I played Twilight Imperium last weekend, it’s a good game, but takes a while to play.
The game has familiar elements to anyone who has played Settlers, Puerto Rico or any of the German style board games. The basic premise is a galaxy inhabited by six races, who each vie for supremacy, aiming to complete various objectives to score victory points, the first player to score 10 points wins.
The game is ideally played with six players, but there are variant boards available for as few as three players.
There are various random elements to the game, starting with the selection of the races, and the layout of the board. Each players chooses one of the ten available races at random, and five of the galaxy cards to build the galaxy. Each race has it’s own set of special rules, with different strengths and weaknesses.
Once races are selected, the board is built. Each board tile contains different features, planets, wormholes, asteroid fields and so on. Generally you will attempt to place helpful planets near your own base, and less useful tiles near other players.
The game begins with player colonising the various planets, and building up fleets of space vessels. They can try and complete their own Secret Objectives, which are generally worth
two victory points.
As well as moving ships around, and attacking other players, there are various role cards available, much as in Puerto Rico. The best role is Emperor, which is worth 2VP. The next best is Initiative, which allows the player first selection in the next round (so an ability to take Emperor). Other than that, the other six roles allow various benefits to the selecting player in the realms of trade, politics, diplomacy and technological advancement.
There are several types of card available, notable Action Cards and Political Cards. These are made available as the game progresses, but you will generally only see a few of the possible cards in a single game. Action cards either help you or hinder your opponents, Political Cards require a vote, and will generally alter the rules of the game slightly.
I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s available, and this post is already getting long. With 2 experienced and four new players, the game took around an hour to set-up and explain well enough to start playing, and an hour to play the first round. Subsequent rounds were faster, but creeping towards an hour again towards the end, as the board grew more crowded, and the decisions became harder. In all, you can probably expect to devote most of a day to a full game, possibly an afternoon or evening if all players know the game, and play quickly.
I’d certainly rate this as a game I’d like to play again, but not quite to the level of Puerto Rico or Settlers, due to the time taken to play. This isn’t a game you play once every couple of weeks, it’s for once every few months.