The goal is to be the first player to fully crew all space vessels. Everyone starts with the same ships. You have to fill up a couple of scout ships, a cruiser, a dreadnought and a base station. It takes something like 10 crew to fill a scout ship, 20 to fill a cruiser, 30 to fill a dreadnought and 50 to fill the base.
Every turn you get to play/draw cards. Cards are mostly either crew cards which you play to "crew up" a ship or attack/defense cards.
If a player chooses to attack another players ship they have to say which ship is attack from and which is the target. Players take turns attacking on another until someone is dead or the players agree to disengage... or someone throws a disengage card.
Weapons cards include Laser and Missle cards of varying strengths. A laser 10 card can be played by any of the ships. A laser 20 card can be fired by a cruiser or larger. When attacking other players vessels they take the damage represented on the card. A laser 10 card kills 10 crew. Kill enough crew and the ship is destroyed forcing the player to re-crew to put it back on the board.
Other insteresting cards include Shields which can be played if a player is in a fight and is attacked. A shield 10 will block 10 damage worth of incoming fire. However, using a shield on the players turn means that you can't fire on your turn because the shields were up.
The evade card can be used to evade missles and there is no damage. There is also no penalty and the player can fire back normally on his turn.
Other interesting cards....
Fire Control - Played on a specific ship. It's an upgrade that lasts as long as the ship is not destroyed. It allows the ship to fire back even if it uses shields to defend.
RAM - Any ship can attempt to ram another. If the player cannot throw a disengage card both ships are destroyed. Ramming a scout into a fully loaded base is a fun thing to do.
Commission Ship - Allows putting out more than one crew card during a turn if putting a new ship on the board.
Convoy - Play the card on a ship and choose another ship to be convoyed with. No ship can attack a ship with a convoy card without first destroying the ship its attached to.
Overall this is a fun game but it does have a tendency to whomp on the current leader prolonging it. But... It's just so fun to blow ships up.