Steve has the Speaker Token so he goes first. The game begins in the Strategy Phase. In this phase each player selects a Strategy Card and places it face-up in their own player area. After the player having the Speaker Token chooses a Strategy Card, players take turns clockwise beginning with the player seated to the left of the player having the Speaker Token.
Since there are less than 5 players, each player must choose 2 Strategy Cards. Beginning with the player having the Speaker Token, each player takes one of the available Strategy Cards and then the player to the left takes their turn in the same manner. After each player has selected 2 Strategy Cards, after 2 complete rounds, the unused Strategy Cards have Bonus Tokens placed on them.
Strategy Card 8, "Imperial" is available, so Steve takes it.
The way the game is designed, when playing out-of-the-box rules, someone will take the Imperial Strategy Card in every game turn 99% of the time because it yields 2 Victory Points. The Imperial card behaves as something like a game clock, advancing players on the Victory Points track until someone reaches 10 points. Since every player in the game understands the risk of letting the next player take this card when it's available, the most common selection pattern is to take the "Initiative" card when it's available just so next turn you can go first and take the "Imperial" card. Since the "Initiative" card cannot be chosen by the player with the Speaker Token, in effect, the eventual choice of the "Imperial" card rotates between the players.
Melissa sits in the next position clockwise from the player having the Speaker Token, so she goes next.
Since the "Initiative" Strategy Card is available she takes it. Melissa automatically gets the Speaker Token when this Strategy Card is selected.
Nicholas takes the "Technology" Strategy Card.
At this point each player has 1 Strategy Card. In a three player game each players needs to select 2 cards, so we begin another round by continuing clockwise around the table back to Steve.
Steve chooses "Warfare" for his 2nd Strategy Card.
Melissa chooses "Logistics" as her 2nd Strategy Card.
Nicholas takes the "Trade" Strategy Card.
Bonus Tokens are placed on the 2 unpicked Strategy Cards.
- Player 1 (Steve) has Strategy Cards 6 "Warfare" and 8 "Imperial"
- Player 2 (Melissa) has Strategy Cards 1 "Initiative" and 4 "Logistics"
- Player 3 (Nicholas) has Strategy Cards 7 "Technology" and 5 "Trade"
- No one selected Strategy Cards 2 and 3
The Strategy Phase of Round 1 is complete. Proceed to the Action Phase.