Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition Designer Diary 2

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Days of Twilight

It has been long, oh so long, since I last updated the TWILIGHT IMPERIUM 3rd Edition site. It is long overdue, my bad, but here it is.
It has been an arduous journey over the last five months or so, and my vision for TI3 have had its own journey of trials and tribulations. Yet, with this brief rant, I have the opportunity to give you all an update of the current state of the project. So (drum-roll please) here is where TI3 is currently at:
The Game Engine
I have finally settled fully on the new ‘game state’ or fluid motion of interlocking mechanics that will be core game of TI. I haven’t just tinkered and tuned the old TI engine like I was planning… No, I have replaced the whole engine with an entirely new dynamic turbo-charged piece of gaming engineering that I hope will blow your socks off. (More on this later!)
The Box
In the middle of last month (June ‘04), the talented Scott Schomburg finished his masterful art for our TI3 box. Scott was the artist on the wonderful TI2 cover, and I wanted him to return to the subject matter once again, in a way that felt ‘classic’ but new all at once. One major advantage for showcasing the new cover is the massive ‘widescreen’ box that allows for a truly epic piece of artwork. If you own any of the typical ‘square’ games (like our LORD OF THE RINGS games, our GAME OF THRONES board game, and/or many games from publishers such a Mayfair, Rio Grande, and Days of Wonder) the TWILIGHT IMPERIUM 3rd Edition Box will be twice as large as those. Basically, it will be as big as two of such square boxes standing side by side. In other, more humble, words … it will be HUGE!!! Without much further ado, I hereby present to you the final TI3 cover artwork.
All the ten known TI Races are represented on the cover. Starting from the upper left: Sardakk N’orr, Xxcha, Naalu, Jol-Nar, Hacan, Sol, Letnev, Yssaril, Mentak, and finally (in the lower right) the L1z1x. You will also notice the massive War Sun and the impressive PDS cannon (behind the Sol soldiers). I absolutely love this new piece! It truly defines and improves my vision for how the races look, and it projects the epic feeling that I feel TI is all about. Great work Scott!! (FYI, the actual box logo/text, etc., have not been finalized, and are just placed here for reference).
The Ships
All spring and early summer, the plastic-elves have been hard at work creating some absolutely awesome plastic components for TI3. It was my goal that these space-ships be some of the most awesome board-game components ever created. A few weeks ago, I got the first batch of final ships, and I think that we have succeeded in our goal. These ships will be just awesome to play with!! They are substantially larger than the pieces in TI2, and units like the Dreadnought and the War Sun (a new unit) are probably the largest sculpted pieces in a strategy board game to-date. Here are some pictures of the wonders:
The Other Components
So, what about the other components of TI3? First of all, the systems (hexes) will be substantially larger than those of TI and TI2 (see the picture below for a reference). The graphics for all the components have been masterfully improved by our resident graphics guru Brian Schomburg (yes, he is related to Scott). The cardboard will be a heavy thick stock (as you see in our RUNEBOUND and GAME OF THRONES board games), with wonderful textured linen paper (which has come to be appreciated among gamers from the wonderful German board-game productions introduced into our hobby over the last 5 years). In addition to the large reams of card-board components (Systems, Titles, Leaders, Control Markers, Command Counters, Shock Troops, etc.) TI will also feature more than 400 full color cards (real cards, not the ‘pull apart’ one-color cards of TI and TI2) including Deed Cards, Technology, Action, Victory Point, and Political Cards.
Did he say “Victory Point” cards?
I did let that little but of info slip, as well as a few other nuggets. As stated above, the core game system of TI has been radically changed, and – I think – dramatically improved. Designing and developing other games over the last few years have taught me a number of important lessons and provided some insightful revelations. In this project, I feel that I have brought all my skill and new-found knowledge to bear on my beloved Twilight Imperium. But, fans of TI, don’t fear! Even though the principle game engine is almost entirely new, TI retains the ‘feel’ and core elements (empire building, conquest, politics, and trade) of the older versions.
I am going to save the juicy details of the system for a future rant. As I am actually writing the rules for TI3 right now, perhaps I will actually post the new rules in their entirety within the next 4 weeks or so. Until then, here are some (shocking I hope) spoilers:
TI3 has no ‘progression chart’
TI3 has no Lazax Gold Credits
TI3 has only 3 Phases, the “Title Phase”, the “Action Phase”, and the ‘Status Phase’
TI3 eliminates about 90% of the down-time between players.
TI3 introduces a new resource/game dynamic called ‘Command Points’ which sets your tactical flexibility against your individual fleet sizes.
TI3 has a ‘built in time-limit’ (handled in a unique way) for a maximum of 10 rounds.
TI3 uses two other major new terms: “Titles” and “Actions Counters”
Veteran TI players may be shocked by the above revelations. I am very, very excited about these changes, however, which I feel bring the TI3 design up to the best of today’s design standards. I look forward to the discussion after the game hits the thermal layer.
So, where is the game at, and when will it be ready?
TI3 has taken longer to knit together than I had initially anticipated. The majority of the blame is to be laid on my other CEO duties and a plethora of other projects that are competing for my attention, and the other to the crucial, but eminently successful design development that the game has seen in the past months.
TI will be a BIG game, in all senses of the word. The ships will be big, the box will be big, the hexes will be big, the components will be numerous (in the extreme), and the new game-play will be a big change. The suggested retail for the game is now set at $79.95 (it’ll be worth every penny!). As I am not expecting the game to go to the printer before the first week of August, the expected release date has now been pushed back to November. So yes, alas, this means that we will have no copies at GEN CON as I had hoped… but we will be showcasing and doing demo’s of TI3 at our booth and in the board-game hall, so please stop by!
Pax Magnifica!
Some of the above terms, such as "Title Cards," were later changed for the final version of the game.