I had a really good first play of twilight imperium 4 this weekend. We ended up with 4 players, which wasn’t ideal but we made it work. The total run time with 2 new players and 2 more experienced players was 8 and a half hours to finish the longer 14vp game, with a dinner break in there too.
There was interaction between all players throughout, although the majority of the combat was between immediate neighbours. This lead to a situation like in bridge where we were de facto partnered with the player on the other side of the table. As luck would have it each new player was opposite an experienced player.
The 2 new players were experienced board gamers and had watched a rules introduction video before hand (which I’ll link at the end). However the pace of the game was greatly helped along by having an experienced player (the games owner) to move us through some of the less intuitive parts of the game. PDS offense was a particular point of confusion and required regular clarification.
The owner also gave us a very important warning early on, which was only 1 public objective can be scored per player at the end of the round so if you want to stay in contention you need to try to score every turn. Without that warning us new players could easily have gone halfway into the game before scoring, with no way back.
One thing I noticed was all players were regularly forgetting to use their tech abilities. It seems we had so many bits of card in front of us that gave a bonus to this or that, and everyone frequently forget to use their abilities.
I think it’s also worth noting that if you play with a proverbial table flipper, or someone that gets super salty when attacked, then you might have a bad time here. I think the game demands you be aggresive and launch limited wars on your neighbours as the most valuable objectives will need more planets than your fair share. That’s not a great combination if a player takes being attacked to heart.
I took photos at the start of every round, but so much stuff happened in the round that they don’t paint the whole picture. I’ll add one from near the end of the game that should tell a lot of the story.
(Well, it would do if I could get it working)
The game gave me what was promised, which was a grand space game that created a bunch of stories along the way. Stories of broken cease fires, sneak attacks, devious goblin creatures, suicidal cultists worshiping nuclear and biological WMDs, and an epic final battle. This final battle wasn’t even over the vast central system, but over a backwater planet that was elected as some kind of space Jerusalem.
I can’t wait to play again.