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Setup And Explanation

These directions explain how the game should be set up, and introduces the players to the pieces and components. The rules and guidelines on how to play the game follow these set up instructions, and include everything the players need to know to play their first game. More information is included in the Starfarers' Almanac, which the players may refer to if any questions arise during play. The information in the Almanac is organized alphabetically by topic.

Place the game board on the table. There are 4 alien bases and 11 planetary systems with 3 planets each. The 4 planetary systems on the bottom edge of the board are the "Catanian colonies" (these planets are marked with Greek letters). The players' starting pieces are placed in these systems.

Each player chooses a color and takes his game pieces, which includes all of the following:

Each player places his two colonies and 1 spaceport on the circles (colony intersections) between the planets that are Catanian colonies as shown on the starting set up diagram to the right.

A spaceport is created by placing a spaceport ring on a colony.

Important: When playing a three player game, set up the pieces for a "fourth player". This "blocks" those starting positions.

Each player takes one of his transporters (his choice) from his reserves and places it on one of his colony modules as shown below.

Each player then places his colony ship on an intersection next to his spaceport (a spaceport intersection), as shown on the starting setup diagram.

From this point onward, the players begin their quest to colonize other planets.

Building spaceships costs resources. Only the starting colony ship is free.

Players receive resources based upon dice rolls and the resource chips on planets they have colonized.

Carefully remove the resource chips from the cardboard counter sheet.

The chips with the Greek letters on one side are placed number side up on the Catanian colonies with the matching Greek letters, as shown in the set up diagram, above.

The chips with the color dots on the reverse side are shuffled face down and the individual chips are placed on the planets with the matching colored dot. (One per planet). A chip is turned face up when a player founds a colony on an adjacent colony intersection.

The Reserve chips (marked with white dots) are placed next to the game board (white side up). Whenever the dice are rolled for production, every planet with a resource chip that matches the number on the dice will produce resources. Every colony adjacent to these planets will produce one resource card. The type of card produced is determined by the type of planet. (see diagram at the left to see which type of resource is produced by each type of planet).

There are five types of resource cards, one for each planet type.

Sort the resource cards by type and place the cards in the five compartments in the card tray. Place this tray near the board so all players can reach it. Each player receives a mother ship and a cap that matches the color of his playing pieces. Each player places his mother ship in front of him. Mother ships are not placed on the board.

Sort the freight rings, boosters, and cannons and place them in the plastic compartments in the game box. Place the box in easy reach of all players. The mother ships have no expansions at the start of the game. During the game, a player can exchange resources for expansions that are placed on his mother ship. The illustration above shows a mother ship with expansions.

The abilities of a player's ships are represented by his mother ship. If he adds more boosters to his mother ship, all of his starships (colony ships and trade ships) will move faster. Cannons placed on a player's mother ship will increase his combat strength, and freight rings will increase the cargo space on his trade ships.

A player's mother ship represents the characteristics of all of his starships.

A player can not win with only colonies and spaceports. One way to earn more victory points is by building trading posts at an alien's home base.

When a player builds a trading post, he will choose a friendship card, and he might get a friendship chip!

These chips are worth 2 victory points!

Sort the friendship cards by race. Each pile is placed face up on the game board on the illustration of the matching race, next to their home base.

The friendship chip for each race is placed directly on its home base.

When a player moves his starships, an unexpected encounter can occur. These encounters are represented by the encounter cards. Shuffle the 32 encounter cards and place them face down beside the game board.

An encounter can increase a player's fame. Fame is represented by fame rings. Fame rings are placed in the fourth compartment of the box insert.

Each player receives one fame ring, which he places at the top of his mother ship.

Each player receives a game overview card, which contains important information about game play.

Place the dice next to the board. To complete the game set up, create the resource reserve pile. Take 12 resource cards of each type (60 total) and shuffle them. Place this pile face down next to the card tray. Note: If the reserve pile is ever exhausted, a new reserve pile should be formed by taking 6 of each resource card and shuffling them together.

Each player now takes 3 cards from this reserve pile and holds the cards concealed in his hand.

Important: Once a group of players has played the game once or twice, they should use the starting set up for advanced players described in the Almanac.

Object of the Game

To win the game, a player must collect 15 victory points.

In order to collect these points, a player must build new colonies and spaceports.

Each colony is worth one victory point, and each spaceport is worth two victory points. Therefore, each player starts the game with four victory points (1 spaceport worth 2 points, plus 2 colonies worth 1 point each).

Victory points are recorded with the victory point markers. Each player places his victory point marker on the "4" space of the victory point track.

Game Play

Each player rolls both dice. Whoever has the highest roll plays first. Each turn is divided into 3 phases:

  1. Production Phase:

    1. The player rolls the dice. Planets with numbers matching the dice roll produce resources.

    2. The player may receive supplies from Earth.

  2. Trade and Building Phase:

    The player trades and builds.

  3. Flight Phase:

    The player moves his starships.

Once the player has completed his Flight Phase, his turn is over. He should pass the dice to the player on his left, who then begins his turn.

The Production Phase

I. Rolling For Resources

The first thing that a player does during his turn is to roll for resource production.

Every planet that contains a resource chip matching the dice roll produces resources.

Each player receives one resource for each of his colonies and spaceports that is adjacent to a planet that has a chip that matches the number rolled.

If a "7" is rolled, the Earth demands tribute:

Each player that has more than 7 resource cards selects half of his resource cards and returns them to the resource piles.

The player who rolled the 7 may take one resource card from the player of his choice. The victim holds his cards face down and the card is drawn at random.

Example: The red player rolls an 8 during his resource phase. The yellow and the blue player each receive a Carbon resource card.

2. Receive Supplies from Earth

If a player has less than 9 Victory Points, he may draw one card from the reserve pile during his turn. This represents supplies sent from Earth. The player may receive supplies from earth even if he rolls a "7" on the production dice.

Note: If a player has more than 8 victory points, he no longer qualifies for these free cards. He does not get to draw a card from the reserve pile during his turn.

If a player forgets to draw this card, the player may draw the card during his Trade and Building Phase. If the player forgets to draw a card before the end of his Trade and Building phase, he forfeits the card.

The Trade and Building Phase

During this phase, the player may trade and build any number of times and in any order he chooses.


1. Trading With Other Players

During his Trade and Building Phase, a player can trade resources with other players.

The player announces which resources he needs, and what he is willing to give in return.

Note: The player who is taking his turn must be a participant in every trade during this phase. He can initiate trades, accept offers from other players, and/or make counter proposals. However, the other players may not make any trades among themselves.

2. Trading with the Galactic Bank

The five resource piles represent the Galactic Bank. A player can trade with the bank during his turn by returning three identical resource cards back to the resource piles and then taking one resource card of his choice (Trade ratio 3:1).

Trade goods may be traded to the bank at a more favorable ratio. Two trade goods cards may be exchanged for any one card. (trade ratio 2:1) A player who has a merchant friendship card can also improve his trade ratio with the Galactic Bank (see Friendship Cards in the Almanac).


A player can also build during the Trade and Building Phase. Building is limited only by the resource cards available to the player. A player can build until his resource cards or pieces are exhausted. The resource costs of the individual items are described on the game overview cards.

1. Starships (colony ships and trade ships)

A starship always consists of the following: a transporter and a colony module or trade module.

If a player wants to build a colony ship, he returns the required combination of resource cards to the resource piles and takes a colony module from his reserves. The player then places one of his three transporters on the colony module.

If a player wants to build a trade ship, then he returns the required combination of resource cards to the resource piles and takes a trade module from his reserves. The player then places one of his three transporters on the trade module.

The player places the colony ship or trade ship on an open "spaceport intersection" adjacent to one of his spaceports.

Even if a player has enough resources, he cannot build a starship under the following conditions:

If all 3 of the his transporters are already on the board he can not build any more ships until a transporter becomes available.

If the player has used all of his colony modules, he can not build a colony ship. If he has used all his trade modules, he can not build a trade ship.

If there are no empty spaceport intersections adjacent to any of his spaceports, he must wait until a spaceport intersection becomes available.

If the player has built a starship during his Trade and Building phase, then he will be able to move the ship during his Flight Phase later that same turn.

When a player builds a starship he may select any of his three transporters. Each transporter has a number of rings around the front end. If the player has an encounter during his Flight Phase (see below) then the starship with the fewest number of rings will be the ship that has that encounter. This ship is referred to as the First Starship.

2. Spaceports

Each player starts the game with one spaceport. A starship may only be built in one of the two intersections adjacent to a spaceport. During the game, the distance from the Catanian colonies to the unexplored planets will become greater. A player may choose to build new spaceports in distant colonies to help speed up his efforts.

Spaceports are created by expanding an existing colony. A spaceport costs 3 Carbon and 2 Food. The player discards these cards and then takes a spaceport ring from his reserve and places it on the colony of his choice.

A spaceport is worth two victory points, but it produces the same as a colony. If a planet adjacent to a spaceport is rolled, the spaceport still produces only one resource card. Spaceport rings do not have to be delivered by transporter units.

3. Expanding the Mother Ship

A player can improve his ships by buying expansions for his mother ship. The mother ship can be expanded by adding freight rings, boosters, and cannons. After paying the correct combination of resources, a player may attach the new expansion to the mother ship.

Each booster increases the total speed of each of that player's starships by one.

Each cannon increases the combat strength of each of that player's starships by one.

Each freight ring increases the trade capacity of each of that player's trade ships.

A mother ship may be expanded to include a maximum of 6 cannons, 6 boosters, and 5 freight rings.

Flight Phase

If a player has no starships on the board, he cannot move and play proceeds to the next player.

If a player has starships, the first thing that the player must determine is the speed of his ships. The player does this by rolling his mother ship. This roll also determines if the player's first ship has an encounter.

After rolling, the player moves his ships according to the flight rules. Ships can do the following:

Starships can explore planets.

Colony ships can be moved to colony intersections to found colonies (with colony modules).

Trade ships can be moved to outpost intersections to found trading outposts (with trading outpost modules).

Determining Speed

To "roll his mother ship", a player turns his mother ship upside down, shakes it, and then turns the ship right side up. Two balls will fall into the transparent cylinder at the base of the ship.

The color of the balls in the cylinder determines the speed of the ship. Each color of ball has a value, listed on the game overview card. The total of these two values is the ship roll. For movement, the ship roll will determine the base speed, and whether there will be an event that turn. First, determine if the black ball has fallen into the cylinder:

1. If the black ball is not rolled.

Then the base speed for the player's ships is equal to the ship roll. A red and blue ball, for example, result in a base speed of "4".

The player then determines the "total speed" of his ships by adding the base speed and the number of boosters on the mother ship and any speed increases from friendship cards.

This total speed applies to each of the player's starships. The player may move each of his ships a number of intersections up to his total speed. The player must follow the flight rules when moving his ships.

Example: The yellow player has rolled a base speed of 4 (he has no boosters or friendship cards). The player has one starship on the board and may move the ship 4 intersections (see above).

2. If the Black Ball is Rolled.

The player has an encounter before moving.

The player to his left draws the top encounter card from the stack, and reads the question in the first box. (Do not show the encounter card to anyone).

The player whose turn it is responds to the question.

Depending on the response, the player to his left reads the chosen result.

The result may force another decision. He continues reading the responses to the current player's choices until he reaches the end of the encounter card.

The final result of the encounter takes effect. Then the encounter card is placed on the discard pile.

Note: If an encounter result affects one of the player's starships, it is always the first starship that suffers the result. (The first starship is the ship with the fewest rings on the tip of its transporter).

If a player negotiates an encounter successfully, he can gain a fame ring. Fame rings are placed on the tip of his mother ship. A player can also lose a fame ring if an encounter's results are unfavorable.

Every two fame rings are worth one victory point.

The base speed after an encounter is always 3 regardless of which balls were rolled. As in case 1, the number of boosters and friendship card increases are added to the base speed.

Exploring Planets

If a player moves a starship onto an intersection adjacent to a planet with a face down resource chip (such intersections are marked with red arrows on the illustration), the player may look at the hidden side of that planet's resource chip. If a player moves a starship onto a colony intersection, he may look at the chips on both adjacent planets.

Without revealing the identity of the chip to the other players, he returns the resource chip face down to the planet it came from.

The player may continue to move his starship after exploring a planet if the starship has not used all of its movement.

Founding Colonies

If a player ends the movement of one of his colony ships on an open colony intersection, he first investigates the resource chips on both adjacent planets.

If neither of the chips is a pirate lair or an ice planet, the player may found a colony.

The player removes the transporter from the colony and returns the transporter to his reserves. The player then turns the resource chips of both planets face up.

A colony is worth one victory point and brings the player resources whenever the appropriate number is rolled.

Once a colony is founded, it can not be disbanded and turned back into a colony module.

Founding Trading Outposts

Each alien home base has 5 outpost intersections. Each outpost intersection has a number from 1 to 5.

A player may establish a trading outpost with an alien race by moving a trade ship to the lowest numbered, empty outpost intersection attached to that home base.

In order to establish a trading outpost, that player must have expanded his mother ship with freight rings. His mother ship must have at least as many freight rings as the number marked on the outpost intersection.

If the player meets these requirement, he may remove the transporter from this trading outpost, and return it to his reserves.

If this player is the first to establish a trading outpost with this race (i.e. his trading outpost is placed on the "1" space attached to the home base of a race), then he automatically receives the friendship chip for that race. Each friendship chip is worth 2 victory points. (The player should advance his victory point marker 2 spaces).

After he has established a trading outpost with a race, the player may examine all of the unclaimed friendship cards on that race's home base. He may select any one of these cards and place it face up in front of himself. Each friendship card grants the player certain advantages, and the player may begin using them immediately.

The second trading outpost established at a home base must be placed at the intersection numbered "2". Similarly, the third, fourth, and fifth trading outposts must be established in spaces 3, 4, and 5 respectively. Also, the minimum number of freight rings that must be on the mother ship is equal to the number of the outpost intersection. Each trading outpost established allows its founder to select a friendship card.

The player with the greatest number of trading outposts at a single home base takes the friendship chip for that race (and the two points it is worth). If there is a tie for the greatest number of outposts, than the player involved in the tie who owns the lowest numbered trading outpost gets the chip.

Pirate Lairs and Ice Planets

A colony may not be founded adjacent to a planet that contains a pirate lair chip or an ice planet chip. If a player manages to defeat a pirate lair or to make an ice planet habitable, he exchanges the pirate or ice chip for a resource chip from the reserve pile.

(Reserve chips have white dots on their reverse sides).

The player places the pirate or ice chip in front of himself. Each such chip is worth one victory point.

To defeat a pirate lair, a player must have a starship on an intersection adjacent to the planet with the pirate lair chip, and the total number of cannons on his mother ship and from his friendship cards must be equal to or greater than the number on the pirate lair chip.

An ice planet chip may be removed if a player has a starship on an intersection adjacent to the ice planet and his mother ship contains at least the same number for freight rings as the number on the ice chip.

Flight Rules

When a player moves his starships, he must obey all of these Flight Rules:

A player may move each of his starships any number of intersections as long as the number of intersections moved does not exceed his total speed for this turn. A player does not have to move a starship if he does not want to.

A starship may move to a given intersection multiple times during a move.

A starship may move through an intersection containing another starship (his or another player's), a colony, a spaceport, or a trading outpost.

A starship may not end its movement on an intersection that is adjacent to another player's spaceport OR that contains another starship, a colony, a spaceport, or a trading outpost.

A colony ship may not end its move on a trade intersection.

A trade ship may not end its move on a colony intersection.

A starship that begins the flight phase on a colony intersection may not end the flight phase on the same colony inersection unless a colony is founded on that inersection that turn.

A player's trade ship may only end its move on a trade intersection if his mother ship has the necessary number of freight rings and he founds a trading outpost.

Keeping Track Of Victory Points

A player moves his victory point marker forwards or backwards every time he gains or loses a victory point.

End of the Game

A player ends the game and wins immediately if he has 15 victory points during his turn.

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