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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Thoughts on 2-player rss

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Andrew Clarke
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I find it slightly strange that TI isn't officially playable as a 2-player game. You could play a wholly-serviceable game using the rules as written, with the caveat that you'd need to decide on a map layout (but the 2-rings: home worlds in the outer ring on opposite sides layout is both pretty much universally accepted as the 2-player setup and pretty obvious anyway). There are a couple of game elements that don't translate particularly well, but they don't break the game.
Anyway I've tried a 2-player game using the following rules:
* Standard 2-ring layout
* 2 strategy cards per turn. You could go with 3: either works (4 is also possible, though I'm pretty sure that would be less interesting). I think I prefer the former, though there is some risk of running out of bonus counters (we didn't, though we came close. The most BCs on a single card was 3, on Logistics).
* Trade. This is the first element that doesn't translate well (it's not impossible that both players would agree to trade, each believing it to benefit themselves more than their opponent, but it's unlikely). We played that you "trade" with yourself (in effect turning your own trade agreement over and making it active). You can only activate one trade agreement per use of the Trade card. All of the Hacan's abilities translate fully under these rules. We toyed with some idea of cancelling trade agreements due to war, but couldn't think of a coherent rule. Trade still got taken a fair bit.
* Politics. Technically this works fine as written. It's just dull, as one player has more influence than the other and controls all Political cards. We tried the "draw three political cards and do closed bids on each" rule. I wasn't very happy with this. It certainly added some tension to the phase, but three Politics cards a turn is too many and makes control of politics too good. It's also hard to remember all the laws that end up in play. Since then I've tried (in a 2p game with me playing both sides for a few turns) an alternative, which I think works better.
* Diplomacy. Dip is interesting in a 2-player game. Past the first couple of turns it tends to get taken a lot. But I think it works fine without adjustment, though unfortunately one of the Xxcha abilities does absolutely nothing in a 2-player game with Dip I (it would have some value with Dip II from shattered empires, which I don't own at the moment).

Poltics Alternative: To vote on a political card, you must spend influence. Actually spend influence, that is, not just have unexhausted influence available. This means you can spend Trade Goods for votes (or exhaust planets for them). Players do a closed bid to determine how much they will spend, and both players (including the loser), must then spend trade goods and exhaust planets to meet their bid. 0 is a valid bid, and still wins if both players bid 0 and you have the Speaker.
I think this works rather well, and in fact I wonder if it might not work well in a game with 3+ players as well.
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Nick Short
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I think the real problem with 2 player may be that there is no check on military power. Several races have a stronger military, and others are weaker. In a typical game, the threat of invasion by a third party kept rampant expansionism in check. However, I don't see anything in a two-player game that would prevent Muuat, L1z1x, or No'rr from just steamrolling someone like the Jol'Nar during the first few turns of the game.

If you can find a solution to that, then it may work. Otherwise, I think it may often just become an unbalanced wargame.
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Bill Norton
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ti3wiki.org

Guys play 1vs1 all the time. There are probably about 3 games going on right now.

There was even a tournament a year or so ago.

There are tweaks, of course, but the races are generally balanced.

It is actually alot of fun.

Bill
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Andrew Clarke
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bsushort wrote:
I think the real problem with 2 player may be that there is no check on military power.


I haven't encountered this problem so far. The only game I played to completion was Sardak Norr against Xxxcha (the Xxxcha won). Yes, the Sardak Norr did slightly better from a military point of view, but it's actually quite hard to single-handedly eliminate an opponent in TI. You need to move your ships to their home-system, by which time they'll have at least a turn worth of time to build more ships than you.
Of course, by creeping forward and building space docks near to their home system, you can do better, but that takes time.
Granted, the Sardak Norr aren't the nastiest combat race (not sure what is- L1Z1X?), so I may have missed a genuine problem, but time will tell.
Of course, there is a lot more actual combat in 2-player games, but I regard that as a bonus.
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Nick Short
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yoacusna wrote:
bsushort wrote:
I think the real problem with 2 player may be that there is no check on military power.


I haven't encountered this problem so far. The only game I played to completion was Sardak Norr against Xxxcha (the Xxxcha won). Yes, the Sardak Norr did slightly better from a military point of view, but it's actually quite hard to single-handedly eliminate an opponent in TI. You need to move your ships to their home-system, by which time they'll have at least a turn worth of time to build more ships than you.
Of course, by creeping forward and building space docks near to their home system, you can do better, but that takes time.
Granted, the Sardak Norr aren't the nastiest combat race (not sure what is- L1Z1X?), so I may have missed a genuine problem, but time will tell.
Of course, there is a lot more actual combat in 2-player games, but I regard that as a bonus.
How would the winner of the first few battles not just continue to win? Every system they take gives them more resources to spend on bigger fleets down the line. Sure the defender is building too, but their resources go down each battle they lose. You should be able to match their reinforcements with your own, and then some.

And yeah, I know military isn't typically the key to victory in TI. I just can't shake this feeling that victory begets victory, and a couple early wins could result in dominance of the board. And careful territory control IS often a key to winning. Without a backside to have to defend, how does it not devolve to a solid front with all fleets crashing into each other? If it does, how does the better military not just steadily advance?
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Scott Lewis
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bsushort wrote:
Without a backside to have to defend, how does it not devolve to a solid front with all fleets crashing into each other? If it does, how does the better military not just steadily advance?

Almost every battle against a competent opponent will result in losses to the winner, weakening the front.

If you built up a solid wall of ships that could do this, then yes, you may likely dominate. But in only 6-8 rounds of gameplay, building up such a formidable fleet is very tough, and in the meantime, you really have to choose your battles wisely because for every battle you are in, you become that much weaker, and a waiting 3rd party can more easily swoop in afterward to clean up.

Fighting has it's place in TI3, but you have to be careful with it - there simply isn't time to patiently amass forces and start spreading out; if you do that, another player will be grabbing the VP's and winning the game before you are ready to strike.

EDIT: Ooops, forgot this was the 2-player thread But still, building up a fleet is hard to do, as the other player will be doing the same, but you still don't have time to build a really nasty fleet if the other guy is pushing the VPs hard
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Bill Norton
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bsushort wrote:
yoacusna wrote:
bsushort wrote:
I think the real problem with 2 player may be that there is no check on military power.


I haven't encountered this problem so far. The only game I played to completion was Sardak Norr against Xxxcha (the Xxxcha won). Yes, the Sardak Norr did slightly better from a military point of view, but it's actually quite hard to single-handedly eliminate an opponent in TI. You need to move your ships to their home-system, by which time they'll have at least a turn worth of time to build more ships than you.
Of course, by creeping forward and building space docks near to their home system, you can do better, but that takes time.
Granted, the Sardak Norr aren't the nastiest combat race (not sure what is- L1Z1X?), so I may have missed a genuine problem, but time will tell.
Of course, there is a lot more actual combat in 2-player games, but I regard that as a bonus.
How would the winner of the first few battles not just continue to win? Every system they take gives them more resources to spend on bigger fleets down the line. Sure the defender is building too, but their resources go down each battle they lose. You should be able to match their reinforcements with your own, and then some.

And yeah, I know military isn't typically the key to victory in TI. I just can't shake this feeling that victory begets victory, and a couple early wins could result in dominance of the board. And careful territory control IS often a key to winning. Without a backside to have to defend, how does it not devolve to a solid front with all fleets crashing into each other? If it does, how does the better military not just steadily advance?


I understand your point, or rather why you think this, but in reality this doesn't happen.

If you have time go follow one of the games on ti3wiki.org or watch a previous completed game. Let me know if you want a suggestion.

One thing, in 1vs1 an early mistake makes a big difference, I have seen games pretty most lost on the 1st round SC selection.

Bill




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Tim Gordon
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One of my game crew and I have been play-testing 2-player variant house rules for a few months now, doing at least one game nearly every week. I'm constantly making notes and really need to make the time to write them up properly, but for the benefit of sharing here, I'll briefly list a few points. We've absorbed some other people's suggestions for the 2-player format, refined or rejected some aspects as we've gone along, and added in a few ideas of our own. And for the record, I have the Shattered Empires expansion and we do include elements of that too:

Strategies
We remove the Initiative/Leadership Strategy tiles completely, so the tiles start at number 2 (DiplomacyII actually from the SE set). We alternate first turn by swapping the Speaker token between us, so Speaker has first selection of Strategies, also has casting vote in the Political Agendas, and like Initiative, doesn't have to spend Strategy counters when executing secondary abilities. The other Strategy tiles we then use are 3-Poltical, 4-Logisitics, 5-Trade II (SE), 6-Warfare, 7-Technology II (SE), and Imperial II (SE).

Each player selects two Strategies, taking it in turns, leaving three to remain and have Bonus Tokens placed on them. BTs can be used as Trade Goods or Command Counters as always. Then the player with the lowest numbered Strategy makes his first action.

There is a little difference in playing the Strategies. Diplomacy II, Political (to a degree), Logistics, Warfare, Technology II and Imperial II are all played 'as-stated' from their text. Trade II we use differently - it's simply worth 5 Trade Goods collected immediately when it's played. Political is followed as it states on the card, but we conduct the Political Agendas differently. First time it's played we draw the top 3 cards, and resolve them all, but in the order that they are drawn. Then we use the 'Warrior Knights' system of voting - all players at the start of the Polticial Phase get counters equal to their current Influence. These can then be 'spent' as each Agenda is voted on. Action cards can still effect the voting outcome. Once that's all completed, the Poltical player draws the next three, selects two and drops the third to the bottom of the deck, and then places the selected two back on top in the order he wants to resolve them in. Next time the Political Strategy is played, these cards are resolved first, in their placed order, and then a third random and unknown Agenda is played out at the last. So it means you need to carefully marshall your votes, and possibly even keep some back for the unknown element.

Other Aspects
We use the Domain counters from SE, weak ones in the outer ring/s, stronger ones around Mec-Rex. And another house rule is that every time a player successfully takes a planet, he earns one Trade Goods counter, from the spoils of war. This helps put 'money' into the game, where trade doesn't exist in it's normal state, and you need to slightly accelerate the two players purchasing power to get the game underway.

Any Action cards or Politcial Agendas that obviously feature for 3 players or more, or for Trade treaties, we discard and instantly re-draw. We eliminate Public Objectives of a multi-player nature too (like the 'I've blown up both my neighbour's Space Docks' type cards). And - we totally ignore the Secret Objective cards completely and they stay in the box!

We're slowly playing thru the various races, and have found a few are either very very strong, or a bit compromised by the lack of trade (Hacan for example). But some pairings given us very tight and close games.

Happy to discuss and add more as we continue, but we've found that this allows the two of us to get more TI3 games in and to learn it's rules and tactics even further so we get more out of the bigger multi-player games we then have later.



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Andrew Clarke
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I've already discarded the warrior-knights-type voting system idea, as I said in my original post. I do agree with discarding cards that obviously don't work with two-players. 5 trade goods for taking Trade works, but of course it makes the Hacaan useless. I actually don't see much reason to remove Initiative. It works fine in two-player-games. I don't even think you need to prevent the Speaker from taking it: if they do keep spamming it, all the benefit they get is saving a few command counters: they could clearly do better by taking Logistics. And the other player then gets first pick of the remaining SCs. If you must discard a strategy card, I think I'd remove Imperial rather than Initiative.
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JohnnY C
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Twilight Imperium is currently the best 2-player game I've ever played. The Strategy goes so deep and the entire game rocks. You find guidelines to play 2-player games in the Shattered Ascension rules, readily modified and playtested.



SA version 4.0 PDF file
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Scott Lewis
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I should point out, for the stubborn "rules-as-written" guys like me, that playing the 2-player game with all the Shattered Ascension changes is not necessary in the least - you can enjoy the 2-player game just fine using only the 2-player specific changes, and leaving the rest of the game as-is. I've played many games that way, and I agree that it works really well.

I just wanted to mention it for those who may be interested, but might be turned off by the sheer volume of changes that the full set of Shattered Ascension rules makes to the game overall.
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JohnnY C
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That's right, you can get far with just the 2-player sheet.

However, I'd use the Dreadnought buff. Even with 2-dice Dreads they're rarily built. In a 2-player game cost and speed is crucial.
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Gunter D'HOOGH
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My wife bought this game and Rune Wars for my birthday, so I only have it one day. So is there somewhere an "official" 2-player variant??? If someone could help us out, we would be very glad!

Thanks in advance!

Günter
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Scott Lewis
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No variant is needed. It plays just fine 2-player out of the box. In fact, the game even states that it is playable for 2 players.
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Gunter D'HOOGH
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Thanks very much, Scott.

We will absolutely play this fantastic game. And though we play every week with our friends (a gaming couple too) we always like to play boardgames just amongst the two of us!

Thanks again,

Günter
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Martin DeOlden
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Give it a try without any variants except for those in the box. It does well as a 2 player and it is a good way to help learn to play the game better.
I do not mind the 2 player game and later if you want add in some variation. I like variants but have never liked the SA variant.
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LOL, I just realized that I must have thought this was Runewars, not Twilight Imperium.

IE, the game itself doesn't say it's playable for 2 players.

However, I've found that it does work OK out of the box. I use a couple variants myself, mostly just a smaller map and removing certain objectives from the deck, but it plays well 2-player.

Sorry for the confusion.
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Gunter D'HOOGH
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Thanks to all of you for the replies, guys!

@ Scott: no problem whatsoever, dear Sir!
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Aleš Matas
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I could imagine I can play almost any aspect of the TI3 in two players but I don't know how to manage the Trade. In fact we have problem with the Trade generally. It is always stucked. All players exchange their cards at the beginning ...

By the way in this thread the question is the Trade vs 2 player.

(If you wrote exactly what rulles / variants / variations you are using it'll be helpfull.)
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