Star Realms

Bullwinkle
Bullwinkle
edited March 2014 in Tabletop Gaming
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I backed Star Realms on Kickstarter, and I've been extremely happy with it. It seems to be available in retail stores now, so I thought I'd mention it here.

I've been playing this deck builder for a few months, and it's become a go-to.

At it's base, it's in an Ascension format. There are 5 cards in the trade row available to purchase. These are either ships or stations. You pay for them with gold in your hand. The only other currency is weapons damage which you use to directly attack your opponent. One interesting twist is that your health is also your victory points. All of the games I've played have ended because someone is at zero health, but I can imagine scenarios where you actually burn through the huge deck and the difference will matter.

Some cards will give you health/vp and these can be critical. Another way to protect yourself is with the bases. When they cycle into your hand and you play them, they stay in front of you until an opponent takes them out (or you trash them - some cards give a bonus ability if you trash them). Some of these bases are standard and are often just a nuisance to your opponenet, who must decide whether to spend damage on them or on you. Some of the bases are outposts, and your opponent must spend any damage he has on them before he can get back to attacking you. Destroyed bases go into your discard pile, so destruction is temporary.

Another aspect of the game that is interesting and done supremely well are the factions. There are four: The Trade Federation, The Blobs, The Star Empire and The Machine Cult. They are all different in what they provide, or how they provide them. Most of them also provide bonuses if you have another unit of the same faction out. These combos can get kind of staggering, especially because bases are also faction-based.

Because of the combos, most people's first thought is to specialize in one faction. But if you focus on the high attack powers of the Blobs, for example, you'll be missing out on the key healing power some of the Trade Federation ships have. You also have to be paying attention to what your opponent is focusing on. It may behoove you to grab a card before he has a chance. Even if you try to stick to two factions, you're still at the mercy of what cards come out in the trade row. Inevitably a fantastic ship or outpost that you can afford will pop up. Even without the combos, a lot of these cards are pretty powerful.

Some of the cards even seem too powerful, and not only the expensive ones (the Cutter is a prized ship, for example, that gives both gold and health every time it pops up, and it only costs 2 gold). But luck of the draw might make the difference here. There are multiple copies of each, but will that ship hit the trade row on your turn or your opponent's? Will you have the cash to afford it? Does it fit your overall strategy? Better than another card available to buy?

Partly because of the powerful cards and the simplicity of the damage or money currency, this game plays fast as hell. I've rarely had a game go more than 20 minutes. And even with the combos, turns can fly by so quickly that you barely have time to draw your hand before it's time to play again.

I've had a crapload of fun with Star Realms. It's one of my favorite deckbuilders out right now. It's tight, well designed, super fast and a heck of a lot of fun. Plus it's cheap! $20 gets you enough cards to play with 2 people (multiplayer will need another set per 2). I honestly can't recommend this game enough.

Comments

  • fanneyjack
    fanneyjack
    Guest
    This is one of best purchases I made through Kickstarter. Nothing else has been as fun or replayable. The number of strategies are also surprising, thanks to the cards which affect speed or efficiency of the player decks, as is how the cards play off each other thanks to the allied abilities. The game has depth, and combined with the speed of play, the game is very replayable and fun.
  • Bullwinkle
    Bullwinkle
    GT Member
    I introduced Star Realms to a friend of mine during what's become a traditional week-long play period. Usually we play a variety of games that we've been wanting to get to the table. We might repeat a game or two once during that session.

    We played Star Realms every single day. Some of that is the speed, of course, but not all of it.

    A couple of other friends saw that we had been playing all week and wanted to get in on the action. These guys are much more Euro-based. They like medium to heavy weight games. My buddy thought they would have no interest in Star Realms, but I wasn't so sure. Well, they had seen its heavy rotation on my friend's BGG log and were curious. We wound up playing three times that day. They both went out and bought it as soon as they could. One of them even went to our FLGS and started getting other people into it.

    It's spreading...
  • hepcat
    hepcat
    GT Member
    I grabbed a copy of the base game and the Gambit mini-expansion recently. I haven't played yet, but hopefully I'll get in a solo game this week.
  • kronovan
    kronovan
    GT Member
    Want it, but I already have too many good DBG's that don't make it to the table often enough.
  • Bullwinkle
    Bullwinkle
    GT Member
    on 1401811205:

    Want it, but I already have too many good DBG's that don't make it to the table often enough.


    The speed of this one might make a difference in getting it to the table. Speed in teaching, setup and play. Seriously, first time out, you might get the whole thing done in half an hour. 45 minutes, tops.

    Also, it's dirt cheap. $10 most online stores. Less than $20 at a FLGS.

    Sorry to pimp this game out so strongly, but my bitch gots to be played!
  • hepcat
    hepcat
    GT Member
    I've played about a half dozen solo challenges. I win against the pirates, but I always lose against the Nemesis Beast.

    It's fun. Not sure if it's got legs, but I don't regret the purchase. Especially for 15 bucks at my FLGS.
  • Bullwinkle
    Bullwinkle
    GT Member
    The solo is fun, surprisingly so, given that it's not the main focus, but it's still inferior to playing against a real human.
  • Bullwinkle
    Bullwinkle
    GT Member
    Non-Random Booster Packs Coming

    No word as to when, but here's a description of what to expect:

    Events introduces game-changing event cards. Heroes addes character cards to the game. Bases & Battleships and Fleets & Fortresses are two collections of powerful new ships and bases.


    Looking at stores online, it appears there may be storage boxes, flip top boxes and sleeves coming, too.
  • hepcat
    hepcat
    GT Member
    Looking forward to it. This has become my go to deck builder lately. Well, when I'm playing head to head with another person, that is.
  • wonderpug
    wonderpug
    GT Member
    I really like how they managed to make you want a balance of both types of resources. In Ascension I generally feel like I want to focus on one or the other, even with some of the expansions that tried to address that issue.
  • Montag
    Montag
    GT Member
    The app is really good as well. You can try it free. If you like it and pay to unlock it, then it will unlock across all platforms - PC, iOS, and Android. At one point, I had a game going on my phone and another going on my Nexus 7 at the same time. Asynchronous play across all platforms.
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