Today we are reviewing Star Realms. It's a card game with a space theme that is playable with 2 players. It's designed by Rob Dougherty and Darwin Kastle, both known because of their place in the Magic hall of fame, and published in 2014 by White Wizard Games. The game started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2013.
The base game consists of 128 illustrated cards and a rulebook and that's all that you need. Because the game is contained in a small box, it's easy to take it with you on vacation and it doesn't take up too much space on your shelf.
The game is quite easy to learn/play, but still gives you many decisions that can give you the edge above some other players. Every player starts with the same deck of cards and 50 authority. Authority is your life in this game. Every round you draw 5 cards and you get to play them on the board. The cards can, when played, give you any of the following effects:
Trade: used for buying new cards from the trade row
Combat: used to damage your opponent
Authority: used to gain more authority
There are 2 types of cards in the game. There are ships and bases. Both those cards can give you the effects that are listed above, but could also give an additional effect. Ships go away after your turn, but bases stay on the playground until they are destroyed.
There is also a trade row in the middle of the playground consisting of 5 cards. You can buy new cards from the trade row with the trade you get that round. You cannot keep trade through your turns, so it's usually smart to spend most of it. New cards go into your discard pile along with the cards that you played that turn. When your deck is empty, you shuffle your discard pile and use that as your deck. So you are always improving your deck.
Some cards that share the same faction have a separate effect. So it's good to base your deck around at least one faction. There won't always be enough cards to build your deck with only one faction, so experiment with different combinations and see what works best for you.
The core of the game is basically to draw cards, play cards and expand your deck. Doesn't sound too difficult, right?
There are 4 different factions in the game and they all play very differently. They all follow a certain theme, so they are fairly easy to distinguish on the cards.
Factions just bring so much more to the game in the way of playing. Sometimes you'll only be using one faction but usually, your deck will consist of multiple factions that all work together to make sure that you win.
This. Game. Is. Amazing. For the price (around 15 euros), you get so much content that'll definitely keep you going for quite some time. The base game supports only 2 players. You can also play with 3-4 players, but then you need to buy another copy of the game. The different factions really play differently and you will usually need to combine them together for your own deck. We do think some faction combinations are very strong. And sometimes this can be difficult to beat due to the trade row being random. But usually, this balances itself out quite well.
Card games come with a bit of randomness due to drawing the cards. Sometimes this can be annoying, but it's not too bad due to you buying your own deck. Sometimes you'll get unlucky and help your opponent to get a card that helps him to beat you later on, but the games are quick so you can quickly beat him in the next game.
Should you get it?
If you are a fan of quick 2 player games that appeals to either casual and competitive players, then yes, go get it right now! Honestly, for this price, you can't quite go wrong. Even for 3-4 players, I think this game is worth it. If you want to buy 2 sets, make sure to buy the base set and the standalone expansion one. This way you get even more fun out of it!
Maybe if you are really competitive and don't enjoy the randomness of card games, then this game won't be for you. Or maybe the theme isn't something for you. If you want a different theme. The makers of this game also created a game like star realms, but with a fantasy theme called Hero Realms.
Amazing game. It has a lot of depth and is easy to play. I do wish some faction combinations were a bit stronger and the randomness can be annoying sometimes. But the game is definitely a great pickup for such a cheap price
A very fun game to play. Nice art and a good game to take along to combat boredom while traveling. This game would make a very good gift for a game-loving sci-fi fan.