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Subject: Twilight Imperium or Starcraft? rss

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Sean
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Hi guys, I am looking to add to my collection by getting either TI3 or Starcraft. I am a big FFG fan and already have World of Warcraft which I love. So I am looking for another big box experience but can't decide between these two giants. Any ideas? I loved starcraft on the pc and thought it was a logical buy for me, but I also have been drooling over TI3 for quite a long time. And as you know they are both $$$ so which should it be? Thanks

(By the way I may be willing to trade Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings exp for either)
 
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C Lloyd
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Well, I can't speak for Starcraft, but TI3 is one of my all-time favorites. It's pretty much got everything in it, and the bits are awesome. I love the different races & abilities, the tech tree, player roles, different ways to score VPs, political aspect, and (of course) the space fleet battles.

The expansion is very nice to have, but not necessary to enjoy the game. The one thing I don't like about the base game is the Imperial Directive (I think that's the name), but you can just tweak that role if you don't like it. It's one of only two 10's for me, with the only drawback (IMO) being the long play time. Be prepared to set aside a whole afternoon (and possibly evening) to play.

If you haven't already done so, go to the FFG home page and download the rules for both games. I find that really helps me decide on whether or not a game is right for me.

Good luck!
 
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Trading a Game of Thrones?!!? Good heavens! You're mad!

Go with Twilight. If you like LOADS of options and flavor in your game, twilight can't be beat. If you have friends who don't all want to win via conquest and like a bit of diplomacy, go with Twilight. If you have geeky friends who don't mind playing a board game for hours on end, go with Twilight.

In short, if you want to be one of the cool kids, go with Twilight.

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J Mathews
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TI3 is the better game, but Starcraft is fun as well. The thing that puts Starcraft over the edge for me is that unless you have 4-6 players interested in spending 4-6 hours playing this on a regular basis, Starcraft will get to the table more. You can play at least 3 games of Starcraft in the time it takes to play one game of TI3. Starcraft is legitimately playable with any number of players between 2-6, something that cannot be said about TI3. No, it's not as deep and there aren't as many options as TI3, but it is much more playable much more often. It's also much easier to explain to a new player.

For me, this choice is a no-brainer. Even though TI3 is the better game, go with the game that will get played more. If in your situation it is TI3, great. But I think that it is much easier to get Starcraft on the table and played more often due to the relatively short play time and flexible player scalibility.
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Aaron Gelb
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EventHorizon wrote:
TI3 is the better game, but Starcraft is fun as well. The thing that puts Starcraft over the edge for me is that unless you have 4-6 players interested in spending 4-6 hours playing this on a regular basis, Starcraft will get to the table more. You can play at least 3 games of Starcraft in the time it takes to play one game of TI3. Starcraft is legitimately playable with any number of players between 2-6, something that cannot be said about TI3. No, it's not as deep and there aren't as many options as TI3, but it is much more playable much more often. It's also much easier to explain to a new player.

For me, this choice is a no-brainer. Even though TI3 is the better game, go with the game that will get played more. If in your situation it is TI3, great. But I think that it is much easier to get Starcraft on the table and played more often due to the relatively short play time and flexible player scalibility.


Good advice. Go M's!
 
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Sean Franco
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I'll be the one to whole heartily recommend Starcraft over TI3. TI3 has a lot of good qualities, but it gets messy with everything it tries to do. The military strategies often suffer for a little too much turtling and rely too much on dice. Starcraft is much more focused, with a better combat system, no possibility of turtling, and more intuitive and direct gameplay. However, it shares many concepts with A Game of Thrones, so if you're willing to trade that, Starcraft my not be for you. On the other hand, I think A Game of Thrones is the best out of all three of these.
 
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Neon Joe, Werewolf He-yump
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TI: 3. As was mentioned, Starcraft can take as long as TI:3, and TI:3 is by far the richer, grander more epic system.
 
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Henrik Lantz
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Check the Bookshelfgames video review of TI3 at http://www.bookshelfgames.com/Permlink/Ep014.html

Also, TI3 is absolutely brilliant. I can also really recommend the expansion. Haven't played Starcraft though, so I cannot compare.

Since we are discussing Fantasy Flight big box games, I have to recommend Descent as well. Love this game.
 
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Vangelis Bagiartakis
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I have played both and they are indeed very good games.

In your case, take into consideration the people you are going to be playing with and the amount of time you are going to have available. The good thing with Starcraft is that it is also playable with two people so you can find someone to play it with, very easily. TI is also a very rich experience, however it takes many people and a LOT of time to play a game.

Also, when you start a game of TI it usually takes a while for the action to kick in (in the first few rounds you try to explore new planets and gather resources mostly) while in Starcraft you may end up in combat, right from the start!

In the end it 's a matter of taste. Whatever suits your style and your playing group.
 
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Kester J
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I'm surprised by the overwhelming support for TI; the two games are pretty different, so it shouldn't be that easy. I'll try to go over the differences briefly.

Theme:
-In TI, theme is as important as - if not more important than - the game. If you like playing at having a space empire, then it's great. They were clearly going for the feel of Master of Orion or similar computer games in board form, and they hit it pretty much perfectly.
-Starcraft: you clearly like the Starcraft theme already, but I've noticed that I enjoy it a bit more than my friends who've never played the computer game. It depends who you'll be playing this with.


Play time:
-TI takes about an hour, then another hour per player (so 4 hours for 3 players, for example), and that's when everyone knows the rules. The first two turns are usually dead time where nothing important happens, too. For the first game, it can take up to twice as long. People really need to be committed to TI, and I couldn't really blame someone if they stopped a game halfway through if they hadn't been warned about the length beforehand. On the other hand, if you do enjoy it, then it's a very epic experience.
-Starcraft takes about an hour per player minus one. (So 2 hours for a 3 player game). Contrary to what everyone else has been saying, I have never seen a Starcraft game last as long as TI. It's much more comparable to Game of Thrones in terms of length.


Number of players:
-TI can't be played with 2 (unless you use a variant). 5 is a bad number, despite the attempts to balance the starting positions, but playable if you accept that some players will start at a disadvantage. 3 and 4 player games have each player taking two strategy cards a turn, which is a big change. Some people like it, some don't (I do, personally). You also lose a lot of the trading and diplomacy with only 3. 6 is the number it was designed for, and it's very good with this number. The expansion lets you play with 7 or 8, but I wouldn't recommend either of these. It takes too long and there's so many people that at least one person will get shut out early and bored to tears.
-Starcraft scales much better. 2-player is possible and enjoyable, but still a bit dull compared to larger numbers. 3,4,5 and 6 are all good, with 4 being a particular sweet spot, I feel.


Gameplay:
-TI is much bigger in scale. There's more to do and more to think about. A lot of this is "chrome", as I've seen it called here: things that are added to enhance theme but don't do a great deal for gameplay except add more rules for you to remember. (Trade, for example, is often set up at the start of the game and then stagnates. There aren't many decisions to be made regarding it, but it's nice that it exists. The political game could also be more interesting.) TI has significant random elements: battles are decided by dice-rolling, and players get to draw action cards to use which vary in power from game-winning to pretty much useless. Diplomacy and table-talk is a big element; the leader is ganged up on, alliances are made and broken, other players can be bribed (but don't than have to keep their word!) etc etc. Combat is a means to an end, and games involving no fights at all can happen. Variants are easy, and can fix many of the problems the game has; the modularity that leads to the "chrome" of TI also makes it easy to modify.
-Starcraft is smaller scale. There are less rules overall, and they fit together in a much more streamlined way. Everything you can do in the game serves a purpose, as opposed to the "kitchen sink" approach of TI. Some people have called it 'elegant', and while I'd disagree with that, it is certainly much closer to elegant than TI. These interlocking elements make any significant variants hard to carry out, however. Combat can't really be changed at all, due to the card system, and combat is most of the game. The random elements are less: the card system for battles leaves much less to chance than TI's dice system. The event cards players draw are the only significant random element, and these do not vary in power nearly as much as the action cards of TI. Because the only way to affect other players is to attack them, diplomacy is much less. There is no bribery, voting and so forth, and consequently leader-bashing and the like are harder, if those sorts of things annoy you. Alliances may spring up occasionally, but rarely last more than a whole round if they even get that far. Oh, and Starcraft has a reverse order system which seems to polarise people's opinions. (I was one of those who didn't like it at first, but after 5 or so games I'm used to it and now quite enjoy it)



Hopefully that's some help, even if it was a bit...rambling. Personally, I'd go for Starcraft, but I've tried to keep it at least reasonably objective above. I loved TI when I first got it, but it does become clear after a few plays that many of the choices are false, and if you want to play a strategic game, TI isn't it. If you want to play at having a space empire and beating up on your friends' space empires, it's excellent. If you want to play a game where you focus only on winning and optimise your strategy to do so, it's shallow and pretty dull. (This is fixable if you're willing to invoke extensive variants, and I don't think it would be disingenuous to describe TI as more of a game system than a game.) Starcraft is the opposite. The theme is a bit flaky in places, and some stuff that can happen is counterintuitive. Once you've learned the system though, then the strategic options are fairly deep, and there are always interesting choices to be made. It really depends what you're after.
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Leo Zappa
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I'll provide yet another take on this matter. I own and have played both games multiple times. Starcraft is a more straight-forward bash-fest. You win this game via successful battles to take and hold various pieces of galactic real estate. There is certainly some skill involved in optimizing your tactics to suit the faction you control - a player can't use the same approach when leading a Protoss faction as they would when leading a Zerg fashion (believe me, I've tried, and it doesn't work!).

TI3 is a more intense experience, primarily due to the additional chrome on the game engine. If using Shattered Empires expansion (which is the only way I'll ever play TI3 again), it is also possible to play and win as a bash-fest, but there are still other ways to win that don't necessarily require combat.

I like both games, but Starcraft does not tax my brain quite as much as TI3 - there's not as much to remember or look up in the rulebook. From that perspective, I'd favor Starcraft. The playing time for Starcraft is also somewhat less than TI3, although our first games of SC ran to nearly 6 hours (for both 4 and 5 player games). TI3 almost verges on a RPG with the multitude of different races and their unique characteristics, and it certainly has a more substantial theme. Let's put it this way - I'm up for a massive TI3 game maybe 3 or 4 times a year, while I could probably play Starcraft once or twice a month. Hope that helps a little.
 
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Sean
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Guys, thanks for al the input. You have helped quite a bit and I am sure there are others like me who are thinking about both and wondering about the differences. The length of the game does not worry me, as I said I have World of Warcraft which takes quite a few hours, but I had read that there was a lot of extra 'chrome' on TI3 which I was worried about. Hearing that SC is more elegant is a bonus, but the one thing I don't like about Game of Thrones is the order token thing, and that's my main concern about SC. I will check out the rules for both (thanks for that idea) and the videos.
Is $80 too much to spend on something that you would only play 3 or 4 times a year?
 
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Chris Ferejohn
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Heliconia wrote:
Is $80 too much to spend on something that you would only play 3 or 4 times a year?


That's pretty dependent on what $80 means to you. Some folks think nothing of dropping $80 for a couple of concert or theatre tickets. Some folks despise paying more than $10 for a meal.
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C Lloyd
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Heliconia wrote:

Is $80 too much to spend on something that you would only play 3 or 4 times a year?

Really depends on your point of view. $80 is probably two nights out at a bar or for dinner. In that respect, it's a bargain. Of course, you could spend less on a different game or two that you play more often. I consider it well worth the cost even though I've only played twice thus far. The all-day gaming experience is something I look forward to. Also, with the sheer quantity and high quality of the components, you really feel you you're getting your money's worth. At least I feel that way.
 
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Matt Tonks
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clloyd09 wrote:
Well, I can't speak for Starcraft, but TI3 is one of my all-time favorites. It's pretty much got everything in it, and the bits are awesome. I love the different races & abilities, the tech tree, player roles, different ways to score VPs, political aspect, and (of course) the space fleet battles.

The expansion is very nice to have, but not necessary to enjoy the game. The one thing I don't like about the base game is the Imperial Directive (I think that's the name), but you can just tweak that role if you don't like it. It's one of only two 10's for me, with the only drawback (IMO) being the long play time. Be prepared to set aside a whole afternoon (and possibly evening) to play.

If you haven't already done so, go to the FFG home page and download the rules for both games. I find that really helps me decide on whether or not a game is right for me.

Good luck!


clloyd09 wrote:

Really depends on your point of view. $80 is probably two nights out at a bar or for dinner. In that respect, it's a bargain. Of course, you could spend less on a different game or two that you play more often. I consider it well worth the cost even though I've only played twice thus far. The all-day gaming experience is something I look forward to. Also, with the sheer quantity and high quality of the components, you really feel you you're getting your money's worth. At least I feel that way.


Hi Courtney! You again?!

Anyway, back to the original poster's question... I was in a similar position not too long ago. I wanted an epic, space-themed game filled with conquest, conflict, politics, etc. I knew about TI3 & that SC was also due to come out soon.

Did my research, read the reviews & looked at photos. For me, the hand-downs winner was TI3... the overall impression I had was that there would be a lot more going in TI3. Besides, the sight of all those hexes of planets, supernovas & whatever else just looked so far better than what I was seeing for SC (felt a bit unimpressed with this one TBH).

Twilight Imperium 3!

Matt...
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J Mathews
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GAWD wrote:
Good games of Starcraft can last almost as long as TI3 games.


toku42 wrote:
As was mentioned, Starcraft can take as long as TI:3


Either you guys have a group of dedicated TI3 players and can bang out a game in 2 or 3 hours or you have issues with the choices presented in Starcraft. I don't think that I've ever gotten through a game of TI3 in less than 4 hours and I have only seen one Starcraft game go more than 3 hours, and that was a 6-player game with 5 newbies. Your other points are correct, but Starcraft has by far the shorter play time and is much easier to teach new players.
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tim
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Heliconia wrote:

Is $80 too much to spend on something that you would only play 3 or 4 times a year?

Is $130 to much to pay to jump out of an airplane just once?

Only you can answer that question.
 
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C Lloyd
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eightbit wrote:
Heliconia wrote:

Is $80 too much to spend on something that you would only play 3 or 4 times a year?

Is $130 to much to pay to jump out of an airplane just once?

Only you can answer that question.

Is $130 too much to pay someone so you won't have to jump out of an airplane? My answer would be no.
 
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