Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Review of Four Against the Titans

I woke up this morning to read a review  of Four Against the Titans by William C. Pfaff over at the Four Against Darkness Adventurers Guild group on Friendface. Be warned, it contains some hints which might be considered spoilers - but he doesn't really give too much away.

Note that where ever he uses the names of gods, he is referring to children of those gods - not the gods themselves.


I promised a while back a full review/report on my experiences with Four Against the Titans. First off, let me not bury the lede. This book is AWESOME! It’s not without some minor quibbles (you can get “stuck” outside of a town for a LONG time if you can’t manipulate dice) BUT it’s an “A” effort and should be on everyone’s “to buy” list. Nic Wright did himself proud with this one: he captured the actual “feel” of epic adventuring in ancient Greece- the mechanics support the source material and vice versa. [Minor spoilers – depending on how much you want to figure out on your own versus how much you want some guidance to at least one path for success read on or don’t, lol. I don’t believe our path is the only way but once we figured out some things on our fourth attempt we rolled through.]
Let’s leap into actual game play and my tips for defeating the mighty Typhon. It took my group four attempts to beat the Typhon. We started using Poseidon, Zeus, Hades and Asklepios. We got crushed the first two attempts…very little to report except the Maenads are BRUTAL if you happen to roll a couple 1’s on defense early. They can TPK you in a hurry.
We then realized that you NEED to be able to manipulate dice. It’s almost essential. That means Hermes or Apollo are coming into the party. Hermes gets NO attack or defense bonus AND can’t wear armor or carry a large shield…so he was out. Apollo is almost equally brutal. His Prophecy ability ended up being the most valuable ability in our party but he is so tough to keep alive. His specialty is using a bow…great right? But he can’t wear armor. So you can carry a shield BUT you’re using a bow primarily…you can see the dilemma here. Keep him alive to level 3 though and he really pays dividends (that second attack at the start of combat at + level is huge!)
So our revised party became Ares, Apollo, Hades and Asklepios. The key for each? Asklepios provides healing, Hades is the only character with + level to Defense, Apollo manipulates dice, and Ares is the only character with a blanket + level to Offense. We made the mistake of thinking Zeus was the way to go because he gets +1/2 level on both attack and defense…balanced right? But you’re better off to have Hades and Ares for the full level bonus….you can COUNT ON Ares to hit when the chips are down and give Hades a Large Shield and he can step up and save the party so many times (check out the Bull of Marathon---Hades reduces his attack to a triviality).
The other mistake we made in the first few attempts was making a beeline to each of the Temple Quest cities. Don’t do that. We instead realized that you NEED to do some out of the way stuff to get access to the items that will make the win possible. This is again where Nic shows his brilliance…just like in the tales of old you need to do quests to get epic items to achieve epic greatness.
So we started in Lakonia headed for Eleusis in Attika. That allowed us to stop in Argolid and get the Hydra Blood (if you have any experience in Magic the Gathering you are trying to set up a combo of: Apollo’s dice re-roll ability (to make the Typhon breathe fire rather than taking FIVE attacks), Ares armed with Zeus’ Adamantine Harpa and the Hydra Blood (and using Rage to guarantee the hit). That’s the endgame that lets you make the shortest work of the Typhon. If Ares is level 4, he attacks at +6! Rage lets you pick the best of 3 rolls and the Hydra Blood does +2 to 4 wounds….That is LIGHTS OUT.
After you snag the Hydra Blood, swing over to Isthmus and get the Nemean Lionskin and give that to Hades. He’s now next to unhittable. Hades at JUST 2nd level with a large shield and the Nemean Lionskin has +6 to Defense.
In Attika (where Eleusis is) you can snag the Mirror Shield if you like. Then head west to Boiotia (where TWO incredible items await…the Hounds of Aktaion and the Pendant of Semele. The pendant gives a character +2 in life, again- just an enormous advantage. Give it to whoever is squishiest in your party. Next Temple city is Delphi in Phokis, if you have Apollo in your party (as we did) try to snag the Bow of Apollo here (otherwise it’s an item you can do without). After that you can take it from there I’m sure.
We leveled everyone to 2nd level first and then took Apollo to 3rd (when the monster bump up occurs) and faced the Typhon with Ares, Apollo, and Hades at level 4 and Asklepios at level 3. Ares spends first round applying Hydra blood. Apollo makes the Typhon breathe fire rather than attack. Ares uses rage to nearly guarantee exploding dice and (with Hydra blood) knocks the Typhon down to 3 of 8 life (assuming ONE exploding die result that places the total at 16 or above) thus the attack itself deals 2 wounds and the blood deals -on average- 2 to 3 more. Mop up the rest of the big bad end guy after that.
As I said earlier, Nic nailed this: Satyrs that attack better or worse based on how drunk they are, the Bull of Marathon that can rampage through the whole party, gorgons and mirrored shields. It all feels so immersive. It all feels right. And despite all that this review has gone over, there is still a ton more to talk about: more items, spells, the temple quests themselves, the Nekromantieon Journey (just sounds awesome doesn’t it?) and so much more. So leap into this book with your mighty spears and bows, reach for Olympos and slay the mighty Typhon! May all your dice be exploding!

1 comment:

  1. I bought this and have killed off 5 parties, and had a lot of fun along the way.
    I've experimented with different blends of adventurer, and different start points.

    My best run saw 3 party members reach level 2 before they encountered 4 titans in succession.

    The lesson, grasshopper; there is no shame in running from a fight you cannot win.