Titan Race is the latest FunForge release in their medium box line, being the same size as Samurai Spirit. It is distributed in the US by Passport Game Studios. Titan Race is a dice-driven family-style racing game for 2-6 players, ages 8+, in which each player controls a rider and his mount vying to be the first to cross the finish line over various racing circuits. The game plays in 20-30 minutes depending on the number of players.
OVERVIEW OF COMPONENTS
Titan Race comes with 3 double-sided boards, with each side having a racing circuit from one of the Titan’s home universe.
Racing Circuit Game Boards: Ang’lieh – The Eye of the unfathomable void of the Deep One, Dead Man’s Lagoon, and The ruins of Ban-Kog
There are 6 action dice, with different actions that the players will be able to perform. These dice are the main way the Titans move around the boards.
There are 6 Titan boards and 6 Titan figurines that players will be using during the game. There are also 6 Titan ability cards, a deck of 13 bonus cards and some small markers and tokens that are used in the game. All of the figurines, dice, cards and tokens all come in a well-designed insert that keeps everything in place.
Titan figurines used in the game.
OVERVIEW OF GAMEPLAY
The goal of the game is to be the first to cross the finish line and become the next legend of Neverworld. This is done by combining dice actions, Titan abilities, and bonus cards to perform the best actions to give you the most advantage over your opponents.
The setup of the game is very simple. Choose one of the circuits to race on from the 6 to choose from and place it in the center of the table. In this review, the circuit shown is The icy plains of Estengaard. Each of the 6 different circuits have special conditions that affect the race. Each of the circuits is explained in the rulebook with illustrations. Each player chooses a Titan, takes the figurine, the Titan board, and the Titan ability card and places them in front of themselves, placing a lap counter token on the Lap 1 space and a Life token, heart side up on the highest space of the Titan’s life gauge.
Titan board with lap counter and life gauge tokens
Shuffle the bonus cards, deal 1 face down to each player and place the rest of the bonus cards in a deck off to the side of the circuit board. Take all of the trap tokens and place them in a pile on the opposite side of the circuit board. Players take their figurines and place them just below the circuit board. Place a number of dice on the table equal to the number of players. The unused dice and Titan components can be returned to the box. To determine the first player, roll one of the dice, whatever the color of the symbol rolled, the player with the matching colored Titan is the first player. If the color rolled does not match any Titans in play, re-roll the die until one matches.
To best understand how the racing goes, there are a few things that need to be explained. First of all, each Titan has a special ability as denoted on their ability card. With the exception of the first turn, each player can use their Titan’s ability once per turn.
Titan ability card
The racing circuit boards are infinite loops that wrap around the opposite sides, meaning if a player’s figurine moves off of one of the sides of the board, it will reappear on the opposite side of the board. Each board is composed of 12 rows and 12 columns, with points on the board called spaces. These spaces are either a dot or a special spaces that either have an icon for bonus cards or one of that circuit’s special effects. Each board does have coordinates to assist in movement.
Spaces on the board. Note the dots, bonus card and special effect spaces
The way game play works for the starting turn is: the starting player rolls all of the action dice used in the game and a draft will occur. The starting player selects one of the action dice to use, places that die on their Titan board. The player then chooses the space where his or her Titan will start the race from the 3 spaces in the first row, and then performs the action on their dice. The next player will choose one of the remaining dice, without re-rolling and places that die on their Titan board, chooses a starting space and performs that action. This will continue until the last player has only the one die remaining. The last player re-rolls all of the dice, including the ones already used and chooses one of the action dice, chooses their starting space, and then performs the action of the die. During the first turn players cannot use ability cards or play bonus cards.
The action die is placed on the Titan board in the upper left space and then the action is performed.
Starting with the second turn, the dice drafting will be the same, however, there are a few changes. If a player chooses a die that has the matching color of their Titan, that Titan immediately gains a life point before taking their turn. The players may now use their Titan abilities and play Bonus cards, choosing the order in which they do them. Only one Bonus card may be played per turn and a player may only have 2 Bonus cards in hand at a time. When a Bonus card is played it is discarded. The action die must be selected and the action taken. All of the actions require movement, and the Titan must move forward in the game, never backwards unless there is an effect from either an ability card or a bonus card. If a player chooses to use their Titan’s ability, simply flip the ability card over as a reminder that the ability was used. The next turn, simply turn the ability card face up.
The area surrounding the Titans is divided into 3 zones and these zones are used with ability and bonus cards. When a zone is defined as Before, it refers to the 3 spaces in front of the Titan, the one straight ahead, and the 2 spaces connected diagonally. If the space goes off of the board, make sure to refer to the opposite side of the board where it continues. The zone defined as Behind, refers to the 3 spaces in back of the Titan, the one directly behind, and the 2 diagonal spaces. Again be mindful of the spaces that wrap around to the opposite side of the board. The zone defined as Adjacent refers to the 6 spaces surrounding the Titan.
Some of the Bonus cards in the game
During movement, there are a few things to take into account. If you move forward off of the top of the board, your figurine will reappear at the bottom of the board and that player will advance their lap token on their Titan board. If a player moves off of the side of the board, their figurine will wrap around and reappear on the opposite side of the board. Also, there can never be more than one Titan on a space. If you enter a space where another Titan is, you push it and trigger a chain reaction. Whenever you enter a space where another Titan is, you will push it forward the number of spaces you move towards that Titan. The pushed Titan loses 1 life point and adjusts that on their life gauge on the Titan board. There may be several pushed titans in a chain reaction and all pushed titans lose 1 life point and will move in the direction you moved to push it.If a pushed Titan moves forward off of the board or back off of the bottom of the board, the player will adjust their lap token accordingly to show what lap they are on.
If during movement, a player passes through or lands on a space that has the Bonus card symbol, that player will draw a Bonus card. This can even happen as a result of a chain reaction when it is not that player’s turn. A player can at most have 2 Bonus cards in hand, so if a player already has 2 Bonus cards and moves over a symbol, that player will not draw a Bonus card.
Some of the die actions allow a player to place a trap on the board in one of the 3 spaces behind a player. Grinder’s ability also allows the placement of traps.
Trap tokens on the board
It is possible to place a trap on an empty space or a space occupied by a Titan. If the space is empty place the trap token on the board and when a Titan enters the space, that Titan will lose a life point and discards the trap token. If there is a Titan in the space you wish to place the trap, it triggers immediately and the Titan loses a life point. The trap token is not placed on the board, but is discarded. Traps can be destroyed by die actions, Bonus cards, or Titan abilities.
Whenever a Titan’s life point gauge reaches zero, that Titan is K.O.’d. Flip the life token over to the skull side and lay your figurine on its side on the board. On your next turn, you will still draft a die, but will take no actions or movement. A K.O.’d Titan can still be the target of Titan abilities and Bonus cards and can be pushed in chain reactions.It is possible for a K.O.’d Titan to be pushed over the finish line and win. Since a Titan is already K.O’d, it is immune to taking damage while it is down. On the player’s next turn, place the figurine back up, restore the life point guage to maximum health, and place the token back to heart side up.
A K.O.’d Titan
The game ends immediately as soon as a Titan completes the 3rd lap and the lap counter gets moved to the Trophy. That Titan is the winner.
There are some Variants for the game to accommodate 2 players, team play, and also a circuit called the Grand Slam where three circuits boards are placed one after the other in the direction of the race, offering different effects over the course of one race.
When I first saw the initial artwork and announcement for the game Titan Race, I was interested in the game. There was nothing to go on about the game other than the title and some awesome artwork. When it did release I was looking forward to giving the game a try. I have since played the game a number of times, trying each of the Titans and playing on each of the different circuits, and even trying the variants.
It is very apparent that Titan race was designed in an attempt to capture the feel of a popular racing video game called Mario Kart. Although not an exact duplicate, people familiar with the video game will recognize the inspiration, especially with the different circuits all having different effects.
Titan Race at the table
Let me first discuss the production value of the game. First of all, the box design is well done. I like the artwork on the cover and the imaging on the back of the box. Inside the box, the insert is great. Everything stays organized when the game is stored either flat or on its edge. The action dice are well made, with some good weight to them and nice deep engraving.The figurines are nice and there is detail on them, although the images of the figurines on the back of the box have some shading added so they look better on the back of the box than the actual figures. But like I said, they are nice, especially given the price point of the game. The artwork on the cards and Titan boards is phenomenal and lends to the theme of the game. The Titan boards are nice and thick and are laid out well. The circuit boards, I have some issues with. First of all, I appreciate the fact that the game itself is contained in a small box, however, the circuit boards themselves are too small for how the game plays out. The graphic design on them makes the boards look very busy and it can be difficult to follow movement paths on some of the circuits, especially the ruins of Ban-Kog. Although grid coordinates are marked on the sides of the boards, it takes some effort to read the numbers and letters when trying to get a bearing while wrapping around the board because they are printed in a small font. When playing with 6 players, the game board becomes quite congested with 6 figurines, plus trap tokens. Also the little trap tokens, life point tokens, and lap tokens are quite small, so caution needs to be taken to avoid losing them. The rulebook does explain everything, however, the information is scattered throughout and it takes some navigating the rulebook to catch everything. For example, unless you go toward the back of the rulebook, you will not know that each circuit had special effects.So i wish it was better organized. Also, there is no reference card for the die actions, so the rulebook has to be open to that page, at least until people are familiar with all of the actions. There are plenty of illustrations in the rulebook, so there are examples of gameplay. This is useful especially when trying to explain the board wrapping movement.
Playing the game itself is very straightforward but there are a couple of hiccups. For the most part the rules are simple, but again, due to some organizational issues with the rules, using Ftag’hn & Chtooloo can be confusing especially in remembering that if that player chooses the purple die face, their Titan is not affected by either gaining or losing life points. These are explained in exceptions in different places in the rulebook. The other point that may be confusing, especially to younger players is the wrapping around the board to the opposite side. Since lateral movement is on a diagonal, it takes some getting used to get a bearing on where the Titan reappears on the other side of the board. Turns do move very quickly, so the game does move along well and I do like the flexibility of how to resolve the order of actions I can take in a turn. Not all of the Titans seem balanced when playing at lower player counts, since there is a lot more open space on the board, limiting some of the Titan abilities. Speaking of Titan abilities, Grinder is one Titan who can really deliver a punch if he has the Surprise trap Bonus card. If that player happens to move to an adjacent space of another Titan, using that Bonus Card and the Titan ability Tribal Trap, they springs traps immediately on the other player, dealing 2 points of damage, which can be fun since this game has a lot of Take That! to it. I like the chain reaction aspect of the game, giving simulation to a real wreck.
Overall, this game is for kids and that is welcome in the hobby game marketplace. Young players, ages 7 to about 11 , will like the whole move around the board and try to smash-up your opponents and try to K.O. them. Each of the circuits presents a different effects for the game, so it does add to replayability. So for the design of the game, it works for young players. As we move to an older audience the game quickly loses its steam and appeal because as cool as the game may look, there is not enough there to warrant repeat plays. In its essence this is a roll and move game with a choice of how much to move and where. Not all of the choices to move may be good ones, so at that point the players are just along for the ride, because your action choices are limited and some players have a larger pool of options to choose from. There is a lot of luck involved in the game due to the randomness of the dice and the luck of the draw for Bonus cards. In addition, sometimes it takes a non-optimal move to get into position to use Bonus Cards or Titan abilities. And since there is no way to discard the Bonus cards to get new ones, players are stuck with what they have. Fortunately, the game does not last a long time so it is over quickly, and many times it is the start player crossing the finish line first. I will say that playing the Grand Slam variant, does change things up with the varying effects that it seems to better distribute the winner.
While Titan Race tries to present itself as a fun racing game, outside of kids playing it, I am having a hard time in seeing a receptive audience. It is a juvenile type design that lacks the substance to warrant it hitting the table beyond the initial play session. Families with young players may consider having this game in their library, but there are better options out there. Given that it is very similar to a popular video game, in this case playing the video game is a better experience.
DISCLAIMER: This copy of Titan Race was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.