was more for co-operative style games because of the lack of conflict between players. Titan Race utterly blew this out of the water though. I have found myself wanting to utterly decimate everyone, including my kids. I’m not sure what it is, but it awakens something primal that makes me want to smash the people I am playing with into insensibility. I am truly at a loss as to why it has brought out this level of aggression in me, but I feel worst of all because I really like it. I have even had crazy visions of flipping the board at the end and screaming “IN YOUR FACE!” to the other players.
Sorry, due to the magic of writing over time and editing you won’t have noticed but I had to go and check myself into a local rage clinic for a couple of weeks. I think I can go on with the review now. (Editor’s Note: We’re all a bit concerned about Chris. We really hope he can get better.)
Moving swiftly on…
The idea of Titan Race is that you’re a Titan Rider and you need to grab your trusty steed; which happens to be one of 6 behemoth’s from history/fantasy and then run through 3 laps of a course. A lap is completed by making it from the bottom of the board to the top. Sounds easy right? It would be if it wasn’t for those meddling kids! Since you and the other players are huge monsters, you can use their size and talents to try and stop your competitors from crossing the finish line before you. You can also through the course of Titan Race add traps to the course to set your friends (and likely yourself too) up for failure on later laps.
So how do you play it? Well, I am glad you asked! You will set up your course and all choose your Titan. You get the same amount of dice as players to start, so 3 players have 3 dice. You then need to nominate someone to roll to see who goes first. Conveniently, all of the Titans are colour coded so once the dice lands on your colour then you go first. You roll the whole of the dice collection, choose which move you want to make from the dice and then put this on your player board. It is really easy to pick up the symbolism of the dice and Titan Race has done an amazing job on making the gameplay as accessible as possible from the offset. So, you make your move and then pass the dice to the player on your left without re-rolling them. They will then choose which way they would like to move, pass all of the dice to another player to be re-rolled and then the process repeats. You have health on your board so you do have to face the possibility that you can be knocked out. If you are knocked out then you basically miss a turn; which can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Health can be lost by any number of combinations of other players barging you, traps set on the course, the course itself damaging you and dirty tricks you can put together after a little experience.
I started out by playing with 3 (and I use the term loosely) adults. The reason I’d count it as a filler game is that our first play through including learning the rules took about 35/40 minutes. Once we’d got to grips with it, then 3 laps can be done in around 20 minutes. Fun Forge have done an amazing job in jamming a lot of game into a “small box”. In the box you get: 6 courses, 6 miniatures which truly are miniature (they’re roughly 20mm) , 6 life tokens, 6 lap tokens and several trap tokens.
Does it run like the Grand National? Yes, with voilence…
One thing which I love about Titan Race is that you get a lot of different ways to play out of what you get in the box. Each of the 6 Titans you get play radically differently. The Titans you have are: Rassik, Grinder, Craken, Ragnarok, Slaugg and Chtooloo. Each Titan has a different special ability which can be used on all turns except the first, and these can vary from being able to swap places with any titans that are near you, to stealing the life from someone in your vicinity. There is also a massive amount of difference in the different courses to play as they’re all based on the home land of each of the titans. Each of the 6 courses has specific spaces which can cause you problems and add a different challenge to you. There’s a course which is covered in lava and you take damage if you land in it. But, there’s also a course covered in ice and if you land on one of the problem spots in there, your Titan just keeps moving (sliding) until he hits solid ground. Titan Race also throws bonus cards into the mix if you land on specific spaces which can mix the game up even further with weapons and forms of defense, and each one will help you in one way or the other. You can clear traps or do damage to people in front of you, you can swap spaces with another Titan if they’re close enough to you or if you’re really lucky you can pick up cards which will grant you invincibility for an entire turn.
The first couple of games we had, we played by the normal rules where you go through 3 laps (when you come off of the top of the board, you re-appear at the bottom) but later on we adopted the “Grand Slam” rule set where you add 3 courses together and race from one end to the other. Which also bring me nicely to another thing which I love about Titan Race; house rules. It is so adaptable that you can house rule lots of things. When I play with just 2 players, I will just give each player 2 dice to save swapping them all around. If you’re playing the Grand Slam then being able to put traps behind you is mostly redundant since mostly you move up the board spaced apart, so house rule to say the traps can go in any of the 6 spaces around you.
Artwork, Da vinci or drunken scribble?
Something I have glossed over so far is how great the artwork is. There has been quite a bit of time and effort put into making everything from the courses to the player boards and also the boost cards look visually stunning and eye-catching to younger players as well as seasoned gamers. It’s easy to see the fruits of Fun Forge’s labour in the artwork of Titan Race and is definitely another feather in the cap of what is already a solid game.
Whilst I try really hard not to make comparisons to other things when I play games there is one thing which keeps going through my mind as I play… “Titan Race is Mario Kart in carboard” and to that end, I am such a happy camper. Despite being one of those games which could well have ruined friendships, families, relationships and started wars it is still one of the best games ever made. Whilst I can’t say that Titan Race is one of the best board games ever made it is an excellent game and in fact currently tops my filler game of the year spot. It’s versatility, speed of play and accessibility to all make it a strong family game and so long as you don’t mind the conflict it’s also great for anyone to play. There is also an addictive quality about it… I found myself having 4 or 5 races in a game session, but also the other players share the same level of enthusiasm for it. Another fantastic point about Titan Race is that you actually need to think about how your actions will affect the game too, so it’s quite cerebral for such a quick and simple game. One stab at being spiteful to another player can easily lose you the race. I also think Titan Race scales to the amount of players really well. 6 players on the course at the same time would make craziness ensue but without losing any of the fun factor.
Is Titan Race a Winner? I’ll give you a hint… Yes!
So who is Titan Race for? As far as I can tell; anyone. I have been able to play with my 3 year old (with a little bit of help of course) and my much more savvy 6 year old and they both thoroughly enjoyed it. I am going to try and borrow someone’s Granny (for research purposes of course) as I am so confident about how playable it is that I think she’d love it too. The only type of gamer which may not like it so much are people who don’t deal with conflict too well, but I am one of those people and I have to say that it has seen a lot of table time so far.
Since my son has played Titan Race (several times) and has made quite a point about how much he likes it, I asked him for a quote to close this review for me:
“I loved it, and I rate it 5 stars. It is the best game in the world”. Awwwww.
If Titan Race sounds like it could be for you (I think you’ll love it as much as I did) then check it out here – Titan Race
Also, if like my semi-coherent rambling, then check out the review I did for Dragon Tides (Shameless Self Promotion FTW!)
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I am just a regular guy that fell into board gaming. That's why I am no longer allowed in my local Toys R Us. I'm a huge fan of deckbuilding games and games with unusual themes or mechanics. OK, maybe I'm not that regular after all.