Friday, July 27, 2012

Twilight Imperium Race Preview

On August 5th, 2012, we will be holding our Twilight Imperium Day in Osaka.  As there will be many new players to Twilight Imperium Third Edition, I would like to introduce the races that are available to play and my thoughts on how suitable those races are to play for a first time player.  We will be using the races from the base game and also from the Shattered Empire expansion.  Without further ado, let's look at the races of the Twilight Imperium universe.

The Winnu

The Winnu are the custodian race of the ancient empire.  Now that the empire has fallen and the imperial race has disappeared from the universe, the Winnu have upheld the lore, tradition, and culture of the old empire.  Although they had hoped that the imperial race would return and restore the glory of the empire, they have started to lose hope in that dream.  Now many of the Winnu feel that they are the rightful successors to the Empire.  Now is the time to put an end to this age of chaos and return the universe to it's former glory.  The Winnu will protect and honor the heritage of the empire forever.

Special abilities:  the Winnu always add the influence of their home system planet to votes, even if the home system planet has been exhausted.  This gives them a bit more political power than other races.  Also, if they have at least one ground force on a planet, it is immune from the Local Unrest Action card.  This prevents you from losing planets due to this pesky card.  Finally, you don't need to spend a command counter to execute the secondary ability of the Technology Strategy.  This gives you a minor boost in developing technologies.

Suitability for new players:  Medium.  Immunity to the Local Unrest Action Card will keep you from getting blindsided in some cases.  Also, the boost in technology can be a big help. 

The L1z1x Mindnet

The remnants of the imperial race, the Lazax, fled from imperial space when the Empire fell.  Cursing their fate, they initiated a program to remove all weakness from their race.  This involved the extensive use of implants to the point that many races question whether they are still the Lazax or not.  It could be said that the Mindnet are more machine than man, which is displayed in their cold and emotionless efficiency.  However, not much is know about this race since all diplomats that have been sent to deal with them have disappeared.  The L1z1x Mindnet is set on eliminating the chaos of the universe by all means necessary.  If that means destroying all of the other races in the universe, then so be it.  Then tragedies such as the fall of the Empire will never happen again.

Special abilities:  Dreadnoughts (big, bad ships) are cheaper for you.  Your dreadnoughts also get +1 during space combat, and your ground forces get +1 during invasion combat (assimilation!).  Finally, you get an extra command counter when you start the game.  Basically this is an attacking machine.

Suitability for new players:  High.  The special powers of the L1z1x Mindnet make it easy to attack, which makes it a lot easier to get victory points.  Other players will be nervous about starting hostilities with you, so you will have an upper hand in negotiations if you don't mind threatening violence.

The Naalu Collective

The Naalu are a race of snake women.  They have remained hidden from the rest of the galaxy for much of its history.  It turns out that the Naalu are highly telepathic, with the ability to wipe the minds and control those who get too close to their secrets.  They tend not to speak and communicate through telepathy.  The Naalu highly value beauty.  Their home world of Druaa is a veritable paradise.  When Naalu look at other species and other world, they only see chaos and ugliness.  Now is the time for the rest of the universe to submit to the order, tranquility, and beauty of the Naalu Collective.  If they will not submit, they will be destroyed.

Special abilities:  You have an initiative of "0", which means whichever strategy card you chose, you will always go first.  In other words, you can act before others because you can read their minds and react before they even have a chance to act.  You can also retreat in battle before taking any damage.  Other races must take a round of battle damage before they can retreat.  This means you can withdraw your ships easily if you think you don't have a good chance to win.  Finally, all of your fighters receive a +1 on combat rolls in space battles.

Suitability for new players:  High.  The chance to preserve your fleets through retreating will help you preserve your fleets in no-win situations.  This will make it easier for you to negotiate or to regroup and re-attack later.  Also, the fighter bonus is quite good as fighters are very cheap to buy.  With the Naalu, your meat shields will have some bite.

The Yin Brotherhood

The Yin Brotherhood is a weird religious group in which all of the members are clones from a single genetic source.  They worship this source as the "Yin".  Their devotion to this source is what drives them to spread across the universe.  They scour the universe to convert other races to their faith and their ultimate goal is to bring the light of Yin to all in the universe and to establish themselves on the Imperial throne so that the Yin will be properly revered by the lower races.

Special ability:  before invasion combats, you can make a die roll.  If you are successful, your opponent loses one ground force and you gain one ground force (conversion!).  Also, in space battles, immediately before the second round of combat, you can chose one of your destroyers or cruisers and discard it to automatically inflict a hit on a ship of your choice (kamikaze!).  Finally, once per turn you can place your control marker on an unexhausted planet you control--until the end of the round its influence and resources are reversed.  

Suitability for new players:  Low.  The number of invasions in a game isn't that high, so in order to take advantage of the Yin's special ability, you have to push for invasion combats, which are more difficult to produce than it sounds.  This race is only recommended for advanced players.

The Universities of Jol Nar

The Jol Nar are masters of science and technology.  Their technology is the most advanced in the universe.  The Jol Nar are a diminutive aquatic race, so to counter their physical weakness, they place great importance on developing the mind.  They are proud of their intelligence and their technology and scoff at the thought that any other race would be considered as a good choice for leading the galaxy.  If the galaxy is to advance, it is only natural that the most intelligent should rule.  The Jol Nar will not respect a lesser intellect as their leader.

Special abilities:  when executing the secondary ability of the Technology Strategy, you also execute its primary ability.  This means that the Jol Nar can advance their technology at double the rate of other races!  Also, they may spend a command counter to re-roll any of their die rolls.  They start with a minor disadvantage, -1 to space combat and invasion combat rolls.  However, this disadvantage only lasts for a round or two as the Jol Nar increase their technology faster than other races.

Suitability for new players:  High.  Advancing your technologies will give you a big advantage over other races later in the game.  Lay low and be friendly at the beginning, but once your technological machine is built, it will be tough for other races to withstand your power.

The Sardakk N'orr

We are bugs.  We no like people messing with our nests.  We're hungry.  Our swarm will bring peace to the galaxy.

Special abilities:  +1 to all combat rolls during space battles and invasion combats.

Suitability for new players:  Medium.  This is a very simple race to use, so if you are already overwhelmed by the rules of the game, this might be a good one for you to use.  Not many moving parts and the special ability will help you to be aggressive.  The thing to be careful of is not falling behind in technology.  If you fall behind in technology, then your special ability will be negated.  In that situation, the Sardakk N'orr are useless.

The Mentak Coalition

The Mentak Coalition is an alliance of space pirates.  Outcasts and criminals made up of all races, the Mentak Coalition is the most diverse "government" in the galaxy.  The Mentak Coalition is on a mission of revenge, as their ancestors were banished to their remote region of space by the establish races of the universe.  No more living on scraps--these pirates are out to take what is rightfully theirs.  Down with the powers that be.  We'll laugh as we pillage, conquer and enslave them.  Yo-ho!

Special abilities:  you start the game with one additional command counter in your fleet, so you'll have a bigger starting fleet than other players.  Before a space battle, you can fire with up to two cruisers or destroyers in an ambush.  Any ships destroyed in this way are unable to return fire.  Finally, during the strategy phase, you can take one good token from up to two different players as long as those players have at least 3 trade good.

Suitability for new players:  Medium.  The com at ability is quite good, especially if you are lucky with dice rolling.  The trade goods ability doesn't get used much though because other players know you will take trade goods, so they tend to spend them before you can take them.

The Barony of Letnev

A militaristic race that makes its home on a rocky asteroid floating in the darkness of space.  The Letnev are focused on the colonization of other lesser developed worlds and impose strict bureaucracy and discipline on those worlds.  As a subterranean race, they have a weakness to light.  Only those in the military who have achieved great victories may advance to the highest levels of society.  The Letnev are very ambitious and they are not afraid to use their military to achieve their ambitions.  The more war, the more glory.

Special abilities:  your fleets always contain one more ship than the number of command counters in your fleet supply.  This means you'll have bigger fleets than other races.  Also, before a space battle or invasion combat, you may spend 2 trade goods to give all of your spaceships +1 or all of your ground forces +2 on their combat rolls for that combat round.

Suitability for new players:  High.  Larger fleets make it easier to be more aggressive.  The ability with the trade goods can help out in a pinch, but you have to be sure that you have some on hand for big battles.

The Xxcha Kingdom

One of the first great civilizations of the galaxy.  These space turtles are peaceful and prefer to solve problems through diplomacy rather than through violence.  In the fall of the Empire, they were caught weaponless and defenseless, which led to the destruction of one of their home worlds.  Although they prefer the path of peace, the Xxcha do not want to suffer such a tragedy again.  Therefore, they have focused on developing strong defenses.  In order to insure a peaceful galaxy for future generations, the Xxcha have no choice but to take the Imperial throne for themselves and make war a thing of the past.

Special abilities:  when executing the secondary ability of the diplomacy strategy, you may execute the primary ability instead.  This give you more political power and you have a better chance to enact laws that will put your opponents at a disadvantage.  Also, when a political card is drawn and read aloud, you can spend a command counter to have that card discarded and have a new one drawn.  With this power, you can eliminate rules that would hurt you.  Finally, all opponents receive -1 to their combat rolls during the first round of combat.

Suitability for new players:  Low.  The Xxcha focus on political abilities, which can be random and may or may not help you.  In addition, the defensive advantage is only for one round.  Combats usually go for a few rounds, so this is not such a good ability.  Finally, you don't get any victory points for being defensive, so unless you play them skillfully, the Xxcha can fall behind in victory points easily.

The Yssaril Tribes

The Yssaril are a tribe of super stealthy chameleon-like creatures.  They are skilled as spies and as assassins.  Masters of information, they know EVERYTHING.   Nothing gets by these little guys.  Of course, no one knows what the Yssaril are doing.  In fact, none of the other races even bother to think about what they are doing.  They seem so unassuming.  Won't they be surprised to find out that the Yssaril are building a secret fleet to take over the Imperial throne.  After all, it's all part of the plan.

Special abilities:  you may skip your action turn during the action phase.  Normally, when you skip your turn, you can't take any actions after that.  The Yssaril can continue playing after skipping.  That way, they can see what others are doing before they take their actions.  They cannot skip twice in a row, however.  Also, you draw one extra action card during every status phase, and you have no hand limit for action cards.  Action cards will give you the power to surprise others, so this is very powerful.  Finally, once during every Strategy Phase, you can ask to see one other player's hand of action cards.  It will be hard to surprise you.

Suitability for new players:  High.  Action cards are very powerful.  Other players will think twice about attacking you since you can surprise them, and since you can look at their action cards, they can't surprise you. 

The Federation of Sol

Humans!  We rock!  The most populous race of the galaxy.  We're everywhere!  Majority rules, right?  What do you mean no?  We're tired of taking orders from you weird aliens.  We've got the most soldiers, so we're taking over.  Any questions?

Special abilities:  as an action, you can spend one command counter to place two free ground forces on any one planet that you control.  That means you don't have to worry about ferrying soldiers around as much as other races.  It also makes your planets much harder for other races to invade.  Basically humans are the rats of the universe.  Also, during the status phase, you receive one extra command counter.  More command counters, means more action.  Let's move out, boys!

Suitability for new players:  High.  More dudes, more actions, more fun.

The Clan of Saar

A highly mobile and nomadic race.  They don't stay in any one place for long.  They pick up and move everything with them.  These nomads have long been kicked around by more established races, but this has made the Clan strong.  The Clan is at home anywhere and are good at salvaging on planets they conquer.  Now that the Clan is strong, it is time to take some bigger prizes--perhaps the biggest one of all, Mecatol Rex.

Special abilities:  gain one trade good every time you acquire a new planet.  Also, your space docks have a movement of one.  Other races can never move their space docks.  This allows you to move your unit production closer to the front lines, which makes it easier for you get your units into action.  Finally, you may fulfill objectives even if  you don't control your home system.  That means you can move your civilization anywhere you want on the board.  If the area around your home system is low in resources, just move out and take over someone else's area.

Suitability for new players:  Low.  To take advantage of the moving space docks requires a bit of planning.  The moving space docks are weaker than other space docks, so newer players are more likely to get their space docks destroyed when play the Clan.

The Embers of Muaat

The Embers of Muaat are a mysterious race.  Their bodies are always on fire, so no one has seen them outside of their specially constructed suits which they have built to interact with other races.  In the past, the Muaat were enslaved by the Jol Nar to develop a technology to convert energy into mass.  The Muaat eventually rebelled against the Jol Nar, and in the process took control of a Jol Nar prototype--the War Sun.  Armed with this super weapon, the Muaat have sworn never to be enslaved again.  To ensure this, they will use their War Sun to take control of the galaxy.

Special abilities:  you start the game with a War Sun!  This super weapon cannot be built by other races until they develop the technology for it, so you'll have 4 or 5 turns to run rampant with it.  Take advantage of this and play aggressively in the beginning.  Also, as an action you can spend a command counter to place two free fighters or one free destroyer in a system where you have a War Sun.  This allows you to constantly generate meat shields to protect your super weapon.  Finally, you can move through supernova systems.  Other races cannot do that.  This gives you move freedom of movement.

Suitability for new players:  High.  Use that War Sun as much as you can.  Don't let it rust.

The Emirates of Hacan

These space lions are the masters of trade.  Your smugglers and traders have infiltrated every corner of the galaxy.  If there's any business going on in the galaxy, it's guaranteed that you have your paws in it. The Hacan always have an abundance of trade goods and have the power to help out other races or to hurt them severely when trade is involved.  The Hacan never have to worry about having enough resources to build units and can use their trade good to bribe other races to agree with their policies.  Nothing personal, it's just business.

Special abilities:  your trades do not require approval during trade negotiations.  You are the master of trade.  You do not need to spend a command counter to execute the secondary ability of the Trade Stategy and when you receive trade goods from the Trade Strategy, you receive one additional trade good.  Also, no other player may break a trade contract with you except by war.  Finally, during the Status Phase, you can trade action cards with other players.

Suitability for new players:  High.  Lots of trade goods make it easier to build units.  Resource poor races will be eager to follow your suggestions if you grease their palms.  Also, you can prevent other players from trading if it suits your strategy.  Finally, trading action cards (you are the only race that can do this), can help you get the cards you need for your strategy, and in turn you'll know some of the strategy cards held by other players.  Information is power!

So, this concludes the race preview.  Which race are you interested in playing?

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