This last weekend at War Pig Game and Hobby seven brave souls gathered to play a game of Twilight Imperium. We had four veterans playing the game, and three who hadn't played the game before. Since there were seven of us we used the Shattered Empires expansion (the base game only allows for up to six players.)
We had a nice map setup, everyone had access to planets, not one was blocked in or hurting right off the bat. We had both sides of the map connected by worm holes, so everyone could pretty much get everywhere in short order.
The game started off pretty slow. There was quite a bit of explaining how the game played, and quite a bit of early expansion by all players. By turn three everyone pretty much had it down - even those of us who had played before were a bit rusty.
This was a very interesting game. There was very little combat during the first several turns of the game. There was a bit of Grand-standing between Jester and myself, but no actual combat. Once everyone had their armies pretty well built up the carnage started. There was combat all over the place. People were popping through worm holes performing hit and run attacks, combat broke out on pretty much all of the border territories, and a few players even made a run for Mecatol Rex.
While all this was going on we continued to draw bizarre Political cards that were penalizing single players - for whatever reason I was the target for these slanderous political actions. My territories had been split in two with enemy forces between them, so I started building War Suns to try and reclaim my property.
Sadly, by then it was too late. Jester had amassed too many victory points to stop and he won the game.
It actually ended up being pretty close. There was a ton of tension and uncertainty right up until the last turn. The last few turns of Twilight Imperium are just madness - all your plans can go to pot and people can go from last place to first place, so you always feel like you are in it.
If you haven't played this game before and you get a chance, take it - it is a really neat experience.