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Twilight Imperium

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I was in a seven-player game of galactic domination yesterday. Sounds great right?

Actually, Twilight Imperium was traumatic. We started the rules explanation at 10:30 and began the game at 11:00. By 3:30 I was fighting for my life, with no hope of a win. Not wanting to go screw the game balance up, I hung on grimly and we finished at 8pm. That’s 9 hours of play of which 4.5 were no fun.

I made several mistakes, but I was screwed early on as my neighbour had a secret objective to occupy an opponent’s home planet. As a first time player, I had no idea he was out for my blood until it was too late.

My nemesis did not seem to realise that by entering into a blood feud for two measly VP he was screwing himself of any chance of a win. In the end, I came last with 3VP, but he only had 4VP and never took my home planet.

Risk has similar secret player elimination objectives, but that is just about permissible in a three hour game. In a game of this length it is preposterous.

Multiplayer war games are hard to get right. Apart from anything else, once the fun is over, you can’t leave without ruining the game’s balance. One guy had to leave and that left his neighbours in pole position, as they could take his planets and not have to watch their backs. Naturally, one of those two won. Games of this length really should have a method for balancing a situation where a player leaves early. No solution would be perfect, but still.

In future, I’m not playing multiplayer wargames that last over four hours (in real-time, not box-back time) and I will never play Twilight Imperium again.

3/10 – because it has some nice mechanics, lovely components and a strong theme.

Written by Iain

June 7th, 2009 at 7:35 pm