Saturday, 12 March 2016

Old Stuff Day 2016 - Titan Strike!

Once again I missed Old Stuff Day on 2nd March. This is a chance to look back over your blog and revisit or promote an old post.

Anyway, ten days late, but I thought I'd still give it a go. I was reorganising my photo folders this evening, and came across a few pictures from 2004. A memory surfaced that I'd used them as part of a blog post I wrote then (another blog, another time), and I tracked it down. Here it is, from April 2004:

One of the pleasures of Thomas coming round on a Saturday night is the chance to get out golden oldies from my game collection. Last night I rummaged out an old SPI sci-fi game called Titan Strike! This is a two player game set in the 22nd century, and covering tactical conflict on the eponymous moon of Saturn. Published in 1979 the game steers away from the classic USA/USSR* pairing and instead pits the European Economic Community (EEC) aganst the Hegemony of East Asia (HEA). Never mind that the EEC has become the EU since 1979; perhaps it changes back at come stage. Or EEC means something else - Empire of European Countries, perhaps. And is the HEA run by China or Japan? Or neither? Decide for yourself.


The game? Oh yes. I bought it 25 years ago and hadn't played it once. I'd still contrived to lose some counters, though, so had to replace them with the cunning use of some blanks, a scanner, some glue and a coloured crayon. But the game? Ok, Ok. It's not too bad. Some of the mechanisms are a little fiddly, and I suspect that it was designed, tested and released in a hurry (like most software I have been involved in), but it plays fine. We managed the first two scenarios and managed to try just about all of the rules doing so. I'd like to try the big 'every counter in the game' third scenario sometime soon.


What to add to it? After all, all games of this nature need things added to it. Tinkering with games is half of the fun. I do have an idea for a couple of new scenarios, including the classic Alien Artifact one. And I can't help thinking that one or both sides might benefit from the giant cybernetic battle-tanks called Ogres so beloved of Steve Jackson Games. Building them into the game could be fun. This is a game crying out for some new unit types as well, I think.


The moral is that it's worth keeping every game you buy. You just never know when you are going to play it ...

I notice that, at the time, I added some comments on Boardgame Geek. I was much better at  doing things like tat in those days:

I bought this game 25 years ago, but hadn't played it at all until tonight. It's not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it was an amusing diversion for a Saturday evening, and we'd certainly play it again sometime.

The rules played well, and the turn sequence was fine once we got used to it (Fire, Move, Close Combat). Units need to be hit twice before they die, and recover at the end of the turn, so you need to plan your combats well, and make sure you overwhelm the enemy where you can. You need to keep your wits about you remembering which units have moved and fired each turn, but the low unit density doesn't make this too hard.

A few observations:

The HEA units seem to be generally better than those of the EEC. The EEC get more of them which helps balance this out in the second and third scenarios, but it does make the first a little unbalanced. Be aware of this.

The rules also make mention of skymobile infantry a couple of times, but they aren't in the game. I guess they were trimmed out at some stage, but the editing process didn't catch them. One of the scearios give the HEA victory points for killing SSM units, despite the fact that the EEC doesn't have any in the scenario.

Firing is simultaneous, with units that are disrupted or destroyed during the phase still being able to shoot. So it does seem a bit odd that you still roll for initiative and alternate firing on a unit by unit basis. There doesn't seem to be any point to this most of the time.

I don't think I've played it since. But I love the colours of the counters and the map.

Oh, and in case you;re wondering, Thomas is the grandson of our next-door neighbours in those days. When we moved into that house back in 2000 our neighbours said that their grandson, who was aged about ten then, was into gaming with those little soldiers, but had no-one to play the games with at home. They wondered if I'd like to help him out. He became a regular visitor, most Saturday evenings, for several years, and we played all sorts of games; OK, mostly HOTT, but other things as well when the fancy took us. I think he's a police-officer now.

3 comments:

  1. Cool, I've got Titan Strike and this will encourage me to have a go at it. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Jay

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  2. I too have Titan Strike and I fondly remember is playing is about a dozen times or so in the 80s and enjoying it a lot. Especially trying to resist wasting time to destroy the dam? lava wall? but failing to do so. I cannot remember any of the issues you mention - not to say they were there, I just cannot rememeber! It is on my high list to play again sometime.

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  3. HEA is obviously run by North Korea; the higher quality of their units supports this theory.

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