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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shattered Empire» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First Try rss

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Robert Martin
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One of my more anticipated releases of this year - like a lot of people, I always felt that TI3 was "almost" perfect. There was something a little off about it, but it was such a great concept that it was fun anyways. The expansion is quite obviously an attempt to address many of the complaints with the base game while at the same time reintroducing many elements of expansions for the previous editions.

We played with pretty much all the new stuff, and there is a TON of new stuff. Yeah, this expansion is $50, which is a lot - but I'm telling you, this thing comes loaded many new options and hundreds of new components. Here's what I thought of the various new parts of the game.

New Strategy Cards
We tried the new set of strategy cards which completely replace the old. Overall I enjoyed the new cards and feel that they probably provide a better gameplay experience. The one major advantage is that the strategic choice is now wide open each turn since you don't have the predictable "I have to take Initiative and then I have to take ISC". This is a net gain for the game. On the downside, those regular two points are missed somewhat because the pace of the game seems to slow down considerably. Here are some thoughts on individual strategy cards.

1.Leadership
This one replaces initiative. Primary is that you get three command counters. Secondary you can buy more. Getting to go first AND getting more command counters is pretty nice. This was taken fairly often.

2.Diplomacy II
This one is kind of interesting. You can either "signal jam" a system, or you can take control of new adjacent systems without sending ships there. Yes, a diplomatic takeover instead of a military takeover. The subtle part of this is that you can take over any empty system, including one that is controlled. Our group liked this card quite a bit.

3.Assembly
This replaces Politics - the big change is that players draw Politics cards into their hands and the person who takes this card chooses a law from their hand. This is much more strategic than Politics. Also, the player who chooses this gets to give the Speaker token to someone else, which has interesting possibilities. This one definitely seems better than its older equivalent although I did kind of miss the unexpected turns of events that could occur with random laws.

4.Production
This allows all players to produce at ANY space dock, activated or not without activating. This was definitely a nice way to get those extra builds in.

5.Trade II
The big change here is that the taker can selectively cancel trade agreements. This is pretty evil.

6.Warfare II
Another very big change. Instead of being able to move twice like the old card, Warfare II allows you to mark a fleet as being on "High Alert". That fleet gets +1 to movement and combat for that round. An interesting dynamic because while it gives you an advantage, it also shows your opponents your intentions in advance. I did actually miss the flexibility the old Warfare allowed by giving you the ability to remove a Command Counter though.

7.Technology II
Only slightly different, but with a big effect. The taker can execute the primary AND the secondary, meaning you can get two technologies in one round. Overall this is definitely a net positive.

8.Beaurocracy
Ah, a replacement for ISC. This is a nice card because you get a command counter, you get to choose the next public objective, and you can satisfy up to two public objectives on the turn you take it to everyone else's one. The secondary is not as good as the old ISC - spend a CC for an action and a politics card. This is very much toned down from the old ISC, but has good situational benefits.

* Note that there is also a direct replacement for the ISC to be combined with the original strategy cards. We did not try it, but it looks like an excellent alternative.

New Races
We played with all four new races. They all had interesting new aspects to them. I don't remember their names so I'll have to go by what they looked like:

The Wolf Guys
These guys are awesome. Their space docks are mobile, so you can basically leave your home planet and take your production capacity with you. Additionally, their special tech is that their space docks support a production of 5 and can support 5 fighters, and get +1 movement. Also, they get 1 trade good every time they conquer a planet. I thought this race was amazing - perhaps the best in the expansion.

The Old Wrinkly Guys
Their main ability seemed to be that they could selectively swap the green and red numbers on planets. This is a pretty nice ability to be able to adjust your economy on the fly. Imagine taking Mecatol and turning that red 9 into a green 9!

The Robots
They start with a War Sun. That's pretty cool in and of itself. Lots of people thought this would be unbalanced, but they didn't seem out of proportion to the rest of the races.

The Diplomatic Looking Guys
Initially we thought these guys sucked. Their special abilities are not that great - immunity from the Local Uprising card and I don't remember what else. Until we discovered their technology. They can trade action cards in for 2 trade goods. These guys were swamped with money the whole game. I think with them you would max out production capacity and just crank out the infrastructure.

New Systems
There are a TON of new systems. Many of them have some nice new artwork (planets with rings for example which I always thought were strangely missing), but there are some other interesting changes.

Space Stations
These are basically planets that you can take control of with only ships. A minor change but nice thematically. Doesn't add much of anything to gameplay. They also produce trade goods with their "refresh ability"

Ion Storm
This is a hazardous zone that disables fighters. Minor, but nice artwork.

Refresh Ability Planets
These are kind of a big deal. Some new planets allow you to get free fighters, ground troops, shock troops, or trade goods by tapping them during the Status phase. These are very valuable, especially in the right spot.

The Wormhole System
There's a new system which stands on its own and is only accessible through wormholes (it has both A and B wormholes). While tactically this would be a nice jumping off point, the planet itself sucks - it's a 0/3 which means its production capacity is very limited and it doesn't provide any income.

New Technologies
There were a few new technologies. I don't remember many of them specifically, but the race specific techs tend to be very cool. Also, there is a tech that beefs up Destroyers' anti fighter capabilities substantially. I'm sure this will see a lot of us. I think the worse races tended to get better techs. A nice balancing mechanism.

New Action and Political Cards
Too many of these to remember...

New Objective Cards
The new objective deck is MUCH more oriented towards conflict. They are a lot like the Nexus Ops objectives. Players who want a more conflict oriented game will like these.

Facility Cards
These basically allow you to spend some money to add a permanent +1 in green or red to a planet. A nice way to mitigate a bad position in the galaxy. Also gives options to the more defensive races. A nice touch, but we didn't see any of them come into play. Too bad they didn't include miniatures for them, although that would have added clutter to the board I guess.

Shock Troops
These are ground units that fight on a 5 instead of a 9. You can get them for free (every turn!!!) at Hope's End, or by rolling 10's in ground combat. I definitely liked these. The Hope's End thing seems a bit sketchy - almost too good. Again, no minis. The next best thing would have been Sardaukar chef hat icons on the tokens.

Space Mines
Sort of like PDS's, this gives yet another option to the turtling player to defend his system. We had one or two created, but didn't see much use out of them. I can see how they could be extremely useful as a deterrent because they skip over fighters and target capital ships directly. Yikes!

Mecatol Rex Custodians
These are fighters and ground forces that guard Mecatol. With so many objectives centered around Mecatol, I think these are a good idea, although they probably do slow the game down quite a bit because they require a reasonably large military force to overcome.

Artifacts
These are kind of like Distant Suns - they are placed face down on 8 planets. Some of them are blank, but the rest are worth 1 Vp to whoever controls the planet. They add a nice conflict magnet to certain planets, but the counters are so BIG that they clutter up an already cluttered board. I'm not convinced that I like these.

New Distant Suns Counters
There are five new types of distant suns counters - you can get free ships, your guys can get taken hostage, etc. I love the Distant Suns option, so I liked these quite a bit.

Simulated Early Turns
This option we did not play with, but it looks great. Basically it compresses that first part of the game (the explore into open space part) by making a very streamlined set of rules that allows players to expand and claim systems quickly without having all the overhead of the Strategy cards and Command Counters to deal with. Once everyone has expanded out, you get to start the game fully deployed. This would cut a good hour off the game at least. We will definitely try this in the future.

OVERALL
I liked pretty much everything this expansion added. I was expecting the expansion to streamline the game a bit, and while it didn't really do that, it did open the strategic options up and make things a bit more interesting. In a game as long as TI3, it's nice to have a wider strategic horizon and more atmosphere, so I'm definitely pleased with the expansion so far. Almost everything included is an optional rule that can be combined in whatever way desired with other rules. Even the strategy cards can be mixed and matched to some extent, so it will be fun exploring the options and fine tuning the game to individual tastes. For TI3 fans, this is definitely recommended - no question. For those who only didn't like the ISC, but liked the rest of the game, give it another try. For everyone else, TI3 probably still won't be your game.

Oh, and one more thing. If you had hoped to ditch the "big box" and fit the whole game into the expansion box, you can pretty much forget it. We tried and with everything bagged up there is no way all the components will fit.
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Christian Marcussen
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Odense C
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Thanks for the run down - I love this game. It is indeed almost perfect. I can't wait to give the expansion a swing.
 
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Andrew Prizzi
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West Newton
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Thanks for the detailed review/session report.
 
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Jonas Jacobsson
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Excellent review!

I can't wait for it to arrive!
 
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TJ Whittenhall
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Carol Stream
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Maybe I've misread the rules but I was under the impression that you only placed as many artifact tokens as players in the game. Thus, its entirely possible that not all 4 artifacts make it into the game. But, I could be wrong about that.
 
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Josh Wheeler
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We have our first run through planned for this weekend. Interesting to hear that the clan is your initial first pick for most powerful. I thought the Brotherhoods' combat abilities looked sickeningly good. Comments?
 
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Robert Martin
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TJ Whittenhall wrote:
Maybe I've misread the rules but I was under the impression that you only placed as many artifact tokens as players in the game. Thus, its entirely possible that not all 4 artifacts make it into the game. But, I could be wrong about that.

You're probably right. We played with 4 players, so we used them all.
 
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Robert Martin
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Nonamnon wrote:
We have our first run through planned for this weekend. Interesting to hear that the clan is your initial first pick for most powerful. I thought the Brotherhoods' combat abilities looked sickeningly good. Comments?

Hard to say - the player handling the Brotherhood didn't do much attacking in our game.
 
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Konwacht
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Well written review - very good to read.

Now I know, we will LOVE that expansion!
 
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Nathan Baumbach
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I understand the reasoning behind Hope's End. It was the focus of one of TI2's expansions, so it was mostly given a nod in this expansion. This expansion really brings in all the old TI's expansions in one go. I really like it. We played with the new ISC. It works a lot better than the old one.

 
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Philip Moerenhout
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robartin wrote:
7.Technology II
Only slightly different, but with a big effect. The taker can execute the primary AND the secondary, meaning you can get two technologies in one round. Overall this is definitely a net positive.

Slightly different ?
I think you're missing the real change here, namely the secondary ability, which allows people to buy Tech for 6 (instead of 8 ) Resources.
This is what really makes this card better.
Cheaper tech = more tech = more varied games.
Before, techs were really too expensive and as a result hardly any high level techs ever saw play.
By the time you could get them the game was (almost) over.

The cost reductions you get from certain planets becomes more important as well, allowing players to go even deeper into the tech tree.
for example : when you have two "red" bonus planets your cost to buy a red Tech (through the secondary ability) drops from 6 to 4, that's a 33% drop
while, in the original game, it went from 8 to 6 , only a 25% drop.


robartin wrote:
3.Assembly
This replaces Politics - the big change is that players draw Politics cards into their hands and the person who takes this card chooses a law from their hand. This is much more strategic than Politics. Also, the player who chooses this gets to give the Speaker token to someone else, which has interesting possibilities. This one definitely seems better than its older equivalent although I did kind of miss the unexpected turns of events that could occur with random laws.

Another card where the secondary ability might soon outshine the primary.
Being able to refresh up to 6 resources/influence for the cost of just 1 CC is like getting 6 Trade Goods for 1 CC.
And now for the Kicker : How about those Naalu who can potentially benefit from this card EVERY Round because they always activate first
. Could be too powerful.

Overall I like the xpansion very much and I'm SOOOO glad we finally got rid of that ISC.
The new Strategy Cards are way better than the original ones.
No looking back here
 
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Robert Martin
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Borg wrote:
Slightly different ?

Yeah, slightly different. Tech II is basically the exact same card with a couple of tweaked parameters. Will I ever use Tech I again? Doubt it. The new version is better.
 
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esa gröhn
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robartin wrote:
The Wormhole System
There's a new system which stands on its own and is only accessible through wormholes (it has both A and B wormholes). While tactically this would be a nice jumping off point, the planet itself sucks - it's a 0/3 which means its production capacity is very limited and it doesn't provide any income.


On our first game with expansion, I played the Saar and moved one of my docks into the system. With production capacity of 6 it was very nice jumping off point indeed arrrh
 
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