Each player controls an army of mythological creatures such as gargoyles, unicorns, and griffons, led by a single titan. The titan is analogous to the king in chess in that the death of a titan eliminates that player and his entire army from the game. The player controlling the last remaining titan wins the game.
Each player's army is organized into "legions" of one to seven creature tokens stacked face down. The legions move according to die roll, subject to restrictions marked on the board--Most board spaces can only be entered or exited from certain directions. No two legions may occupy the same hex on the game board.
If a legion moves into a hex which is occupied by an enemy legion, the two legions must fight to the death on a tactical map specific to that terrain. The terrain usually gives a battle advantage to creatures native there.
Each time a legion moves, it may recruit one additional creature if the territory to which it moves is native to at least one creature already in the legion. For example, centaurs may recruit in the plains and woods, ogres may recruit in the marsh and hills, etc.
Each creature may recruit its own kind, but multiple weak creatures may be eligible to recruit more powerful creatures. For example, one ogre in the marsh or hills may recruit only another ogre, but two ogres in the marsh may recruit a troll, while three ogres in the hills may recruit a minotaur.
The victor of each battle is awarded points based on strength of the creatures vanquished. For each hundred points a player earns, he is awarded an angel, a strong creature which can teleport from its own legion to aid an attacking legion in future battles. Also, for each one hundred points a player earns, his titan becomes stronger in battle. Finally, at four hundred points, a player's titan gains the ability to teleport on a roll of six, attacking any enemy legion regardless of position.
The Titan rules offer incentives for movement and attack. While players in a game like Risk may choose to wall themselves in as much as possible and build their forces, a player can only build their armies in Titan by moving to new terrain to recruit creatures. This can lead to situations where a player has to balance the risk of moving into a dangerous area versus the gain of a powerful addition to their army.
Designer McCallister writes of the critical importance of blocking--Arranging one's legions in a defensive position to prevent another player from easy movement of recruiting. There are a variety of general strategies players use to traverse the map with their legions. One example of this is what McCallister calls "the caravan", which is keeping legions following each other on the outer ring of map spaces where they can protect and support each other. Given that the outer ring is not the most desirable place for recruiting, the Caravan is usually used as a short term strategy for protecting forces until a better recruiting area can be found.
Writer Gerald Lientz emphasizes that the main strategic rule of movement is to keep one's enemies in front of you at all times--Since the movement system often allows movement in one direction but not another, the worst situation a player can find oneself in is where an opponent can follow one's legions with no risk of retaliation.
Unlike many wargames, players are not allowed to examine opposing enemy forces (they are hidden under legion markers) until they engage them in battle. This secrecy allows opportunities for deception and bluffing.
Other key strategy decisions that occur in Titan include:
The game does not appear to be designed for casual play, with moderately complex rules and potentially long play time (the game box claims a typical length of 2-12 hours),
Titan has a huge number of game pieces to play with. Many players like to add additional characters, usually of even more power than the standard characters, also some such variants can drastically change the balance of the game. Here is a complete list of everything that is originally included with the game:
The updated Valley Games edition of the game includes hardback battleboards instead of battlelands sheets.