Welcome to our review of Fantasy Flight Games‘ Twilight Inscription! This game is our first foray into the world of Twilight Imperium, and we had a blast playing this unique Roll and Write game. After the Lazax Empire has fallen, you and your fellow players take on the roles of a faction who each have individualized abilities to help them win the game. The game’s goal is to have the most Victory Point assets at the end of the game. With so many ways to gain those, you must be strategic in playing the game. Come check out our review and insights into this fun, competitive game.
In Twilight Inscription, 1-8 players can play simultaneously on their own boards to rule the empire. Each round, an event card gets turned over, and everyone can use the rewards or apply the damages a card gives however they want to their own boards. Each player has four boards (Navigation, Expansion, Industry, and Warfare). Each board has its rules and different ways to gain victory point assets. At the beginning of the round, each player decides which of the four boards will be their active board. Then they apply the rewards or damages to that board. Finally, one player rolls the six oversized dice, and then all players decide how to use the dice results on their active board. Once all players have applied the dice, play moves to the next round, where everything gets repeated. In later rounds, the events include war, attending council, and production events. This gameplay builds until the final round, where all players add their victory points, and a winner is declared.
High-quality components are critical to a successful Roll and Write, and Twilight Inscription does not disappoint! The game has eight sets of four double-sided boards written on and erased with the included orange chalk dry-erase markers. Side A on each board type differs for all players; however, side B is the same. This difference allows the players to “up” the challenge aspect of the game.
In the game box are also six oversized dice: three Black dice and three Colored dice (one blue, one pink, and one green). The three black dice have a variety of symbols that reference resources, Materials, Influence, and Research. The colored die (Focus Dice) have varying amounts of one resource tied to that color.
Also included in the box are different decks of cards used in the game. These cards include Faction cards, event cards, objective cards, relic cards, agenda cards, and the speaker card. Most of these cards help expand the story and provide you benefits as you play.
You must take a few steps to get this game ready. The best way to begin is to distribute one: Navigation, Expansion, Industry, and Warfare board to each player. The players decide whether to play on the tough A or easier B sides. Then one player shuffles the faction cards and deals three to each player. Each player chooses one, and the rest gets returned to the box. The players faction provides specific skills that only that player can do.
One player places the Mecatol Rex sheet in the middle of the table and shuffles the Stage II, III, and IV agenda decks individually, choosing one card from each and placing that below the Mecatol Rex Board. Next, the players separate the Objective cards by type and shuffle. Then they choose one of each type and place it above the Mecatol Rex sheet. Finally, the relic deck gets shuffled, and the event deck gets constructed. After all this, it’s time to play!
How do you play Twilight Inscription? We could get into the nitty-gritty detail here, but trust us, that would bore you. Instead, we will highlight how to score victory points on each board.
Let’s start with the Navigation board. This board represents your faction traveling the galaxy and obtaining planets, commodities, or victory points. Players spend dice on this board to travel to, circle, and obtain the various commodities and planets. Players can also gain relics and travel to Mecatol Rex, gaining victory points.
Onto the Expansion Board, once you gain your first planet on the Navigation board, you can spend that planet to start working on a single planet on this board. Here you use your dice to try and create complete rows or columns. Once you complete a row or column, you can gain the commodity, population (victory points), council votes, or specialty symbols.
Specialty symbols can get used to gain special abilities listed throughout the four boards. Alternatively, on this board, you may spend your gained planet or resources: Materials, Influence, or Research to gain access to the Focus dice. Once you gain a focus dice, you must decide which board to apply it. Then only when that board is active may you add on that colored Focus die to be able to spend. Even though you roll all six dice every round, only the colored dice are accessible once you’ve upgraded.
Next up is the Industry board; like the other boards, this board allows you to gain commodities, specialty symbols, and council votes; however, it also is used to track your progress overall even when this board isn’t the active board. At the bottom of the board, players record the commodities they have gained from this board and others.
The more of a single commodity a person gains, the closer they move to gain an additional victory point. These get represented by the rows on the board. If, on the other hand, you complete a column (a combination of different commodities), you can gain a +1 trade good.
During a Production Event card, players can claim those +1 trade goods and record those on the Industry board, and can be spent on a strategy event card to gain one extra resource.
One final thing gets recorded on this board, Council votes. Every time you gain a vote from your actions, you get a +1 vote, and you can record it on this board and move closer to achieving a victory point.
During a Council Event, you can gain the +1 votes, which grants you more franchises and is used during Council Agenda events to change the game’s overall strategy.
The final board is Warfare; on this board, the key is constructing ships (line shapes) by spending resources and then deploying those shapes strategically above the current deployment line. Where you place determines your success in defeating your neighbors sitting to your right and left during a War Event. It also helps to put your ship over a victory point, as you can gain those. Every War Event moves the deployment line up by one, which changes the rewards you earn if you win the war to the left or right.
In addition to gaining victory points directly from the board, players can choose to work towards the Objective card goals. Each of the four boards has an additional objective you can work towards—the first two players to reach the goal of gaining victory points.
At the end of the game, all players count their victory points and declare a winner! The player with the most victory points becomes the ruler of the galaxy.
Twilight Inscription is an impressive roll and write. There are many ways to score victory points. The key is to not spread yourself too thin by trying to win on every board. Instead, if you focus on one or two areas, you are likely to have more success! We loved the idea that the work and effort you put into one board opened up additional opportunities on another—that give-and-take struggle between boards made for quite a challenge.
The game does have a steep learning curve. Fantasy Flight Games include a “Play as you Learn” guide, which teaches the game to first-timers. Even still, it’ll still be difficult for some people to grasp. The hardest part is that there is a lot of symbology throughout the game, which may be a deterrent for people who don’t play this type of game often. These shouldn’t cause people not to play this game; it’s something to consider if it works for your gaming group.
Suppose you like the idea of this game and are interested in picking up a copy. We have it available in our store.
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