Action Cards play a vital role in Twilight Imperium. There are a great number of them, so that it is impossible to discuss them all in detail here. We will take a look at the strongest and most uncommon of them, so all the pretty straightforward combat-oriented action cards are staying outside of this little view on them. You should always remember that your hand size is seven and you get a new one every status phase, so play them in the round before if you going to run into the danger of having to discard action cards. Same goes for Assembly: before using the strategy card, make sure you can take the two action cards it gives to you.
If it is possible, try to maximize your action cards. You can do this by researching Neural Motivator early in the game (later, the effect isn’t that great) or by using the Secondary of Bureaucracy often. You should, however, never just piss players off just to empty your hand. If you don’t have an enemy at the moment, don’t create one just to get rid of a card. Also, don’t play precious cards to keep a weak combat card just for the sake of never discarding them without use. Be reasonable managing your hand.
This card allows you to choose a planet and an opponent who isn’t allowed to invade that planet this round. It is played as an action. An obvious move for this is to protect a planet important for an objective like Mecatol Rex or an important military center where a Space Dock is located. You can also use it to distract enemies by securing a planet from a player that doesn’t really matter to you at the moment to cloud your true intentions or fears.
After all players have voted, you may spend trade goods for additional votes. This action cards is very valuable to win key votes where the outcome hangs in the balance and no one expects you to have a real chance and so don’t take appropriate measures. This is true for most agendas that award victory points in some way because players seldom can get a united vote on those. If you play with the additional “Voice of the Council” objective, this might just be the key for you.
This card allows you to choose the next agenda, either from the discarded cards or from the deck. Oftentimes, this is regarded as a weak card since most players underestimate the “weak” agendas. There are some real nasty political cards in the deck, however, and sometimes when you have the right number of votes it makes real sense to fetch that Public Execution from the deck and hit another guy hard.
That’s one of the mightier combat action cards, especially when the enemy relies heavily on Fighters. Should he even be so bold as to send only Carriers with swarms of Fighters, teach him the errors of his way since your hits in the actual combat round can only be applied to capital ships. With a bit of luck, you can blast away the Carriers and whole Fighter swarms in the process. Make sure that your enemy has determined how many Fighters are on every Carrier before using the card!
A really powerful card, especially when something like Diplomacy or Bureaucracy wasn’t taken and everyone feels safe about it. This is a card that opens a wide spectrum of strategic opportunities for you that no one really can anticipate, since you can active the primary of an unchosen Strategy Card.
Most people just see the “I lose my planet when there is one or none ground forces around!” aspect of this card, against which you obviously can secure yourself by putting two ground forces on every planet or playing Winnu. But the planet in question is also exhausted, which can bring a nasty twist for important planets like Mecatol Rex or Meer that bring many votes.
Master of Fate
This card allows you to distribute one of the usual action cards per player in Status yourself. This not only gives you vital knowledge about who gets what but is also a great opportunity to make friends. You can even sell the knowledge to other players!
This card lets you keep your current strategy cards for the next round, too. Don’t fall for the temptation of using Technology or Production twice, but keep it for Bureaucracy when it counts! Same goes for…
Don’t just piss someone off with this. Make it count. Oftentimes the victory depends on getting the right strategy card at the right moment.
A very mighty card that requires some knowledge of the action card deck from you or else you will forego the best uses of this card. It allows you to take any action card from the deck. So take your time searching it and take one mighty card. Don’t go for the temptation of easy power like “Rise of the Messiah.” Action cards like that are nice, but they don’t win games.