Sunday, May 25, 2008

TI:3 Review

After my first full game of TI:3 yesterday, I am pretty positive about this game. I am left with the impression of a big, epic universe.

As Carlos mentioned, we used the variant where all the public victory point conditions are known for the whole game, and I think this really contributed to the feeling of vastness. You are given some objectives and some starting resources, and then after that you are free to explore the galaxy. You can create a lot of technology, but that's not necessary. You need some armies, but you can build a huge war machine if you want. The freedom contributes to an impressive sense of scope and scale not found in your typical 2 hr euro. You can even ignore the objectives completely and just do whatever you want. You won't win doing that, but the look of fear on your opponents faces when your armada of war suns and dreadnoughts arrives might be worth a lot of satisfaction.

At the same time, you have a sense that the game doesn't end at the edge of the map, so to speak. During the game you'll have laws passed that change some of the rules. Those pesky politicians can't leave well enough alone! Luckily, the players have a lot of influence in the senate. In our TI:3 game yesterday we had a particularly irksome law passed that limited the production of each space dock to 2 units so workers could have a 20 hr work week. This had a significant impact on the last half of the game. The TI:3 universe has a lot of stuff going on outside your little corner.

Any good space game has a cool technology tree, and TI:3 excels in this regard. There are four tech areas, and about 7 techs in each area along with complex interdependencies. I cannot imagine that anyone could ever get all techs simultaneously. Certainly, you couldn't do it and accomplish much else in the game. Since each race has different starting technology, people will end up different technology, although some, like war suns, will probably show up in most games.
Finally, there's a wide selection of races with different abilities and special racial technologies.

Taking together the diverse objectives, the freedom of action, the large board, the potential laws, the expansive tech tree, and the many different races, you have a game of epic scope. These same things, together with the random board creation, ensure the game will never feel the same twice.

The only downside to this game is the logistics, but I can't see any way around it. Even just the game box is huge; storing this in the closet is not simple. Setting up and tearing down require some effort to be sure. Carlos had a great method to mitigate the table space problem. Each player gets their own 3 ring binder with cheat sheets and storage for action cards, political cards, and planets (it takes a big binder to store planets, but Carlos spared no expense.) Then there's scheduling an all-day game for 5 or 6 people. Still, these issues are more than compensated by the grand sweep of the game.

One minor thing I might change would be to use a few more objective cards to better fit the grand size of the game. We had 10 turns and 10 public objectives plus 1 private objective. At the end Dennis and I had done almost the exact same things. It would be nice to allow a bit more freedom. I think it would be cool to have more objectives than you can possibly accomplish, so that two people can be winning from completely different angles.

Not a game for every day, especially given the length. Once in a while, however, you need to try to conquer the galaxy. A smaller game just won't do.



At 1:24 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Carlos said...

Something that Ted did in the game just blew me away. Ted actually tried to employ some scorched earth type of tactics by trying to scuttle his space docks before an enemy could destroy it and thus deny him 2 victory points. Brilliant!

We managed to draw some pretty goofy Political cards this time. I think that they are usually a bit more believable.

I will try to plan for another game later this summer. I would really like to try the game with the larger map. I have yet to do this, but my belief is that a bigger map means more planets. More planets would mean more resources and influence. Probably less chance that your home world would be invaded. Fleets would be spread out over a larger area so I would imagine that there would be more space battles, but smaller in size.

Anyway, this is my theory, but I would like to see it put to the test.

BTW - it was a mistake for me to propose the LAW that allowed a free ground troop to all the players when they landed on a neutral planet. In doing so I nullified my special ability as the humans to mass produce ground troops.

At 1:54 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

I now own all five of FFG's "big box" games, so storage is possible, though skill or at least bravery with sledge hammer, sheet rock, texturing, painting, etc. to expand closet space do help. Of course a credit card and reliable contractor help even more.

In a couple weeks I'll be putting up a fresh set of Elfa organizer hardware from The Container Store (or perhaps the cheaper clone version from Lowe's) to further assist optimizing the stock room. I'll probably engage in a bit of Euro-culling at that time. I just can't seem to bring myself to part with any wargames. I just know someday I'll play PanzerBlitz again.

In related logistical metagaming, I finally picked up a 24"x36" sheet of Lexan. My GMT paper maps are happier now. I had to buy an d48"x36" sheet, so I have an extra one in case of catastrophe.

I keep running out of GMT trays and card protectors. I wonder if we could somehow go in together on a wholesale-scale order.

At 2:13 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Brian said...

I'm still hoping to get Starcraft to the table ...

Where did you get the Plexiglass, Ben? How much?

At 2:18 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Rob said...

Brian, I have a plexi (slightly larger than 2x3') from Home Depot. I can't recall $ but it was reasonable.

I've always been on the fence about Ti3, but every time I play it, I do enjoy it. Maybe Galactic Emperor is more my cup of tea.

Ahhhh.....Starcraft. I need to play that some more.

Ben: EE....soon. In-laws still with me at my place....

At 2:20 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

I used Lexan rather than plexiglass, based on advice from BGG. Lexan is tougher, lighter, and supposedly more difficult to scratch. I picked up mine at Lowes, and I was impressed with the difficulty the guy had in slicing it.

The stuff is not cheap. The 48"x36" sheet was $52 plus tax. Since I now have two 24" wide sheets, I think I'd be willing to sell one of them for $27.

At 2:25 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

I need to play both Starcraft and Tide of Iron more.... especially Tide of Iron now that I've bought into the expansion.

Rob: Did you get Blackbeard?

At 2:29 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

One of my favorite rules from Blackbeard related to deciding whether to ransom or torture captured hostages:

(8.45) Torture: If the Pirate chooses Torture, the Player rolls a die and compares it to his Pirate’s Cruelty rating:
• If that dieroll is greater than the Pirate’s Cruelty rating, the Hostage provides Information (8.46) and then dies.
• If that dieroll is the same as or lower than the Pirate’s Cruelty rating, the Hostage dies without providing Information (but the crew has still enjoyed themselves).
• No matter what the result, the torture provides increases in crew Loyalty (by +1) and Notoriety Points (see 18.2) regardless of the
effect of Torture. Once these are determined, the Hostage counter is returned to the Hostage pool.

At 3:16 PM, May 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Jon could get all the technologies in a game of TI:3. He's just like that.

At 3:18 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

A sound strategy in any game of TI:3 is to focus totally on annihilating Jon.

At 6:07 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Carlos said...


It looks like Ted may have won our game after all. Dennis earned his 2 VPs after capturing Mecatol. He then used the ability of the Bureaucracy card to claim his Secret Objective. AT least I am pretty sure that it was his secret objective. But I looked at the card and it states that this is to be used for a PUBLIC objectives and the rules explicitly state that you cannot use this card for the secret objective.

Ted with nine points and preparing to grab another point during the next Status Phase would have gotten his point before Dennis could have claimed his 2 points for the secret that he achived (Dennis's Bureaucracy card is number 8). Ted rules the galaxy. Good going Ted!!!!

Ben, you mentioned that you like to use Imperial II in place of Bureaucracy, is this correct? If so, then this must be a house rule, because the rules say that Imperial II must not be used to replace Bureaucracy. Actually, this sounds like a good variant, but I was not sure if this is what you meant.

At 11:34 PM, May 25, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

Actually, Carlos, the rules say you can't substitute Bureaucracy for Imperial Strategy 2 when using the Age of Empire Variant (reveal all objectives from the start). I prefer playing with the objectives face up, so Imperial Strat 2 works fine and legal in this instance.

Bureacracy has you revealing face down objectives, which is obviously meaningless if you're playing with all the objectives face up the entire game.

If I read your session report correctly, did you somehow use both Age of Empire and Bureaucracy?

At 8:44 AM, May 26, 2008, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

There's some confusion about whether or not we used a "consistent" rule set.

All I know is that the game was a great way to spend a Saturday.

I reminds me of Knizia's saying about how victory conditions are important in a game, but it's just having them and not the actual winning that provide the enjoyment.

At 9:45 AM, May 26, 2008, Blogger Rob said...

Ted: I couldn't agree more. I prefer to focus on the journey, than actually finishing a game, with a couple of EXTREMELY RARE exceptions:

1. the game is just pure crap
2. I'm winning

At 5:05 PM, May 26, 2008, Blogger Carlos said...

Gentlemen, these rule issues are interesting and we need to be in agreement the next time we play. I know that I have used one or two house rules in the past. For example, I usually offer a house rule that allows one to build an "inoperative" PDS on a planet with a space port and two functioning PDS. As you know that rules forbid such a thing. But then my house rule allows the inoperative PDS to be transported and set up on another planet. This is a house rule.

I know that the age of empire option would nullify part of the function of the #8 BUREAUCRACY card, but it still is works. Anyway, I look forward to the next game and we will agree on all rules, variants, and house rules then.

BTW - the wording on page 17 of the Shattered Empire Rules are interesting. I am having trouble deciding which way to go with it. But no worry for now.


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