Evacuation game-play is real-time once you have built your colony deck (by selecting your Origin, ship, crew and, probably, passengers or cargo) and investigated and altered your generated crew. The station is under attack and you can decide when you want to leave – but, if you stick around too long, you WILL be blown to pieces. It will be an intense experience!

To escape, you just have three things to do:

  1. fix/upgrade your hyperdrive,
  2. load fuel, and
  3. press the LAUNCH button.

But escaping with an empty ship does you very little good. You can have people and cargo already loaded and/or you can escort passengers and load cargo crates from the station. Both station survivors and station cargo have random value – but there are some very special prizes among them.

The more you stay, the more random starting resources you can get. But, it also means the more damage your ship will take and the better the chance you will be destroyed. It should be obvious that destruction ends your current game (and won't get you any Legacy Rewards.)

The game begins as your ship approaches the space station. You get 275 seconds before you automatically dock (though you can click on Dock to dock earlier). You definitely want to examine your Crew Manifesto during that time. The first screen shows all the crew and whether each is Ready or On Leave. Clicking on each crew members name will give you their details.

When you dock, you are shown your Cockpit. A number of messages appear in the bottom left corner informing you that you must evacuate.

A number of officers and crew then fade in above the messages. Each will be in one of three states:

  • Ready (they will have red and blue injury and stress bars next to them)
  • Can’t be found/comms online
  • Can’t be found/comms offline

The music becomes lively and sends your stress level through the roof. This is clearly going to be complicated and you have absolutely no idea what to do. Fortunately, a quick tutorial appears (which you can skip). Unfortunately, it tells you that the game is not paused while you’re reading the tutorial. The tutorial does say that pause will be added later – but maybe the other captains will vote against it (and Elindos is very good about listening to his players).

The tutorial gives you some direction in what you need to do:

  • Fix/Upgrade your Hyperdrive
  • Load fuel
  • Optionally: load Cargo and Passengers (except that these really aren’t optional if you want a viable colony)

There are also many additional commands like Guard the Station Halls and Manage Your Shields that have additional effects (like slowing down your destruction in the case of Manage Your Shields). Note that not all commands are necessary if you just want to grab some Cargo and Passengers and quickly run. They do become especially important if you want to stay longer to optimize what you are going to have to start your colony with.

A list of all available evacuation commands is here.

After you dismiss the tutorial, you will note that you have access to four locations (cockpit, ships interior, cargo hold and station halls). You can switch your view between them by using the icons at the bottom of the screen (visible in the image above). Many actions can only be performed in the proper locations and crew will automatically move to those locations (which takes time) before beginning the action. Some actions will only become visible/available when you are already in the correct locations (or have fulfilled the necessary pre-requisites).

Currently, your crew generally starts in the cockpit or the station halls (although there are some exceptions). It should be obvious that the first things that you should always do is call back those crew members who have their comms online and have a crew member in the same location retrieve those with their comms offline. Note that when you select a crew member and hover over an action, it displays the modifiers for that crew member for that action. In most cases, what you care about most is the speed at which the actions are completed. One hint is that your officers have bonuses for reuniting with crew members and escorting passengers.

The second thing that you probably should do is grab some weapons from the lockers in the cockpit (bottom left of the screen) and deal with the looters in the cargo hold and the hostiles in the station halls. Both are shooting at your crew and need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Armor is available as well if you want to use it.

Your last hint is that managing shields is critically important if you want to stay the maximum amount of time. You don't want to start until after the aliens start attacking because a given crew member can only handle it for three minutes with reducing effectiveness as time passes and/or they are wounded. Rotating crew members is especially effective to squeeze out every last second.

Currently, because colonization is not yet available, at the end of evacuation, you’ll get a score based upon number of officers and crew killed (-150), cargo loaded (+40), passengers loaded (+100), fuel loaded (+1/1,000 units) and how long you survived under threat. (+1/second after the alert indicates that the aliens have appeared and started attacking). A load fuel action loads 5d10K units for an average of +27.5 points/action. This, of course, assumes that you did successfully fix/upgrade your hyperdrive (hopefully twice), load enough fuel to, at least, leave (normally two load fuel actions) and launch before being destroyed. There will be rewards for successful evacuators based upon score.

After you’ve played a few times, you’ll quickly get the rhythm and actually be spending time waiting for actions to complete rather than frantically trying to figure out what to order next while crew members stand idly by. One thing that is important to remember is that crew members will only perform an action once (I.e. load one unit of cargo) and then will stand idly until ordered to do it again or to do something else. As a result, you will find yourself quickly flipping from location to location in order to task them as soon as they complete their previous orders.