Twilight Imperium is known for its immersive gameplay and grandiose world, but it’s also known for its exhaustive play time and slight intimidation factor for new players. Now Fantasy Flight Games is providing a perfect platform into this larger-than-life world with Twilight Inscription, a roll and write that allows fans to control a host of compelling factions with welcome depth to gameplay without overly bogging down the player and slowing the pace. Twilight Inscription is a delight to play and immediately provides the best way for fans to jump into this fascinating universe, and I cannot wait to jump back in.
Twilight Inscription is a roll and write, which for those unfamiliar is a genre where players select their choices and mark their progress directly on their player boards courtesy of dry erase markers. The boards flip over and offer different options on the other side and you make your choices based on the dice results you rolled. Twilight Inscription comes with four different sheets individual players keep track of, and you’ll need to manage all of them and which ones to prioritize to earn the most Victory Points and win the game.
Four sheets may sound like a lot, and it is certainly not without its own intimidation factor. The game comes with learn-as-you-play rules to speed this process up and get you rolling dice and making choices; but I found these rules to be a little lacking, and after several times of going to the main rulebook to figure out missing details I just decided to play from the main rulebook and forgo the quick rules entirely. They might work better for others, but I would just recommend diving into the larger rules, as once you get the hang of it you’ll find the joy of gameplay far sooner.
Those four sheets are split into Navigation, Expansion, Industry, and Warfare, and as the names suggest, each one offers a different avenue in which to pursue victory and an edge against your opponents. Navigation enables you to explore the galaxy and claim systems, assets, Relic Cards, and more, and all four sheets work in tandem with each other despite the player only being able to have any one sheet active at a time.
The choice of which sheet to activate in a given turn depends on several compelling factors, as you’ll need to keep pace with other players in some regards while also forging your own path towards your active strategy. Perhaps you want to gain more dice to roll during a turn, which are called Focus Dice, and if this is the case you’ll need to invest in Industry or win some battles on Warfare. If you want to earn more rewards and assets on Warfare, you’ll need to utilize Industry or Expansion to gain access to Specialty Assets, though to unlock a Planet on the Expansion sheet to claim assets on, you’ll need to claim some systems on the Navigation sheet.
That mix of strategy alone is worth the price of admission, but your approach and playstyle will also shift depending on which Faction you choose. Factions like the Vuil’Raith Cabal introduce other mechanics like Captives, which can be spent to gain more resources on sheets, while The Nekkro Virus substitutes the ability to cast votes for an option to turn in votes you accumulate to deploy powerful ships for Warfare. Others like the Winnu give you the ability to cross out commodities in Industry when you claim new Councilors, and that’s not even considering that each Faction has a special Faction ability, which can grat shake things up for your side and are only activated when you claim a Faction space on a sheet.
Turns are relatively straightforward even with the mix of Strategy, Production, Warfare, and Council Event Cards drawn each turn, and it’s impressive how well each aspect of the game flows into the others, creating a thrilling and tactical experience that you’ll find yourself returning to time and time again.
Twilight Inscription boasts beautiful and vibrant components and artwork, and thankfully it doesn’t take an eternity to play either. Now, there is still a learning curve, and some might be a bit overwhelmed with just how many options you have to explore. That said, turns themselves move relatively quickly even towards the beginning, and filling out the various spaces on your boards becomes rather addictive the more you get used to the mechanics. If you aren’t a fan of drawing on your boards directly and the back and forth with dry erase markers and erasers, those aspects probably won’t work for you here either, and there is obviously some cleanup involved when you are getting ready for a new game and want to use some of the same sheets. That might annoy some, but I didn’t mind in the least.
Twilight Inscription offers a wealth of options and rich gameplay right out of the box, and the replayability factor is absurdly strong with so many unique Factions to choose from. Unique opportunities present themselves amongst players as they look to outmaneuver each other in the realms of war, votes, trade goods, resources gathering, expansion, exploration, and more, and odds are once players get the hang of the mechanics, they’ll want to book a return trip to this extraordinary world.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Published By: Fantasy Flight Games
Designed By: James Kniffen
Art By: Anders Finer, Tomasz Jedruszek, Alex Kim, and Stephen Somers
Twilight Inscription is now available online and in game stores.
Review copy provided by the publisher