Twilight Imperium

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Pax Magnifica Bellum Gloriosum (Peace is magnificent but war is glorious)

There's no game quite like Twilight Imperium. Fourth Edition comprises simple and streamlined rules, yet still manages to deliver a complex, all-day-long experience. Here are some resources, house rules, and rules clarifications for it.

Resources

A quick-start page for newbies to read before their first game, including a breakdown of the simpler races for them to choose from.
Produces text that can be sent as a message or email to the other players in advance, so everyone can decide who they're playing, and know where they're sitting, before they show up.
I didn't make this one, but it's a great tool for generating random-yet-balanced maps. Sometimes you want the map ready before everyone comes over, so you can jump right into playing. (I actually love this one more, but it doesn't include PoK.)
Love this setting? Me too! Here's a collection of links to all of the lore I can find.

House Rules

While we get used to Prophecy of Kings, the only house rules we're retaining are those added for flavor and fun rather than for balance.

Objectives

  • In 3-player games, or with an unusual 4+ player galaxy setup, it's possible for an objective to be impossible. If an impossible Public Objective is revealed, replace it with a new one from the deck. If a player has an impossible Secret Objective, they may reveal it for the other players to confirm. If it is impossible, they discard it and draw a new Secret Objective; if not, they must keep it.
  • Turn Their Fleets to Dust: If you use a Direct Hit after a PDS hit — and/or your PDS destroys all units with capacity, causing all Fighters to be removed — you may claim this victory point. (Ignore the FAQ.)

Relics

The guiding star here is that Relics should be a reward. One should never be punished for making the effort to obtain one.

  • During Setup, pull "Shard of the Throne" out of the Relics deck, shuffle the deck, then shuffle "Shard of the Throne" into the bottom half of the Relics deck.

(Drawing this card very early on is more of a punishment than a reward, so this avoids it coming out too soon.)

  • If Nekro draws the "Prophet's Tears" Relic, they may redraw and then shuffle Prophet's Tears back into the Relics deck.

(As written, this Relic is completely useless in Nekro's hands and cannot even be traded away.)

The Naalu Collective

  • Replace their Gift of Prescience faction Promissory Note with this updated one. The main change is that Gift of Prescience must now be used during the very next Strategy Phase; it cannot be saved for later.

(Without this change, Naalu basically cannot risk trading away their PN, as the opponent might just hang onto it until the last round. There's no fun in a PN that never leaves your hand. Credit to jlbarton322.)

The Nekro Virus

  • Change the last sentence of your Galactic Threat ability to, "If your prediction is correct, gain 1 technology that is owned by a player who voted how you predicted or who abstained." Note that someone who played a Rider action card did not abstain; they removed themselves from the vote completely.

(Before this change, we've seen the whole table agree to abstain and pay the Speaker to break the tie, which is boring. This removes any incentive to do that.)

Game Modes by Player Count

4-Player "Feast or Famine"

This variant avoids every Strategy Card triggering every round, a common complaint with 4-player games. In odd-numbered rounds ("Famine"), the players each choose one Strategy Card. No Trade Goods are placed on the unchosen cards. In even-numbered rounds ("Feast"), the players each choose two Strategy Cards as a snake draft (first card in standard order, second in reverse order).

I've made "Feast" and "Famine" images suitable for printing on both sides of a micro-card (1.25"x1.75").

5-Player "Extra SC"

Five-player games of TI have one drawback compared to every other player configuration: every turn, three Strategy Cards get left on the table. This can make a 5P game "drag," relatively speaking. This house rule fixes that.

  • After the entire table has chosen Strategy Cards (SC), the speaker chooses one additional SC from the three remaining; this is known as the "Extra" SC. If the Extra has any trade goods on it, they are discarded; the speaker does not get them. The speaker places the Extra underneath their personal SC. Trade goods are then placed on the two unchosen SCs, as usual.
  • The Extra has no effect on initiative and cannot be stolen or discarded via any card or racial ability. For all game purposes, treat it as an SC that was not chosen this round.
  • When the speaker takes their Strategy Action, resolve it completely, including everyone who wants to "piggyback" on its secondary. After that, resolve the secondary effect only of the Extra, starting with the speaker. Once done, return the Extra to the other unchosen SCs (do not put a trade good on it, as it was "sort of chosen" this round).

Example, Part 1: Winnu is the speaker. They choose Leadership. The other races (L1Z1X, Muaat, Hacan, and Yssaril) choose Technology, Warfare, Construction, and Politics. This leaves Diplomacy, Trade, and Imperial unchosen. Winnu chooses Trade as the "Extra." One trade good is put on both Diplomacy and Imperial. Winnu tucks Trade underneath their Leadership.

Example, Part 2: Later, Winnu plays Leadership, and spends some influence on a total of five tokens. The other four races all either spend influence for tokens or decline. Once this is completely done, the table resolves the secondary (only) of Trade; starting with Winnu, each player may spend a strategy token to refresh their commodities. (Hacan, of course, needs no token to do so.) No one gets the effect of the primary, so no one takes three extra trade goods or designates anyone to refresh commodities for free. Afterward, Winnu flips Leadership over and returns Trade to the table next to Diplomacy and Imperial.

Voting (a step by step guide)

The list below is not a house rule, just a clarification. Each agenda vote follows the following procedure. (For a printable table tent or player handout, click here.)

  1. Reveal and read agenda.
  2. Minimal table talk, just to ensure everyone knows who and what it affects, its positives and negatives, etc.
  3. Speaker calls for abilities with a timing of "When an agenda is revealed." This includes the promissory notes Political Favor and Political Secret, the action card Veto, and the Xxcha racial ability Quash. Starting with the Speaker and then going clockwise, each player may use one such ability.*
  4. Speaker calls for abilities with a timing of "After an agenda is revealed." This includes Rider action cards and the Nekro Virus racial ability Galactic Threat. Starting with the Speaker and then going clockwise, each player may use one such ability.*
  5. Table talk about how everyone should vote.
  6. Speaker calls for a vote. Starting with the player to the speaker's left, each player exhausts planets and declares votes (or abstains).
  7. Speaker breaks tie if necessary. This does not count as a vote.

.   * This is not limited to once around the table. Continue until each player has resolved all the abilities that he wishes to resolve during this timing window. A player may use multiple abilities (even multiple Riders), though they must be played one at a time. A player may decline to act, then decide to do so later based on another player's actions.
.   † Per errata.

House Rule on Transactions: During each of the two agendas being voted on, each pair of players may make a single transaction at any point during the steps above. Promises to vote a certain way on this specific agenda are binding, as the whole vote is effectively one action.


our pre-PoK house rules.

Note: These are for things that Prophecy of Kings has rebalanced, and thus are no longer valid. We will be reassessing them once we've been able to play several PoK games.

The Embers of Muaat

At the beginning of the game, they get to decide where the Supernova goes; they always start with the Supernova system when collectively building a map. If using a preset map, they may instead choose to swap the positions of the Supernova and either (1) any other red-bordered tile or (2) any tile adjacent to their home system, before play begins.

If their flagship is not on the board, they may build a third war sun. Represent this with a different color war sun miniature or temporarily modify the flagship miniature in a noticeable way. While they have three war suns on the board, they cannot build a flagship.

Sardakk N'orr

They start with Sarween Tools.

(Along with adding the new conflict-focused Objective cards, below, this fix balances N'orr. If your group doesn't use those cards, however, consider also letting them start with Plasma Scoring.)

The Universities of Jol-Nar

They have 2 Commodities instead of 4.

The Winnu

  1. They start with one extra carrier and two extra infantry.
  2. New ability: "Spies on Mecatol: When another player removes the Custodian token from Mecatol Rex, gain any one non-faction Technology that player has or gain four trade goods."
  3. New ability: "Second Home: You may score public objectives while you control Winnu or Mecatol Rex."

Magen Defense Grid

Ignore the words "that have PLANETARY SHIELD" on this card. You may exhaust Magen Defense Grid to use it in any ground combat you are in.

Unofficial Yet Nifty Add-Ons

We've added all of these to our game as custom cards. For help creating a printed set for yourself, see this BGG thread.

Colonies and Refineries

We've added these facility cards. They're far more balanced than the TI3 versions. For simplicity, I use a slightly different rule that doesn't require a new Construction strategy card. (Credit: John Drake aka AgentDrake)

Distant Suns

When we want a slightly more involved game, we add these Distant Suns cards to the mix. Flip over a card the first time a planet is taken, and it adds some unexpected, usually minor surprises both good and bad. (Credit Jedd Pearce aka JediPearce)

New Objectives

We've added these 20 new objective cards to the deck, which help balance out the ways one can get VP. (Credit: Clayton Threadgill aka hooliganj.)


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