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The agenda phase in Twilight Imperium 4th edition feels a little "bolted on", and adds a lot of time to an already long game for not that much impact. I'm considering a house rule to remove the agenda phase.

I hope this can happen relatively straight forwardly for two reasons. First, the agenda phase doesn't even happen in the first several rounds of the game, so the round structure already supports this. Second, in a substantial change from 3rd edition, your planets refresh both before and after the agenda phase, so there's no need to budget influence for voting and that the only impacts this phase has on the rest of the game is the effects from agendas and riders.

However, there are other components and abilities that depend on this phase. So far, I have identified the following:

  1. There are several action cards that interact with agendas (such as riders) that would need to be removed from the deck. This is pretty straight forward.
  2. There is no longer a time when non-neighbors can trade, which would make the Hacan slightly more powerful. If this turns out to be a problem, it's pretty easy to add this back in (allow cross-galaxy trading as a step during the status phase once Mecatol Rex has been conquered).
  3. The Xxcha "Quash" ability wouldn't work and would need a replacement.
  4. The Xxcha "Political Favor" promissory note wouldn't work and would need a replacement.
  5. The Nekro Virus "Galactic Threat" ability wouldn't work and would need a replacement.

Are there any other parts of the game that need the agenda phase to work, either mechanically or for game balance?

I'm also open to suggestions for how to patch the pieces of the game that currently depend on the agenda phase; in particular, I'd love ideas for how to replace the Nekro Virus "Galactic Threat" ability since that seems important to their pace of technological acquisition.

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Honestly, I think it would be pretty straight-forward to remove The Agenda Phase from the game. Not too many components actually rely on it. With that being said, none of the below suggestions have been play-tested and there may be things that I have overlooked in terms of gameplay. I've played this game quite a few times but am by no means an expert.

Here's a list of things I found, some of which are also noted in your question:

Factions

The Nekro Virus

  • Faction Ability: Galactic Threat

The problem with the Nekro Virus is that they cannot research technologies. When you would research technology you instead gain 3 command tokens. This can be super advantageous in the early game. You could instead allow the Nekro Virus to research technology as normal whilst keeping their combat-centric technology thievery intact. This faction has good starting units but not getting early command tokens may be slow their early game expansion. Their late game would depend on how they balance neighbor relations and stealing technology. Removing Galactic Threat and allowing Nekro to research technology makes The Nekro Virus marginally weaker but not terribly weaker.

The Xxcha Kingdom

  • Faction Ability: Quash
  • Faction Promissory: Political Favor

I feel like the main fun of Xxcha is being able to play around with the Agenda Phase and being able to sell off your faction promissory. Without these abilities I'm not sure Xxcha would ever be a better choice over any of the other factions. I would recommend removing them from selection if there is no Agenda Phase.

Action Cards

These action cards could be removed entirely from the action deck. My only concern is now the action deck is less saturated with "later phase" cards. What I mean is that you'll now have a better chance of getting things like Sabotage and Direct Hit cards that will directly effect the main Strategy Phase. Common action cards may need to be slimmed down.

15/80 (18.75%) of all Action Cards directly relate to the Agenda Phase. These cards include:

  • Ancient Burial Sites
  • Assassinate Representative
  • Bribery
  • Confusing Legal Text
  • Distinguished Councilor
  • Repel Law
  • Veto

All Riders:

  • Construction Rider
  • Diplomacy Rider
  • Leadership Rider
  • Imperial Rider
  • Politics Rider
  • Trade Rider
  • Technology Rider
  • Warfare Rider

There are no Objectives (public or secret) which directly rely on The Agenda Phase.


While I understand not enjoying the Agenda Phase it can provide a breather from a normally strategic and tense game. It also allows you to build relations with players who are not your neighbor. In my opinion, it's all part of the overall strategy of the game as half is playing the players and the other is playing the pieces.

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