Christian T. Petersen

Fantasy Flight Games

Awards: none



G@mebox author Marco Klasmeyer writed about the game:


In the long history of our galaxy great wars between civilizations in distant areas have catapulted the complete technical and intellectual evolution of the participating races into a dark age. Now things begin to evolve again, former races and newcomers are preparing for war again. The struggle for the splendid and famous planet Mecatol Rex and for the ruling of the galaxy starts over again. To win the game a player must advance his race in technical, economical and political development, yielding to more power and influence in order to control the galactic council on Mercatol Rex.



The game board consist of hexagonal mapboard pieces which number and setup is defined by the number of players attending. At start up each player chooses a civilization and obtains a stack of these hexagonal mapboard pieces. By clockwise placing one space field per turn around the central planet Mercatol Rex the game board is build. At last every player sets his home planet (or planet system) at one edge of the now established galaxy. Of course each player should consider placing valuable fields with a plenty of resources in his reach and placing obstacles (Supernova's, asteroid fields or just void spaces) in the reach of the opponents' home bases. Hence each game will look different, each starting situation will be a new challenge. The planetary home system provides the player with initial resources and influence, each planet the player might invade and occupy during the game will add its resources and political influence to the player's strength. The planetary resources ( symbolized by Lazax Gold Credits ) can be used to either produce new space ships for the military space fleet or develop new technologies to improve the races' abilities (mainly related to military). The political influence becomes important in the Galactic Council on Mercatol Rex where votes about new laws and special decisions take place.The agenda is printed on political cards which are drawn at the begin of the political phase. This political phase becomes essential to the game because the results of the votes can change, neglect or extend certain rules of the game or votes are related to certain planets. Votes about Laws can be FOR or AGAINST in any case there is an impact on the game as printed on the political card.

A round consists of 6 main phases:

  • political phase: votes at Galactic Council
  • economy phase: draw action cards, receive credits and purchase units
  • individual turns: movement, combat, invasion
  • technology phase: develop new technologies
  • place new units
  • progression phase: check progression status of each race.

A space fleet is composed of large Transporters carrying infantry troops and small fighters, agile and powerful Cruisers and last but not least the large and migthy Dreadnoughts, the jewel of each fleet. Furthermore spacedocks are essential for the production of new units as well as planetary defense systems (P.D.S) for protection of valuable planets and systems against invasions. During the game each player has to enlarge his empire, build mighty space fleets either for his own protection or attack capabilities. He shall increase his political influence and must develop in science and technology in order to advance. If he performs well on the race progression sheet he will finally acheive the status of the leader of the Galactic Council and hence win the game.


While moving a fleet through the vast areas of the galaxy, one might encounter ships of another race and hence it is immediately involved into combat. For each ship a dice is rolled, results equal to or lower than the attack respectively defense value of the appropriate ship are hits. After all hits have been determined casualties are removed and either the fight continues or the attacker withdraws, defender cannot withdraw of course. Only when a space combat is victorious a planetary invasion can take place. But be careful, if the planet has an P.D.S it can destroy some of your ships before you can even start the invasion.

Players are allowed to form alliances. Normally alliances start as trade agreements yielding to more credits income for both, but why not also act jointly against a common enemy? Since this is also a "political" game, those agreements are usually paperthin and everybody should be aware, whether their allies are reliable friends or treacherous opponents, you never know...

Review - what is new

This is the second edition of Twilight Imperium which is in principle the first version (published 1995) plus extension sets Armada (plastic armies) and as optional rules parts of Distant Suns and Manifest Destiny. But there are even more changes:

  • new additional action and political cards
  • improved technology system
  • new progression chart requirements
  • extended racial abilities
  • new military victory conditions
  • carriers (transport) only holds 5 units
  • improved P.D.S. rules

There now are different kinds of technology (warfare, propulsion, biology, general). The civilization of some special planets provides scientist which support development of one technology genre by reducing the amount of credits one has to pay for that specific technological advance. Only general technology is not supported by this mechanism.

For the game with 2-3 players new victory conditions is, if one player controls all planets of another player's home system he has immediately won the game regardles of his status on the progression chart. With 4-6 players this applies on three home systems. Each P.D.S may fire at enemy units three times at maximum "in one turn": when enemy ships are at the end of their move still in the system, when there are enemy ships in the system on the player's turn and when ground forces are invading the planet. Furthermore Dreadnoughts are not allowed to bombard a planet which contains a P.D.S. So after all a P.D.S. is a very powerful defense system and therefore quite expensive to build, but the advantages are obviously.


In comparison to the first edition I find the second one a very well desinged rework. Fantasy Flight took the best of the expansion sets and improved some basic game ideas. There are some restrictions of the old rules but also some new extensions and new ideas came in. To me the ruleset of the second edition is well weighted and more balanced than the first version. I remember quite well some games with the first edition which never seem to find an end, because the victory condition was too tough. Two races (of initial 3 or 4) remained at the end, both fully equipped with large resources and influence and it was a never ending struggle for the dominion of some precious planets, but no one reached the final victory condition. And the other participating parties could go home meanwhile. These extensive games will more likely not happen with the second edition, because one can try to get more technological advantages or trys to capture the enemies home bases… The variety of technological development might bring up situations where mighty space fleets meet each other in combat, but their technology level is totally different which keeps the fight exciting. For beginners the game might look quite complex but when you start playing it you will really like the plenty of opportunities during the game.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany