This is Part 2 of our review of Twilight Imperium. Check out Part 1 here.
The Mechanics of Twilight Imperium
The new edition of Twilight Imperium brings about a myriad of changes to the classic 4X. First off, the trade system has been entirely revamped. Instead of trade contracts, players trade commodities. Commodities do nothing on their own but become traditional trade goods when given to another faction. This opens up a different level of strategy from trade contracts. Since commodities are refreshed by the “trade” card, a lot more trades can be completed in a round than previously. In addition, Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition includes many components from 3rd edition expansions. Flagships, promissory notes, factions, strategy cards, special galaxy tiles, and more return in Fourth Edition. The additional strategic layer added by these components is exciting.
Technology has also been streamlined. Rather than a convoluted tech tree required to research specific technologies, all that is needed now is a competency level which can be satisfied with either technologies or by controlling planets with the specific technological proficiency. PDS and Space Docks are also much more likely to be produced. The “Construction” strategy card allows players to construct PDS units and Space Docks with relative ease.
Finally, the new politics system of Twilight Imperium is truly impressive. Instead of being available sporadically, politics now occurs every turn after Mecatol Rex is taken from the custodians. The Agenda phase allows races to vote on two political agendas which can change the very rules of the game. Players get to refresh all their planets for the agenda phase, meaning they don’t have to split their planets for use between resources and influence. Like Third Edition, agenda cards are used to pass new laws in the galaxy, flipped from the top of the deck. After one law is voted on, a second card is flipped and another round of voting occurs. Planets are refreshed again after the agenda phase ends.
These changes make the politics much more relevant to the game. In addition to the thinned out agenda deck, these changes promise a change in the relevancy of politics to the game board.
Check out our final article tomorrow for our thoughts after getting the game to the table!