Create Secret and Public Objectives
There are 3 kinds of Objective Cards in Twilight Imperium-3: Public Objectives (Stage-1 and Stage-2) and Secret Objectives.
For the 2-player game, there are objective cards that should not be used. They do not make sense with only 2 players. We need to set those cards aside from each deck.
Remove the following 3 cards from the Public Objectives Stage II deck:
- Domination! I control the Home Systems of two other players.
- I control planets with a combined total influence greater than the combined total influence of all the planets controlled by my two neighbors.
- Supremecy! I control 18 planets outside my Home System.
The Stage-I Public Objectives and Secret Objectives are fine as is.
To prepare the objectives, you first make three stacks of cards, 1 stack for each type. Suffle the 10 Secret Objective Cards and hand 2 random cards, face down, to each player. Put the remaining Secret Objective Cards back into the box. Secret Objective Cards should not be revealed until they become accomplished by the players.
In the 2-player game each player also receives 1 Public Objective Stage I card and 1 Public Objective Stage II card which they also treat as Secret Objectives. Shuffle the Public Objective Stage I card deck and hand 1 card face-down to both players. Before the Public Objective Stage II cards are dealt you need to modify the deck contents first.
Find the "Game Over" card in the Public Objectives Stage-2 deck. For the moment, set it aside. Then shuffle that deck and deal 1 card face-down to both players.
Each player should now be holding 4 objective cards.
Age of Empire game option
We need to complete the setup of the Public Objectives using the "Age of Empire" official variant. With this optional rule, several objective cards are placed face-up in the common play area and during each Status Phase the players may score for met objectives. Also, the Imperial Strategy Card only rewards 1 Victory Point with this option.
Here's how that's done in our game. Draw 6 cards from the remaining Public Objectives Stage I deck and lay them out face-up side by side in the common area.
Draw 3 cards from the Public Objectives Stage II deck and add the "Mecatol Rex" card you set aside earlier. You should now have 4 cards. Shuffle them. Then draw from this small deck one card at a time and also place them face-up in the common play area. When you draw the "Mecatol Rex" card stop drawing cards. Place that "Mecatol Rex" card in the common area as the last Public Objective. You can end up with anywhere between 7 and 10 Public Objective cards active in the common player area.
Here's how ours turned out. The cards are really laid out end-to-end in one line, but shown in groups here in the tutorial.
At the start of the game, place a marker next to the first Public Objective card. We use a glass gem, but any extra cardboard chit will work fine. This piece is the "game clock". As the game enters the Status Phase in a round, the marker moves one objective card to the right. When the marker hits the "Mecatol Rex" objective, the game ends.
Resume Game Setup
Proceed to Review of Player Secret Objectives.