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Twilight Imperium: Sardakk N’orr opening strategy

Admiral Ackbar: It’s a trap!

The Sardakk N’orr are considered one of the bottom tiered races in Twilight Imperium. Their racial ability gives them a straight up +1 bonus to all combat rolls. Their trade agreements are mediocre. Their starting fleet is a mere two ships. Their home system is mediocre. So how does one win with the Sardakk N’orr? Let’s discuss opening strategy today. This discussion will assume you are using the strategy cards from Shattered Empire. The biggest weakness of the Bugs is the fact they have a slow start. They start with only one carrier. One of the biggest traps newbies make with the N’orr is to think you can offset this slow beginning by getting a second carrier. This is a trap! The Sardakk N’orr do not need a second carrier. That would be a massive waste of three resources! DON”T BUY A SECOND CARRIER FOR THE SARDAKK N’ORR UNTIL YOU’VE BUILT ALL YOUR SPACE DOCKS AND HAVE A STEADY ECONOMY! So what should the N’orr buy?

  1. They start with Deep Space Cannons. Buy more PDS’s to protect your investments. The N’orr combat advantage applies to their PDS’s. Use it. Buy all your PDS’s and place them strategically.
  2. The N’orr start with Hylar V Assault Lasers. Buy cruisers and destroyers. The more you have, the more +1 combat rolls you’ll get.
  3. All your space docks. The more units you can produce, the more +1 combat rolls you will get.
Leadership Strategy Card
Diplomacy II Strategy Card
Assembly Strategy Card

The Sardakk N’orr, like any race, will choose a strategy card at the beginning of the game. Unlike many races, however, ALL the strategy cards are quite useful to the Sardakk N’orr. Some races get diminished utility from some strategy cards (like the Jol Nar with Technology, or the Xxcha with Diplomacy). This is not true with the N’orr. They get full value from any single choice. Let’s take a look. 1. Leadership   If the Sardakk N’orr land Leadership on the first round, they can beef up their fleet supply immediately. They will be good to go for some time. The Sardakk N’orr racial ability is +1 per combat roll. This means if the N’orr have 8 ships, they are get +1 for each of those 8 ships! The bigger your fleet supply, the greater your racial advantage. No other race get a reciprocal value from Leadership that the Bugs get.   2. Diplomacy The Sardakk N’orr start with one cruiser, one carrier, five ground forces and one PDS. With only one carrier, they get a slow start. Diplomacy will offset this a bit. You will conquer an additional planet. Since buying a second carrier is ill-advised (see above), Diplomacy is a good alternative.   3. Assembly Assembly will give you several options depending upon the card draws.

  • If you get some action cards that are useful in the early games, your strategy should be steered in that direction.
  • If you get a political card that you want to vote upon, now you can play it.
  • If you want to give the Speaker token to the player on your right (you’d pick second next round)–get some value from that player. He would pick dead last otherwise. Have him cough up a few trade goods. You’ll still pick second plus you got some economy. And you can play a political card of your own.
Production Strategy Card
Trade II Strategy Card
Warfare II Strategy Card
Technology II Strategy Card
Bureaucracy Strategy Card

4. Production Production is probably one of the best choices for you. No strategy card choice is bad; but Production is particularly good. You’ll have 6 resources to spend instead of 4. You’ll be able to afford a PDS plus 4 resources worth of ground forces and destroyers. This isn’t really optional. If you’re the Sardakk N’orr and you are NOT buying PDS’s in the early game, you are going to sink. And the more ground forces you have, the better. Production also will allow you to save a command counter. You’ll conquer a nearby system with your starting forces. Then you’ll activate Production, building more material in your home system. Then you pass. You’ll have a sizable force plus extra command counters. This gives the N’orr an edge in negotiation.   5. Trade Trade will allow you to get 3 trades, allowing you to purchase even more material than Production (see above). But you’ll have to spend an extra command counter versus Production. As such, you’ll need some more value from a Trade SC selection. Make sure you trade with the right players. And deny trade agreements to everyone but your trade partners. If you or your partners get Trade next round, reap the whirlwind again. Rinse and Repeat.   6. Warfare Warfare is the weakest choice for the N’orr on the first turn. But if played correctly, Warfare will get you near Mecatol Rex a round sooner than everyone else. And when you use Warfare, you should bring all your material: 5 ground forces and the PDS. When you drop this off on Mecatol Rex next round, you will have more material there than anyone except the Muatt can challenge. If you have a Mecatol Rex based secret objective, you are 2VP closer to winning! If you do not have such an objective, at least you are denying your opponents the same chance of scoring their objectives. Plus you’ll get 6 influence a round.   7. Technology Next to Production, Technology is the best choice. If the N’orr get Technology on the first turn, you should seriously consider going for War Suns. Take Enviro Compensator and begin your War Sun tech path. Enviro Compensator is more than a journeyman technology to War Suns. It gives you +1 build capacity per space dock. This translates into more material which gives you more +1 combat bonuses. Enviro Compensator also gives you the prerequisite to Sarween Tools which will give you a nice boost to your economy. Taking Tech in order to get Enviro Compensator may see less than spectacular but the Sardakk don’t do anything spectacular in the early game. Wait until you churn out a war sun in the fourth or fifth round. Then the Sardakk N’orr will shine!   8. Bureaucracy Bureaucracy as a strategy card pick on the first round is always iffy. The Sardakk N’orr are no exception. It’s not a bad choice by any means. But it’s utility will largely depend upon the luck of the objective deck. If you can turn the knowledge of the upcoming objectives into an advantage, then it was a great pick! If not, then you got unlucky. At least you know what is coming and can prepare alternatives.   Their opening game is unforgiving compared to other races. The Sardakk N’orr, if played with a strong opening, will be a contender late in the game.

The Greyjoy Fleet: a look at House Greyjoy’s warship locations

The backbone of any Greyjoy deck is its warship locations. There are 26 Greyjoy warships, more than the other five houses combined. This is for design and for thematic purposes. House Greyjoy’s power is the sea. Let’s take a look at Greyjoy’s fleet. The question is what kind of deck are you going to make? The fleets support different strategies.


The Unopposed Challenge Deck

Many of Greyjoy’s cards reward winning unopposed challenges. Adding the right fleets is critical to optimizing this strategy.

  1. Scouting Vessel: reduce a defending character’s strength to zero. Your opponent is going to have to defend with two characters if you use this evil ship. No Unopposed Challenge Deck can afford to ignore Scouting Vessel.

Scouting Vessel


2. Naval Escort: knell X warships to give X characters +X strength. Got 5 warships? Give five of your characters an extra 5 strength each! Coupled with several other available Greyjoy abilities that state “Win by 4+ strength and this challenge is considered unopposed…”, Naval Escort is a necessity to win unopposed challenges.

Naval Escort



3. Longship “Foamdrinker” will give your opponents pause before they commit to a defense. If you win a challenge against them, “Foamdrinker” will kill one of the participating losers of your choice! Unless your opponent has characters he is willing to lose, he’ll be sure to let you win unopposed.

Foam Drinker


4. Longship Maiden’s Bane is eligible to enter any type of challenge, cannot be killed and has strength equal to how many warships you control. Never build a Greyjoy deck without Maiden’s Bane!

Maiden's Bane

5. Winter Armada gives you a massive punch to your characters with the Intimidate keyword. Intimidate means your opponent doesn’t count his characters’ strength if lower than the strength of the character with Intimidate. Give that character with Intimidate +4 strength and suddenly all your opponent’s defending characters are not counting their strength!

Winter Armada


6. Freed Galley gives you +1 power after you win an unopposed challenge. Since Freed Galley is not unique, you could conceivably two or more power every round.



7. Longship Grey Ghost comes out of shadows and selects an opponent’s character that cannot defend this phase. It goes back into shadows after you win an unopposed challenge. This will prevent your opponent from chump blocking. Since it goes back into shadows automatically, you can bring it back if you played an Epic Battle.

Grey Ghost

8. Longship Black Wind will give your character Deadly. Your opponent may not be willing to block your challenge if he’s certain to lose a character. Coupled with any of the above ships, Longship Black Wind can help you force more unopposed challenges.

Black Wind


9. Longship Nightflyer duplicates the claim of an Intrigue challenge. Force your opponent to discard a card when you beat him in any unopposed challenge, not just an Intrigue challenge. I think this card is too expensive at 2 gold. I typically won’t run it.



10. Longship Iron Victory gives you +2 strength if you need it. And if you win, it gives you a card draw. This is a good card in the right deck. It’s cost of 2 gold can be too expensive in the wrong deck.

Iron Victory (II)


Raider Milling About

11. Training Vessel is useful to give your raiders, especially with Intimidate, a boost. It also mills (forces a deck discard) from your opponent which means Training Vessel can pull double duty.

Training Vessel


12. Longship Silence can help you win unopposed challenges by giving your Raider Stealth. It also gives you a much needed card draw.



13. Longship Grief will give your Raiders the ability to attack in the first challenge each phase without kneeling. Since Greyjoy is setup to win initiative more often than not, you can be sure to use Longship Grief’s ability often.



14. Longship Great Kraken: the milling ability that just gets better and better. Coupled with any of your Raider milling abilities, this Warship will decimate your opponents’ decks.

Great Kraken


15. Ten Towers Longship pulls double duty. When you win one of those all-to-often Greyjoy unopposed challenges, Ten Towers Longship lets you select an event card from the loser’s discard pile. With a mill deck, you will have plenty of event cards to choose from with Ten Towers Longship.

Ten Towers Longship


Location, Initiative and Dominance Control

16. Shield Islands Dromon sacks an opponent’s location or two of his power (his choice). For only 1 gold, this can be an economical way to slow down your opponent’s locations.

Shield Island Dromon


17. Longship Red Jester is similar to Shield Island Dromon. Both give you the power to control which locations your opponents bring into play and/or trigger for effect.

Red Jester


18. Refurbished Hulk costs you no gold but allows you to reduce your location costs by 2. Coupled with Longship Maiden’s Bane and Naval Escort, Refurbished Hulk can help you both win unopposed challenges and control locations.

Reburshed Hulk


19. River Blockade is just a pain in the neck for your opponents. It’s free for you to deploy. It cancels the first triggered location each round. It’s power doesn’t require it to kneel so you can use River Blockade with Naval Escort. You can use River Blockade with Longship Maiden’s Bane. All-in-all River Blockade is a necessary addition to your Greyjoy fleet.

River Blockade


20. Captured Cog is a cheap way to get +2 Initiative and +4 Strength. Plus it can be used with Longship Maiden’s Bane and Naval Escort. Captured Cog will be useful with Longship Grief also.



21. Farwynd Explorer allows you to cancel a triggered effect and then gives you +2 Initiative. Since Farwynd Explorer can only use its cancelling ability once a game, I think this ship is too expensive. farwynd-explorer-the-prize-of-the-north-85


Adding Firepower

22. Iron Fleet Scout allows you to spend 1 gold to turn this Warship into a character with naval enhancements. It’s difficult for me to recommend this ship however. The extra 1 gold to use it as a character is too much. Greyjoy is run with a shoe-string budget.



23. Iron Islands Marines is similar to Iron Fleet Scout. Both turn into characters for one phase. Both have a cost that I won’t pay because it’s too high. In the case of Iron Island Marines, the cost is 1 card. iron-islands-marines_fire-made-flesh_44

24.  Longship Iron Wind will allow you to spring troops into play from your hand during the Challenges phase. This gives you a poor man’s Ambush. In the right deck, this can be vital. You can suddenly win a challenge. The Prized keyword here is a bit problematic. Add this card judiciously.

Iron Wing

25. Longship Iron Victory allows you to kill a participating character. You do not even have to be participating in the challenge in question. It’s very useful for killing a character with lots of power on it. At a cost of Prized: 2, I would only add this card if absolutely necessary.

Iron Victory



26. Longship Golden Storm is necessary if you are running lots of characters with the Holy Crest. It’s unnecessary otherwise.

Golden Storm


Greyjoy’s power lies in the sea (a lesson poor Theon hadn’t learned when he sacked Winterfell). When building your Greyjoy deck, be sure to add the right sea power to it and your opponents will surely be paying the iron price!


-Chris on behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers



Our Twilight Imperium Leaderboard

We play Fantasy Flight’s Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition regularly, say once every 4 to 6 weeks. It’s gotten to the point where we want to compile data about how players and races fare. We have collected some data to this end.

We dole out races semi-randomly. Each player is given a choice of two races. A player may not choose (nor will they be offered) a race they have played previously. Once a player has played all 17 races, they can start fresh.

We typically play with 6 to 8 players. I really love the larger games because they make for more politicking and it feels more epic.

Below is a simple chart showing which races have seen the most play.

amount of plays
Races: Amount of Plays

Any TI3 gamer worth his salt will recognize the power of the Universities of Jol Nar. And they have been played 7 times. Our group really likes the Naalu Collective. As such, they’ve been played the second most.

It must be due to our group think or our particular play style (or perhaps random chance…) but the Federation of Sol has won more games than any other race. Some of the typical powerhouses like the Emirates of Hacan and the Yssaril Tribes have only one win between them. We’ll keep you posted as to any changes in these figures.

amount of wins
Races: Amount of Wins

As it stands, Ben and myself have the most wins. But there are several who are nipping at our heels.

New Picture
Players: Amount of Plays

To be fair, I’ve played more games of TI3 since we’ve begun this leaderboard. Also, we’ve played the scenario “Fall of the Empire” twice–neither of those games have been tallied in the charts above. Once we get some more scenario plays under our belt, I’ll be sure to create a separate chart for that.

Our next game of Twilight Imperium will be at the Gaming Annex in Muskegon on 8/10/2014. We are still deciding upon the rule set to use. Once the game is in the books, the charts above will be updated.

-Chris on behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon Area Gamers

Our gaming group has been meeting steadily once a week since 2008-ish. We’ve been meeting regularly twice a week since 2012. We’ve been meeting regularly thrice a week since 2013. When will we start meeting regularly four times a week, you ask? When our wives divorce us or we retire.

Indeed, my overall game plays have been increasing each year. As seen below, I’ve been steadily ticking upward in the amount game plays I’ve mustered. Since 2012, there has been a strong 10% increase (known in Muskegon as the “Burkholder/Spencer Effect’)

New Picture (1)

With a solid showing in the last five months of 2014, I’ll surpass 900 game plays this year. On an unrelated note, my wife is very supportive of my addiction hobby.

-Chris from the Gaming Annex in Muskegon