Battlestations is a cooperative game about being a hero onboard a starship. One player is the Enemy controlling the enemy characters, space anomalies and secrets in the rules. Other players each play a single character and collectively crew a ship to accomplish a mission. A few simple systems interact here to simulate the workings of a starship. Your character will be moving around on the ship taking actions to operate the ship.
This overview will give you an idea of how it all works and tell you where to find the specific rules for each section. Bold words have special meaning in the game as defined in the glossdex (page 288).
It is worthwhile for everybody on the crew to be familiar with this brief overview section. Each player should also be familiar with the rules section associated with their profession.
Pilots should read the Helm section (page 128).
Scientists should know about the Science Bay and Hyperdrive when you want to warp out (pages 140 and 132). Only worry about the Teleporter or Cloaking device if you have those modules. Engineers should read the Engine section (page 127) and the Marine should know about personal (page 38) and ship to ship combat (page 104). There is a lot here but you only need to know about the stuff you have at hand. If you are already a Battlestations fan, some stuff has changed (ships are faster, you can use Cannons, Engines and Missile Bays with used markers on them) but the basics have remained intact.
If you have the 32 page rulebook, and you are new to Battlestations, I recommend starting with that book and moving on to this book after you’ve completed the introductory campaign.
After the setup, the game takes place in a turn structure of Phases and Rounds. There are 6 Phases in each Round. During each phase, ships move and missiles move then each player gets to move and act in any order and when enemies move and act as controlled by the Enemy.
At the end of the 6th Phase of each round, there are bookkeeping tasks to perform and then you start a new round on Phase 1.
This continues until a victory condition has been met by either side based on the mission parameters. A single session of Battlestations is a Campaign Turn and generally takes 2 to 4 hours to play out. See the sequence of play on page 300.
Starships are assembled out of modules into an array based on the ship’s size and registry (see page 263). Each module of the ship has a function: Engines must be at the back of the ship and produce power; Cannons allow you to attack other ships on the side of the ship the gun is facing; Life Support allows for crew to breathe (or whatever they do instead!); the Helm must be on the front and allows you to change the facing or Speed of your ship. Missile Bays allow you to put missiles on the map that will track down your enemies and blast them.
Some modules will acquire used markers indicating they cannot be further used this Round or can be used but at a penalty on the Skill Check to use them. Each module is described in detail alphabetically starting on page 102.
Here’s a size 3 human ship that is pretty much standard:
Each turn you move and act and then the enemies move and act. All actions in the game require you to roll 2d6 and add your skill then compare to a target number.
The variables for your ship are tracked on the ship control card by sliding glass beads. Speed is the number of hexes your ship moves each phase. Unless somebody takes a piloting action to stall, sideslip, or turn, it will go this many hexes in the direction it is headed. OOC (Out of Control) measures how much the ship is rocking. You’ll find the ship rocking when it attempts maneuvers or is hit by heavy enemy fire. To simulate this, each ship has an “Out Of Control” level that applies as a penalty to movement and actions aboard the ship.
Add the OOC level to the difficulty of your skill checks and subtract it from your personal movement.
The ship automatically steadies a little at the end of each phase. Pilots may take an action to steady the ship completely.
OOC maxes out at 4. Any OOC generated beyond this is converted to hull damage. Power Levels show available power in the indicated systems. Your ship will generate power at this start of each round if it has at least one functioning engine (and when anybody takes an Engineering action to pump more power).
Use Helm power to maneuver, Guns power to fire weapons and Shields to retard incoming weapons fire. The maximum power level for each system is the ship’s size.
Note: If you want the ship to do something different, go to the helm and change speed or facing.
Your character moves around on the starship taking actions to make stuff happen. You can use a sample character provided in the cards or you can build your own character in about 10 minutes by choosing a species, profession, special ability, skill set and personal equipment on these next few pages.
Each Phase, you’ll get to take one action with your character. You may move either before or after your action. The list of actions on page XX details rules for everything you can do in Battlestations. The summary chart on the punchout sheet covers most of what you can do.
Many of your actions are dependent upon the module you are in (see pages 103 to 142) or personal equipment you are using (see pages 74 to 99). Automatic actions such as drawing a weapon or movement are accomplished without any dice rolls. Some actions require a Skill Check to determine if they are successful.
Any action to activate the ship is a Battlestation Action. It must be taken at a Battlestation (starred square) on the ship it is affecting. If it is not in the module that is being activated, the battlestation action is at a remote penalty of +3 difficulty.