Have you ever looked up to the stars and wondered who keeps peace within the galaxies? I imagine it would be very overwhelming to get “No one.” as your answer but that’s exactly what’s happening in today’s game. Twilight Imperium is a strategic, tactical, diplomatic and on a massive scale space opera board game that’s brought Fantasy Flight Games a large amount of praise and recognition.
Twilight Imperium is widely known as one of the pioneers of the industry and neither the producers support or players’ enthusiasm has seen any blow backs. It’s also a title that’s taken quite a while to reach the ultimate form with the first edition recorded in 1997 and the canon 4th edition released not too far back in 2017.
Designer Christian T. Petersen is said to have done all the work for the 1st edition all by himself. Later, with the introduction of the 2nd and 3rd editions, the game experienced quite the upgrade in the art style and got some repolished mechanics, that inspired by euro games, made some of the more complex actions easier to understand and perform. Ultimately, a team consisting of Dane Beltrami, Corey Konieczka and Christian T. Petersen himself, designed and published Twilight Imperium 4th Edition in 2017 as not only a combination of all the great things in the last editions, but also an adjusted and upgraded version of them.
With a pretty high complexity rating in BGG (4.30/5.0) the game may not be for everyone but the perfectly combined elements of strategy, negotiation and space battles along with its unique depth of gameplay have gained Twilight Imperium an enormous amount of popularity among board gamers all across the world. The game does such an amazing job balancing the risks and rewards, strengths and weaknesses that its always worth playing a new angle. For all its rightful popularity, in today’s article, we will discuss Twilight Imperium and all you need to know about this magnificent galactic struggle.
The once-great galactic empire of the Lazax has fallen and the galaxy is burning in the flames of ambitious war. All the nobles of the different races across the galaxy deem themselves worthy of becoming the new empire and there’s nearly nothing they wouldn’t do to claim that throne. 3-5 players take on the role of leading their great nation in the path towards glory.
Each faction has their unique strategies, action cards, scientific researches and their own reasons to use all of them sufficiently to take over the galaxy. The skies are darkened by the horrifying sight of gigantic war suns floating around in empty space. The people are always scared or running away from the chaos and destruction of war and so, it’s about time to finish it once and for all. By completing each one of the objective cards that are uncovered at the beginning of each round, you gain a victory point and the new emperor is the player with the most victory points at the end of the game.
As the commanding officer of all your nation’s fleet, in your turn you can choose to produce additional forces to advance your military influence, move your units to cover more space or threaten a rival or make an attempt to turn the tide of war by playing one of the strategies you’ve saved up your sleeve. You can grow and upgrade your units to become stronger, faster or bigger in storage.
Space combat however, isn’t the only way you can progress towards your goals. Gaining new resources, making trades and associations with the other factions, building upgrades that increase the effectiveness of your tactics are just a few of the tools that you have at your disposal in this journey.
At the end of each turn, the council of the nobles gather in order to pass new laws or discuss new agendas. Passing a law or agenda can go either one of two ways but you always have a saying in which gets passed and which doesn’t. If you control enough planets and therefore have more votes, you can even use them to your advantage. Laws and agendas shake things up unexpectedly so if you can’t figure out a way to gain from them, the least you have to do is keeping an eye out for them.
There are quite a few steps towards setting up a game of Twilight Imperium and for the game’s incredible depth and complexity it may take longer than you’re used to but we’re here to help.
Step 1: Gather the Players
Twilight Imperium is a board game that takes a considerable amount of time to play. It’s very engaging but also very time consuming so you’re going to need to make sure all the players are present, ready and aware before beginning the session. In this step you also need to choose the player who will be labeled Speaker for the first round.
Step 2: Choose Game Board
Twilight offers more than just one map and you’re free to choose your grounds. Get the tiles and put them adjacent to each other in the correct order. After the map is set up, players are free to choose their starting location i.e. their home planets.
Step 3: Sort the Components
Divide the tokens, shuffle the numerous decks of cards and ready your battleships. After placing the cards and tokens in their designated spot, get the faction cards out.
Step 4: Choose Your Faction
Are you more of a tech guy or more of a warrior? Your entire nation will reflect on your core abilities and it’s important to find the faction that best fits your play style. As of right now Twilight Imperium consists of 25 different factions that don’t leave any room for fights over which faction is the best one. Look through them all, choose the one you can work with.
Step 5: Choose Your Strategies
8 strategy cards are shuffled and distributed between the players. These cards will determine the order of play for this round and they allow their holder to perform strategic actions that could change the flow of the game significantly so be careful with the strategies you decide to take and how or when to play them. As an additional tip, always keep an eye on which strategies your opponents pick, it can reveal a lot on what they’re planning.
Step 6: Proceed the Setup
Consult the rule book and your faction sheets on the starting positions and components. After you’ve gone through all that is mentioned in the rule book draw your public and secret objectives from the already-shuffled deck of objective cards and start working your way to them according to the specifications of the rule book.
A Brief Overview of the Factions
The galaxy has been populated with many forms of intelligence and it’s only natural to assume that not all these races see eye to eye with one another. It’s up to you which species you want to play Twilight Imperium as but know that this decision is one of the most important ones you’ll make through the course of the game. To familiarize you with a couple of the famous factions, here are just three of my favorite factions to play in Twilight Imperium.
1. The Universities of Jol-Nar
The Jol-Nar are known for their exceptional investment in science and technology. They have access to all sorts of different technologies and upgrades which they can use to produce fair bits of resources as well as tactical advantages when it comes to combat. The Jol-Nar are also notorious for enslaving an entire species of excellent craftsmen to do their labor and present them with new weaponry. They sound a bit cruel but if you ask me, they know what they’re doing. Knowledge is this faction’s force to be reckoned with.
2. The Federation of Sol
The Sol are capable warriors and they thrive when the battle horns are blown. They control an enormous fleet of units that can spread quickly and conquer even quicker. Their investments in defensive technologies also allows them to take as little damage from engaging in combat as possible. Don’t be surprised if your peaceful planets of farming populations get colonized simply because of being in the Sol’s way. The prowess of the Sol is not to be taken lightly.
3. The Clan of Saar
The Clan of Saar are known for their tendency to explore and to build new things. They have a strong presence in a vast territory and they leave highly functional establishments on every planet they visit. They’re economy is strong and their production is rapid. They excel at diplomacy and trading and leaving this race with an experienced player could wreak havoc in the galaxy. Trust me I’d know. Once their fleet is up and running smoothly, there’s every reason to fear the Saar.
Twilight Imperium Expansion Packs
Unlike the first three editions of the game, Twilight Imperium 4th Edition was announced as a standalone crowdfunded project. Meaning the publisher didn’t initially intend to release any expansions for the 4th edition, which was supposed to be the ultimate edition. However, the game was way too successful to just leave out in the archive and the fans were too persistent. Therefore, in 2020, the first and so far last expansion for Twilight Imperium 4th Edition was introduced.
Prophecy of Kings
How could a game full—and I mean FULL—of great content, get even better? The answer, is Prophecy of Kings (image above). Twilight Imperium’s first expansion pack that brings tons of new and exciting content to the base game. New places to go and new things to doesn’t even begin to rightfully describe it.
Prophecy of Kings introduces seven entirely new factions to the base game, adding two to the maximum number of players and giving you an even wider range of options in terms of characterization and play style. In addition to having to learn how to play these new races, you’ll also have to learn how to play against them, providing lots of new ways to interact with other players and adding to the replayability.
A number of new action, political and even agenda cards are added that makes the majority of the events in this game breath-takingly unexpected. Mechs are added as the new powerful ground units of battle and as a newly developed scientific skill, you can genetically modify your infantry units to be stronger and more effective in ground combat.
The Twilight Codex
The Twilight Codex is the officially developed web-based platform for all things Twilight. The Codex has been designed to help players keep up with the updates regarding the game’s gameplay mechanics and increasing number of factions. It also provides you with news, tips and explanations regarding the Twilight Imperium universe.
The Twilight Codex is a very valuable asset for all players because it helps you improve at playing the game as well as expanding on your previous experiences. You can use the codex to modify your game and get the most amount of entertainment out of it. We players of Twilight are thankful for the developer’s services in the Twilight Codex and that is why I recommend old and new players alike to frequently check it out.
In the middle of the raging flames of war, your wisdom and strong leadership is the only light of hope that keeps your entire nation going. Your people are counting on you to restore peace to the galaxy and bring order to the inter-planetary relations. It will be a challenging task but one cannot achieve peace if not willing to go to war for it. Pax Magnifica, Bellum Gloriosum.
What’s your favorite thing about Twilight Imperium? What’s your winning strategy? Share your thoughts with us down in the comments!