Haven: Titan Command in a nutshell: Sci-fi. Mechs. Card game. Badass art.
It all began on a dark and stormy April 22nd, 2016…
I sent out an unsolicited message to a game design company on Instagram. It’s the first time I ever did it. I had been following their mind-bogglingly beautiful artwork like a normal creeper until they posted this:
Latest demo playtester copies of Haven: Titan Command ready for sending out for video review. We had a great time playing today using the new tokens 🙂 #haven_titan_command #playtest #packaging #boardgames #boardgamegeek #boardgame #cards #cardgame #cardgames #indiegame #lcg #decks #tokens #games #gamesnight #bgg #kickstarter #kickstartercampaign #robots #mech #mecha #titan #scifi #fantasy
They soon responded and said they were currently putting a list together, but would check out my review blog.
What started as a humble request to review a game slowly turned into a regular gaming conversation / professional friendship. Have I mentioned how awesome the game community can be… especially the designers? Well, they can be pretty damn awesome for sure.
I was chosen… and I was truly flattered and honored. It may be a small gesture to be picked by people, but to me, I felt like I had won a great award because I had done the thing most people never do: I asked. I know it sounds simple, but how often do we pass up chances for things we truly want simply because we defeat ourselves before we even begin? All too often, unfortunately. But not this time. This time, I asked… and I received! Well, not the game, but the blessing to receive one.
Did I mention the game had amazing art? Here’s some for your viewing pleasure:
Pretty rad, right?
Anyway, I eventually received the game, which came in an awesome little box, along with a super sweet and very vivid rulebook. So I made my first unboxing video ever. It felt weird, but I did it anyway. Here it is. Sadly, I just realized it took me 9 weeks to finally write this review of the game. They’ve been so patient! haha
I immediately took the cards out and saw something very interesting… all cards, except the mechs, had no art! I was filled with a little sadness, as the art is so amazing, but quickly found out it was because the art was still in progress, as their is so much art to make, and ALL OF THE EARLY ART WAS FROM ONE ARTIST. I’m a painter. I know, very intimately, what kind of work goes into a piece of art. My hat is off to Eric Gonzalez. He’s a badass. Now they have a team on with Eric to make sure the game is published in a timely fashion with no compromise to the art!
They cleverly put, “Artwork Required” on each card to fill the space and not make it look so empty. So they won points back for that.
I got the cards all safe in their plastic prisons and got to reading the rulebook, called the Operators Manual (ooh, la la). I’ll say this, it’s intimidating. There’s a lot of color, and a lot of amazing art, and at times I lost my way in the rules because I was distracted by how cool the art was. Not sure if that’s a pro, a con, or… both?
Fortunately, I had been going through their phone app so I would be as familiar as possible when the game arrived. And, I love the fact that this game is from the U.K., because they are like the rest of the world, using Android, the superior phone. Only the silly U.S. is wrapped up in an inferior product that simply gets marketed very, very well. //end_rant.
I will leave the explanation of gameplay to the masters themselves, you may watch it here:
The first play-through (before the above video existed) was a bit clunky. I tried again and it was better, but still not the easiest. I’m not intimidated by a learning curve if there is enough desire to play the game. I had multiple reasons to be, so I played again. I started to understand. So I re-read the rules and went through the app, and it clicked. Each time I played it got a lot easier.
Update: They’ve setup an even easier to follow rules set that will be released with the Print and Play! I just checked it out and it’s clear and concise! Kudos!
Since then I have had an ongoing discussion with the designers about the card layout (which is changing from what you see in the video, and what I have), and some bits in the rulebook that were either inconsistent or confusing. The simple fact that they would even listen to my points was awesome. The fact that they implemented some of them is even more amazing and shows that they really are looking to make a great game, not just make the game they want to design. That’s a big, big, big distinction between designers who are looking to add to the gaming community and those who simply want to puke out a product for consumption!
Their Kickstarter is coming VERY SOON. You can get notified by signing up at their website!