Conquest game that lost its way with pasted on mec
I love giant multiplayer games of epic conquest, and was all gungho for TI3. It came up rather wanting in actual play though. Lots of Euro game mechanics are patched together without any kind of connection to the theme. Role selection makes no sense- how come I can't try to do something just because my opponent is? The biggest problem is the victory conditions...victory points. The goal of a conquest game should be...conquest! Not picking up victory points for no good reason like the Euro of the day. Sold my copy, hopefully new owner will enjoy it more. The production values are outstanding.
tl;dr — Epic in every dimension. And, despite all the ISC brouhaha, it plays just fine right out of the box.
UPDATE: This is still a great game, the experience growing more rich and nuanced as we become more familiar with it. This is definitely one of those games that requires repeat plays—difficult for most, I know, as the first couple of plays can be excruciatingly long and fraught with error. All I can say is stick with it; like the monster games of old the wonders in this box are only revealed through familiarity.
ISC and other tweaking:
The best version of this game is played with the Age of Empire & The Ancient Throne variants. AoE, found in the rulebook, lays all the public objectives out in a row and allows for long-range strategic planning. AT, an official variant found on Fantasy Flight's website, changes the ISC to 1VP if you control Mecatol Rex—in addition, it allows you to earn as many VP objectives as you qualify for, all at once.* It makes for a longer game (with no 2VP clock counting it down) but with far more interaction, with emphasis on the ACTION!!!
*This is also now the Imperial II Strategy Card found in Shattered Empire.
Board setup for more interaction:
Take the best double systems and place them randomly around Mecatol Rex (so the first ring is made up of resource- and influence-rich gems of the Empire). Then build the other rings as normal. This prevents the usual layout of the galaxy—with players each residing in their own premium "turtle pockets" that are bordered with crap while the throneworld of Mecatol Rex languishes in a backwater ghetto. Surrounding it with double systems forces players to move fleets up the ladder and into sweaty proximity around Mecatol Rex for a turn (or so) of hard stares and eye-twitching until someone pulls the trigger on the Last War and makes the jump for Mecatol. With everyone having a fleet one hex out, the game becomes a Rolling Storm of Woe mitigated only by political shenannigans and shady trading...
UP-UPDATE: Aw, hell... who am I kidding? With the advent of the Shattered Empire expansion, this is a rock-solid 5-star game. Slathered miles-deep in theme, diplomacy & intrigue, massive space fleet engagements & ground combat—there's nothing else like it. Nothing even comes close.
Extremely awesome space empire game. The role selection part works, and the minis, cards, and hexes all look absolutley fantastic. Always willing to play and wanting to get people together to play a game. Sometimes I like to use a few variants to try to shorten game time. This monster of a game takes good planning to get to the table, but it is oh so satisfying...
As a long time fan of Master of Orion II and other civilization games and sci-fi games, the theme for this one is perfect for me. It's my "monster game" of choice.
This is simply put one of our era's finest games. Broad in scope, ambitious in execution, this is a game all ATers owe themselves to try.
If War of the Ring, Game of Thrones, and Doom were the opening salvos, this is the game that put FFG on the map to stay.
The threaded actions and role selections do crib from Euros, but it's a welcome evolution as classic but sometimes stodgy AT designs got a boost in the arm from some of the better ideas to spring from the Eurogame revolution.
If you are an AT fan and opening this box doesn't give send you into plastic-induced ecstacy, you are dead inside.
This one's got it all...combat, negotiation, secret objectives, wildly unbalancing action cards, variable player powers and races, a political system...
Try it now. This will be one of those games that will be sought after years from now.
I write this assuming you have the shattered empires expansion. You need this to make a good game great. That being said.....
Twilight Imperium is the best 4x game available as of writing this (2008). Accept no substitute this game has it all and it does it all very well. This is the type of game folks will be paying big bucks for years from now when it is out of print.
ti3 plays well from 3 players up to 8, with the major difference being game length (1 hr per player + 30 min for folks with less than 3 plays). I personally like 3, 4 and 6 player games the best in that I feel they have enough inter-player combat and still move along with little down time. 8 player games are fun but usually require a day to be dedicated to the game.
Aspect of this game I really enjoy.
Uneven Racial Benefits. There are plenty (14) of races available with ti3 and each plays slightly differently. Some are easier than others, but the meta game usualy helps balance this out.
Multiple Paths to victory.
The VP system really drives the game here. Many of the original VP objectives were lacing in that they did not encourage space combat, this was fixed with Shattered Empires and with the addition of Artifacts game play is opened up a lot. I have seen games end suddenly by an aggressive player scoring a 2 pt objective, their secret objective and taking an artifact planet via combat.
Most of the time we play this for one reason, to build a bad ass fleet of kick ass ships. The tech advances in this game can really make a difference. All about combat.. go red. Want a strong economy focus on yellow, mobility Blue, elite ground units are all about green. Focus, or go for a balanced approach. The late game abilities of different races are wildly different than those at the start of the game.
Arguably the weakest aspect of Ti3, but possibly most overlooked. A strong political card played at the right time can win or prevent another player from winning. It is hard to do, and that is why I think most people feel it is weak, but it can be done and the ability to pull off a strong political play separates the men from the boys.
So if you like big, all encompassing games, one you will think about for weeks after playing trying to figure out how Malloc kicked you ass on turn 5, then ti3 is for you. I cannot recommend this game enough.