Star Realms is the latest addition to my collection.
This is a deck-building game with a spaceship combat theme, designed by Rob Dougherty and Darwin Kastle, and published by White Wizard Games.
The designers are well known within the card game world, and originally produced this as a Kickstarter project. It sort of flew under the radar, meaning it was produced and sold out quickly without much of a fuss. Then reports of the game play filtered through, and that created a demand for a game no longer in print. (The buzz may have been helped by the fact that supporters of the Kickstarter project got an electronic version.) It did not take too long for the designers to remedy that state of affairs, and now the game is widely available.
Out of the box, it’s not immediately apparent what makes this so appealing. You get 128 cards allowing a two player game. You also get two rules sheets. Then, you begin to understand some of the popularity. One rule sheet – that’s two small sides of paper – contains the complete game rules. Wow. This is a highly playable and accessible game. (The other sheet has multi-player rules for games of 3 or more players.) It’s also fast with playing times of twenty to thirty minutes reported as the norm!
Game play seems to be similar to Dominion, but with some neat twists. For example, you can play all your cards and there are no victory point cards to slow down your deck.
As another example, your goal is not only to buy better cards for your deck, but to score damage against your enemy. Both players start with, essentially, 50 points of life. When you get down to zero or less, you are out. You can track this with paper and pen, or use the cards provided.
Also, instead of you being able to see all the cards available to buy, in Star Realms there is only a limited selection for you and your opponent. So, do you concentrate on buying the cards that are good for you, or do you try and buy the cards that would be best for your enemy.
Another interesting feature, is that each of the ship or base cards available to buy belongs to one of four factions: The Trade Federation, The Blobs, The Star Empire or The Machine Cult. Each has their own style, but you can mix and match acquisitions as you choose.
Finally, you can turn this into a multi-player game by having more than one starter deck. (That’s why I bought a couple.)
I have not yet had any serious playing experience with the game, but am looking forward to trying it out.