Sunday, 27 January 2013

Board Game Unboxing: Twilight Imperiam: Rex: Final Days of an Empire

So today is a momentous day in this site's history, we get quite a lot of views for our articles on Board Games, which is strange, considering they aren't generally in the mainstream, but I suppose with the growing popularity of more complex Board Games we are filling a gap in the market at the right time. With that in mind, here is a complex board game I think you should probably all look into if you are a fan of our Game of Thrones series of guides. I present to you...Rex. (Note, I'm not the usual Board Games guy and I've never played this game, so don't expect miracles, just look at the pictures).

Or to give it it's offensively long title "Twilight Imperium: Rex: The Final days of an Empire".

Note, this is an unboxing of my actual copy of Rex, so all the photos you see are of my first opening of said mythical game box in my house. All not very exciting, but hey, if you are looking for new board games to play, this might just be it. Rex is set in the Twilight Imperium universe, owned by Fantasy Flight Games (who you might recognise as the company behind Game of Thrones Board Game and Battlestar Galactica Board Game). It details the beginning of an intergalactic war, with the six playable factions all struggling for the Imperial Capital of Mecatol Rex. Each faction is a corresponding alien race, you have the human faction, who started blowing everything up (Sol Federation), the mystic ninja turtles (Xxcha), the angry grey elves(Letnev), a race of floating brains(Jol-Nar), four armed bureaucrats (Lazax), and a race of trading tiger Jews (The Hacan).

I normally object to memes in articles, but I'm amazed this even exists. There is one of the aforementioned trade lions, this one looks a bit like Esmeralda from Notre Dame.

Also, one last thing, before we begin, the thing that prompted my interest to this game originally, other than it's design team, was that it is based off of the mechanics of the Dune game, the books of which I am currently reading, unfortunately Fantasy Flight Games couldn't get the license to the Dune universe, but they got the mechanics to the original game, so as we go along, I'll probably relate some of it to Dune. Here we go.

So I felt as this isn't a video unboxing, where the taking off of the box top is shown naturally, it was probably worth including this in here. Perhaps I should narrate it like Dungeons and Dragons.

You open the box and find a rulebook and the board game board, do you look further?


On reflection that was a terrible idea. Next slide.

And here is some of it laid out, first we will be looking at the cards of the different factions, then the board itself, and the the rest of the box, and I'll be explaining my loose grasp of the game as we go along.

Section 1: The Faction Cards

If you want just a brief overview of the card quality, they are seemingly quite durable, well made and easy to read, on the back of each card is a significant chunk of flavour text to go with the Faction you are playing. On the front as you can see are Race Advantages, Race Logo, Free Recruitment Ratio, Special Victory Conditions (if any) and the Setup. 

So the first faction we have on the cards is the Lazax empire, the 3000 millennium reign over the galaxy has left them complacent, decadent and bloated. The race themselves are a group of those creatures in the picture, they have four arms and can go days without food. As the board game opens, the Lazax Emperor is killed in his palace on Mecatol Prime and the Lazax player has to do best to recapture the city from all the rebels. This role was originally filled by another Emperor, the Padishah emperor and the special units the Lazax gets were called the Sardaukar. 

This is probably a good time to mention my camera has trouble focusing on small things. Either way, here we have the Federation of Sol, or, the Humans, and these are actual earth humans, they come from Jord, the Danish word for Earth, and Sol is the Danish for Sun. They've been pissed off since the Lazax forced them into being part of the empire, and now have launched a devastating attack on Mecatol Rex, killing the Emperor and bringing some other factions into help them. They are one of the factions that can win by default if time runs out. If they had a role in Dune, it would probably be that of the Fremen.

This is probably the worst quality photo of the race cards, but the Emirates of Hacan is the race of Trader Lion supporting the Sol Federation in their initial invasion of Mecatol Rex. They are in charge of taking reinforcements down to the planet, and as the savvy merchants they are, can be bought for a price. Therefore it is fairly apparent they take the place of the Space Guild from Dune. They also win by Default after the Sol Federation. I hear their one major weakness is a giant ball of yarn. 

And now the race of floating brains, kind of like that Futurama episode, except they've apparently formed a group of universities this time round, the universities of Jol-Nar. They helped kit out the Sol Federation with the necessary stuff to surprise and strike at the heart of the empire. Afterwards they have made their own strike. Atreides is the corresponding Dune faction.

The Barony of Letnev, based off the Barony of Harkonnen, has the most straight forward of the abilities, being that it has an extensive spy network. Those pesky grey elves. Unlike the last 3, they didn't play a part in the Empire's downfall, but are more than willing to profit off it by trying to grab their piece of the empire.

Finally on the list of factions is the Xxcha Kingdom, based off of the Bene Gesserit of Dune. They are a strange race of turtle people who have been secretly guiding the universe forever, and during this war their task is the same. The player sets a turn and player he thinks will win, and then if that is fulfilled, the Xxcha win instead. Must be quite interesting to be the puppet master.

Section 2: The Board 

The Board looks fairly good, and while I'm not overly a fan of the whole series of interconnecting circles approach, Mecatol City is suppose to be 5,000 miles big or something, so I think doing it any way other than this would've been a major strain on ink and artistic talent to make it not all seem confusing as hell. As it stands, everything is rather well laid out. The artwork on each location is nice, the Imperial Palace is probably my favourite so far. 

The board feels slightly delicate at points, while opening it it gave me a minor heart attack because I thought it was tearing, but I managed to prevent that. It seems like more care than usual is required. However it doesn't have the fault which is wide spread amongst Game of Thrones boards in that it actually lays out properly. 

Each Space has a sector number (some sectors cover more than one space), and at least one smaller circle below the name of the Space. Red means it is a stronghold that must be captured and held to win the game. Green is that the Shield Array is still operational in this area, and so troops cannot be destroyed by Orbital Sol Bombardment. Blue (Not shown) means that Influence can be gathered from this zone, those these zones rarely have Shields, hence the risk in gathering Influence to your Soldiers health. The Spaceship means this Naval Base gives you access to transport around the city.

The Galactic Council is an exception to this rule, battles never occur there, it is the only spot where armies can cross paths and be A-okay with it. I'm not quite sure why they are being so civil, I assume there is a political/religious reason for it in the flavour text somewhere. It can't be bombarded either, so it might be overpowered for retreating armies, we will soon find out.

Last but not least, there appears to be a token that represents a blown up Mecatol Power South. I'm assuming it comes into play if Mecatol Power South is bombarded, and then it is off limits? Once again, hard to infer. Those tokens in the middle though are the Xxcha Kingdom Guessing Tokens, you take a faction and a turn end and must try to influence the board to your predictions.

Section 3: The Playing Pieces

Next we move onto the playing pieces, each come in one of the famous Fantasy Flight Games push out boards, there are four boards in total, with plenty of stuff. Not as many delightful plastic figures as there were in each Battlestar Galactica or A Game of Thrones. 

Here are the battle disk spinner things, I haven't assembled them yet, but I'm inclined to believe these replace Dice as the primary system of doing battle. It proves to be quite interesting, as once again, it appears luckless. The best version of luck.

So I had a bunch of lovely close up shots of the leader tokens on the right hand side, but my camera sucked too much ass to put them up on here. Either way, the leader tokens look cool, and there are some funky surface to air missile ones as well.

Troop Counters: Hacan (Lion Traders) and Sol Federation Troops (Humans)

Troop Counters: Xxcha Kingdom (turtles) and Jol-nar Universities (Brains)

Troop Counters: Lazax Empire (Four armed Emperors) and Barony of Letnev (Elves)

And then also on the Lazax Troop Counter sheet is the Mecatol power station thing and a token which appears to just have the Board Game artwork on it. As well as the Xxcha Prediction Tokens.

Section 4: The Remnants 

The remainder of the box is two different decks, one of Leadership cards, which were all too small to capture in a non-blurry fashion, but the basically work as less gimmicky versions of the GoT House Cards and the second deck which was too numerous too picture, which is all the strategy cards etc.

One of the few clear pictures I got of the leadership cards. This is the leadership of the Jol-nar Universities.

Oh man, model spaceships, and assembly required. It is like every Christmas has come at once.

Dreadnought Fleet, Assembled.

Sol Federation Bombardment: Raining fire upon a Nobility Quarter near you.

Oh, and here is a card that claims to both clarify and correct the rules, which is slightly suspect, I'm going to have my pet board game nerd run over the rule book before we play it though, so it is fine. I'm pretty psyched about getting around to it, if my camera starts behaving and I get some batteries for it, you may just get a photo gallery on it.

Section 5: Conclusion

So there you have it, a fairly amateur unboxing of a board game that is fairly old in terms of the Fantasy Flight Games release schedule, hopefully once we get playing this, and if it turns out to be good, we can start generating some content, I'm not really sure why this isn't more talked about, but if it is as good as it seems, and it truly is the love child between Christian T Petersen (aGoT) and Corey Konieczka (Battlestar), then god damn, are we going to plug this shit. Until then, have some bonus pictures of those two fine Board Game pioneers, and goodnight.

(Reportedly) Danish Wunderhulk: Christian T. Petersen.

(Assumed) Polish Couldn't look more like a Board Game Designer if he tried: Corey Konieczka


  1. I can picture the players having annoying little air battles with their spaceships instead of getting on with the game. Then someone will say cheerily that 'I've made a robot out of mine!'. Once the mayhem is over, what is the objective of the game?

    1. Sadly enough the biggest compliant I can probably level so far is that I didn't have enough plastic spaceships to play with. Battlestar Galactica was much more accomplished in terms of pissing around.

      The objective is to be thoroughly unpleasant to everyone and take their stuff so you can eventually be undisputed emperor of the galaxy. Until you next play again.

    2. And when the game is over you can make little lego space ports and endulge in a second childhood. Enjoy!

  2. Me and my group were liking for something to play post-GoT. Will look into this