Back in November, I took some unboxing shots of Attack on Titan. Unfortunately, it sat, unplayed, on my shelf for quite some time after that with the craziness that is the holidays. Finally having a chance to sit down and play, I discovered a very competent deck builder with a movement mechanic that really brings the game to life.
Attack on Titan plays very similarly to other deck building games. You’ve got two types of currency which you’re using to acquire cards and defeat titans. The different with AoT is that there’s a spatial element to the game and players have to move around to purchase cards they want and to get to the titans to kill them. The goal of the game is to kill the four Archenemy Titans shuffled into the deck, each one harder than the last. You lose if a number of heroes are killed (depending on the number of players) or if all the walls are destroyed by the titans.
Let’s talk a bit about the walls, and they’re extremely important to gameplay. There’s five wall segments, each with 2 health each. During the game, cards will be placed at the segments which players can purchase using Power, one of the currencies in the game. The other currency, Move, allows you to move from segment to segment in order to purchase the cards that are inside the wall.
That’s right. There’s also outside the wall where titans will be placed. It costs an extra movement to move from inside to out or vise versa. Titans will damage the wall at the end of the round unless there’s a hero there to soak up the damage. Normal titans will do one point of damage to a wall, while Archenemy Titans will do 2. Heroes can take Wound cards to prevent this damage. Wounds are dangerous, though. If two or more come out into your hand, or in play, your hero dies and you need to pick a new one.
How do you kill these titans? Normal ones are easy. Move over to them and pay their cost with Power, just like any other card. Archenemy Titans are a bit harder. They’ve got health that needs to be taken down with Power before you can pay their cost for a kill-shot. They also slowly regenerate between rounds. On top of that, you’ve got a deck of Titan cards to draw from when you attempt a kill-shot that can stop you in your tracks. These can add cost to a titan or screw with your attack in several other ways.
That’s the barebone basics of the game. Each hero also has their own special power, titans have ambush powers that are resolved as soon as they come in play, and Archenemy Titans have ongoing powers that resolve at the end of the round. There’s also cards you can keep in your hand that can stop and ambushes power from resolving. Unlike other deckbuilding games, it’s not always in your best interest to lay down all your cards on your turn. You may want to wait until that Titan on Attack card is played before revealing more cards from your hand.
Attack on Titan supports 1-5 players, but it’s really best with 2-3. Solo defeats the purpose of teamwork here, and 4-5 players just takes too much time.
The production value of Attack on Titan is most excellent. Character Cards are oversized and easy to read. The characters are a thick cardboard that fit tightly in their stands. Cards are glossy and sturdy, as are the Wall Cards and Tokens. The box insert, while a bit excessive in the space it provides, will surely come in handy if expansions are released.
The only issue I have with the components is the damage tokens. They’re so tiny, hard to pick up, and slide around the Archenemy Titan cards like nobody’s business. Dice really come in handy here, so if you’ve got some spares I’d use those to track titan damage.
Not just cards
It’s no surprise that I’m a fan of deckbuilding games. Games like Brass Empire, Demonslayer, Star/Hero Realms, and Ascension are big hits with me and my oldest son. Attack on Titan is no exception, and what really makes it shine is the movement mechanic and the cooperative nature of the game. Zipping around the walls fits very well with the Attack on Titan theme, and it’s ultra-satisfying to take down titans with the help of your fellow players.
That being said, I’m not the biggest fan of the Attack on Titan anime/manga. Thankfully you really don’t have to be to get enjoyment out of this one. Would it be cooler with a TMNT theme, or something else similar? Yes. It totally would.
As I said earlier, Attack on Titan works best with 2-3 players. While there is a solo campaign, it kind of falls flat. Playing with more than 3 players just feels like a slog, with games reaching the 2+ hour mark. 2 players is the absolute sweet spot with me.
The last bit I’d like to talk on is how challenging the game is. It’s not a walk in the park, and that’s a good thing. My oldest son and I lost more than we win. That just makes victory all the sweeter when we do pull it off. Of course it always feels like a victory when taking any Archenemy Titan down. They’re beasts, as they’re meant to be.
Bottom line: If you’re a fan of Attack on Titan or deckbuilders, this is one to try out. It’s also compatible with all of Cryptozoic’s other Cerberus engine games. I can’t comment on how well that works since I don’t currently own any other Cerberus games.
A copy of Attack on Titan was provided free for review by Cryptozoic.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.