Roland Wood
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I must first give props to Aarontu since it is his design that I am building upon. After playing his variant and also learning how the political phase in 2-player Warrior Knights works, I feel that this is another rich experience for two players. Please try it out and give feedback! As of 7/28/06 my friend, Steven, and I have played this twice using 8vp. Both games played differently but were a lot of fun.

Setup
1) Remove the Supernova and 4 of the blank space tiles.
2) Shuffle the rest of the tiles and deal eight to each player.
3) Players take turns placing tiles until all tiles have been placed
4) Player homeworlds are in the second ring across from each other.
5) Shuffle the objective cards and deal to each player a phase 1 public, phase 2 public, and two secret objective cards. These will all serve as secret objectives for the player to complete.
6) Setup the rest of the public objectives according to the "Age of Empire" variant.
7) Remove trade agreements from the game.

The Strategy Cards

1) Initiative Strategy Card: Not used. The speaker token will simply alternate between the two players. As the last step of the Status Phase the current speaker hands the speaker token to his opponent.
2) Diplomacy Strategy Card: No change.
3) Political Strategy Card: The primary ability for this card should be changed as follows:
"Draw three action cards and receive one Command Counter from your reinforcements. Then draw the top three cards of the Political Deck and resolve their agendas one at a time. After completing the agendas look at the next four cards and then place one face down on the bottom of the deck and the rest face down on top of the deck."
The secondary ability remains unchanged.
4) Logistics Strategy Card: No change
5) Trade Strategy Card: The primary ability for this card should be changed as follows:
"Immediately receive 3 trade goods"
There is no secondary ability for this Strategy Card.
6) Warfare Strategy Card: No Change
7) Technology Strategy Card: No Change
8) Imperial Strategy Card: The primary ability for this card should be changed as follows:
"Immediately receive 1 victory point"
The secondary ability remains unchanged

Beginning with the speaker, players alternate selecting an available strategy card until both have taken two strategy cards. First player in the action phase is determined by who holds the strategy card with the lowest number. The three unpicked strategy cards get bonus chits

Other Rules
Political Action
1) When a player activates the political phase as his action, he takes the top three cards of the political deck, reads them aloud, and then selects one of them to be voted on first.
2) The players should count up their total available influence and then take that number of spare tokens (but don't use trade good tokens) to use as votes.
3) The players will secretly place a number of tokens in their fist and then reveal at the same time their vote. Ties count as defeat in the case of laws and "discard to no effect" in the case of elections.
4) The player who picked the political strategy card then selects the next agenda and it is voted upon using whatever votes players have left after the first vote. Finally, the third agenda is voted upon following the same method.
5) At any point up to the moment when votes are revealed players may exchange trade goods for vote tokens with each other. In this way, bribes are actually binding because once the planetary influence has been converted to tokens, they may be bought and sold.

Victory Points
1) Players may qualify for one public objective per game round but may go for any of them in any order.
2) Players may also qualify for one of their secret objectives per game round. Players may not qualify for their opponent's secret objectives.
3) Short Game: First player to 6vp wins the game 60-90 minutes
Medium Game: First player to 8vp wins the game 90-120 minutes
Long Game: First player to 10vp wins the game 120-180 minutes

Battles
1) The winner of a space battle gains 1 trade good.
2) The winner of a planetary invasion battle gains 1 trade good.

"Moderate" Distant Suns
1) Remove the biohazard, radiation, industrial society, and technological society tokens and shuffle the rest.
2) Randomly place the remaining tokens face down on each planet.


Design Notes

One goal was to try and keep as much of the original game in place for two players. I was stumped as to how to do this for the political phase until I read the rules for Warrior Knights (also by FFG) and realized that this was the perfect fix. In fact, the next time we play a full game of five or six I may try the political phase in the same way as it is handled in Warrior Knights.

Another goal was to get more money in the game to facilitate bribing and to speed up technology advances and buildup of forces. The "prospector"-ish Trade Strategy Card helps with this as does the reward for battles, as does the more positively skewed distant suns planetary tokens.

My last main goal was to try and avoid the mechanical #1-#8 cycle that could threaten to really dominate a two player game. This is why I threw out the Initiative Strategy Card and just cycled the speaker token. It would cycle anyway but at least in this way a player would not have to use one of his choices to make it happen. In the 2-player game that we played we also found that we had plenty of command counters so that having to pay for all of the secondary abilities wasn't bad at all. In a 6vp game players will probably try to choose the ISC as often as they can. In an 8 and 10 vp game you can probably afford to skip picking it once or twice in lieu of gaining the benefits of a different strategy card.

One quick note that we discovered about the Diplomatic Strategy Card was that its value was huge in a 2-player game. You picked it if you definitely did not want to go to war....or you picked it if you definitely wanted to guarantee a war. It created some very interesting choices in our game.

Thanks again for a great design, Aarontu, and I hope my contributions offer some additional interesting choices for 2 players.
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Steve Wessels
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Looks great. I'll have to try it out. BTW, I agree the political agenda management (The Assembly) in Warrior Knights is cool. That's a good idea to adopt.

How long did the game take with only 2?
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Roland Wood
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It took about 2 1/2 hours but we were discussing what we liked and didn't like as we went. We began the game with the Initiative Strategy and without the Diplomacy Strategy. Midway through we chucked the Initiative Strategy and brought the Diplomacy Stategy back in. I think our next 8 vp game will definitely come in under 2 hours.
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Chris
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I don't know much about Warrior Knights, but your variant looks like fun.

Please post an update here after your next session.
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Roland Wood
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Today my friend Steven and I sat down to play my two-player version of Twilight Imperium. Steven was the evil Mentak civilization and I was the altruistic intellectually-minded Jol-nar civilization. After setup was complete we compared influence and resources and discovered that the Mentak had 4 resources to fund their imperialistic war machine and a measly 1 influence to spend on politics. The enlightened Jol-nar had 3 resources to spend on textbooks for their universities and 5 influence to make things right in the galaxy.

Turn One

The diabolical Mentak choose Technology and Trade strategies. The friendly Jol-nar take the Imperial and Political strategies. After some basic expansion and building the turn ended. The three laws that came before the Senate were so obviously evil attempts at limiting the freedoms of the people of the galaxy that the Jol-nar had no choice but to block them and vote them down. By the end of turn one the benign Jol-nar had 4 resources and 8 influence. The belligerent Mentak had 6 resources and 12 influence thanks to their newly acquired technology of Stasis Capsules, suspicious starting fleet of cruisers, and greedy capture of Mecatol Rex.
Score: Jol-nar 1vp Mentak 0vp

Turn Two

At the beginning of turn two the Mentak predictably picked the Warfare and Imperial strategies while the Jol-nar picked the Logistics and Technology strategies. This turn proved to be a major turning point in the game. The Mentak entered a Jol-nar controlled system and contemptuously destroyed all of their science vessels. The Jol-nar, meanwhile, conducted classes on the possible peaceful uses of Stasis Capsules. After picking up a distress call in the beleaguered system, the Jol-nar sent their entire fleet consisting of a transport, a fighter, and a dreadnaught (only as protection from space pirates) to the system. They found the Mentak visiting atrocities upon the populace of one of the planets and sent a few warning shots across the bows of the two Mentak cruisers. Using some kind of alien power, the cruisers were able to destroy the fighter and damage the dreadnaught even before the battle began. The Jol-nar attempted to send a transmission but were mercilessly gunned down. In a mighty explosion the dreadnaught disappeared and the carrier with all hands (and science equipment) was lost. The Mentak then using some military hocus-pocus (Warfare strategy) were able to move their cruisers again and take one of the Jol-nar homeworlds, destroying the PDS unit and spacestation docked there. At the end of turn two the Mentak had 13 resources and 19 influence and the Jol-nar had 4 resources and 5 influence.
Score: Jol-nar 1vp Mentak 4vp (ISC, 1 public objective, 1 secret objective)

Turn 3

To begin this turn the persecuted Jol-nar picked the Trade Strategy and the Imperial Strategy. The rapacious Mentak snatched the Political Strategy and the Logistics Strategy. Immediately, the Jol-nar valiantly rallied the community spirit of a distant planet from their homeworld and built a new spaceport. No sooner was the spaceport completed but Mentak marauders entered the system and destroyed everything. The Jol-nar leadership knew that if there was to be a future for their people they must appease their new overlords and agree to eternal servitude. The Supreme Mentak readily accepted this new arrangement.


Observations

The political phase “Warrior Knight” style is extremely fun and will be a must for every TI3 game we play in the future regardless of the number of players.

Balance and advantage can turn on a dime in 2-player TI3. Players are well advised to be cautious and don’t risk everything on one battle because that will give the game away if things go wrong. (And wrong they went!) There are no other players to ally with or to make your opponent feel threatened by.

Total play time was 90 minutes when the Jol-nar conceded. It was fast and enjoyable. An excellent way to get an expensive game to the table more often!
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Chris
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Excellent. Thanks for following up.
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Stephen Stewart
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It works out really well. AND the best part... We used the triangle alien chits as 5's and the flags as 1 denominations...NO pennies!!!

Hold your hand out with your tokens and announce FOR or AGAINST, then you reveal.

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Tim Bradrick
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Hey Roliander,

Just wanted to chime in and mention that I just played a game of this variant today. The only change we made were to take out the wormholes and the cards related to them. The politics strategy worked out pretty well. We played to 10 points, and the whole game lasted about 3 hours, over 5 rounds, though the other player was learning the rules. We had a blast!

Thanks to you and Aarontu for the effort to develop this variant.

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Aaron Tubb
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Thanks! That sounds like a good, fun way to do politics with 2 players. Next time I do a two player game, I'll have to try this variant!
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Thanks for this variant. I played it today. We had fun.

However, I would prefer less unpredicability and randomness - your three Political card rule for the Political Strategy action adds even more capriciousness than original TI3. Cards like Public Execution and Alien Artifact can be devastating in a 2 player game (they were for me).

Question: With the Political Strategy action, can you choose in which order the three Political cards are resolved, or do you draw and resolve them one at a time?
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Roland Wood
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The player who picked the political phase gets to choose the order but both players know what the three laws are before any are voted on so that someone can save their votes for the one that matters most.

You are correct about the devastating results that can happen in 2-player TI3. It has happened to us as well and we usually just call the game after one of these because it is impossible in most cases to recover. This goes back to the idea that TI3 truly is optimal with multiple players-- but this is a fun enough variant to play when there is just two of you and you are feeling like you need to actually play your $70 purchase
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Jay Waschak
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We gave it a try here as well. Excellent variant!
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Steve Wessels
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I incorporated this excellent 2-player variant in my on-line tutorial. You can check out the 2-player game at http://www.preeminent.org/steve/games/ti3/ti3demo/2-player/s...
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Chris
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Good job on the tutorial.
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Peter Gousis
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Fastfingers, thanks for the great tutorial. I think I saw a few things that may have been mistakes though. Please let me know if I am wrong as I have only played the game 2x. These were in the two player tutorial.

1) During the first round when Nicholas builds on his home planet, you put the ground forces on Wern Terra and the space dock was on Arc Prime. I thought you were only allowed to build ground forces on the planet with the space dock.

2) During the second round you stated that Steve couldn't fire with his PDS becasue he played the Diplomacy card. I thought you didn't have to activate the system to fire if someone else activates the system in range of a PDS and has ships there. So from my understanding you could still fire with the PDS because you don't have to activate the system.

I have not made it all the way through the tutorial yet, as it is long and very in depth. I just wanted to clerify these things I have noticed so far. More for my own knowledge and understanding of the game. Any help on these things would be appreciated.
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Jeremy
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I used this variant with a friend yesterday, and we had a great time! I am not a fan of the core strategy cards, so the next time we play I am going to use mostly SE strategy cards, except that I will use Politics in place of Assembly and discard the Bureaucracy card, so that the mechanics are the same as in this game.
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Steve Wessels
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brunoreturns wrote:
I used this variant with a friend yesterday, and we had a great time! I am not a fan of the core strategy cards, so the next time we play I am going to use mostly SE strategy cards, except that I will use Politics in place of Assembly and discard the Bureaucracy card, so that the mechanics are the same as in this game.


Actually, when this tutorial was written, there were no expansions for TI-3 yet. Once we picked up the Shattered Empires expansion we started using #8 - Imperial II Strategy Card and also using the “Age of Empire” official variant from the original rules, which it requires. I much prefer this because it makes victory point planning more strategic. I'm also a fan of using #7 Technology II Strategy and #2 Diplomacy II Strategy in our games now.
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Daniel Hurst
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A friend and I tried this version the other day and I think I can report back that we liked it. It preserves the feel of 6-player TI3 with a lot of tension and hard choices. And it played in a couple of hours. We made some slight changes:
* No "Distant Suns"
* Deal 6 hex tiles, not 8, to each player. The map should be tipped so the "center row" is 5 across, not 3. Don't place tiles adjacent to the left and right of each homeworld.
* For the primary on the Trade Card (#5), you get 3 trade goods PLUS the number from your race's highest trade contract.

For whatever reason, TI3 encourages tinkering. I think next time I play 2p, I'd recommend playing without the "Age of Empire" variant. Instead, I'd turn the objective cards "on the table" over one at a time, just like the normal game.
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Douglas Painter
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Roland, this is just great, and fun. Have you considered revisiting this with an eye on the two expansions? We would love an updated version of the 2 player rules.

Thanks
 
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Giliar Perez
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Ghaerdon wrote:
Roland, this is just great, and fun. Have you considered revisiting this with an eye on the two expansions? We would love an updated version of the 2 player rules.

Thanks


Hey Ghaerdon, take a look at this http://www.astralvault.net/games/SA/

There are 2-player rules in the PDF. Personally, I just use the voting mechanic from it, but there is some info about the expansions.
 
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Ondrej Vaclavik
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Tested with my gf. It was so cool!!!
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I have seen one weakness that might need amendment. The re-ruling basically destroys each and every racial ability of the Emirates of Hacan. Any amendments for this?
 
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There is now a newer variant (in TI4 forums) based on this one.

I will help develop that one by providing feedback.

(will try to address Hacan race abilities concern)

Link:
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1851297/ti4-2-player-prince...
 
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Sandro Ruotolo
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Hi all, after TI2, new to TI3! Well, like the classics

Question about the variant... This part of Political action is not very clear to me, so if someone can explain great!

"The players will secretly place a number of tokens in their fist and then reveal at the same time their vote. Ties count as defeat in the case of laws and "discard to no effect" in the case of elections."

So, how does this work? No-speaker player first reveals his votes and select something or someone, and then speaker does the same?

"Ties counts as defeat in the case of laws"? Defeat for who, in what sense?

Thank you and all the best in 2018!
 
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