News for January 2012
How The Mighty Have Fallen 25
A preview of Rex, a board game of diplomacy, conquest, and betrayal
Rex: Final Days of an Empire | Published 11 January 2012

Ancient and benevolent founders of the Galactic Council and rulers of the galaxy for over 24,000 years, the mighty Lazax could not, for all their knowledge, foresee the Sol incursion that would herald their final days. Nevertheless, the established power of the galaxy and the masters of Mecatol Rex are not easily forced aside. Leaderless, under siege, their forces in disarray, the Lazax still claim substantial advantage in exploiting the influence and loyalty of their capital city. But will their considerable wealth and remaining influence over their own city prove enough to repel this assault and reaffirm their power?

In August, we announced the upcoming release of Rex, a board game of negotiation, betrayal, and warfare for three to six players. Set 3,000 years before the events of Twilight Imperium, Rex tells the fateful story of once-proud Mecatol City in the months and years following the death of the last Lazax emperor.

Although the ferocity and swiftness of the Sol assault took them by surprise, the well entrenched Lazax were able to muster considerable political and military support for a subsequent resistance. Today’s preview will examine some of the core mechanics of Rex, and how its warring factions struggle to acquire much-needed influence in the midst of a chaotic urban conflict. And while Rex’s six unique races feature special abilities that make each a viable candidate for victory, we will focus on the benefits of the Lazax. Their centuries-old mastery of the city makes them the faction best suited to accumulate and wield influence, even as they desperately cling to power.

The support of a city

Influence is a game currency that represents hidden weapons caches, political support, and other resources (both tangible and intangible) as found in Mecatol City. In the context of the game’s mechanics, influence is essential; it is used to “purchase” a wide range of necessary assets:

  • Early in each round, players bid influence to acquire Strategy cards. These weapons and tactics provide a variety of bonuses and are often used during battle.
  • Given the Hacan-enabled blockage in the airspace over Mecatol City, troop deployment demands a considerable commitment of resources. Influence must be spent whenever a player wishes to move units from his reserve onto the board.
  • Over the course of the game, dozens of destroyed leaders and units will be sent to the casualty pool. Influence can be spent to recruit their replacements.

Future previews will provide details on Strategy cards, combat, and troop deployment. For now, suffice it to say that influence is a vastly important element of Rex. Players will want to acquire it whenever possible, as running out will bring a faction’s military endeavors screeching to a halt. But how does one go about accumulating the most influence?

The spoils of war

The moment the dust from the Sol fleet’s opening salvo settled and the bleak recognition of its implications set in, the savviest leaders in Mecatol City started planning. In the confusion, which of the city’s remaining locations would be safest? Most profitable? Most politically vital? With each faction seeking to further its own agenda, the struggle ensued for dominance of the city.

Gaining influence in Rex is a matter of controlling influential locations. The icon to the right indicates an influence-producing area, which can potentially generate these all-important tokens based on the results of a card draw at the start of each round. By maneuvering into an area in which influence has been placed (then surviving any subsequent battles against contenders for the area), a faction can lay claim to two influence per unit controlled in the area, per round.

But beware! The Sol dreadnought fleet continually sweeps Mecatol Rex from orbit, systematically bombing entire sectors of the city and annihilating unprotected armies and influence alike with impunity (Check back to learn more about this relentless bombardment in a future preview). This creates a unique challenge: how can a faction collect the most influence while simultaneously avoiding the fiery wrath of the orbiting attackers? Leaders must maneuver their forces out from under the protection of shielded districts, engage their enemies in combat, lay claim to whatever resources they can, and escape back to safety, all before grim death rains from above!

Influence cards like the one on the left are drawn at the start
of each round, instructing players to place Influence tokens on
one or more of the board’s areas, like the one on the right.

Paying them their due

Given these obstacles to wealth, it is helpful to have additional means of income. The Lazax maintain substantial political clout, as exemplified by a special ability that ensures that they seldom lack influence. Whenever another player wins a bid for a Strategy card (a process we will examine more closely in our next preview), he must pay the Lazax player rather than returning the spent influence to the influence pool.

The Lazax Empire’s Race sheet.
Click to enlarge.

Not only does this mean a healthy influx of resources, but it gives the Lazax player plenty of leverage when bidding for new technologies or tactics. The wealthy Lazax player can confidently “bid up” the price for a Strategy card, satisfied in the knowledge that his position is win-win. Either he wins the card he was after, or he loses the auction... but collects valuable influence from the winner.

As the Lazax race sheet also indicates, these ancient leaders of the galaxy have access to another unique asset: Mechanized units. With double the combat effectiveness of standard units, Mechanized units provide a indisputable advantage on the battlefield, and with the resources to field them quickly, the Imperial Lazax remain a forced to be reckoned with.

Check back for more on Rex in the coming weeks, and look for it to bombard your local retailer in the first quarter of 2012!

Rex is a board game of diplomacy, conquest, and betrayal in which 3–6 players take control of great interstellar civilizations, competing for dominance of the galaxy’s crumbling imperial city. Set 3,000 years before the events of Twilight Imperium, Rex tells the story of the last days of the Lazax empire, while presenting players with compelling asymmetrical racial abilities and exciting opportunities for diplomacy, deception, and tactical mastery.

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Comments (25)

Published: 1/11/2012 11:11:54 PM

 The art is absolutly amazing. Don't understand why some people are complaining. I hope all of ffg games would show such a standard. As for the game for now I'm not completly sold. I don't now dune so I will have to wait until the rules are published

Published: 1/11/2012 11:06:44 PM

Personally, I don't mind the overdesigned look as long as it's not like that all throughout.
IE: I don't mind accentuation and elegance in the art direction.
Let's wait-and-see on this one.

Published: 1/11/2012 9:56:45 PM

 "Yes, this looks a bit overdesigned. This can make a game look cold instead of stylish, and I think FFG should avoid that with future products."


I have noticed that their games have been trending that way lately. 

Published: 1/11/2012 7:18:16 PM

Looks like the strongholds will be the ones with the red dots under them (each seems to have a green dot, too, which I'll assume means a protected area), as there are five of them and spread out in a similar fashion as in Dune.  You can see one in each corner and one right above the central territory, which I guess will be a Polar Sink equivalent since there's no dot.  If I've picked out the strongholds correctly, looks like the Carthag / Tabr equivalents are out of thopter range, which is a change I approve of, if thopter rules remain in place.

Interesting that they're going with double spice blows / influence as the default rule.  I also wonder if the Emperor getting his optional ability as a default means the other factions will have their optional rules.  I hope not, personally.  Avalon Hill came up with those rules, not the Eon team, and they were a bit crazy.  I hope to see the basic game powers with added TI flavor for other abilities.

Also of note: There's no alliance ability on the sheet.  Of course, the Emperor's alliance ability in the original was a non-ability to begin with, so I suppose they are just trying to avoid confusion by leaving it blank, rather than indicating a complete absence of alliance powers -- that seems highly doubtful, as it was a key function of the game.

All in all, I like what I see, and I'm excited to finally see it! 

Published: 1/11/2012 6:59:22 PM

Yes, this looks a bit overdesigned. This can make a game look cold instead of stylish, and I think FFG should avoid that with future products.

But I think the rules will be top notch.

Published: 1/11/2012 5:04:19 PM

Whether or not they acquired the DUNE license, this will surely be a really good game.  Matching FFG production values with the previously excellent DUNE gameplay and tweaked for even further playability by FFG's internal design staff should equal a really good game.


Published: 1/11/2012 3:22:06 PM

it´s a shame that FFG weren´t able to acquire dune license, but nontheless I´am really looking forward to this game...

Published: 1/11/2012 3:17:06 PM

The artwork you have shown in the preview is fantastic!  Great job! 

Published: 1/11/2012 2:31:03 PM

 He who controls the spice controls the universe!! I mean the influence....oh well. To those who were wondering they did try to get the Dune rights but could only manage the rights to the mechanics of the game. I'm not too sad though, as much as I love me some Dune, I do also love me some TI, even if there are space kitties. Damn greedy space kitties....

Published: 1/11/2012 2:24:56 PM

I've been following this game and the creator (Peter Olotka) for a while.  The Dune license is untouchable - a whole lot of publishers have tried to get their hands on it for this game.  Fortunately the game system itself is still owned by the creator.  And if it can't be Dune, the Twilight Imperium universe is the next best thing.

Published: 1/11/2012 2:08:03 PM

 Well said. As noted, just the sheer fact that FFG carries products (or soon-to-be-released products) with Star Wars and Lords of the Rings licenses indicates that they tried their best in negotiating for the Dune license from the Herbert Estate. I just hope that the game system have been overhauled to fall within the standards of modern day efficiency with the spirit of Dune intact.

Published: 1/11/2012 1:52:22 PM

I like the colours and paintings of locations, although the cards and components have that overdesigned look that seems to be a common feature of recent FFG products. But its the talking animals that finally push it over the edge for me - all looks a bit Narnia or Winnie the Pooh (with weapons) in space.

I hear the original Dune, on which its based, had great gameplay so the game mechanics should be sound. Just wish there could have been some Dune licensing deal for this, instead of Twilight Imperium. Probably not FFGs fault. They have Lotr & Star Wars, so they would have got Dune it was at all possible I'm sure.

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