The game is about eight Races, which are the ChCh-t, Cyth, Humans, Maug, Re'lu, Skirineen, Tarth and Uva Mosk, that want to dominate the planet Gallius IV because of its precious natural resources. The eight races decided it was not a good idea to fight for the planet on space, since they could accidentally destroy the planet. The eight races agreed to stop all the fighting in space and decided to battle on the surface of the planet. Seven of the eight races then signed a pact, the Skirineen didn't. The pact rules are that any race that build the agreed number of City Centers or drives away all opposing forces may keep the planet forever. Since the Skirineen decided to not sign the pact, they were not allowed to land on the planet. However, they decided to operate a Black Market on the planet's orbit, trading Resources, Technology, Units and Information to any race that needs it, for a hefty price. It was, however, against the rules of the pact of Gallius IV to contact them.
Each race and the player are allowed to land 400 Colonists on to the surface of the planet, with an amount of basic resources: Food, Wood, Energy and Iron. Each race is allowed to produce immediately after landing: One Housing, a Colonizer unit, and a City Center. There are no limits on what can be researched or how the player can achieve conquest.
The player is given freedom to decide what needs to be done, it's possible to construct various kinds of Buildings, collect or produce Resources and research Technologies. The colony can be greatly expanded by colonizing new territories.
Military units are divided into sea, land, air and missile, each type produced by a different line of buildings. Special Units, such as Scouts, are trained in City Centers. Units can only be given combat orders in advance - the player is presented with a video recording of a battle after one has occurred. There's no direct control of what happens in battle.
The game is played in two perspectives: The "world view", where the colony leader can move armies, trade resources with or attack other colonies, and the "settlement view", where colony management (such as town planning and building) takes place.
The map is divided into territories, which can differ in land type and the amount of natural resources (Food, Wood, Iron, Energy and, Endurium) available. Natural resources are unlimited, but different resources are gathered at different rates on different land types.
Eliminating all other colonies or constructing a predefined number of City Centers are among victory conditions. Each consecutive City Center is more expensive than the last, which makes this victory condition harder to achieve.