Twilight Imperium: First Impressions

I’ve had the Twilight Imperium box sitting on my “to play” shelf for nearly six months now, it’s been taunting me: “Play me, together we will rule the galaxy as player and game.” I’ve got to admit I’ve been more than a little intimidated by this game.

The box this game comes in is the size of a small car, at least it’s the biggest boxed game that I own, and all the anecdotes I’ve heard about this game have suggested reserving an entire weekend to play it if you planned on using all the optional rules and play it with 6 players.

Last night we finally cracked it open, and with the assistance of someone who;d already played it once we got down and dirty and tried to conquer the galaxy.

It’s difficult to describe Twilight Imperium, it’s not a space combat game, it’s deeper than that. Each player takes control of a race, each of which have a number of abilities and disadvantages and the players race to get 10 victory points (or 14 in the optional rules). Victory points are gained by completing objectives, one of which is revealed every turn or so in addition to each players “Secret objective”.

Play progresses with the players selecting a strategy for that round (in a 3 player game you pick 2 strategies) which gives you a special ability you can activate and determine turn order, such as:

  1. Initiative : You go first
  2. Diplomacy: You can declare a truce preventing you and another player from attacking each other
  3. Political: Handle a political event which the players have to vote on.
  4. Logistics: Get more action tokens
  5. Trade: Get trade goods
  6. Warfare: Expand
  7. Technology: Get new Tech
  8. Imperial: 2 free Victory points

The players then take “actions” in turn until no one has anything left to do (You are limited in what actions you can do by the number of command counters and action cards you have so this isn’t going to last forever).

Your actions can be:

  • Activating your strategy allowing you to reap the rewards of it’s primary effect, and allowing other players to chose to spend a token to activate it’s secondary effect.
  • Activating a space area allowing you to move ships to it, attack ships that are there, or attempt to colonise planets.
  • Playing an action card which have various effects.
  • Passing.

Combat is relatively quick each unit has a target which they have to roll to damage or destroy a unit, there is no advantage to defending VS attacking, and the player receiving the damage can allocate it as they see fit among their fleet, two lone X wings can take out a Deathstar in a crazy suicide mission.

The ships are blatantly “Inspired” by ships from science fiction films and TV shows like Star Wars, StarTrek DS9 Battlestar Galactica etc.

Here is the cool thing YOU GET TO BUILD DEATH STARS! That’s right plural, not one but two!

Different ships have different abilities, fighters are cheap but can’t travel between systems by themselves, carriers are rubbish at combat are required to carry ground troops to invade planets, dreadnoughts can bombard ground forces from space and so on, you have to build your fleet using your space docks which do nothing more than build ships and you can’t have more ships in any one fleet than the number of tokens in your fleet pool.

It’s one of those games that looks really complicated from a distance, but once you get the hang of it it’s really simple. It took us a whopping 6 hours to play a 3 player game but we had no idea what we were doing to start with, it didn’t take long for us to get the hang of it.

So what did I think?

I really liked this game, I’ve played a lot of Risk lately due to my friends getting Risk: Legacy, Risk: God Storm and Risk: 2210, if you want it to be Twilight Imperium can be a slightly more complicated “Risk in Space”, but you are missing out on a lot and if you go full on battle crazy then you probably won’t win.

I really liked the exploration facet of the game, we played with a rule, which I think is optional, that puts face down tokens on each of the planets; these tokens are uncovered when you first land on a planet and can have good or bad effects it really gave you the feeling you were exploring the galaxy.

Twilight Imperium in a way reminds me of a game that I used to play when I was in school on my old Mac LC II called Spaceward Ho! It’s a lot more complicated than Spaceward Ho! in some ways but in others it’s simpler (You don’t really upgrade your ships that much in Twilight Imperium for example).

If you like space exploration, politics and battle, then you will love Twilight Imperium, I’m already looking forward to my next game, which I hope will be fairly soon.

Final Fantasy ATB: Possibly the Worst Game Ever Created

20140116-180848.jpg
If I pitched this game to you right I could see you thinking this was a game with tons of potential.
Play through a streamlined Final Fantasy game on you iPhone!
Fast paced combat featuring up to 40 characters at a time!
Unlock your favourite characters from the Final Fantasy universe!
It sounds good doesn’t it? Well it’s not… This game is a steaming pile of horse manure dressed up as a game, and the costume department is t even that good.
Final Fantasy ATB consists of battle after battle with enemies from various FF games, and you do, technically, get to control up to 40 characters… Only by control I mean furiously rub the screen with no semblance of thought or strategy.
You control an increasing number and variety of FF archetypes and presumably when you unlock them named characters from the FF universe. Tap a character to attack, and the. The character has to wait a little while to attack again. Any character who gets hit is immediately eliminated.
You might start by tapping, you’ll soon discover that you can just as easily just run your finger over the screen to achieve the same if not a more effective result. Your characters will one by one die and you’ll have wait for them to to revive which happens at a rate of one every 3 minutes.
That’s it. That is the gameplay. You essentially masturbate your phone to kill enemies.
Oh and you can spend money to get more characters. It’s like Squeenix didn’t even bother trying, they aren’t phoning in this performance, they are are making a collect call to their canvass and asking them to phone it in for them.
Do you want a particular character? Too bad the character you get when you spend money is RANDOMIZED! It’s like those gumball capsule toy vending machines.
This is extortion plain and simple, there is no game here just some animated pixel art and a means for FF fans to give Squeenjx money for nothing.
The worrying thing is that this game has over 100 five star reviews on the iTunes App Store.

Magic: The Gathering: The Movie

According to the Hollywood Reporter Fox have just signed up for the rights to make not only a Magic the Gathering Movie but to turn Magic the Gathering into a Hollywood franchise “on the scale of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings”.

Colour me sceptical, I have no doubt that the Magic the Gathering universe has enough lore in it to provide the backdrop but it’s going to take some masterful writing to translate all that to screen. To make it a huge franchise they’d have to introduce people who’ve never played the games or read the books to the setting gently enough to hook them, but not bore the core audience at the same time.

There are MtG books that could act as a starting point and although I’m told they are quite good I’ve never read any of them.

I would like to see this go well but I reckon it will go the way of the D&D movie…

On a side note if we were still living in 80’s I reckon they could pull off a decent “Kid who Plays Magic discovers that the magic universe is real and he’s a planeswalker” movie ala “Captain N the Games Master”, but I don’t think modern audiences would fall for that though.