Attack on Titan: Deck Building Game Review - Big Unfriendly Giants!

Ok this isn't exactly a Xmas themed game, but run with it! Maybe if you imagine all the Titan's are all killer Santas.............no that's not going to help either! Anyway, I'll make it plainly clear now I've not watched more than 10 minutes of Attack on Titan. So I don't know the characters and as far as I know, the plot is about big giants eating people! I'm sure there's more to it than that, but who knows maybe I'll find time to watch it once I've got through Luke Cage during the Marvel/DC Midseason break.

Cryptozoic have not been my go-to publisher for deck builders despite their impressive range of licenses used in their games. The theme strength tends to vary, but the mechanics seem to work fine. They also boast that you can combine the sets no matter what they are, but seriously does anyone do that? Has anyone tried to combine Lord of the Rings with DC Comics with Football?

Now they are tackling Attack on Titan, attempting to retain the anime theme and introduce a spatial element of moving around locations. Sounds interesting, maybe it will spark me further to watch the show? Or will it be just another deck builder among hundreds?




Designer: Matt Hyra
Publisher: Crytozoic
Age: 15+
Players: 1-5
Time: 60-120 minutes
RRP: £39.99


From Board Game Geek



The last human city is under attack by giant, fearsome Titans and it's up to your team to stop them!
Based on the action from the world-renown Attack on Titan anime and manga series, in the cooperative Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game you and your fellow players will battle relentless Titans for humanity's very survival. Collect the weapons and tactics you need, then test your mettle on the wall before it's too late.
Play as Eren, Mikasa, Armin and many others as you struggle to keep the Titans at bay. New to this Cerberus Engine game is movement. The location of your Hero in the game area matters. Protect the walls or watch them crumble, but do not lose hope, no matter the odds and no matter who among you falls to the onslaught. It may soon be up to you to land the killing blow that will turn the tide of battle...

MUST HAVE BEEN A SHORT SERIES


We're not talking a big box here, but even so there's plenty of space remaining after you've unboxed it all and even if you bothered with sleeves, you're still have plenty taken up by plastic. It's not entirely clear from the dividers which cards are meant to go in which area so you're free to allocate as you see fit.

There's no artwork as such as all of the images are stills taken from the series. However they're pretty good stills and being an anime, they're certainly bright and striking on the cards themselves. The graphic design is fairly easy to follow though you have to keep remembering to ignore the points value all the time because it's only there solely for if you're going to combine sets together, again are there many people who do that?

Aside from that you've got a few standees with some oversized hero cards. The first print run of this set also contains a hero promo to add to the selection, not that I had any idea who the female character was anyway. If you're a fan of the series though, you'll easily spot references and recognise characters and Titans. I played my games with a friend who had watched the series and even though it's not his favourite anime ever, he still was able to instruct me on who everyone was. However this does mean that if you're completely new to the series, you won't get anything that's going on with these cards.

And you'll certainly have plenty to look at on the table. Cards pile up pretty quickly in the location spaces so you'll have to keep checking what is in each pile unless you've got a big table and can splay them out. Unfortunately there's not a ton of variety in these cards alone, which makes me feel it was more intended for combining with other sets unless some expansions are on the way - but I can't see they would have much material to do that.



TEAM BUNNY HOPPING


A change from the norm for dedicated deckbuilders is that you now have locations where your characters move around. Depending which side of the wall you're on will dictate if you're attacking Titans or buying cards, of which you can only buy in the location you're at. This was my favourite aspect of the game as it made a nice change from simply buying from a row of cards. Now you had to balance out wanting to grab the cards you wanted vs being in the right place for Titan attacks. I look forward to more deck builders incorporating this (you listening Upper Deck?)

There's a strong sense of co-operation here forced on you by the game as it's physically impossible for one person in a group to carry the game for everyone. The basic Titan enemies can be taken out by a single person, but when you go up against those Archenemy Titan's you need friends to help. Their heal rate is a pain and having to not only weaken them, but also then have enough power to deal the final blow before they heal again. That takes some team-work not to mention a lot of luck in getting the right cards in your hand. That's certainly something to mention, you can get royally screwed by luck sometimes if a bunch of Titan's suddenly appear when you don't want them to.


UNDER SIEGE


Attack on Titan ends when you've defeated all 4 Archenemy Titans. There lies the biggest issue with this game. This takes a LONG time. Our first game with 4 players took 2 hours before we called it a day knowing we had no chance of beating the last Titan with a character death taking place. That's insane. Imagine if we had 5 players! With less players that time reduces, but not by a lot. It just takes a while to get through that deck constantly updating the card piles and having to deal with mini-Titan's all the time.

Playing this in solo mode will be the quickest way to play it, but it's dull as ditchwater as that teamwork element is then completely lost. A variant exists in the rule book where you only fight 3 Archenemy Titan's instead of 4. The game will be a little easier using this, but I still recommend it as the third Titan is still pretty hard to take down and you'll cut a good chunk off the length.

Making it a little easier is not a bad thing though. This is one hard deck builder. You need a lot of power to whittle down those Titan's and you're trying to use that same currency to buy cards. On top of that you're having to flip over a special "attack" card every time you fight an Archenemy titan which has some random negative effect occur including boosting the health of the Titan. So you sometimes have to over-spend or risk everything going to waste and when that happens it's such a huge tempo hit to your game.



VERDICT ON ATTACK ON TITAN



Attack on Titan is one of the more interesting deck builders that I've seen in Cryptozoic's range mainly due to the spatial element that the Walls provide, adding to the tactical choices you make each turn. There is definitely a strong emphasis on co-operation removing the common issue of one player beating the game by themselves, however this also means that it doesn't take much for the whole group to fail and with a game as tough as this, you can't afford to slack off.

The theme is fairly well represented and lovers of the show will instantly recognise characters, titans, allies as they come into play, but a newbie is unlikely to understand any references. The biggest issue however is the length. A 4-5 player game can easily take 2 hours if you do well and that's just far too long. The short game variant is a must. Playing it solo is also very dull when compared to the teamwork interactivity that comes with a multiplayer experience.

It's not bad overall, but the length is just too much for such a tricky deck builder. I think fans of the series are going to get the most enjoyment out of this, but for anyone else, it's a pass.



BROKEN RATING - 5 Squished Civilians (6 with the variant or if you're a fan)




YOU WILL LIKE ATTACK ON TITAN IF:


You are a big fan of the series and want a game that tries to respect the license.


You enjoy deck builders and like the additional spatial element this introduces.


You want a big challenge!



YOU WILL NOT LIKE ATTACK ON TITAN IF:


You don't enjoy long deck builders - this one far outstays its welcome without the variant.


You feel the table space needed to keep it all together is too much.


You feel there's not enough variety in the base box.


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