If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a sci-fi nerd. I adore space operas of all types, and that kind of comes out in my gaming. Last week I talked about a game that let you build your space empire from scratch. This week, I’ll be talking about a game in which the Empire has fallen, and you’re the leader of a race who can make a claim for the now empty throne.
Twilight Imperium is a war game, and its quality as a game is somewhat questionable, depending on your definition of quality. The components are beautiful, but the game is not for the faint of heart. The rule book is almost fifty pages long, and comes with hundreds of bits, including plastic ships of various types, cardboard markers, multiple decks of cards, race sheets, and the game board itself, which is actually single hexagons that can be arranged at the start of the game!
All that aside, it being a large scale war game, it plays to the social aspect I love in my games. My most recent game involved a three man alliance that turned on a player who felt he liked burning his opposition for the fun of it. The only massive fleet actions involved burning this players planets and taking them for the alliance.
The game play is anything but simple. At the beginning of each turn, each player picks a strategy card, which gives that play a unique ability for that turn. It also includes an initiative number, which determines which order you play in.
Most strategy cards also have a secondary effect that your opponents can use by spending command counters from their supply.
After you pick strategy, each player gets a single action in initiative order, which follows around the table until every play has passed once.
The primary action you take in this game is the Tactical Action, which allows you to move ships, build in systems, attack, and invade or settle planets.
Combat involves dice, sometimes a lot of them. Each ship you can build has a combat number, which can be modified by technology you build. Each round you roll one die for each ship and if you meet your combat number or beat it, you cause a hit. Your opponent must remove a casualty for each hit. Combat is simultaneous, so both sides can be destroyed if they’ve got even forces and get lucky.
The game can takes hours to play, so it doesn’t come out often, but it’s a load of fun with the right group. I definitely suggest it to people who like games like Civilization (The computer game) as it has the same types of complexity and play time.
Hypothetical of the day: If you were in the position to enter an all out war for control of an empire, would you do it? If so, what means would you be willing to use?