The Attack on Titan Deck-building Game has been generating a lot of buzz for most of the year, and now the release date is near. November 9th! This is the first real preview of the final game, along with images of the actual components. I’m the lead designer of the game. Allow me to talk a little about how it all works.
In the Attack on Titan anime, the last human city is under constant siege by terrifying giant humanoids called Titans. Protecting the city are walls that must be defended. Our heroes are constantly on the move to get to the walls that are being threatened. Armed with swords and various other instruments of war, the heroes fight valiantly, but are in terrible danger at every turn…
This is a cooperative deck-building game for 1-5 players utilizing the popular Cerberus Engine, which powers the DC Comics Deck-building Game and many others. If you already know how to play DC, you are almost ready to dive right in. However, there are a few concepts that are new and unique to this game.
In Cerberus Games, there are always five cards in the Line-Up to buy at any one time. In AoT, that concept has been enhanced with Walls and Districts. Each of those five card slots is a “District.” Each District is protected by a Wall. Each Wall has two flag tokens on it, which act as hit points. When both tokens are gone, the Wall is destroyed. Cards that the Heroes can buy are placed on the inside of the Wall. Titans that appear are placed on the outside of the Wall.
The Heroes you play are the stars of the show, including Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and several others. Each one has a unique special ability that will help the team in some fashion. In addition to your Hero card, you also have a standee for your Hero. That’s right! Movement is a factor in this game. You must move your Hero from District to District to buy the cards you want for your deck. Then, when you’re ready, hop over the Wall to fight off a Titan or two to prevent a Wall from coming down.
In Cerberus Engine games, you start off with a 10-card deck: 7 Punches and 3 Vulnerabilities. Here, those Punches are called Courage, and instead of Vulnerabilities (useless blank cards), AoT gives you 3 Thrust cards. Thrust cards grant your Hero “Move 2” when played. That allows you to move your Hero around the city.
The Titans appear out of the main deck in this game, even the Archenemy Titans (the big ones with names). The deck is seeded with them during game setup, so they will come out of the deck into play at semi-regular intervals. Just often enough to make things challenging… To win, you must defeat all four Archenemy Titans. There are 10 different Archenemy Titans, so you never know which ones you’ll face each game. They are broken up into levels, so the later they appear, the stronger they are. You lose if the main deck runs out of cards, all five Walls fall down, or two Heroes die (three in 2-3 player games). There are also solo rules, which plays a little differently.
Smaller, unnamed Titans can be dispatched with ease by a single Hero and just some Power. But Archenemy Titans usually require the whole team. The big ones have Hit Points. You must deal a lot of damage to an Archenemy before you may even attempt a kill shot. When a Titan is vulnerable, you may attempt a kill shot, but the Titan lashes out with a Titans on Attack card! These cards are unexpected events that might hamper your ability to get the kill, or make it a very costly victory.
Hit Points are inside the blood drip. The amount of Power you need to kill it is on the shield in the lower right. Titans on Attack cards can throw a wrench into your plans…
As you can see with the above cards, Heroes can take Wounds. Wounds can be acquired when fighting Titans, but also while defending the Walls. At the end of each round, if a Titan has not been defeated, it deals damage to the Wall (takes away a flag or two). If a Hero is present outside that Wall, the Hero can take a Wound (or two) to prevent the Wall from taking this damage. These Wound cards are placed into your Hero’s discard pile. After being shuffled into your deck, they must be played when drawn. Once played, it stays in play until the start of your next turn. If you take a Wound while you have a Wound in play, you die! If you are unlucky enough to draw a hand with two Wounds, you die when you play the second one in the same turn. The world of Attack on Titan is a dangerous one. Main characters of the anime series die all the time. But if you die and the game doesn’t immediately end, you destroy your current hand of cards and then come back as a different Hero.
As you can imagine, it takes a coordinated team effort to win. One tool towards that is a First Player Token. Instead of having the same turn sequence round after round, one player can grab the First Player Token. This allows players to maximize the impact of their Hero abilities and set up a strategy to kill an Archenemy Titan. A strong team is one that can soften up an Archenemy Titan, while giving aid to the Hero attempting the kill shot. It’s all up to you and time is of the essence!