Monday, April 23, 2012

"Twilight Imperium": Phoenix, Pariah, Conqueror, King

Last Wednesday night we finally had a chance to finish up our first complete game of Twilight Imperium.  I'm happy to report that we suceeded in this noble goal.

Sort of.   

The great thing about running an epic game like this over the course of several weeks is that you don't have to do a rule book crash course every time you sit down to play.  You can just pick up from where you left off and jump right back in! 

For those of you who've been following along at home, last time we left off on a bit of a cliffhanger.  Dean was trying to consolidate his corner of the galaxy with a predatory eye on Twilight Imperium's answer to Coruscant.  Despite Chad's military might, he was having a rough time stamping out pockets of uncooperative rebels.  The lion's share of my navy got nuked after I drunkenly marched them off into uncharted space.  Then, in a major twist, Andrew barricaded himself alone inside the galactic equivalent of Fort Knox by sealing the vault door with a supernova.   

Should you require a slightly less esoteric recap, you can find Part One by enclickifying this link and Part Two roit 'ere

 Players & Their Races

Me...Naalu Collective (Blue)
Andrew...Embers of Muaat (Orange)
Dean...Mentak Coalition (Purple)
Chad...L1Z1X Mindnet (Yellow)


Strategy Card Selection

Me...Production & Warfare
Dean...Leadership & Bureaucracy
Chad...Assembly & Diplomacy
Andrew...Technology & Trade

With half of my fleet reduced to atoms, I decided that a defensive posture might be prudent.  Via a Movement Action I backed my Flagship, Merc and Fighters away from Andrew's beefy-looking fleet.   

Clearly incensed, Dean punished Andrew for daring to employ "stradgedy" by playing "Local Unrest" and killing most of his troops on Sem-Lor.    

On Chad's turn he played the exact same card, annihilating the rest of Andrew's garrison.  As you might be able to tell, Andrew was now drawing more aggro then Courtney Love at a Foo Fighters concert. 

Andrew dwoned his sorrows by staging a vicious assault on peaceful Garbozia.  After missing with an orbital bombardment, he set one Mech Unit and three Ground Forces to the task of subjugation.  They scored one hit but my settlers managed to strike back.  In the second round, Andrew's Mechs quickly mopped things up by scoring two solid hits after my defenders whiffed.

I played the Production Strategy Card and started slappin' shit together quicker then a Taiwanese assembly line worker.  By the time I ran out of shekels I'd constructed a Carrier, four Fighters, and four Ground Forces.  Dean quickly joined the riveting party and knocked out a Dreadnought, a Cruiser and a Mech.

He followed this up by playing Bureaucracy, which gave him a free Command Counter.  Unfortunately he wasn't able to claim any of the newly-revealed Objectives.  The rest of us balked at the idea of paying a Strategy Allocation Token at the risk of drawing a giant steaming pile of nothingburgers.

Next up, Chad played Diplomacy, forcing all of us to place Command Counters in Nebula V, instantly wiping it off the invasion radar.  Andrew was the only one to pay the Command Counter / Influence price to invoke the card's secondary ability and lay claim to a nearby planet.     

Andrew then pulled a Tactical Action and moved his ships out of the Supernova system, 'cuz apparently he can do that and I can't.  Fucking horseshit.  Andrew then proceeded to probe the bejesus out of a nearby Domain Counter but chose not to encounter it.

Risking blow back, I sent my last Cruiser into a hex of empty space between Dean's territory and my own.  When the Domain Counter turned up a free derelict Cruiser, Andrew took the opportunity to sow the seeds of discord.  

"Dude, that could have been yours!" he said, trying to bait Dean into attacking me.  "You need to get that shit back!"     

Cowed by the still-pitiable state of my fleet, Dean mercifully stayed his hand against me, choosing instead to spend a Movement Action to redistribute his Flagship and two Fighters.   

Chad's combat fleet (consisting of a Dreadnought, two Carriers and two Fighters) ventured into the Thibah system.  During the initial landing, his Mech unit missed and Andrew, gleefully representing the defenders, scored two big hits!  During the second round of combat they exchanged one hit apiece, but for Chad, it wasn't enough to eliminate the opposition.  Once again, the rag-tag remains of his landing force had to retreat back to the drop ship to lick their wounds.

Sensing blood, Andrew continued to put pressure on me by moving his Flagship and Dreadnought into empty space, just one hex away from my home world.

Fearing that Dean's fleet manoeuvres were a prelude for attack, I put my two Cruisers at the vanguard on "High Alert".  

Thankfully my paranoia was unfounded.  Dean played the Leadership Strategy Card, claiming three Command Counters.  Unable to resist the promise of additional CC's, all three of us paid through the nose to acquire two apiece. 

Andrew keen insights began to tell him that some of us might possibly be gunning for him.  As a result, he took a Production Action and hastily assembled a SnapTite® Dreadnought and a Destroyer.

Tapped out like a Texan oil well, I was forced to Pass.

Dean crossed into the last unexplored region of empty space with a Cruiser where he discovered an entrance to Wormhole "B".  Since the planet on the other side (Maluce?) had no Resources it ended up going unclaimed.

Chad played the Assembly Strategy Card and snapped up one Political and two Action Cards.  He then forced me to play one of my Political Cards.  Since he'd already encroached on my space and attacked me without warning, I had absolutely no problem jumping on the "Kick Andrew In The Cubes" bandwagon.  I merrily played "Forbidden Research", preventing him from gaining any Technology this round.  Needless to say, there are a few "poopidy-doo's" and "fiddle-dee-dees".

Andrew responded with the most vicious and heinous revenge: Trade.  And by vicious and heinous I mean generous and kind since I immediately snagged three Trade Goods out of the deal.  Piling on, Chad dropped "Ruinous Tariffs" on Andrew and confiscated half of his Trade Goods!  Andrew completed his turn by producing a loaded revolver, spinning the barrel and singing random lyrics from "The Man Comes Around".

Oh, and he also hired a Merc.

Dean took a Transfer Action and then moved a Dreadnought into the Arcturas sector.  Clearly he was massing for some sort of large-scale fleet operation and you didn't have to be Inspector friggin' Poirot to see that he had designs on Mecatol Rex.

Thanks to my timely card play, Andrew's Technology Strategy Card was a bust.  He looked on helplessly as Dean went shopping for Stasis Chambers and Chad used his alien technology to pick up the highly-coveted Advanced Fighters.  This last purchase was particularly noteworthy since all of Chad's ships instantly went from being sub-light T.I.E. fighters to hyperdrive-equipped X-Wings capable of deadly hit and run missions!     

With that everyone passed and went on to the next round!   

Strategy Card Selection

Chad...Leadership & Diplomacy
Andrew...Production & Assembly
Me...Technology & Warfare
Dean...Bureaucracy & Trade

I played the Warfare Strategy Card to put my fleet, now ensconced around my home system, on "High Alert".  Why?  I dunno...

Chad played the Leadership Strategy Card to acquire three precious Command Counters and then paid the Secondary Action's two-for-one cost to snag an additional deuce.  All three of us got in on that hawt auxiliary action by dropping two Production Points apiece.

Andrew played the Assembly Strategy Card and forced Chad to reveal a Political Card.  He put some sort of DEADLY SPACE-SADDAM EVIL LETHAL GAS ATTACK (D.S.S.E.L.G.A.) up for a vote, which he intended to play on Dean's ships in the nebula.  Although we really didn't harbor any ill-will towards Dean, we were all pretty curious to see what would happen when Dean's ships got sprayed with a D.S.S.E.L.G.A.  So naturally it got passed with flying colors just so we could all gawk like yokels at  the resulting slow-motion train wreck. 

We weren't disappointed: the D.S.S.E.L.G.A. wiped out Dean's Carrier, two Fighters and his Spy.


Just as Dean started bellyachin' about this tragic loss I took the opportunity to remind him that it could have been worse.  Like a one-way ticket on "Dave's Exploding Solar Caravan of Doom", for example.   

Undeterred, Dean forged ahead with his planned invasion of Mecatol Rex.  With Chad rolling dice for the defenders, both combatants missed with their initial Fighter attacks.  Dean's capitol ships fared much better, scoring three smacks in total thus wiping out the native air support.  He then plopped two Mech Units and two Ground Forces on the planet's surface.  Chad scored one hit for the Mecatol Rex Ground Forces but Dean was quick to retaliate with three successful attacks.  With that, he was able to claim the great hub of the galaxy!

Even though Andrew was essentially being curb-stomped into a foetal position by everyone around him, I was still concerned that he would blindly lash out at me like a rabid, starving wolverine caught in a bear trap and backed into a corner.  As such, I played "Armistice" on Tar'Mann to prevent him from exploiting the now-defenseless planet.

As if he didn't already have more cool gadgets then friggin' Batman, Chad played the "Alien Tech" Action Card and walked away with some Anti-Mass Deflectors.

Sensing that he was on the verge of being Order 66'ed, Andrew claimed the planet Ashroth in the sideboard galaxy, scoring four free Trade Goods in the process.

Dean endeavoured to recoup his losses with a Production Action.  He used a valuable new racial tech card to double the value of his Trade Goods and then used the profits to build three new PDS units for Vehor and Usis.  He also went after planet Bereg, landing four Ground Forces there.  Andrew telegraphed rolling for the natives, but Dean's aim was true and he successfully captured the planet!

Chad used the now-fashionable Transfer Action to shuffle his ships between Mirage and the Sakulag/Lazar system.

Since all the "cool" kids seemed to be doing it, Andrew exercised the same option to put two Carriers, two Cruisers and three Fighters into Sem-Lore.  Despite being assailed from all directions, it still looked as if he might strike out like some sort of Space Cobra.  But at who?  Say what you want about the dude, but he's certainly no fan of turtling.  

Dean played the Bureaucracy Strategy Card, picking up a bonus Command Counter.  He also flopped an Objective Card which doles out a Veep if you control eleven planets outside your home system.  Yeah, even after five turns into the game we were all still light years away from that particular bench mark.

I played the Technology Strategy Card and brought out "Emerging Economy" which would allow me to launch ships into systems adjacent to my Space Docks.  Andrew, making up for the prior turn's setback, purchased "Stasis Capsules".  Dean becomes the second proud kid on the block to collect his very own War Sun.

Plans still percolating in his noggin, Chad forced himself to abstain from buying any new Tech.  He did, however, play the Diplomacy Strategy Card to bring the planet Nercalor (?) under his sphere of influence.    

Still dreading the very-real possibility of becoming Ned Beatty in an intergalactic re-creation of Deliverance, Andrew used the Production Strategy Card to cobble together some big defensive fatties: a Destroyer, a War Sun and a Dreadnought.  I assembled a Cruiser and a Mech while Dean requisitioned a Dreadnought and a PDS unit.  

Dean played the Action Card "Advanced Re-Enforcements", shoring up his hold on Mecatol Rex with two bonus Ground Forces.

Now completely bereft of fundage, I was forced to pass.

Anticipating a potential dust-up with either Andrew or Dean, Chad dispatched two Dreadnoughts, one Cruiser and one Destroyer towards Capha.

Andrew got his newly-minted enforcers out on point by moving his War Sun, Destroyer and Dreadnought from Muat to Garbozia.

Dean initiated the Trade Strategy Card and also hired his own pet Merc.  Whereas my opponents only scored two or three Trade Goods, I picked up four thanks to my recently acquired "Micro Technology" card.

Then, from out of nowhere, Chad sent a single long-distance Fighter on a perilous journey through two hexes of empty space to blockade his only Space Dock!  Whatta twist!  Needless to say, Andrew was suitably unimpressed.

After everyone passed and the round ended we tallied up the new Veeps! 

I finally scored a Victory Point for successfully invading a planet and Chad earned points for cock-blocking Andrew's production on Muat! 


Strategy Card Selection

Andrew...Leadership & Warfare
Me...Production & Assembly
Dean...Technology & Diplomacy
Chad...Bureaucracy & Trade

With my fleet somewhat revitalized, I finally felt confident enough to send three fully-loaded Carriers and a Cruiser out to oppose Andrew's renewed incursion.

As if softening Mecatol Rex up for a future landing, Andrew dropped a "Plague" Action card on Dean's garrison there, killing four Ground Forces!

Dean used the Diplomacy Strategy card and paid Influence to sway the planet Oucen'n into his empire.  Andrew also scrounged up three Influence to tempt Industrex into his corner.

Chad procured three Goods from the Trade Strategy Card and hired his own galactic gopher.

I then totally ("Totally!") spazzed out on the Production Strategy Card, exploiting the Matriarch's capability to increase my Fleet Supply to eight (!).  This allowed me to push out three Dreadnoughts (!), two Ground Troops and a Space Dock.       

"Oh, I see what's happening here!" Dean shouted after I placed my Space Dock two hexes away from his turf.  "You're comin' after me!"  

"Are you fucking nuts?" I replied.  "I've got Andrew breathing down my neck and absolutely no ships in that area to attack you with!  I'm only placing it there 'cuz my 'Emerging Economy' card lets me place units adjacent to Space Docks and since I never got a chance to expand everything's adjacent to me right now!"

Fortunately this masterwork of Orwellian double-speak seem to confuse Dean slightly more then it confused me.  Unfortunately, it still didn't prevent Dean from building some insurance in the form of a War Sun.  Meanwhile, Chad quietly nudged his Flagship and two Fighter squadrons out into space while Andrew supervised two Mechs coming off of his assembly line.

Andrew played the Leadership Strategy Card to rake in three well-needed Command Counters.  Dean nearly broke the bank paying for three, while Chad and I translated two Production Points into one apiece.

Via a Tactical Action, Dean bolstered his defense by moving his War Sun, Carrier and Two Cruisers out to the front line.

Chad diverted his fleet to Tibah to have yet another bash as subjugating that hornet's nest of a planet.  After scoring two quick hits, Chad finally experienced the thrill of a cleanly successful ground campaign!

Next up I used the Assembly Strategy Card to take a Political Card, two Action cards and the Speaker Token.  I then obliged Dean to play "Colonial Redistribution" which would have forced Chad to destroy all of his Ground Forces on a single planet.  Naturally this resulted in Chad pulling some quick-draw veto action!

Meanwhile, in the sideboard galaxy, Andrew took a peek at the Domain Counter on Sauder and then promptly replaced it, all the while maintaining an impeccable poker-face.   

Dean played the Technology Strategy Card, picking up the fancy-sounding Magen Defense Grid for free.  I finally broke into the red Tech tree by constructing Hylar Assault Lasers.  Both Chad and Andrew invested in XRD Transporters.

Chad picked up two mid-round Victory Points by playing Bureaucracy and claiming the "five Tech advances of the same color" objective.  Jerk.

Then, as much as it pained me to do so, I had to pass.

Settling into his new home, Andrew constructed a Space Dock in Ashtroh.

Dean passed.

Unexpectedly, Chad lashed out at Dean in the Centauri sector with four Dreadnoughts!  In response, Dean played "Rule By Terror" which inflicted two casualties on Chad's attacking force courtesy of his War Sun!  As a result, Chad was forced to tuck his tail behind his legs and slink back to the homestead.

With last-ditch battles breaking out, Andrew fortified himself by playing the "High Alert" token from the Warfare Strategy Card.  His main armada, on point close to Mecatol Rex, was instantly made battle-ready!

Clearly chasing the Victory Point dragon, Chad's task force (consisting of a Cruiser, Dreadnought, Merc and Carrier) attacked Andrew's fleet in Sem-Lor (with two Carriers, two Cruisers and three Fighters). What followed was perhaps the most humorously inept single round of combat in the history of Twilight Imperium.  Or modern Italian military history for that matter.

In fact, the only ships that managed to hit were Chad's Dreadnought and Andrew's Carrier (which performed a successful "last gasp attack" after being felled by Chad's "Experimental Weaponry"). Andrew's wise original impulse to get the fuck outta Dodge was hampered by his compete and total lack of Strategy Allocation tokens.

The second round proved to be considerably more lethal, with Chad scoring four hits to Andrew's two.   In the third round, Chad's Merc earned his keep by delivering the final blow.

Although I'm tempted to indulge Andrew after he plaintively asks me "Sooooo, we're losing.  We may as well fight, right?" ultimately I deny him the satisfaction of a time-consuming scrap by using my racial ability to retreat from the Urta and Bereg system.  Secretly, I'm hoping for another full round so we can all get our collective mitts on Chad's throat.

Chad then played an Action card, allowing him to take control of the Wormhole Hex with a single Cruiser.  This one action alone reduced his Victory Point requirement to only nine points putting him even closer to victory!

In response, Andrew played a card called "Flank Speed" increasing the range of his ships by one.   Chad nullified this with a card that required the sacrifice of his Spy to cancel an Action Card.  Then, out of nowhere, Andrew pulled a second "Flank Speed" card out of his anus and then calmly proceeded to follow through on his original plan!

He sent his War Sun and Dreadnought into the contested Wormhole Hex and obliterated Chad's Cruiser, thus denying him the one Victory Point reprieve and extending the game!

Or not.

With this last action, the round came to an end.  I claimed two more Victory Points for building five Yellow Tech advances.  Dean followed suit for his five Red Techs.  Chad claimed a single Victory Point for destroying three ships in a space battle.

But with that we'd run out of time.  Again.  It was already very late, it was a school night and it would likely take another hour or two to complete another full round.

So, with that, we decided to pack it in and call it a game.  Given Chad's runaway lead, we concluded that he'd probably claim his tenth Victory Point before any one of us could possibly catch up to him.



So, with that, Chad was unanimously declared the winner of our first complete game of Twilight Imperium.*



  1. Awesomely documented! Envy seeps from my pores.

  2. I enjoyed reading this semi-battle report. Your humor and analogies are very amusing. Thanks for taking the time to write this. Cheers.