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Gen Con 2017: Twilight Imperium 4e

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Feast your eyes. FEAST THEM

If you’ve spent much time on this website at all, it shouldn’t come as a shock to you, dear reader, that I am a huge twilight imperium fan. Maybe you’ve heard me talk a bit about it.

You may also have heard the announcement, which spread like uncontrolled wildfire, that FFG was releasing a new edition of the game. Exciting, right? Of course it’s exciting.

Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition is already about 10 years old or so, and while I love the game I admit there are more than a few tedious elements to the rules. Obscure numbers that are hard to remember, obscure rules that are hard to remember (and thus hardly ever used) and some convoluted rules interactions that just make the game difficult to learn.

TI is a game far too long to demo in any substantial way, but I did sit down at a table to get a good overview of the rules updates, plus get a close look at the new graphic design and put my fingers on those wonderfully detailed starship miniatures.

So much detail.

Let me tell you, this game is beautiful. FFG pulled out all the stops and held nothing back, and I am so excited to get a full game in. The plastic in these miniatures is top notch – extremely detailed, hard plastic (I don’t know enough about miniatures to tell you anything specific but man, get your hands on these things at least once). The ships pretty much all have a similar look to the 3rd edition versions, but they’ve all been updated and redesigned to a degree. The War Suns have perhaps the most significant update, now fully 3D instead of a half-sphere.

It’s hard to judge rules updates without actually playing them, but on paper I like what they’ve done with the place. For the most part it seems they’ve stripped out a lot of unecessary rules and figured out ways to make things work in similar ways but without so many exceptions and special cases. I really like the new tech tree, which just requires a certain number of tech cards in a certain colors, rather than a specific line of prerequisites.

Gimme some of that tech!

The strategy cards have been rewritten, streamlined, and clarified in good ways. Every card now has a clear benefit (in 3rd edition every card was something good, but the benefit wasn’t always as obvious). I’m especially excited about trying the new Trade system, which seems like it will really bump up the metagame. Instead of establishing static “trade routes” between players – which then rarely change through the course of the game in my experience with 3E – the Trade card lets you refresh your commodities. You can’t spend your own commodities, but when you give them to another player they become trade goods. You can also use the Trade card to refresh other player’s commodities for free, while anyone else has to pay a Strategy token. Once again this all seems to encourage actually dynamic interactive trading and negotiation between players, and I’m thrilled.

The other major change is a revamped graphic design. Aside from making the board look incredible, the player are now redesigned to be highly functional. Ships and structures now have their stats laid out clearly, and when you research a tech that upgrades their abilities, you use the tech card to cover up the slot on your player board. No more digging through a pile of tech to try and remember all your combat bonuses – the numbers will just be right there. Awesome!

Same game, same planets, more pretty

Oh, and one more thing – they renamed the “Command pool” to “Tactics pool” which is a small bug significant change. It was always incredibly confusing to explain how to use “Command Tokens from your Strategy Pool” vs “Command Tokens from your Command Pool.” Terminology can make or break a complex game like this.

Okay, I’ll stop gushing now. Obviously I’m excited. Obviously I will have a full review as soon as humanly possible. In the meantime, enjoy these photos.

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Joseph E. Pilkus III

    Wolfie,

    I agree with your assessment. While I own TI3, I rarely play my copy as there’s another one in our play group and we get it to the table between 8-10 a year, as we have a steady Sunday game once a month. For me, I love everything about the tech…from its streamlined approach versus having particular dependencies; to lowering the overall cost (which we did years ago and it’s roughly the same as TI4); and the fact that you place the cards right on the player boards…brilliant. The other Strategy cards had minor changes, but I was happy to see Logistics go by the wayside, but it’s now incorporated in the Leadership card. Also, the first player doesn’t have the bonus of not having to spend a token from their Strategy Pool. Finally, the fact that Politics is more of a mid-to-late game item, especially as folks vie for Mecatol Rex, I’m over the moon regarding the changes.

    Cheers,
    Joe

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