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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.

Move1

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.

move2

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:

round1

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

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