Rules of the Game
Part 3: Turns
Phases of a Turn
....the Nova Wars are remembered as a period of planetary discovery as well
Each turn has six phases. At the beginning of each phase, play starts with
the opening player (initially the player to the left of the dealer) and
rotates clockwise. All players play a given phase before the next phase
begins. A turn is over when all players have played all six phases.
At the end of each turn, the opening player designation rotates to the left
such that the player starting the next turn should be the player to the left
of the person that started the current turn. The six phases of each turn
- DRAW cards to fill your hand to 10 cards.
- DISCOVER one new planet; play Environment cards on new planets.
- BUILD up your planets and ships.
- ACTION Do one of the following:
- Pass your Action phase;
- Trade one card with another player;
- Jettison up to three cards from your hand; or
- Attack a single planet.
- TRANSPORT population cards between planets and ships; move ships between planets in your empire.
- DISCARD one card (or pay a penalty).
Below is more detail on each phase.
1) DRAW PHASE
- At the start of each turn, draw cards until your hand contains 10 cards. You
may draw from the Main Deck or the top of the Discard pile, but not the
Scrapyard. All the cards for a particular draw must come from one pile, if
possible. If a pile runs out in the middle of your draw, you must draw from
the other pile to complete your hand.
2) DISCOVER PHASE
- The Discover phase is actually 3 mini-phases; each player gets 3 chances to
play during this phase. First, each player may play a planet card. Next,
each player may play one Environment card on each of the new planets
discovered by other players. Finally, each player may play an Environment
card on their own new planet, if they have one.
3) BUILD PHASE
- During your Build phase, you may play any cards marked Build. Build
Civilization and population on planets; build ships around planets; build
Ship Modifiers on ships. Although there is no limit to the number of Build
cards you can play, the following restrictions apply:
- POPULATION CARDS (ALIEN/MERC)
- You may only play Aliens on their Homeworlds or on Colonies that contain
Mercs or Aliens of the same race. You may build Mercs on any Homeworld or
Colony. Remember: A Colony is a non-Homeworld that currently contains
population. Also, the population potential of a planet equals the maximum
number of population cards you may have on that planet.
- SHIP CARDS
- A planet can always support one ship in orbit; it may also have one
additional ship for each population card on the planet. You may build ships
around any world regardless of population.
- CIVILIZATION AND SHIP MODIFIER CARDS
- Civilization becomes part of a planet and, once built, must remain unless the
planet is taken by force. Similarly, a Ship Modifier becomes part of a
specific ship. Players can capture or destroy Civilization and Ship
Modifiers as part of an attack. See Attack Results under the Action phase
for additional details.
4) ACTION PHASE
During your Action phase you may do one (and only one) of the following:
- You can elect to do nothing. In this case you are only passing your Action
phase, not the rest of your turn.
- If you elect to Trade, begin the trade by offering one card from your hand to one, or more, of the other players. In exchange, they may offer any number of cards from their hands or promise some behavior (e.g., "I promise not to attack you"). Both players must agree to the trade. You can only offer to trade one card per turn. If you offer to trade a card, but no one wants to trade, your Action phase is over. Traders are under no obligation to honor promises made during a trade.
- JETTISON DEBRIS
- If you elect to Jettison, you may jettison up to three cards from your hand.
Place jettisoned cards face up in the Discard pile.
- If you elect to Attack, you must follow the attack sequence explained below.
Stated briefly, the player with the most strength wins and you must defeat
the ships in orbit before you can attack the planet itself. You may only
attack one planet during this phase.
WINNING AN ATTACK
- Winning an attack is simple: The player with the most strength in the attack
category (i.e., Military, Diplomatic, or Economic) wins. Here, strength is
the total strength of all cards involved in the attack. When strength is
equal, compare strength in successive categories (M -> D -> E -> M....) until
there is a winner. If the strengths are equal in each of the three
categories, it is a stalemate; the attack fails, and the attacker goes home.
When you resolve an attack by rolling over to another category (e.g., D ->
E) the result is still based on the original attack category.
- The attacker decides which ships comprise his fleet, announce the target
planet, and place the Fleet in orbit around the target. All attacking ships
must come from the same planet.
- The defender announces which ships will defend and which ships will flee
to Deep Space. Only ships that were already in orbit can defend a planet -
If ships flee, see the Deep Space note below.
- Announce the form of the attack: Military, Economic or Diplomatic. The
attacker must attack the defending fleet militarily unless the cards
specifically allow other forms of attack (e.g., if a Consul Ship has a total
Military strength of zero, it may attack a Fleet Diplomatically; Koolians on
High-G ships may bypass ships in orbit).
- Any player (not just the attacker and defender) may play Special cards to
alter the battle. Only cards marked Action or Any may be played in this
phase. Special cards remain in effect until the end of the current player's
- Determine the winner of the orbital battle according to the WINNING AN
ATTACK section and apply the appropriate action from the ATTACK RESULTS
- If you defeat (or bypass) the ships in orbit, you may now attack the
planet. Announce your method of attacking the planet (e.g., Economic).
- Players may now affect the planetary battle by playing additional Special
cards. Note: previous Special cards from this phase are still in effect.
- Determine the winner of the planetary battle as per the WINNING AN ATTACK
section and apply the appropriate action from the ATTACK RESULTS section.
- Deep Space: Ships in orbit may flee to Deep Space rather than fight an
attacking Fleet. Ships that have fled to Deep Space may not attack, or be
attacked, for the remainder of the turn. During Transport, you may move the
ships in Deep Space into orbit around any of your planets that have room.
Any ships still marooned in Deep Space at the end of the turn must be
discarded along with their Assets. Note: Long Range ships can stay in Deep
- For the discussion below, remember that "the planet" always refers to the
planet and any Environment cards that are part of the planet.
- Defending Fleet loses: Attacker destroys the defending Fleet. Send the
defending Fleet and its Assets to the Scrapyard.
- Defending planet loses: Attacker destroys the defender's Civilization and
the planet becomes Uninhabited. Send the population and Civilization to the
Scrapyard, give the planet to the attacker, and place the attacking Fleet in
orbit around it.
- Attacker loses: Defender destroys the attacking Fleet. Send the attacking
Fleet and its Assets to the Scrapyard.
- Defending Fleet loses: Attacker negotiates control over the defending fleet
and most of its Assets. Defender picks one of the Assets from his Fleet and
returns it to his hand. The defending Fleet and its remaining Assets join
the attacking Fleet. These ships can immediately participate in attacking
- Defending planet loses: Attacker negotiates control over the planet and most
of its Assets. Defender picks one of the Assets from the planet and returns
it to his hand. Give the planet and its remaining Assets to the attacker.
Planets that arrive with population remain Colonies. Planets that arrive
without population become Uninhabited.
- Attacker loses: Defender negotiates control over the attacking fleet and
most of its Assets. Attacker picks one of the Assets from her Fleet and
returns it to her hand. The attacking Fleet and its remaining Assets join
the defending Fleet.
- Defending Fleet loses: Attacker buys the defending fleet and one of its
Assets. The defending Fleet, and one Asset of the attacker's choice, join
the attacking Fleet. Return all other cards to the defender's hand. These
ships can immediately join the attack on the planet.
- Defending planet loses: Attacker buys the planet and one if its Assets. The
attacker gets the planet and one card of her choice from the planet's Assets.
Return all other cards to the defender's hand. Planets that arrive with
population remain Colonies. Planets that arrive without population become
- Attacker loses: Defender buys the attacking fleet and one of its Assets.
The attacking Fleet, and one Asset of the defender's choice, join the
defending Fleet. Return all other cards to the attacker's hand.
- REMEMBER: When you capture a planet, leave your attacking fleet in orbit and
move both planet and fleet to your empire (i.e., in front of you).
5) TRANSPORT PHASE
- During this phase you may move your ships (along with their Assets) and
population. Each card can move once during a turn. Cargo moved by a ship
does not expend the cargo's own movement. Population may move from ship to
ship or between planets and ships in orbit. Ships can move from planet to
planet and from Deep Space to a planet. You may not transport Planet,
Environment, Civilization, or Ship Modifier cards.
- For example, you could move a population card to a ship and then move that
ship to another planet. Or, if your ship had population from a prior turn,
you could move the ship to another planet and transport the population down
to the planet.
6) DISCARD PHASE
- If you have cards in your hand, you must discard one to the Discard pile. If
you do not have any cards to discard, you are assessed the following penalty:
during your next Draw phase you can only draw a single card. This penalty
means that you would only have one card in your hand during the next turn
which you would eventually have to discard, or be penalized again.
- During this phase you must also send any ships that can no longer support
themselves (e.g., normal ships in Deep Space, ships without supporting
planetary population, etc.) to the Discard pile.
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