Twilight Imperium Returns

Yeah, so with summer creeping in, my family has been making more appearences in town, and we managed to cram most of a four player game of Twilight Imperium in.  We had planned to add my newest goody to the mix as well…

…but with a brand new player and six months between games, we need a refresher on the basic rules first.  The only one we included was the “Fast Start” rules that give you three beginning systems rather than one.  As expected, my “always take the Imperial Card” strategy didn’t work this time, as my dad and brother were savvy to this.  Both of them again went the “mighty armadas of ships” approach…and again neither of them won.

And that’s what I love about the game.  Its not militario-centric.  Its imperialistic – and you have to be ready to run in whatever direction gives you the best advantage – political, economic, military, etc.  I went the economic route this time, locking down trade routes and bonuses and using my races special ability to slow down the military advances while I built victory points on the track ( I was playing the giant turtle race whose name I can’t remember at the moment).  Essentially you can stall an attack against you, which can buy you time to strengthen your fleets, cram in a few more victory points, or in my case, play for time.

See, we were rolling on a weeknight, with a guy who had a 30 minute drive to get back home and we’re still learning the rules.  So I knew I just needed to have more VP than the others, not necessarily be going for a kill, because there was no way we were going to finish and entire game.

Unfortunately, our new player swiped the Imperial card in the last round of play, and that put him one VP ahead of me at the end of our agreed last round!  We decided that it was time to introduce some new rules then for our next game.  The new set has a card called “Bureacracy” which would seem to be custom made for shorter games with less players – it doesn’t hand out free VP but allows players to claim an additional objective during the turn. 

Once the game got going I forgot how easily it actually plays out.  It just takes some adjustment to your thinking since the rounds are circular rather than linear in nature – with everybody taking one action in each go around the table.  Once everyone has taken all the actions they can/want to, the round ends and you go again.  Very streamlined and it keeps everyone involved and not distracted by NBA playoffs in the background…

This also unveiled a new strategy.  My dad, frustrated by my stalling technique, began a stalling of his own.  Since you can only activate a system once in a round, he started playing cards and activating outlying systems, of which he controlled more than me.  His objective was to try to force me to activate systems first, giving him an advantage in deciding where to attack and keeping me from countering or reinforcing weak spots on my border.   I was sweating it too.  If you pass on an action your round is over, and I definitely didn’t want to be completely at his mercy the rest of the round.  Fortunately, I had some cards also that I could use to stretch my action count, or it would have been a messy time for me.

One interesting thing is that the game got us thinking about picking up the Age of Conan board game, which has similar but simpler rules and functionality.  And, by my good fortune, we are only a mere 82 days from my birthday…

For those interested, I didn’t know this until I started writing this up, but Twilight Imperium is actually one of the games played at the World Boardgame Championships, as of this past year.  You can see an article about the winners here.   And get a glimpse of how insane the table looks when you are playing this behemoth.

2 thoughts on “Twilight Imperium Returns

  1. Adventurer Historian

    Twilight Imperium is one of those games that I really want to play, but that there aren’t enough people in my life to play it with. How long does a normal sized game take?

    If you get the Conan game, tell me how it goes!

    1. Well if you’re anywhere near Nashville, we’ll set up a game time! I’m lucky to have my brother and dad in town a couple of times a year to play with me to be honest. If I get Conan, I’ll definitely have to do some posting on it.

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