Me and my group were recently playing TI3 (basic edition) several times. After initial first few games to get familiar with the game we are now stuck with the following issue: Whoever goes first usually wins the game.
First player always chooses Imperial Strategy Card. Next one takes Initiative. After n turns (where n is the number of players) First player gets Imperial Again. If he is able to complete his Secret Objective in the first n turns or gains VP from Public objectives he is the winner. All other players would have to do both: Gain VP for Public Objective every turn AND complete Secret Objective which never happened for us.
Last game we played, ended up with 3 players having 7 victory points in turn 5. On Turn 6 the Imperial went back to first player (this was 5 player game) and he won. Other 2 players with 7 VP would also won the game if They got Imperial Strategy Card that turn.
Are we doing something wrong? We are a little dissapointed in the game because the next time to determine the winner we will just roll a dice.
I have a feeling that it completely doesn't matter what you do in the game. It doesn't matter what units you build, how you move units, what technologies and which race you play. Politics is totally useless and brings nothing to the game as is it gives each game 2 random effects with minor impact on the game. There is just not enough time. After each player has ISC once, the game is over. In 5 player game that is turn 6. In 6 player game it is turn 7.
I wonder... how can I win the game when I don't go first and I'm not the neighbour of the players who goes first to block his home system? I need to qualify for public objective each turn from turn 1 and fulfill my secondary objective. Then I have 9 points and I can race with the player that goes first and qualify for last public objective in the initiative order. It would require extreme luck to do that since not every PO is doable on first turn.
Another feeling we all share is that the Secret Objectives are really not balanced. Some of them are extremally easy (like you do it on 2nd turn without special planning -> like the one that requires you to control 6 planets with technology speciality that are usually near you.) and some of them are impossible to do (like the one that requires you to control 4 planets with same technology speciality usually scattered through entire board.)
I still hope there is somethign that we have missed in the rules or that we can't really play well yet. If anyone could share some tips on how to avoid the problems we are having it would be great.