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Twilight Imperium
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Twilight Imperium

3rd edition

List Price: $89.95
Your Price: $71.99
(20% savings!)
(Worth 7,199 Funagain Points!)

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Ages Play Time Players
14+ 180-240 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Christian T Petersen

Manufacturer(s): Fantasy Flight Games

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Product Description

Welcome to a galaxy of epic conquest, interstellar trade, and political intrigue. Twilight Imperium is an exciting board game in which 3-6 players seek to build a galactic empire by the cunning use of strategy, diplomacy, and resource management. By taking on the role of a great interstellar race, players will seek the ultimate goal: to claim the Imperial Throne on Mecatol Rex and lead the galaxy to a new age of glory.

But the road to the Imperial Throne is long and the galaxy holds many dangers. Do you have what it takes to lead your race out of the troubled Twilight Age? Do you have the determination to move your race forward using a balance of diplomacy, careful planning, and the use of force? Are you ready to direct the scientific development, military might, and economic growth for an entire interstellar civilization?

If so, your time has come!

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Christian T Petersen

  • Manufacturer(s): Fantasy Flight Games

  • Artist(s): Brian Schomburg

  • Year: 2005

  • Players: 3 - 6

  • Time: 180 - 240 minutes

  • Ages: 14 and up

  • Est. time to learn: 30+ minutes

  • Weight: 4,200 grams

  • Language Requirements: Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is a domestic item. Game components are printed in English.


  • 6 frames of plastic components, each contains:
    • 5 Dreadnoughts
    • 4 Carriers
    • 8 Cruisers
    • 8 Destroyers
    • 2 War Suns
    • 12 Ground Forces
    • 10 Fighters
    • 6 Planetary Defense Systems (PDS)
    • 3 Space Docks
  • 144 Technology Cards
  • 51 Planet Cards
  • 103 Action Cards
  • 60 Political Cards
  • 30 Objective Cards (Secret and Public)
  • 20 Trade Cards (2 each for 10 races)
  • 10 Race Sheets
  • 30 Leader Counters
  • 8 Cardboard Strategy Cards
  • 160 Command Counters (16 each for 10 races)
  • 150 Control Markers (15 each for 10 races)
  • 8 Bonus Counters
  • 40 Trade Goods Counters
  • 23 Fighter Supplement Counters
  • 23 Ground Force Supplement Counters
  • 1 Speaker Token
  • 1 Victory Point Track
  • 43 Hexagonal Board Tiles
  • 1 Rules Booklet
  • 4 10-sided Dice
  • 44 Domain Counters
Twilight Imperium has the following expansions available:
Twilight Imperium: Shattered Empire
(20% savings!)
Twilight Imperium: Shards of the Throne
(20% savings!)

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 19 reviews

by Nick P.
Fun with endless possibilities
July 12, 2008

This game is a must have for anyone who enjoys a strategy war game with empire building and race management. There is just so many things that are incorporated in this game that allow it to be so fun. It has detailed plastic miniatures, numerous decks of cards, and a unique hexagon shaped board that allows it to be constructed differently each time.

Pro: Unique shaped board which allows each player to pick where each piece of the board goes. Sort of like creating a puzzle.
Pro: 10 different races each with special abilities which give that race a slight edge in certain categories. (another unique feature)
Pro:Race customization with 3 categories (fleet supply, command, and a slot which allows you to preform special functions of cards)
Pro:Easy to learn and clearly put in a 40+ page rule book
Pro:Easy currency system which allows for few small pieces to count and spend.
Pro:Technology advances that will give your race an extra boost over the enemy.
Con: The objective cards seem too easy. Instead people go for the cards to give them points which can make the cards seem pointless and useless.

This game is my personal favorite so far. The price may dis sway you from buying this game. But I guarantee that if you like strategy war games and civilization building, and don't mind spending a few hour s doing it. This game will be perfect for you.

The ultimate space empire game, in its best incarnation.
March 13, 2005

I’m not sure how to express my first reading of the Twilight Imperium, Third Edition rules, or my first impression when I saw the box and components included. I guess that “stunned silence” might fit the bill. All of my childhood I dreamed of playing an epic space game, with battles and empire growth. When I finally had a chance to play Twilight Imperium, Second Edition, it - despite flaws - became one of my ten favorite games. The game was everything I had imagined, and was incredibly fun. When I heard that TI3 was not going to be just an upgrade, but a total revamping of the system, I was more than excited. After playing the game, I have to say that the upgrade was fabulous for the system. Despite having some characteristics I’m not fond of (lengthy playing time, and player elimination), TI3 ranks as my third favorite game (out of about 800) - it’s that good! Allow me to go over several of the features of the game, giving my opinions of them.

1.) Plastic ships: There was one thing I absolutely detested about TI2, and that was the plastic ships that came with the game. Sure, they looked neat on the table, but cutting them out took literally several hours and was not a pleasant task. Thankfully, that problem has been rectified. The ships still come on sprues, but twist off quite easily, similar to those in an Eagle game. The ships themselves are highly detailed figures in nine different models, made of a hard plastic. They’re very nice - of the highest quality, and really make the game look nice on the board. The War Suns especially look pretty cool (although stepping on them would be a horrifying experience), and look like the massive attack fortresses they are.

2.) Box: TI3’s box is, without a doubt, the biggest box for any game I’ve gotten in the last several years. It’s humongous and is chock full of components. After punching everything out and plastic bagging everything - I think that the game could have more easily fit into a smaller box, but in unpunched form I’m not so sure. The box stands out on my shelf - an epic box for an epic game.

3.) Hexes: The map of TI3 is made up of interchangeable hexes, which have been upsized to match the size of the new plastic pieces. The artwork on the tiles is very nice, similar to that of previous editions; and when put together, they create a very nice looking star system. Of course, this increased size means that the game takes up more space; and when you included the amount of extra piles of components, and the amount of space each player uses for their own personal boards, technologies, etc., this means that your going to need a fairly large table to play the game. I’m not sure that I’ve seen any game (apart from monster war games) that need as much room as TI3. Even Sid Meyer’s Civilization takes up less space. But for me that’s okay - I love the massive board, it helps give the game the “epic” feel.

4.) Money system: Money has had a massive overhaul, in two different ways. For one, the entire economic system has been simplified, with costs much easier. For example, a dreadnaught costs ten gold in the TI2, while a technology costs 40 gold. Now dreadnaughts cost five gold, while technologies cost eight gold. The changes to the pricing really simplify the game, and players don’t have to mess with piles of gold. In fact - the gold coins have been removed from the game entirely, replaced by a much easier system. When a player controls a planet, they are given the corresponding planet card for the system. Each planet card is worth a specific amount of resources and is flipped over (“exhausted”) when used to purchase units and/or technologies. Planets flipped over in this way can’t exert a political power or be used to buy anything else until the following round, in which all planets are “refreshed”. Also, the new trading system introduces trade good counters, which have two uses - one of them to be used as resources when purchasing. All of this translates to a much more streamlined economic system; whereas players designed player aids to help with the math in TI2 purchasing - it’s all very simple and out in the open in TI3.

5.) Strategy Cards: Mr. Peterson deliberately borrowed a mechanic used in several of modern Eurogames, including Puerto Rico and Verrater, with the strategy cards. If one reads the detailed designer notes included with the game (also found at the company’s website,, he talks about how several games influenced his decisions to the TI3, and how he attempts (and succeeds, I might add) to merge Euro game mechanics with an exciting theme. Much of that is due to the strategy cards. At the beginning of each round, players choose one strategy card - that will give them a special “primary” ability while giving all of the other player’s a secondary ability that they can pay to utilize. Each strategy card also has a number on it, denoting turn order. These strategy cards have changed the game more than any other change, and I really enjoy them. Deciding which card to take can sometimes be daunting and may slow down the game a bit at first, as players learn about which strategy card does what. Eventually, though, the game speeds up, because players automatically know the cards they want (no one else better take it!).

6.) Races: There are ten races included with the game, each with a very distinctive style and abilities. The races start with different planets, starting units, and special abilities - all of which are noted on a very nice race sheet. In TI2, there were a few races that I thought were not quite as useful as other races, but now they seem all quite balanced, each with the ability to break some kind of rule in the game. Some of the special abilities are pretty neat - like the Naalu always go first, the L1X1X mindset can buy dreadnoughts for four resources, and the Barony of Letnev can spend resources to increase their combat values. On the back of each race card is a detailed history of the race - really increasing the theme and feel of the game.

7.) Fleet Supply: Aside from the strategy cards, the other great innovation of the TI3 is command counters. There are three spots on each player’s race sheet for command counters to be allocated to. One is the fleet supply: the amount of counters in that spot indicated the maximum number of ships a player may have in any system (not including fighters). This seems to be very similar with the excellent army system from A Game of Thrones Board Game, and it keeps players from building massive fleets. Players are in fact limited to the number of plastic pieces they have when building armies, the only thing they have unlimited numbers of are fighters and ground units - for which special chips are provided. I like the fact that fighters are unlimited; it gives them far more value than previous games, especially as their cost is 2 fighters for one resource. Because of the smaller fleet numbers, players cannot build huge forces and must make quicker, faster strikes across space. If a player does want large fleets, they have to sacrifice the command counters they would use in the other two spots.

8.) Command Pool: Command counters can also be placed in the command pool area or strategy allocation area. During the tactical action phase of each turn, players in turn order take one of the following actions.

- Execute the primary action on their strategy card, allowing other players to use the secondary action, but only if they discard one strategy allocation command counter.

- Place a command pool counter on any system on the board that does not have one of their own command counters in it, allowing them to move ships to that system, and/or build ships in that system. Players can also do a special transferring move between systems.

- Pass, but only after they’ve executed the action on their strategy card.

Since players can only move ships into one system at a time, then wait for other players to move/react, the game certainly takes on a different face. No longer are there huge assaults across the galaxy - but now a series of battles, fought one at a time. It also keeps downtime to a minimum, as players are constantly thinking about what they are going to do next. Players get two command counters at the end of each turn and can redistribute them as they wish, so it’s always a balancing act to figure out whether they should put the counters in the command pool, strategy allocation, or fleet supply.

9.) Initiative: The initiative strategy card doesn’t have any primary or secondary abilities. What it does give, however, is the ability for a player to go first (giving the owner the Speaker token associated with this), and allows the player to execute all secondary abilities for free (no command counter necessary). This is a big bonus, as the player gets to pick the first strategy card in the next round - one of the most important strategy cards to pick. It reminds me of the King role in Citadels, but with better powers.

10.) Diplomacy: The diplomacy strategy card (#2) allows a player to force one other opponent to be peaceful with them. This card can save the life of a player who is constantly getting bashed on by a stronger, aggressive nature. It’s not always chosen in the beginning of the game, but near the end, this card can be a lifesaver. This card also helps prevent one of the biggest negatives that people might have with the game, as player elimination happens a lot less.

11.) Political: The political strategy card (#3) gives the player three action cards and brings the top card of the political deck up for vote. The action cards are quite powerful in the game - some call them unbalanced, but I think they keep the leaders of the game in check. Instead of building a huge fleet, a player can concentrate on building up a hand of powerful action cards - it’s like having a huge spy network. The political phase of TI3 is very similar to that of TI2, except that now players can only use the political influence of planets that have not exhausted. Since the political card is #3, I haven’t seen this have too much of an effect, but a clever player could wait until the end of the round, assuring that some player’s votes are curtailed. The laws don’t seem quite as powerful as those in TI2, but they still can greatly affect the game. What I really enjoy is that the person who uses the political strategy card takes the top three cards of the deck, chooses one, and places the other two on the bottom. This allows them to set the next agenda, which keeps the agendas from being random, and really makes taking the political strategy card worthwhile.

12.) Logistics: Whoever takes this strategy card (#4) gets four command counters added to their pool, which greatly increases their options. Other players may exhaust planets, utilizing their political power to get command counters also. As this is one of the best ways to get command counters (sometimes two a turn is simply not enough), this is an oft-picked card.

13.) Trade: Trade is not nearly as powerful as it was in TI2. When a person picks this strategy card (#5), they automatically receive three trade goods (which can be used as resources or influence). They also receive goods equal to their trade agreements currently in play. Finally, all players can open trade negotiations, but the trades MUST be approved by the player taking the trade agreement card. Each race has specific trade cards, which provides a varying amount of resources, so for some races, trading can be next to worthless. The cool thing about the trade strategy card, however, is that a player can forgo everything I’ve just stated to cancel all trade agreements in play - a powerful “veto” ability.

14.) Warfare: The warfare strategy card (#6), allows a player to remove one of their command counters from the board - effectively letting them move a fleet twice. This is a card that aggressive players love, allowing them to snatch up some extra planets or make a double attack against another player. This brings up a point that some have complained about - “turtling”. This is where the players build up a defensive force and then hunker down, trying to win the game that way. So far, I’ve never run into this problem, but then again I play with fairly aggressive people. If this is a problem in your games, be more aggressive!

15.) Technology: The technology strategy card (#7) gives a free technology to the player who chose it and allows the other players to buy a technology for eight resources. The technologies are very similar to those in TI2, with some additions and changes because of the new rules. What I enjoyed quite a bit, however, was the fact that each player has their own deck of technology cards, which helped greatly; as player’s could look through the cards on their downtime and see the prerequisites they needed for each technology. This strategy card seems to be chosen every turn - who doesn’t want a free technology?

16.) Imperial: The imperial strategy card (#8) is often berated on the internet as game breaking. The reason is that whoever takes this card gets two victory points, as well as turning over the top card from the objective deck. I would argue most vehemently against this, however, as I felt that the card was merely a game clock, keeping the game moving. The person who takes this card is not only the last person to go (#8), but they also don’t get any other benefits. The objective cards that are turned over also help push the game along to its natural conclusion, giving players victory points for such things as “having five planets outside the home system”, “having four technological advances”, etc. Getting two victory points a turn is a big deal, but I can’t imagine the same player getting the card every turn, unless the other players are oblivious to what is going on.

17.) Bonus chips: In a mechanic that surely comes directly from Puerto Rico, strategy cards that are not taken have a bonus chip placed on them. Players who pick strategy cards with bonus chips can immediately exchange the bonus chips for a trade resource or a command counter. A nice little mechanic.

18.) Objectives: Besides the public objectives, which all players can complete, each player is given a secret objective at the beginning of the game. Most of them are extremely hard to complete and often result in a massive attack on one’s neighbors. But they are interesting, and I’m sure some people must complete them occasionally (haven’t seen it yet.)

19.) Rules: The rulebook is forty pages long, and we’re talking big pages here. Fortunately, everything is explained very clearly, and I though it was one of the best rulebooks I’ve ever read. With a game this huge and a rulebook this size, some errors were bound to happen, but a very clear FAQ has been posted at the website, as well as some variants for game play - Explaining the game to new players is a different matter - I imagine that with some groups it could take almost an hour. I taught the game to experienced gamers, but it still took at least half an hour of rules explanation, and the first several turns proceeded fairly slowly. But that’s to be expected in a game this huge.

20.) Variants: Several variants are included with the game (they are the same that are in the expansions for TI1 and 2), such as leaders and Distant Suns. Some people are greatly irritated by the randomness of the Distant Suns variant (planets have random effects for the first landing parties), but others (like myself) don’t mind this randomness. The leaders are a nifty idea but can bog the game down a bit. Players can also ditch the victory point track or turn it over so that instead of needing ten points to win, players need fourteen. (I would never do this, as the game is long enough already.) With the ten races included in the game, the multiple technological tracks, and the piles of options - I can’t see the same game of this ever being played twice.

21.) Time and players: The game is long - quite long, in fact. A six-player game could take up to eight hours - not something everyone has in their day. In fact, the time and dedication it takes to get a game of this together are the only two reasons that it’s not my favorite game. I love it dearly, but it takes a commitment from people. Three, four, and five player games are okay, but a six-player game is where it’s at; it gives the player the optimal experience.

There are a lot of other things I could say, but this is already one of the longest game reviews I’ve written. I love the War Suns (who doesn’t want their own personal Death Star?), the battles, the strategy cards, etc. Yes, there are going to be some niggly little rules that may bother those who want a pure Euro game. To those people I say go elsewhere, this probably isn’t for you. And I have some advice to those aspiring designers who are seeking to make the ultimate space empire game - stop wasting your time; it’s already here. This is hands down the best game of its type, and one of the best games of all time. If you have the time and energy to play a game of this magnitude - then buy it right now! Yes, it’s big, somewhat expensive (although the amount of stuff you get in it makes it one of the best deals on the market), and long. But it’s a tremendous game - a masterpiece by Christian Peterson. This game is truly a flagship of games - one that you would be proud to have on your shelves.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play BIG board games.”

One of the Best Strategy games became even Better !!!
February 13, 2005

The new version of Twilight Imperium is a marvel of strategy game. It has excellent mechanics and the game itself is full of surprises, choices, and opportunities. It plays somehow differently as the number of players changes (which is surprise because this was not true in 2nd edition). So far, we have played it with 3 or 4 players. Your strategy and the game itself changes as the number of players varies. But no matter the number of players, it is a masterpiece anyway. I am not going to list all the differences from 2nd edition, they are listed in the www of FFG.

For those that have the 2nd edition, go and buy this one. The game now is in a different level of greatness.

For those that never played Twilight Imperium before, well here is your chance to redeem yourselves. It worths every penny that you will spend on it. The components are the best (large, bright, etc). The rules explain everything in detail (maybe too much detail). The game is simple but the rules is a whole book. They did a great work to give examples in everything with pictures. You can play a game with 3 or 4 people in 2 hours (and you will play again ...).

If you like games like Dune, Game of Thrones, Risk 2210, War of the Ring, you better get a copy of this now.

It comes in the largest box ever for strategy games (I think I am 99.9% sure about this). Christian Petersen and Fantasy Flight Games made everything possible to give us the best possible value for our money.

My only complaint: There is no 2-player version. I hope they will come out with something for 2 players. But ... Fantasy Flight Games gave us the War of the Ring which is the best 2-player strategy game ... Which one is the best multiplayer game ??? I cannot choose ... Twilight Imperium is up there now along with Dune (and maybe I am biased towards Dune... ).

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