Playing Twilight Imperium for the Third Time

This weekend we played Twilight Imperium 4th Edition for the third time. Prior to this, we had played the game at five- and a six-player counts. The account of the first game can be read here and the second game can be read here. Our third time playing featured two big changes. The first was a timer. Our first game (with five players) took nine hours. That was to be expected as it was our first time playing. The second game (with six players) took twelve hours. It was exhausting and I knew we couldn’t do that again. We had an unofficial timer of two minutes per turn. Space battles were not included in that since they’re more random and time consuming.

The second change was that all players would be playing new races and none would be the ‘beginner’ races that we had tried out previously.

The following races were in play:

The Embers of Muaat (Jackie): They look like those aliens from The Fifth Element. They also start with a War Sun.
The Naalu Collective (Me): Seductive sexy space snakes.
The Nekro Virus* (John): The Y2K virus in space.
The Yssaril Tribes (Matt): Secretive space gremlins? Maybe? I don’t know man.
The Mentak Coalition (Zack): Space pirates.
*The Nekro Virus are yellow in the game but yellow text is hard to see on a white background so they’re orange here.
We played the recommended five-player map again as the goal this game was to play the game at a greater pace than the last two times. Promissory Notes were also not used but will be included for our next play. I think the time after that (fifth play-through) will see us draft our own galaxy.
Regarding the note-taking for this game, it was far and away the best of the three times we’ve played. That being said…I really dropped the ball when taking photos.
On a more somber note, this was our first game of Twilight Imperium 4th Edition without our founding member Mike. He’s not dead, but he’s in Germany doing his thing. The void was noticeable but he did give us his predictions going into the game, which I’m including below verbatim.
The Nekro Virus
This race’s abilities are cool AF, but possibly not all that strong. Before he can benefit from his abilities, he has to wait on others to develop desirable technology. I think that’s strategically problematic because his strength is necessarily second-hand. What appears to be missing is a good combat foundation, so it seems he should play guerrilla style and focus on assimilating technologies that boosts his combat power. John is a good player, but I don’t think this race’s abilities are fairly balanced enough to dominate this game. It would be cool as shit if he proves me wrong.
O/U prediction: Under 8.5
The Mentak Coalition
This race offers solid benefits to both combat and command token generation/deprivation. If Zack plays this similar to how he played last time, he’s going to amass a large fleet and create an intimidating presence on the board by mid-game. He needs to play it cool in terms of diplomacy, because otherwise he’s going to become a target of any emerging alliances at the table once people witness his mobility and combat power and get all scurred ‘bout it.
O/U prediction: Over 8.5 – Game Winner
The Embers of Muaat
Mobility through supernovae, a war sun out the gate, and the promise of more war suns to come. This sounds beastly enough, but Jackie will need to be mindful of generating an adequate number command tokens to keep her fleet mobile by mid-game. She will be seen as a threat early-game, so she should play defensively and not spread out her units on the board too soon. That is to say, although she is no longer a turtle, she should probably turtle anyway, at least at the start. If she can somehow swing an alliance with Zack, that would be beneficial and scary AF for everyone else.
O/U prediction: Over 8.5
The Yssaril Tribes
Needless to say, this race puts all its eggs in the action card basket. To be honest, I don’t exactly remember the text of the action cards and it doesn’t appear to be available on TI4 Wiki (on purpose to prevent spoilers, I think?). So, will this benefit be strong? I have no idea, but it does seem that its strength is dependent on the luck of the draw. That being said, I’m predicting that Draayer will enjoy a few moments of fleeting glory and spend most of his time scrounging for something useful in the moment, which could lead to him acquiring it after its usefulness has passed. I’m eager to see how this plays out. Maybe it’ll result in all sorts of sneaky maneuvers that change the tide of battle. Who knows? We will by Monday.
O/U prediction: Under 8.5
The Naalu Collective
Slippery, slithering, try to grip it but it slides right out. Think you’re gonna get there first? Nah, fuckin’ snakes squelched through the line to the front. Sexy serpent bitches with long-ass nails. Love ‘em and hate ‘em, too. Anyway, it appears this race is going to be adept at getting out of precarious situations, so combatting this fleet is probably going to be irritating, but not disastrous. Snatching control of the initiative order sounds like a major advantage. I’m predicting that the primary strength of this race will be its ability to preserve its forces and move them quickly to claim territories. I think it will be within reach for Kurt to take over claimed territories, but it may be more beneficial for him to focus on grabbing unclaimed planets early-game. If he can gobble up territories at the beginning and amass resources, it could be a ticket to bolstering his combat potential while also acquiring victory points rather swiftly. Of course, like some of the other races at the table, this could result in Kurt being targeted. The key will be building up a competent fleet capable of deflecting attacks on territories. Otherwise, Kurt will have to slither away from the conquests of others.
O/U prediction: Over 8.5
Round One
The opening objectives were Erect a Monument (Spend 8 Resources) and Develop Weaponry (Own 2 Unit Upgrade Technologies).
Turn order was as follows:
The Naalu Collective took Warfare (but due to their race ability, was first in turn order),
The Embers of Muaat took Leadership,
The Yssaril Tribes took Politics,
The Mentak Coalition took Trade, and
The Nekro Virus took Technology.
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TI4 almost set-up for everyone.

The opening turn saw every player venture out from their home planet(s) and occupy planets nearby. Naalu, in a rookie blunder, played Warfare as their second action thinking that it activated the remaining players home systems. It does not so everyone took advantage of the secondary ability of the strategy. The Embers of Muaat built ships to help expand their fleet to be more than just a War Sun and the remaining races took more planets. The third turn saw the inverse of turn two, as Naalu conquered more planets (thanks to Warfare which enabled its lone Carrier to move again) while the rest of the board activated their Strategy Cards. Yssaril, playing Politics, nominated themselves as Speaker and started to hoard action cards (which would be a common theme for the game). Mentak instituted Trade and gave the Nekro Virus some free goods as they tried to keep their neighbor on their good side. The Nekro Virus ushered in a Tech age that only the Naalu benefited from. Turn four saw additional movement as Naalu moved outside of Mecatol Rex, The Embers of Muaat moved to secure the A wormhole, and Yssaril further expanded their reach. Turn five saw Naalu build some additional fleet and The Embers of Muaat used their special ability to plant a Space Dock near a newly captured planet. Following that, all players passed.

Score Board

The Yssaril Tribes – 0 pts

The Nekro Virus – 0 pts

The Naalu Collective – 0 pts

The Mentak Coalition – 0 pts

The Embers of Muaat – 0 pts

Turn one was the tale of two cities for me (Naalu). Playing Warfare gave me exactly what I wanted, the ability to move my lone Carrier and Ground Forces again to grab planets nearby. Unfortunately, I was an idiot and did not read my card thoroughly as I thought I was blocking the table out if they chose the secondary action. I don’t know why I thought that as that would be incredibly overpowered and awful but it’s where my mind was at. I had a gameplan and was too preoccupied with thinking six turns ahead.
But Warfare wasn’t my only blunder. With my secret objective being to occupy six systems, I really did myself a disadvantage by keeping my ships together. I don’t think I would have been able to score this during round one but it definitely would have been scored during round two.
My main objective was to find something to keep the peace between the Nekro Virus and myself. I was the only race to research a technology which in my mind made me the primary target of the space virus. I had a plan for my technology but it was a race to see if I could research everything before the Virus had infected my slice of the solar system. I also tended to shy away from technology in previous games as I always forgot what I had and had the worry in the back of my mind that I would spend two rounds heavily factoring into tech before forgetting it when the shit hit the fan.
Round Two
The Naalu Collective – Politics (but due to their race ability, was first in turn order)
The Mentak Coalition – Leadership
The Nekro Virus – Construction
The Embers of Muaat – Trade
The Yssaril Tribes – Technology
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Everyone is minding their own business, for the most part.

Naalu again were on the move, this time encroaching on the Yssaril and taking the B wormhole. Mentak played Leadership early and saw Naalu and Yssaril spend influence to gain more command tokens. The Nekro Virus and The Yssaril Tribes conquered more planets while The Embers of Muaat played their Trade card but no one besides the Muaat benefited from this action.

Naalu conquered a nearby system as the Mentak parked outside of Mecatol Rex. The Nekro Virus and The Embers of Muaat decided to build, again fortifying their fleets. The Yssaril Tribes also built some Cruisers but did so thanks to an Action Card.

Turn three was more of the same as the Naalu aimlessly wandered around their conquered planets while The Nekro Virus and the Mentak worked a trade. The Nekro Virus played Construction and saw the Muaat and Yssaril use the secondary ability. This was quickly followed with an early pass by the Muaat player. The Yssaril ended that turn with the playing of the Technology card that saw everyone but the Muaat use the secondary ability.

The Naalu played Politics and named themselves Speaker. Even though they could go first each round, it didn’t mean they could choose the Strategy Card they wanted. This changed that. The Yssaril Tribes and The Mentak Coalition passed and The Nekro Virus built more units.

The round ended with the Naalu playing Raise the Messiah (place one infantry on each planet you control) and The Nekro Virus playing Ghost Ship (place a destroyer in a wormhole system).

The end of Round Two saw the first scoring of the game as The Nekro Virus achieved their secret objective and The Yssaril Tribes completed a public objective of spending 8 resources.

Score Board

The Yssaril Tribes – 1 pt

The Nekro Virus – 1 pt

The Naalu Collective – 0 pts

The Mentak Coalition – 0 pts

The Embers of Muaat – 0 pts

As I thought in round one, I was correct in my summation that I was not going to score my secret objective in round two. I did a terrible job of spreading my fleet out in the early game and I feel like the limitation of starting with one Carrier was something I completely underestimated.

Going first was much more of a disadvantage (for me) than I originally thought. I prefer to have a goal in mind and then react to what other players are doing. Looking back, I clearly should have set the tone for the entire game but was reluctant to do so. Hindsight is what it is but I can pinpoint multiple times I should have forced an issue (occupying an opponents pie slice, moving into Mecatol Rex, utilizing the Wormholes, etc.).

I took Politics as I was not going to be stuck choosing last again. Having two or three ideas and seeing other players swipe the cards in front of you is just draining, especially when you know that you’ll be performing the first action each and every turn.

This is more of an observation, but as this was our first game without Hacaan, it became clear very early how valuable trade goods were and how sparse they were going to be.

 

Round Three
The Naalu Collective – Leadership
The Yssaril Tribes – Diplomacy
The Nekro Virus – Construction
The Embers of Muaat – Warfare
The Mentak Coalition– Technology
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The Naalu Collective played a card immediately to gain two additional command tokens, bolstering what they had. Yssaril continued their space colonization as they took more planets. The Nekro Virus re-positioned their fleet around the galaxy so they could further build and expand their terrifying fleet. The Embers of Muaat chose to take a nearby planet and offer trades to their neighbors. Eventually they struck a deal with The Yssaril Tribes. The Mentak Coalition moved regretfully, realizing too late that they had the ability to move further due to either technology or an action card.

Naalu continued to amass command tokens, this time playing Leadership. The Yssaril spied on the Naalu contingent, swiping an action card from their hand and The Nekro Virus automated some more robots for their fleet as they built. Muaat did more of the same as they moved and conquered one of the few remaining planets. Mentak, using Flank Speed (+1 movement to all ships during this tactical action), moved to the center of the galaxy and claimed Mecatol Rex as their own.

The third turn of the third round saw Naalu and Yssaril moving away from their Space Docks and The Nekro Virus and Muaat nations building more ships.*

*I’m not kidding. It seemed like every ship for the yellow player was on the board. I think their fleet size was five and they made sure to max it out where it mattered. It was absolutely terrifying.

The Mentak Coalition, sitting comfortably on Mecatol for now, played Technology and saw the Naalu piggyback off of the secondary ability.

The Naalu built to kick off turn four and The Yssaril Tribes played Unexpected Actions (remove a command token from the board and return it to your reinforcements). The Nekro Virus used Construction, which saw all but the Muaat use the secondary ability. Not to be outdone, the Muaat played Warfare and the Mentak moved around the board.

The Naalu, Muaat, and Mentak moved as The Yssaril Tribes played Diplomacy and The Nekro Virus jumped on the opportunity to use the secondary ability before passing.

The Naalu played Focused Research (spend four trade goods to research a technology) and the Yssaril built more ships as the last acts of the round as every other race passed.

The end of Round Three saw The Yssaril Tribes score their Secret Objective of having three space docks as well as scoring a Public Objective of conquering three planets with a technology specialty.

The Mentak Coalition scored for their taking of Mecatol Rex.

The Naalu Collective scored their Secret Objective of having one ship in six systems and a Public Objective of having two technologies of two different colors each.

The Nekro Virus also scored a Public Objective as they spent eight Resources.

With the taking of Mecatol, the Agenda phase was introduced. The first vote was a Law entitled Anti-Intellectual Revolution.

For

After a player researches a technology, they must destroy one of their non- fighter ships.

Against

At the start of the next strategy phase each player exhausts one planet for each technology they have researched.

The Naalu Collective put everything against this passing but was trumped by the larger races in a vote of 16 to 11. The Nekro Virus bet that the ‘Against’ vote would win and was correct.

The second vote was for the Directive entitled Mutiny.

For

Each player who voted “For” gains 1 VP.

Against

Each player who voted “For” loses 1 VP.

The vote was unanimously passed and The Yssaril Tribes, The Embers of Muaat, and The Mentak Coalition all scored one victory point.

Score Board
The Yssaril Tribes – 4 pts
The Naalu Collective – 2 pts
The Mentak Coalition – 2 pts
The Embers of Muaat – 2 pts
The Nekro Virus – 1 pt

I was one step closer to my technology goal but the threat of the Nekro Virus was intense. They were an incredibly large fleet and had the opportunity to come knocking on my home system much easier than they did the Mentak. With the asteroid field in their way, it kept them from Mecatol and that should have been a scenario I noticed early. I also considered myself the primary target due to my stockpiling of technology.

The vote on Anti-Intellectual Revolution was crippling. As I had spent resources on a technology (thanks to the action card), I was asset rich but cash poor and having my planets exhausted was going to be a massive detriment. The passing of that Law changed my entire thought process for the game going into Round Four.

Round Four
The Naalu Collective – Imperial
The Mentak Coalition – Politics
The Embers of Muaat – Trade
The Nekro Virus – Warfare
The Yssaril Tribes – Technology
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Due to Anti-Intellectual Revolution, each race was impacted and forced to exhaust planetary cards. The Embers of Muaat were the least affected as they only exhausted one card. The Nekro Virus and Yssaril were in a similar situation as they both exhausted two planetary cards. The Mentak felt a sting by exhausting four cards and the Naalu were reeling as they had to exhaust six planetary cards.

Naalu, armed with an army of command counters and basically nothing else due to the recent law, added another planet to their cohort. The Mentak, upset that Imperial was grabbed from them, played Politics to ensure that they had first pick next time the Strategy cards came into play. The Embers of Muaat played Trade, striking up deals with The Nekro Virus and The Naalu Collective. The Nekro Virus continued their movement throughout the galaxy, establishing their enormous fleet on the edges of the Mentak and Naalu realms while the Yssaril kept to themselves, playing Technology as they were unable to strike a trade deal with the Muaat. The Mentak and The Nekro Virus utilized the Tech secondary ability.

Having resources from the recent trade, the Naalu reinforced their fleets by building as The Nekro Virus did the same. The Muaat and Mentak moved and took the few remaining planets for themselves as the Yssaril played Insubordination, taking from the Muaat for their inability to strike a trade deal earlier.

The third turn of Round Four saw some trading between the Naalu and the Muaat, with the Muaat eventually passing for the round. The Mentak built, as they saw The Nekro Virus on the horizon. Speaking of the Virus, they played Warfare to set themselves up for a move later in the round. The Yssaril Tribes stuck to themselves as they moved to further split their fleet among their slice.

The Naalu Collective ended their round by playing Imperial to gain the secret objective (and keep Mentak from an easy score) and the Muaat, The Nekro Virus, and the Mentak jumped on the secondary ability (as it was the first time being seen all game). The Mentak chose to join The Yssaril Tribes in passing.

The Nekro Virus finally decided to use its colossal fleet and strike, launching an offensive aimed at The Mentak Coalition. This was the first battle of the game and was to be the launching off point for The Nekro Virus invading Mecatol Rex in Round Five. After easily dispatching the Carrier of the Mentak, the Virus sent ground forces to absorb the planet into their folds. The Mentak had other plans however, as their lone ground force was able to hold off the Viruses aim to assimilate. Following the battle, the Virus passed.

Round Four saw The Nekro Virus and The Yssaril Tribes score one point for the Public Objective of spending five trade goods.

The Naalu Collective scored a Public Objective by spending five trade goods.

Moving to the agenda phase, the first vote was for the Law Prophecy of Ixth.

The vote for this Law was centered around which player would gain the below mentioned ability.

The owner of this card applies +1 to their fighter’s combat rolls. When the
owner of this card uses a Production ability they discard this card unless
they produce at least 2 fighters.

The vote resulted in a tie between the Muaat’s and Mentak’s, with the Speaker breaking the tie for their own race.

The second vote was for the Directive Miscount Disclosed, which had players re-vote on the previous law. The Nekro Virus placed their bet on the same outcome occurring and in a vote of 34 to 21, the Mentak again won the use of the Law.

Score Board

The Yssaril Tribes – 5 pts

The Naalu Collective – 3 pts

The Mentak Coalition – 2 pts

The Embers of Muaat – 2 pts

The Nekro Virus – 2 pts

Let’s get the elephant out of the room first. Strategically, there was absolutely no reason to take Imperial. At the time, I was in no position to benefit from scoring a Public Objective and while gaining a Secret Objective was nice, that was more of a luxury than anything.

I thought about taking Trade but with the Mentak constantly pillaging players that made deals, I wasn’t looking to gift them any resources for just existing. In my mind, taking Imperial kept the game closer by denying the Mentak a chance to run away with things. In hindsight, that’s exactly what I should have done. Let Mentak score, putting them in second and with the clear path to first as they further their stronghold on Mecatol Rex. That puts the focus of the game on them and forces either (or both) The Yssaril Tribes and The Nekro Virus to take care of them. This would leave me safe, especially important as I was so hamstrung during the round.

Exhausting my planets due to the Law sucked. While I was able to build during the round, it wasn’t nearly as advantageous as I would have liked. Honestly, this was the low point of the game for me. I had so many command counters but I couldn’t do anything without stretching myself too thin.

 

Round Five

The Naalu Collective – Leadership

The Yssaril Tribes – Politics

The Embers of Muaat – Warfare

The Nekro Virus – Technology

The Mentak Coalition – Imperial

The Naalu Collective opened Round Five with the playing of Leadership, restocking their coffers with command tokens and with everyone having their planets available, all but The Nekro Virus utilized the secondary ability. A second strategy card, Politics, was played right after Leadership and saw the Speaker token change hands to the Yssaril. The Embers of Muaat moved, cautiously preparing themselves for whatever fallout was to come from the inevitable MentakNekro war. The Nekro Virus re-positioned themselves following the inability to wrest the planet from their adversary and the Mentak, knowing time may be short, played Imperial to score themselves a point.

The Naalu and Yssaril spent their turn building as discussions between the two started to heat up regarding their pie slices touching. The Muaat played Warfare and the Mentak used the secondary ability. The Nekro Virus built, restocking their ground forces and trying to do what they could to ensure a repeat of last round does not occur.

The Mentak launched a surprise offensive assault against the Muaat. The Muaat suffered heavy losses, losing their War Sun and both fleets were completely wiped out. The Mentak came out ahead though as they were tasked with destroying a War Sun as a secret objective.

The attacking did not stop there this round. The Naalu Collective spearheaded an assault against a lone Cruiser of The Yssaril Tribes. After the destruction of the Cruiser, a temporary truce was established between the two neighbors.

The Yssaril and Muaat races spent their turn moving, reestablishing their fronts after the battles that took away some of their buffer between their home systems and the rest of the board. The Nekro Virus used Technology, with every race using the secondary ability. The Mentak, fresh off a military success but sustaining heavy losses, spent the turn building but did not abide by the Prophecy of Ixth, thus losing the ability of the Law.

After destroying the Yssaril Crusier, the Naalu moved as The Nekro Virus threat to the other side of their yard loomed. The Yssaril built to recover from their loss and the Muaat, still holding a grudge from the previous round, played Sabotage on the Yssaril people. The Nekro Virus, feeling tech hungry, launched an attack on a lone Naalu Destroyer. The Naalu, utilizing their races special ability, booked it from the scene and left The Nekro Virus by themselves in an empty hex (although one step closer to their home system). The round ended with the Mentak moving to the border of the Muaat.

The Mentak scored three times! Once for occupying Mecatol Rex and playing the Imperial card, once for succeeding at their Secret Objective for destroying an opponents War Sun, and for scoring their Secret Objective of being next to an opponents home system.

The Naalu Collective scored twice in the round, as they completed a Secret Objective of winning a space combat against the player with the most points (Yssaril) and they were able to discard five action cards to score a third Secret Objective, Form a Spy Network .

The Yssaril Tribes scored the Public Objective of having two technologies in two different colors each.

The Agenda Phase saw the Law Fleet Regulations come up for vote.

For: Each player cannot have more than 4 tokens in their fleet pool.

Against: Each player gains 1 command token into their fleet pool.

The Nekro Virus bet that the Law would be voted Against. In a vote of twelve to four, the Law passed.

The second vote was for the Directive Arms Reduction.

For: Each player destroys all but 2 of their dreadnaughts and all but 4 of their cruisers.

Against: At the start of the next strategy phase, each player exhausts each of their planets with a technology specialty.

The Directive passed. The Nekro Virus fleet was absolutely obliterated due to political subterfuge.

Score Board

The Yssaril Tribes – 6 pts

The Mentak Coalition – 5 pts

The Naalu Collective – 5 pts

The Embers of Muaat – 2 pts

The Nekro Virus – 2 pts

It wouldn’t be a Twilight Imperium game without me losing my home system. Could I have done things differently, of course. Losing the resources from my planets for the fourth round just hindered me greatly and even if I would have built more in this round, it wouldn’t have mattered with how terribly I rolled dice.

But as bad as I thought I had it with Anti-Intellectual Revolution, The Nekro Virus were absolutely gobsmacked by the Agenda Phase in round five. Fleets being diminished and the destruction of ships took a mighty toll on the computerized race. In all our playing, I have yet to see such a devastating and thematic turn occur in regards to voting. As Anti-Intellectual Revolution impacted me the most, I feel like this Agenda Phase changed the rest of the game. I don’t know what The Nekro Virus was planning for their future turns but they went from knocking on Mecatol Rex’s door and controlling the largest force in the game to a shell of themselves. I’m not taking anything away from the other players, but the balance of power shifted mightily here.

It took five rounds, but I was finally able to grab the technology that I had been aiming for. I could have sprinted for this a quicker but the Public Objective cards made me vary my technology acquisitions. Looking back, I don’t know if bee-lining for what I wanted would have had any matter but I loved having the technology Neuroglaive in my back pocket.

Sitting at third with five points makes it seem like I was doing a lot better than I was. I was floundering and if the coming Public Objectives were not in my favor, I was not going to score any more points.

 

Round Six

The Naalu Collective – Construction

The Embers of Muaat – Leadership

The Nekro Virus – Trade

The Yssaril Tribes – Technology

The Mentak Coalition – Imperial

 

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The opening turn of round six saw four of five players utilize their Strategy cards. The Naalu Collective (Construction), The Nekro Virus (Trade), The Yssaril Tribes (Technology), and The Mentak Coalition (Imperial) wasted no time in playing the card they grabbed. Technology was the only card that players used the secondary ability on, with the Naalu, Muaat, and Nekro Virus going along for the ride. The Mentak, playing Imperial, scored for holding Mecatol Rex and a public objective. The lone hold out, The Embers of Muaat, chose to build to start the round.

The Naalu chose to build, preparing a fleet for the incoming Nekro Virus and the Muaat got in on the game by playing Leadership, with the Mentak, Yssaril, and Naalu using the secondary ability.

The Nekro Virus launched an assault on the home system of the Naalu. Despite superior odds, the dice Gods were not in the Naalu’s favor and they were destroyed as they lost one of the planets in their home system. This was a coup for two reasons, as not only was a home system captured but they were also able to copy a superior technology from the Naalu, Neuroglaive. Neuroglaive was keeping The Nekro Virus at bay for the longest time as when an opposing fleet activates a system with a Naalu ship, they are forced to remove a fleet token from their board and return it to reinforcements.

The most recent passing’s of Fleet Regulations and Arms Reduction made this technology moot.

On the other side of the galaxy, The Yssaril Tribes launched an offensive against the weakened Muaat, completely destroying their forces in a system. The Mentak, seeing their neighbors either attacking other players (The Nekro Virus) or being attacked (The Embers of Muaat), took this time to build.

The Naalu, reeling from losing their home world, played Uprising. The Embers of Muaat counterattacked the Yssaril, who retreated and like The Nekro Virus, spent the turn building. The Mentak ended their round by fortifying their position.Going into turn four of round six, the Naalu counterattacked The Nekro Virus, driving them out of the A Wormhole (and hoping to cut off reinforcements). The Muaat played a card and The Nekro Virus moved into a system with Mentak planets.

The Naalu Collective finished the round out by moving twice, including through the B Wormhole to be on the steps of the Muaat and Mentak slices.

Scoring for the round saw Mentak gain a point for controlling Mecatol Rex and a point for completing the Public Objective of spending eight resources.

The Nekro Virus scored the Public Objective Conquer the Weak and completed a Secret Objective as they had a ship in a system with a space dock.

The Yssaril rounded out scoring with a Public Objective as they had two unit upgrades.

The Agenda Phase saw the Law Imperial Arbiter come up. This Law was directed towards a player and stated:

At the end of the strategy phase this card may be discarded to swap one of this player’s strategy cards with 1 of another player’s strategy cards.

The table voted for The Nekro Virus to gain this card.

The second vote was for a Directive entitled Ixthian Artifact.

The speaker rolls a die. 1-5: Destroy all units on Mecatol Rex & 3 units in each system adjacent to Mecatol Rex. 6-10: Each player researches 2 technologies.

The Nekro Virus bet that the table would vote ‘For’ this Directive and The Mentak Coalition added a Rider stating the same thing. The vote passed 21-20. An 8 was rolled.

Score Board

The Yssaril Tribes – 7 pts

The Mentak Coalition – 6 pts

The Naalu Collective – 5 pts

The Nekro Virus – 4 pts

The Embers of Muaat – 3 pts

It wouldn’t be a game of Twilight Imperium without me losing my home system. I was still reeling from the loss of resources from round four. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I would circumvent that tragedy. Possibly creating an alliance with the Mentak or something.

I was honestly hoping that Ixthian Artifact would roll between a one and a five as the chaos would really change the shape of the board. Getting two technologies was fine but as everyone was getting them, it lessened the achievement. 

 

Round Seven

The Naalu Collective – Leadership

The Yssaril Tribes – Diplomacy

The Embers of Muaat – Politics

The Nekro Virus – Warfare

The Mentak Coalition – Imperial

Using the newly passed Imperial Arbiter Law, The Nekro Virus swapped their strategy card with that of The Embers of Muaat. The new turn order was as follows:

The Naalu Collective – Leadership

The Yssaril Tribes – Diplomacy

The Nekro Virus – Politics

The Embers of Muaat – Warfare

The Mentak Coalition – Imperial

 

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The Naalu Collective, working out a deal with The Nekro Virus, moved to allow them safe passage from the Naalu home system. The Yssaril Tribes however, offered no such mercy to The Embers of Muaat as they attacked and conquered a former Muaat planet. The Muaat, seeing their hold on their slice shrink with each attack, built more ships in a desperate plea to hold onto what was theirs. The Nekro Virus, holding true to their binary word, left the Naalu home system unprotected. The Mentak took this time to play Imperial, scoring for having Mecatol Rex and a Public Objective.

The Naalu Collective, feeling like their home system was safe for the time being, took two undefended planets on the complete other side of the galaxy. The Yssaril stole an action card from the Mentak. The Muaat built again, preparing for a final battle. The Nekro Virus set their sights on a new target as they moved towards the fringes of Mecatol Rex. The Mentak, feeling closed in by the loan fleet of the Naalu wandering the void, attacked but saw the Naalu retreat from the system.In turn three of round seven, the Naalu reclaimed their home system. The Yssaril and Mentak’s built and The Embers of Muaat played Politics, with the Yssaril and Nekro Virus utilizing the Secondary ability. The Nekro Virus then launched their attack on Mecatol Rex and the Mentak, easily destroying what little fleet was there and claiming the center of the board for their own.

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The Naalu built and the Yssaril played Diplomacy while The Nekro Virus moved about. The Muaat and Mentak passed for the rest of the round.

The Naalu played Leadership, with the Muaat and Yssaril grabbing additional command counters. The Yssaril stalled, waiting to see how the rest of the turn played out. The Nekro Viruss played Warfare.

The Naalu played Signal Jamming (place an opponents command token in a non-home system adjacent to one of your ships) while the Yssaril stalled again. The Nekro Virus moved once again.

The Naalu re-positioned their ships as the Yssaril played Reactor Meltdown (destroy an opponents Space Dock in a non-home system) on The Nekro Virus. Having multiple Space Docks around the galaxy, they built anyways.

The Naalu Collective and The Nekro Virus passed, ending their rounds as The Yssaril Tribes eliminated ground forces on a Naalu planet. As the only remaining race in play, they launched an attack against the Naalu and captured a planet of theirs before passing.

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The Naalu Collective scored a Public Objective for having two units upgraded.

The Yssaril Tribes scored a Secret Objective of having four hazardous planets under their control and a Stage II Public Objective of controlling eleven planets, netting them three victory points.

The Nekro Virus scored a Secret Objective of occupying Mecatol Rex and a Public Objective of having two units upgraded.*

The Embers of Muaat scored a Public Objective for having two technologies of two different colors.*

Score Board

The Yssaril Tribes – 10 pts

The Mentak Coalition – 6 pts

The Naalu Collective – 6 pts

The Nekro Virus – 6 pts

The Embers of Muaat – 4 pts

The Yssaril Tribes emerged victorious.

*Technically, the game ends once a race has scored ten points but we always tally everything up just to see where it ends, hence the scoring for The Nekro Virus and The Embers of Muaat. For the purist, the final scores would actually be:

Score Board

The Yssaril Tribes – 10 pts

The Mentak Coalition – 6 pts

The Naalu Collective – 6 pts

The Nekro Virus – 4 pts

The Embers of Muaat – 3 pts

Some initial thoughts from The Yssaril Tribes player: I constantly felt like I was in such a fragile game state because I did not have a fleet compared to the rest of the board. All I had between me and a military defeat were some tricky action cards. I knew if I could keep my head down, I could position myself to pick off easy points. Once I was singled out as a leader at 5 or 6 points, the Mentak had a big turn closing the points gap, stealing the spotlight and it left me some breathing room. That really fueled my end game and sealed the win. When I knew I could seal 3 points in the round, it felt like I was trying to plug holes with whatever tools were at my disposal. Diplomacy helped me keep a planet that was touching the Nekro virus territory. I had some action cards that let me thin out targets. Ultimately, I lucked into the hazardous planet secret objective and having controlled 2 already and with 2 more touching my pie slice, it was my best win condition. I knew that if I stalled out at 9 points, I would have been picked apart by the other races to prolong the game. So I just went for it.

Now for the rest of my ramblings:

First, lets talk generally. Like our previous games, combat and aggression did not appear until midway through the game. Our first space battles happened in round five and two were direct results of Secret Objective cards. The third battle that round was strictly to gain some technology as The Nekro Virus. Once battles happen however, the gloves are off and all parties throw down. After the first battle, every race launched an attack against another race before the game ended. Most launched two or more.

I’m not sure why we’re not aggressive early on. There’s not even the threat. Everyone typically sticks to their slices and even when the Mentak took Mecatol Rex, they weren’t contested by anyone but The Nekro Virus.

I’m incredibly curious what aggression looks like in the early game and I wonder if a race like The Embers of Muaat would benefit from coming out of the gates and using their War Sun as a way to influence the board. I can see the immediate disadvantages of early aggression: pissing off the table/neighbors and setting a target on your back, not to mention the possibility your aggression is met and you fail. Losing your force in the beginning rounds might ruin the entire game for a player (but this is just speculation).

As for The Naalu Collective, I thought they were alright. I’m not sure I liked them as going first each round was not for me. If I do play them again, it would be interesting to try to force the pace a little and be aggressive early before players have a chance to plan around them. Starting with only one Carrier is a detriment and if I couldn’t grab Warfare in the first round, I worry that my later turns would have looked even worse.

The Foresight ability was useful a few times, especially once it was matched with the Neuroglaive technology. It really made enemies wonder if attacking me was worthwhile as not only would they lose a fleet pool token, I could also retreat. I don’t think these benefits are great enough though to make me want to invest the time into playing them again. My counterargument is that I did not take advantage of the upgraded fighters or the Matriarch flag ship. To be fair, the Matriarch flag ship kinda sounds like it sucks without an assortment of fighters nearby. I wasn’t too keen on even attempting to spend resources on it.

Of the two races I’ve played so far, I’d rather go back to The Federation of Sol than try out the Naalu again. I am certain I did not play them correctly but nothing drew me in. I randomly drew them from a set of three and my other choices were The Ghosts of Creuss and The Winnu. The Winnu were an intriguing option but at my initial glance, they felt far too one-dimensional as I was basically tasked with rushing Mecatol Rex and as we did not know what our slices were, I worried about getting stuck behind a barrier. The Ghosts of Creuss are definitely an race I’m going to try at some point but I need to do a little more research as while their rules aren’t complicated, I want a firmer grasp before tackling them.

The Yssaril Tribes, while not overly powerful in any one setting, have completely changed my tune on Action Cards. Granted, they are randomized and what a player got this turn may not be what they get next turn, I feel like that’s a chance worth taking as not only are the actions on the cards beneficial (usually), they let you prolong your turn so you can wait out other players. This doesn’t even include their Stall tactic.

I am intrigued by The Nekro Virus but wonder how beneficial they are if no one goes for Technology. In this game, the pie slice they occupied was not to their advantage due to the asteroid belt blocking them from Mecatol Rex. This is a race that, in my opinion, needs to be aggressive out of the gate. They are a machine when it comes to command counters and fleet tokens. It was only our third game, but I had never seen anything like the resources they were able to pull from.

Speaking of pie slices, holy shit I hated mine. Getting the additional resources to start the game was not a worthy trade off for being stationed next to a plot of empty space (which was next to a wormhole) and being the closest to two other races. Comparing my slice to say The Yssaril Tribes, I would never take mine again. The only slice that I think is comparable in terms of utter shit is where The Nekro Virus started, as they had open space next to them and a Supernova blocking their path to the Mentak.

The Mentak were interesting. With the lack of trading in the game, their Pillage ability really hurt players and speaking for myself, was a huge reason I opted against Trade or trading in general. I enjoyed their inclusion to the game as they had such an impact on that aspect that it changed a lot of my strategy. I don’t know if they’re a race I want to play but I wonder how they would interact with a Hacan player in the same game.

I don’t know how I feel about the Public Objectives. I want more diversity with the cards. Spend X Amount, Control Here, and Have This Researched seem to be the majority of the cards and it makes the game stale. The technology objectives in particular make me want to rush tech even when it’s not a visible option as you know something will appear sooner rather than later. I don’t know what that variation would be but it’s a thought that’s been lingering.

Earlier I mentioned that we instituted a timer for the game. Not once did we ever say to someone that their time was running out and we completed the game in five hours. The first round took forty minutes and I forgot to keep a timer after that. We were so impressed with our timeliness that if we had started earlier in the day, we probably would have attempted a second game. This game (even though I did terribly) reinvigorated my love of Twilight Imperium and instead of the usual cool down we’ve suffered in the past, we’re all ready to play again.

I’m excited to try out Promissory Notes as they’ll add another dimension to the game. I want to read up on drafting your own galaxy so we’re prepared for that as well. I don’t want to imbalance the table and cause someone to hate the five or so hours they spend playing.

Twilight Imperium 4th Edition is a masterpiece of a game and this play through did nothing to change that thought. I literally cannot wait to get this back to the table.

Author: Two off the Top

Just a guy that wants to talk about board games more than his future wife tolerates.

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