I’ll expand a little bit to give you a sense of our goals.
Our cards are patents, once we acquire them through auction we keep them permanently (unless sold). We boost them to space and they become actual tech, but if they ever get decommissioned either voluntarily or involuntarily they go back to our hands and are available again.
There is a hand limit of 3, that if you exceed you can’t participate in auctions. As you saw the first part of the game was a series of auctions and not a lot of space stuff, there are variants that start you with some cards to shorten this phase of a “typical” game.
As to the cards themselves, one thing to note is they have another side and a spectral class, which is a letter C, S, V, M, D which corresponded to all the sites on the map. Once you build a factory at a site you can take the ET production action to produce the higher tech side of a card without having to pay to boost it. This is what Juan just did with his reactor and thruster.
So that informs you a bit as to why and where we go to sites, typically we want factories on sites that match the letters of cards we have. A “perfect” rocket has all the same letter (generally unachievable) and can be completely produced in space at one site. More typically you’ll have multiple sites and have to coalesce a rocket from them.
To build a factory, first you must prospect a site. That’s what the water droplets on the map or about, which indicate a minimum ISRU value of a prospecting card. If your prospecting card meets the minimum you roll a d6 and try to equal or less than the site’s mass. So my 5C site with 3 droplets needed an ISRU card (typically robonauts or crew) of 3 or less, and a roll of 5 or less. If successful you get a claim and put your disk on it reserving it for yourself to industrialize later. To actually build a factory, you have to decommission both a refinery and a robonaut together to convert into the factory itself.
As a general rule whenever you use a tech card in order to operate it you must also have it’s supports (reactors, generators, radiators). And supports of those supports. Cards in a stack can often share them if they need the same type, so that’s a big part of rocket design strategy.
Thrusters are for moving about the map. I won’t go into all the specifics obviously, but they have two most important numbers thrust and fuel steps. My Cemet NERVA thruster is a 7-4 so 7 thrust and consumes 4 steps of fuel per burn. Thrust determines how many burns you can make in a turn, but more importantly how big of a site you can land on, you’ve got to exceed the site’s mass generally.
You also hear us taking about labs which are factories on sites with a microscope symbol on them. These are necessary to promote cards to a purple side. Many of these purple cards have a future star on them, which are long term goal cards. The game ends when 3 of these have been achieved and then we tally VPs. These come from claims, factories, achievements (goal cards) and these future stars.
So early game is a lot of research auctions where players are trying to get a workable rockets, without going too broke and letting others have cards too cheap. Hopefully of similar spectral types so they can be produced at factories more easily.
Mid game (which we are just entering) is the gold rush. Initially of closer asteroid sites as we are doing now. As we ET produce black cards and use the asteroids for refueling stops we’ll push further out. This will be the bulk of the game. We’ll be trying to establish efficient factory locations and relocate our bernals (space stations) near them. This will also involve more colonists, which grant special powers and provide votes for the elections as we jockey over control of the politics disk.
Late game happens as we get labs, especially labs past the orbit of Neptune and we race to compete futures stars. Even more jockeying over politics disk and possibly some war and flaming carnage.