Two updates in two days? It’s as if I’m on holiday or something. Yesterday I explained how the Embark phase of play gives players a chance to play special upgrade cards and establish the order of play for the Engage phase. The Engage phase is when players can trade with planets or other destinations to gain upgrade cards and/or victory points, conquer planets to gain more victory points and passive ‘homeworld’ bonuses or perform special actions as described on special cards.
Continuing the example round that I used to illustrate the last post, Blue has been knocked out of the round with Orange and Green remaining; Green, with the faster fleet, is first to engage.
Green apparently has only one option: To take the risk of engaging the Hostile Warfleet for 3 victory points. The Hostile Warfleet is a special card that offers a very high victory point reward, however the player does not know the stats required to defeat it until they have chosen to engage it (established by rolling the two black dice). Here, Green knows that she has enough defence to defeat the hostile Warfleet but, with 24 attack, she is not confident that she will beat a 20+d8. Luckily, Green has another option as she is permitted to play any ‘engage’ upgrade cards at this point if she happens to have any.
Green is in possession of an ‘engage’ upgrade card and plays it to enhance her fleet:
The +4 defence bonus raises Green’s defence to 20 (10+6+4). Green is now able to conquer the Cartref Mor homeworld for 1 victory point and a bonus of +2 water barges every turn.
With no ‘engage’ upgrade cards to play, Orange has only one available course of action: Trade with Rogus Crudelis for the face-down upgrade card that it is offering. When a planet is traded with, the player completing the trade receives whatever rewards are on offer and places the destination card into the destination discard pile: The planet has had its trade requirements satisfied and, as a trading partner, come under the temporary protection of the empire, meaning no other player can conquer it for the timebeing.
When all players have had an opportunity to engage destinations (some players may be unable to successfully engage if they have rolled puny fleets or had their fleets destroyed), new destinations are drawn to fill any spaces in the destination ‘tableau’ and any upgrade card rewards placed on to those cards. All players then remove their dice from their fleet cards and play returns to the Enlist phase, with the player to the left of the previous ‘first player’ becoming the first player for the next round.
When the game has been more thoroughly playtested, adjusted, completely redesigned etc. I will have a better idea of the victory point total required to win the game. At the moment, though, it’s looking like something along the lines of 13 points or so for a 2 player game and slightly fewer for more players.
Next update: A more in-depth look at the anatomy of upgrade cards and special cards.