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Twilight Imperium (Anglais) Jouet – 22 février 2005
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Jouet, 22 février 2005
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The game is played to victory 10 points and unlike most war games, conquest is not the only means of victory. Points are acquired through capturing planets but also "researching" technology, and political decisions. The method of determining turn order is also quite original. Each player chooses a card (1-8) which in addition to being the order in which the players play, gives each player a special ability for that round. To further add interest each card has a secondary ability which all the other players can use when the player owning the card uses it. As a result not only are broad discussion (like conquest or technology) important but every turn can be critical as the players ability to ace often depends directly on when and how the other players act. This may seem as if it would slow the game, but a restriction on how many turns a player can take per round keeps the game moving nicely but keeps strategy extremely important through out.
This is not to say I don't have a few complaints about the game. The first couple of times we played we noticed some imbalances which led to certain having a definite advantage and the game always trending in the same way. There are 3 ways to get these points. Every player can complete common objectives, a new one being revealed each turn. A player gets 2 points every time they get the 8 card, and a player has a secret objective which can be worth two points. Our problem was that everyone accomplished the same common objectives. Because the 8 is so valuable, whoever went first had to take the 8, the person on their right then always took the 1 (and so they chose first next turn), so they could get the 8 next turn. Anyone who failed to follow this pattern automatically became 2 points behind, and never could catch up. The result is that there is little strategy to taking the 8 or the 1. Finally the secret objectives vary greatly in difficulty. As a result players who got easy secret objectives, or got to go first were far more likely to win. In fact in our first 3 games (5 players), the player who went first won 2 of them, and the only player that completed his secret objective in the 3rd game, won that one. At this point we were ready to give up on the game but instead we played around with the rules and came up with a slightly variation which greatly helped improve the game. If you do buy this game I highly recommend trying this variation after playing the normal rules a couple of times.
Many of these rule variations were taken from the Twilight Imperium Rule Variations which can be found (...)
1) The 8 card's text has been modified to the Game Option: Ancient Throne which gives a player 1 point for controlling Mecatol Rex. This modification greatly increases the strategy in choosing the 8 or 1.
2) Long War Variant: Play to 14 victory points. This will be necessary due to rule change # 3.
3) A player receives 2 victory points if they capture a planet in an opponent's home system. A player may only get points for a home system once. If the owner of the home system was not in control of the planet when it was captured this is reduced to 1 point. The reason for this rule was to encourage conquest (something that was seriously lacking in our previous games). The point reduction rule is to help prevent two players from allying to take a home system (since one of the players will not get all the points).
4) Every player receives 2 secret objectives. After creating the board but before the first turn each player must choose and discard one of them. This rule helps reduce the problem of unbalanced (in terms of difficulty) secret objectives.
5) You may only complete public objectives if you control all the planets in your home system (you may complete other objectives however). This allows players to slow down a player who gets too far ahead.
6) Destroyers get 4x Anti-fighter barrage. Destroyers are the weakest units in the game; this makes them a little better, but still hardly worth using.
7) The common objectives are laid face up on the table (you may still only complete the first after the first turn, second after the second, etc). This reduces the luck involved near the end of the game, as every one knows what is coming.
8) Technology can be purchased with influence or resources (but no combination). This rule helps balance the planets so everyone has more equal resources.
These rules seem to be very effective. While most players still get all of the common objectives, winning the game now depends on controlling Mecatol Rex, completing secret objectives or taking home systems. Players have been very successful using any combination of these three methods, and no race has done better or worse than any other. While these may seem to lead to large amount of conquest, this has never been the case, with only 3-10 major battles occurring in 4 player games.
A cool mechanic is the strategy cards, which allow the person who chooses them an important advantage in one area, but allows other plays to do something cool too. This is a great way to keep all players engaged every round and making sure no one gets board on someone else's turn. This game does boast quite a few rules and concepts that you need to know, so it's not a game that you can jump right into, but if you are willing to invest the time to learn it you will be richly rewarded.
The thing that really makes "Twilight Imperium" come alive, however, is the epic stories that the game tells. You and your friends will love reliving the tension of each game during the post-mortem, and for years to come. It really is a game that comes alive each time you play, and great story telling is the hallmark of a great game.
It is phenomenal in every way. It balances really well and the rules, as copious as they are, are well thought out and intuitive. You can learn them with ease but it will take some time to get through them all. The game is also really fun and the theme is spectacular. The gameplay is so deep that it feels so much more sophisticated than any board game I've ever played. The biggest problem I have with the game is that it never leaves my shelf. The game is great and I recommend it for anyone with some other roommates that have similar schedules but the problem with the game is the length of time it takes to play.The product description says about 3 hours but that is, in my experience, way underestimated.Of the five games I have played, it usually took about 7 or 8 hours, the fastest game was 5 hours. That big chunk of time is just too much especially for 4 or 5 people to all be in the same place at the same time. If that is not a problem then I say you should buy it, but for 70 bucks, the one game that you might play just isn't worth it.
You can win one of any three ways in TI. You can win by conquering all of your opponents(much like Risk), by accumulating points(much like Settlers of Catan), or by some random game events that come up in cards that are drawn occasionally.
This game has 10 races that you randomly choose from at the beginning of each game. The "universe" is made up of 30-40 some odd hex tiles that are randomly placed to create a unique and changing universe every time.
The game supports 3-6 players, each having their own unique color, counters, 60+ unit pieces, markers, tokens, etc. All of the pieces are made of a very thick cardboard stock and are quite sturdy. They seemed to be covered in a canvas type material making them moderately water resistant. The actual unit pieces are a medium hardness molded plastic making them tough as well as being well detailed. A typical game takes 3-4 hours. The learning curve is moderate to high and for that reason it is recommend for ages 14+, the numerous small pieces DO represent a choking hazard and the game is not recommended for small children up to age 3.
All in all, this game is AMAZING. It feels like an epic adventure every time! I haven't been this happy about a purchase in ages, so go out and give Twilight Imperium a try, you'll be glad you did.
The game itself is big! I doubt anyone who stumbled upon it doesn't already know that. But making a review for this game is hard because it's impossible to explain the effectiveness of every last rule and mechanic. Not to mention, the game comes with so much praise it's hard to write anything that hasn't already been said about it. So, for this game I'm going to do a "quick review" if you're just a little bit curious. From there, I'll divide the game by its component types and if you stick around you might find out why this game is so amazing.
"Quick Review": Twilight Imperium was designed by Christian T. Petersen, who currently resides as the CEO of Fantasy Flight Games. FFG is today's lead producer of theme-heavy games for serious board gamers. The game itself goes really deep into a rich backstory for each alien race. Twilight Imperium, however, takes a detour from standard FFG games because it combines various elements from "abstract games", "Euro games", and "American games". Also, it's not obsessed with selling you expansions and booster packs (even though it has a few). All in all, this game tries to deliver the most complete experience of controlling and expanding an empire that it can. And as many people have pointed out, this game is LONG! But the brilliance behind this game is keeping itself engaging for every player with as little downtime as possible and a unique experience every time with different strategies and play options that guarantee no two games will be the same.
"The Theme": The story behind Twilight Imperium describes an old empire ruled by a benevolent race known as the Lazax. The capital of their empire was Mecatol Rex (which you will set up on the board every game). While the galactic empire was wonderful, the Lazax did not foresee the rebellion that would wipe them out to near extinction. After an era known as the Twilight Wars each race divided and returned home to go into hiding. But after many years alone, several races begin to stir and an interest to seize the throne sparks a new age of galactic commerce that will make up the majority of the game. So while races could live in peaceful harmony or in brutal conflict, only one emperor can take the throne and the rest of the galaxy will bow to him or her when they do.
Deep and engaging, the story behind this game feels very Tolkien-esque. Maybe the biggest comparison is the way power corrupts people, as Tolkien and this game will teach you. But it is fun all the same playing as your race; being the clever and curious Humans or the peaceful diplomatic Xxcha for example. The sense of awe radiating from this game shows, because even though it might fit on a table you get a sense of space in this galaxy when you're either moving ships around or reading the flavor text about a planets backstory. If I could change something I would probably integrate something about common people because the game is about empires but you rarely worry about citizen revolts or whether you're a good emperor or not. But theme wise, this game deserves a ten out of ten.
"Abstract Game": Going over the components, the board is made of hexagon shaped tiles which represent planetary systems. This makes sense for a game that will be different every time you play. But to manage pieces on the board and take actions you will need the ever-useful Command Counters.
For a quick explanation, abstract game components are game mechanics that do not tie into the theme (if a game has a theme at all). But Command Counters are a nice way of simplifying down the number of actions you take, as you'll be limited by how many you have as well as how many have already been used. In the game you receive counters and you can spend them towards making your fleet size bigger, invading enemy systems or being able to pay for special strategy actions. Since you can't redistribute them during a round, it's important you know where to send them when you first collect them.
As I mentioned, they will determine the maximum size of your fleet. And also, you must place a Command Counter on a star system before you move in and attack because you won't be allowed to invade that system twice in one round. So despite what you think in the pictures, tactical strategy is vitally important to this game. And when you have Command Counters all over the board that's normally when players end the round because you can't have two of your counters in a space at any one time. While it all seems like complex mojo, it's actually an effective way of managing your empire that's really straight forward when you get the hang of it.
"Euro Games": When we get into the Euro game and American game part of the review it's helpful to mention that you don't see both mechanics very often in one game (much less ones that work together). But to give a quick summary, Euro games come from the battle-scarred Germans after WWII who didn't want their country associated with war. So in Germany, many games feature player cooperation with diplomatic solutions to problems that make more immersive game mechanics that are a true marvel.
Twilight Imperium's third edition was meant to combine the very best elements of Euro games and does it brilliantly. Because, at the start of a round, there are eight special strategy cards each player will choose. During your round you must use the power on that card at least once, and while battles and combat work great it is amazing how the game uses these cards to manage actions of a peaceful, strategic or even sinister nature. It's good to say at this point, you could win this game being a pacifist, but it's never totally a good idea to ignore your own defenses.
Once per round, the strategy card you pick gives you the power to either declare a truce, open up trade, restore strength to an exhausted fleet, reveal an objective to collect victory points, research technology or even change the rules of the game! Yes! That can actually happen! Choosing which of these actions you'd like to do before a round is crucial because they can be a real game changer, but it rarely distracts from the combat even though it is important. And to discover this mechanic exists in a game published by Fantasy Flight is quite shocking for a company that does very American-esque games. But the integration of this mechanic gives this game another ten out of ten.
"American game": Fighting and combat belong at the end of this list because this is stuff people are familiar with, even if they aren't board gamers. Ship stats, die rolling and player elimination are really things that define American games, even in simpler games like Sorry. But if I say combat is familiar in Twilight Imperium, don't misunderstand. It is still lots of fun.
Maybe one of the features that's more complicated than necessary are dozens of tiny rules regarding each ship, how they move and how they attack. Most of the technology you research also changes the stats of your ships, and the unique rules of whichever alien you choose can make combat between two players an awful lot to keep track of. It is also during combat that the game suffers a lot of downtime when you get to that one player who is planning his strategy like he is playing a game of Chess.
But I think making the combat sophisticated is part of the thing that makes this game exciting. You'll have tiny fighters, big dreadnoughts, troops for invading planets and the infamous War Sun! Taking the time to know your army is part of the secret to enjoying this game. Maybe a turn off for people is that all the combat can come down to getting better die rolls than other players, but there are some things even an emperor can't control during war. It's exciting, it's fun and it deserves at least a nine out of ten.
"Overall": Twilight Imperium can appeal to a great many people who have different ideas about managing an empire, since this game doesn't limit you to fighting or negotiation. If you're not destroying every player on the board, the real road to victory is being the first person to have ten victory points which you can receive by completing the various objectives and requirements given to you by the game. As some people have pointed out, the number of victory points received doesn't always match the difficulty of the objective you're trying to complete, but I still love Twilight Imperium.
I think whether you're in it to win or not doesn't distract from the epic experience this game has to offer. It can take as long as two days to play it but it creates non-stop intrigue and dilemma that keeps you seated to the end. And while it is a hard game to learn you'll find it becomes rather straightforward the more you play it and all those little rules will eventually fade behind a curtain of epic space-opera goodness. So if you're up for it this is an awesome game to play. Maybe one of the best ever created. So after you've played a few other practice games during your board game venture, check this one out and be amazed.