On Saturday I got together with some other board game enthusiasts and we wheeled out Twilight Imperium once again.
The map as accurately as I can remember:
With the Shattered Empires expansion, we had enough tiles for a fourth ring so that is why the map is so big compared to normal. In a five player game, two players have to have their homeworlds slightly closer to each other than everyone else (3 intervening systems instead of 4) and by pure coincidence my old Nemesis Andrew and I ended up in those positions.
As the empires grew and the game developed several events occurred that shaped the end game. Pete ran his fleet into a rebel encampment in turn one crippling his early growth. Brian sought to exploit this weakness by launching an invasion of his territory later on. Just after Brian did that Dave launched a surprise attack through wormhole 'a' which saw the destruction of Brian's starting Warsun (most powerful ship in the game that his race gets to start with). We later determined that Dave had the secret objective of controlling all wormhole exits which he was damn close to accomplishing at this early point but the last one was just out of grasp.
With Brian in a two front war and his fleets reeling, he spent the rest of the game rebuilding and by the end he had two more warsuns up and going but it was too little too late. Pete made a push to drive Brian back to his homeworld and mostly left Andrew alone. Dave was tied up with Brian and made very little attempts to attack me. Which all means that Andrew and I faced each other unmolested.
Being experienced TI players, we both knew that early fighting would not accomplish much so we bided our time and built up our fleets and technologies, getting numerous carriers, dreads, and support. Then around turn 5 Andrew made the move to take Mecatol Rex, the ancient centre capital system. I was going to attack his fleet in retaliation for the bold move but was stopped when I realized his racial tech would cause damage throughout my empire. I needed to plan ahead.
Next turn Andrew knew I wanted to attack since I revealed my desire to do so last turn, so he struck first destroying a fleet adjacent to Mecatol Rex but taking severe damage in return. My fleet at an advanced space dock countered and wiped out the invaders. The war was on.
Next turn I had a new Warsun and used it to lead a fleet to take two of Andrew's planets closest to my homeworld, and he countered with enough firepower to destroy it. With our fleets damaged, we both rushed to rebuild but Andrew's larger economy was starting to tell. Fortunately, I had the advantage in Victory Points. Seeking to tip the balance, Andrew launched an invasion through the wormhole to take a planet with an artifact for one point, and taking a special crown I recieved through a law for another point. Realizing that was game winning, I gathered up my forces and launched a successful counterinvasion to retake the planet, artifact, and throne. Next turn the game ended with me in the lead of victory points.
Note 1 : A couple turns earlier Dave was in the lead and could have ended the game there with the Imperium Rex objective card, but he felt it was too early (Andrew and I hadn't started our war) and delayed it by not playing the card. I appreciate his restraint as it was very satisfying to blow up a few ships with the Purple Menace.
Note 2 : Early on a Law was enacted that swapped the resource and influence values of all planet cards. That really helped me early on as my starting area was a little resource poor. Later on it mattered less for me, but it really hurt some of the other guys who found their starting economies turned upside down.