I love TI 3rd edition, but can't always get together 3 players willing to commit the amount of time it takes to play a game.
Are there any 2 player variants of this game?
There is no official 2-player variant; the game just wasn't designed for it.
But as always, the internet provides. Various fans have proposed two-player rule sets.
The Roland Wood variant is probably the most commonly used, building on earlier suggestions by other players.
(There was another popular version in the "Shattered Expansion", but I can no longer find a live link.)
After trying out normal games, princess, and automata, we came to what plays fastest/simplest and balances the races altogether with flow, so no one gets too pwned. Introducing:
IDLE, NOT SO IDLE, BOT
SETUP: Bot has all his units set up on the board (no war suns or flagships), home system only having max PDS and 1 space dock -
MISCELANIOUS: After both players pick 2 strategy cards each, they each pick 1 for BOT.
MISCELANIOUS: BOT plays the top strategy card for players to have opportunity to use it's secondary effect on his "turn". Bot does not benefit from its primary ability.
MISCELANIOUS: BOT always has maximum amount of commodities and no victory points.
ACTION PHASE: Player trade - Active player can trade any amount of commodities with BOT, if spending 1 "BOT influence token" per commodity altogether;
ACTION "command bot": Choose one system with BOT's units, pay "BOT influence token"s for each of his SPACE units in that system -
TRADE CARD: When a player plays trade card, and chooses BOT to replenish commodities, BOT looses all his commodities to the void, and replenishes.
DIPLOMACY CARD: Alternatively a player can use it to "command bot" without "BOT influence token" price (production costs would still apply).
STATUS PHASE: Before anything, Each player gets 2 "BOT influence token"s. Loosing player gets additional token, commodity and trade good per VP difference.
AGENDA PHASE: BOT votes yes for himself, and his adjecent planet to home towards direction of speaker; His influence is a sum of both players VP
AGENDA PHASE: Player can bid any amount of tokens any amount of times for all BOT's influence towards to be of his desire, even when denied from voting; No affect on tie.
AGENDA PHASE: Players can ADD votes any amount of times, until both agree that the decision is final.
Use anything you like for "BOT influence token", would it be m&m's or bottlecaps or tokens from another game.