The game is played over a series of rounds, each of which is centered on a single player taking a job fit for a scoundrel. All the players start with a five-card hand, a ship, and a bit of cash.
To start a round, players draw a new job card and roll the dice to see how much the job is worth. Players play a bluffing, poker-style game using suit markers on their cards, in an attempt to win the job. If players fold, they lose the job. If they lie and get caught, they lose the job and some valuables to boot. Whoever wins the gambling phase may take the job or sell it to another player.
Once a player takes the job, players roll the dice to see how many turns it will last. The player who took it preps her ship, adding crew, passengers, and cargo as her ship and hand allow. Then, the other players play cards with characters, encounters, and plot twists on them, which the player on the job must deal with, one at a time, using cards from her hand and everything on her ship. If she gets stuck, she asks other players for help. They usually help, for a price. All along, the players tell the story of the scoundrel’s adventure. If the scoundrel survives the number of turns of the job, she wins the payoff.
Once the job is over, everyone heads to the spaceport. Players who weren’t on a job can scavenge new cards. Everyone gets a chance to buy better ships and hire crew before the next job card is drawn.
The game repeats this loop until all the money is paid out, the game ends, and the scoundrel with the most cash wins.
- Page 22: “the symbols on the card don’t match Olivia’s passenger” is incorrect. One of the symbols does match a symbol on the passenger card (Charms). So, this passenger would be a valid card to play in response to the Snake Oil Salesman.
Essentially the Episodes deck can be treated as a single deck, with Episode IV on top, Episode V in the middle, and Episode VI on the bottom. However, most of the time people choose to place the three decks separately. The typical number of jobs per episode is 2-3.
When determining job length and crew prices, if the first card from an Episode has been turned over, you are in that episode.
Discarding Money and Making Change
Any time someone pays for crew or ships in the game, the money they pay should be discarded to a separate money discard pile. That pile is then used to make change during future purchases or deals between players.
If no one has put money in the money discard pile yet, then there is no way to make change. If this is the case, you can either pay extra or wait until there is a money discard pile. That’s just the way it goes. Sometimes the galaxy is a cruel place.
Buying and Replacing Ships and Crew
Only one ship may be purchased per round by each player. The same is true for crew members. This is to prevent wealthy players from buying up large chunks of the available ships and crew.
Once a ship or crew member is purchased, the remaining ship or crew cards are shuffled back into the appropriate deck, so that the next player gets a fresh set.
House Rule (No Hitchhikers): If, at any point in the game, you have lost your ship and don’t have enough money to buy a new one, you may search through the Ships deck and select a new starter ship for free.
Early Game Challenges and Bad Hands
Galactic Scoundrels is definitely not a game where people should be fleeing jobs very often. Once you get the hang of it, there should only be maybe one job fled in an entire game (but often none). Here are some tips to help if your group is having trouble completing jobs.
- You don’t have to bid on jobs. Fold if your hand is lousy and wait until you can scavenge at the end of the round.
- The person who wins the job doesn’t have to take it. They can sell it to someone with a better hand or even give it away.
- Use the distress signal often. It’s described on page 10. There’s almost always someone with a helpful card who’s willing to sell it for the right price.
- Blow up your ship. Most of the game, ships are worth less than payoffs. If you’re close to the end, ditch the ship to save the job.
- Use the house rules on the back of the rulebook to make the gameplay easier or more flexible. The seven-card variation and the shortened and/or more lucrative jobs will help a lot.
- This is not an official rule, but if everyone starts the game with a bad hand (very few trait cards), turn them all in, shuffle, and re-deal. There’s no point in suffering unnecessarily.
And remember, this game is less about making your friends fail than it is about maximizing your profit when they succeed. Helping someone finish jobs which make you money is a very effective strategy.