There are five card types in the game. Throughout play, you will be interacting with each of these at some point, so it's good to familiarize yourself with them.
There are four ship types - Fighter, Small, Medium, and Large. Each has a cost, attack, hit points, and speed. Some ships have other abilities written on them. Ships are the only cards that can move between systems.
Ships are built in your Homeworld or in Capital Systems, and are placed on the side of the system card closest to you. Ships are placed on the board with their text facing their controller. Ships can move (jump) between systems equal to their speed; a ship with a speed of 1 can jump to another system once per turn.
You can only control a number of ships equal to the total number of developments you control. If your number of developments is equal to or less than the number of ships you control, you cannot build more ships.
Stations act just like ships, but cannot move between systems. Stations can be built in any system you control. You may only build a number of stations equal to the number of developments in that system.
If a station with no attack remains in a system after it has been conquered by another player, that player gains control of it.
Systems are the backbone of your empire. They provide resources to build ships and play other cards. Systems also have a domain (see Domains) and a maximum development number. This number, located in the top right of the card, represents the total number of development counters that can be placed on the system at any time.
Technology cards allow for additional, long-lasting abilities. Technology cards are placed in the Technology row closest to the player.
Some technologies provide static abilities, like increasing ship stats or drawing additional cards each turn, while others have abilities that can be activated when needed by paying a cost.
Commands are cards that allow you to perform a one-time action. You reveal them from your hand, perform the action on the card, then put them in the discard pile. Commands can be played on any player's turn, but if it is not your turn they can only be played as a response (see Responses).