Twilight Imperium is a chaotic masterpiece. And its developer, Fantasy Flight Games, has been a constant presence in my tabletop experiences ever since I fell down the board game hole. They’ve designed most of the complex strategy games that weigh down the shelves of my closet. Their boxes are a catastrophe in term of organization, but thankfully that doesn’t translate to the quality of the games themselves.
Twilight Imperium has been around for a long time, and the fourth iteration is the best version yet, but when my group has sat down early on Saturday mornings, collectively agreeing to spend the next six to twelve hours glued to the chair, it’s been the third edition of the game laid out on the table. And what a sprawling, beautiful mess it’s been. The original game, and three separate expansions. All littered on the wide wooden table. It’s not a small table, mind you. Almost 36 square feet of space, and the game with its boxes takes up practically all of it.
I don’t mind, though. A strategic space opera like this needs to unfurl its wings a bit. You’ve got area control. You’ve got negotiations and bribing. Combat, miniatures, and card decks. Twilight Imperium has a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, the mere scope of a board game like TI4 scares people away. It’s visually daunting. It’s dense. It’s time-consuming. It’s a workout lifting the box. But it’s more accessible than you think. And it’s worth the time invested.
I’ve waded through the depths of the third edition, with its expansions, its addendums, and the thick rulebooks that come with each part of the gaming arsenal that Fantasy Flight has compiled. I’ve come out the other side unscathed. For the most part.
I know what you’re thinking: Why would I want to waste time trying to decipher all of that noise when I could be playing two or three other games that I enjoy? Fair point. But I have good news for you. The fourth edition of Twilight Imperium comes in one box. Just one! And it condenses all the additions and modifications of the previous editions.
More clarity? Check. Better gameplay? Check. Less clutter? Check.
Why play three games? Why not just play one? Just volunteer someone else to read the rules.