Desk-side Talks With Marc #4: Twilight Imperium 4

Out of nowhere, Fantasy Flight announced earlier this week that Twilight Imperium 4th edition would be released later this year! Obviously I am very excited about this, but it has a very hefty price tag. I take my critical eye to what we know about the game to help out those wondering if they should buy the 3rd edition now or wait for the new one.

Just as I was about to upload this podcast I saw that Fantasy Flight had released the rulebook. I just read through it–here are my thoughts on the new information the rules revealed. Consider this a supplement to the thoughts on the podcast.

1. The rulebook is exceptionally clear and a huge improvement over the 3rd edition rulebook, which was decent. Fantasy Flight has really done a fantastic job with their rulebooks over the last couple of years, and they deserve a lot of praise for that. It’s a remarkeable acheivement, particularly given how inelegant (I say with all fondness) and complicated their games can be.

2. Trade is much more freeform in this edition, with people able to trade both commodities (benign trade goods that don’t become active until they’re traded) and promissory notes (special powers and benefits on cards) on their turn, Catan-style. The trade strategy card merely refreshes the commodities. I love the idea of promissory notes, and I’m super excited to see what they contain, but I’m skeptical of the more open trading style. As players of Catan know, open trading like that can really slow down a game. I also feel like this weakens the trade strategy card a bit, which is mildly concerning.

3. Invading Mecatol Rex costs influence. Very intriguing. I like special rules involving this center planet, and I’m not sure what to think of this particular wrinkle.

4. The only listed variant (“advanced rules”) just adds the promissory notes. I’m quite saddened by this, though I do understand that they’re trying to provide the definitive version of the game. I desperately hope that there will be an expansion with a boatload of optional modules to give back that DIY feel to the game. But given that this version is retailing for over 50% more money, that’s a very significant monetary investment.

I said in the podcast that I was cautiously optimistic. After seeing the rulebook I’m a hair more optimistic, though I still have a couple of very mild concerns.

Music: Sailing The Solar Wind by Abstraction


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1 thought on “Desk-side Talks With Marc #4: Twilight Imperium 4”

  1. While we’ll have to wait for a few game plays to have a more realistic idea of the impact of the most obvious changes from 3rd edition, the presentation appears to be excellent. Having read the Learn-to-Play and Rules Reference sections last night after their release, I am very pleasantly surprised by how well they transcribed into that format. I think it will make teaching the game easier.

    I am happy with the changes they have made to the technology advancements, trade, some of the strategy cards (Construction, in particular for populating the board with space docks and PDS- also note that PDS cannot be moved anymore), the removal of the oft-confusing Transfer Action and the inclusion of an Agenda Phase when Mecatol Rex is occupied.

    The price tag, while not inconsequential, is reasonable considering that all 17 races are included as part of the TI4 core experience in addition to various elements from two expansions. Players will be able to get TI4 for better prices once the initial rush has subsided and online retailers offer it at a discount with free shipping (CSI offered it for $127, for example before the restock alert was activated).

    Most importantly, the 4th edition offers a great entry point for the next generation of players to participate in one of the premiere space-opera-style 4x games.

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