Castle Games Inc.'s Fleet Admiral

Castle Games Inc.'s Fleet Admiral

Fleet Admiral is a card game where each player takes on the roll of the captain of a star ship. Set in the theme of Portable Galactic Empire, each player's captain is represented by one of the races from the Fate, Politics and Heritage expansion set. Using a custom die, players generate randomized missions each turn. Succeeding in mission goals (matching icons from your ship to the mission cards) earns those cards as a reward. Use the rewards to upgrade the ship, increasing it's weapons, defenses, sensors and power systems. Recruit officers to man the critical stations of the ship. Or upgrade to a larger, more capable class of ship all together!

Fleet Admiral features a fast pace and easy learning curve. Each player's turn takes no more than a minute. An entire game will often take less than a 1/2 hour. The combination of die rolling and random cards drawn from not one but two decks of cards keeps each round fresh. And then the crisis starts. Now the players must work together to defeat the game or risk the "Everybody Loses" scenario.

Game Highlights

What you're looking for:

  • Science Fiction theme

  • Quick, light turns

  • Fast strategy

  • A great "time filler" between rounds of heavy gaming

What it's not:

  • No heavy combat mechanics

  • Non adversarial (you don't attack other players)

  • Deck building


While we were at the GAMA Trade show this year we had an opportunity to try out some fast play rules we've been experimenting with. These rules speed up the "building" portion of the game, if you're not into that, and want to get to the "crisis" or end game more quickly. Using these rules can make the game very fast.

  • Set the game up normally - one ship, one crew and two components per player, but only give each player valid cards. This means ignoring duplicate or non class one cards dealt.

  • Captains of Frigates and Destroyers are not required to act on level 2 or greater cards, because they are in training. After rolling the die, if the next card selected is a 2 or greater power, discard it and draw the next card from the same deck.

    • A "thumbs up" still counts as a successful mission, but while in training, you may not move to the next level of mission (roll the die again) after a "thumbs up" automatic success.

    • Like wise, on second and third stages (second and third roll of the die), ignore cards that have a power greater than one.

    • All other mission rules still apply - cooperation is allowed on stage 2, a red star means a mission failure.

  • Before beginning any turn, a Captain may decide to "opt in". From this round on, cards are resolved normally - class 2 or greater cards are in effect.

  • If a Captain upgrades to a cruiser (Class 2) ship, she is now "graduated" and must complete missions normally - class 2 or greater cards are in effect.

These changes can make the beginning of the game both easier and faster. Note, we haven't done our normal diligent testing on these, so there may be situations in which they don't make sense. If you try them out, let us know how it goes.

Check out video reviews of Fleet Admiral:

Major Components (i.e. what's in the box)

Ship Display Boards (one for each captain)

Each captain plays using his or her very own ship display. The one pictured left is for the brerasan player. On the left hand side of the board are the four ship systems classes - weapons, power, sensors, and defence respectively. Each of these system classes will support up to three sub-systems cards. For example, under the weapons system, the ship may have beams, cannons and missiles.

Beam, Cannon and Missile cards.

On the right hand and bottom side of the card are the five available officer assignments. These will be filled be officers you recruit to your ship, and each will be from the command, operations or marine type. Blue shirts, orange shirts and green shirts respectively.

In the middle, starting at the top, is you - the captain. Below that is the current class of ship you command. At the beginning of the game you command a frigate, which is the smallest vessel available to your fleet. As you progress through missions you will be given opportunities to upgrade the class of your ship to larger and more powerful classes. The game contains a set of these cards, customized by race, for each player.

Below your ship class is your cargo hold. In here you may place rewards that you can't currently use.

Two Decks of Mission/Reward Cards

Each turn a player takes is a mission unfolding. The player rolls the included custom, 8-sided die which indicates what card to draw next. That card is compared against the player's ship to see if the mission is successful or not. If successful the player takes the card as a reward, hopefully upgrading her ship in the process. Or do you press your luck, rolling for a second or possible third card?

Crisis Tokens

The game also includes two trays of crisis tokens. These are used to keep track of the galactic crisis. Once the galactic crisis starts players vie to be the first to collect tokens. The person who collects the correct amount (determined by the number of people playing) becomes the fleet admiral, winning the game. But watch out, let too many crisis tokens build up and the game wins!

Other Statistics

Fleet Admiral can be played by 1 to 4 players. It combines both individual strategy - when should I upgrade my ship? should I press my luck and roll again? - as well as co-operative play. Players will find that even relative newcomers to hobby gaming will easily be able to grasp the basic concepts. Each players turn should not take more than a minute or two and the entire game can be played in under 45 minutes. Fleet Admiral is now available through Alliance Distribution, so contact your hobby store and ask them to have a look for it. If you don't have access to a hobby store,contact us directly and we'll help you out. Want to order direct from us? Go here.

FAQ (update 2013-June):

1 - The box indicates that Fleet Admiral can be played with one player. Are there any rules changes for solo play?

Yes. Obviously you won't be able to ask anyone for help during a mission. You can increase the difficulty by adding more than one crisis token after the crisis starts.

2 - When Resolving the Mission, can you choose to stop resolving the mission after drawing the first (or even second) card if you know you will be successful?

Yes. You may always choose to end on a success, whether you succeed by meeting the criteria on the cards shown or by having just rolled a "thumbs up" on the die. You may never take more than 3 attempts in a turn, but you may always choose to end a mission early at one or two cards.

3 - Do you only roll the die once regardless of the number of cards in a mission?

No. You roll each time you are going to draw a card. You may roll up to 3 times in a single mission.

4 - Are there any penalties for failing a mission?

Yes and no. You lose any cards you have drawn as part of the mission. If the crisis is active, failing a mission means you don't get to buy any crisis tokens, which could allow the crisis to win.

5 - Rolled results of Crew Card and Component Card state to resolve the cards before taking any other actions - are they played to your ship immediately if successful?

After you have concluded rolling for your turn, the first thing you must do is decide what happens to the cards you have turned over as part of the mission. If a card may be played to your ship, you may do so now. If a card may not be played, you may be able to hold it in cargo. You may always discard a card in play on your ship and replace it with a card you have received this turn (assuming it is a legal play). If you do not play a card to your ship it may be traded for crisis tokens (if you are allowed them) or discarded. Cards discarded this way may not be spent to upgrade to the next level of ship.

6 - Under card restrictions, there is a note about playing an additional blue shirt to science or security IF you have blue shirts in navigation and engineering. Does the word "additional" imply above ship size restriction? Or just to ignore the colour restriction?

The additional blue shirt rule may be used any time you have blue shirts in play in the two legal positions for a blue shirt to occupy (navigation and engineering). Although not stated, this is not a way around the crew limit for a ship. A frigate would not support the playing of three officers regardless of color.

So, just ignore the color restriction, not inflate the crew limit.

7 - When upgrading, can you jump ship classes if you “pay” with a sufficiently high enough card?

No. On page 6, top of the right column the rules expressly state "You may not upgrade more than once in a single turn.'

8 - Winning conditions. I assume that even if a captain collects 10 tokens, an entire round is completed, allowing other players their final turns (unless I’ve misunderstood, this is the only way a tie can occur).

No. This is sudden death - although I admit this is not expressly stated. A tie will only occur if two captains are sharing the final mission. The helper captain gets a chance to cash his reward card in when he takes it. If this means that both captains acquire their tenth token, you have tie on crisis and need to look at the other victory conditions.

9 - Losing conditions: if the crisis grows to more than 4*players+1, does the game end immediately, or does each player still get their turn in that round?

Yes, the game ends immediately. This means that the player adding the final token to the pile ends the game, and even she does not get one more turn. As an aside, we often allow that person a final chance to save the game. Its more fun that way.

10 - The cards in your cargo hold – the rules seem to indicate that they are only useful for upgrading ship class, but was the intention to also allow you to activate a cargo card to a spot on your ship (once the ship is large enough to allow that card to be legally played)?

You're right - that is what the rules say. We suggest you play it our way, and allow players to put cargo cards into action on the ship if they upgrade to a sufficiently powerful vessel. This was always our intention, even if we missed it in the rules. The play should be allowed to use this as a post upgrade act, before their next turn.