What do you get for your money?
You get 80 Trade Deck cards, 10 Explorer cards, 16 Scout cards, 4 Viper cards and 18 Authority cards and you get the rules of course.
How do you play the game?
Star Realms is a two-player deck builders. What that means is that you start with a limited amount of cards in you deck and through buying cards you are able to build a bigger deck, deck building.
There are three currencies in this game; trade, combat and authority. Trade is your money, combat is your strength in battle and authority is your score. Your goal is to reduce your opponent’s authority to zero.
Every player start with fifty Authority and ten cards in their deck; eight Scouts, worth one trade each, and two Vipers, worth one combat each. Then you shuffle the Trade deck and place five cards in the middle of the table, the trade row. Next to those cards, place the 10 Explorer cards, worth 2 coins each. The first player then draws three cards from their deck, the second player five and the game can begin.
A turn consists of three phases. During the main phase you can play cards from your hand, use primary abilities, use ally or scrap abilities, buy new cards or attack your opponent.
There are two types of cards; ships and bases. Every card has a cost, a name and a faction. There are four factions in the game; Blob, Star Empire, Trade Federation and the Machine Cult faction. Most of the time, a card has a primary ability, an ability you can always use during your turn. Some cards also have an Ally ability. These abilities can only be used if you have another ship or base of that faction on the table that turn. Scrap abilities are abilities that can be used if you remove that card from the game.
Bases are a little different from ships. Ships are discarded after you’ve used them. A base remains active until your opponent destroys it. All bases have a Defence value and some are designated as an outpost. Your opponent must attack an outpost first, match their Defence value, before they can attack you. You can always attack a base, outpost or not. A defeated base goes back into your opponents discard pile.
When you buy a card, pay the cost and then place it on your discard pile. You can only buy cards that are in the trade row or you can buy Explorer cards.
When you decide to attack the other player, add up all your combat value, indicated in red circles on your ships or bases, and reduce his or her Authority by that value.
At the end of your turn, discard all your used and unused cards, except your undefeated bases. This phase is called the discard phase. Then, draw five new cards, the draw phase.
First player with zero Authority loses the game.
Star Realms is an easy game to learn, teach and just as easy to play. Especially if you already are familiar with deck builders, you can jump right in.
In Star Realms gives you direct confrontation and I like it. Head to head. Both of you are battling for the best cards and the best combinations of cards to attack each other with. A constant battle.
I also like the fact that you get bonus effects if you combine cards with other cards of the same faction. This make sure that you really feel like you are building your deck and making these great combination. You can combine two factions or you can just acquire cards from one faction.
There are not a lot of choices in the game and that makes Star Realms so easy to play. At one point you have to decide which factions you go for and then it’s just picking the right card(s) from the trade row.
During your turn you can use every card, so you don’t have to worry about that either. If you make sure you buy the right cards, cards that strengthen each other, then you’ll be fine.
During some games, if both of you use many Trade Federation cards (they give you new Authority), the game can drag on a bit. However, that doesn’t happen very often. In most games you slowly build up your combat strength until that point when you can attack your opponent with fifteen combat or more.
The bases are nice and necessary. They protect you and make sure that you get a proper chance to build a cool deck and of course they give you some nice abilities to.
It seems to me that, by adding new faction, the game can be easily expanded, but then it would probably lose its easiness of play and its portability.
Although this game has a nice Sci-Fi flavour, with some nice illustrations and you are attacking each other with your space ships and such, the Sci-Fi theme doesn’t really come through when you look closely at the mechanisms.
The game looks nice. It doesn’t have the most stunning space / Sci-Fi illustrations I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely not bad either. The layout of the cards is very clear. In one glance you are able to see how much damage you can do and how much money you can spend.
Quality of the game parts:
Decent quality cards in a small package. Which is a plus and a minus. You can bring it everywhere you want. Great! However if you do that, the box won’t last long. A deck-box might be required. Not so great!
It’s quick, easy and it’s very portable. I like the deck building mechanism and I like that it’s a good head to head two-player game. Attack, attack, attack!
Mix and match the different factions, try another combination every time. It’s not that this game is very innovative, but it does what it does and does it very well.
Star Realms, a really fun two-player game.