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Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Comparison for TI3 Veterans rss

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Kurtis Dube
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The goal of this review isn't to rate the game in any objective sense or attempt to bring in new players, but rather really what I am aiming to do is give a quick overview of what playing TI4 is like compared to playing TI3. Ultimateley the purpose here is to provide veterans of TI3 a strong overview of what they can expect from their first game of TI3 and what they should keep an eye out for.

Full disclosure: I've played 30-50 games of TI3 since it came out, but I very rarely played with some of the more obscure alternate rules. The only substantive difference between TI3 as I typically played it with the expansions and the TI4 I bought and played only a few weeks ago is the lack of mechanized infantry. So the distant suns, leaders, mercenaries, planetary improvements, and many of the other rules will not be mentioned here. As everyone's experience can and should be different, please keep that in mind; for me TI4 as delivered was not a big leap but rather a mild refinement.


Now onto what to expect/prepare for in playing TI4

#1. Command Counter scarcity
My default assumption is that most TI3 groups usually used Shattered Empires strategy cards, and most importantly TI3: Leadership. Well not only is TI4's leadership a bit more sparse with the extra command counters, but generally secondaries of the cards are far more appealing and therefore a larger investment in strategy tokens definitely feels necessary. Finally with the nerf to bonus tokens (they are now just trade goods, no longer potential command counters), overall the single most sought after card for the majority of our game was in fact leadership. It's really kind of a big deal. While interesting, this had a modest game-altering affect worth noting: Anything that provides more command tokens than baseline is now more powerful. Humans, hyper metabolism, warfare primary ... these are all buffed in a subtle way over baseline shattered empires.

This results in influence being even more important than expected, which is yet another indirect buff to Mecatol. Taking and holding mecatol for a few rounds is not only a vehicle to a few easy VPs, but also some precious Command Counters.


#2. All of the Strategy Cards are pretty Good
Even with shattered empires, diplomacy, assembly and imperial II all served limited roles. The only card that didn't always feel important to us was, unfortunately, again Diplomacy ... but I believe that's because people at my table were not fully understanding the potential of the primary as a conquest engine. Early on it allows unparalleled and highly profitable aggressive expansion. Later on it will allow completely broken production seasons. I think too many people play overly passive and see the card only as a shield.

Either way given how important Mecatol was the Imperial card was taken often well before the end of the game and this was also nice to see. The weakest card very well might be Politics, although given how powerful action cards are now its a tough call. I believe to some degree with Neural motivators being far more common that a card build around drawing may not be as appealing as it could be.


#3. Secrets should be completed early and often
Secrets are not particularly hard to complete and offer a real victory point advantage. If winning is your goal, then secrets can easily help get you to a comfortable 5-6 points before two point objectives even hit the table, giving a much more comfortable path to victory. That said to reiterate point #1 above, secrets cost strategy so plan accordingly.


#4. Its much easier to get the cool tech, but it's a big distraction and probably wont help you win.
Each tech tree is 4 deep, and at the end of each tech tree lies a tech that previously we maybe saw once every four or five games in TI3, with much fan fare. Now for some races they can hit the table turn 2. That said a couple of the people who did worse at our table were somewhat woo'd by this easy access tech but were unable to capitalize on them. It's a clear misplay, but it's an easy one to understand as well. Integrated economy is neat, but it's not going to win you the game unless you get it early and extract massive value from it. If you want to go deep into non-ship upgrades it feels like it's of most value early to really cement your strategy. Later on, unit upgrades are king largely for the warping effect they have on the tactical game.


#5. Racial techs/cap ships feel very symbiotic
The races we played with all had strong synergy and the three players who invested deeply into their races definitely did better (Ghosts, Humans, and Turtles). It's not necessarily going to be true for all races (I haven't done a deep analysis), but it was certainly true for those three that their racial techs/ships seemed to complement each other in significantly stronger ways than basically any other options available. I think this has to be partially due to how much cheaper the racial techs/cap ships were (I believe for the most part those three were mostly unchanged from TI3), but it definitely felt very strong.

#6. We still don't know what to do with promissary notes
I personally never traded any of mine, even though they seemed a bit tepid. That said we had a Muaat at the table who's note gifts someone warsun technology, and that was a damned interesting trade item. They are all over the place, and nobody seemed to have a good idea of how much they valued them. Perhaps this is good, but it definitely made trading perhaps less interesting than it could have been. I bet everyone's mileage will vary on this one, but I certainly want to get my group to the point where we will see a lot of promissary politics because they are really interesting to me. These things are true wildcards, and perhaps thats exactly what the game needs.


#7. Agenda phase is awesome, and terrible
Agendas in TI3 were the kind of thing I believe most groups quietly wished could be a bigger part of the game, and boy that's definitely what you will get in TI4. That said, it's a double edge sword because you can safely expect things to get foolish at the end of every round given that the agenda deck is mostly high impact and the amount of influence that is generally available with the base tileset felt very high. This can make long-term strategies a bit more vulnerable to chaos, but depending on your group dynamic this may not be a bad thing. However count on chaos (we did get Ancient artifact, with the Muaat holding mecatol with a pair of upgraded war suns, and they were able to broker a No vote leveraging their aforementioned promissary note that gifts someone war sun technology ... yeah serious business). I definitely liked the chaos but I bet more serious-face players are going to be sad at the extra levels of game-warping now omnipresent.


Overall
The game was damned fun. Streamlined and certainly better in minor ways for a veteran like myself (and inarguably better in major ways for the newer players there), but it still played 95% like TI3 to me. That was not really a bad thing, honestly, because I obviously love the game.

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Henry Allen
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Thanks for the write up! The experience I've had in my two games so far pretty well matches what you've described. The only notable exception is Promissory notes, those have seen a lot of action for us!

In my last game I was operating from a position of strength out of Mecatol Rex and two turns in a row received Support for the Throne notes as a payoff to choose a different path (i.e. attack elsewhere). I think those players used these well. Unfortunately I did not use mine so well. The eventual winner was holding mine and I probably could have won if he had one less point

The Support for the Throne and Ceasefire notes are huge and need to be handled carefully but I think it is really cool that everyone has such strong bargaining chips. The value of the trade one and of course the racials vary with the race but also have seen action. The agenda one we haven't used yet but I still think it's an amusing option.

One more thing, the race sheets were a big difference for us. It is so nice to be able to see everyone's unit stats at a glance, upgrades included!
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Clayton Threadgill
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#3. Don't score all 3 secret agendas as soon as you can. It's a good idea to keep at least 1 secret that you've already fulfilled in your pocket until you're ready to win, so that you don't seem quite so far in the lead.

#4. The top tier techs are powerful tools, but they are only tools and only as useful when wielded correctly. Hammers are great for nails but less so for screws. Aim to get those techs that you can use effectively, and don't bother with the rest.

Unless, of course, you are playing Jol-Nar. In that case you'll have all the tech you could ever need anyway.

#6. The promissory notes continue to impress me with the variety of creative ways they can impact the game. If your group hasn't figured out how good they are, you should take advantage. Start offering or requesting them on every trade, even if you don't really need them. Each one you get will give you an advantage at some point. If your group doesn't catch on pretty quickly, then you'll be winning games until they do.
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Alwin Derijck
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hooliganj wrote:
#3. Don't score all 3 secret agendas as soon as you can. It's a good idea to keep at least 1 secret that you've already fulfilled in your pocket until you're ready to win, so that you don't seem quite so far in the lead.


Fully agree.
And in addition you can score a secret objective when you have lost your home planet. [rule 52.16] That can make a very big difference in the end game.
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Alwin Derijck
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I have played 17 games of TI3 and 1 game of TI4.

I had the same impression as you have stated here very adequately.

Promissary notes are intriguing but everybody at the table is still very careful about using these. I absolutely love the fact that there are now race specific notes. TI4 will be providing a lot of memorable gaming events in the future
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Avery Bailey
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PNs fly around in our games. Trade Agreements are almost never in their original player's hands. The way to fix non-binding agreements.

"You'll give me your commodities next time they refresh? How about you just hand me that PN instead of your word?"

"I'll let you take that tech specialty planet from me. I'll even move out of the system. I do, however, want your Ceasefire and 3 TGs from you to ensure that you won't move any closer and to pay for the CT I'm losing by moving out."

Racial Promissory's though range in usefulness from the Arborec's "I would never give this to anyone ever," to the Saar's "Why would I want that ever?" The bidding war over Muuat's PN can also get intense.

All of this is especially true (in my group) when it comes to the agenda phase. The first time trade opens between all players things can really go nuts. There's like a whole trade negotiation phase that happens prior to the first voting. It also gives you some bargaining chips to sway the vote. If you're really cunning, you can sometimes sell your votes to the side you were planning on voting for anyway.

I know mileage varies group to group. In ours, everything you can trade is on the table, and always available for the right price.
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Alwin Derijck
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Our second game of TI4 had a lot more PN action.

Cease fire exchange, Jol-Nar tech PN and the game changing PN of Embers of Muaat.

Really like how the whole politics has improved. Much more dynamic.
 
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