A Grand Strategy

Preview the Strategy Phase of Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition

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In the galaxy of Twilight Imperium, only the sharpest tacticians will ascend beyond their home systems to rule the galaxy. While large fleets and political bargaining will be key to victory, you must use these effectively with powerful strategy cards to fuel your ascension to galactic domination and put your faction on the throne of Mecatol Rex.

Today, we’re previewing the Strategy Cards of Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition. These cards not only determine turn order in a round, but provide players with unique abilities that drastically impact the course of the game.

Developing Strategy

During the Strategy Phase, beginning with the speaker and continuing clockwise, players will select their strategy card for the round. Then, on your turn, instead of taking a tactical action, you may choose to take a strategic action and activate the primary ability of your strategy card. Whenever one of these primary abilities is activated, every other player gets an opportunity to use the role's secondary ability, shaking up the game every time they are used.

The Leadership strategy card guarantees that you will take the first action in a round and it also replenishes your command tokens. While anyone can spend influence to refresh their supply, the primary user gets three tokens for no cost, meaning they are guaranteed to have the tools they need to take a big turn with no drawback. Furthermore, these tokens can immediately be distributed anywhere on your sheet, meaning you can surprise your opponents by greatly increasing your fleet supply, gaining enough command tokens to spread your fleet across the stars, or rejuvenating your strategy pool to use the secondary abilities on other strategy cards. With the power to go first and providing a bevy of resources, the Leadership strategy card is perfect for setting up a big turn.

The Diplomacy strategy card is more defensive, giving complete protection to a system in which you control a planet. When you are holding a valuable planet or system, rather than allocate your precious fleet resources to defense, you can simply use the Diplomacy strategy card and let your diplomats block everyone else from entering the system. Better yet, if you used those planets to build earlier in the round or if you just claimed the system, the Diplomacy strategy card can refresh those planets. Because of this, the Diplomacy can be a solid choice when you are expecting a more passive or defensive round for your civilization.

The Politics strategy card works well as setup for a future turn. Perhaps most importantly, the ability to move the speaker token opens up a world of possibilities. Not only can you give it to yourself to guarantee a first pick of strategy card next round, you can negotiate a deal to give it to another player. Having influence over where who becomes the speaker puts you in a position of power to broker favorable deals. Furthermore, drawing two action cards will expand your options, and fixing the top of the agenda deck can give you insider knowledge on future votes, which lets you plan ahead. With three wildly different actions, the Politics strategy card gives you the tools to play the role of a master manipulator.

The Construction Strategy Card is the only way to produce PDS (Planetary Defense System) and space docks on planets you control. This exclusivity can make Construction a high-value strategy card, as additional space docks boost your production and give you the opportunity to expand your fleet. Rather than forcing your main production to occur in your home system, the Construction strategy card lets you establish forward operating bases across the galaxy, expanding your influence and reinforcing your fleets as they brave the mystery of unknown space. 

Meanwhile, PDS units are a valuable tool for defending your systems. As stationary weapons that attack incoming ships, the more PDS units you have in a system, the less likely an over-ambitious neighbor will invade. By giving you the production capacity to place space docks or PDS units on your planets, the Construction strategy card provides a way to expand your empire and shore up your defenses.

The Trade strategy card puts you firmly of control of the galactic economy. Not only do you receive free trade goods to support your own expansion, you get to refresh your commodities and allow your allies to refresh theirs without spending a command token. Like the Politics strategy card, this puts you in a position of power. Some players may use the Trade card to refresh the commodities of multiple players, sharing resources among all players and boosting the economy, while other players may only refresh a rival empire's commodities if they get something in return. Taking the Trade strategy card helps you broker deals and puts you in a strong economic position, setting you up to expand your fleet and score valuable objective points.

The Warfare strategy card allows you to pivot, readjusting your strategy and giving your fleets some flexibility in the middle of a round. Removing a command token from a system is a huge advantage, because it potentially lets your ships move twice in a single round—something that's not normally possible. Furthermore, you gain an additional command token, giving you more action options during your turn. Finally, redistributing the tokens on your command sheet in the middle of the round can be an crucial action. Perhaps you realize you need just one more token in your strategy pool to activate a powerful secondary effect, or you need to raise your fleet supply in order to build a devesating War Sun. Whatever the reason, the Warfare strategy card gets you the tokens you need to send your fleets and armies sweeping across the galaxy.

Using the Warfare strategy card, the red player can remove one of his command tokens from the game board, allowing ships that have moved into that system this round to move an additional time.

The Technology strategy card allows your faction to purchase valuable new technology. Upgrading your ships and developing new weapons and tactics will be vital in your conquest across the galaxy. While anyone can spend a token and four resources to research technology, the holder of the Technology card not only gets a free technology, but has the option to spend six resources to research another. Using this ability to its full effect can give you a huge advantage over the other factions in the game, because researching new technology can directly contribute to scoring objectives.

Finally, taking the Imperial Strategy Card will always see you going last in a round, but if used at the right time, can directly forward you to victory. Its primary ability lets you score a public objective in the middle of the action phase—perhaps helping you steal victory from your opponents' grasp by letting you reach ten victory points before they even have an oppurtunity to score. What's more, If you are firmly in control of Mecatol Rex, you simply receive one victory point, further boosting you to domination. And if you don't control Mecatol Rex, you gain a secret objective, giving you even more opportunities to score points. While going last may seem like a drawback, the Imperial Strategy Card is the only one that directly grants you victory points, making it a valuable target when selecting strategy cards, especially late in the game.

Enter the New Age

Even determining turn order in Twilight Imperium is a strategic choice, and the choices you make in the Strategy Phase will dictate your tactics for the future of the round. Taking Leadership lets you make a multitude of moves, while Diplomacy or Construction can shore up your defenses. Which strategy will lead you to ultimate victory, with all other factions bowing before you?

Dominate the galaxy and pre-order Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition (TI07) from your local retailer or from our website here!

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