I'm a big fan of Twilight Imperium.
The downside is it is a long game. Particularly in cases like mine where it might come out once a year. It takes a little time to refresh the rules. Also the length it takes is often two other board games or a one shot Call of Cthulhu or Pathfinder. I also have found many in my gaming group are sliding more and more to cooperative games. I'd say right now Arkham Horror and Defenders of the Realm are the go to games.
the d6 generation podcast. They tend to really dislike Twilight Imperium so it didn't convince me too much except that Eclipse was a good game. However, this Twilight light comment appeared in many places. So I figure I'd add it to my wish list. Happily I received it as a present.
Just looking at the general setup the game has a similar feel. I think I even used the phrase Twilight light. However, the game is far more a management resource game. Resources are very limited and you have a set number of rounds. Unless you plan to attack someone (really don't need to) there is little player interaction. The other main interaction is getting the first tech buy of the turn and making a trade treaty for supplies and victory points (with a heavy penalty if you break it). The game is mostly using your limited amount of resources to build your empire to generate victory points. In some ways similar to a worker placement game. (boardgamery does an excellent explanation of the various resources). You do get to upgrade your ships. However, this is limited since you want enough to take out ancient ships, but not use up your precious resources.
As a whole this didn't give the feel of a Twilight Imperium game. The epic scope, variety and style of play is so different. Player interactions I found very flat. No buying votes, jumping senators on the way to votes, forcing alliances, super weapons, painful treaties etc. Another telling thing to me was the players who hate Twilight Imperium all loved this game. The players who liked Twilight asked me when we would play a Twilight or Runewars game.
Now at first that seems like I don't like the game. However, I think Eclipse is an excellent game. The resource management and control is so elegantly done. After a turn people can easily follow what is going on. It like a lot of these style games plays almost like a puzzle. Upgrading your ships is a lot of fun. It also allows players to play peacefully. In fact due to the resource management war can use up precious moves. You can even choose to explore farther away from the center instead of closer to your neighbor. One or two of my friends who have sworn off big explore/conflict games and are more than willing to play this. Setup is rather annoying but no more than most games like this. A friendly warning watch the cubes on your player board near table edges. An Akita's tail can end an empire.
The only time I find a real fault with the game is when I view it as Twilight light. The games are very different. Runewars seems far more of the feel of Twilight light.
Of course if anyone is in the Western Suffolk area (Long Island) and wants to get a TI game in.....