From the co-creators of Ascension and Magic Pro Tour Hall of Famers comes, Star Realms. Under the newly formed banner of White Wizard Games, Robert Dougherty (Ascension) and Darwin Kastle (Ascension, VS System) have brought a team together to develop what is a unique, fast and fun deck building game.
A couple weeks ago, an invoice came across my desk with the Star Realms logo at the top. I see game logos all the time but something about this got my interest. I looked into it and was amazed at what I saw online: A quick 2-player deck building game with amazing art. And the theme, giant space ship battles, yes please. I run down the hall and immediately Ian, Chris and myself are engrossed in conversation about Star Realms <Ian: Little did Mike know, until that moment, that we were also really excited about the game and I had already been talking with Rob to get advance samples in>. It didn’t take long before we had copies in our offices and we were sneaking in games as often as we could.
Both players start with a simple deck of basic abilities. Eight cards worth 1 Trade each and two cards worth 1 Combat each. During your turn, your base hand is five cards and you use your combined Trade and Combat to either buy new ships, battle stations or reduce your opponents Authority from fifty down to zero and win the game!
Here is an example of game play that might occur during a game. I play all 5 cards from my hand and in it a combined Trade of 6, combined Combat of 2 and an Authority gain of 2. Additionally, I have a ship ability that allows me to draw another card. The card drawn is played and is the same faction of a ship I have in play. This triggers the same faction bonus abilities allowing me to draw another card and cause 2 more Combat to my opponent! I finish the turn by using my Trade to purchase a ship in the trade row for 4 and another ship for 2, replenishing the cards as I purchase them. I then take all my played cards, newly purchased ships and put them in my discard pile. Draw 5 new cards and my opponent takes their turn.
Four factions make up the options in Star Realms. All four have a very distinct tactic and work well amongst the same faction. The key is finding ways to make different factions work together and bring your opponent to their intergalactic knees.
- The Blobs – Hard hitting alien menace. Destructive faction delivering high Combat totals to your opponents leaving their ships broken.
- Trade Federation – Controlling the peace through force. Trade and Authority control; make the Federation a hard faction to break.
- Cheap and packaged to move: $14.95, that’s it! The amount of game in a single deck box is huge and your customers are going to love having such a small foot print in their gaming collection and you on your stock shelves. This also makes it easy to get bigger games of Star Realms as every deck can add 2 more players to a game!
- Replayability is amazing: 30 games and still learning.
- There are no bad choices: You never get stuck having to do something or with a card you can’t use. You can buy as many cards as you have Trade and you can play as many ships as you have in your hand. Everything always works.
- Quick and aggressive: I just had my longest game tonight with my fiancé, 23 minutes. It was quite epic and I finally broke my losing streak to her! Did you catch that, this is a great game for those gaming couples you have.
- Amazing artwork: I love giant battle barges in space. They are like the dragons of science fiction. The artwork on every card is unique, fun and oozes personality.
- Unique approach to the deck building genre: Typically, at the end of every round, you remove cards you have in play. However, there are some cards, the Bases, which remain in play and give you steady bonuses and abilities every turn. In some cases, these Bases can protect you through their Outpost abilities. This is just one mold breaking feature.
- Ultra Combo!!! By turn 4 your deck will be coming together and it will start to reveal the chain reaction star fleet you have created. Massive Combat totals, huge Trade commissions, expansive Authority gains and combinations I have even yet to imagine.
- Organized Play: This game begs for tournaments and leagues. In the box there are several formats to play Star Realms. Being small and cheap, it will be hard for customers in your store to resist such an easy opportunity to have a good time. PHD already has ideas so call Ian if you’re interested in the Orlando office.
Review by Mike Paschal of PHD.