Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Best Games I Brought Home From GenCon: Cyclades: Titans

For more than a month, now I've been posting about games and noting that they may not be the best games I brought home from GenCon.

This is, by the way, not to cast any sort of aspersion on those games.  I did not bring a single bad game home. It's just that the games we had in the booth this year featured an unusually strong selection.

But three games from this year will, I think, hit the table more than the others. If it's left up to me. And, now that Essen is upon us, it's about damn time I actually just told you about my favorite games from this year's crop.

Well, three games and one expansion.

It's important to note that these are in no particular order. I think all three are equally good for completely different reasons.

Those three are Abyss, Hyperborea, and Cyclades: Titans.

This week, I'm going to talk about Cyclades: Titans. I'll talk about the other two in coming weeks.

Those of you who saw me at GenCon probably saw me running demos of just one game.  Cyclades: Titans. I did brief demos of some of our other games (Black Fleet and Madame Ching being the two I did the most demos for).

Those of you who know me from home know that I'm a big fan of Cyclades.  It's not a perfect game, but I do think it's an often-overlooked gem. The first expansion - Cyclades: Hades fixed many of the issues with the game and made it a deeper and richer experience.  But I have one friend at home who won't play it.  "I shouldn't have to win an auction in order to move my troops," he argues.

Cyclades: Titans changes this. It also completely replaces the board with a new double-sided board. Instead of focusing on a host of smaller islands, the game is now based on one or two larger islands (depending on the number of players). And Kronos, the father of most of the Gods, also makes an appearance as an additional God on whom players may bestow their offerings. There are five powerful artifacts which are shuffled into the creature deck, pieces for a sixth player, and a handful of "specialized" Metropolises.

The new board focuses the game more on army movement. It doesn't devalue Poseidon at all, however, because travel by boat is still the fastest way to get from one space to another. And there are several islands with significant income which are not available without the aid of Poseidon. Kronos doesn't have is own type of building available - he just adds (for free) a building of one of the Gods which was resolved before him. And you can buy a Titan with the favor of Kronos.

The biggest change to the game comes from the titans themselves. The Titans function like generals - they allow you to move your armies without the favor of Ares. At first glance, this seems to devalue Ares, but you still need the favor of Ares to build armies in the first place.  Yes, you can move a Titan without an army, but he functions just like a normal troop (other than when you are allowed to move him).

The artifacts serve to slow the Pegasus-seeking strategy that the base game often turns into. At the same time, they provide a new win condition: If you can collect all five, you win!

As to the sixth player: The game rules mandate that a six-player game is a team game (players divide into teams of two). In theory, you can play a six-player free-for-all. But I very much do not recommend it, because there aren't enough spaces on the board to reasonably capture (or build) enough structures to get even one metropolis with that many people fighting for space.

The game is compatible with the Hades expansion, but the rules warn that using both expansions together will lead to a very long game.

I spent four days straight teaching (and occasionally playing) this game. And I'm not sick of it.  There aren't many games I can play so continuously.

In short: I recommend this expansion. If you were a fan of the original, this brings more to the table.  If you were not a fan of the original, then it might change your mind (depending on why you aren't a fan).


  1. Hello.I would like to ask if u can play titans exp with 2 players

    1. Nope. It needs at least three.

      It's really difficult to make an auction-based game that works with two players.