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Flashback Friday - Twilight Imperium - Love it or hate it? Do you still play it?

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Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition vs Twilight Imperium 4th edition

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Twilight Imperium is an epic empire-building game of interstellar conflict, trade, and struggle for power. Being an "epic" game, it is also a game that can take hours to play, and often requires arranging a special game day just to play it. 

Due to the length and complexity of Twilight Imperium,many players have looked to other games as a replacement resulting in heated  debates over whether games,such as Eclipse or Star Trek Ascendancy replaced Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium recently got a new edition, which also resulted in some controvery over whether Twilight Imperium 4th Edition replaced Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition or not.

Whats your opinion? Do you prefer 3rd edition or 4th edition? Or has another game replaced Twilight Imperium for you?Do you love it or do you hate it? Do you still play it?

 

There Will Be Games Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition vs Twilight Imperium 4th edition

Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition vs Twilight Imperium 4th edition
Shellie "ubarose" Rose  (She/Her)
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Plays boardgames. Drinks bourbon. Writes code.

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Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition vs Twilight Imperium 4th edition
Shellie "ubarose" Rose
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Articles by Shellie

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Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #290657 25 Jan 2019 09:23
Hm. I've played TI3 a few dozen times, albeit the majority of them have been on the wonderful website that someone set up years ago so that games could be played over weeks with participants from around the world (until said website was hacked and the database wiped out, because there's always at least one asshole in the crowd...) I was playing five different games of TI3 simultaneously at one point. I really enjoy the game. Would I still play it?

Probably not. If we had a day set aside to play one game, I'd pull out Here I Stand. If we had a day set aside to play 2 or 3 games, one of them would definitely be Star Trek: Ascendancy. If we still wanted a 4X-style game after that, I'd probably put Rising Sun or Cyclades or Assault of the Giants on the table. I think I've played enough TI3 to not be especially interested in picking up TI4 or in playing either of them over more recent stuff. I still like the game and if someone set up a day to specifically play it (whether 3 or 4), I wouldn't turn my nose up at it. But I don't find anything particularly compelling about it anymore.
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #290663 25 Jan 2019 10:33
Never played any TI. I'm not great with 4x stuff as I have no head for long-term strategy and I can't keep track of all the stuff I need to. At best I'm just a speed bump to everyone else.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #290664 25 Jan 2019 10:44
Not nearly as often as I’d like, but yes, I do make a point to try and play it as often as I can and sometimes I’m successful in doing so.

Twilight Imperium is my favorite game. It was not love at first sight, however. It is overwhelming, from a mechanics standpoint, an options for play standpoint, a time investment standpoint, and, perhaps the biggest barrier to entry, a skill standpoint. You are going to spend many, many hours losing this game, there is no way around that, and it’s easy to be turned off by that.

I credit my coming around to TI to the fact that I’ve gotten to play it with some folks who know it inside and out. Without them, I wouldn’t know what options work best for which kind of game, and most important, that this is not a game about sending my spaceships to go destroy your space ships. This is a game about taking someone aside, telling them that you’re about to do something that looks aggressive, and that they should let you do it for something in exchange. It’s sometimes a game about making those kinds of promises and sometimes it’s about breaking those promises. It’s a game about what I loved about games like Cosmic Encounter, Intrigue, and Dune but amplified to the Nth level. It’s an entirely different experience from those games, and for my money’s worth, a richer and more worthwhile experience. That experience HAS to be long, it HAS to be huge. Other games have tried to distill is down and it just isn’t the same.

With TI3 I always welcomed new players to my games. I wanted to be that person that was there for me when I was just starting out. The more people I could bring into the fold, the more I might get to play this wonderful game. With TI4, that’s less of a thing. As of now, it’s a greatest hits package. It’s leaner, more accessible and more forgiving, just a tiny bit faster, and yet it loses none of the game I fell for in the first place. I’ve heard some of my friends who are TI3 vets gripe that the new edition is too easy, but I don’t think that’s quite the case. It’s made so many quality of life improvements and has flipped the opinions of some folks I play with who weren’t huge fans of 3rd, so if it sees the table more often for those reasons, I’m in no position to complain. I can wait for whatever bits from 3rd that I miss (there aren’t many).

I’ve got a game lined up next Sunday as my annual “Do Anything But Watch the Super Bowl” party. Can’t wait.
Ah_Pook's Avatar
Ah_Pook replied the topic: #290667 25 Jan 2019 10:52
I played 4 once and thought it was interesting mechanically but too long for me to ever want to play it again. I can see the appeal but it's not for me.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #290668 25 Jan 2019 11:00
I enjoy TI4 quite a bit, but I wish it was a little more exciting. While there are some hugely dramatic moments, there's not a great drama to time ratio. By that, I mean there are large swathes of the game where people are slowly building up, spreading out, fiddling with their own expanding civilization.

If I had 6 players and we had at least 4 hours to game, I'd much rather play Dune at this point.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #290669 25 Jan 2019 11:06
I have only played a few games of TI3. The complexity can feel overwhelming, and I usually stagger away from the end of the game with sensory overload. Overall, I like the game, but it is completely impossible to get on the table with my friends, so I can only play with strangers at the FFG Event Center.

The worst thing that I can say about TI3 is that it is essentially a very complex simulation of playing King of the Hill, where Mecatol Rex is the top of the dirtpile. Nearly half the available VP seem to require at least temporary control of Mecatol Rex. I wish that it was more like 25% of the VP, so that players could potentially pursue other strategies.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #290670 25 Jan 2019 11:07
TI is an event game for me. It rarely, if ever, pops up in the wild. Instead, you plan it out weeks in advance and, as such, rarely gets turned down...it would be like turning down Christmas.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #290672 25 Jan 2019 11:20
re: Josh's post, yeah, Malloc does not like this edition at all because of the easy objectives.
Count Orlok's Avatar
Count Orlok replied the topic: #290679 25 Jan 2019 13:02
TI3 (without expansions that I never played) was the best example of the disappointments of gaming. It looks great, it looks sprawling and immersive, it looks fun. However, I found that after the first few times learning the game (again, from my experience years and years ago), the game just isn't fun or well structured. I don't mind a long game, but I want that time to feel worthwhile, and not to be undone when someone ruins a fleet with an action card, flips over an anticlimatic victory condition, or plays the imperial role to win.

I think more and more of how many games seem so promising, but lose me in the actual experience. TI3 is perhaps the best example of that for me.
LilRed's Avatar
LilRed replied the topic: #290687 25 Jan 2019 14:55
My taste in board games tend to grow towards lighter and shorter games, but even so I tend to play Twilight Imperium and Advanced Civ, 1-2 times a year without exception. It's an event and treated as such by our group. The purchase of TI:4 was a no brainer for me.

The rules to both games are not really that complex but the scope is epic which gives so much time for brilliant alliances, backstepping, battle or political events. I think within that lies it brilliance, and is also why Twilight Imperium Light will never really hold up. Or at least hasn't until now.
Jarvis's Avatar
Jarvis replied the topic: #290692 25 Jan 2019 16:47
This is still my favorite game (TI3, haven’t played TI4). None of lite versions even come close to replacing this for me.

I haven’t played it in a few years but that has been due to not having a group that plays long games like this rather than lack of interest in it.
Deleted's Avatar
Deleted replied the topic: #290693 25 Jan 2019 17:23
TI2 is the only TI I’ve ever liked. It has the perfect blend of alliance, fuckery, and facebashing. I’d play if asked.

TI3 is garbage and I’ve never played TI4 (I think) all the way to the end because fuck TI.
KingPut's Avatar
KingPut replied the topic: #290707 26 Jan 2019 06:05
Ti3 = LOVE IT, it's in my top 5 favorite games of all time. Ti4 = love it. We don't play it Ti as much as we did 5-10 years ago, there's just to many other big stupid games out there to try out and TI3 is no longer an official game at WBC. But I'm hoping we'll continue to play 3-4 times a year.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #290720 26 Jan 2019 15:27
I'm a big TI3 fan, from the very first time I played it probably over a decade ago. I odn't get to play it nearly enough due to the composition of the gaming community that I'm aware of in my town - predominatly euro or medium length games. I did get a burst of a couple of games of TI4 a year or so ago when someone bought a copy and we had four or five people interested in playing it semi-regularly - but then he spoiled the party by going on a six month travel excursion with his son so it never happened.
I do intend to get it played once, hopefully twice, this year with my AT group of four, I just need to arrange getting a bigger table into my small room in my small house so the game experience isn't devalued by the lack of space.

Josh pretty much summed up how I feel about the game, although his comparision with CE and Dune shows he's on a different level to playing it to me - it's a combined experience that few other games can provide and is so engrossing that (as long as most players are up to speed with the game rules/mechanics) the time spent playing is barely noticeable. Other games like Eclipse and Star Trek Ascendancy may be good games (although not in the same league as TI3/4 in my opinion) they offer no where the same gameplay.

My TI3 + Shattered Empires will be one of the last boxes to leave my shelves.
Erik Twice's Avatar
Erik Twice replied the topic: #290725 26 Jan 2019 17:44
Me and a friend were pretty excited to try out Twilight Imperium 4 but we soured on the game a bit as the the hours went by. It's not a bad game at all (and actually quite streamlined, which I'm told TI3 wasn't) but we had two issues with it.

The first is that Planetary Defense Systems are the single most important thing in this game. The vast, vast majority of your actions are based around them because anything you do in their (massive) range results in free damage. Moving into Mecatol Rex or any nearby system means you'll have half a dozen guns on you. And they fire twice! They fire when you get close to the planet and another when you land. My friend attacked with an army only limited by the available miniatures and lost to PDS, they are that centralizing.

In fact, I would say the PDS are the reason this game is so long.

The second issue I have is that the game doesn't do anything special with its lenght. As in, the experience is not very different from playing, say, March of the Ants for 6 hours in a row. And while this is not a "drawback", it's kind of impractical because why work so hard to find so many hours and so many players to play a game that doesn't need them? Save that time for Civilization or Dune.
repoman's Avatar
repoman replied the topic: #290739 27 Jan 2019 03:19
I don't own it, either 3rd ed or 4th and I have never sought out games of it. However, providing I'm available, I wouldn't turn down a game of it either.

I have enjoyed my games of 4th ed more than 3rd. The game length really isn't an issue for me because I really enjoy one long 1st rate game which this is, as much as playing two or three different games.

I do have epic games I like more but they are damn near impossible to get played outside of a convention setting.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #290740 27 Jan 2019 06:30

Erik Twice wrote: Me and a friend were pretty excited to try out Twilight Imperium 4 but we soured on the game a bit as the the hours went by. It's not a bad game at all (and actually quite streamlined, which I'm told TI3 wasn't) but we had two issues with it.

The first is that Planetary Defense Systems are the single most important thing in this game. The vast, vast majority of your actions are based around them because anything you do in their (massive) range results in free damage. Moving into Mecatol Rex or any nearby system means you'll have half a dozen guns on you. And they fire twice! They fire when you get close to the planet and another when you land. My friend attacked with an army only limited by the available miniatures and lost to PDS, they are that centralizing.

In fact, I would say the PDS are the reason this game is so long.

The second issue I have is that the game doesn't do anything special with its lenght. As in, the experience is not very different from playing, say, March of the Ants for 6 hours in a row. And while this is not a "drawback", it's kind of impractical because why work so hard to find so many hours and so many players to play a game that doesn't need them? Save that time for Civilization or Dune.


I'll let someone who plays it a lot more than me to comment on this but I have never played a game where PDS units have had anywhere near the effect as you have described, perhaps a rule was played wrong, perhaps you all did the same strategy and fought trench warfare, perhaps you just had awesome dice results.
I'd also be surprised if experienced players think ANY unit in the game can be that decisive, the race abilities and card effects have been more noticeably effective in our games.
Turek's Avatar
Turek replied the topic: #290743 27 Jan 2019 07:45
I haven't played TI in 8-10 years but for me its still the best game ever
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #290749 27 Jan 2019 11:47

southernman wrote: I'll let someone who plays it a lot more than me to comment on this but I have never played a game where PDS units have had anywhere near the effect as you have described,


I haven't had games that were quite as problematic as what Erik noted, but I have had many games where a combat-forward race like the Sardakk were allowed to set up upgraded PDS networks on their side of the map. I would frequently encourage their neighbors not to let that happen, because once it's in place, it's extremely difficult to accomplish objectives anywhere near Sardakk space and they can rove around with impunity which is exactly what you don't want them to do (race that starts without a carrier for a reason...)
Erik Twice's Avatar
Erik Twice replied the topic: #290753 27 Jan 2019 15:04
Take my comment with a grain of salt because I've only played once.

The issue is that it's very easy to have large parts of the board covered by several PDS which ends up dictating how the game plays. It's very difficult to get rid of them, because they fire twice, do not need to be in the same system and are often protected. However, it is very easy for them to hit you, as all you need to do is activate a system in their range.

They are not broken, but they are game-defining in a way I don't like.

Technically speaking you can ask people not to shoot you because you are attacking other player but it's not in their best interest for you to succeed on your goals so they won't. You might get permission ocasionally but 95% of the time they are going to shoot as default. Remember that negotiation is not binding, either.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #290756 27 Jan 2019 16:08

Erik Twice wrote: ...Technically speaking you can ask people not to shoot you because you are attacking other player but it's not in their best interest for you to succeed on your goals so they won't. You might get permission ocasionally but 95% of the time they are going to shoot as default. Remember that negotiation is not binding, either.


The game is about negotiation so people will bargain, especially if someone is behind and can get something worthwhile out of it to keep themselves in the running - and in this particular instance, negoatiation to prevent PDS fire, it is binding (in TI4).

I still think you guys are throwing super lucky dice or you're sending in tiny fleets that just one hit can afffect.
Saul Goodman's Avatar
Saul Goodman replied the topic: #290792 28 Jan 2019 10:57
I’ve yet to win a game of Twilight Imperium (came so close the last time) but it’s one of my favorite games. For me there is no other game like it. I have to plan my games weeks in advance but I don’t mind at all since no other game scratches the same itch.
I love TI3 and I think TI4 is as good if not better. The improvements, especially with tech, make so much sense. I sold my TI3 right away since I will likely not go back to it. I’ll still happily play it if someone else brings it out.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #290794 28 Jan 2019 11:42
Never played. Will some day. Dunno when.
Ska_baron's Avatar
Ska_baron replied the topic: #290813 28 Jan 2019 16:27
There is no game I feel more strongly about than Twilight Imperium (started with 3rd, but wildly intensified with 4th). This is game is the single best answer to why I game. I have a demanding, creative job. I have a spectacular wife and 3 daughters under the age of 8. I have close friends and family members whose company I enjoy. There are so many great things to enjoy your limited time with and I'll be damned but TI4 gives me a thrill every time I plan a game of it with friends (old and new) over the best time I've had at a game table.

This crowning achievement is not that it's balanced inherently. It is balance lies hidden at first in the meta, which is squish and murky - created between the players. Players who can honor deals to the hilt or backstab at a moments notice. But this well-designed game gives you all the levers and buttons to create pure, epic space opera joys. The complexity is formidable if you want to excel, but with 4th edition, gone are the days that it feels SO impenetrable.

Whew. I need a cold shower now or something. Maybe I should just write a damn article (love letter).
Ska_baron's Avatar
Ska_baron replied the topic: #290815 28 Jan 2019 16:31
I'd be remiss if I didnt mention/plug the most wonderful resource that is Space Cats Peaces Turtles ( spacecatspeaceturtles.podbean.com/ ). Yep, that's a podcast dedicated to fans and created by fans all about TI4. They've even started a huge tournament (via Tabletop Simulator) that I listen to their recaps of the same way folks listen to sports games... Gah, I could go on and on and on...