1. Give each player a Galaxy Mat in a color of their choice. The back of the Galaxy Mats, the Rogue Galaxies, are only used for solo play, described in the Solo Game Category.
2. Give each player 4 Ships, 1 Culture Token, 1 Energy Token, and 1 Empire Token in their color.
3. Players start the game with 2 ships on the center of their Galaxy Mat, standing upright. These are the player’s starting ships. The other 2 ships are placed on the ship track on the number spaces outlined with a square.
4. Players keep track of their culture and energy levels by placing the corresponding tokens on the resource track on their Galaxy Mat. Start the game with 1 culture and 2 energy.
5. Players keep track of their empire’s level by using the Empire Token on the empire track on their Galaxy Mat. The empire level determines how many dice and ships you are able to use during your turn. The level of your empire also earns you victory points. Start the game with the empire token on the Empire Token on the first space () of the empire track.
6. Shuffle the deck of Planet Cards. Draw 2 more than the number of players and place each one face up in the center in a line. In a 5 player game, only draw 6 Planet Cards. These are newly discovered planets, ready for colonization. For example, in a 3 player game, you would place 5 planets in the center.
7. Place the Control Mat and the 7 Action Dice in the center of the table.
8. Shuffle the Secret Mission Cards and deal two to each player. Each player looks at both, selects one and slides it under their Galaxy Mat, then discards the other. These cards are kept secret from other players until the end of the game. Put any remaining Secret Mission cards back into the box face down.