Twilight Imperium 3 is a big, giant, sprawling, board game that exemplifies the word epic. We wrote about why it’d be a great game to play all day on ITTD and now we’re putting our money where our mouth is. We’ve set aside 18 hours of prime gaming time to play TI3 on what is possibly the most epic custom set ever made in our galaxy.
An Epic Board for an Epic Game
This custom Twilight set is stunning. Hand painted planets, oversized tiles, and even dedicated dice trays for each player adorn the table.
Multiple copies of the game were needed to ensure that no one has to use a cardboard token in lieu of plastic fighters. Large ships are on custom bases so that the capital ships that carry smaller fighters actually carry those smaller fighters across the galaxy.
Again, this is just stunning. A lot of love has been put into this set and it shows.
It’s Game Worthy of the Effort
There is no other game like Twilight Imperium 3 and it’s set of expansions. Players begin tucked away in their corner of the galaxy, expanding towards the center across a multi-hour affair of space conflict. Every imaginable aspect of galactic conquest is present. Planetary control, ground forces, space forces, political laws to pass, and more technology options than I can fit in this sentence.
You begin small. You’ve got a small fleet and scant resources on your home planets but the galaxy is ripe for the taking. The board is dotted with additional planets, artifacts, and the occasional nebula or asteroid field that provide navigational challenges. Round by round you’ll grow and leverage resources or political clout to bend the galaxy to your will and assume control.
The goal is domination of the universe but the strategy varies wildly. Every race has its own set of unique abilities and powers that provide unique considerations and options. The militaristic Barony of Letnev are formidable enemies in the void of space, the Emirates of Hacan will dominate the sphere of trade and finance, and the Naalu Collective break traditional rules by always going first and willfully evading combat. Your race shapes your entire strategy from beginning to end; every game is different.
18 hours is on the long side for a game of TI3 but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. There’s unquestionably a lot to do. To begin a round, players choose 1 of 8 strategy cards. Each card gives that player a benefit for the round. There is often a lot of discussion during this phase as allies will want to collaborate on their choices or negotiate quid pro quos with enemies.
Following these choices players then act repeatedly in turn until they can take no more actions. How many turns a player gets will depend on how they’ve allocated their fleet (another phase that often includes discussion) but all players must perform the action on their Strategy Card. These provide all players an opportunity to perform a special activity and give the controlling player a bonus. For example, the science card gives all players the opportunity to purchase a Technology Upgrade at a high cost, while awarding one to the controlling player for free.
As always, there is opportunity for discussion. If you’re only a few resources away from being able to afford that Tech upgrade you may want to offer the Science player something in exchange for them delaying their action. Conversely, taking the Science Card to play early can be a key strategic consideration.
Even when you aren’t playing your strategy card there is a lot to consider. Each time you act there are 7 distinct steps you must work through from activating a system to building units and they have to be done in order. Activating a system–done first–will prevent all ships in that system from moving for the rest of the round. Planning out a round is the strategic puzzle that envelops all the tactical combat and actions that you have to take.
You may have noticed how often I’ve mentioned discussion. This is really what makes Twilight so rich and what makes it take so long. Negotiation permeates every aspect of the game. In some places it’s overt; when a new Political Law is up for vote players will wheel and deal in order to be the benefactor. Convincing a neighbor to attack across the map or to grant you safe passage through their territory can be much subtler. Twilight is the kind of game Varys would play to wind down after a day on the Small Council.
Will friendships survive this epic gaming marathon? Tune in on ITTD (April 29) to find out!
Have you ever created custom components for a game? What game do you love enough to give this kind of upgrade? Tell us in the comments!
Image Credits: Garlic Land Gaming