Friday, December 22, 2023

Titans wraps up Dsyx for me

With Titans of Dsyx, I have now played every game in the Legends of Dsyx series.  And, while I didn’t save the best for last, it was a pretty good one.

(Hall of the Dwarven King is still tops)

In Titans, you are filling in one of those grids that are marked out like a brick wall so it’s really a hex grid, even though the sections are squares. There’s also a table of map features. You start by rolling a die and drawing that map feature anywhere on the grid.

Here’s the deal: each turn, you roll three dice. One die will be the direction you move from the last thing you drew. Another die will be how many spaces you move. That other die, using the table, that will be what you draw. Twenty turns and you’re done.

So what’s the clever bit, you ask. Glad you asked.  That would be terraforming. Almost every map feature gets upgraded when drawn next to another map feature, usually itself. If you’d draw a tree next to a tree, you draw a forest instead. Grassland by a lake, that becomes a town. And there’s a third tier of map features, like castles and volcanos that are worth the real points.

And there’s a couple event tables. After you build a town or an arch, you roll for an event that will add or remove map features.

If your turn is impossible to complete, you cross out a map feature  and redraw it anywhere that’s blank.

After you are done, figure out how many points your completed map is worth. Since this is beat your best score’, you are really playing for the experience of making a nifty map. Fortunately, that’s a good experience.

I quite enjoyed Titans of Dsyx. Yeah, the random number generator goes can completely destroy your plans and sometimes having to erase and redraw is a mixed blessing in disguise. However, the goal of trying to build bigger and better things is clear and easy to understand. And making a portal or a world tree is very satisfying.

A couple years after he made Titans of Dsyx, Robin Gibson made a couple of similar games, Wheat & Ale and Timber & Fur. While not Dsyx games, they are filling in a hex grid with  symbols. They are simpler and a lot less random. And, frankly, I like Titans better. It is bigger and crazier, even if it harder to make a plan come together. It’s just a wilder, deeper ride.

When I first started looking at the Legends of Dsyx four years ago (Cthulhu on a moped, was it really that long ago!?),  I felt like Robin Gibson was trying to cram entire box-sized game on one side of a piece  of paper, rules and all. Designers keep on pushing the boundaries of what you can do with Roll and Write medium. (We have come a long way from Kismet being cool for adding color to Yahtzee) but the Legends of Dsyx are still some interesting experiments.

Now that I’ve learned them all… time to go back and revisit the ones I haven’t played in a while.

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