How To Select Your Crew

Awaken Realms was kind enough to share with us the full complement of crew cards (both front and back sides). So we now will be able to review each one carefully so that we are ready to roll when the game arrives on our doorstep!

Technically, when you play the game you are given several random crew cards and must select only from them. However, when I played my dozen games with the prototype I always chose my crew for each section from the entire crew selection. If I was going to play an epic campaign, I wanted to be playing with a crew that I thought I’d have the most fun with… a crew that kind of matched my play style. I have a feeling that there will be many more who will want to select their own crew and not have it determined by randomly drawing 3-5 cards from the deck of available crewmembers (called recruits). If you are looking forward to playing ISS Vanguard with a team you hand select, then this article is for you, unless, of course, you want to choose your crew based on their origin and backstory. You can have loads of fun with that approach! Even though I liked to emphasize each crewmember’s skill set, I still got to “know” each one as I played through the missions. I even started remembering them BY NAME… and Petra became my favorite! If you are going that route, you can skip this article… though you might get some helpful hints and tips for how to best utilize your your crew from this article.

Note: I will be using the Master List of All 90 Crewmembers to “find” crew with various special skills, such as dealing with threats, danger dice, injuries, travel and dice. You can use this master list yourself to find crew with skills that you want to have on your team. For example, you can use your browser FIND (CTRL+F) to look for the word “threat” and locate crew with special skills that help you deal with threats in the game.

=> Master List of All 90 Crewmembers

It is important to know that several different crewmembers can have the SAME special skill. Your selection process can then look at other factors to help you choose one of them. You could look at their backstory or their origin. Or you could look at the top left corner of the crew card to see what color basic die result is converted and check what icon it is converted into.

I will also try to provide hints and tips as well as gameplay explanations that will help as you review all the crewmembers. Many of the special skills may sound minimal, but once you play a few games you begin to realize that they can be quite important… even game changing!

What special skills are you looking for in your crewmember? My favorite skills to have for my crew include:

  1. Danger Dice (Alertness)
  2. Discoveries 1 (Searcher)
  3. Success Tokens (Storyteller)
  4. Section Cards 4 (Trump Card)
  5. Dice Assists 1 (Selfless)
  6. Dice Assists 3 (Alpha)
  7. Dice Assists 4 (Advisor)
  8. Dice Refreshing 1 (Fortitude)
  9. Other – Travel 1 (Follower)

Click on any of the following skill types to read about them:

  1. Danger Dice skills  (including landing)
  2. Threat skills
  3. Injury skills
  4. Event skills
  5. Discovery skills
  6. Success Token skills
  7. Section Card skills
  8. Dice Assist skills
  9. Dice Refresh skills
  10. Other cool skills

TIP: The top left of each crew card has the basic die icon. Note what color it is. You may wish to assign the crewmember to a Section that has a lot of that color Section dice. See the examples at the end of the first two skills below (Danger Dice and Threats).


When playing my dozen games with the prototype it only took a few games before I had my favorite crew special skill! And to fully understand why, you need to understand a bit of how the game actually works. When you launch your lander for a mission, it doesn’t just land on the planet instantly. There may be debris in the atmosphere that can hit (and damage) your lander. There may be high winds that make navigating hard. Many things can go wrong! And the way the game handles these situations is by using the Danger Dice. There are three aspects to each lander that can help or hinder making a safe and smooth landing: Sensors, Agility, Armor. The level of one or more of these often will determine how many Danger Dice you need to roll and the type of planet may determine what Danger category to refer to on the Danger Dice Reference Card. Page 29 of the Rulebook shows us one side of it:

In the prototype, various landing situations could result in losing supplies, injuring crew or even losing equipment or lander mods! You don’t want to start your mission with injured crew before you even step out of the lander. Likewise, your mission will be substantially harder if you lose some of your supplies. And the equipment that you might lose may be essential for your mission.

So … I wanted to have a crewmember on every mission who could mitigate the damage that might result from rolling the Danger Dice during landing! And with the final game, there is one special skill that will help you land safely (or at least with LESS damage!):

  • Alertness – During Dice Check: Spend 1 charge to ignore the result of 1 Danger die (and they have 3 charges)

While landing your lander you will usually roll a Danger Die multiple times, determined by the situations of the planet as well as how good your lander is with Agility, Armor and Sensors. Each time you roll a Danger Die there is a chance of something BAD happening. One result might be losing a supply. Another result might be having all crew receiving an injury. However, usually one or more of the Danger Die results will be “nothing happens”. If you need to roll a Danger Die 5 times it is possible that you would get this “good” roll each time … but likely NOT! If your Away Team includes someone with the special skill to ignore the result of a Danger Die, each time you roll a “bad” result, you could use one charge to ignore that bad result. They only have 3 charges though, so you could ignore up to 3 bad results during landing. You’d be stuck with a bad result if rolled a 4th time (unless you bring TWO crew with this special skill on the mission … which you just might want to do since ignoring Danger Dice can be very helpful during the mission as well). If this special skill seems useful to you, these are the crew to select from:

  • Mark Poulsen / Alertness / Green into Compass (scouting)
  • Raven Tyson / Alertness / Blue into Pickax (gather)
  • Adrien Oliver / Alertness / Red into Shield (defense)

All three have the same special skill. However, Mark will be helpful with scouting, Raven with gathering and Adrien with defense. If your mission involves trying to get lots of discovery cards, choose Raven. If the mission may have many threats to deal with, choose Adrien. If you want to be able to find specific areas on the planet quicker, choose Mark. You may (or may not) also want to select them to assign to the Section with the most of that color dice. In that case you would assign Mark to Recon, Raven to Engineering and Adrien to Security.


But maybe you want crew with special skills that will help deal with threats! In that case, this special skill is what you will look for:

  • Soldier – Anytime: Spend 1 charge to ignore one Time track progression on one chosen Threat card. The effect of the current Time track slot is not resolved again. [This means two things. First, don’t advance the token on one of the Threat cards (yay). But even better: you can nullify one of the slots on the Threat’s Time Track so that it won’t happen in the future when that Threat time marker is advanced to that specific “slot”. Since this skill can be used at anytime, it may be best to time it to nullify an “ATTACK” slot!]

This is the example from page 31 of the Rulebook about a Threat Time Track:

Time Tracks are typically progressed (advanced, moved) at the end of a players turn when they draw an event card. If no icons on the event card match any icons on their current Sector, then all time tracks (including those of threats) are advanced by one. Here is an example of the icons for a Sector from page 12 of the Rulebook:

Here is the example Event card from page 28 in the Rulebook:

This example Event Card has six icons across the top. If any of them match the icons in the Sector where you are (in the examples above, there is one icon that matches), then the event happens (and in this case you would lose 1 supply or risk rolling a Danger Die). However most Event Cards likely will not have that many icons to match (possibly only 1 or 2 icons). If none of the icons match, then ALL time tracks on the game board are advance by one, including any threats! In my game plays I’d guess that the icons matched maybe half the time. And remember that each player draws an event card when they have completed their two actions for their turn. Also note that there may be other things happening during game play that specify advancing all time tracks!

Here are the crew that have this special skill:

  • Willow Baker / Soldier / Green into Compass (scouting)
  • Samuel Hughes / Soldier / Red into Muscles (physical)
  • Javier Aguero / Soldier / Blue into Pickax (gather)

As noted before, you can choose to assign them to a Section that has more of the color dice they can convert (ie, Willow to Recon, Samuel to Security, Javier to Engineering)


However, maybe you are concerned with your crew DYING! In that case, there are some special skills that help with injuries! When a crewmember is injured they get an Injury Card and an Injury Die. Page 30 of the Rulebook shows this example Injury card and page 27 has an example of an Injury die:

Each time you roll your Section dice you must also roll any Injury dice that you have. In the example above you see an Injury die that was rolled and it’s icon matches that on the Injury card, so the Injury card effect must be done (ie, move one die to the Spent Die Pool). There are four different icons on an Injury die, so they won’t always match. This is from page 38 of the Rulebook:

The six sides of an injury die likely will be:

  • Damage (2)
  • Mental (2)
  • Heavy Damage (1)
  • Special (1)

So, in our example, the crewmember took some damage. However, some crewmembers have special skills to deal with injuries, like these:

  1. Endurance – During a Dice Check: Spend 1 Charge to ignore the result of 1 Injury die [in the example above, the “damage” could be ignored by using 1 charge]
  2. Protector – Anytime: When any Crewmember in your Sector would gain an Injury, spend 1 Charge to discard it (with an Injury die) instead [including yourself]
  3. Unbreakable – Anytime: Spend 1 Charge to replace 1 of your Injury cards with a Wounded Injury. [can replace a serious injury with the “light” Wounded injury]
  4. Grit – During a Dice Check: Spend 1 Charge to ignore the results of all your Injury dice [this is better than #1]

Here are the Crew to look at if you want a Special Skill to deal with injuries:

  • Konstantin Plank / Endurance / Blue into Atom (science) (#1)
  • Vukajlo Stepanovic / Endurance / Green into Pickax (gather) (#1)
  • Yut Nimawan / Protector / Green into Compass (scouting) (#2)
  • Isabel Sandoval / Grit / Blue into Compass (scouting) (#4)
  • Petra Sedlackova / Protector / Red into Squid (xenology) (#2)
  • Bianca Oliveira Sousa / Endurance / Red into Compass (scouting) (#1)
  • Gio Nelli / Grit / Red into DNA (biology) (#4)
  • Charlie Myers / Unbreakable / Red into Pickax (gather) (#3)
  • Christos Nicoli / Grit / Green into Squid (Xenology) (#4)
  • Febe Loman / Protector / Blue into Pickax (gather) (#2)
  • Indah Rau / Unbreakable / Green into Wrench (construction) (#3)
  • Tayen Hatathli / Unbreakable / Blue into Muscles (physical) (#3)


You also can include Crew that protect you from Event Card consequences:

  • Forecast – Anytime: Spend 1 Charge to discard an Event card you just drew without resolving its text.

Crew to look at:

  • Gong Shun / Forecast / Green into Atom (science)
  • Tarif Zogby / Forecast / Blue into Computer (technology)
  • Owen Campbell / Forecast / Red to Compass (scouting)


Some missions look like they will be ideal to gather lots of Discovery cards. These special skills can help gather them quicker:

  1. Searcher – Anytime: Spend 1 Charge to gain a Discovery from a deck with any 3 leads tokens [even if some of the tokens are a value of 0]
  2. Insight – Anytime: Spend 1 Charge to gain a Discovery from a deck with leads of a total value of 2 [normally it has to be a value of 3]

Crew to look at:

  • Gal Yadin / Searcher / Green into Wrench (construction) (#1)
  • Betty Conville / Searcher / Blue into DNA (biology) (#1)
  • Monica Davis / Insight / Red into Pickax (gather) (#2)
  • Sofia Benn / Insight / Green into Computer (technology) (#2)
  • Zoe Fuentes / Searcher / Red into Pickax (gather) (#1)
  • Terry Isaac / Insight / Blue into Shield (defense) (#2)

Success Tokens

Success Tokens are important. Sometimes your crew cannot “rank up” unless you have acquired a minimum number of Success Tokens (ie, 3 – see page 27 of the Ship Book). They also can be used during the Ship Phase to buy additional dice for your Sections (see page 27 of the Ship Book)! Some crew have a special skill to double success tokens they aquire:

  • Storyteller – Anytime: When you gain a Success Token during your turn, spend 2 Charges to gain 1 Success Token more [requires 2 charges – the crewmember starts with 2 charges so this can only be done once unless the crewmember gains more charges during game play]

Crew to look at:

  • Theo Tsiakalos / Storyteller / Green into Atom (science)
  • Nerio Canales Roldan / Storyteller / Red into Squid (xenology)

Section Cards

Some crew have special skills that help you with your Section Cards:

  1. Competent – Anytime: Spend 1 Charge to draw a chosen card from your discard pile [if you have one very valuable card, as soon as you play it you can take it back into your hand with this skill]
  2. Well-Trained – Anytime: Spend 1 Charge to draw 2 cards from your Section deck [useful when you run out of cards, but also when your favorite card is in the deck and you want to draw cards until you get it]
  3. Energetic – When Resting: Spend 1 Charge to Refresh 1 die more and draw 1 additional card [this would be more useful if the crewmember were Rank 2 or higher]
  4. Trump Card – Anytime: Spend 1 Charge to take 1 card of any Rank from your Section Compartment to your hand. [This allows a crewmember of Rank 1 to use Rank 2 or higher Section Cards PLUS you can purposely not include your favorite Section card in the Section card deck at the start of the mission and grab it with this skill on your first turn so it is in your hand right away plus remains in the game as well]

Crew to look at:

  • Gbolahan Musa / Competent / Green into Squid (xenology) (#1)
  • Blake McFarlane / Well-Trained / Red into Computer (technology) (#2)
  • Cho Jae-Yong / Energetic / Blue into Compass (scouting) (#3)
  • Riku Hashimura / Competent / Red into Wrench (construction) (#1)
  • Qamil Najjar / Energetic / Red into Compass (scouting) (#3)
  • Vadasz Kaplony / Energetic / Blue into Wrench (construction) (#3)
  • Elizabeth Logue / Competent / Blue into Squid (xenology) (#1)
  • Jia Seok / Trump Card / Red into Squid (xenology) (#4)
  • Rica De Graaf / Well-Trained / Green into Pickax (gather) (#2)
  • Carles Porra / Trump Card / Blue into Computer (technology) (#4)
  • Eutimio Veliz / Well-Trained / Blue into Shield (defense) (#2)

Dice Assists

Some crew have special skills that allow them to be more helpful with assisting other crewmembers in dice rolls:

  1. Selfless – When Assisting: Spend 1 Charge to Assist with any number of dice instead of 1. After the Dice Check return those dice to your available dice pool [there are a very few Section cards with SUPER benefits at the bottom of the card – but it takes matching MANY dice icons to get them … so this skill is almost essential if you want that super benefit]
  2. Team Player – When Assisting: Spend 1 Charge to Assist with 2 dice instead of 1. After the Dice Check, return those dice to your available dice pool. [that extra die could be extremely handy at critical times]
  3. AlphaDuring a Dice Check: Spend 1 Charge to choose a Crewmember Assisting you and turn 1 die in their Roll Pool to any result [this skill guarantees a specific die result as long as it is on one of the six sides]
  4. Advisor – When Assisting: Spend 1 Charge to Assist a Crewmember in any Sector [normally you have to be in the same sector]

Crew to look at:

  • Joppe Ulrich / Selfless / Green into Muscles (physical) (#1)
  • Jaromir Golubov / Team Player / Blue into Computer (technology) (#2)
  • Abby Knight / Alpha / Blue into Squid (xenology) (#3)
  • Maeda Ayumi / Selfless / Red into Atom (science) (#1)
  • Ewald Maal / Team Player / Red into Shield (defense) (#2)
  • Andrew McVay / Advisor / Green into Shield (defense) (#4)
  • Millie Peters / Alpha / Green into Muscles (physical) (#3)
  • Evelyn Castillo / Team Player / Green into Squid (xenology) (#2)
  • Ilse Vogel / Advisor / Red into Wrench (construction) (#4)
  • Uwe Lehmann / Alpha / Red into Compass (scouting) (#3)
  • Janice Boisseau / Selfless / Blue into Wrench (construction) (#1)
  • Sabah Alkaabi / Advisor / Blue into Squid (xenology) (#4)

Dice Refreshing

In my games that I played I typically used Section cards to help me with refreshing dice, but there are many special skills that will help even more if you are concerned about running out of dice!

  1. FortitudeAnytime: Spend 1 Charge to Refresh 1 red, 1 green and 1 blue die [this is extremely handy for a reason that might not occur to you until you play the game and find yourself in this situation! Sometimes an Event card (or other game play occurrence) tells you to spend one die of a specific color. If you do not have an available die of that color, you must SACRIFICE one die instead (remove it from the game for the rest of the mission) which is BAD. This skill is like an insurance policy so that if this ever happens to you, instead of sacrificing a die, you use your skill to refresh one die of each color and then spend the specific color die as required]
  2. SystematicAnytime: Spend 1 Charge to Refresh all green dice [best to assign this crewmember to a Section with the most green dice (ie, Recon)]
  3. Hidden ReservesAnytime: Spend 1 Charge to Refresh all red dice [best to assign this crewmember to a Section with the most red dice (ie, Security)]
  4. MethodicalAnytime: Spend 1 Charge to Refresh all blue dice [best to assign this crewmember to a Section with the most blue dice (ie, Engineering)]
  5. EnergeticWhen Resting: Spend 1 Charge to Refresh 1 die more and draw 1 additional card
  6. Brute ForceAnytime: Spend 1 Charge, then discard any number of cards. Refresh 1 die for every discarded card. [sometimes you need the dice more than the cards]

Crew to look at:

  • Bojana Peric / Fortitude / Green into Shield (defense) (#1)
  • Aissata Sama / Systematic / Green into Shield (defense) (#2)
  • Klara Atladottir / Systematic / Blue into Wrench (construction) (#2)
  • Elena Rubio / Hidden Reserves / Red into Muscles (physical) (#3)
  • Cho Jae-Yong / Energetic / Blue into Compass (scouting) (#5)
  • Thabisa Gbheo / Fortitude / Red into Computer (technology) (#1)
  • Qamil Najjar / Energetic / Red into Compass (scouting) (#5)
  • Meghan Clarke / Methodical / Red into Wrench (construction) (#4)
  • Natalie Torres / Hidden Reserves / Green into Pickax (gather) (#3)
  • Stefan Belic / Brute Force / Green into Wrench (construction) (#6)
  • Li Teng / Brute Force / Blue into Shield (defense) (#6)
  • Vadasz Kaplony / Energetic / Blue into Wrench (construction) (#5)
  • Borys Walczak / Methodical / Blue into DNA (biology) (#4)
  • Masika Salah / Brute Force / Red to Squid (xenology) (#6)

Other cool skills

Travel (movement):

  1. FollowerAnytime: When another Crewmember Travels from your Sector, spend 1 Charge to move with them, ignoring Path icons. [You don’t use one of your two actions for your turn to move to the other sector PLUS you ignore the costs for travelling (which can be significant at times)]
  2. RecklessBefore or after an Action: Spend 1 Charge and roll a Danger Die category A to move to a connected Sector, ignoring the Path icons [this skill allows you to ignore the travel cost but it is risky because you need to roll a Danger Die]

Crew to look at:

  • Reeve Haldeman / Follower / Red into DNA (biology) (#1)
  • Jessie Bennet / Follower / Green into DNA (biology) (#1)
  • Lanh Phan / Follower / Green into Computer (technology) (#1)
  • Aidan Cunningham / Reckless / Red into DNA (biology) (#2)
  • Nicholas Green / Reckless / Blue into Muscles (physical) (#2)
  • Valya Novikov / Reckless / Green into Atom (#2)

Lander Storage:

  • LoaderAnytime: Spend 1 Charge to take a chosen Small or Personal Equipment card from Armory [each lander has a storage limit – this skill lets you take just a little bit extra]

Crew to look at:

  • Waylon Colley / Loader / Blue into Pickax (gather)
  • Lena Freeman / Loader / Green into Wrench (construction)

Dice Rolls:

  1. AdaptiveDuring a Dice Check: Spend 1 Charge to turn 1 die to a chosen side [this skill guarantees that you get the icon you want if it is on the die]
  2. DisciplinedDuring a Dice Check: Spend 1 Charge to turn 1 accident result to a wild result [there are times when the accident result has quite bad consequences – then this skill would save the day in not only preventing the bad consequence but also providing a wild result which can be any icon you want]
  3. Record KeeperDuring a Dice Check: Spend 1 Charge to roll 1 die from your Spent Pool and add it to your Roll Pool [essentially this lets you add one more die to your roll by letting you use a spent die a second time – the spent die could even have come from the current roll where it was moved into the spent pool after success at matching some icon so it could be just the right die needed]
  4. Wild CardDuring a Dice Check: If at least 2 results in the Roll Pool are wild spend 1 Charge to move all dice with an accident result to the Spent Pool [this might be hard to actually use since it requires not only rolling 2 wild, but also rolling at least one accident, thus this is one of the few special skills that I would not find valuable.]
  5. EfficientAnytime, not during Exertion: Spend 1 Charge to move a die to the Spent Pool instead of Sacrificing 1 die [sacrificing a die means removing it from the game for the rest of the mission – if this ever is about to happen, this skill will save the day]
  6. CarefulDuring a Dice Check: Spend 1 Charge to move 1 die with an accident result from the Roll Pool to the Spent Pool [sometimes an accident result can have quite a significant bad effect and this skill will avoid it]

Crew to look at:

  • Samarth Ramprakash / Adaptive / Green into Muscles (physical) (#1)
  • Sheryl Hayes / Adaptive / Blue into Shield (defense) (#1)
  • Koe YHassin / Disciplined / Green into Computer (technology) (#2)
  • Camelia Trentino / Disciplined / Blue into Atom (science) (#2)
  • Maxim Pavlenko / Disciplined / Red into Muscles (physical) (#2)
  • Ann Beckman / Record Keeper / Green into DNA (biology) (#3)
  • Narcisse Gisele / Record Keeper / Red into Shield (defense) (#3)
  • Bern Louw / Record Keeper / Red into Atom (science) (#3)
  • Amir Zaynab / Wild Card / Blue into Atom (science) (#4)
  • Francesca Potter / Wild Card / Blue into Muscles (physical) (#4)
  • Gaspard Fabron / Wild Card / Green into Atom (science) (#4)
  • Brigitte Barth / Efficient / Green into DNA (biology) (#5)
  • Agata Andrada / Efficient / Red into Atom (science) (#5)
  • Destiny Jones / Efficient / Blue into Compass (scouting) (#5)
  • Arvi Tuuri / Careful / Red into Computer (technology) (#6)
  • Keith Wood / Careful / Green into Computer (technology) (#6)
  • Manish Jain / Careful / Blue into Muscles (physical) (#6)


  • HermitWhen Resting: Spend 1 Charge to not spend Supplies [unclear what exactly this is stating – possibly that you can rest without spending the 1 required supply]

Crew to look at:

  • Zaima Anwar / Hermit / Blue into DNA (biology)
  • Avery Dodge / Hermit / Red into DNA (biology)

Click => Full 3 Column Site

2 thoughts on “How To Select Your Crew

Add yours

  1. Hi again
    So I looked a bit closer – the card actually says “Anytime” for Alertness. In the text above you had written “On dice checks”, so I based my comment on that. However, as it says “Anytime”, your interpretation could very well be correct.
    It just feels a bit overpowered, as you don’t really need to spend a charge, unless the danger die rolls a result you don’t like.
    But maybe that is how it is to be played, which would be good to know, and definitely better explained in the rules.
    BR Tobias


  2. Hi. Thanks for the list.
    I’m a bit confused as to the crew skills, as some seems to be for the crewmember only, while some seems to be “anytime”, which seems to indicate you can use it on other crewmembers turns.
    As far as I can tell, your interpretation of Alertness is wrong. As it states “During Dice check”, it can only be used during a dice check, and in the rules under Dice Checks it says that just rolling the Danger Die or a D10 is not considered a Dice Check, only when you roll section dice.
    However, if you can use that skill on another crewmembers DC, I can’t tell.
    I think the crew skills are very fuzzy and not very well explained in the rules.
    BR Tobias


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