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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > December 2017 (#13) > Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium

Notoriously long, infamously complex and adored by those who dare to play it, Twilight Imperium has defined epic gaming for the last two decades. As the sprawling space opera returns with a fourth edition, its creator and the designers who inherited its legacy look back on a universe like no other


Twilight Imperium. Even the name sounds imposing, the lingual equivalent of the Star Destroyer drifting into sight at the beginning of A New Hope. Next is the box, a cardboard block solid enough to survive re-entry to the atmosphere.

Inside, more than 1,000 miniatures, cards, tokens and player boards, crammed with the details on 17 completely different races, from the peaceful lion-like Hacan to the tech-infused L1z1x, all of which have individual backstories and play styles. Don’t worry – you’ll have plenty of time to learn their ins and outs during a game that lasts anywhere from four to 12 (or more) hours and involves the careful juggling of politics, military conflict, exploration, resource production, economics and diplomacy. It’s little wonder that Fantasy Flight’s strategy space opera has earned a reputation as one of – if not the – tabletop’s most daunting and grandest experiences.

Like any epic accomplishment, Twilight Imperium had modest beginnings. It started as the dream project of Christian T. Petersen, a Danish gamer turned entrepreneur who during college had started up Fantasy Flight Publishing as a comic book distributor bringing European oddities to the US. The company quickly floundered, losing all the money it had within two years, prompting the need for a change in direction. Petersen had previous experience importing games into Denmark and running conventions, and had self-taught himself game design and production on the side. He approached the board of directors and investors with an ambitious proposal to turn the company around.

“I always wanted to do this big space game, but there wasn’t a game like that”, he recalls today. “So I said, ‘Let me make a game here, I want to call it Twilight Imperium and I want to create this epic space game with conquest, technologies, politics, backstabbing and grandiose hyperbole and alien races. that whole thing. Mixing all this wealth of influences across the ages of science-fiction – whether Asimov, Dune, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.’”

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About Tabletop Gaming

In December’s issue of Tabletop Gaming we have an exciting first look at massive miniatures game Star Wars: Legion, as its designers tell us about recreating the battles of the original trilogy on the tabletop. As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve rounded up the 10 very best games of the year . We’ve also asked some of the biggest designers from around the world of gaming to chip in with their own picks for 2017. The sci-fi excitement continues with a close look at the return of legendary strategy epic Twilight Imperium. We chat with the game’s original creator and the designers who inherited its legacy to find out what’s new in fourth edition. Plus, we give our definitive verdict in the reviews section! If you want even MORE sci-fi, we reveal how phenomenal series The Expanse went from the tabletop to TV and back again. If fantasy’s more your style, we’ve spoken with the studio behind not just one, but two, upcoming roleplaying games based on the Warhammer universe. Cubicle 7 explains how Fantasy Roleplay and Age of Sigmar are shaping up to be something special indeed. Still hungry for more? Allow us to satisfy your appetite with an in-depth look at how Euro masterpiece Food Chain Magnate was made, with a little help from the founders of renowned studio Splotter. Speaking of renowned designers, the creator of World War II classic Axis & Allies is back with his biggest wargame simulation yet – Larry Harris tells us all about his plans for War Room. Of course, we haven’t ignored the fact that Christmas is fast approaching. This issue’s 10 of the Best list is a special Christmas gaming gift guide, so you can find the perfect tabletop-themed prezzie for the special people in your life (or just yourself – after all, you’re special too!). That’s just the beginning of what’s in store inside our first monthly issue – dive in!