Jobby tries his hand at solo, spaceship wargaming. Here’s how he got on…
Wars in Spaaace!
Astra Titanus, by Chris Taylor, is available from Victory Point Games. It’s a solo game in which the player controls the Terran Defence Force (TDF) who are trying to protect humanity from the Titans. The Titans are huge spaceships hellbent on destroying everything.
In the game, the Titan is controlled by a deck of cards which say where it will go and what it will fire its weapons at. The player controls numerous smaller spacecraft and must try to destroy the Titan before it reaches its objective and destroys it. The game comes with eight scenarios which offer special rules to keep the game interesting.
Prepare to Launch!
This was my first go at wargaming since playing Risk, Kings & Things or Ants! It was certainly my first go at solo wargaming! I set the game up according to scenario S1 which pits 13 TDF ships (controlled by me) against a single Hyperion class Titan. The Titan is trying to destroy two space stations. Because this was my first game I set the Titan to a slightly slower speed (as recommended in the rules).
All the ships in the game are represented by little counters. The counters show their abilities along the bottom including firepower and weapon range, defence and movement range.
Movement is interesting – while the Titan moves from one space to the next, the TDF ships move by ‘jumping’. At the start of the turn (before the Titan’s move is revealed) the player chooses which ships are going to jump and puts a little wormhole counter on them. These ships don’t interact with anything until they return to normal space at the end of the turn.
This means the player needs to guess where the Titan might go in order to avoid it ploughing through their ships and destroying them, and to ensure their ships are in the right place at the right time.
I found out straight away that this is very important! If you get your placement wrong you wind up wasting entire turns trying to get into range while the Titan just continues to lumber on destroying everything. In the photo below I had moved the fighter (FF) and cruiser (CA) ‘south’ to catch the Titan. It turned and headed ‘northeast’ and avoided my ships!
Weapons of Mass Destruction
In fact, it feels like timing jumps correctly is of paramount importance. The Titan has numerous weapons systems and can take a lot of damage. It’s necessary to get as many ships near it as possible to pummel it so as to disable weapons. Even with no weapons the Titan can still just run over lots of things!
In my game I think I played far too cautiously. I kept trying to keep units back but that just meant the Titan destroyed the few I had sent forward and then I didn’t have enough left to do much damage later.
I also got unlucky with my missiles. Some ships have missiles which can be launched one per ship per turn. The missiles can cover a lot of ground quickly and can do lots of damage. However, the Titan is equipped with defence lasers to shoot them down. In my game very few missiles connected as the Titan just kept blasting them to nothing. I was hoping the missiles would soften the Titan up so my ships would have less work to do but alas…
It really didn’t take very long for the Titan to decimate my fleet. In a matter of a few turns it had destroyed about half of the original ships and was lumbering on to the first space station. I could feel the overwhelming sense of failure and defeat loomed close. The ships that were left were in the wrong place and were damaged and then the Titan reached Tau Station and just pushed straight through it, turning it into so many bits of scrap metal.
The remains of my fleet caught up with the Titan. With so little firepower left they were powerless to stop the behemoth. It swatted them like flies and totally annihilated the remains before it even reach the second station! Game over, man! Game over!
From that first game I have learnt that it is necessary to throw everything at the Titan as early as possible. Caution does not win this game! This game is a great experience. It is tense and you really get a feeling of helplessness as the lumbering giant of a ship just keeps on moving onward.
Though combat is dealt with using dice rolls, they are not all random. The ship’s firepower is added to dice roll and compared to the defence of the target. If it equals or beats it then the target is damaged. However, luck can be mitigated slightly by using several ships together. This gives a bonus to the die roll for each ship beyond the first. I think this makes the fighters (who have weak firepower) useful for supporting the bigger ships.
I look forward to playing this game again. With eight scenarios this should keep me entertained for quite a while!
On a side note, my copy came with the cutest two dice imaginable. Look at the photo below!