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Subject: The Rules Lawyer Reviews: TI3 rss

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Kolby Reddish
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Hey Guys, I'm returning to my reviews after a few years off. I've still been gaming, just not as up to date on my reviews, but I'm excited to get back into the swing of them. I've recently just gotten married and that and a few other things have kept me from being more active in my posts.

I love board games. I love the strategy and decisions that go into them, and especially, I love that I can have fun while thinking. My gateway game was the Settlers of Catan, and my favorites are kind of all over the board with a range from Puerto Rico to Space Hulk.

So that's me - a background about my opinions - my reviews follow the same format every time, because these are the criteria I like to think about when I'm looking at purchasing a game. Feel free to check out my other reviews. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/browse/boardgame/0?usern...

And now I'd like to take a look at a game that's not new at all, and that I had heard about for so long, and never tried. My purpose in writing this review is to bring those of you on the fence about this game, into the warm embrace of the four armed Lazax Empire and bask in the glow of Twilight Imperium 3.

1. The Components
First off, this game comes in a coffin sized box, which will fit the base game and expansions inside of it. We've all seen it there in our FLGS and know how huge it is, and also the detail of the art that is on the box. Let me assure you that the art on the individual player boards are just as great and detailed. Obviously requiring such an enormous box, this game must come with a lot. It comes with tons of miniatures in the nine different unit types for each of the 6 player colors. It comes with a deck of Technology cards in 6 player colors. It comes with Command Counters and Ownership Markers for each of the 10 player races proudly bearing their races emblem. There are 10 individual player boards with great art and lots of information to explain the costs of units, special abilities, and progression of the turn, 1 for each of the 10 factions in the base game. These large cards also feature a flavorful history of that race, that helps explain their backstory and special abilities. There is a deck of Action Cards, which are one time events, a deck of Political Cards voted upon by a certain Strategy card, a deck of Planet Cards which will give you access to the resources of the planets that you control, and a deck of Objective Cards which will allow you to complete the objectives to gain points. There are the 8 cardboard Strategy Cards which will explain what benefit you'll gain for the turn by taking that Strategy Card. There are cardboard markers for Trade Goods, a kind of currency used in the game, extra Fighter and Ground Forces tokens. There is a score track, used to mark your progression to the 10 point victory, and then finally there are the individual planets themselves which are hexagonal pieces that will be put together to form the galaxy you'll be playing in. There are also additional components for a few variants like leaders and distant suns, which I don't use as of yet. So, with all of those components, the quality is definitely what you'd expect from Fantasy Flight, top notch. The plastic unit miniatures are really cool, and very distinct from one another. The cards are functional, and I'm actually grateful that they are the small FFG cards, because if not, this game would take up even more room. The rulebook is definitely long, but not unclear at all, as it lays things out in a pretty logical order and contains many examples. All in all, the components are of excellent quality. You can tell for FFG that TI3 was definitely a labor of love.

2. The Theme
If you want a game about Space Empire building that really incorporates the theme, this is THE game. My friends and I have been playing Eclipse for a few months before we got this in our game group, and as I've been comparing the two, what I keep saying is that Eclipse is a game about building an empire and I love it, but it's just that, a game. TI3 seems like more of a simulation. There are so many different aspects that help tie the theme together, the Political Cards, the uneasy Trade Agreements, and especially the unit count that can become present on the board. All of these elements come together to help create a game that just immerses you in the theme and feeling of Space Empire building. The different races and factions are also a huge help in this department, for they are very different from one another and all seem very neat with their different advantages. This game gets a 10 for theme, definitely.

3. The Concept
You'll be playing as a faction or race at the beginning of an awakening. Each of the players will be attempting to collect 10 victory points to assure that they are the next Emperor. These points are awarded by both Secret Objectives, worth 2 points, and Public Objectives worth 1 point at the beginning of the game, and more as the game progresses. Often, these Objectives will require you to remain flexible in your strategy and not specialize solely in one area. You'll perform the different actions available each round, turn by turn to build and expand your empire.

4. The Ending
One of the big distractors from TI3 for me was the reported playing times. I suppose that's probably a huge distractor for many people who think the game looks interesting but don't feel like they have the time to devote to it. I've gotta say, make the time. Play with 3-4 players and just experience how amazing this game truly is. I've heard it described before as a "time warp" and I've got to say that that is definitely true! I've played 4 games now, each one taking quite a while, from 3-5.5 hours, but the games just seem to fly by. I think that's because each player takes one action passing around the different players enabling you to feel connected to the game and what's going on. Also as players take and execute their strategy cards, you'll be able to execute their secondary ability, giving you an ability and action to perform on their turn, if you can cover the cost.

5. The Game play
Is in theory, simple enough. Each round, each player will choose a Strategy Card allowing them to focus on one part of their Empire, for example, the Technology Strategy will allow the player who chose it to activate it during their turn to gain a technological advance for free. When this happens, each other player may pay 8 resources found on their planets or trade goods to choose a technological advance as well. Doing this will cost you a Command Counter from your Strategy Allocation area. Thus it is with almost all of the Strategy Cards, they'll allow a benefit for the selecting player, and a smaller benefit for the other players if the can pay the cost. Which Strategy you choose then, is obviously a huge part of the game that I enjoy a lot. After the Strategy choosing Phase, there will be an action phase where players can place a Command Counter from the Command Pool section to Activate a system, which allows them to move units there, fight enemy units there, and even conquer neutral or hostile planets. There is a set order of events here, clearly laid out on the player boards that helps streamline the game. This Action Phase will continue until all players have passed, which will start the Status Phase, where players can qualify for 1 Public Objective and their Secret Objective if they fulfill the conditions, gaining those points immediately. The board will then be cleared and the round will restart. There is so much depth to this game that it's impossible to explain everything that can happen in the gameplay, but I assure you that it is rich and very rewarding. Each choice you make matters. You'll have to carefully balance your power and carefully manage your Command Counters in the different regions of your player board.

6. Replayability
The only thing that limits the replayability on this game is the length. It does take a long time, but if you can make the time for it, it is a rewarding and rich experience that I don't think I've found in any other game. With so many Action Cards and Political Cards, and even Objectives, as well as the 10 races included in the base game, I guarantee no game will ever be the same.

7. The "Luck" Factor
The Combat in this game is resolved with dice, much like Axis and Allies with each unit hitting on different numbers, then assigning hits, which obviously involves luck. There's not too much of it to make the game annoying. You definitely have impact depending upon what ships you build, where, what abilities and technologies you have. The Random Elements in this game keep it fresh, but aren't too much.

Conclusions:
TI3 might be my new all time favorite game. I got the base game and the Shattered Empire expansion in a trade, and have since bought the Shards of the Throne Expansion as well. The expansions definitely add a lot of cool aspects to the game, and I would never play with the Strategy Cards from the base game now that I have the Expansions. For so many of you out there that have seen this game for years, and just said it was not in the cards for you, give it a try, I guarantee that the time spent will be worth it, and I hope that you'll come to love TI3 like I do now!

Please include any thoughts about the review,

and as always, Thank you for reading!
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Kentaro Sugiyama
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
It's always neat to hear a veteran gamer's positive, initial impressions, as they discover a "new" game for themselves that has been around awhile.

Your review captures the warm and fuzzy feeling that I got accomplishing the first few plays. I am excited for you and your group, as you embark on many "epic" journeys.

Although you've written a paragraph about it, I would be interested in hearing more about your "game" versus "simulation" comment comparing Eclipse versus TI3. Having played Eclipse first, and then learning TI3, and liking TI3, is a unique and valuable perspective.

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Mark O'Reilly
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Brilliant, Brilliant review. Thank You meeple
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Kolby Reddish
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Thank you for the positive comments. I will definitely write more of a comparison later this evening when I can think about how to put to words what I feel. Stay posted.
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Christopher Dodge
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
TI3 is my all-time foavorite game. I have all of the expansions for it too. There is so much to do, so much to think about, so much to stratigize over. The only problem is it is difficult to get to the table very often. My kids and I usually only play it a couple of time per year, at Christmas and some time during the summer, because life is busy. But it is a great game!
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Scott M.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Woa..we having a TI3 Group hug moment for a new player , cool!...

cmmon bring it in...Group HUG...


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Kolby Reddish
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Okay,

So as requested I'm expanding upon my earlier comments comparing TI3 and Eclipse. What I mean about Eclipse as a game is that its not as cut and dry as TI. Eclipse is a points game, and I think lots of people get confused about that. Eclipse is really an economics game. You're trading your limited action disks for either control of a sector for points and resources or for actions that generate points either directly or indirectly. Eclipse is a game of optimization when it comes down to it. One thing I love about Eclipse is that the technology section is very straightforward, with no prerequisites. Combat in Eclipse is only useful to a point, which is something a lot of players don't understand. Eclipse is not a wargame. In fact if you're spending resources on a war and you've already got good combat tile draws, and have a full track, you're really just wasting resources unless you're fighting to damage and opponent. I might be over-generalizing here, but my main point is true, war in Eclipse is only useful to a point, because Eclipse is not a wargame, it is a points game. Eclipse is also streamlined, making it a fairly easy game to teach, even though there's quite a lot going on.

Twilight Imperium on the other hand, feels like, to me at least, a simulation instead of a game. I realize that you're striving for points as well, but the way that you get points is completely different than in Eclipse. TI is not necessarily a game of just straight optimization. TI has all of the aspects of a civilization game that I would like, very cool technologies, trade, diplomacy, and my favorite part is just watching your influence grow. The races in Eclipse each have a benefit at a specific thing, but the races in TI are completely different with different starting planets and starting forces and techs to really help shape them into the lore and frame of the world that you're playing in. Especially with the expansions added in, Twilight Imperium is just so epic, that's the only word you can get to describe it.

So that kind of sums up my thoughts for now. The interesting thing is that I'm not sure I'd necessarily say I like one game over the other. TI is obviously much longer, and definitely harder to teach, but deeper with more things going on. Eclipse has lots of things going on as well, and I always enjoy it. I enjoy both games, but realize that they have differences. I'm just glad I own them both!
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Mark Czerwinski
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Another group hug...

Ok, so yeah, good review and this is my favorite game too. I like Eclipse as well, and rate it highly, but if I had to give up all my games but one, TI3 would be staying. No other game I've played rewards my imagination quite as well as this and it just tells an epic story each time. There are always several unique and memorable moments that I can remember months later after having played. Welcome to the game and glad you like it so much.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
reddish22 wrote:
snip..
I think that's because each player takes one action passing around the different players enabling you to feel connected to the game and what's going on. Also as players take and execute their strategy cards, you'll be able to execute their secondary ability, giving you an ability and action to perform on their turn, if you can cover the cost.


this is one of the most important bits, there's some downtime but because of the threaded turns you don't spend ages doing nothing.
(unless there's a big battle going on but that's exciting even for people who are not involvved)

just think of the horrors that would happen if every player had to do all his actions in a row before another player. in a 6 player game gulp

TI3 gets a lot of love and I think most of it isa deservedd (we only play it twice a year or something but it's a great event every time)
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Paul Newby
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Aaargh! I've got this and both expansions. I even bought matching coloured d12's for each and every race.

I've never managed to get it to the table. Is it easier to teach my wife and myself first and then unleash it on our group? If so, won't we have a huge advantage over the others when they come to play it?

Or should I try and teach all five of us at once?

I really want to get this beast played!!
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Kolby Reddish
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Khula wrote:


Or should I try and teach all five of us at once?



I would suggest anything but this. I would teach as many people as you can beforehand, just so that there aren't five brand new people playing for the first time. I'd recommend that you play through a solo game where you play a few factions, just to get the flow of the game. I do this before I teach any game and it certainly helps every time. This game can be very difficult to do that with, but the point of doing so is just to see how the turns flow. I'd do that, then teach your wife, and even recommend that the others watch a review ahead of time perhaps, so that they have a better idea of what's going on.
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Mark Czerwinski
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
I would definitely recommend playing the learning game with your wife first. It will be a much better experience for new players when there is someone who can guide them through how the turn sequences work, as well as command counters, strategy cards, combat, etc. I think four or 5 players learning the game all at once for the first time could be quite overwhelming. Most likely you'll still miss some rules and minor things, but being able to serve as a bit of a guide will help people enjoy the game more IMHO.

Khula wrote:
Aaargh! I've got this and both expansions. I even bought matching coloured d12's for each and every race.

I've never managed to get it to the table. Is it easier to teach my wife and myself first and then unleash it on our group? If so, won't we have a huge advantage over the others when they come to play it?

Or should I try and teach all five of us at once?

I really want to get this beast played!!
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Paul Newby
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Thanks both for the quick replies and advice.

I think I'll do both suggestions. I'll break it out and play solo while my good lady is away working overnight for a couple of nights. Then I'll play a two player learning game with her.

Last but not least, get 'em all round for a monster session!
Can't wait.
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Kolby Reddish
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
I think you'll have a great time! In our group we have one guy with MAAAAAAD AP. Playing games with him can be a nightmare sometimes, especially ones like this. The other day we played through a three player game without him, just so we would have the real game when we play with four go much smoother.
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Mark Czerwinski
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
How was 3 player, I've never tried? I have a 4-player game scheduled this weekend, but there is always a chance someone drops out.

reddish22 wrote:
I think you'll have a great time! In our group we have one guy with MAAAAAAD AP. Playing games with him can be a nightmare sometimes, especially ones like this. The other day we played through a three player game without him, just so we would have the real game when we play with four go much smoother.
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Kolby Reddish
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Three player is "okay" and much better than others. I'm sick of playing most games with three, as it usually turns into a kingmaking scenario (I'm looking at you Eclipse). But with TI3 because it's really a points game based on the objectives you complete, it doesn't run into this issue as much IMO. I just can't wait to get a six player game of this badboy going so that we can see how all the different player interactions play out.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Khula wrote:
Aaargh! I've got this and both expansions. I even bought matching coloured d12's for each and every race.

D12's? Did you mean d10s? I suppose you COULD play with d12s, though.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
sigmazero13 wrote:
Khula wrote:
Aaargh! I've got this and both expansions. I even bought matching coloured d12's for each and every race.

D12's? Did you mean d10s? I suppose you COULD play with d12s, though.


That's one way to get more hits with ships.
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Mark Czerwinski
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
Interesting. I might have to try 3 player just for the experience. Six player is the most I've played with and it is a lot of fun. I can't imagine 8 player, but I want to do it someday. I just don't know of a table big enough.

reddish22 wrote:
Three player is "okay" and much better than others. I'm sick of playing most games with three, as it usually turns into a kingmaking scenario (I'm looking at you Eclipse). But with TI3 because it's really a points game based on the objectives you complete, it doesn't run into this issue as much IMO. I just can't wait to get a six player game of this badboy going so that we can see how all the different player interactions play out.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
sigmazero13 wrote:
Khula wrote:
Aaargh! I've got this and both expansions. I even bought matching coloured d12's for each and every race.

D12's? Did you mean d10s? I suppose you COULD play with d12s, though.


Yikes! I meant D10's. I'm at work and losing the will to live. My mind started to wander...
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
airmarkus wrote:
Interesting. I might have to try 3 player just for the experience. Six player is the most I've played with and it is a lot of fun. I can't imagine 8 player, but I want to do it someday. I just don't know of a table big enough.

For me, I have come to really dislike 7- and 8-player games; the galaxy is just too big, and the downtime increases to match, and I haven't found that the extra player(s) over 6 add anything to the game to offset this. I'd rather play a 4-player game of TI3 than an 8-player game.

For similar reasons, I would recommend AGAINST using the "extra ring" rules for 6-player games, too.
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Kolby Reddish
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
I've never played 8 player, but I really don't have a desire to as I don't see getting 8 people who know the game together to play, and I would hate for someone's first game to be like a 12 hour experience. The good thing about 3 player is that it only took about 3.5 hours with setup and play, and it scratches the itch of TI3, you get a feel for the races and the game, to help players get ready for a game of 6 that won't be burdened with questions of, "Now, what does this or that do?" Although I'm sure you'll still run into those every few turns, it won't be like every single second like I feel like it would be with 5 newbies.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
It would have to be at a convention. I played at the Dice Tower convention in a 6 player game and it was run really well by a friend of mine. Turns were timed and we finished in around 4.5 hours I believe, if memory servers. Actually sooner, but the game over card came up and we all voted to continue since we weren't ready to quit.

reddish22 wrote:
I've never played 8 player, but I really don't have a desire to as I don't see getting 8 people who know the game together to play, and I would hate for someone's first game to be like a 12 hour experience. The good thing about 3 player is that it only took about 3.5 hours with setup and play, and it scratches the itch of TI3, you get a feel for the races and the game, to help players get ready for a game of 6 that won't be burdened with questions of, "Now, what does this or that do?" Although I'm sure you'll still run into those every few turns, it won't be like every single second like I feel like it would be with 5 newbies.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
I for sure understand that! We felt the same way.
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Re: Why Didn't I Play This Sooner?? For you Fence Sitters...
sigmazero13 wrote:
airmarkus wrote:
Interesting. I might have to try 3 player just for the experience. Six player is the most I've played with and it is a lot of fun. I can't imagine 8 player, but I want to do it someday. I just don't know of a table big enough.

For me, I have come to really dislike 7- and 8-player games; the galaxy is just too big, and the downtime increases to match, and I haven't found that the extra player(s) over 6 add anything to the game to offset this. I'd rather play a 4-player game of TI3 than an 8-player game.

For similar reasons, I would recommend AGAINST using the "extra ring" rules for 6-player games, too.


It so happened that first 3 or 4 games that I played of TI3 where 8 player games. Followed by one 7 player and only after that I get a chance to try 4 and 6. Only recently finally tried 3.

So I have to say 6 player is IMHO absolutely golden format! (size is just right, and no problem of having players who you will never actually interact with on the board.)

Now I do like 4 player. It is fun, but I have to say I was suprised to find out that 3 player is working. Most of the games I know suffer in 3 player format if anything like combat is involved. 2 people fight and 3rd player just finish up the rest.
Surprisingly it doesn't really happen in TI3 (ok if 2 players go all out, but it's possible to actually have conflict without doing so.)
So right now I cannot even say for sure if I like 3 or 4 player more.
I really like having 2 strategy card. And I like even number of player in 4 and the galaxy size and distance between homeworlds, but also I don't like the fact that there is no bonus counters and you know that every strategy is used (so trade is there every turn etc etc.) No surprises like - "upps there is no leadership or production this turn and I am almost out of counters"...

So in short - 6 Players IMHO absolute best followed by 4 and 3.
If only game you can play is 3 player - IMHO it's still worth it. (There is one problem - make sure those 3 players are somewhat equal in strength - if you have 1 absolute pro with two complete noobs - then yes might not be as great of experience, but that's true for all games")
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