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I really like Twilight Imperium (3rd edition), but I haven't really enjoyed my time playing it due to the long playtimes. I've played one 4-player game, two 6-player, and one 8-player game. The shortest game was the 4p - it clocked in at 6.5 hours. And that was with experienced players. I don't feel like anyone had serious Analysis Paralysis during the game but approximately one hour per full game round is just ridiculous.

One option is to play the variant where everyone starts with several systems (neighbor systems are just given to you for free). I do enjoy the early expansion part of the game, so I'm leery about trying that. Are there any other suggestions for speeding up play?

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+1. It's also really hard to find players who are willing to sit down for an 8+ hr game. –  JSBձոգչ Nov 2 '10 at 19:34
    
Since someone else bumped this anyway, the new correct answer a year later is: get Eclipse :) boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/72125/eclipse –  Affe Feb 14 '12 at 3:58

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Some minor tweaks that can help:

1) Use the variant Imperial II from the expansion. Tricky juggling of the turn order to ensure you get Imperial is one cause of delay in selection. (Also, Imperial is badly designed and dull...) That variant expects the goals to be face-up - which speeds the game up; everyone can see which vps they're aiming for later on.

2) Play to 1-2 fewer vps; that'll normally save a full turn, without damaging the endgame too badly.

3) Use a fixed board instead of dealing out; then the host can set up in advance and skip the board dealing phase. (FFG publish suggestions for this at the TI site.)

4) Assign admin tasks to players - make one player in charge of the planets deck, one in charge of action cards, etc.

5) Use a tech / status tracker or other ship reference sheet to keep quick track of tech effects on your units.

6) Get in the habit of planning your builds during other people's turn, or allow 'honor builds' in which you announce a build and then the next player moves on with the game while you build. Builds need time-consuming decision making and are rarely affected by the next player's move.

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In our last game we actually did most of those. I especially liked having face-up objectives. I played a lot better due to being able to plan ahead. And I definitely liked "honor builds" too. Overall though, these tips didn't seem like they sped up the game by much. –  Kristo Nov 3 '10 at 2:43
    
We use the face-up objectives (which can be done with the original Imperial as well) - and it sped up the game significantly. –  Aviad Ben Dov Feb 25 '13 at 4:45
    
+1 for ship reference sheet though :) –  Aviad Ben Dov Feb 25 '13 at 4:56

I think Tynam's given the main sensible suggestions that don't distort the character of the game too much. If you want to shorten it more, then I think your options are going to have to be more drastic:

  1. Remove the Status and Strategy phases! A friend of mine proposed a radical variant of TI3 where things move more fluidly and there aren't the defined rounds like there are in TI3. You can read his thought process at http://toothycat.net/wiki/wiki.pl?DaybreakDictatorship.

  2. If you don't like that idea... Well, what happened with our group is we discovered Galactic Emperor. Which scratches a lot of the same itches as TI3, but takes 2 hours rather than 6-9. It doesn't have the big tech tree or the deck of politics cards, but, well, something has to go if you're cutting a 9 hour game down to 2 hours; and Galactic Emperor plays very much like a streamlined and simplified Twilight Imperium 3. You can read my review of Galactic Emperor compared with TI3 over on BoardGameGeek.

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If you're using the Distant Suns option, you could try foregoing that as the slow-down in planet acquisition means almost anything else is going to be delayed as well.

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Sometimes we just have a "Call Time". When that time is reached the game will complete that turn we are on and the player with the most VPs wins. Not the best system perhaps, but it works for us. Sometimes we finish before the call time.

We have discussed the possibility of using a game timer (similar to chess timers - ours is a cube that can time up to six players). A system that rewards the faster players and penalizes the slower ones with VPs. The timers are only active during the times where players would "Think" - not during dice rolling battles. We have only talked about this. not yet tried. Obviously not a good idea for those who are rookies to the game.

We also usually use the preset board designs. Positions and races are assigned randomly.

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Welcome to B&CG! –  Pat Ludwig Aug 3 at 5:15

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