Board Game Reviews: Twilight Imperium, Part 1

Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition

Twilight Imperium is the heart of the Fantasy Flight catalog. First released in 1997, the epic space 4X has become a legendary part of the board gaming world. Set in the unstable power vacuum left by the collapse of the once-dominant empire of the Lazax race, the game has players war, bargain, and research their way to becoming the new dominant race. Playing from 2 to 6 players but best experienced at a high player count, this new edition of Twilight Imperium is the best entry point for new players while retaining and updating many things loved by fans of previous editions.

In the game, players play as one of 17 races, each with their own specialty. While carefully building their own empire and scoring victory points, players must slow their opponents, who share the same goals. Though empires start small, the galaxy is soon divided into pieces. Fleets roar across the stars to engage in combats that would make George Lucas jealous. The incredibly detailed rules behind Twilight Imperium’s many mechanics allow a full simulation of a grand space opera but are the source of the oft-maligned playtime.

twilight-imperium
Image via Fantasy Flight Games.

The Components

The 4th edition of Twilight Imperium makes many component upgrades from the previous versions. Chief among these are the planet tiles, which contain upgraded art and clearer labeling. This new labeling system also carries over to the planet cards, which are double-sided to allow their information to be clearly available. Unfortunately, these upgrades come at a cost: many upgrades owned by owners of 3rd edition, such as tile holders, must now be replaced. The shapes and sizes of many components have changed enough to be incompatible. On the other hand, the plastic ships and structures are of much higher quality making for a better overall experience.

Overall, the components are an upgrade both in physical and gameplay value. Cards that served to bloat politics and actions were removed in order to streamline the game. The revision of art and design choices serves to make the game board much easier to comprehend.

This review is part 1 of 3 celebrating the release of Twilight Imperium. Check back on Friday for a look at how the game plays. Then, read our Saturday conclusions and final thoughts.

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