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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Imperial Strategy Card broken? rss

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Roger Porres
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Hey all,

I recently played a 6-player game and a 5-player game of TI3, and none of us were satisfied with the Imperial Strategy Card. We understand that the object of the game is to get VPs (10 or 14), but it seems strange to be able to do it in such a effortless manner. It effectively side-lines the entire game-board and whatever else is going on. Obviously, one can still do many things on the game board (building troops, claiming planets, getting tech, etc), and some of those actions also give VPs through the Public Objectives, but the Imperial Card makes it such that building up one's power seems pointless, because one might not have the chance to capitalize on it.

These are my questions:
1) Are there really many different strategies in this game, or is it just one basic strategy, get Imperial as much as possible?

2) Does one have to build-up to win a game of TI3, and if one does, is there a chance to use such build-up?

3) Is there a more exciting alternative to the Imperial Card that still keeps the game 3-4 hours?

4) What is the point of units if using them gains you nothing? Is the purpose of units simply to bash another player who gets an early lead?

5) Is it even possible to get an early lead?

A little more on this question: If everyone gets Imperial in turn, and planets are more or less distributed evenly through negotiation due to some notion of balance of power, it would seem as if everyone advances on VPs at more or less the same pace. Does anyone else find that to be a problem?

I realize that because the Imperial Card will rotate every turn, or should, a player will still have the chance to use other cards and do cool things.

I apologize for the lack of clarity in this post; my friends and I have been discussing the game's mechanics at great length and my thoughts are muddled. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.





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Justin Fitzgerald
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Short answer: If you don't like Imperial, get the 1st expansion. There is a role called Imperial II that still limits the length of the game but does so in a manner that may be more to your liking.
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Scott M.
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Since the creation of TI3 back in 2005? ISC is a broken card....

You have two options:

1. Get expansion 1 (Shattered Empires and use the ISC card there.
2. Use the official optional rule (located on FFGs website in the TI3 section) to make the ISC in the base game 1VP.

As for your build up question... you can win without ever building up.

The game is a VP race based on the speed at which the Objective cards reveal. WHen the "Game over" OC is revealed high VP wins.

The fast rule of law in TI is if your taking any action make sure that action is moving you towards earning a VP.
Edit:

Just a quick followup..
the reason for a 2vp card in the original game was to move the game along. The intent was good but in execution it became broken as you see. Due to the game being a VP race the ISC was so good, you either took it when you had the chance or you take the other card that gives you speaker so you can take it next round. THe power of the Original ISC was so strong it broke the meta of the game as you clearly discovered.
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Derek Porter
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reporres wrote:

1) Are there really many different strategies in this game, or is it just one basic strategy, get Imperial as much as possible?


As everyone will point out, when you're playing with the basic game, yes, this is the core strategy. Get Initiative so you can claim Imperial, repeat.

reporres wrote:
2) Does one have to build-up to win a game of TI3, and if one does, is there a chance to use such build-up?


If I'm understanding you correctly, you're asking if you need to build up an empire to support a huge fleet of ships to destroy your opponents? If that's what you're asking, the answer is no. I've won several games by focusing on Victory Points while everyone else built up fleets, tech, or got into battles with their neighbors. Having said that, I've also seen (and been involved in) late-game battles that consisted of everything on the board heading towards one system. It can make for suitably epic finales.

reporres wrote:
3) Is there a more exciting alternative to the Imperial Card that still keeps the game 3-4 hours?


Unfortunately, not really. Even my group full of experienced players (players averaging between 10-50 games each) takes about 5 hours to play a solid 6 player game. The favored estimate is about an hour per (experienced) player.

Most people on here will say that the Imperial Strategy is "broken" because of those "free" 2 VP, but what the Imperial Strategy does do is keep the game to a reasonable amount of time. It's a timer for the game, and it keeps things moving along. I really dislike stating it this way, but it also railroads players into a certain play style: you have to choose Initiative so you can then choose Imperial next turn. Initiative makes up for this by allowing you to use all the Secondary abilities for free.

reporres wrote:
4) What is the point of units if using them gains you nothing? Is the purpose of units simply to bash another player who gets an early lead?


Aside from a couple of Secret Objectives, more units allow you wage war on your neighbors or claim more territory. The Shattered Empire expansion uses different Public Objectives that require more combat.

reporres wrote:
5) Is it even possible to get an early lead?


It's possible, but it's uncommon. It's a luck of the draw situation, and I've seen a couple of lucky players have 3-4 Victory Points on the second turn (without choosing Imperial) by lucky draws and good strategies.

reporres wrote:
A little more on this question: If everyone gets Imperial in turn, and planets are more or less distributed evenly through negotiation due to some notion of balance of power, it would seem as if everyone advances on VPs at more or less the same pace. Does anyone else find that to be a problem?


Again, the basic game tends to play out this way, especially since most of the objectives are relatively easy to claim without a lot of in-fighting. Secret Objectives will usually, but not always, be the deciding factor.

From what you've stated here, it looks like your group enjoys the game, but you're looking for a bit more. There are a couple of options for you:

- You can check out the FFG Support page for the Official Variant Rules. This page also has the FAQ and .pdfs of all the rule books. It's worth checking out. The Official Variants Star in the Crown and Ancient Throne might help out without having to resort to the next option, which is...

- Pick up the first expansion, Shattered Empire. In addition to new options, new systems, and four new Great Races, it also includes an optional Imperial II Strategy (which amounts to the same thing as the Ancient Throne official variant) as well as a whole new set of Strategy Cards that makes the game much more dynamic.

It's widely considered to be the "fix" for the game, but I disagree with that statement. I hate to recommend that you go out and spend an additional $60 for a game that already costs a lot... but everything in the expansion really is worth it. If you're not sure about this, download the .pdf at the link above and check out the variant rules. If you like what you see, then you can feel safe picking it up. The only thing that's not in the SE rules are the Race cards, but I'm sure you can dig those up without too much trouble.

If you and your group enjoy the game but feel there's something missing, picking up the first expansion deserves some serious consideration.
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reporres wrote:
Imperial Strategy Card broken?

YES

But as the others are saying, getting the 1st expansion solves the problem.
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Roger Porres
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Alright, thanks all. You've been a tremendous help.
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Daniel Hurst
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I disagree that the Imperial card is broken, but I feel like I'll just get pounced on if I try and defend it against the strong current of BGG conventional wisdom. I'm definitely in the minority, but our groups tend to happily play it the original way.

You're welcome to send me a message if you want to hear the alternative position on this.
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Future Wolfie
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You don't even have to buy the expansion to use Imperial II. My group favors Imperial II, but we haven't had the expansion yet. But since you can access the rules online...we just wrote down Imperial II and used that set of rules when choosing the Imperial strategy. Easy peezy, go internet.
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Joshua Armstrong
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2005-2006 called. They want their argument back.

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Daniel Bates

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Would it break the game/strategy to houserule that the Speaker may not choose Imperial Strategy?
 
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Scott Lewis
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MadCarthos2 wrote:
Would it break the game/strategy to houserule that the Speaker may not choose Imperial Strategy?

It would have some pretty long-reaching consequences, because basically taking the Speaker token would mean you are giving Imperial to the person on your left. So whoever starts with the speaker token gets shafted.

What's more, it may mean that other players are less likely to want to take Initiative, because it would just give the other player the card, not themselves. Which might mean the original speaker keeps the speaker token for a few rounds, shafting himself, and the next player gets the imperial.

Other players MIGHT take it to "take one for the team", but I'm not sure the dynamics of how Imperial is chosen would be very good. At best, it may just be that the last person to pick always takes Initiative just to keep the previous person from getting it, and thus moving the Imperial card backwards around the circle instead of forward.
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Washington Irving
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To respond to your question about the purpose of getting units. (Q4)

In base TI3 the purpose of units is to bash the leader / fulfill secret objective.

This is totally changed in Shattered Empires (1st expansion). Shattered Empires introduces a new set of objective cards that include 1) winning space battles, 2) invading occupied planets. When adding these objectives the number of Spend X objectives or Have Y Techs objectives are decreased. The result is that your space navy earns you points!

Shattered Empires also adds artifacts that make holding planet worth victory points, and the Imperial II Strategy Card makes holding Mecatol Rex worth points. Shattered Empires makes building a large fleet much more rewarding.
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David Damerell
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sigmazero13 wrote:
What's more, it may mean that other players are less likely to want to take Initiative, because it would just give the other player the card, not themselves. Which might mean the original speaker keeps the speaker token for a few rounds, shafting himself, and the next player gets the imperial.


Not so. Speaker's first to pick. They can't take Imperial, but at least they can get rid of the albatross of Initiative. However, then in a 3/5/6/7 player game Initiative presumably sits accumulating bonus counters until someone "takes one for the team" to stop the player on the Speaker's left raking in the VPs every turn. In a 4 or 8 player game I think Initiative and Imperial cycle backwards not forwards; there's a question in the 8-player game as to whether the player two picks after the Speaker might take Initiative to break the cycle... but I don't think that works because if it makes sense for one player to do it then (given the way Imperial's VPs dominate) it makes sense for the next player with that choice to do it, but then the player who first did it got no benefit, so it didn't make sense for them to do it, reductio ad absurdum.

I'm pretty sure this idea either makes things slightly worse (in 4/8 player games) or much much worse (other games).
 
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Scott Lewis
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damerell wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
What's more, it may mean that other players are less likely to want to take Initiative, because it would just give the other player the card, not themselves. Which might mean the original speaker keeps the speaker token for a few rounds, shafting himself, and the next player gets the imperial.


Not so. Speaker's first to pick. They can't take Imperial, but at least they can get rid of the albatross of Initiative.

Right, they won't take Initiative either, but the person to the left will take Imperial.

If we have a player seating order A-F (6 player game), and Player A has the speaker, he's not going to take Initiative, and can't take Imperial.

B will take Imperial.

C could take Initiative to break the cycle, but then he'd be giving D the Imperial next round. Same with D, E, F. It's likely C, D, and E may skip it, and thus forcing F to say "either I take it, or B will get it next round, too." IE, I think F is most likely going to have to be the one to take one for the team and take Initiative.

If so, next round, A will take Imperial, and the cycle will repeat, with E ultimately likely taking initiative. In the end, this causes the Initiative/Imperial combo to cylce backwards through the circle (A/B -> F/A -> E/F -> D/E...) rather than forward as in RAW (B/A -> C/B -> D/C -> ...)

And it largely boils down to whether a player is willing to sacrifice for the team. While all players have incentive, the buck can be passed essentially to the last person to pick, because they know there are others who CAN break the cycle. The last player then has the choice of "do I break the cycle, or let it stay".

So it's a similar cycle to RAW, except now it's not a cycle of "gimme the points" as much as a cycle of "we gotta keep him from getting the points.", and each player only gets points as a side-effect.

Also, if someone picks it before they "need" to, it can hose Player A because it essentially "skips" them in the cycle.

With a 4 or 8 player game, the chances of a player getting it more than once in a row are almost gone since someone HAS to take Initiative, and it's unlikely to be the guy who already has the Speaker token.


In any case, I do think we agree that the proposal to not let the Speaker take Imperial doesn't fix the "problem", but rather makes it worse in a way.
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