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Subject: Newbie path to twilight imperium rss

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Bruno Pigeon
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Hi! I am making my own geeklist and I need your help to complete it ([geeklist=50467]The Way of the geek[/geeklist]).

If I have never played any boardgame, and my goal in life is to play twilight imperium. Which step would you recommend to play twilight imperium. I guess a starting point could be Risk. But what next?

I did make the mistake of trying Arkham Horror with my girlfriend, a non-gamer, as one of my first boardgame. We played like 15 times now and it is still a bit difficult and it was not much fun to learn.

So what would be a gentle and fun learning curve to get to play twilight imperium, possibly the hardest conquest game?

Thanks
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Ægir Æxx
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I would say that you should just jump in! The deep end is always best.

When you finally get there make sure you play with the expansion, Shattered Empire.
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Steve
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Agreed. Just buy and play TI:3. I started my first game as Paths of Glory. It wasn't a huge deal. You can handle TI:3, especially with the tutorials online. The fully detailed example of play out there on the web comes to mind.

The whole idea of "gateway" games are dumb for people who are really interested in playing one thing. Just go play that. You'll get it with a little effort.
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Evgeny Reznikov
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super_bruno wrote:
If I have never played any boardgame, and my goal in life is to play twilight imperium.


Then find someone to play Twilight Imperium with.
 
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Andre Metelo
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TI3 is not a complex game, however, due to the sheer number of options it can be very overwhelming.

It is feasible to get into it cold turkey, but be ready to play a couple of games for everything to sink in.

Fort the purpose of getting used slowly, I would go:

- Porto Rico (to get used to role selection)
- Nexus Ops will kinda help with a few of the strategy/production/combat learning issues (Nexus combat is actually more complex than TIs)
- The diplomacy factor could be learned in Senji (but one can argue that this is not necessary at all). The other option is go all out and play a game of diplomacy (which has a steep learning curve as well).

And just assume players know what a tech tree is.

And if you want a simpler game to get a spin around go for a game that gives you a taste of TI, but it is an order of magnitude simpler (in terms of what a new player has to assimilate) go for a spin on Galactic Emperor.


My 2 cents
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Timothy Sullivan
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There isn't much in Twilight Imperium that's over-the-top in terms of complexity. But the number of "moving parts" can be overwhelming. Assuming that you can't find a group that can teach you, I'd suggest the following:

1. Start with San Juan -- a nice simple card version of Puerto Rico that will get you used to the idea of role-selection. And, since you mention tyring to get your girlfriend on board, it's a popular "couples" game.

2. Next you need experience with a wargame that's a step up from Risk. In particular, you want a game that gives you various types of (plastic) units -- each having their own offensive and defensive strengths and weaknessness. I think that Axis and Allies (either the original or the Anniversary edition) would be a nice choice. A&A also has some simple technology rules. If your group finds A&A overwhelming or too long, you might want to start with a shorter wargame, such as Memoir '44 (or you just may need to forget about pushing them any farther).

At this point you're probably ready to go. The tech tree concept will be recognizable to anyone who's played any of the empire-building games, either on the PC (any of the Sid Meier Civilization games or anything in the Age of Empires or Empire Earth series) or in a board game (such as Avalon Hill's Civilization or several of the Eagle Games). But I've never seen a new player undone by the tech tree.

What could undo a new player at this point is the amount of stuff going on at once. Look at the photos -- a player might have 8 planet cards in front of him, a group of markers that are allocated across three different pools, another set of markers keeping track of trade agreements and trade goods, a pile of 8 different plastic minis, representing different types of ships, bases and units, a stack of action cards giving him special one-time powers, a stack of researched technology cards (each giving an advantage), a stack of ready-to-research technologies and a stack of technologies for which the player doesn't yet have the prerequisites, Each player's race will have (on its card) about three special powers for combat or research (or something else). It's a lot to keep track of.

My group was able to get going on TI3 fairly quickly because we did recognize so many of the concepts from other games. I (respectfully) disagree with the folks suggesting that you just buy it and play it. That may be a very frustrating experience if no one in the group has played it before, and you're all starting from Risk.

One more caution before you plunk down $80 on the game. While I love TI3, it's not for everyone. Think about what's attracting you to the game in the first place. If the idea of an all-day (plan on your first few games taking 8+ hours) epic game of empire-building, negotiations, trade and battles sounds fun (not just to you, but to your entire group), you'll enjoy it -- the theme will be so exciting that you won't even realize that hours are passing. If you want a lighter/shorter game with a sci-fi theme, you might enjoy Cosmic Encounter more.

Happy gaming!

Tim
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Bill Norton
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One option would be to go to ti3wiki.org and watch a game.

The community is always looking for new gamers.

A good one(because of little variants) would be here:
http://www.ti3wiki.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1260333701/45000
the map is
http://www.ti3wiki.org/index.php?title=Cup_of_Coffee_PBeM

It is a 4-player game, should be interesting for you to watch.

Currently in the second round.

Bill
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Christopher Murphy
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Don't worry about it - you already have the desire to play it, so I'm sure you'll do fine. Just find someone who knows the rules and play!

I've thought at least 10-12 people to play TI, all of whom had never played anything more complex than Risk. Sure, there were a couple rounds of confusion as they pieced the different game systems in their brains together to decide what to do and why, but just a few rounds in, the questions died down and every one began forumating their sneaky plans for galactic conquest.

Don't worry, just play!
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Richard Young
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I'm assuming that what the OP is looking for is a series of games that would take essentially a "non gamer" and work him up to appreciate the epic that is Twilight Imperium III.

I think a very good entry level game here would be Nexus Ops. Space theme, variable oversize hexes that form the map board, relatively low unit density and an approach to combat that will carry forward pretty well all the way. Another avenue of approach might be Starfarers of Catan, an underrated game in my view that you don't hear much about these days but which can be a pleasant introduction to space-faring games.

You could think about throwing Cosmic Encounter in at some point for the variable racial powers idea. But, echoing a previous post, I would make a very strong pitch for Galactic Emperor that has just about all the elements of TI3 that matter in a very enjoyable 2+ hour package.

As much as I enjoy TI3 (post SE), I can't get it on the table often due to its length, whereas I have no trouble getting players for GE and it scratches much of the TI itch for me.
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Timo Haas
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Our group had played TI3 a couple of times (4-6 players) when recently trying Galactic Emperor. Well, we were quiet disappointed: TI3's game feeling was missing. Beside the fact that we were familiar with (and fond of) the heavier game before we learned the lighter one, there were two main critics about GE:

- Role selection and role resolution are mixed: when choosing your role, you don't know which other roles will be taken (i.e. which other actions are available for you later). By this control over your game is reduced and it feels somewhat 'random'. TI3's mechanic is superior (we didn't try GE with role selction preceeding role resolution).

- Basic functions of your empire are tied to role selection: movement and production. This is an important difference to TI3 - and TI3 mechanic is sooooo much better as it provides much more control.

Overall, when ready to play GE, I'd take a leap and proceed with TI3.
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Bubslug wrote:
I would make a very strong pitch for Galactic Emperor that has just about all the elements of TI3 that matter in a very enjoyable 2+ hour package.

While Galactic Emperor is a good game, and probably a good stepping stone, I disagree that it has "about all the elements of TI3 that matter".

GE is lacking:

Resource management (at least in any way resembling the TI3 version)
Politics (voting, etc, a HUGE part of the game)
Objectives (which influences strategy quite a bit)
Racial Powers (again, modifies game strategy).


While GE can sometimes scratch the TI3 itch, I disagree that it resembles TI3 in anything more than a superficial way - they are very, very, very different games, and GE is not a TI3-lite, despite what it may seem on the surface.
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sigmazero13 wrote:
Bubslug wrote:
I would make a very strong pitch for Galactic Emperor that has just about all the elements of TI3 that matter in a very enjoyable 2+ hour package.

While Galactic Emperor is a good game, and probably a good stepping stone, I disagree that it has "about all the elements of TI3 that matter".

GE is lacking:

Resource management (at least in any way resembling the TI3 version)
Politics (voting, etc, a HUGE part of the game)
Objectives (which influences strategy quite a bit)
Racial Powers (again, modifies game strategy).


While GE can sometimes scratch the TI3 itch, I disagree that it resembles TI3 in anything more than a superficial way - they are very, very, very different games, and GE is not a TI3-lite, despite what it may seem on the surface.


Well, I'm arguing that the granularity of the elements you listed are what is at issue. GE certainly has resource management, in fact some aspects that are missing in TI (managing food to produce raw materials for example). Are there more details to manage in TI? Of course, but one gamer's love of grit can be another's overload of chrome. Politics? Lots in both games to appreciate in different ways. The Regent role in GE requires the management of influence in ways not present in TI and the placing of influence is a form of voting. Objectives? Simply a matter of degree - there are different ways to win in both games. More grit and granularity in one versus the other but we go back to the question of essence versus chrome. Racial Powers? That could be a valid observation - although I would argue that the tech in GE customizes the various factions to accomplish much the same result - factions that play differently in subtle or not so subtle ways. Again TI loads you up with all sorts of similar things. I simply say essence versus chrome again.

All of the grit and granularity that is being applauded here with respect to TI-III is very real and, post SE, it all hangs together quite effectively. But it comes with a cost - time. Both downtime and total alloted time in this game is considerable. The learning curve and comprehension challenge is also considerable - this is not a simple game to learn or play. The folks who advocate that a person new to gaming in general should head straight to this experience should give their heads a shake. I would definitely recommend they work their way up to it. Many won't need to go past Galactic Emperor but I would hope they would at least try TI-III once to see for themselves, when they are ready.

Granted the whole business is very subjective. I agree that characterizing GE as TI-lite is an oversimplification; but, personally, I think GE is more than that but both are their own games with different target audiences. If your particular yearning is for an epic AT extravaganza, almost nothing does it better than TI-III; however, if that is not a practical reality because of time constraints, GE does a darn good job of providing a dose of space opera that doesn't take all day to get through, and is a very good game in its own right.
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Richard Young
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Poimen wrote:
Our group had played TI3 a couple of times (4-6 players) when recently trying Galactic Emperor. Well, we were quiet disappointed: TI3's game feeling was missing. Beside the fact that we were familiar with (and fond of) the heavier game before we learned the lighter one, there were two main critics about GE:

- Role selection and role resolution are mixed: when choosing your role, you don't know which other roles will be taken (i.e. which other actions are available for you later). By this control over your game is reduced and it feels somewhat 'random'. TI3's mechanic is superior (we didn't try GE with role selction preceeding role resolution).

- Basic functions of your empire are tied to role selection: movement and production. This is an important difference to TI3 - and TI3 mechanic is sooooo much better as it provides much more control.

Overall, when ready to play GE, I'd take a leap and proceed with TI3.


I'm not sure I understand your point regarding role selection. In both games the roles are selected in some order. When it is your turn to select a role, you select one from what is available at the time. In both cases you don't know what will be chosen either before you or after you (unless playing basic TI-III which is unsatisfactory to many) depending on where you are in the selection order. The difference is that in one the role selection preceeds role resolution and in the other they are combined. The way turn order is managed in the two games is quite different and both have aspects of gamesmanship to consider.

Which one you prefer is another subjective issue. There are folks out there that prefer some form of auction be involved in role selection and turn order determination in their games. These two games have their own systems with pros and cons for each. Both work quite well in the context of their respective approaches to the game experience.
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Timo Haas
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Bubslug wrote:
Poimen wrote:
Our group had played TI3 a couple of times (4-6 players) when recently trying Galactic Emperor. Well, we were quiet disappointed: TI3's game feeling was missing. Beside the fact that we were familiar with (and fond of) the heavier game before we learned the lighter one, there were two main critics about GE:

- Role selection and role resolution are mixed: when choosing your role, you don't know which other roles will be taken (i.e. which other actions are available for you later). By this control over your game is reduced and it feels somewhat 'random'. TI3's mechanic is superior (we didn't try GE with role selction preceeding role resolution).

- Basic functions of your empire are tied to role selection: movement and production. This is an important difference to TI3 - and TI3 mechanic is sooooo much better as it provides much more control.

Overall, when ready to play GE, I'd take a leap and proceed with TI3.


I'm not sure I understand your point regarding role selection. In both games the roles are selected in some order. When it is your turn to select a role, you select one from what is available at the time. In both cases you don't know what will be chosen either before you or after you (unless playing basic TI-III which is unsatisfactory to many) depending on where you are in the selection order. The difference is that in one the role selection preceeds role resolution and in the other they are combined. The way turn order is managed in the two games is quite different and both have aspects of gamesmanship to consider.


You're right that in both games roles are selected without knowledge of which roles will be selected by the players after me. The common feeling in our group was that complete role selection preceeding resolution gives you more information and opportunity to shape your plans.

Bubslug wrote:
Which one you prefer is another subjective issue. There are folks out there that prefer some form of auction be involved in role selection and turn order determination in their games. These two games have their own systems with pros and cons for each. Both work quite well in the context of their respective approaches to the game experience.


Totally agreed with. I reported our experiences to stress that beside all similarities GE is quiet a different game with different mechanics and different challenges - and not just 'TI3 light'. I'd give it another try, this time without expecting some TI3-feeling. But when heading towards TI3, I'd probably skip GE.
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Poimen wrote:
Totally agreed with. I reported our experiences to stress that beside all similarities GE is quiet a different game with different mechanics and different challenges - and not just 'TI3 light'. I'd give it another try, this time without expecting some TI3-feeling. But when heading towards TI3, I'd probably skip GE.

That was my point as well There are some similarities between GE and TI3, but they are superficial, and I don't think GE "feels" like TI3 in any way. It's still a fun game, but not really a good stepping stone for TI3.
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Richard Young
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I can't think of anything out there that is as much like TI-III, in essence, as GE. If you can't accept that, then there can't be much of anything on any list of precursors. That I can't accept. You may conclude that GE is hollow compared to TI-III but the lineage is unmistakable. Which is the whole point of the OP's request.

It sounds like you are saying "just play TI-III - there isn't anything out there that can give you a feel for picking roles that drive the action where you get a special bonus but everyone can do something, or constructing a universe of hexes that will define the board consisting of planets of differing worth (as well as other space objects) which define your empire and will be the spoils to be fought over, or that incorporates tech that gives various advantages to owning them, or where the units you'll be using consist of star bases and star ships of various classes and capabilities, or that contains all the elements of resource management for trading, construction, empire expansion, tech development, and space combat, complete with an overlay of diplomacy on top of it all. Nope sorry, nothing even remotely like that out there."

Please folks. TI-III is not a gateway, entry level game. I'm not sure GE is either. The OP is trying to do something serious here and we should be trying to help him...

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Risk - to get a feeling for conflict
Settlers of Catan - to get a feeling for variable boards, trading
Small World - to get a feeling for different powers and conflict
Diplomacy - to get a feeling for, well, diplomacy, intrigue
Junta - intrigue, money handling
Agricola - action choosing, passive aggression, resource handling



EDIT:
@sigma: Some fleet commanders are missing their superior leader. *wink* *wink*
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Bubslug wrote:
I can't think of anything out there that is as much like TI-III, in essence, as GE. If you can't accept that, then there can't be much of anything on any list of precursors. That I can't accept. You may conclude that GE is hollow compared to TI-III but the lineage is unmistakable. Which is the whole point of the OP's request.


Well, I don't see such a lineage as clearly as you do. I'll try to explain why.

Bubslug wrote:
It sounds like you are saying "just play TI-III - there isn't anything out there that can give you a feel for picking roles that drive the action where you get a special bonus but everyone can do something,


Both games contain the same element of role selection, but they work in different ways (as mentioned in former posts). This is an major difference between the two games heavily influencing game play.

Bubslug wrote:
or constructing a universe of hexes that will define the board consisting of planets of differing worth (as well as other space objects) which define your empire and will be the spoils to be fought over,


Same again: equal elements, different mechanic: in TI3 the whole map is revealed, in GE it develops during the game. This heavily alters planning and strategy from the very beginning.

Bubslug wrote:
or that incorporates tech that gives various advantages to owning them,


Same again: both have techs, but there are major differences. In GE each tech is only available once, and there is no tech tree at all. So speed when aiming at a certain tech is a crucial factor. In TI3 each race has the opportunity to achieve every tech and by this has more opportunities for long-term-planning.

Bubslug wrote:
or where the units you'll be using consist of star bases and star ships of various classes and capabilities,


This is - in my opinion - the second major difference: both have different units (moving and non moving), but handling these units is very different. In TI3 I just need my own command counters to move or to produce. In GE there must a role be chosen, and as I by myself can only choose one role each round, I may be limited in my options to build and/or to move. I'm limited in TI3, too, but by the amount of my own command counters which I have several ways to influence.

Bubslug wrote:
or that contains all the elements of resource management for trading, construction, empire expansion, tech development, and space combat, complete with an overlay of diplomacy on top of it all. Nope sorry, nothing even remotely like that out there."


Please folks. TI-III is not a gateway, entry level game. I'm not sure GE is either. The OP is trying to do something serious here and we should be trying to help him...


You're completely right: TI3 is not a gateway game. I think that GE also is not a gateway game (as I wrote in my first post: 'when ready to play GE...'). I hope pointing out and explaining some of the major differences between these two games is of some help for the OP. At last it is his decision which steps to take. If I had to prepare a group for TI3, I'd enter with some gateway games mentioned in this thread. When ready for a heavier game, I'd continue with Puerto Rico, Agricola,... At last I'd step to TI3 directly. GE would be a smaller, easier step - but in a different direction.
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Good discussion thanks! And the OP will indeed do what he decides is most appropriate for his project.

Frankly, though, I think your analysis of my points simply reaffirms what I have been saying which is that TI-III gives you more (more grit and granularity) of what are essentially many of the the same things. There is no other game about which you could say that. I think it makes GE important for that reason alone, regardless of what you think of it as a game in its own right, and is what I meant by "lineage."

Of course the preponderance of all that stuff in TI-III will result in a different feel - as in a novel versus a short story. Extending that analogy some more - if you were taking someone who had learned to read but had not actually done a lot of it, would you be recommending War and Peace to him or her? Certainly a classic and important book that a reader could appreciate and enjoy eventually - but only when ready. Maybe the GE equivalent in this case would be a novel set in the Napoleonic period by Bernard Cornwell?

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I like your analogy with War and Peace, since I'm an obsessive reader. It certainly explain what I want to know about Twilight Imperium. I'm not sure I willl actually ever play Twilight Imperium, but my geeklist has 2 goals.

First, for those who wants to play TI but feels that it is out of their reach yet, help them find games that will lead them to play TI. One of the thing I've seen a lot on the geek is people saying: "If you want to play game X, then find somebody to teach you". It is not really possible in my case and I think you can learn to play any game by yourself. I just want to point the most fun and easy way to learn to play those big heavy games.

Second, if, like myself you would really want to play a game like TI, but chances are you never will (no way my GF will play something like that, and I only have 1 gaming buddy beside her), then maybe with my list I can point to a game that has similar concepts to TI and which will better appeal to your gaming group.

Thanks
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Perhaps another option is Conquest of the Empire II.

Intrigue, money handling, units of differing stats, unit movement, diplomacy, voting on political agendas, gaining (and losing) limited votes, resource building...

Hmmm. Maybe it's too much like TI3....
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super_bruno wrote:

Second, if, like myself you would really want to play a game like TI, but chances are you never will (no way my GF will play something like that, and I only have 1 gaming buddy beside her), then maybe with my list I can point to a game that has similar concepts to TI and which will better appeal to your gaming group.


Not wanting to teach you how to suck eggs or anything and not knowing anything about your area... but have you tried putting an advert in at your local game store (assuming they allow things like that)? One of my gaming friends became a friend by doing just that - he put up a "Game Group Wanted" add and ones of us saw it and called him.

You could start a gaming group and put it up on facebook (that's how I found out about a group in the town where I live).

You only need to find another 1 or 2 people and the joys of TI3 can be yours!
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I do enjoy conquest of the empire II and my GF too. Too bad TI3 is SciFi, the theme won't appeal to her, and if the theme doesn't appeal, she won't even try it.

About gaming group, yes that's an idea. Maybe I should try to find one. Is there a tool here on the geek to find such a group?
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super_bruno wrote:
About gaming group, yes that's an idea. Maybe I should try to find one. Is there a tool here on the geek to find such a group?


There's a couple of ways to find leads to other gamers.

1)Click on the flag next to your username. Then fill in the state name section. If it was a big list you can list in order of most recent logon date to just get the users who are still active on the geek.

2)Try searching through the forums for one in your area - or create one if needed.

3)In the search function on the menu bar at the top of the page, select ->User and try some key search words. This may dredge up something that will let you track others down.

Good luck!
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