Following up on my previous post concerning incentivized role selection, let's take a look at the incentivized role selection of Twilight Imperium.
Mechanic Name: Incentivized Role Selection – Part II
Related Article “Incentivized Role Selection”
System: Twilight Imperium
Summary: Add incentives to ensure that each role is selected multiple times over the course of the game.
Twilight Imperium, much like Puerto Rico, makes use of an incentivized role selection process; In Twilight Imperium they are called Strategies instead of Roles. And much like Puerto Rico, if a Strategy is not selected, it is incentivized. The incentive, much like Puerto Rico, is in the “monetary” currency of Twilight Imperium (as opposed to the Victory Point currency).
In Twilight Imperium, there exists the Imperial strategy card (ISC), a card so strong that you should always select it. The game is played to 10 points, by achieving different objectives, and selecting the Imperial strategy card yields you 2 points. So the incentive to choose other items is in the form of “monetary” currency, whereas selecting the Imperial strategy card nets you 20% of the required victory points.
Why I Don’t Like It
I don’t like the Imperial strategy card because it is very heavy handed. After all, if you don’t select it, then your turn should yield at least two points; After all that’s what you gave up by not selecting it.
In Puerto Rico it is hard to imagine a single Role selection netting you 20% of your final points for the game, let alone as your first selection of the game. The incentivized strategy selection system creates an ebb-and-flow in what strategies will be chosen, but with the dominating presence of the Imperial strategy card, you know that you have to chose it when it’s available. Likewise the other players have to choose it as well. For me, the forced decision results in resentment. I dread the rounds where I “have to” choose the Imperial strategy card.
I want to immerse myself in the game, and have decisions and options that I must consider. There is nothing “cool” about gaining 20% of the conditions for victory, when the other options are going to war, researching technology, or brow-beating someone into a treaty…In other words immersing in the game's narrative.