-About this ruleset-


What is this?

Shattered Ascension (SA) is a set of modifications and a few addons to the epic strategy game Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition (TI3), designed by experiened gamers/fans in order to improve certain lacking aspects of FFG's original; This includes a more solid balance, an increase of meaningful choices, a boost to the pace and dynamics of the game by promoting more interaction, skirmishes, skill and immediate demanding and meaningful choices/decisions, more streamlined rules and at the same time potentially reduce the infamous game time (it is well known that many gamers sadly stay away from TI3 because of the required game time and sloggy pace). SA also enables 2-player games, or duels, a highly tense and demanding tactical game between two players.

All these benefits are often a result of many different modifications or patch rules found here. It should be noted that these are to be regarded as part of a complete set; some rules may presume that all other SA rules is in use, and is sometimes critical to the fine balance of things achieved in SA.

Designwise, we have been sure to stay true to the feeling and lore of the original game, and keeping the conceptuals and thematics in order. Furthermore, we've been careful to remove redundancies; instead of adding too much new elements, we've modified existing ones for each to have a unique purpose in the game to add strategical depth. Despite our focus on redesign, some additional elements have been added during the latest versions. But these are sensible elements that actually add quality to the game as well.

A board game of this complexity design on a deadline is prone to errors and bad desgn decisions, confirmed by product that was TI3. Having both time and enthusiasm on our side, we have been able to improve upon most of these issues, with great success. Employing these rules and pre-set maps designed for it, many have expressed that the game got immediately more engaging, interesting and hence fun, many saying it completely revived the game for them.

One problem with adapting to a new set of rules is naturally the physical pieces. To have a valid strategial game, all players must be 100% aware of each change at all times; such take time and effort when the card texts do no longer coincide with the current rules; a true source of confusion and frustration when a player has laid a plan based on an outdated component. For that reason, all altered components have been graphically remastered by the release of SA v4.2 and presented in a while that should be easy for printshops to print two-sided on cardboard (or at home if you have a bad-ass printer with rear-feed). An additional benefit with graphically remaking all components is that we can get red of the errors made by FFG in the first print, e.g the cost of PDS units on the race sheet and the like).

Along with the change of rules and components, SA includes a sall library of carefully tailored pre-set maps that in synergy with the other changes made, further will improve your TI3 experience.

Some history

Shortly after the long anticipated release of TI3, it soon became clear that FFG didn't deliver anything close to our expectations; parts of the game vitnessed of bad game design, broken and useless (like Diplomacy SC in a 4-player game, The meaningless Imperial card, overpowered Fighters and the Yssaril race, underpowered Dreadnoughts and so forth. What's surprising though is that each of these things became clear to us after just a single game, and made us wonder if the game was playtested at all. I was about to abandon the game, but decided to give it a few more chances if we could include a few house rules. Another thing that drew me back into the game was actually the community I met when I logged on to flame and complain; an insightful bunch that fueled a lot of good debates. Some of these have been with me all the way until the last version, and I owe them much credit.

The list of house rules eventually grew and evolved into the first set of modifications. I presented this on the forum and called it TI3: Ascendancy. Among the most important features was a redesigned Imperial Strategy Card, new Objective cards to award a more active/aggressive game, improved Dreadnoughts and a limit to Fighters. As soon as this came in place, the game started to work fine, and it got positive feedback at the forum from people having tried it out.

Then a couple of years later, FFG did something great for their game: releasing Shattered Empire. Instead of just being a playbox of added pieces, it actually went in to replace or patch many of the compenents, the most important being the Strategy Cards. What was nice to see was how many of the changes in our Ascendancy rules that made it into the official expansion: An Imperial Strategy Card that let you claim objectives instead of receiving free points, while giving control of which objectives that would appear. Further the Diplomacy Strategy had an option of peacefully annexing a neighboring neutral planet. The price of Technology 2ndary was reduced to 6 and Micro Technology worked on the primary of Trade, and new war-based Objective card were added. All these things already existed in some form in out Ascendancy ruleset. Fighters were indirectly and elegantly nerfed through the change of Imperial 2ndary and a new Technology. It was clear that the designer had taken some time to read opinions and suggestions among the community and implemented it into the game.

At the release of Shattered Empire, most of the Ascendancy ruleset naturally turned obsolete, as many of the critical issues were already adressed. However some things were still amiss, and all the new stuff brought with them further need of tweaking (as became clear in time). The need for a living, custom ruleset was still present, and we started on one suited for and required Shattered Empire to play; after all, this expansion was more than just an expansion; it was a necessary patch. Our new adapted ruleset got the name Shattered Ascendancy, indicating the tie-in with Shattered Empire. Perhaps because of the nicer ring to it, it became Shattered Ascension (SA) at some point, a name that simply stuck. After year or so, FFG decided to renew their forum, and all posts would be deleted. The new FFG forum were cumbersome and largely non-functional, and the community decided to move over to ti3wiki.org, operated by Lance (Illumanus), who had constructed a wiki-based system for displaying graphical presentation of games. This site was the new home for the community, and it attracted lots of players looking for debates, variants, or simply playing games in a serious, friendly environment. In this community, out re-design of Twilight Imperium caught momentum.

Towards a hundred games and some years later, SA continued to evolve; Balancing and polishing the new races, Leaders, Technologies and so forth. With the advent of the acclaimed 2-player mod rised the need for even tighter game balance, as such things are much clearer in a game with fewer random and human factors. Game changing variants like Twilight Council fueled life into a dull and unimportant political game, and Star by Star completely ripped up the all-to-familiar, boring and slow patterns that earlier emerged from the get-go in most games. Streamlining combat rules and taking the advantage away from the defender also prompted more to happen on the board, while more available Objectives as well as rewards from actually accumulating VP shortened the run-time of a game. The rebalanced units motivated for more strategy in composing fleets. While many other varianters balanced the games by flattening it out, i.e weakening the strong side of a unit or race and strengthening the weak side, SA aimed to go the other way. All units and races were meant to have distict advantages and disadvantages that were to take part in the strategy, creating a more flavorful and yet strategically demanding game.

Then came the real turning-point to make the game truly a worthwhile and memorable experience: the carefully tailored pre-set maps, designed to promote all sorts of intrigue, diplomacy and skirmishes. While FFG's maps clearly divided the galaxy up in slices for each player to own and defend, SA's maps were largely the opposite; the layout was such that most resources was placed in contested zones equidistant from more players, completely removing the notion of things rightfully belonging to a certain player etc. Now, to acquire sufficient resources, you had to really move your ships out in the breach, do some serious negotiation, diplomacy and so forth. Skirmishes were fought without always resulting in open war, cause it most of the time happened on "neutral ground" instead in an invasion of another player's "galactic pie-slice" as were the reality with the standard maps, and even moreso with FFG's standard maps.
At this time SA was as popular as ever, and I received a lot of great feedback on the forum and via mail. Almost half the games run on ti3wiki.org was under the SA-standard, and a dedicated sub-forum was opened as the existing threads were being overloaded.

At this time I got a lot of help with the development from the community. People eagerly playtested the next beta-versions, sent me graphical files with updated information to help new people play SA, contributed on designed new pre-set maps and so forth. I always consulted the community with new changes, and SA more or less became a naural evolvement based on conensus rather than one man's ideas and preferences. Nevertheless, I had to take decisions and lay down the "final" word of that to implement, what to trash, and what had to wait for the next due to current lack of playtesting/debate/simulations. To work was progressing fine with creating new game components, and after a visit to a professional print-shop, I had the first sample custom pieces in my hand. Yet, there remained a lot of graphical work that are nearing completion as I write this. Among the latest developments were the first actual addons to the game from our side, including a new race-specific technology for each race to fill some gaps both in functionality and flavor. These were all interesting addons that would really add to the strategic depth and potential with each race. Special objectives for each race were also on the drawing board.

Eventually some bumps in the road would come along. Ti3wiki.org were hacked by some ill-meaning jerk, and most data were deleted from the servers. Thousands upon thousands of posts, files and links to more files went down the drain along with all ongoing games. Illumanus apologized sincerely that he had no time to restore the functionality of the site, and it was left down. At the time I had my own things to mind, and let the development of SA on the shelf on a period while the community scattered and largely dissolved.
In the midst of all this, FFG surprise-released their new expansion: Shards of the Throne, bringing in a lot of elements that conflicted with SA, either in standard or compatibility. This would require a lot of work I had no time to do. After a thorough readthrough of the new expansion, I was highly dissapointed. It was based on a lot of good ideas but with bad implementation. Rather than a patch like the previous expansion were, in line with some community consensus and experience, the design of Shards of the Throne (SotT) were as taken out of the blue. Nothing were actually improved, and it was filled to the brim with printing errors and bad wording. The new race-specific technologies were boring, imbalanced, and sometimes completely out of concept and insight in the game. Comparing these to those so far created by the community was nothing short of uninspiring. On the bright side, though, the new races were all of great concept and decent implementation, just like it was with the previous expansion four years earlier. Anyway, it was clear that it would take a lot of work to implement the new stuff and bring each component up to the necessary level of quality, and the entire thing was put to the side for a while.

I continued to receive mails about SA, questions on how certain things worked, and if I was working on an implementation of SotT. After some months a previous member of ti3wiki.org, opnened a new [url=http://www.simonkamber.dk/ti3/index.php]forum[/url], and some of the former members started to return. Slowly but surely we continue the work on SA4.2 today, wich includes a full graphical update on all components and compatibility with SotT.

Some credits (unordered)

PsiComa - Magic_Octopus - Xenomath - GMO - Mike_Evans - mykelsss - Dulkal - Dracandross - Loving_Angel - happygrue - Ever_Onward - Wakke - Arminius Locostius - Fjuri - Chief - Danger Man - Stalker0 - Illumanus - Spock - Nekrimah and all the others for the forum!

Further credit to Joshua Stone for excellent editing help in the Design Notes section (this is work in progress).