Twilight Inscription is a board game that takes the popular and massive Twilight Imperium and adapts it into a roll-and-write and flip-and-write game. The game is spread across four interconnected boards and offers a unique combination of both mechanics, creating a game that is simultaneously fast-paced and tactical.
What is Twilight Inscription?
Twilight Inscription is a board game designed by James Kniffen and published by Fantasy Flight Games. It is a roll-and-write and flip-and-write game that serves as an adaptation of the popular sci-fi board game, Twilight Imperium. In this game, players compete to conquer the galaxy by building fleets, developing technology, and controlling planets. I have not played Twilight Imperium, so I will not be comparing the two.
How to play
Twilight Inscription has four interconnected game boards, each with its own set of unique mechanics and gameplay objectives. The game is played over the course of five rounds. Each round consisting of a series of turns in which players roll dice and use the results to take actions on their individual boards.
The setup is pretty quick. Each player receives their four dry-erase sheets (navigation, expansion, warfare and industry). You put out the Mecatol Rex board, which is used to keep track of scoring and for the solo game it tracks the AI’s progress. Then each player chooses a faction (from three cards). Lastly you build the event deck, this deck is divided into five stages. There is also some shuffling required for the relic deck and putting out the agenda cards.
Every turn begins with a flipped card that triggers various events, such as declaring war or generating trade goods. These cards also provide players with basic resources that they can use to take actions on their individual boards. Each strategy card has one to three icons that correspond to the different boards, requiring players to carefully choose which board to activate in order to make the most of their resources.
After players have chosen a board and taken actions on it, they then roll a handful of dice. The results of the dice determine which boards can receive additional resources. There are six dice, three common ones and three focus dice. Each player gets to use the common dice from the start. The focus dice can be unlocked for use throughout the game.
Look and feel
Twilight Inscription looks the way a game about conquering space should look like (in my opinion). It is simultaneously dark and ominous (like space) and full of clear and colourful designs. The symbols used throughout the game are used consistently so they make playing the game pretty straightforward once you recognize them.
The dice are nice and well engraved. And the chalk markers are a fine addition. They are bright enough and don’t smudge too much while still being easy to erase. I am planning on upgrading these though. I recently saw a post of someone using these Sharpie Chalk Markers and they are super bright and clearly visible on the sheets. Check out the game with the Sharpie Chalk Markers HERE.
How do you play Twilight Inscription solo?
To play Twilight Inscription solo you will use an AI opponent. This opponent can snatch objectives before you, reducing their reward and it will oppose you during war and council events. The AI does not score points but is simply there to emulate having people that oppose you during play.
You track the AI’s progress on the Metacol Rex sheet. This makes it easy to always see what it might do next. You can use this to adjust your next steps. Often times I see it creeping towards a certain objective and then decide to quickly go for that objective myself so I can get the best reward.
In the end the game is a beat your own score game. There are no solo campaigns or objectives either. Only a table in the rulebook to rank your score. Although I do enjoy solo games with clear win or loose conditions, it doe not bother me that Twilight Inscriptions is a BYOS game. There are so many factions and play sheets to play and discover so it will be a while before the game will start to feel to repetitive and like the score is the only thing that matters.
What I think of the game
This game is pretty overwhelming at first, with many boards, icons, and special effects. But once you get the hang of it, the game settles into a natural rhythm. The combination of having both flip and roll and write is excellent. As each turn offers both a sure thing (from the flip) and a minor unknown (from the roll).
The biggest strength of the game is its replayability. Those things that seem overwhelming at first make each game feel unique. There are different boards to play on, factions to play with and combinations of events and relics to influence the game.
The game’s theme feels well executes and adds to the gameplay. Even as someone with no experience or knowledge about its big brother the theme still feels like it fits the game and all of the mechanics go well together. The game components are also high-quality.
However, the game may not be for everyone. it is certainly no breezy roll-and-write like Rolling Realms or the Clever series. It takes a while to setup and with a playtime of around an hour you do have to invest some time into the experience. In this regard I would compare it to Hadrian’s Wall, which feels similar in playtime and complexity.
If you follow me on Instagram you will be pretty familiar with my love for Hadrian’s Wall so comparing Twilight Inscription to this should already give you a pretty good idea about my opinion. I love this game! This game has all of the things I enjoy in a roll-and-write and solo game. It’s engaging, it has tons of strategies to discover and pursue, an easy to control but challenging enough AI opponent and it looks great on the table. It’s also pretty fast to play. Which makes it an easy choice for whenever I want a challenging and immersive experience without spending loads of time on things like setup.