Friday, 19 January 2018

Titanomachia: Tactics and Strategy

Titanomachia is a strategy game, where the goal is to wreck the other players' Titans and Terrain, and to preserve your own. I've attempted to design it so that it handles asymmetry in the Titans via Terrain, so that a smaller Titan can bring more Terrain, effectively getting a bigger say in the battlefield. I also like the idea that two giant robots (or monsters...) going kaiju over a city have things to do besides smash each other; there should be incentive to smash the city to rubble too! Or to protect it...

So what do you need to do in Titanomachia? As a player you need to destroy enemy Titan systems, scoring its cost in victory points; destroy enemy Terrain, scoring its cost in victory points; and having your own Terrain on the board, scoring one victory point per Terrain marker of yours on the board at the end of the game.

While the board starts empty, the players populate it  with Terrain (usually buildings) by activating their Titan's Sensor systems. These Sensor systems can also be used in combination with Crew systems to swap Terrain with other Terrain, or with Weapon systems to improve that weapon's chances of inflicting crippling damage. Finally, as a reaction, sensors can improve a Titan's Initiative, improving their position when deciding who gets the next turn, or the next reaction. Sometimes it's not the best shot, but the first shot, and reacting with a Sensor system to pop the Titan's Initiative score up by a pip instead of holding onto it to roll more damage dice can mean the difference between getting the last shot or none at all.

Using Sensors to combo with Weapons usually lets you roll more damage dice, and improves your chances of inflicting crippling damage. Rolling 3D6 for damage dice, by having your Weapon effect and Sensor effect together equal or greater than 2x of the affected System's Armour means you have something near a 50% chance of rolling a Destroyed result (a 6) on one of them. Rolling more damage dice also means less to worry about from Shield markers negating them. But... If you hit a system that's heavily protected by Shield markers, or simply isn't worth much like Ablative Armour, then you're using that Sensor system in an action to score 1 point where you could have used it to detect a Large Building and score 5 points if it survived till the end of the game. And Large Buildings are pretty hardy (Armour 4, even a Plasma Howitzer only rolls 2D6 against one, so 11/36 chance of destroying it in one hit). Use a flank mounted Sensor system to detect it well away from your opponents' Titans and that could be an activation well spent.

That said, you could find yourself within range of an enemy Large Building with a Plasma Howitzer in your hand of cards, and your Initiative putting you third in the order of reactions before the opponent second in order of reactions can turn and put an opportunistic shot into your Plasma Howitzer and score 3 points. Maybe reacting with a Sensor system after they turn and before reacting with the Plasma Howitzer, puts you on par with that second-place opponent, and you can win the roll-off to see how reacts next and destroy the building to score 5 points as your next reaction before your Titan is violently disarmed. 

Primarily though, putting terrain in front of your opponents' paths of movement may prevent them from flanking you, or coming into range with their weapons, or protect a vulnerable flank, and if those are Small Buildings it becomes very situational whether it's worth a weapon activation to try to remove them, or a limb activation to move around them, or a jump jet activation to move over them. Large Buildings may be targets of opportunity, but positioned where the target would otherwise be your Titan's vulnerable Sensors or valuable Shields and you both keep your Titan functional for the next turn, and perhaps score another point at the end of the game.

Speaking of the end of the game, in Titanomachia the game faces a count-down. As players refuse to activate or react, or simply discard a card in their hand in hope of a better hand, the count-down moves toward the deadline of the game's end. The question, hopefully, becomes whether the players act with the cards and situation they have on hand, or risk ending the game sooner than they would have won, or even risk attempting to run out the game while they're ahead.

While Titanomachia is about time and space and material, as all strategy games are, it's also very much about direction, timing, and risk. The goal is not simply to smash the other player(s), but to get to the end of the game with the most points, and getting there faster than the other players can outscore you is a valid strategy. Hopefully smashing your opponent is also a valid strategy, and covering the board in suburbia or downtown core is as well.

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