3 Chits, 4 Giggles
Star Realms is like herpes. If you play with a friend that has it… pretty soon you’ll have it too.
This stonking virus of a game has been rampantly infecting the world since it’s release in 2014 and has already picked up a cluster of awards. It is so simple, affordable and infectiously fun, it sold over 250,000 copies in its first year, which is an incredible amount for a tabletop game.
In my group of friends, I was patient zero. I bought the game on a whim and decided to take it along one gaming evening. I had no idea what I was exposing my friends to. Within a week, everyone who had played that game now owned their own copy, which they then used to further spread the virus. Never before have I seen a game picked up so quickly and enthusiastically.
Star Realms is a small and simple deck building card game where players are collecting space ships and stations to deal damage to each other. The mechanics in this game are nothing new and if you have played any other popular deck builders before, such as Dominion, Ascension or Artic Scavengers, then you will find Star Realms very easy to learn.
Each player has a basic deck of cards and throughout the game they will be buying cards from a communal market to improve their ability to destroy their opponent. There are also 4 different factions in the game, which allow for streamlined combo driven decks where you can combine cards together for devastating effect.
In Star Realms, White Wizard Games have managed to take a solid game mechanic and distil it down, boiling off game complexity, play time and size to deliver a deck builder that seems to focus on one main idea, be as fun as possible. It is this mentality that, I think, has made this game as contagious as it seems to be.
As a regular deck-builder I feel I must point out that games of Star Realms can be very luck driven. The market from which you buy cards, features the top 5 from a communal deck. This means that you may have an unpleasant selection of cards to purchase from and as soon as you do, you reveal a behemoth of a ship, which your opponent can promptly buy on their next turn. This does frequently happen however, I feel this element of luck just makes the games more exciting and helps to allow Star Realms to be more accessible to new players. If you are an experienced Star Realms player and you are playing with a newbie, there is every chance that they could still beat you.
Star Realms is a 2 player game straight out of the box, but if you purchase 2 sets, you can play 3 and 4 player games. I find these games to be the most exciting. Having more players allows for player balancing which helps to cancel out any extra luck someone may have experienced at the market. These multiplayer games are frequently intense and very close.
Star Realms is like a virus and if you are looking for a new, fast paced, exciting, cheap, portable, accessible, addictive and insanely fun card game, it is the virus for you.
Review by Ben Miles