T M
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In order for you to understand my views on this game you have to understand a bit about me (if this bores you skip to the next paragraph). I like games that require aggression, and I like heavier games which require significant amounts of strategic thinking. Also, many of the games I enjoy are wargames. If you have a different game preference then you will need to take this review with the appropriate grain of salt.

TI3 is a great game of space battle and conquest. You much take control of various planets. In order to accomplish this take you will need to attack (and fend off) some of your opponents units. The game is based around controlling various planets and then used those planets resources and influence.

Brief Rules Summary
The map is generated by the players, so it is different every time. Each hex tile contains contain planets, wormholes, empty space, or special “terrain”. Each planet has two numbers on it. The green number shows how much the planet is worth for production and the red number designates the planet's political influence. When a planet is used for production or influence it is tapped and cannot be used again for the remainder of the round.

The goal of TI3 is to get to ten victory points. These points are gained by achieving secret and public objectives. At the beginning of the game each player is given a different secret objective, if a player accomplishes his secret objective then he gains two victory points. Additional public objectives, worth 1-2 points, are revealed when the Imperial Strategy Card is used during the Action Phase. These objectives require that players control different planets and locations on the map in order to get points. The public objectives a can be claimed by any number of players.

Each player has a supply of Command Counters; these counters are allocated between three areas on each player’s race sheet. The counters can be designated for the Strategy Allocation – used for Strategic Actions, Fleet Supply – determines maximum fleet size, or Command Pool – used for tactical actions.

The game has three phases per round, the Strategy Phase, the Action Phase, and the Status Phase. In the status phase each player selects a strategy card. Each Strategy Card has a primary ability and a secondary ability. The primary ability is taken by the player who takes the card and the secondary ability can be take by all of the other players. Each Strategy Card has a number on the top left; this number is used to determine turn order with #1 going first. The following is a list of Strategic Cards (and a summary of the primary ability) in numerical order:
1) Initiative – This player goes first
2) Diplomatic – A selected opponent may not attack you, nor you him
3) Political – Players vote on the top card on the political card, then player who took the Political Strategy determines the what item will be voted on the next time the Political Strategy Card is played.
4) Logistics – Player takes 4 Command Counters
5) Trade – Players establish trade agreements
6) Warfare – Player removes a Command Counter from an activated system and can therefore activate those units again
7) Technology – Player builds a technological advance, this advance will give his race a special advantage
8) Imperial – Player receives 2 victory points and reveals the next public objective card

After the cards are selected the Action Phase begins. In the Action Phase the players can take one of the following actions: 1) Tactical Action – activate a system for movement, battle, invasions, and/or production 2) Strategic Action – use the ability on the selected strategy card, 3) Transfer action - transfer units between adjacent systems, or 4) pass. The action phase continues until all players have passed. Once a player has passed he cannot take any further actions, except to execute the secondary ability on another player’s Strategic Action.

Since the designers have done an exceptional job of briefly explaining the Activation Sequence for a Tactical Action, I have taken an excerpt from the rule book. The process of taking a Tactical Action always follows the Activation Sequence shown here:
1) Activate a system
2) Move ships into the system
3) Planetary Defense System (PDS) fire
4) Space Battle
5) Planetary Landings
6) Invasion Combat
7) Produce Units

Except for the first step (the activation itself), each individual step of the Activation Sequence is only resolved if the condition for its resolution applies or is initiated by the active player. A player, for example, may activate a system to produce new units there during step 7, but does not necessarily have to move any ships into the system during step 2. Or, a player may activate a system and move ships into the system, but if the system contains no enemy ships, there is no Space Battle during step 4, etc. On the other hand, step 2 through 7 cannot be executed unless preceded by the initial activation. If a player has no Command Counters left in his Command Pool, he cannot take a Tactical action, and therefore not move ships, fight battles, produce units, etc.

The player may take a strategic action; this allows him to use the special ability on his Strategy Card. Each strategy card also has a secondary ability that all of the other players may execute, even if that player has already passed.

The third option is a transfer action with allows the player to transfer units between adjacent systems. This is useful to move units between systems without exceeding the fleet limit.

The Action Phase keeps rotating through all of the players until all players have passed, at which time the Status Phase begins.

During the Status Phase all of the housekeeping takes place. Damages ships are repaired, command counters and special actions cards are distributed, and objectives are scored. The first player to reach 10 points wins the game.

Thoughts
TI3 is not a game for the faint of heart. The game is a bit long for the average gamer and some of the negotiations and strategy may be considered “too unfriendly.” This is not a feel happy euro where you barely interact with other players. You will (and should) “hose” someone throughout the course of the game if you plan on winning. This game is, after all, classified as a wargame.

The political aspect of the game is a fantastic mechanic and my favorite part of this game. The political cards are well designed in order to create a good argument discussion. The coercion and diplomacy that takes to sway votes is one of the best mechanisms in this or any game.

The center planet in the universe, Mecatol Rex, is highly sought after for its political influence and it importance in a number of the Secret and Public Objective Cards. The importance of this planet really encourages everyone to move towards the middle and do some battle along the way.

There are tons of bits in this game. The game weighs in around 10 pounds. The artwork and plastic pieces make it a great game.

The only complaint I have with the game is a common one. The Imperial Strategy Card (ISC) gives 2 point just for taking the card. Since the game is only played to 10 points in the normal game, each time a player takes the card it is 20% of the points needed to win the game. The weight of points given by this card can give a significant advantage to the starting player, since he will get the card a second time before everyone else. Our house rule is to make the card with only 1 point, and to make the game played to 8 points. The weight of the Imperial card goes from 20% to 12% and prevents a player from taking a large leap into the lead. There are many other variants for this card which can be found online and you can find one that suits your group.

All-in-all I think this is a great game. The special characteristics for each race are pretty evenly balanced. The rules seem to be very well done (as they should be in a 3rd edition). Other than the problem with the ISC the game is fantastic and I highly recommend it, thought it may not be right for everyone. If you have the time to commit to this game and you have a group that likes a little aggression then you really need to check out this game.
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George Van Voorn
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Quote:
Other than the problem with the ISC the game is fantastic and I highly recommend it, thought it may not be right for everyone. If you have the time to commit to this game and you have a group that likes a little aggression then you really need to check out this game.


Actually, also without a big and aggressive group one can certainly admire the solid game mechanics in combination with the artwork. Furthermore, TI3 is a game where the plastic pieces actually are functional. Personally I feel you're not a real gamer if you don't like a game like this. I know many people that only enjoy Carcassonne or Catan, but what always bugged me in the beginning already was that you CANNOT hose anybody in these games. Away with the pathetic Euro's, gimme TI3!!!

(Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit now).
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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I know many people that only enjoy Carcassonne or Catan, but what always bugged me in the beginning already was that you CANNOT hose anybody in these games. Away with the pathetic Euro's, gimme TI3!!!





You certainly can hose people in these games, and in many other Euro games as well.
You must have played with a very "nice" group.

 
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Mike Spoto
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Re: Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition: A truly great game (for s
Quote:
The only complaint I have with the game is a common one. The Imperial Strategy Card (ISC) gives 2 point just for taking the card. Since the game is only played to 10 points in the normal game, each time a player takes the card it is 20% of the points needed to win the game. The weight of points given by this card can give a significant advantage to the starting player, since he will get the card a second time before everyone else. Our house rule is to make the card with only 1 point, and to make the game played to 8 points. The weight of the Imperial card goes from 20% to 12% and prevents a player from taking a large leap into the lead. There are many other variants for this card which can be found online and you can find one that suits your group.


I like your solution better than the official "fix" for the ISC problem. The original rules pretty much ruined the game for our group. Combined with the long playing time, I have not been able to get it to the table again. I will suggest this change and see if they'll try it again.
 
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George Van Voorn
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The original rules pretty much ruined the game for our group. Combined with the long playing time, I have not been able to get it to the table again. I will suggest this change and see if they'll try it again.


This kind of suggests that the rules of TI3 are broken in general. I hope you don't mean to say just that, do you? I would suggest to compare TI3 with for instance Sid Meier Civilization. Now that's a game that has a set of broken rules that's beyond any hope. But surely there must be an easy way to fix the ISC such that your group is happy with it.

Long playing time?! Come on now, I'd rather spend that time on one good game of TI3 that fifty Carcassonnes. But maybe that's just me...
 
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Christopher Halbower
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We play without the ISC altogether. The ISC is NOT a time clock--somebody picks it every turn! Simply play without it and play to 8 points. You no longer have the Iniative/Imperial SC "must picks" anymore. You also greatly diminish the power of the fighters--the 2nd biggest complaint about this game.

Just my $.02
 
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George Van Voorn
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Quote:
We play without the ISC altogether.


Problem solved! Good suggestion. Alternatively, one could use a variant strategy card (enough files for download here, or make one yourself in compliance with your group).

Just thinking of it, what about this idea: every turn players can bid (trade goods, or spending influence, or whatever) on the ISC. That way those two points keep you down a bit...
 
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Matthew M
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Re: Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition: A truly great game (for s
The variant ISC discussion that spun off of this review can now be found here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/917513#917513

-MMM
 
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Neil Sorenson
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Re: Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition: A truly great game (for s
Another easy variant for the ISC is only awarding the 2 points if the player controls Mecatol Rex at the moment he plays the ISC card. It gives much more incentive to grasp and grab for that jewel of a world and creates more situations of conflict (which is usually good in a game that can often have a bit too much turtling).
 
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