NEARSPACE, The Basic Rules of the Game

This section introduces the basic rules of Nearspace. For more information about cards, ships and advanced rules see the appropriate sections.


  • No player may include more than one card of the same title in his deck.
  • The deck, including the Homeworld, must have a total Card Value of 30 or less.
  • The deck must consist of exactly 30 cards with at least 12 sector cards.
    • Sector cards are: Homeworld, Space, Colony World, Gas Giant, Star Base, Asteroid Field, Mine Field, and Stronghold
  • Players remove their Homeworld from the cards and shuffle the deck.


A Neutral Space is laid out face-up in the center of the playing area. Players then place the top two cards of their Resource face-down to the right of the starting sector. This line of cards is referred to as the Frontier.

They then place the next nine cards face-down in an inverted pyramid as shown in figure 1. The final card placed face up at the pinnacle of the arrangement is the player’s Homeworld. The other cards are set aside and are used as the Resource. The top three cards of the Resource are dealt face up and form the player’s Hand.


After the game “board” has been laid out players roll a d20. The high roller goes first and begins the game. When deploying ships and moving them about different sectors, the fleets quickly become entangled. To prevent confusion use presence tokens to denote sectors containing your ships. If you have at least one ship in a sector you are said to have presence in a sector and can access its Construction Points and Advantages.  Alternatively, the high roller can place ships so that the die reads its highest possible facet total. His opponent places his ships so that 1 is always read on the die.

The Dice
Players need access to a large number of dice. Not necessarily to field them all, but to respond to their opponent’s strategies and make up for their own oversights. Though players are restricted in what cards are played at the beginning of the game they can deploy any dice that they can get their hands on. This collection of available dice is a player’s Stockpile.

Though a player must have his engines and ships under construction visible, nothing demands he reveal his Stockpile yet to be played. Your opponent has the right to see not only what you have on the board, but what you are constructing and the number of engine dice in operation.

Throughout the game players need to be aware of the number of facets a ship has. When counting facets of a ship the minimum is always 1 facet.

See Advanced Rules for Irregular Dice and Check for #.

The Resource and Hand
After the initial set-up, those cards not used to define Nearspace become the Resource.  The first three cards from the Resource are dealt to one side face-up. These cards represent a player’s Hand of available terraforming projects, events,
directives, etc. Players may not have an encounter revealed in their Hand to start the game. Encounters in the opening hand are placed at the bottom of the Resource and a new card is revealed from the resource. See Advanced Rules for Hand Cycling.


With the playing area laid out and dice at hand, the opponents are ready to get down to the dirty business of war. Players start the game with their Homeworld active (face-up) and an engine already active.

A player’s turn consists of the following steps.

1. Figure Construction Points
2. Fleet Maintenance
3. Build
4. Engine Dice
5. Threat
6. Action
   a. Movement
   b. Combat

1. Figure Construction Points
At the beginning of a player’s turn add up Construction Points from all sectors where they have at least one ship, known as presence. This total CP is used to pay for the Fleet Maintenance, ship building, Terraforming, or any other project that requires CP. Any CP Advantage from the sectors should be noted. Advantages may generate resources that can only be applied to building a specific kind of ship. CP cannot be stored from round to round and must be used or lost each turn.

EX: At the beginning of the turn a player has ships on Krakl CP:1, Oceana CP:2, and Shontarran Lights CP:0 sectors. They do not have any ships present on Terra CP:5, but a player is assumed to have presence on their Homeworld. Thus they  have 8 CP to expend this turn. Krakl has the Advantage “1CP for Carriers” which can only be used to build a Carrier class ship.

2. Fleet Maintenance
After tallying the total number of Construction Points, figure the maintenance cost of the fleet. The total number of facets in play are counted and divided by 10. Any fractions are ignored. This value, the fleet maintenance, is then subtracted from the total Construction Points available that turn.  One can use the Fleet Maintenance Tracker or dice to remember the number of facets in play.

If the maintenance exceeds the available CP the player must dismantle a number of facets equal to or greater than ten times the difference. The ships that are lost are those farthest from the player’s Homeworld. If two ships are equidistant the player may choose which one he loses. Continue to dismantle ships until the balance of CP is resolved. Ships lost this way are dismantled, returned to the Stockpile, not placed in the Graveyard. This is the only time a player may dismantle their ships.

Green dice are ignored for all considerations of fleet maintenance.

EX: A player figures his CP at 12, but his fleet maintenance is 14 (148 facets). He has a gunship across the frontier that he loses as the most distant ship from his homeworld. He then faces a choice of losing ships from the following: 1 fighter, 3 gunships or 2 battleships. He chooses one gunship and a battleship for a total of twenty-two facets.

3. Build
The Shipyard
The Shipyard is an area of the playing surface to the side of the homeworld where ships are built. Players spend Construction Points to build ships. The color and facets of a ship determine its role in the fleet, see Ship Specifications. Players spend CP equal to the facets of the ship to complete it. Once the number of construction points invested in the ship equals its number of facets the ship is complete. It enters service immediately at the site where it was constructed. Players may not dismantle a ship after they have begun to invest CP into it. For partially building ships see Advanced Rules for Banking CP.

As ships are being built the player must designate the site of their construction. Generally speaking this your Homeworld, but can include a starbase or opponent’s homeworld  where the player has presence. As ships are being built they must be segregated as to the site of their construction. At no time may a player have more than five ships partially built on a Homeworld and no more than three ships partially built on a star base. If a shipyard has the maximum number of ships under construction, no new ships maybe constructed until there is a free space.

If a player fails to maintain presence at a construction site those ships being built are dismantled by the occupying enemy. If the partially completed hulls are dismantled they return to the player’s Stockpile of dice not the Graveyard. Dismantled hulls do not count towards victory.  Under no circumstances may a player “finish” his opponent’s partially constructed ships.

Engines are built in a similar manner to a ship.  Engines may only be constructed at a player’s homeworld. If a player’s homeworld falls to his opponent partially built engines may not be dismantled and no CP can be invested in the engine.  Any number of engines may be under construction if a player so chooses.

Hand Cycling, Events, Directives, and Terraforming
Construction Points can also be spent on various card effects. By spending the noted CP value on a card a player can make use of an Event this turn, activate (or maintain) a Directive, Cycle their Hand, or Terraform a sector. Further details concerning these cards can be found in their respective entries. See the Advanced Rules for Terraforming, Banking CP, Hand Cycling and Artifice.

4. Engine Dice
A d20 is used as the giant stellar engines that allow for FTL travel. All players begin the game with one engine die and can build more as needed. After the Build Phase is complete all available engine dice are rolled. This total is the Engine Points (E) used during movement. See Movement Below.

See the Advanced Rules for Engine Storage and Engine Charging

5. Threat
During this phase any ship currently facing a threat must check to see how they fare. Ships in threat sectors, facing encounters in Nearspace, or encounters threatening the homeworld are checked at this time. Players will test each ship individually and in the order of their choosing.

6. Action
When the amount of E has been totaled the player is now ready to deploy his ships through the warps of space and time. The number of facets of a ship is the cost in E for that ship to travel from one sector to another. When a ship attempts to move into a sector that is already occupied by their opponent combat ensues.

6a. Movement
Ships can move from a sector to any adjacent sector. Any number of ships may be moved together from one sector to another sector, but you cannot move ships from different sectors simultaneously.  Moving from multiple sectors is relevant in Combat and exploration.

EX: A player has rolled 23E (Engine dice roll of 7 and 16). They choose to move a six-sided ship from into an adjoining sector where they have a ten-sided ship. The two ships then move together into the next sector leaving 1E unspent.

There is one restriction on movement during the opening round of play. Ships may not cross the frontier on the first round. 

At the beginning of the game all sectors are face down, except for the Neutral Space sector and the Homeworlds. As a ship moves into an unexplored sector the card is turned face up. The card remains face up for the rest of the game.

When moving through unexplored Nearspace non-sector cards may be discovered. These cards, if they are not Encounters, are placed to the bottom of your Resource and the top card of your Resource replaces it. When discovered in Nearspace an encounter affects those ships with presence in the same manner as a threat sector. The encounter remains in Nearspace until its threat is beaten. It is then discarded and the top card of your Resource replaces it.

6b. Combat
When a ship attempts to move into a sector already occupied by their opponent combat ensues. The attacker, the player moving into the sector,  rolls all of the ships that are moving into the occupied sector. The defender rolls his dice to defend himself. The defender must roll at least as many ships as are attacking, or as many as he has available in that sector. If a defender has more ships than the attacker, as is often the case when attacking a carrier and her fighters, the defender may choose to not roll all of their ships. Though you may move any number of ships from one sector to attack you cannot attack from two different sectors simultaneously.

EX: A gunship can move into an adjoining sector where it faces a fighter and a destroyer. Not a good fight for the gunship. Instead the gunship moves to a neighboring sector and it and the battleship move together to engage the inferior force.

After both sides have rolled, the highest rolls from each side are paired together. The second highest are then paired together, the third highest, and so on. When the ships are compared the higher number is considered the victor and the losing ship is destroyed. Should the attack and defense tie both ships are mortally wounded and lost.

When a ship is destroyed it is placed in the Graveyard of its owner. The defender must place his ship in the Graveyard first. The total number of facets in a Graveyard can be used to determine the victor. See Winning.

Alterations to a ship’s attack will only affect the ships moving to attack just as alterations to a ship’s defense will only affect ships being attacked. Alterations to combat will affect ships whether they are attacking or defending. Until the combat has been resolved the attacking ships are still considered to have presence in their originating sector and are subject to any rules affecting that sector. Likewise only the defender enjoys the rules of the sector they have presence in.

Should the aggressor be victorious all ships involved in the attack that survived complete the move into the sector. Should any part of the enemy’s forces survive the move is not completed but the E used to initiate the battle is still used up. The only functional difference between a move and an attack is the presence of enemy ships. Thus, any rules that refer to movement also apply to attacks.

Ships may not normally attack more than once per turn. Ships from the same sector may attack in waves as long as no one ship attacks more than once a turn. Forces from different sectors may not coordinate for a unified attack. Ships may defend themselves as often as is necessary in a turn.


In a standard game of Near Space there are three paths to victory.  The first completed victory condition gives the player a win.

Conquest: Victory is achieved when an opponent has one hundred facets worth of ships in their Graveyard. Ships destroyed, by combat or threat, are kept visible in the Graveyard for easy reference.

Annihilation: Victory is achieved when all of the opponent’s ships have been wiped out and they are no longer able to field more ships, through either the lack of construction facilities or dice.

Exile: Victory is achieved if you can capture an enemies’ Homeworld and maintain a constant presence there for three continuous enemy turns. You have deposed the current government and now rule their empire.

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