Let’s go somewhere else…


What if I don’t want to go to that M class star?  What if I was told that Stefan, the poor guy tasked with putting together the wonderful program I’m using has put an update together AND it has the new PSG on it, would I use it.

Can I get a heck yeah?

*listens, realizes he can’t hear anyone, moves on*

Expedition ZettaMap

Look at all those cards and numbers!  It shows me the type of star, the size, how old it is, if it’s a part of a cluster, the type of galaxy it’s in….OH THE NERDY JOY!  There will be a resource document at the back of the rules that will explain what all of these bits will mean (I’m told), so I’m really looking forward to that.  The other thing this does is give me a REAL cost in energy to go to places.  Once I’m done making my new star system, I’ll be flipping the “H” card over and using the number there right beside the letter.  Now that I’m seeing a 12, this solo game may be more difficult than I thought.  So let’s roll some dice:


You can just roll once and use that number for all cards and you’ll STILL have a plethora of random locations and probably never have the same one show up twice, but why not make the chances (ahem) ASTRONOMICAL?  So I rolled for each card.  The card shows 1: Which orbit it’s referencing, 2: which Discovery Value it’s referencing (Substances, Exoproducts or Life) and whether there’s a planet there (and what type if there is), so let’s hop on through and see what we get.

A shows our star, and it’s a type G, nice and Yellow.  And 8 shows -2 to Yellow, which is Exoproduction.  The stat starts at 2 (all stats do), so we drop it to 1, which is as low as all stats go.  And we move on to the next.  Card B tells us to raise Exoproduction up to 2.  Ho hum.  C bumps it up to 4, finally, a chance to build things!  D cranks it to 7 AND shows GGI, which means there will be a Gas Giant in orbit D.  I place the planet down, roll to see where (11) and put the Trojans before and after it.  E moves our Substances check up to 4.  F drops it down to 1, yuck.  G brings it up to 2 and adds a Gas Dwarf in the G orbit.  Again, I roll and place it on the board.  H knocks our Substances down to 1 again, but puts a Planetar in its orbit.  I drops our chance of finding life to 1 (Yikes!  Tough neighborhood), J brings that back up to 4 and adds another Planetar (which is double good since you can always find life on Planetars, even outside of Goldilocks zones).  Finally, the last card shows where the Mothership appears, and that’s in Orbit A, but it also adds 3 more steps to finding life!  So my final board looks like this:


Few bits of note, the Mothership “Model” is actually in the A 4-6 space.  The vector of the model is in the ship itself, not in the base, which makes it look a little strange on the board.  You get used to it.

Anyway, here I am, with search values of 7, 1 and 7 for Exoproducts, Substances and Life, respectively.

Glad I got Substances last Warp.

So let’s flip my card and take a look at how much energy it took to bring me here.  Can’t flip it in the program, but I can look at the next card, and it shows 8.  Ouch.  I’m down to 4 energy.  I guess I should get rid of my Radioactive substance for 4 energy now so I can breathe easier (and because there’s no point in holding onto it).

So, I have 4 actions here before I Warp again, and possibly not have enough Energy.  Ziggy says I won’t Warp until I break up with the woman he’s cheating with an….woops, wrong thing.

Am I dating myself with that reference?


I think I can spend a turn doing a research action because a) It might get me a warp token which will lower all future Warp costs. b) It doesn’t cost any energy at all and c) I haven’t done it yet, so why not?  It’s not like I know a strategy or anything yet.

So Turn 1, I don’t move (and don’t spend energy), and then draw from the knowledge bag.  For full disclosure, when you start the Lone Star scenario, you can remove from 0 to 12 different normal discs.  0 for a challenging game, 12 for an easy one.

I removed 12.  Ain’t I a stinker?

So let’s see what I get.

A Warp token!  Boo ya!  One seventh of the way to victory!

So, I kind of want to get way out to Orbit J.  You see, if I land there, I get a White Gas Substance.  With that, I can combine that with the Black Metal substance I already have and build Sol-Gel-based Ceramics.  The reason?  I can finally land on Gas Giants!  Which would be nice because the Gas Giant that’s only a few spaces from me would give me Radioactive Substances just for landing on it.  But it’s a whole lot of energy just to get there, and I don’t want to burn it all just to get there.

So instead, I’m just going to burn 1 and get to the Trojans in Orbit D to start with (which doesn’t cost anything to “land” in because they have little to no gravity themselves) and do a Scavenge action there.

I found some gems floating out there.  I can’t fuel anything with that, but they’re a big part of a lot of Exoproducts, so at least that’s something.  I move the planets again for the Trajectory model and look at Turn 3.

It’s 8 steps to get to the planet I want to get to!  So effectively I will burn 2 energy to get there, 1 energy to land to get something that will give me 4 energy.  Which is net 1, sure, but….JEEZ.  Of course, I could also find life, which can make things interesting (and give me more skills).  And I could also fail at finding life and get more knowledge.  Or I could just say to heck with it and gain 2 knowledge and leave this system knowing I can’t get much from it because I lept in too far away from the “good stuff.”

Where’s the adventure in that?  I’m here for science, dangit!  Burning 3 energy, let’s land on that rock!  I immediately earn a Gas Substance for doing so.  And now Rutger puts some Slight Wear on Exo Life Device A so he can roll his 1 die to find life on a moon around this Planetar.  Of course, because of the +2, I’m actually rolling 3 dice to get a 7 or less.  I like those odds.

6 – 4 – 12

Boom.  I have found LIFE OUTSIDE OF EARTH!  And let’s see what it is!  Could it be an intelligent civilization?


Nope.  It’s goo.  Something I can’t even get to survive in Bios: Genesis.

Ah well.

Looking at the map, there’s not many places I can go without spending more energy than I want to, so I’m going to sit down and do some research and hope I pull another Warp token and hope I can survive the next Leap, er, Warp.

The fun bit about knowledge tokens is that in multiplayer games, you don’t show them to other players until you use them, so if I drew a, say, Gas Giant skill, other players may write off my ability to land on them and ignore a Giant for a few turns to go to other prey that I could steal from them, and BOOM, I swoop in and grab the glory and fame before they do because they didn’t know I was reading up while they were busy watching old Scott Bacula reruns.

Well what do you know, I drew another Warp token!  That ends the turns here, I could stay longer and damage my crew, which actually might not be a terrible idea considering I NEED fuel, but I don’t know how desperate I am, so I’ll just go by the seat of my pants.

One more energy gets me back to the Mothership and off we go!

Our new start is against a hot burning, blue star which only gives us 2 turns before we Warp again.  And this time, the card states it costs 6 energy, but due to our Warp knowledge, that knocks it down to 4.

And I only have 3.

So here is our ship’s final resting place.  I think we would take up residence on that Desert world that appears to be tidally locked to the nearby Gas Dwarf?  Perhaps eons of pelting from its smaller moons has caused its surface to become so eroded that it appears to be sand to our new human dwellers.

Well jeez, now that I know how rare energy is, I’m going to have to be more careful with it.  If only this were real and not virtual I could sweep my hand over the table and start over again.

Sadly, I think it’s going to take LONGER to start it in virtual space than it will in meat space.  But I suppose it’s time for me to call it a night, anyway.  I’ve been trying to get this game in during every spare second I had, so I hope this did at least a small service to all of you readers out there who are curious about the kickstarter.

I may have not shown all of the intricacies of the multiplayer version (though you can see a bit with the Preparation phase and the hidden knowledge tokens, be sure to read about the Warp module in the rulebook, though, for some REAL fun), but maybe if I can get in a game tomorrow I’ll talk more about what would be done with multiple players.  For now, let’s look at what my final fame would have been, had anyone been alive to tell our tale:

Life+Exoplanet cards = 10

Gas & Metal tokens = 2

Gems & Radioactive tokens (2pts each) = 2

Leveled crewmembers = 0

Bonus for fully leveled crewmembers = 0

Final score = 14

Will your final score be less pathetic?  Let me know!


Game time!


Maybe I can be left alone long enough to play a turn!

What you do on a turn is 1) Move (optional) 2) Do an action.

Not much to it.  Then again, High Frontier can be described as 1) Do 2 actions 2) Move your ships.  So don’t get bored yet.

Moving costs energy.  With the Trajectory Module that I’m using, 1 energy let’s me move 7 spaces.  Spaces are the dots on the orbit lines that I can follow, I can also jump orbits following the trajectory lines.  I can go counter-clockwise, but each time I do that, it costs 2 energy.  I don’t see a reason to do that, though, because I have a nice juicy planet on the same orbit I am with Trojans and all sorts of fun stuff nearby.


This costs 2 energy, 1 for the movement, and 1 for “landing” on the planet.  I use the quotes because it’s a gas giant.  What land is there to land on?  Also, because I’m using the Equipment Module, I have to add a bit of wear onto some equipment that let’s me work on gaseous planets….


<insert facepalm picture here>

So, um.  I think I’m just going to use that as an example to show…um…that…um…planning ahead is important.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Totally planned that.

SO, instead I spend 3 energy to hop up to the H orbit and land on that Carbon planet there.  It gives +2 to life checks and +1 to Substance checks.  In a multiplayer game, for being the first to land on a planet, you get to put down your flag token on it and gain either the substance token on the planet (carbon in my case) or draw from the Substance bag.  It doesn’t say not to do this is the solo rules, so I guess I can get a token.  I’ll go for a random token, because if I get radioactive goo, I can exchange that for 4 energy!

Hey!  I drew a Purple!  That means I can grab whatever I want!  I’m taking that green, thank you very much.  So now, to my action.  I’ve got two general options: General or Discovery.

General actions are Research and Scavenge.  Research is simply digging into the Knowledge bag and grabbing a token.  Those tokens are all the icons shown on the top of crew and equipment cards.  They are used so you can, oh, I don’t know, LAND ON A GASEOUS PLANET?  Ahem.

The Scavenge action is when you’re floating in a Trojan field (the rocks in front of and behind the gas giants), and it grants you one Substance from the Substance bag.

Discovery actions are where you look for Life (only done within the Goldilocks Zone), Substances (only on Planets) or Exo Products (only in space, including Trojans and the Mothership).  Since I’m on a planet, I might as well try to grab some more Carbon off of it, so I can use all that stuff and make it into a nice Exo Product next Turn to “level up,” as it were.

So Saga is skilled at Discovering Substances, so she supplies 1 die towards the challenge.  She uses the Exo Multidevice, so I actually have a chance of this happening.  The Multidevice, however, gets moved down to the “Slightly Worn” part of my player board to show that I’ve used it.  Even in space, carbon pollution is a pain in the butt.  The planet itself shows a +1 for Substance Discovery, so I’ll be rolling two dice.

2d12 and one of them has to show 8 or less.  My odds are really good.  I am also playing The Soviet Union: Since I’m using the Perk Module, that means I have a, um, Perk for playing this country.  Once per Warp I may automatically succeed at finding substances, as long as I have at least one die to roll.  Sounds good to me.  Why risk it?  So to show I used my Perk, I flip my Country card over to the used side and grab two black Substances to add to my stash.

Then is a brief cleanup phase, where, due to my using the Trajectory Module, all planets and Trojens move clockwise along the Orbit labels.  Ships and Mothership in space never move.  Since I landed on a planet, I move with it, mainly because it would be weird otherwise.

And Turn #2 begins.

Where I spend an energy to fly closer to the star and get into the Trojan moons trailing behind the Ice Giant in the E Orbit.  Why?  Because I am flying the Octopus.  It’s Perk is that once per Warp, while in a Trojan I can Scavenge a Substance and Discover an Exoproduct.  Bam!  Two for the price of one!  So I grab a random Substance: more Carbon, and then I get Saga back to work.  We’ll use the good ol’ Exo Multidevice, moving it down to “Substantially Worn.”  She only gives 1d12, but I need a 7 or less, so I think I’ll be okay.


Alright, Let’s see what’s available.


Right now I just have 3 blocks of Carbon, which means I can only build the Shita-kitae Alloy, which I suppose is good because I took that picture too small and I can’t read anything else up there.  So I discard two black stones and grab that card and put it into the “Current” slot of my player board.  It provides a Substance skill as if it were Equipment, which will be nice once things start wearing out, and it gives me +1 dice on any attempts on a LVA planet.  Must be heat resistant.  Like a Hot Pocket.

As that was the last turn at this star, I have to Warp away.  I could choose to stay for another turn and damage the crew, but I don’t see a reason to, I still have 11 energy as well as some radioactive Substances to keep me going over the next Warp, so I should be fine.  Saga will spend the Warp time fixing the Multidevice, anyway, which will put it back to Fully Operational.  Everyone wins.

Oh wait, I have 10 energy.  It costs 1 for the Mothership to grab me before you go.  Still, no biggie.

To the future!!!!



Pumba, you think everything’s a big ball of gas.



Since we can’t use the awesome Zetta PSG module, we’re forced to use the Quick Zetta cards, which will be fine (especially since we’re going to be playing, um, quickly):



So, what do we learn from this?  First, that’s a damn pretty blue/white color.  Anyway, the three numbers to the right under the symbols that are now familiar to us from our crew preparations show us how difficult it will be to make Exo products here, find useful substances and (gasp!) find life!  The higher the number (on a scale from 1-12), the easier it is to make/find these things, so only life will be rareish here, the other two being a higher than 50% odds on 1d12.

The other bits are the star we will put in the middle of the board (soooo prettty) which will tell us how many turns we can spend in this system, and where the “Goldilocks Zone” is (where it is possible for you to find life).  The rest is how many planets there are and in which orbits they will be placed.  So, from this card, we place our class B star into the middle and our five planets onto the board:


I rolled a lot of 8 and 9s for planet placement, hence why a lot are bunched up at the bottom of the board. Not the Trojan pieces floating to the front and rear of each gas giant.  That is because I’m borrowing a bit of the PSG module.  Normally you can place the planets where ever you like, and even have the mothership appear where you want, but if you use the PSG, the planets and ship are randomly placed.  I liked that, so I’m doing it.  It also states to have Trojans before and after the gas giants in this case, as compensation, I guess.

I forgot to put down the Goldilocks markers in orbits E,F & G for the picture, but it looks like I could only find life on the Ice Giant or Gas Giant in the middle there.  Neptune or Jupiter as a source of life?  Not likely.  You can tell by the little ‘-1’ in green there.  That means that I’d have to roll 3 or less on a d12 to find life there.  Not worth the risk, really.  Best to find stuff here, since I’m only here for two turns.  Normally to see where the ship comes out of Warp, you look at the back of a PSG card, but in this case I’m just going to roll a d12 and reroll 11s and 12s to find my orbit, and then roll for where in that orbit as normal.  That should spice things up.

OH!  And I have to see how much energy it took to come here.  I have no idea how much it’s supposed to take, but the “Lone Star” solo rules state that each warp takes a set amount (shown on the Quick Zetta cards energy value) minus how many warp tokens I’ve found.  I’m just going to do d12/2 round up.  So between 1 and 6.  Will this make the game too easy?  Too hard?  Who knows.  I’m playing, and that’s all I’m worried about right now.  So let’s place my ship: G3 and it cost me 6 energy….great.  So with 14 energy, 2 turns and a heaping pile of curiosity, I’m off to explore this system.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch…


First create your crew.

I know, I know, you want to get to creating a solar system!  That’s the fun of this game, right?  But patience is a virtue (and a nice lady at the end of my block.  Lots of cats), so let’s start with the preparation phase.  We grab 12 preparation tokens (which look a lot like Energy tokens, and which also look like the number 12 in the Vassal module) and make ourselves a grid of 9 cards using both crew and module cards.


Standard bit about this not being final artwork and blah blah.

Mostly crew and not a lot of Equipment to start with.  Now, to “bid” on these folks, I have to spend some of my 12 Preparation tokens.  The cost for the cards is shown in the upper right, though there appears to be a misprint.  Micke, the Exo Manager should be 4 points.  When you bid, you place your flag token on the card, and any cards on the bottom row with flag tokens get taken by players.  Then the cards flow down and to the side and the process continues.

Each crew member has a talent (the far left bubble) and three bubbles for the skills they possess.  Because of the mix of modules I’m playing, I’m ignoring the lock, the graduation cap and the heart icon from the talent bubble.  So, I look for Wrenches: I can fix equipment!  Stars: I can fly farther for cheaper! Gas giants: I can land on Gaseous planets! Alien heads: I can find Alien life! Rocks: I can find substances! Rockets: I can build stuff!

Looking at what I have here, I’m going to bid on Saga because Equipment may be in short order, so being able to repair what I have may be important, and finding radioactive materials is what will keep my ship flying until I get home, so I spend 3 prep tokens (down to 9) and put my country token on her card.  Because she’s on the bottom row, I immediately grab her, and I can now shift the columns.  I move Jamila to the right and move the center column down to make the one equipment card cheaper.  Gaseous Planet Gear C is added to the spot it vacated.

Now the “NPCs” bid.  Simply put, they roll a d12 and place flag tokens (doesn’t matter which ones) according to what was rolled.  I roll: 10 & 1.  A 1,2 or 3 doesn’t place anything, but a 10 does.  So here’s where the NPCs place things:

npc placement

So Phil gets discarded and the cards get shuffled down.  Now, in a multiplayer game, there would be much jostling for place where you try to keep your opponents’ flags way up high, and your own down low, since if you can not bid, you must pass (and can not shift the cards around) and if everyone passes, no more cards are taken, even if you already put your flag marker on them.  For a solitaire game, the only rule is that an opposing flag must move down first if it can.  Still a lot of leeway in what I can do for myself.

I slap my flag down on the newest card: Exomultidevice A, because it has Exobiology, Substance AND Exoproduct notation on it.  Booya.  The NPCs just put one marker in the middle on Gaseous Planet Gear C.

I only have 5 prep tokens left, and I want to make sure I get the multidevice, so I’ll grab Rutger at the bottom for 3 tokens.  That brings him my way, and I can push the NPCs card out of the way to bring mine closer to the bottom. Huh, I rolled 2,2.  No movement.  So I guess I get the last bid.  Perfect.  With my last 2 points, I’ll get Exo Life Device B right there in the middle, which will cascade my other card right into my ship.

the end

Yes, I’m playing the Russians.  Why not?

So now I have my crew, and you have seen what the Preparation phase looks like.  With multiple players, I can see where jockeying for position can become a real hazard as 12 points doesn’t give you a lot of wiggle room.  While you can become quite hamstrung at the beginning, there are ways to mitigate this:  Knowledge tiles (any time you fail at a task, you draw from a bag and basically gain a free knowledge bubble that you can use with any crew member….you learn from your failures!) and Quick Start cards.  Don’t like going through all of this hustle and bustle?  Just grab a card and it’ll tell you what crew to slap onto your ship:


Now we’re ready to get lost in space.  Stick around, won’t you?

An Alpha playtest or a….




Get it? Eh? EH?

Okay fine, but I’m a bit rushed here.  So for the first time, I was asked begged and pleaded to do a preview of this game while it was on kickstarter because, well, it JUST LOOKED SO DANG COOL.  Unfortunately I only got the idea to ask deep into the campaign, so I had to wait for the early prototype of a Vassal edition to be made so I could poke and prod at the pieces a bit.

That means the campaign is going to be over in 51 hours as I’m typing this!!!

So if you’re an undecided reader, I hope you can decide quickly, and I hope I can type even quicker than that.

Of course, I also have work and family obligations all between this, as well as learning the game, so expect many small posts flying online in the next two-three days as I try my hand at playing this delightful game of star-system exploration.  My goal is to take as many of the modules for a test drive as possible so you can see the WHOLE game in action.

To see a description of what the game is, check out the kickstarter page or the BGG page since they’ll do a much less wordy and better job than I will.

To set up, the Vassal module I have is not complete, so I will not be able to play with everything.  I do not, for example, have access to the ZSG cards, so I will have to generate my star systems using the Quick Zetta Cards.

I know, I’m disappointed too.  That seemed like the coolest part, but there’s still a good 25 or so different star systems to check out for starters, so I think I’ll be fine with that.

There’s also no Solitaire Bot incorporated (BOO!), nor the Energy levels for traveling for the other solitaire game (double boo!).  However, I’m going to pull something out of my very wordy butt to be able to play solo anyway, so no worries there.

Xenoarchaeology cards aren’t there yet, either.  Which isn’t so bad, I suppose, because typing that word a lot would get awfully cumbersome.

And, I suppose, since I’ll be doing the “solo survival” game (sort of), I guess I won’t be using the Warp or the Charting the Universe modules…

Sounds like I’m not using much, doesn’t it?

Not so!  I’ll be using the Equipment module: I’ll need to factor in using Stuff to do Things!  Alien Civilization module: Some lifeforms might join my crew! Trajectory module: Dynamic moving planets and more planning of where my ship is going! Perks module: Exoproducts do more stuff! Damage module: Risks and rewards!

That just goes to show you the number of ways you can customize your game into what you want it to be when it hits your table.  Stay tuned.  I’ll start describing how I’m going to do my version of the “Lost in Space” solo scenario next (when I get a chance).

Powered by Science, Art & Philosophy!


, ,

I’m a well rounded civilization, what can I say?

Let’s jump right back in and see if I can get a win today, shall we?

My hand is H1* – R5 – K6* – H4* – M2

Oh, and due to my Art, I can increase my Culture by 1, and I do.  9 more to go!

H4 is Quyth again, so grabbing that can give me a 2 point Culture growth when I, um, Grow next time!  I think that’s a perfect move.  Of course, if I settle, I’ll be using my only Moon card, but I can use Heart to pay for my Tech and Skull to pay for my Homeworld.  So let’s play M2 and Settle Quyth again.

I get to draw a card for playing something out of my hand, and I get H6.  Sadly since I need my Heart and Skull card, Hand is the only one worth playing, so I guess I’ll try smacking the Neutral player around.  I play H6 to remove a cube from Sector 36 (which had 3) to remove the one cube from Sector 34.  I do that because my Skull card has a world in Sector 34.  True, I’m going to be getting rid of that card in the next phase, but it will probably come back later.

Speaking of getting rid of cards, out go R5 and K6 to pay for my stuff.  I get a cube on both cards, maxing them both out.  I AM MIGHTY!

What’s my one and only challenge card?  R1 Pfft.  I remove a cube off of my tech. Whatever.  I’m fine.

Like how I’m getting cocky and setting myself up for a big fall?  Yeah, me too.

Let’s get our new hand and increase Culture by 1 again. H1* – K5* – S5 – S2 – S6

Yikes!  I guess I’m doing a Power action, then.  I’ll discard another Sun card to draw 2 more cards with my Industry power.  It’s like two Power actions for the price of one!  K1 – R6* – S1 – H2

I’m going to ditch my new Skull card to complete my first tech card.  I’m hoping that the third Heart tech in my Galactic Library will be one of the three that increases the Stability stat, since I’m still at -3 in that stat.  I could still insta-lose there if I get unlucky.  So that’s my action 2, ditching my K1 card.  Let’s see what last tech I get in my library.


There we go, I can raise it every time I battle now.  So I can pay my only Heart and Skull again to pay for my cards, or, since I have a large hand and a bunch of cubes, just take all 3 Challenges and keep my Skull card so I can keep the advancements going so I can get the winning conditions met.  Of course, I have absolutely no help if I draw any foot challenges.  Hrmph.

I’ll cut the difference.  I discard my Heart card to pay for my library, but I’m keeping the Skull and I’ll do two Challenges.  I can take it, right?

Card 1: F4:  Who saw that coming?  Show of hands?  Everyone?  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.  Fine, let’s see what happens.  F3 – Xeno estrangement! These alien cults are getting out of hand, we need to work on our diplomacy.  Decrease Xeno Relations by 2 and decrease Culture by 2.  Yuck.  Doable, but Yuck.

Card 2: K4: And I pay for this with a cube off of my Homeworld.  One step forward, two steps back.


Gotta get both X and S back up, since they can both drop 3 in a turn and kill me outright.  Also Culture is clearly going to take a lot longer than I think.   I would need 7 more sectors controlled to get a Territory victory or 17 more cubes for a population victory.  I should focus on spreading around, I think, because I have a lot of growth tech that will help with X and if I need to battle a few neutral cubes, I can raise S as well.  Let’s do this.

I don’t draw any cards because I have 5 in my hand: H1* – K5* – S2 – S1 – H2

I’m going to make my new tech before I use a Power action.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get a Power tech!  So I could add techs to the worlds I have settled (Quyth and Yrth), but that’s only a one time bonus, and I need three completed techs to win, so I’ll get that first, before I start messing with that stuff, so I’ll draw a card from the top of the deck to see if that becomes a tech card.  S4 – Yup.  It’s a new tech with Moon, Skull and Heart techs on it.  I get to add one, and I can choose one of them if I wish.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

I’m going to choose Genetics to make my Grow actions drop 2 extra cubes.  Let’s get that Population or Territory victory, shall we?

My next action is simply to discard my two Sun cards to draw 4 cards: H5* – S5 – K2 – M3


I discard S5 to pay for my Homeworld.  Sure, I discard M3 to pay for the Library.  I can’t pay for the new tech (that I’ll name once I get all the techs in it, like you’re supposed to….oops), so looks like I’ll have 2 Challenges again.

Card 1: S6: Cube off of my Homeworld.  I’m good.

Card 2: F4:Why can’t I get foot cards?!?!?  This could kill me right here.  F2 – Xenophobia (clearly my diplomacy failed, and failed big) – decrease Xeno Relations by 3 and decrease Culture by 1.


The end

And thus is the end of the Castreem empire, torn apart my Xenophobia.  They close their borders to all outsiders and die a slow miserable death while their culture implodes upon itself.  They were never heard from again.

Now if I had won, the Castreem empire would actually get to make a Civilization card that would be added to the deck which would grant its holder a special effect.  You would also check to see if the empire was great enough to produce a Wonder, a mythical artifact that could be found on a world by a future civilization.

Nope.  They’re just a footnote in the galactic records.  All the cards I created/changed, though, will be kept in the deck and will be played in the next game where all the cards I make and add will have a ‘2’ next to them, to show it’s the second “generation” of galactic travelers.  The Galactic Library will only be a card that can be played from the hand to grant a one-time bonus whenever you use an action that is shown on the card, not an active tech that lasts the test of time.  People may remember that there once was a vast library, but no one will remember who made it or why, but the effects will still be there.  But the tech I had with only 1 thing on it can be added to and expanded upon to become a full-fledged card in itself.  Who knows what it will become!

That’s the real fun of this game, seeing it evolve over time.  I’ll probably keep playing this universe for a while, so if you’re curious, ask how the good folks are doing and I’ll keep you posted which generation is doing what.  Who knows, maybe the Quyth will rise up and take over, or the Yrthlings, after they were confused for the wrong people for so long…

Thanks for reading!  I hope to bring you something new and exciting for my next playthrough!  Stay tuned!

Titles are hard


, ,

Just like surviving in this game, apparently.  But let’s keep going and see where we can go today.

If you remember (though why would you?), we just got whacked by two Challenge failures that removed 3 cubes and set our Stability down.  However, we did manage to get a technology that will help us if/when we Advance.  So Advancing is a very strong point for us.  Let’s draw our new hand.

H6 – S5 – H1* – F6 – S2

That….well, that doesn’t help at all.  Let’s play one of my Sun cards for Power and try to get some cards I like: K1 – K3.

Now THAT’S more like it.  So this is what I’m going to do.  I’m going to play one of those to Advance my Homeworld.  I’m going to hope that the tech that’s created is Sun, Hand or Foot.  That way I can pay for it during the Payment phase.  So action two I play K3 and add my tech.  First, I’m going to raise my Xeno-Relations (X) by 1 due to my Galactic Library Philosophy tech.  Now I’m at a whopping -2.  Don’t care.  I’ll take it.  My tech for my world is randomly generated: S5 – Industry – Power – Discard 1 card; draw 2 cards.  If I want, I could ignore that and choose which Sun power I take, which most of them involve increase your M trait or drawing more cards.  But the idea of invoking Power, discarding a card and then drawing 4 cards seems pretty powerful, I’ll stick with Industry.  So now I add that to my Homeworld.  I also add a little ‘O’ and ‘1’ next to the two different techs on the World to show which times they were added.  Again, just to show the evolution of the game.


The payment phase works out for me as I place a cube on my homeworld for my Sun card.  Then I deal with one lowly Challenge card for my tech since I have no Moon card.

Card1: F2 – I’ve got a Foot card to discard, so no problem.

Card 2: F4- Dangit!  I don’t have TWO foot cards!  So this one is going to hit me.  I hope it’s gentle.  A 5 gives me Xeno intervention: Decrease X by 1 and add 3 cubes.  The card I draw is a 1, which means the cubes get added to neutral world Yrth.  The cube limit is 5, so one of the cubes has to spread to a random adjacent cube.  You draw a card and use those numbers like a clock location.  I draw a 6, so that’s to its upper left.  It’s getting crowded up there.  But I can deal with that.  Let’s keep going (as you see, I’m going to explain the rules less and less and speed up the turns as I go along).

R2 and M5 get added to my hand.  R2 has a world on it, but it’s a bit of a hike to get there, so I’m not worried about holding on to it.  I’m more worried about Growing than Settling at the moment.  In fact, I play that to grow, and decide on discarding Quyth to get the 2 Culture points.  I need SOMETHING in the positive right now!  Then I play a Hand card with my other World on it (so maybe I can Settle somewhere that’s more feasible) to raise my X back up to -3.  Darnit, I’m going to get that back to 0 sooner or later!  It costs me one of the cubes from that Growth action, but you have to sacrifice to survive in this world…worlds.

The good news is I discard a Skull and a Moon card to pay for both World and Tech, placing a cube on both.  Only one challenge card this time!

Card 1(and only!): M6 – Well, I have to take the cube off of my Tech, which is its only cube, which stinks, but still, it’s a scott-free turn, so I’ll take it!


I’m getting there.  I was hoping for a little variety in my new hand.  Like a Heart card, for instance.  Luckily I have the power of INDUSTRY at my disposal, so I chuck out a Sun card as well as an extra Hand card to draw 4 more, which gives me this hand:

H6 – F5 – K4 – M3 – R5 – R1* – K6*

I’ve got Worlds on Sector 32 & 34.  Doable, but 34 has an enemy ship on it, so that’s more for a long game.  Let me think here.  I can grow so I can start to spread and possibly Settle later, or start adding more Tech.  I’m able to pay for both cards right now, so the Challenge phase should be easy, but maybe I should grow, just in case.  Yeah.  I’ll do tech next turn.  Two more cubes in sector 46.  So what’s my one Challenge card?

Card 1: M4 – there goes the cube on my tech again.  Maybe I should add another suit to that one, huh?


Okay, I’m only drawing one card for next turn, and it’s F3.  Meh.  So let’s add a Tech to my, um, Tech.  I can still choose which one I’m adding due to my Physics, so I’ll add Biology, so I can spread out farther, faster.  Added bonus – my Xeno Relations goes up by one due to my Philosophy tech.  Booya -2!

Now let’s spread, playing that Foot card to move two cubes next to that neutral world up there.  Time to get a little feisty.  I can only pay for my tech card, so I’ll have to deal with 2 Challenge cards, but I have 3 cubes on my Homeworld so all Skull and Sun cards are covered.  Let’s do this.

Card 1: H3 – I have a Hand card in…well…hand.  So I’m okay.

Card 2: M2 – because my tech apparently can’t hold onto a cube for more than a turn.  But I’m still holding my own against challenges.  But you see that the game scales, as you get more powerful, you usually have to deal with more Challenges, but you usually have more ways to deal with them.  And you need three techs to win the game, which is a lot of payments.  But I survive another Challenge turn.


Next turn I’m able to grow in Sector 36 (and use my Biology power to drop a cube in Sector 35).  I then launch the GREAT GALACTIC WAR!  Castreen vs. Yrth!  Battle is pretty easy, you select a hex, and you remove one of your cubes.  You then remove an enemy cube in an adjacent hex.  You can do that as long as you have defending cubes to remove.

I have 4 cubes in Sector 36, It has 3 cubes in Sector 25.  I remove all three of its and 3 of mine.  I should be able to move in and take over when I get the proper cards.  MWAHAHAHA!

I’m able to pay for both of my cards (I don’t get a cube on my Homeworld, but I don’t have to add a Challenge card), so I only deal with this one Challenge:

Card 1: F2 – The last card in my hand is F5, so away it goes.


How the tables have turned.  Well, kinda.  It’s possible that one wrong challenge could drop my Stability to -6 and make me lose the game.  I need to do something about that.

My next hand is mostly Hearts and Moons, which suits me (ha!  a pun!) just fine.  I Grow Sector 36 and use Biology to spread into Sector 25 where Yrth is.

D’oh!  This whole time I’ve been using the wrong world.  Yrth is in sector 14.  Mortensen is in Sector 25.  Ummm….a few keystrokes here and boom…it’s Yrth now.  I didn’t change the powers or anything, just the names.  It’s good to be a conquering race.

Anyway, Yrth (ahem) is mine now with the play of a Moon card.  Because it’s a neutral planet I immediately get a freee Power and Advance action.  Which is awesome.

So I use my Power Tech to get 4 cards for the price of 1, and then add a third tech to Castreem, which is a Moon power.  Since I haven’t chosen one yet, I decide to take Art.  At that start of each turn, I gain one Culture!  A Culture victory is within my grasp, though my Biology power can probably get me the Territory or Population victory, too.  Depends on how the cards fall.

I’m easily able to pay for my cards (due to the free Power action) so my challenge is handled by one cube off of my Homeworld.  Things are looking up!



And I’ve just been told there’s ice cream cake in the break room.  Why am I here playing this silly game.


I ruined my dinner, but kept playing


Like that scene in The Burbs



I’m looking for a trunk full of Skulls.

In the game.

Anyway, we remember last turn I spread a little towards a world I could Settle, but so did the neutral worlds because I couldn’t handle the Challenge turn.  But I get to draw some new cards, so let’s see what my new hand looks like.

I draw 3 cards and add them to the 2 from last turn to have: H4* – M1 – H3 – F3 – F6

Insert sad trombone sound here.

This does give me some options, though.  I can use the Foot to move to the sector with Quyth in it, and then the Moon to settle it.  It’s always nice to have some extra worlds.  I could also play my other Hand to have a Battle.  Since there’s no cubes in my sectors, I would remove one of my cubes and then raise one of my CMSX scores by one.  I could recover the S damage I took last turn.  Kind of quell any thoughts of rebellion with an iron fist!

I think I’m going to do that, just so I keep my Moon card in case I need it for the Challenge phase.  It’s good to have a wide range of cards in hand to limit damage dealt.

So I’ll just play one of my foot cards (feet cards?) and then a hand card to raise my Stability back up by one.  So I’m set up for next turn, and I’ve recovered from last turn, though my Home Sector is down to 2 cubes, but I’m sure I’ll get that back at some point.

Unfortunately I again am lacking a Skull card to “pay” for my Homeworld, so I will be facing two challenges.  In my hand I have a Hand, Moon and Foot.  Let’s do some hoping.

Card 1: K3 – THERE are the Skulls!  I draw for a number and get F4 which on Table 6 is Xeno-worshipping Cult! decrease Xeno Relations by 3 and add 1 random rival cube.


So I’m at -3 in my Xeno Relations now.  -6 is Insta-Loss, so I’ll have to do something about that.  I pull to find out where the new cube is placed, and it’s in another random sector: 61.  Yet another Skull card out of the deck in those pulls, too.

Okay, one more Challenge card to deal with before I can draw new cards.  Let’s see what it is.

Caard 2: F5 – That one I can deal with!  I discard my F6 card and breathe a little easier.  The turn is over and the board now looks like this:


I liked the look of the last board better…

Let’s draw a new hand and come up with a plan.

H4* – M1 – M6 – H6 – K1

A Skull card!  I could play it now in order to add an advancement to my Homeworld, which is always awesome, or hold on to it to lower the amount of Challenges I have to deal with this turn as well as build up a bit of defense against future Challenges.  Of course, having two techs on a World usually makes it easier to pay for it (because I’ll have two possible suits that will pay the cost).

I think I’ll play defensively and hold onto the card because my X is so low at the moment.  First thing’s first, though, and I’m going to do a Settle action by playing a Moon card.  Now there are multiple times you can play Moon to settle like:

If you have cubes where there’s a neutral world, boom, it’s yours and you get a free Advance and Tech for conquering it.

If, like me, you have a World in your hand in a Sector you control, you can play it.  Only bonus you get for that is you get to draw a card.

If you have no Worlds in your hand, but have blank cards, you CAN CREATE YOUR OWN WORLD CARD.  That’s the fun part.  Sometimes it’s worth playing your World cards whenever you can because it’s much easier to just make a new World with a new tech on it.  You don’t get to draw a replacement card when you do that, so you effectively play 2 cards for the 1 action, but there you go.

If your hand has World cards in sectors you don’t control and all your cards have writing on them, you’re stuck and can’t do a Settle action.  Too bad.

Anywho, I play Quyth to my Tableau and draw S6 as a replacement.  Nice, a Sun card.  Haven’t gotten one of them yet.  Quyth has the power that when I do a growth action, I can move my Culture up by 2.  Because it’s a Settled World, I have to discard the card when I do that.  However, the plus side is that I’ll still have cubes in that Sector (we hope), so the next time it comes up in my hand, I can just settle it again.  Also, I can discard the card as a Heart if I need to for a Challenge.  More defense!

I think I’m going to play my new Sun card for a Power action which will have me draw 2 cards.  I’d love to play my Hand card and try to raise my X up, but I don’t have a lot of cubes floating around and I’d hate to get attacked.  I could play my other Moon now and make another Planet, but then my hand will be practically empty for the Challenge phase, and that’s probably not a good idea.

Of course, I could play recklessly….

Nah.  I’ll play the Sun and draw: R2* and S5.  R2 has a World that is 2 hexes from Quyth.  Might be worth holding on to, but it’s also the only Heart I have and doing a growth action is mighty nice right now.

On to the Payment phase.  I have to pay a Skull for my homeworld (I still have no techs to pay for), and I can do it this time!  I discard K1 and put a marker on my homeworld to show it’s paid for.  Each card can have up to 3 markers on it.  These markers can be discarded in lieu of discarding a card of a suit of one of the techs on that Homeworlds or Tech card.  So for now it only counts as a Skull card, but I can add more technologies with Advance actions later.

Now the Challenge phase with only one card!  And that card is: M5

Glad I wasn’t reckless.  I discard my Moon and all is well for turn 3.  So the board didn’t change at all, but my Tableu looks a little different:


Things are starting to look good.  Let’s populate this galaxy and start making tech and new cards and all that fun stuff!  We start by drawing more cards making our hand:

H6 – R2*- S5 – K2 – H1*

H1 has Syrnix which is also two hexes away from my homeworld.  I have places I can spread to, although I’ll be awfully close to the neutral territories there.  But I drew another Skull!  I think it’s time to use it for Advancement.

So, normally I would advance my world because it would make it easier to pay for and I wouldn’t need to spend 2 cards every Payment phase.  HOWEVER, my Homeworld allows me to choose 2 of the techs on the card.  Not the suit, mind you, but the tech itself from the choices.  Usually you can only choose one, but this kind of power can mean I can really balance myself out.  I think.

So I play K2 and discard the top card of the deck to see if it’s a blank card: R1* Nope, it’s a World!  Because of that I grab a completely new index card and make a new tech.  I love adding things to the deck!  So I grab the card and I add three suits to the side of the card.

Firstly the card is K2, so another skull in the deck, so that’s nice.  The suits I pull are Heart, Moon and Heart.  I check out all the options under Heart and Moon and decide on Philosophy.  When I do an Advance action (sadly, another Skull modifier), I raise X by 1.  It’s something I need.  I’m going to name the Tech “Galactic Library.”  Why not?  The tech now looks like this:


A few things to note: The ‘1’ next to the word Tech.  That means this card was created in generation 1.  It lets you keep track of what was created when.  Makes your deck a huge history lesson.  Also the “circle” around the ‘M’, that shows that I picked the technology.  That let’s me know I’m not allowed to pick another one unless I have the Physics technology.  Hmmm, now that I’m looking at the card, I should make sure to mark that it works during the Advance action, otherwise I’ll never remember.

Now that I’ve done that, I still have my second action to do.  I think I’ll play my lone Heart card to get some more cubes on the board.  I won’t use Quyth’s power because that will allow me to defend against any Heart based challenges, and I don’t have any other abilities that boost Culture, so going for a Culture win probably isn’t going to happen.  I drop the cubes in 56, right in the middle of my little empire.  Now for the doom and gloom.

Payment is…something I should have thought more about.  I only have Hand and Sun, and I need Skull and Moon to pay, so I add 2 cards to the Challenge deck.  Then I add the 1 that’s always added, and the Challenge phase looks pretty daunting.

Card 1 – M3 – I have nothing for that, sadly.  So I get whacked with Moon Failure #2, the deck tells me.  Innervating ennui.  Awesome.  decrease Stability by 3 and decrease Culture by 1.

This might be my last turn if this keeps up!  Glad I didn’t bother with Culture.

Card 2 – K4 – with this one, I can just discard the cube sitting on my Homeworld.  Phew.

Card 3 – F2 – Dangit. Failure F5 – Xeno intervention – decrease Xeno Relations by 1 and add 3 random rival cubes.  I better start reading in my Library!  Let’s add my cubes:

Oh, huh.  All 3 are supposed to go to the same sector.  What do you know?  It doesn’t hit a neutral world, so I pull a random sector.  56.


One of my sectors.

Which means I take off my cubes on a one-for-one basis.  Oh dear.  Now look at the board.


I hope I can Advance next turn, because I can add Genetics to my Library and Grow an extra 2 cubes.  Yes, it’s oft times random and wacky, but damn if this doesn’t tell a grand story.  My empire is being torn asunder by alien lovers!

Stay tuned!  Will I die in the next post, only to start a new empire on Castreem’s ashes and use their Library for my own needs?  Heck, even I don’t know!

But I know now!

Will I have low self-Castreem?



Thus starteth the space-faring colony of Castreem.  Will it survive to be a force that forever leaves a mark on the galaxy, or just another speck of dust floating in the infinite blackness?

We start with the, um, Start phase which is where you draw your hand.  5 cards is normal.  If you already have more than 5, you don’t draw any, but if you have more than 10, you would discard down to 10.  Let’s see what I get:

R6* H4* M1 F5 M4

The first two are marked with a star, ironically, because they both are also World cards, containing Ymorath and Quyth, respectively.  That may open up my options, but also close some others, as we shall see.  So, what can I do with these cards?  Play them, of course!

I have 2 actions each turn.  Each action is based on the suit of the card played, except for two extra actions: Plan and Evoke – those are two kinda crazy big actions that don’t get used often, so I’ll mention them later.  Plan can be fun if you’re missing something you want in your deck, though, so there is that.  Anyway I can:

POWER – Discard a Sun card to Draw 2 cards

SETTLE – Discard a Moon card to add a world to my tableau (though it’s more complicate than that)

GROW – Discard a Heart card to add 2 cubes to a sector I control

ADVANCE – Discard a Skull card to add an Advancement to a tech or a world

BATTLE – Discard a Hand card to remove cubes and remove adj rival cubes &

EXPAND – Discard a Foot card to move cubes to an adjacent sector

And just to be a completionist:

PLAN – Discard your whole hand and create a completely new card

EVOKE – Discard a Civilization card for a sector you control for effect

See?  They probably won’t come up often.

Anyway, it looks like a lot of actions, but most just move a cube around or two, or scribble something new onto a card on your tableau.  So what are you trying to accomplish?  Firstly, you’re trying NOT to have any of your stats (the CMSX to the side of the board) to drop to the ‘X’.  That’s insta-lose.  Also, you don’t want your homeworld to lose its last cube.  Then you’re also done.  Not good.  To win, you must:

Control 12 sectors

Have 25 cubes

Hit one of the stars on your CMSX tracks.

Easy, right?

Okay, back to my hand: R6H4M1F5M4 – It’s smart to get some cubes and planets on the board, so Growing and Expanding are always nice.  In order to use those Moons to settle, I’ll need to be in another sector.  Both worlds drawn are in the 40’s for their sectors, which are two hexes away.  Popping over that way might be a good idea.  I have no Skull cards which is going to stink, as you’ll see, but let’s start spreading to other stars.  So first, I’ll play R6s by discarding it, and adding 2 cubes to my home sector.


Notice I get no bonus or anything from that card being a World card.  It’s simply getting discarded.  For this purpose, it’s simply a Heart card used for the Grow action.

My second action is the Expand action where I discard my F5 card and move those 2 new cubes down to Sector 56.


I’m ultimately trying to get cubes into Sector 46, because my H4 card has a World in that sector, and I’d like to colonize it.  Who wouldn’t?

So those were my two actions.  I now only have 3 cards in my hand and I have to deal with the dreaded Payment phase.

This is where my galactic government has to pay the upkeep on the government and all the fancy technology its developed.  So for every tech in your tableau, as well as your homeworld, you have to discard a card matching one of the tech suits on it.  Sadly my homeworld looks like this:homeworld

Which would mean I need to discard a Skull card.  Which I can’t.  And in order to put a different tech onto the homeworld, I would need to play a Skull card to Advance it!

So if I could discard a Skull card, I would do so now.  This would allow me to place a cube onto the homeworld which would act as a bit of resistance to any negative change that may come in the next phase.  Because I can’t do that, a facedown card is added to the Challenge pile, which will hit me in the next phase.  Can’t do anything about that.

My homeworld is the only world I have to pay for.  We now move onto the Challenge Phase.  First thing I do is add another card to the Challenge Pile.  You always have at lease one card to deal with.

So I have two to deal with.  I flip the top card and it is: Moon 3.  I have to either:

Discard a card from my hand that matches suit: a Moon

Discard a cube from my homeworld or tech if it has a Moon suited tech on it or

Discard a colonized world in my tableau that has a Moon suited tech on it.

Luckily I have two Moon cards, so I can easily discard one and still have one left for purposes of Settling.  So I discard my Moon 4 card (the number really doesn’t matter).

The next Challenge card is Heart 1.  Sadly I have nothing in my hand and no cubes or Planets to help.  So I fail the challenge.  I’m going to look at Table 6, the aptly named Challenge Failure Table to see what happens.  I pull a random number and look next to the Heart suit to see what happens.

I pull a 5: Interstellar Intrigue: decrease Stability by 1 and add 3 random rival cubes.

Oooo, not good.  I would seem that there’s some disruption out there and we have factions breaking off all around the galaxy!

Down goes my Stability score to -1.  So now I pull to add the 3 random cubes.  There’s a neat little self consistency to the rules.  I pull cards and there’s greater odds that they will be added to the already neutral planets.  If their numbers match the numbers of the neutral planets, they’ll be added there.  So let’s see where they go:

I pull a 5, which is neither world (which are 1 and 3), so I have to pull 2 cards to find the sector location. 34 – It’s an empty sector, so I just add a cube there.  It’s actually next to an already populated hex, so it looks like they’re spreading out.  Now for the next two:

I pull a 6 so it’s another random sector. 24 – Ha!  It’s just on the other side of that populated hex!  And the last:

Another 6. 62 – They’re in the middle of nowhere.  Hard separatists.

That’s the end of round 1.  Here’s how the board looks:


I wasn’t able to do much, but my homeworld specializes in Advancement and I drew no Skulls, so there you go.  Maybe next turn.  Or maybe I can Colonize Quyth which can give me a bonus to Construction which will give me a +2 to C on a Growth action, or save my butt on a Hand Challenge.  Either way, there’s a lot of game left, and I haven’t even changed a card yet.  Stay tuned true believer!

With apologies to Stan Lee

I create worlds, Mark.



For those of you who get that reference, you can attack the darkness with me anytime.

Anyway, let’s start creating our universe.


So far all we have is a dense black hole in the center of our galaxy and a few tracks showing how cultured we our, how successful we are in our Might, Stability and with other alien cultures (Xeno Relations).  In order to start our Civilization, we need our deck of cards.


As you see, you don’t have to be fancy and draw pictures of everything.  You can also abbreviate the card suits as well, though you have to be careful as I have played before and mixed up Heart and Hand.  The suits are as follows:

S – Sun

M – Moon

R – Heart

K – Skull

H – Hand

F – Foot

So simply make 36 cards, by making cards 1 through 6 in each suit (ie. 1 Sun, 2 Sun, 3 Sun…, 1 Moon, 2 Moon…)

Now we can create worlds.  Shuffle up your cards and grab one.  I grabbed 1 Hand.  This will be the first world we have created in our galaxy.  Since it is an Original world, you’ll first mark it with a ‘O’ to show that.  Any worlds you create in the first game you’ll mark with a ‘1.’  The second game you’ll mark cards with a 2 and so on.  It doesn’t really do anything in game, but it shows you how your galaxy is evolving over play.

So I mark my 1 Hand with the worlds: O. World – because it’s a World.  Ahem.

Then you flip two cards and put their numbers down as the “sector number” where this world exists.  I get a 2 and a 5.  And finally flip two more cards and look at Table 5 near the back of the rulebook to see what technology is available on that planet.  I pull 5 and then a heart.  So my first planet now looks like this:


You see for my tech I wrote the suit I pulled, the name of the tech, the action it affects and then what it actually does.  That way I don’t have to look anything up.

Yes, I named it Syrnix.  It’s close enough to Syrinx, but they like guitar music.

And I typed it wrong.

Okay, turn on some music and create 11 more worlds.

Done? No? Okay.


Stop reading!

Okay, put all those cards in the deck and give them a good shuffle and get ready to start the game.

First flip over the first 5 cards of the deck.  If there are any Worlds in those cards, choose 1 to be your Homeworld.  I only had 1 choice, so I grabbed Casteem, one of my poorly named planets.  If there wasn’t a world in those 5 cards, I would have drawn another 5 to do it again.  I find the hex that matches the location of my new World and put three of my pieces there.  I am now the owner of a fresh new planet.

Then we pull cards for the neutral worlds.  Simply pull cards from the top of the deck, discarding them until you pull World cards.  When you get to one, put it in the Neutral World spot on your table (wherever you want that) and place 3 neutral pieces (whatever is different than your own pieces).  Do this until either: you pull your sixth world or you pull a world that has the same number (ie. card number, like 1 hand and 1 skull are the same number).  That second world wouldn’t get played and you’d be done.  In the relatively rare case you pull a neutral world that matches the location of another neutral world, increase the number of cubes on that spot to 5.  If there’s already 5 there, just discard the card and wonder at your ability to skew math probabilities.  If you pull a card whose location matches yours, also just discard the world.

In the end, I ended up pulling two worlds before I pulled a number that matched, so my final board looks like this:


I’m ready to play.

And now, the playing