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I looked through the rules multiple times and even searched the rules for every instance of the word "push" and still need some clarification please:
1) the rule book mentions push a number of times but doesn't--as far as I can tell--explicitly state what it means.
2) logic tells me that since 2 minis can never be in the same space on the board, when an alien moves but cannot move into a space with another mini, it will "push" whatever is in its way, out of the way. Is this right?
3) so based on #2 above, if the space the alien is moving from has an arrow that will lead it around another alien/character, I can choose that other space instead of pushing? Playing through solo to learn the rules the board wasn't very crowded, so it seemed easy enough to have aliens flow around other objects instead of pushing. I would think it would be much more complicated with more characters.
you got everything correct.
2) A push happens, when an alien moves into an occupied space. If another alien is pushed, it moves along the arrows.
If a character is pushed he loses one life token (except for Bus) and may then evade into any adjacent unoccupied space of his choice in order to avoid further damage from another push of the same or an other alien.
3) Yes. You can choose any path for an alien, as long as it leads along the arrows.