Images used here are from the Beta, however it should be easy to follow.

Title screen

Upon starting the game, you will come across the above screen. Tap anywhere on the screen to proceed.

The prologue will start along with the opening movie. During the prologue, you will choose your nickname and the name of the story protagonist, which is set to Anzu by default. These can be changed later in settings.

Game Introduction - Name

You will then be prompted to choose one of the ten idol units. Your starter card will be a randomly chosen member from that unit.

Game Introduction - Trickstar

Game Introduction - fine

Starter Cards:
Trickstar Unit Render cut
Cheerful Glasses Boy Makoto Yuuki Dependable Class President Hokuto Hidaka Morning Star Subaru Akehoshi Contradictory Position Mao Isara
Fine Unit Render Cut
The Reigning Ruler Eichi Tenshouin Masked Freak Wataru Hibiki Caretaker Yuzuru Fushimi Egoistic Tori Himemiya
UNDEAD unit render cut
Awakening Vampire Rei Sakuma Silent Beast Adonis Otogari Mad Dog Koga Oogami Breezy Player Kaoru Hakaze
Knights Unit render cut
Strategist Ritsu Sakuma Fervent Whirlwind Arashi Narukami Pace Down Izumi Sena Chess Lesson Tsukasa Suou (Extremely Delusional) Leo Tsukinaga
RYUSEITAI Unit Render Cut
Fun Friends Kanata Shinkai Live Reporter Tetora Nagumo Embarrassment Midori Takamine Inspiring Blaze Chiaki Morisawa Ninja Explosion Shinobu Sengoku
Ra*bits Unit render cut
Super Star Mitsuru Tenma Hospitality Hajime Shino Snapping Rabbit Nazuna Nito Considerate Tomoya Mashiro
2wink Unit Render Cut
Smiling Sympathy Yuta Aoi Bouncing Synchronization Hinata Aoi
AKATSUKI Unit Render cut
The Strict Leader Keito Hasumi Returning Kuro Kiryu The Faithful Samurai Souma Kanzaki
Valkyrie Unit Render cut
(Awkward Everyday) Mika Kagehira (Enthusiastic) Shu Itsuki
Switch Unit Render cut
(Gentle Sound) Tsumugi Aoba (Magical Symbol) Natsume Sakasaki (Carefree Misfortune) Sora Harukawa
In the following example, Subaru is the randomly chosen card after the player chooses Trickstar. If you want a different card, you can press "once more!" to try again as many times as you want.

(Morning Star) Subaru Akehoshi Scout CG

Game Introduction - Starter Card

With your starter card ready, move on to Lesson mode.

Game Introduction - Course Selection

In lesson mode, you can level up your cards, as well as your player rank. You will also obtain Jewels and Producer points, which are needed for leveling up and obtaining new cards (using the gacha system, i.e. Scouting).

There are five locations you can choose in Lesson mode. In the example below, there is the rooftop, soundproof lesson room, dance room, school gates, and infirmary. Your "Trust level" with the idol will also increase, indicated by the bar underneath each character. This affects the amount of EXP the card will gain at the end of the lesson.

Game Introduction - Lesson

In Lesson mode, you can also trigger mini, normal, special, and intimate events with the idol. Depending on your dialogue choices, you can obtain Jewels, and the ability level of your idol may also increase.

Subaru Akehoshi mini event stage

Subaru Akehoshi normal event 1

During turns 11 and 1 (indicated by the number at the top left of the screen), the "Dream Idol Festival (Battle)" will take place. Your idols will battle those of a rival unit in three aspects: Dance, Vocal, and Performance.

Game Introduction - Battle

In this battle, each of the five members of your unit will compete with a member of the rival unit. You'll win the overall challenge by winning 3 out of 5 individual battles. The theme of each battle is predetermined (Da/Vo/Pf), but you can choose which member of your unit to participate in a particular battle. Thus, you can easily win by choosing the member with the stronger stats. Note that you can choose a card only once for the whole battle.

Game Introduction - Battle Turn

In the Story mode, you can get to know the characters via both the Main Story and Sub Stories. Further chapters will be unveiled as your player rank increases, so do your best in Lesson mode to increase your rank!

Dengeki previews-22

Dengeki previews-11

Furthermore, Ensemble Stars has a feature called "Idol Road," where you can use Jewels to increase the stats of the idol according to your taste. With Idol Road, you can also upgrade skills and obtain special stories and outfits for the idol.

Game Introduction - Idol Road

(Morning Star) Subaru Akehoshi Idol Road

At the end of Idol Road is a pink box which says "Talents blooming". Upon reaching this box, your card will transform, and the idol's stats will also greatly increase. Do your best to evolve your cards to this final form!
Also see Ensemble Stars! Master Guide

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