Unboxing Adeptus Titanicus: Grand Master EditionAugust 24, 2018
Weighing in at over eight pounds, the Grand Master edition of Games Workshop’s latest release, Adeptus Titanicus, is overwhelming on every level. And well it should be given that it is a game centering on combat between skyscraper sized war machines capable of leveling entire cities.
Adeptus Titanicus was originally one of Games Workshop’s first box set games, released in 1988. It introduced some key parts of the nascent Warhammer 40,000 universe’s setting and paved the way for the “Epic” line of 6mm scale wargames that lasted through the late 90s. While the new Titanicus draws on the overall concept and aesthetic of the original it is very much a new game and not really a new edition. Comparisons would only be of interest to fellow old timers and this article will not spend any more words on the original game.
The Grand Master edition is essentially the “all-in” starter set for Adeptus Titanicus. It provides a single player the core models they’ll need to start playing along with the hardcover rulebook, cards, dice, and other peripherals necessary for play at a savings of approximately $110. Though sold out and temporarily out of print, Games Workshop promises a reprint of this set in 2019. Fortunately, all of the components are available individually for those with budget concerns or who missed the boat on the limited edition.
“All-in” really sums up everything about Titanicus. It is emphatically not a game aimed at newcomers to wargaming, or even the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Set in the distant past of the game’s universe, Titanicus explores the time of the Horus Heresy, a galactic civil war, and more specifically, the roles of the Titan Legions in those years of conflict. Players take on the roles of Princeps dueling with their god-engines across ruined cityscapes in a suitably ponderous fashion.
The rulebook is well laid out and will present little difficulty for most experienced gamers to come to grips with. It begins with an overview of the “story thus far” and then dives into a basic rules section followed by advanced rules. 40k players will be familiar with the basic terminology, though the game adds additional complications and challenges to put the giant robots in the fore. Players choose their Titans, typically using a familiar points system and then outfit them with weapons of their choice from a selection of cards. Different Titan chassis have access to different weapons. Titans are also supported by Banners of Knights, (much) smaller piloted robots that act as diversions, screens, or in some cases, serious threats to the titans themselves. Titans have limited maneuverability based on their size, with smaller Titans being more maneuverable and Knights being the most.
Titanicus is very much a game of risk assessment as pushing your Titans to fight harder and faster risks overheating their nuclear plasma engines, which can result in their own apocalyptic destruction—potentially a game winning move if you take out enough of the enemy with it! Satisfyingly, Titans die hard. In a game with so few models you can be assured that your force will stay on the table for much of the game.
The rulebook includes a number of thematic scenarios for play and it appears that an average game will last about two hours. I haven’t played a game yet, but intriguingly, Titanicus appears to be something of a twist on naval combat games. The various classes of Titan are roughly analogous to naval vessels: Warlords to battleships, Reavers to cruisers, Warhounds to destroyers, and Knights to frigates. Force composition is accordingly an important aspect of the game just as the composition of naval fleets is a carefully considered military science.
The Grandmaster Edition includes two Warlord Titans, the largest standard class of titan. Bristling with weapons and heavily armored, they’re imposing centerpiece models and brilliantly sculpted. The kits are up to Games Workshop’s usual high standards and are a joy to assemble.
With that said, it’s worth pointing out that these are absolutely not simple models. They’re highly poseable, intricate, and built with the intent for the modeler to place rare earth magnets at certain joints to allow weapons swaps as upgrade kits are released (a surprisingly beneficent gesture on Games Workshop’s part!). As well, the kit was designed with the intent that the Warlord’s skeleton be assembled separate from its armor panels for easy of painting. The assembly guide is exceedingly clear and easy to follow but this is very much a kit for experienced modelers.
The two Warlords are accompanied by two sets of three Knights.
Again, these are very clever little kits allowing the modeler to paint their large carapaces separate from their skeletons, which will save much time and hassle. Both the Knights and Warlord kits include sets of waterslide transfers and painting guides for a variety of Legions and Households.
Each Titan is accompanied by a command terminal on heavy stock cardboard. These are the heart of the game as your titan’s weapons cards are placed here and special tokens with pegs are used to track damage, void shields, and the heat of the titan’s plasma reactor engine. The set also includes several sprues of tokens, turn radius tools, and templates for use in play, all sculpted to aid in immersion in the game.
Finally, the Grand Master edition includes enough sprues to build a small hab-block. Like the recent Kill Team terrain for Warhammer: 40,000, these ingenious terrain kits are modular post-assembly, allowing you to create a variety of battlefields each time you play.
The Grandmaster Edition concludes with a sample chapter of Dan Abnett’s tie-in novel Titanicus. It’s a fun, thirty pages of 40k fiction though, I admit, it didn’t particularly grab me. Your mileage may vary. The modeling opportunities in this box set alone are worth the hefty price of admission. The game itself looks very appealing and I’ll be returning to write more on gameplay and the hobby experience provided in the coming months.
Adeptus Titanicus is an interesting game and product in 2018. It makes no bones about being a luxury game for the dedicated hobbyist and never pretends to be anything but what it is. Where most contemporary miniatures games, and even most Games Workshop games, strive to be welcoming to the freshest gamers, Titanicus is here for the hardcore and those seeking a superlative experience.
I’m generally a proponent of miniatures games becoming as welcoming as possible but not every game needs to be to every taste, and it’s nice to have this one aimed squarely at the preferences I’ve developed over nearly thirty years in the hobby. Like a peaty scotch or a very rare steak, Titanicus offers a unique and complex flavor best savored by the connoisseur.