I've played Twilight Imperium (3rd edition) a couple times with friends now, and we keep noticing the same thing: no amount of fancy maneuvering, planet conquest, etc. gets people enough victory points to overcome the Imperial strategy card:

Draw the top card from the Objective Deck and place it face up in the common play area. Then receive 2 victory points.

The 2 points from that card are massive, to the point where you can't afford to choose a different strategy card if that one is in the deck on your turn, or you almost certainly won't end up winning the game. Is there a way to deal with that? Are there any house rules that weaken it without messing up the game (e.g. only receiving 1 VP)? Or modifying some other part of the game such that the 2 VPs from Imperial aren't as game-deciding?

  • This really makes me wish I'd played Twilight Imperium, as it's the sort of question I really love getting my teeth into. But alas, I haven't! A quick scout around the internet suggests that there may be expansions that improve the game balance from the basic set. But I couldn't tell you if that is actually true! Jan 26, 2011 at 19:53
  • @the I've heard rumors of an "Imperial II" card that tries to fix it; I've not played with it or read much about it, but I'm hoping more for fixes that don't require other expansions if possible Jan 26, 2011 at 20:00
  • Tynam's answer describes Imperial II.
    – Kristo
    Jan 27, 2011 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


"Imperial" is Twilight Imperium's biggest design flaw (IMO, of course). As you'll typically get the card about twice in a game, and 2 vps is a winning margin in almost all circumstances, it makes the mid/endgame entirely about being the first person to grab Imperial for a second time. In turn, this forces choice of card 1 to get the initiative whenever possible, so you can take "Imperial". Which eliminates a lot of the interest provided by the actual strategies.

Your opinion is widespread, and the official Twilight Imperium variants FAQ has an "Ancient Throne" variant designed to deal with this problem. Play with the "Age of Empire" variant in the rulebook (i.e. face-up Objective cards), and replace the primary ability of "Imperial" with:

Imperial Claim

Choose either a) or b).

a) If you control Mecatol Rex, immediately gain 1 victory point. Also, regardless of your control of Mecatol Rex, during the upcoming Status Phase, you may qualify for any number of Public Objective Cards (but must still meet the individually stated requirements of each card).

b) You may choose to execute the secondary ability of the Imperial Strategy Card (at no cost). No other player may execute this secondary ability this game round.

Play the secondary as normal.

This became such a popular solution that they printed an "Imperial II" card with this wording in the "Shattered Empire" expansion.

The expansion also contains a more complex solution: It has a variant completely-different set of strategy cards for an alternate style of play; obviously this avoids the problem entirely.

  • Wow! I am SO going to try this in my next game of TI! I am glad I'm not the only one who thought this was broken!
    – gomad
    Jan 26, 2011 at 21:52
  • This alternative requires the variant rule that all objectives be visible at the start of the game. These are official rules, btw, provided by the Shattered Empire expansion.
    – Kristo
    Jan 27, 2011 at 17:14

As @Tynam mentions, the Shattered Empire expansion fixes this for 3rd Edition.

This is also fixed in 4th edition. The 4th edition Imperial card works like the Imperial II card from 3rd Edition; the operative piece reads:

Gain 1 victory point if you control Mecatol Rex; otherwise draw 1 secret objective

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