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Rex: Final Days of an Empire

Rex: Final Days of an Empire

Game Information

Year Published
Fantasy Flight Games

Rex: Final Days of an Empire, a reimagined version of Dune set in Fantasy Flight's Twilight Imperium universe, is a board game of negotiation, betrayal, and warfare in which 3-6 players take control of great interstellar civilizations, competing for dominance of the galaxy's crumbling imperial city. Set 3,000 years before the events of Twilight Imperium, Rex tells the story of the last days of the Lazax empire, while presenting players with compelling asymmetrical racial abilities and exciting opportunities for diplomacy, deception, and tactical mastery.

In Rex: Final Days of an Empire, players vie for control of vital locations across a sprawling map of the continent-sized Mecatol City. Only by securing three key locations (or more, when allied with other factions) can a player assert dominance over the heart of a dying empire.

Unfortunately, mustering troops in the face of an ongoing Sol blockade is difficult at best (unless, of course, you are the Federation of Sol or its faithless ally, the Hacan, who supply the blockading fleet). Savvy leaders must gather support from the local populace, uncover hidden weapon caches, and acquire control over key institutions. Mechanically, this means players must lay claim to areas that provide influence, which is then "spent" to (among other things) smuggle military forces through the orbiting Sol blockade. Those forces will be needed to seize the key areas of the city required to win the game. From the moment the first shot is fired, players must aggressively seek the means by which to turn the conflict to their own advantage.

While the great races struggle for supremacy in the power vacuum of a dead emperor, massive Sol warships execute their devastating bombardments of the city below. Moving systematically, the Federation of Sol's fleet of warships wreaks havoc on the planet's surface, targeting great swaths of the game board with their destructive capabilities. Only the Sol's own ground forces have forewarning of the fleet's wrath; all others must seek shelter in the few locations with working defensive shields...or be obliterated in the resulting firestorm.

Although open diplomacy and back-door dealmaking can often mitigate the need for bloodshed, direct combat may prove inevitable. When two or more opposing forces occupy the same area, a battle results. Each player's military strength is based on the sum total of troops he is willing to expend, along with the strength rating of his chosen leader. A faction's leaders can therefore be vitally important in combat...but beware! One or more of your Leaders may secretly be in the employ of an enemy, and if your forces in combat are commanded by such a traitor, defeat is all but assured. So whether on the field of battle or the floor of the Galactic Council, be careful in whom you place your trust.

All this, along with a host of optional rules and additional variants, means that no two games of Rex: Final Days of an Empire will play exactly alike. Contributing further to replayability is the game's asymmetrical faction abilities, each of which offer a unique play experience.

User reviews

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tl;dr — A solid 4 stars in the world where Dune never existed; a weak 3 in the timeline where it does.

Thoughts after first play:

Rex, AKA "Wrecks"

Really, very nifty. The wildly asymmetrical player powers make for interesting combinations during alliances, the whole thing being a variable machine the players can construct as they go—a machine that spends most of the time shuddering sideways while gloriously out of whack; much of the experience is spent desperately trying to get everything back in balance, only to have it veer madly into crazyland again. But that's what makes it memorable—it's rife with delicious quintuplethink and opportunities for clever play.

The shoehorned Twilight Imperium IP, which is, according to FFG's marketing, "rich, vibrant, and evocatively adjectival", is okay, I guess, though it does end up making it feel more like David Lynch's 1984 adaptation of Dune—a familiar thing bent in weird ways. It's definitely in the "milk the cat" category.

After 3 plays: So far this is a "birthday game" where I can only manage to get it played once a year by forcing everyone to do so on my birthday. This is unfortunate as it's clear this relatively straightforward experience requires constant contact in order to mature into what it's supposed to be. You're playing learning games until all six players are intimately familiar with the various powers, which means it's not the Real Deal until that seventh game. If we're only playing it once a year it's going to be a very long time before that happens—and even then, blowing the dust off it annually leads to victories that hinge on the losers' ignorance of the rules, which aren't really victories after all.

THE END: Splurged for a PnP copy of Ilya's Dune, making this superfluous.

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