After a long wait, I was finally able to get Twilight Imperium 4th edition to the table (and I didn't give myself a hernia doing so). Had a three player 'Learn To Play' game with a couple of regular gamer buddies of mine after our regular monthly game of John Prado's Third Reich fell apart when one of that usual bunch had to postpone.
Factions chosen were The Federation of Sol, The Universities of Jol-Nar, and Sardakk N'orr.
We used the suggested three-player Galaxy Setup and the Great Races began their machinations toward seizing the throne and ruling the Galactic Council on Mecatol Rex.
But this is no beer and pretzel's game to be played over an hour or two. We played a goodly six and a half hours and if we hadn't been nearing our scheduled full stop time and started space battles just for fun (and not for strategic importance) it would have easily continued on. At that time, no one was arguably out of the game. As we got better at understanding the mechanics play speed picked up considerably.
When we called it quits, One player had accumulated 6 victory points and the other two of us had 4 (of the 10 required to end the game).
All the cards, tokens, minis, and game pieces are well done - but IMHO the real standout is the Galaxy Map itself. These are gorgeous map tiles and while the suggested 3, 4, 5, and 6 player galaxy preset setups are great, the concept of players drafting the system tiles to build the galaxy map looks awesome and I look forward to trying that on the next session. A full on 6 player game is likely at least a weekend event and will take up a large amount of space (we used to 6 x 4' table space for three of us - that might have been tight for 5 or 6).
Keep in mind if you are really looking at a multi-day game then the Prophecy of Kings expansion brings another 10 ton box filled with new content to add - seven more factions to choose from (there are seventeen factions in the base game box so what's seven more?), forty more system tiles to build your galaxy, tons of new forces to do battle with, new exploration, relics, technology, etc, and the components to add two more players for up to an eight-player game (mother pusbucket!)
All in all, Twilight Imperium is the gargantuan King of Kings of space themed boardgames - and it's a joyous thing to behold!