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Imperial Twing Two Player Review

Important Note:

All board game reviews and ratings from “A Pair of Meeples” are entirely based on the game with two players. You can learn more about our rating system by clicking below.

Imperial Twing is an obscure game about powerful archmages battling for a magical… “teddy bear” and other common items you might find lying around your bedroom.  It’s a hard one to put into words, but just like the magical items in the game, it might be more than meets the eye.

Gameplay Experience:

Imperial Twing Two Player Review

)Imperial Twing was not a game on our radar but when we got offered a copy for review stating it would be great for two players we had to try it.   Ironically enough, this opportunity came shortly after our last post, about possibly throwing in the towel (Board Games and Broken Dreams: Fading Into the Digital Abyss), but hey, here we are writing a review for the first game ever provided to us by the publisher, so who knows what the future holds for A Pair of Meeples.

Anyway, fast forward a few months to the game arriving on our doorstep, exciting and bittersweet at the same time.

We cracked open the package and I took the instructions to bed that night like the weirdo I am, and I don’t know if I was extra tired or not, but after finishing the short book I was still rather lost.  The next day I watched a how-to-play video and found it very helpful, and then went back to the rule book but found it was making matters worse again.  Hopefully, it would all come together during our first play.

After giving my wife a quick rundown of the rules as I understood them, we got our first game of Imperial Twing underway.  It didn’t take long for us to get in the groove and the rule book was surprisingly good at clarifying things during play even though it wasn’t the best at teaching initially.  

The game started a little slow as we drew cards and tested the waters with little fights here and there.  Eventually, we’re both building our army of magical critters and I had 3 magical objects and my wife had one. Hmmm, maybe this would be a game that I would actually be good at, or more likely, I just had the slight information advantage.  

Ultimately it was the latter, as my wife finally saw me send out 6 critters instead of 3, causing her to say “Wait a minute, the mounts can be used that way?!”. Well, quickly the game took a large turn as she won one magical object after another from me until she had them all and I had none.  I had never gone from winner to loser so fast.

After a few more rule checks we set up for our next game.  Now that my wife knew how to play properly I knew I didn’t stand a chance. She got two magical objects right out of the gate and just obliterated me.  This particular round hinted at some balance problems but it was still pretty fun (especially for her), and how different it was from the first round in terms of length was rather interesting.

After letting the game settle a little, we set up for a third game of Imperial Twing a few days later.  Where our first two games felt like they represented two extreme examples of a round, this one felt much more like the average that most games would follow.  A tight back-and-forth battle where you don’t know who is going to win until it all comes crashing down for one player.

Imperial Twing Rules Summary:

Imperial Twing isn’t that crazy of a game in terms of complexity and is fairly easy to grasp once you know how to play, it just is a little bit of a struggle to get there. In the game, you take on the role of a powerful archmage who is trying to collect magical objects to best your opponents.  You will use spells and various creatures to try and battle for ornicles while utilizing different strategies and tools.

Each player randomly chooses an archmage card, their respective orn dice, and 3 starting cards.  Two magic objects are placed face up and all other cards and ornicles are placed within reach.  All players then roll their dice to decide who is the starting player.

Imperial Twing Archmage

On a player’s turn, they will first draw a card from the deck, then they have one of 5 different actions to choose from:

  • Draw 2 More Cards
  • Fight
  • Duel
  • Buy a Magic Object
  • Play a Trap
  • Play Cat Cards

In the early game players will often draw more cards to build up their hand and entourage.  There are a few different types of cards in the game but the majority of them are spells and critter cards.  Both fall under 4 different colors and have a strength from 1-3 for critters and 2-3 for spells.  Some critters are labeled as mounts and can carry other critters into battles with you.  

Imperial Twing Spell Cards

Players can only hold 3 different colors of spells at any given time and are limited to a hand of 15 total.  When critters are drawn they are instantly placed face up in front of that player representing their entourage, which can be used as support in later battles.

When you play spells or critters that match your archmage’s color they come with two advantages.  They let your negative die rolls count as zero instead and ensure you don’t lose any critters of your color whether you win or lose when attacking your opponent.

Let’s get into the action now, when a player decides they have the resources needed they can challenge an opponent to a fight or a duel.  When doing so they lay down 1-3 spell cards of a single color, and up to 1 critter of that color per spell, (or 6 total if they all have mounts).  That was a mouthful but hopefully, you get the idea.  Their opponent then does the same to try and defend against this attack.  Players can also just use critters to defend if they so wish, but won’t receive any rewards if they succeed.

Imperial Twing Critter Cards

If players used spells they would also roll their die to add just a little bit of luck to the fight.  After doing so both players add up the total strength of their attack and see who wins, with that player gaining one ornicle from the supply.  Both players discard all spells used but the winner gets to keep their critters whereas the loser must discard them.  

Another key aspect to the game is that the orn dice also have instant win, loss, and event symbols on them so you never can be entirely sure what the outcome may be even if you only play one single spell against your opponent’s entire army of critters and spells.

In a duel, the only difference is the attacker stakes one of their ornicles in an attempt to steal an opponent’s magical object.  To do so they must win 2 out of 3 consecutive fights, which if you’re not prepared can be quite difficult to accomplish.

There are a few other cards that can help players out which are cat and trap cards.  Trap cards can either be played to steal a critter of your color from your opponent or used during battle to send one of your opponent’s critters to the discard pile.  With the cat cards, players can collect three of them to gain a magical object or play one during a battle to reroll their die.  There is also a white cat card that can invert you or your opponent’s roll, in other words, a -4 becomes 4 or an instant win becomes an instant loss.

Imperial Twing Special Cards

When a player collects 5 ornicles they may spend them to gain a magical object card as an action. These magical object cards allow players special abilities such as rerolling their die, playing an extra critter, or even blocking their opponent from using their mounts.

Imperial Twing Magical Objects

When a player has successfully collected 3 magical objects of different colors, they can announce the “end game”.  When they do this any player who does not have magical objects is eliminated from the game.  Any players that are left will be attacked by the lead player, and if the attack is successful they get to take a magical object from their opponent.  If it’s not successful the opponent gains an ornicle.  This continues until only one player is left.

Whew, I don’t know what about this game makes it so difficult to explain, but it’s just kind of weird to get into words, but hopefully that gives you an idea of how to play.  If you want to give this game a try we definitely recommend watching this: Imperial Twing – How to Play or finding somebody who knows how to play so you can just avoid the struggle.

Conclusion

Imperial Twing isn’t the most polished game and upon first impression, this might deter some, but once you get past those rough edges there’s a pretty decent dueling card game in there.  

It reminds us of the classic card game “War”, but instead of being based entirely on the luck of the draw, it’s shifted to the roll of a die.  Also, as opposed to a single card flip, players can manage their hand and entourage to their advantage, or even use special cards and magical abilities to change things up even more.  I guess “War” wasn’t filled with quirky critters, spells, and magical objects either, so maybe that comparison was a little bit of a stretch.

Speaking of critters and magic, the theme itself is interesting, but for some reason, we struggled a little to get into it.  Don’t get us wrong, the art, the cards, and the ideas behind them are great but they don’t add too much to the game.  That may be due to personal taste, but it doesn’t matter that much really once you get to playing.  In terms of colors, the pastel colors are extremely pleasing to look at, but the blue and the white could use just a little more contrast to make them easier to differentiate. I know that seems like nitpicking but since the color is fairly important to the gameplay itself, it’s worth mentioning.

Even though things like the rulebook, theme, and color scheme could all use a little bit of improvement, none of these things affect the gameplay itself which as we said earlier is pretty entertaining and fun.  

One minor issue though is a result of two of the magical objects being quite a bit stronger than the others. If one player is lucky enough to get both, it’s practically game over.  Some people might hate balancing issues, but in our opinion, this one isn’t game-ruining because that player gets to have a pretty fun time decimating their opponents and the game won’t last even remotely close to its typical length.

Our favorite aspect of the game though is those colorful orn dice that make you feel like your archmage “color coordinates” everything they own.  Seriously, it’s what adds just the right amount of fun and excitement to the game.  It did take us a while to realize how crucial they were, the fact that it has instant win and instant loss spots, means that even if all odds are against you there is still a chance to win.  

Some of the crazy rolls that ended up in ties and game-changing outcomes literally made us laugh and shout while playing Imperial Twing, and whenever a game gets some audible noises out of us that’s a big positive in our opinion.

Overall, we think there is a pretty good game behind all the quirkiness of Imperial Twing, and if you’re willing to get past the somewhat difficult task of learning how to play, it can be pretty fun.  I’m not entirely sure how much staying power there is for people like us who like a lot of variety but we could see this being great for those who really like to play a game over and over again, which is usually the point of these dueling style card games.

Is Imperial Twing Good For 2 Players?

Imperial Twing works quite well for two players, and if you’re looking for a more strategic experience this is probably the best player count.  When you play with more than two, the opportunity for shifting alliances becomes a large part of the game.  Not only do you have to decide who to attack, but you also have to decide if you want to help another opponent on occasion.  This adds an entirely new element to the game, but will greatly increase the unpredictability and make it a much more chaotic experience.   

The back-and-forth style of Imperial Twing suits two players well in our opinion and one of the only negatives to this player count is that a runaway leader problem is more likely, but since the games are shorter it’s not as big of a deal.  In games with more players, if someone starts taking the lead, other players can work together to try and reduce that lead.

It will be up to personal preference on which is better but 2 vs 4 players will almost always feel like entirely different games.

Pros:

  • Unique gameplay that feels simple and natural after a few rounds
  • Just the right mix of strategy and luck that makes the game fun and exciting
  • The amount of luck makes the game great for both new and experienced players

Cons:

  • The rulebook isn’t the greatest for learning how to play
  • Has some minor balancing issues that can lead to runaway leader problems
  • The theme might not appeal to everyone

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