One of my favourite games is Twilight Imperium 3. It is a sprawling game of galactic domination. It is quite magnificent, and the only downside is that a single game will normally take 4-8 hours, which limits the number of times it gets played.
However, I’ve recently been scheduling the odd game for myself and a couple of friends on a Friday. I don’t generally work Fridays, and the two friends are similarly free. This has meant we are getting the game to the table more often, which improves how we play it, as we are not having to remember the rules from 6 months ago.
This is complicated by the base game and the two expansions containing many optional rules and features; so that the very first business of any game session is to discuss which features we are going to use. We have established a preference, which is something like 50% of the options available to us, but we like to ring the changes sometimes.
The Friday sessions also revealed to us how quickly moving the game can be with only 3 players. TI3 plays up to 6 players or 8 with the expansions. I think we have played 8 players twice, and it was crazy long. 6 is nice and symmetrical (on a hexagonal tiled board), but for a long time, I have preferred 4, simply because it involves less waiting for your turn to come around. I have found 3 to be a revelation, not only does it bring back symmetry, but it fairly speeds along.
Twilight Imperium 3 was published in 2005, following TI2 in 2000, and the original TI in 1997. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me, 12 years later, to hear that Fantasy Flight Games were publishing a new version: Twilight Imperium 4th Edition. Immediately there was chatter on the forums about the game, and when it would be out, and who was going to buy it. I was vocal to friends at the time that I would not be buying it. At £120+, it was not cheap; and I already had a sizeable investment in TI3. TI3 worked for me, I liked the game, and I did not need to replace it.
Then I started to read about what had changed. I am not going to go into details here, that can be the subject of another post. But every change I read about made such absolute sense to me, I could feel my resolve slipping. Not only were they making the game better, they were making it easier to play, streamlining stuff without actually removing it. On the minus side, some of the optional features were disappearing, but nothing I was wedded to, and the game was back to the maximum of 6 players, which was fine by me; more than that was crazy.
Deals appeared. At least one reputable site was now offering it on pre-order for “just” £107. Copies of the older TI3 and its expansions started appearing on eBay. I quickly noticed that a set split into its component base game and expansions appeared to be worth more than one being sold as a set. This is because the expansions are out of print, and there are a lot of people out there who already own the base game, who only want to buy one or more of the expansions. It is not out of the question that I could sell my base game and expansions, separately, for almost as much as I was paying for TI4. Time will tell.
So I ate my earlier words that I would not be upgrading and placed my order. I’ve just heard that it is arriving tomorrow, and I am extremely excited – over a boardgame! I still face the task of going through my old version and splitting all the components into their correct boxes, for resale. Got to do that soon, before the bubble bursts.
Photos courtesy of BoardGameGeek