Game Play: You begin by dividing players into two separate teams controlling either a black or white star ship piece. On the board each team places asteroid tokens and nebula tokens where they want and crystals on designated places. There are no turns and almost all dice rolling takes place simultaneously by both teams. The engineer has 6 regular six-sided dice and rolls them continuously until they get the number they want that corresponds to five stations; Helm, Shields, Sensors, Weapons and Tractor Beam. When each station gets a corresponding dice from Engineering, they begin rolling their dice.
Helm: Rolls up to three dice with directional arrows in order to move and face the ship.
Shields: Rolls up to three dice to place shielding on the bow, stern, port, or starboard side of the ship.
Sensors: Rolls up to four dice to increase chances to hit with a fired weapon or to decrease chances opponent will hit with a fired weapon.
Weapons: Rolls up to six dice to arm torpedoes in front or rear launching spaces. Three dice are needed to arm one torpedo, thus you can only have two torpedoes armed at a time.
Tractor Beam: Rolls up to three dice to allow the ship to collect crystals or move the enemy ship.
As the above actions take place, the team is constantly maneuvering around asteroids that can take down your shields and around nebula clouds that can take down your sensors. Once a ship is in firing position and someone yells, "Fire". All dice rolling stops. The firing ship determines if they are in range (their sensors), if they hit (target ship's sensors), and if they do damage (shielding). Once the firing is resolved, play continues.
Using the tractor beam, ships can collect crystals that can give different advantages like restoring engineering dice (you lose them as you take damage) and giving one needed dice roll to a station immediately without rolling. Tractor beams can also be used to drop mines and grab the enemy ship and move them into a square with a mine, asteroid, or nebula cloud. Tractor beaming the other ship also stops all dice rolling.
The game is over when one ship has sustained four damage.
Review: Playing this for the first time I was with eight people which meant each team had one person playing the engineer, one person playing shields, tractor beam, and helm, one person playing weapons and sensors, and the last person playing "captain". Captain means they are not rolling any dice but are directing the overall action.
The rules listed above are shortened versions of the actual rule book which is 12 pages. Explaining the rules took about 20 minutes. That was a little rough for some of the players who just wanted to play. Once the rules were explained, the madness began. The dice rolling was loud and occasionally the dice would fall off the table onto the floor causing a mad dash to get the dice back. Playing with eight people, the captain is a necessary element as the game is going very fast. I ended up being the captain for my team and managing the entire strategy is exhausting and you have to be a very quick thinker. Below is a video of part of the action near the beginning of the game.
After the game was over, everyone sat back and said "phew". Some described it as intense and one player said that a video game would make it much easier to do all of that.
I later played it again with the minimum amount of players, four players, and it was much less hectic and a bit slower paced. It was still frantic for each individual player as there was now more for each player to do. With only two on each team, each player can roll the engineering dice as they become available but there is no longer one person looking at the big picture.
Overall: The game is fun but you definitely have to have a core group of players that are willing to get into a game this intense. This is not a game for your casual players and is best suited for that group you meet with fairly regularly that are familiar with strategy board games. I do not think this would be good for young kids as there is yelling involved and trying to get various tasks done may discourage them. I think the manufacturer's recommendation of 14 years old is about a good place to start kids with this game but kids slightly younger will want to get involved sooner.
Who will like this game? Regular table top game players, quick thinkers, team players
Who will not: Beginner table top game players, introverts