Sorry for the lack of updates on Fire Broadside! It's all because of the that damn Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's very addictive! My bounty hunter is in his mid thirties and I have a smuggler and an agent on their way up in life as well. Excellent story and solid gameplay. Anyway, I'm here to talk about Twilight Imperium - my favourite board game. Unfortunately I don't get to play it all that often but it's always a blast when it actually does hit the table.
So I was really glad when we managed squeeze in a game of Twilight Imperium (with the first expansion) before the end of the year. Sure, we were only three people but it allowed me to refresh my memory and, more importantly, introduce a new player to the game! Mats had never played before but had heard me wax poetic about the game many times before. Me and Anders met up early and started setting up the board. We decided to use one of pre-made maps from the FFG website as I have heard from several veteran players that they make for a more balanced (and hence fun) game. We also included Artifacts (but revealed from the start) but decided against the Distant Suns as that option which, while kind of fun, really adds to the time it takes to play and makes the experience quite a bit more random.
What we played.
We also picked a race for Mats. Both to save some time and also to make sure he got something with some fun special abilities but not too tricky to play, so the Mentak it was. I wanted to try the L1Z1X Mindnet as I had never played them and the technophile Anders took the Jol-Nar Universities (well, he's a technophile in TI but a luddite in real life!).
Setup. I'm blue, Anders purple and Mats orange. Sorry for the blurry pics.
We started out and Mats grasped the rules fairly quickly. We all started to spread out and approach Mecatol Rex. Anders as the Jol-Nar was the most aggressive as he brought two planetary defense platforms and placed them in a system next to MR... it felt like the Cuban missile crisis in space! Mats and Anders each had an artifact while the one between me and Mats lay unclaimed for a couple of turns. The Jol-Nar annexed Mecatol Rex through Diplomacy (which is against the rules as we discovered afterwards) and then managed to push through a new law stating that no one could invade MR, effectively making it his for the rest of the game! The Jol-Nar had a lot of systems with high Influence values so there wasn't much of a political game. Anders could simply decide what would happen.
He also took the lead and I decided to risk making a pre-emptive strike against his fleet massing near Mecatol Rex. Just before that another law was passed saying that all space docks had their production capacity reduced to two, meaning no one wanted to spend it making fighters and ground forces. This put me in a good position as the L1Z1X has cheap dreadnoughts and I had build a number of fighters before the law was passed (which the others hadn't). Also, since I had Hopes End I could make shock troops for "free" each turn. With the help of my fighter screen it was a fairly one-sided battle when I attacked the Jol-Nar and Anders' only managed to retreat with his damaged Warsun.
After my first attack on the Jol-Nar. You can see the damaged Warsun has retreated to a friendly system.
What the board looked like at the end of the game.
All in all a great game! It showed that although three is perhaps not ideal for Twilight Imperium it certainly works and can be a lot of fun! I should also add that I think the pre-made maps are the way to go. Sure, you loose a little bit of the fun of making it yourselves, but on the other hand you'll have a lot more balanced playing experience and since there are a lot of planets around Mecatol Rex there will probably be more player interaction (battles!) as well. Highly recommended! I also think artifacts are good and have changed my mind about Distant Suns; I prefer playing without them. Anders thought that there weren't enough resources to go around, but in my opinioin it was just right. At the end of the game I could squeeze out a couple of dreadnoughts without too much trouble but building a warsun was still taxing. As it should be I think.
Mats really enjoyed himself and I thought he played very well for being a complete newbie. He might have focused more on creating a strong fleet than on actually claiming victory points, but that is something we all do quite often. Warsuns are fun! It never felt like he was out of the game though, thanks to his strong military presence. In the beginning it was a tight race between me and Anders, but when he got his Secret Objective I knew it would be very hard to be able to catch up. It's such a huge game and all the variables create a different experience every time. This time for example, thanks to the spacedock law, saw the return of large dreadnought-centered fleet warfare as opposed to the fighter heavy fleets you often see in TI.
Looking forward to playing again with more players and the new(ish) Shards of the Throne expansion. I'm especially keen on the added political element in it as that is one of my favourite phases in the game.
Well... happy new year everybody! I'll be back in a couple of days with a proper 2011 retrospective!