Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Twilight Imperium IV - Rise of the Clan

I got together with my friends for another go at Twilight Imperium 4th Edition. The players:

Dave - Necro Virus - Black
Chad - Barony of Letnev - Blue
Brian - Clan of Saar - Yellow
Me - Yssaril Tribes - Purple
Udit - Mentak Coalition - Red
Clayton - L1z1x Mindnet - Green

We set the board up, randomly picked home starting positions, and got underway!

As usual, click to see full sized pics.

Mecatol Rex at the centre.

Coincidentally, everyone except brian had shirts matching their colours!

Starting forces, looking at a choke point where Lodor and the alpha wormhole are, and beside Mecatol Rex is the 3 resource Zobhat system. Mentak to my left, Saar to my right.

On the other side of the board, Nekro Virus between the L1z1x green and Letnev blue.

Clan of Saar uses warfare strategy card to expand quickly in round 1!

Meanwhile, everyone else expands more cautiously.

Round 2, and the Saar continue to be aggressive. I captured Zobhat like I wanted but the nearness of the Mentak makes me nervous. We exchange Ceasefire promissory notes to ease tensions. Meanwhile the Nekro get in the face of the L1z1x while the Letnev do the same to the Nekro. 

Round 3 and things are getting wild. Mentak rush over to cut off L1z1x from Mectol Rex while Saar take the strategic Lodor system in the asteroid field/supernova chokepoint, threatening my supply lines to Zobhat.

The mighty Saar empire.

And the Mentak build up for a confrontation with the L1z1x...

There was much negotiation about the fate of that Nekro cruiser trying to steal an early victory point with a secret objective. It succeeded for the record.

The Barony was feeling very boxed in by Nekro and Saar fleets, when suddently a ghost ship destroyer appears on the beta wormhole. The other end of that wormhole is right beside my home system.

Round 4 and the Mentak make a sudden surprise attack! Using the alpha wormhole (aka the Zobhat Lodor bypass) he took a fleet over to Lodor and pushed the Saar off, right before I was about the make the same attack. He also moved onto Mecatol Rex for trade pirating, so now I'm surrounded by Mentak fleets and nothing else. I guess I'll research more tech then.

The Saar regroup from the Mentak assault and launch an offensive on Mecatol Rex, paying the influence for the custodians victory point and claiming the throne world in the process with their flagship. How will the galaxy respond?

Seeing an opportunity to score a victory point by having two fleets adjacent to Mecatol Rex, I launch a dreadnought and fighters through the beta wormhole to attack Letnev's flagship and destroyer, and after some intense negotiations (and promises of vendettas) allowed the Letnev flagship to retreat damaged but not destroyed. I had to plead with the Nekro virus fleets to give me until next round before he destroyed me.

The Saar's push to Mecatol has left the rest of their empire weakened, but the asteroid field becomes a huge boon as an unassailable citadel for them.

Round 5. The Saar extract revenge on the Mentak, taking one end of the alpha wormhole and cutting off lines of retreat for the fleet at Lodor. I build a space dock at Zobhat for later buildups.

Using warfare, the Saar push through the wormhole and crush the Mentak fleet at Lodor, while the Mentak move in to orbit Mecatol Rex.

The Saar are in the lead with 3, Yssaril and Letnev at 2, everyone else at 1.

During the agenda phase I was elected as the holder of the Crown of Emphida, giving me both a victory point and a target on my back as anyone who takes a planet in my home system gets the crown and the victory point. Yikes!

Nekro Virus attacked my dreadnought on the far end of the beta wormhole but terrible rolling allowed both dreadnought and fighter to escape, helping to secure my home system's back door a little. Meanwhile fleets build up all over the galaxy...

What are those L1z1x fleets going to do?

Meanwhile the Letnev prepare for their endgame.

The L1z1x make their big move attacking Mecatol Rex but do not take the planet.

The Mentak launch another assault against the Saar through the wormhole, this time two massive fleets clashing. The Saar are pushed off but the Mentak fail to take Lodor planet itself.

As the stage II public objectives come online, the Saar and the Letnev start to pull away from the pack. My investment in technology over the game is not paying off like I had hoped, with only one tech objective appearing.

The Nekro virus and L1z1xfight again over the border system of Starpoint. Will this cause the mindnet fleets to turn around?

Meanwhile, the Nekro virus continues its multi-front offensive by attacking the Saar strike force that sneaked in late last round for a victory point.

Entering  the final round, both Letnev and Saar are within striking distance, but Letnev is speaker and took the Imperial strategy card.
I've started my expansion into Mentak space too late to be a contender. Meanwhile, Nekro virus makes inroads against L1z1x while Letnev threatens Mectol Rex.

This was the handy Agenda Phase tool Chad made for managing the complexity of votes.

We're at the crux of the game. Chad (Letnev) is about to attack Mecatol Rex with two dreadnoughts and his flagship. He needs to get three victory points when he plays Imperial to win the game because if it goes to the status phase no one can stop Brian (Saar) from scoring 2 victory points first as he has initiative with Leadership. There is much discussion between the players who are out of the winning race about what to do. We could play spoiler on Chad by fighting for Mecatol Rex as well, but only point is ensuring Brian wins as none of us can win by doing so. We decide to stay out of it and let Brian and Chad fight it out.

So Letnev has his flagship and two dreanoughts on Mecatol Rex. Saar launches an attack before he can play Imperial to try and stop him, and despite superior numbers, he fails to win the battle! Without a direct hit to destroy the Letnev flagship which absorbs two hits and repairs every round, he lacks the lucky dice rolls to push through and is whittled down and forced to retreat. Has Letnev won the game?!?!

So exciting, the Letnev fleet holds the line!

So Letnev with Mecatol Rex held against Saar has two VPs to get with Imperial, but needs a third. There is a VP for taking a planet in a enemy home system and Saar has left their very unguarded. Letnev moved in with Dreadnought and two troops with a carrier, the bombardment killed one of two defenders, but the ground assault failed as the last Saar troop held on to win the game!
With that climatic battle finished, Clan of Saar claimed victory first in the status phase.


I am frustrated with myself. I went into the game knowing I needed to try and score VPs every round and yet failed to do so. Instead of being aggressive I tried to go the Technology route at the expense of my fleets and while I had a tech advantage, only one of the public and secret objectives I saw had to do with owning technology. Thus my mid-game stalled as Letnev and Saar pulled ahead. By the time I was building fleets and making moves, it was already in the endgame for the leaders. The exact same thing happened last time! It feels like TI4 has less room for late game swings at the lead than TI3 where a late game push with dominant tech fleets and more takeable objectives on the map giving room for that kind of wait and see approach.

I'm not the only one who suffered from lack of aggressiveness. The Nekro Virus player, Dave, also acknowledged he could have been more combative early on.

All that being said, it was a great game, lots of negotiations, transactions, intrigue, recriminations, combat. And for the leaders to come down to two pivotal battles for the win? Epic.

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