Twilight Imperium isn’t just my favorite game. It’s the game that really launched the Muskegon Area Gamers. The 3rd edition was published in 2005. In 2007 we got the first expansion, Shattered Empire. In 2011 we got the second expansion, Shards of the Throne. It’s been so long we thought Fantasy Flight would simply keep the 3rd Edition in print into perpetuity. Then last Friday they officially announced the upcoming release of Twilight Imperium 4th Edition. This is slated for release in Q4 of 2017. I’d like to take this time to go over the press release and pictures from FFG.
Twilight Imperium 4th Edition is real
The initial news hits the tabletop community
On Friday, August 11th, Fantasy Flight Games confirmed the rumors that they are indeed publishing a new edition of their flagship game. This caused a ripple throughout boardgamegeek and the tabletop community at large. The 3rd Edition has been out of print for several months. FFG has been promising to republish the expansions. Normally they sell for $60; when out of print they sell for $200+. To the chagrin of some players, this news meant their 3rd Edition purchases were no longer going to be supported.
But to the delight of almost everyone else this news was very welcome.
What you get for your money
The 4th Edition will come with a staggering $150 MSRP price tag. This is almost double the original cost of TI3 which was $80. Obviously things are more expensive than they were in 2005. But the game comes with largely the same amount of components as the base edition. It comes with player sheets, the same allotment of plastic pieces, tons of cards and cardboard counters.
Much of the expense is in the artwork. FFG did not skimp on the graphic design. This may not be FFG’s best selling game but it will be their prettiest game. The artwork on the race sheets is great. The graphics on the system hexes is immaculate.
But what about the material changes?
What else comes in the box?
TI4 will have the same plastic components as the base game of TI3. You will get, for example, 8 destroyers, 3 space docks, 4 carriers, etc. The game will also come with flagships, an item previously available only in Shards of the Throne. The warsuns will also have two halves. Gone are the days of the space boob!
The new edition does NOT include mech units. Perhaps this will be an expansion item? It’s difficult to tell but it appears that there will be no shock troops or space mines either. Again, this could be expansion material.
The game will come with a full set of 17 races. All the races including the races from Shattered Empire and Shards of the Throne are included. The artwork that has been previewed makes some of the details clear. The Sardakk N’orr will still get their single race advantage of +1 to all combat. The Mentak Coalition’s race sheet has been reworded. They still have their two racial abilities (pre-combat with cruisers and stealing trade goods), but the rules have been reworded to meet the new mechanical changes to TI4.
But what about the mechanical differences?
Differences from Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
The 4th Edition is actually a lot like the 3rd Edition. This is a departure from the previous revamps of Twilight Imperium where 2nd Edition was considerably different than 3rd. The 4th Edition is so much like 3rd Edition that if you despised the 3rd Edition there is little chance you like the newest iteration.
The 4th Edition is played largely like the 3rd. There is a strategy phase where you select a Strategy Card. This gives you a primary ability and gives everyone else a secondary ability. This also gives your turn order.
There is command counters for fleet supply, strategy allocation and command pool. There are action cards, ships, combat and diplomacy. The ships are identical in combat abilities (with the exception of the flagships).
So what’s different?
Imperial Strategy card is new. It is an amalgam of Bureaucracy and Imperial II. It allows you to score an objective mid-turn. It allows you to score 1VP if you control Mecatol Rex. But it has another ability. It allows you to draw another secret objectives.
Which brings us to another difference: players will have several secret objectives. You can still only score one per round. But you over the course of the game you could score many.
Trade works differently. The Trade Strategy Card gives you three trade goods. Then you refresh all commodities. Then you have the ability to allow anyone to use the secondary for free. Then everyone has the ability to pay to use the secondary. The secondary refreshes all commodities.
Commodities are like the total of a race’s trade agreements. The Hacan, for example, had a pair of 3 trade agreements. Now the Hacan would have 6 commodities instead of two 3 agreements. These commodities can be traded to any player who has ships adjacent to your ships. You can wheel and deal!
Political has been changed. There is no political step when the Political Strategy Card is played. Instead, there is a political step during the Status Phase when Mecatol Rex is conquered. From then on, there is a political step. Players refresh their planets. The top agenda is flipped over (for real!). Then players vote on it by spending planets. Then the next agenda is flipped over (also for real!). Then players spend planets to vote on that agenda. Then all planets are refreshed.
Technology has been overhauled. There is no more tech tree with specific technologies. Players can use any technology as a prerequisite so long as it’s the right color. Light/wave deflectors requires 3 blue techs. It doesn’t matter which three.
The technologies that upgrade ships are now called, “Dreadnaught II” or “Dreadnaught III” for example. These techs are overlays for your player sheet so you can see at a glance the new abilities. All ship upgrades require diversity in your technology colors while going deep in a single field requires you to focus on one color.
They kept promissory notes (an addition from Shards of the Throne). However, they are not related to Political Strategy Card, unlike Shards of the Throne’s rules. It is unclear how players will be able to dole out these.
They modified how PDS’s and space docks are produced. There is a separate Strategy Card, Construction, that builds them. Thus, there is no more Production Strategy Card. Instead Warfare Strategy Card’s secondary seems to do what Production’s secondary did.
There are no more leaders, no more distant suns and no more mercenaries. They seem to be eliminating some of the components that were either unbalanced or were patches to the game. They must have fixed these problems so they don’t need these components.
I love the new tech tree. I love the new Imperial Strategy Card. I’m intrigued by the new Trade system. I think it might adjust for some of the issues with Trade in TI3.
I’m not sure if they fixed the political system, though. The new political step is intriguing. But the real problem with the political game in TI was the arbitrary agendas. Did Fantasy Flight fix the stupid weak and stupid powerful agendas?
I really like the fact that there are numerous Secret Objectives. And you can score several during a game. And they have various VP values. This will make the game very lively.
The artwork is immaculate. The plastic components look amazing. And the other components will undoubtedly be as good as any FFG game.
I’m looking forward to playing this as soon as it’s available! It will be bittersweet if it fires Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition.
Until then, you can play Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition here: