The object of Space Station Assault is either to destroy your opponent's space station, or else a whole bunch of their ships.
Setup: Each player takes their space station and places it on the board. The two stations should be opposite each other with three card widths between them. Each player then shuffles their deck of cards and deals themselves an initial hand of 10 cards. One player is chosen to have initiative, and the on-table cards should be aligned to face him. (This is a constant and clever mnemonic; unused cards always face the player with initiative.)
Cards. Each card contains four values: a victory value from 1-4, listing how much the card is worth if killed; a speed from 1-5, listing when the ship goes; a firepower from 1-4, listing how much damage the ship does; and a shield from 1-4, listing how much damage destroys the ship. The space station is a special and unique ship. It's rated: 60 value; 6 speed; 1 attack; 25 shields.
Order of Play: The game is played in "waves", during which all of the active ships go. A wave is in turn broken down into phases. First, the players alternate turns, playing each of their speed 1 ships, then their speed 2, etc. (Note that a player may get to go several times in a row at the end of a phase if his opponent is out of that speed ship.) The space stations are each speed 6, meaning that they go last, ending a wave.
During each turn, a player may do one of three things:
1. Play a card of the appropriate speed from his hand and attack.
2. Move a card of the appropriate speed on the board and attack.
3. Just attack with a card of the appropriate speed.
Whenever a ship is used it's rotated 180 degrees (away from the player with initiative) to mark that it's done for the round.
Movement. The rules for playing and moving are the same: a card may be placed anywhere on the playing surface provided that it's orthagonally adjacent to at least one other ship.
Fire. During its turn a ship must attack one orthagonally adjacent enemy ship if there is one. He does a number of points of damage to the ship equal to his firepower. If the total equals or exceeds the target's shields, it's destroyed. Else, a marker is used to record the points of damage done; when that total equals the shield value, after additional hits, the ship is destroyed.
Ending a Wave: A wave ends after all of the phases have been played through (meaning that each player has played all 10 of his cards, possibly used surviving ships that were still on the table, and also used his station). Afterward, each player draws 10 more cards.
Ending the Game: The game ends when either player collects 60 points of enemy ships. This usually occurs when the enemy space station is destroyed, but a whole bunch of other ships could substitute for those points.
Space Station Assault contains a deck of 110 cards and a rulesheet in a tuckbox.
The Cards: There are two decks (blue & red) of 55 cards each. All of the cards are sturdy, slightly glossy stock, printed full color with rounded corners.
Each of the cards represents a space ship.There's good-looking computer generated art in the center of the card by Lon Chaney & Steve Wilson. Each card also has a name (e.g., "Dreadnaught", "Frigate") and four stats: victory value; speed; firepower; and shields.
The four values are printed near the four corners of the card. Each one is located inside a unique shape, and it's entirely easy to remember what's what within your first minute or two of playing. The spread out numbers also make it quite easy to see what's going on when the cards are on the table.
They're a little harder to make out in your hand, as all you can make out when you fan the cards is the card name and the speed value. These are also indented slightly too much which means you have to fan your cards further than you should. Fortunately, the speed is the main number you need to keep track of before you play a card, and once players become familiar with the cards (after a couple of games), the ship name will tell them the rest of the info. Nonetheless, it's subpar.
Each deck of 55 cards actually contains: 50 ships; 1 space station; and 4 blank cards (with all the icons preprinted). The inclusion of the blank cards is a nice touch.
The Rules: A black and white folded rulesheet. It's short and easy to follow.
Overall, the components in the game are sturdy, good-looking, and entirely usable when they're on the table. My only real complaint is the aforementioned issue with holding the cards in your hand, and thus I've given the game a low "5" out of "5" for Style.