The Phases of the Game:
1) Preparation - This is effectively Turn 0, before the game has even begun. It begins when your last game ends. It first is applied when you decide what fleet you are going to bring to the game, based on your playstyle and what you expect your opponents to field. It continues as you learn your list, what you can reasonably expect from it, what you can gamble with it, and how to play it to maximize the utility. It ends with your actual matchup and knowledge of what you are facing.
Key Advantages for this Phase: Ability to Learn from Prior Mistakes, Knowledge of the Meta, Practice with Your Fleet.
2) Deployment - The other half of Turn 0. This is where you begin to set playing pieces on the board. If you have the higher bid, you will determine if you will take first or second player at this point. If you are first player, you will pick from your opponents objectives as well. You should enter this section with a game plan of how you want the eventual engagement to take place. It begins with setting up obstacles - we have some older articles on using these to your advantage - and continues with the deployment of your fleets. You should use the obstacles and your fleet deployment to dictate where and how the engagement will happen, and expect your opponent to do the same. Once all ships are deployed and Turn 1's Command Phase is over, we move on to the next phase.
Key Advantages for this Phase: Initiative Bids and Objective Selection, Second Player Obstacle Placement, Deployment Advantage
3) Maneuver - This phase begins at the start of Turn 1's ship phase, and continues until the first dice are rolled. This is the part where you position your fleet to get the most advantage during the engagement, and make up for bad positioning from the Deployment Phase.
Key Advantages for this Phase: Navigate Commands, Maneuver Upgrades, High Speed / Yaw ships.
4) Skirmish - This typically takes place at the end of Turn 2 through Turn 3. Faster ships or squadrons will engage one another at extreme range.
Key Advantages for this Phase: Red Dice, Fast Squadrons, Evade Defense Tokens
5) Engagement - Typically takes place Late Turn 3, Turn 4, and possibly Turn 5. This phase is where the main guns of each fleet are able to take their shots, and where you are able to score the most points.
Key Advantages for this Phase: Lots of Defense Tokens, Lots of Dice, Dice Modification
6) Disengagement - Typically takes place Turn 5 into Turn 6. This phase is where your surviving ships break off to avoid the remaining enemy fleet, or positions to prevent the enemy fleet from escaping certain destruction!
Key Advantages for this Phase: High Top Speed, Well Planned Navigate Commands