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Dastrdly Dave

So...sell me Twilight Empirium

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So, I work at a game store, and I've been staring at this TI for around 3 months now. My friends like Magic, D&D, Ascension, CoC LCG, Risk and Age of Empires, will they take well to this? I've also heard the length of games can be a huge turn off, how much of a barrier is it? I mean we've had series of games that start at 4pm and end at 7am before, but one single game, I don't know. I think I'd really like it but the worry is my play group sad.gif

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 Twilight Imperium is definitely a great game. It combines space expansion, warfare, diplomacy and politics. There is variety between games as the galaxy you play in changes every time (player created, in fact) as well as various other standard components (cards, races, etc).

Twilight is definitely a longer game. In your very first session, it'll take hours and you probably won't even finish (it's one of those games where the first time you play teaches you the rules), but a standard 6-player game  will take around 7 hours. A length I've heard quoted is "1 hour per player, plus one hour, plus one hour per brand-new player" which is a reasonable estimate. It's quite long, but well worth it. 

My two pieces of advice before starting your first game - make sure a few people have read the rules, and buy the expansion ASAP. It doesn't change the mechanic of the game, but if you like Twilight Imperium the expansion does nothing but enhance the game, so you may as well buy it sooner rather than later.

For better (and probably more convincing) opinions, be sure to check out www.ti3wiki.org/forum/YaBB.pl

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It's true that TI3 can take a ridiculously long time to play, especially with 6-8 people at the table (going over 6 requires the expansion, too, btw.)  However, it's also true that the game can be called at just about any pre-agreed moment.  In all the times that I've played this game, I've only ever seen one game finished to the actual victory conditions (and that took about 13 hours for an 8 player game.)  Most of the time we play for 4-5 hours and then declare the current leader in VPs to be the winner.  Works just fine for us.

If you're worried about play time, don't be.  You can adjust the game to fit the time frame you need.  Reduce the number of VPs required, set a firm time limit after which you'll stop at the end of the current round.  Heck, for a quick and bloody game you could even say the winner is whoever can hold Mecatol Rex for 2 consecutive turns.

I'd be more worried about how much your friends actually enjoy games of global domination.  The list you provide doesn't include too many of those.  Of the examples you quoted, only Risk (and possibly AoE - haven't played that one) are on par with TI in terms of game play.  By which I mean global (galactic) domination games.

 

 

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 Not to over-generalise, but Steve-O's time requirements seem a little excessive - we have played many games to completion within  reasonable time frame. 8 player games do take ages, and frankly I wouldn't recommend them. Max out at 6 and you'll be fine.

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 As a scifi fan that grew up on a diet of Star Wars and Star Trek: TOS, Twilight Imperium is the game I waited my whole life to play.  I got into board gaming only recently, and coming across TI was a revelation of sorts.  Here was a game that let me build and command my own star fleet, acquire and/or conquer new worlds, have a hand in interstellar politics and trade, and participate in epic space battles.  What more could I want?  I was so sure I would love it that I bought it fully understanding I might never get anyone to play it with me.  How's that for crazy?  And I can pile on the insanity by admitting I also bought the expansion before ever scheduling the first game.

In practicality it is, as mentioned previously, an event game.  You don't bust it out on game night and bang out a session in a few hours.  You plan for it weeks or months in advance.  I've only been able to play 4 times since owning it for a little over a year now, but the talk between me and the three other guys who play is always, "when do we play next?"

It has a learning curve (we are still trying to master the subtleties), there is down time between turns, and there is a lot to manage throughout the course of the game.  You and the other players will need to have some buy in to the scifi theme (as one of our regulars has already announced he is more a fan of the new Civilization board game because it is more "realistic") and you have to have a huge play area available.  

Even with all those potential road blocks TI delivers in my opinion.  Because it is an event game it makes each play that much more special, as opposed to any other game you could easily squeeze in in a few hours or less.  It is a slow-paced, deliberate scifi crawl that has you starting in your own corner of the galaxy and spreading your influence outwards to the boundaries of your neighboring opponents.  You'll need to negotiate, skirmish, research technologies, and create a production engine that will fuel the economy of your galactic expansion.  Falter in any one of those and your journey will be that much more difficult.

The expansion offers a new flavor to the core game that rewards more player interaction and aggression.  The base set, some believe, favors a turtling strategy, but as with any game really, it depends on who you play with.  I play with a group of guys that don't mind mixing it up.  I do believe though that the expansion offers so much more to a game already brimming with variants right out of the box.  I'm amazed at how much is packed in and we've barely scratched the surface of what it can offer.

Hope that helps!

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Cool, thanks for the feed back! I'm still trying to figure out if my group would go for it, we just got into Civ V and D&D so our plates are really over full! LOL But, I am still considering getting TI. By the way does it hold attention well, or is it more o a niche game?

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The game is not boring, if that's what you mean?  The gameplay pans out like an awesome sci-fi movie if you ask me.  One of those 9-hour epic films that you keep wishing some movie studio would one day produce.

You can read my cheat sheet for what's involved in a player turn for the game.  See link below.  It might sound too technical or busy at first.  The game does keep you busy.

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Dastrdly Dave said:

Cool, thanks for the feed back! I'm still trying to figure out if my group would go for it, we just got into Civ V and D&D so our plates are really over full! LOL But, I am still considering getting TI. By the way does it hold attention well, or is it more o a niche game?

It is definitely a niche game, but I think it holds my attention well enough.  People who aren't interested in Sci Fi or general "dominate the galaxy" games may lose interest quickly, though.  It is definitely not the kind of game you want to force on people who aren't willing to play.  If you find yourself saying "c'mon, it'll be fun!" then odds are it won't be fun for whoever you're talking to.  If they're gung ho to play after seeing all the bits and race sheets, then you're in for a night to remember, though. =)

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Shonner said:

I don't think it's a niche game (there are two expansions made for it).  Plenty of house rules for it, too.

Perhaps you and I have different definitions of the term "niche."

Being a niche game does not preclude expansions or fan-based house rules variation.  It certainly does not preclude the game from being popular or financially successful (if it did then why would anyone make niche games?)  Being a niche game means it is designed for a specific crowd of gamers, rather than for the general public.  What makes TI3 a niche game is the heavy sci-fi theme and extensive rule set designed to reflect every aspect of intergalactic political strife.  Most of the games FFG makes are niche games by my definition of the word.

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I've played around 15 games of TI3, most with the extension, and we were always playing the "Age of Empire" variant; to my eyes this variant lessen a bit the game time, as you can prepare yourself for the next objectives. The time ratio are pretty correct (1h per player is what we get on average) but i've seen games going faster with players knowing better the rules.

With the late games, I saw 6-players games finishes in 4-5 hours...

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Steve-O said:

Being a niche game means it is designed for a specific crowd of gamers, rather than for the general public.  What makes TI3 a niche game is the heavy sci-fi theme and extensive rule set designed to reflect every aspect of intergalactic political strife.  Most of the games FFG makes are niche games by my definition of the word.

Understood.  I thought you meant a niche within the niche gaming community (Catan genre of games and later), as opposed to the still(?) popular family games from the '50s and '60s (Parker Bros. and Milton Bradley).

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