A Quick Rules Synopsis of the Base Game
Since @Apreche mentioned not knowing the rules, I figured I’d give a quick rundown so people get the gist of what the game is about. True understanding will involve knowing the content of the cards, but that’s less important.
You can, if you’d like, read the rulebook yourself. It sucks giant gaping ass. There is also a fan revamp of the graphic design in that files section, so you can hypothetically print and play the entire game. I dig the fan revamp a bunch, so I may actually use that pnp if I can make this less shitty.
Be the first player to reach 20 points. There is no way to tie and there is no other end or victory condition in the game.
Points come from the following sources:
Combat: Winning combat gets you 1 point, +1 point for each ship you destroyed. Losing combat gets you nothing. Don’t lose.
Sabotage: The Sabotage action gives you a chance to destroy ships without risking combat. You get 1 point per ship destroyed in this way.
The Galactic Center: Activating the Galactic Center with a fleet of Transports generates 1+ points (see Boosting later on). Patrolling a gate on the Galactic Center with a Cruiser fleet gets you 1 point per patrolled gate per turn you patrol it.
Trade: The Trade action allows you to discard cards from various sources (often your hand, sometimes the deck) for points equal to its size in gems (1, 2, or 3 points).
Refine: The Refine action allows you to get rid of minerals you have Mined and placed in your Command Center for points based on their size in gems. Most Refine cards give you a variable number of points per gem (i.e. “Refine 1 R card for 3 points per gem” or some such).
The game is played on a board comprised of 18 face-down deck cards plus the Galactic Center card. The cards are arranged in 5 staggered rows of 3-4-5-4-3 cards, with the Galactic Center placed in the center of the 5-card row. This forms a bigass hex on the table. Cards are connected at specific gate points on their perimeter, forming travel routes between the cards.
Note that board size does not change for the number of players. This is why the game breaks at 5 and 6 players, full stop.
Each player is dealt a hand of 5 deck cards and has a prescribed starting card on the hex.
Each player takes 13 ships of a single color. One is placed on the score track, and the other 12 go in front of them to form a supply
Each player places 2 Transports and 1 Cruiser on their start card. Transports stand on their end, Cruisers lay on their side.
To finalize their starting place, players draw their start card from the hex into their hand, and then place any card from their hand face-up in its place.
The maximum hand size is 10 cards. If you go to draw cards (except when revealing a face-down board card as explained in Transports below) and hit 10 before you’ve finished drawing them all, you do not draw the rest.
There will be a discard pile next to the draw deck. When the deck runs out, reshuffle the discards to form a new deck.
The Command Center
You have a player mat into which you tuck stuff.
Your Minerals enhance actions; you get these with the Mine action, and turn them into points with Refine.
Your Plan is a personal stash of cards that can be deployed to take a burst of actions; you add cards to your Plan with the Plan action.
Your Techs are cards that you place with the Research action; you get to use one of your Techs each turn.
Taking a Turn
On a turn, you do 6 things:
Place a card from your hand at the end of the Impulse (if you have cards in your hand, anyhow)
Use one of your two Techs.
Perform each action in the Impulse, starting at the top and your working your way to the end (the card you just placed).
Delay or execute your Plan (you must execute your Plan if it has 4 or more cards)
Score points for patrolling the Galactic Center
Draw two cards, and place the top card of the Impulse into the discard pile.
Play then passes to the left.
Action: There are 10 actions in the game (see post above). In brief:
Command: move ships to activate sectors, patrol gates, or start combat
Build: build more ships
Mine: place cards as Minerals into your Command Center
Trade:: discard cards to get points
Research: place a card as a Tech, discarding the old Tech it replaces (if applicable)
Draw: draw cards into your hand
Plan: place cards into your Plan in your Command Center
Refine: turn minerals into victory points
Execute: use an action card in your hand or one of your Techs
Sabotage : blow up enemy ships without combat
Actions are always optional.
Action Cards: Cards in your hand. There are 108 action cards, with an even distribution of color and size and an uneven distribution of action frequency. Action cards tell you exactly how the action manifests. Some action cards specify limitations based on size or color. All numbers on action cards, whether words or numerals, inherently include “up to.”
Size: Cards have a size of 1, 2, or 3 depending on the number of gems on the card.
Gems: the icons that tell you the size of the card
From the Deck: Many actions specify that they happen “from the deck.” To use such an action, you draw the indicated number of cards (boosted as appropriate), and then use the ones that match the rest of the conditions on the card.
For example, “Research 1^R from the deck” means you draw 1^ cards, and turn any R ones into Techs. “Draw 1^B/G from the deck” means you draw 1^ cards, and add any B/G to your hand. “Draw three size 1^” means you draw three cards and keep any that are size 1^.
Sectors: The 18 cards that formed the board. When a Transport fleet ends its move on a sector, they activate and possibly boost the action on that card.
Ships: There are two types: Cruisers and Transports
Cruisers live on the gates that connect two cards (each card has 6 gate locations - 2 on each long side and 1 on each short side - and cards are staggered such that gate points are connected on cards) and move through a sector onto another gate. Cruisers are used to destroy other Cruisers and Transports in combat. A Cruiser that is sitting on a gate patrols both of the sectors connected by that gate.
Transports live in sectors (each card used to form the board is a sector) and move through gates to another sector. Transports may not move onto sectors that are patrolled by enemy Cruisers. When a fleet of Transports end their movement on a sector that is face-up, they activate that card immediately (and you get to take that action). If a Transport fleet ends its move on a face-down sector, you draw that card into your hand, then pick one card from your hand and place it face-up where the sector card was. The Transports then activate this new card.
A fleet of ships is any number of ships of the same type that can be moved as a unit with some cards; the cards will specifically refer to a fleet if it allows this. One ship can be a fleet, or 10 ships can be a fleet. The point is that a fleet moves together as a single unit to the same space.
Every action card including the Galactic Center has a numeral in a white box. This number can be boosted through the use of minerals or Transports.
For every 2 Transports in a fleet that lands on and activates a sector card (including the Galactic Center), you increase the boost value by 1.
For every 2 gems on your minerals that match the color of the action being activated (be it an action card or a sector), you increase the boost value by 1.
Transports and gems can both enhance the same sector for mad boost action.
In addition, when activating the Galactic Center, you may count one of your gem colors as “matching” for the purposes of boosting.
Combat occurs whenever ships attempt to move through space occupied by another player’s ships.
Transports cannot move into sectors patrolled by enemy Cruisers. Cruisers that move through a sector destroy all Transports in that sector, scoring points appropriately (1 for combat, +1 for each transport).
If an enemy is patrolling a sector, your Cruiser fleet must first engage in combat with the enemy Cruiser fleet. Move your fleet onto the gate with the enemy fleet (if there’s more than one enemy patrolling that sector, you pick which one to start with), and then engage in combat.
The defender picks any number of cards from their hands as reinforcements and places them facedown. The attacker then does the same.
Reveal reinforcements. In order to count, the card must match both the size and color of a card in the Impulse, your Plan, or your Techs. Count up all gems on natching reinforcement cards, and return all non-matching reinforcement cards to your hand.
Then, each player collects one card from the deck for each Cruiser in the fight. Add all gems on these cards to the reinforcement total.
Highest total wins. Ties go to defender. The loser is completely destroyed. If there were Transports in the sector where you initiated combat, and you win, those Transports are destroyed too.
Don’t lose combat.
If at any point a player has no ships on the board, they are eliminated from the game.
Don’t lose combat.