A game typically consists of 6 or 7 rounds. Each round, players simultaneously place cards face down (or Explore markers). Players then reveal and pay for their cards, adding them to their empires. Cards are either developments ([DEVELOP]) or worlds ([PLANET] or [MILITARY]). Each player may either:
- Place 1 development ([DEVELOP]). Discard 1 fewer card when paying for it.
- Place 1 world ([PLANET] or [MILITARY]). After paying for or conquering it, draw 1card.
- Place 1 development and 1 world. Pay full cost. Do not draw a card.
- Or, instead of placing any cards, place an Explore marker and draw some extra cards (see Explore below).
Players then score all their empire cards. If no one has 50+ VPs, players draw as many cards as their incomes and begin the next round.
The cost to place a card is the black number inside its diamond or circle. (Worlds with red outlined numbers are placed differently. See below.) To pay a cost, discard as many cards from hand as that number, placing them face down in the discard pile. A cost might be reduced by discounts, but not below 0.
Once per game, you may place a Survey Team from the center instead of a development from hand, paying its 1 cost normally (discarding no cards if you did not also place a world).
A military world with a red outlined number, its defense, must be conquered when placed (exception: Contact Specialist). To conquer a military world, a player does not pay any cards, but must have as least as many military icons as the world’s defense (or powers that add enough extra military to equal or exceed its defense). Some card powers provide military only towards conquering certain colors of military worlds or [REBEL] military worlds.
A player may not combine military and payments to place worlds. A Contact Specialist allows a player to place non-Alien military worlds as non-military worlds by paying for them instead (at -1 cost).
A development’s power or icons cannot affect its own placement, but may affect placing a world that round. A world’s power or icons cannot affect its own placement (but can affect placing a second world, via Colony Convoy or Military Convoy).
If you cannot or choose not to place any cards, place an Explore marker instead. Draw 2 cards, plus as many cards as the number of explore icons in your empire, including the 3 icons on the Explore marker itself. Add them to your hand. Then, discard as many cards (old or new) as your explore icons [EXPLORE], for a net gain of 2 cards. Flip the Explore maker to its * side (to mark the turn). Score and take income normally.
Score VPs and Collect Income
Collect VPs for every card in your empire as shown on the card. Some cards produce varying VPs or income for certain icons or card types in your empire (see right). Duplicate cards do this multiple times. Some cards produce VPs for certain icons or card types in your empire and in one other player’s empire of your choice (see right).
Some cards produce extra VPs or income “with” the presence of a specific card or card type in your empire. Having additional copies of the specified card or card type does not increase the amount received.
Put each round’s VP chips beneath the card(s) or explore marker you placed (see Sample Turns below). This makes it easy to calculate next round’s VPs by adding the VPs that your new cards provide to this amount and collecting this total.
If any player has 50 or more total VP chips, the game is over. The player with the most VPs wins!
If there is a tie, the tied player with the most cards in hand plus total income wins. If still tied, these players share in their victory.
If the game is not over, collect income and begin the next round.
When the deck is close to being exhausted, give income first to the player with the most VPs and then clockwise. If several players are tied for most VPs, begin with the tied player closest clockwise from the dealer during setup. Reshuffle the discards to form a new draw pile once the deck is exhausted.
After all players have collected income, players with more than 10 cards in hand must discard down to 10 cards in hand.