Titan the Arena is a fast-paced card game for two to five players. It
has nothing to do with Avalon Hill's classic game, Titan, but I
suspect the title was chosen to attract the same fans.
Titan the Arena is a very good game with only one flaw, which is
addressed below. It consists of 110 cards and 25 betting chips in
five different colors. Eight of the cards have red backs, the others
blue. The red cards represent the eight fantasy combatants in the
arena (Titan, Hydra, Dragon, etc.), and are laid out in a column at
the start of the game. The remaining cards are shuffled, and eight
are dealt to each player. Each player takes one set of five betting
chips of the same color.
The artwork on the cards is good, but there isn't a lot of variety.
Each creature has eleven cards with the identical picture on it,
numbered uniquely from 0 to 10. There are also eleven "spectator"
cards, numbered from 0 to 10, with different art - such creatures as a
minotaur and ogre, which act as wild cards, as you can play them on
any creature. Finally there are three referee cards, which allow a
player either to reclaim a played card or force someone to reveal a
The game is played in five rounds: a round lasts until one combatant
dies, and may consist of numerous turns. At the end of the game,
there will be only three creatures left - whoever has the highest
value in bets left on those three creatures wins the game.
A turn consists of four phases, some of which are optional:
- You may place a bet (use the betting chips) on a creature which
hasn't already received a bet this round.
- You must play a card in the current round's column, if you can.
You play one of the number cards (from 0 to 10) next to the
- You may discard up to three cards belonging to dead creatures
(none in the first round, of course).
- Draw your hand back up to eight cards.
Bets placed in the first round are worth four points at the end of the
game. Bets placed in the second round are worth three points, and so
on - no bets may be placed during the fifth round.
You may also play a "secret bet" during the first round only. Simply
play a card face down with a chip on it - that's your only bet and
card play that turn. A secret bet is worth five points at the end of
When every creature has at least one number card played, the one which
has the lowest number showing loses the round, and is out of the game.
Remove all its cards and any bets placed on it. If two or more
creatures are tied for the lowest score, the round continues in sudden
Card play can be fierce and bitter. If you've got a four-point bet on
the Unicorn, for example, you have to be careful. If you have the
Unicorn 10 card, you don't want to play it too soon - or someone else
will cover it with a lower card before the round is over. On the
other hand, if you wait too long, the round might end before you play
it, and your Unicorn might die.
Each creature also has a special power which the "backer" can use. A
backer is someone who has the highest value revealed bets showing for
the creature, and plays a card on it in a given turn. These
range from the Cyclops' "paralyzing stare" (force another player to
play one turn with only half their hand, chosen at random) to the
Scout's ability to draw three cards to the Unicorn's ability to swap
two cards showing of any one creature, etc. This makes the game very
interesting, and gives players extra incentive to kill off your best
creatures - not only will they deprive you of victory points, but also
of special powers. As I said, there's some vicious card play in this
game - in the "good game" sense!
The only flaw in the game is that the rules are under-diagramed.
There needs to be one more illustration, showing what the game looks
like after a second round, and after a third round, with a secret bet
revealed so you can see clearly where to place them. As it is, you
can (barely) figure out how the game works, but it takes at least
three readings of the rules to do so. There's no excuse for this -
more blindtesting would have revealed the lack of clarity and need for
But once you get over the hurdle of muddy rules, it's an excellent
game with a good replay value.
As a bonus, here is an unofficial version of the missing diagrams.
(That is, Avalon Hill knows nothing about this.) It probably will
mean nothing to you if you haven't seen the rules, but if you have,
this may help you understand what's going on:
This is the situation just after the final game diagram in the rule
book - page 4. Assuming someone played the "3" on the Hydra, leaving
the Warlock with the only "0", it looks like this: