Twilight Imperium

Return to Board Games

There's no game quite like Twilight Imperium. Fourth Edition comprises simple and streamlined rules, yet still manages to deliver a complex, all-day-long experience. Here are some resources, house rules, and rules clarifications for it.


Produces text that can be sent as a message or email to the other players in advance, so everyone can decide who they're playing, and know where they're sitting, before they show up.
I didn't make this one, but it's a great tool for generating random-yet-balanced maps. Sometimes you want the map ready before everyone comes over, so you can jump right into playing.


The list below is not a house rule, just a clarification. Each agenda vote follows the following procedure. (For a printable table tent or player handout, click here.)

  1. Reveal and read agenda.
  2. Minimal table talk, just to ensure everyone knows who and what it affects, its positives and negatives, etc.
  3. Speaker calls for abilities with a timing of "When an agenda is revealed." This includes the promissory notes Political Favor and Political Secret, the action card Veto, and the Xxcha racial ability Quash. Starting with the Speaker and then going clockwise, each player may use one such ability.*
  4. Speaker calls for abilities with a timing of "After an agenda is revealed." This includes Rider action cards and the Nekro Virus racial ability Galactic Threat. Starting with the Speaker and then going clockwise, each player may use one such ability.*
  5. Table talk about how everyone should vote.
  6. Speaker calls for a vote. Starting with the player to the speaker's left, each player exhausts planets and declares votes (or abstains).
  7. Speaker breaks tie if necessary. This does not count as a vote.

.   * This is not limited to once around the table. Continue until each player has resolved all the abilities that he wishes to resolve during this timing window. A player may use multiple abilities (even multiple Riders), though they must be played one at a time. A player may decline to act, then decide to do so later based on another player's actions.
.   † Per errata.

House Rule on Transactions: During each of the two agendas being voted on, each pair of players may make a single transaction at any point during the steps above. Promises to vote a certain way on this specific agenda are binding, as the whole vote is effectively one action.

5-Player Games

Five-player games of TI have one drawback compared to every other player configuration: every turn, three Strategy Cards get left on the table. This can make a 5P game "drag," relatively speaking. This house rule fixes that. It applies only in 5P games.

  • After the entire table has chosen Strategy Cards (SC), the speaker chooses one additional SC from the three remaining; this is known as the "Extra" SC. If the Extra has any trade goods on it, they are discarded; the speaker does not get them. The speaker places the Extra underneath their personal SC. Trade goods are then placed on the two unchosen SCs, as usual.
  • The Extra has no effect on initiative and cannot be stolen or discarded via any card or racial ability. For all game purposes, treat it as an SC that was not chosen this round.
  • When the speaker takes their Strategy Action, resolve it completely, including everyone who wants to "piggyback" on its secondary. After that, resolve the secondary effect only of the Extra, starting with the speaker. Once done, return the Extra to the other unchosen SCs (do not put a trade good on it, as it was "sort of chosen" this round).

Example, Part 1: Winnu is the speaker. They choose Leadership. The other races (L1Z1X, Muaat, Hacan, and Yssaril) choose Technology, Warfare, Construction, and Politics. This leaves Diplomacy, Trade, and Imperial unchosen. Winnu chooses Trade as the "Extra." One trade good is put on both Diplomacy and Imperial. Winnu tucks Trade underneath their Leadership.

Example, Part 2: Later, Winnu plays Leadership, and spends some influence on a total of five tokens. The other four races all either spend influence for tokens or decline. Once this is completely done, the table resolves the secondary (only) of Trade; starting with Winnu, each player may spend a strategy token to refresh their commodities. (Hacan, of course, needs no token to do so.) No one gets the effect of the primary, so no one takes three extra trade goods or designates anyone to refresh commodities for free. Afterward, Winnu flips Leadership over and returns Trade to the table next to Diplomacy and Imperial.

Racial House Rules

The Embers of Muaat

  1. At the beginning of the game, they get to decide where the Supernova goes; they always start with the Supernova system when collectively building a map. If using a preset map, they may instead choose to swap the positions of the Supernova and either (1) any other red-bordered tile or (2) any tile adjacent to their home system, before play begins.
  2. If their flagship is not on the board, they may build a third war sun. (Either use a different color war sun miniature or temporarily modify the flagship miniature in a noticeable way.) While they have three war suns on the board, they cannot build a flagship.

The Nekro Virus

Change the last sentence of your Galactic Threat ability to, "If your prediction is correct, gain 1 technology that is owned by a player who voted how you predicted or who abstained." (Note that someone who played a Rider action card did not abstain; they removed themselves from the vote completely.)

Sardakk N'orr

They start with Sarween Tools.

(Along with adding the new conflict-focused Objective cards, below, this fix balances N'orr. If your group doesn't use those cards, however, consider also letting them start with Plasma Scoring.)

The Universities of Jol-Nar

They have 2 Commodities instead of 4.

The Winnu

  1. They start with one extra carrier and two extra infantry.
  2. New ability: "Spies on Mecatol: When another player removes the Custodian token from Mecatol Rex, gain any one non-faction Technology that player has or gain four trade goods."
  3. New ability: "Second Home: You may score public objectives while you control Winnu or Mecatol Rex."

Other House Rules

Magen Defense Grid

Ignore the words "that have PLANETARY SHIELD" on this card. You may exhaust Magen Defense Grid to use it in any ground combat you are in.

Unofficial Yet Nifty Add-Ons

We've added all of these to our game as custom cards. For help creating a printed set for yourself, see this BGG thread.

Colonies and Refineries

We've added these facility cards. They're far more balanced than the TI3 versions. For simplicity, I use a slightly different rule that doesn't require a new Construction strategy card. (Credit: John Drake aka AgentDrake)

Distant Suns

When we want a slightly more involved game, we add these Distant Suns cards to the mix. Flip over a card the first time a planet is taken, and it adds some unexpected, usually minor surprises both good and bad. (Credit Jedd Pearce aka JediPearce)

New Objectives

We've added these 20 new objective cards to the deck, which help balance out the ways one can get VP. (Credit: Clayton Threadgill aka hooliganj.)

Return to Board Games