Twilight Imperium, shortened TI3, is third edition of the board game by Christian T. Petersen and Fantasy Flight Games, released in 2005. It is the quintessential Fantasy Flight Big Box game, that kick-started the company’s success and growth when the first edition of the game was released in 1998. Since then it has been FFG’s go to flagship game. Twilight Imperium is famously and infamously known in the board gaming world for its long playtime and massive amount of content. It is often referred as the single biggest game that comes in one box and can be played in one sitting.
TI3 is a space 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate), strategy board game of galactic conquest, politics and trade for 3-6 players. In which each player takes command of one unique civilization in a path to carve a new empire and rule across the galaxy.
Gameplay is divided into series of rounds and each round has three phases. The first is strategy phase where you pick strategy cards one by one. The cards determine turn order and allow you to do different actions such as research new technology, make trade agreements and even create or modify rules by acting a new policy in the senate. After that comes the main part of the game which is action phase. Here players carry out their plans of moving fleets, producing units, conquering new planets and resolving combat. Last is the status phase where you clean up the board and score points on completed objectives. First player to reach 10 victory points or who has the most when the game ends is the winner. Also the objectives can differ a lot which means there are multiple strategies to victory.
Definitely the most fascinating and beautifully designed concepts of the game are the different races, which each have their special abilities, playstyles, backstories, planets, technologies and starting units. There are 10 of them in the base game and with the two expansions you get total of 18 unique races to play.
The game is very much comparable to a toy box, it has so many optional modules and variants that come with the base game and two expansions, that you will never get the same game experience twice. It encourages you to try all the different modules to spice and customize the game to your liking.
TI3 is a celebration of the madness of its scale and size. You set aside at least a day to play, or if you are truly mad, a whole weekend if playing with eight of your crazy empire-building friends. It has some downtime and a very long setup time, some streamlining would be nice, but for game this grand I don’t know if it’s possible. It is not a game for everybody, it is complex and long, however I truly encourage to try it at least once if you get the chance. For I guarantee you and your friends will create a story that you’ll remember months or years after.
Designer: Christian T. Petersen
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Release Year: 2005
Number of Players: 3-6, (8 with expansion)
Category: 4X, Civilization, Negotiation, Political, Science Fiction, Wargame.
Playtime: 6+ hours