The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Star Realms

There’s a lot of game in this small package.

Star Realms is PvP Ascension. You have 5 cards you can buy, and cards give you money and combat. Combat attacks your opponent (you start with 50 Authority Life). Cards are in various factions, in most have an ability if you’ve played another card of that faction. Some cards (bases) stick around between turns and can be attacked instead of the opponent.

This seems (to me) like the type of game I could spew a few thousand words on. But for now, a few thoughts:

  • The <Annoying Waiter Voice> wafer thin </Annoying Waiter Voice> cards have mismatched backs. I sleeved my copy.
  • Even paying for sleeves it’s still under $30, but that basically doubled my cost.
  • I do like the starting rules — first player gets a 3 card hand for the first turn. Interesting, and means that sometimes the 2nd player has the advantage.
  • This is a pringles game, you can play a few games in a row. And (like Ascension) has easy setup/teardown.
  • There’s clearly skill, but when playing games against the TaoLing I had a horrible early start and said “This is the one I lose badly.” (Going second when the starting board had a great 2 cost card, and a great 4 cost card, and my draw had … $3. Watched the TaoLing buy the 2 cost and it got replaced with nothing special). That’s fine, it’s a card game and takes 20 minutes.

Ascension had already fallen to indifferent, but I’m Enthusiastic about Star Realms.


Written by taogaming

January 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. The gambit expansion ($10 at Amazon) has co-op and solo versions. The solo opponents are not easy to beat until you’ve had a bit of practice.

    The regular game is Ascension, but the cards are so powerful compared to your starting cards that banish is even better than it is in Ascension, and it’s huge there.


    January 28, 2015 at 7:02 pm

  2. My initial thought was that starting player has a significant disadvantage, but with further play, it seems more balanced. I’m keeping scores for my games against the iOS Hard AI, which seems to play at my skill level – I’ve won 54% of my ~90 games so far – and at the moment starting player has won 48% of the games. The difference has been close to being statistically significant at times, but not anymore.

    I wonder how much skill there is – can someone, for example, beat the Hard AI consistently 60% of the time, or even 70%? I doubt that, somewhat. It’s easy to play bad, but harder to play well to overcome the randomness of the card draws. However, I don’t care much, as the games are often interesting, lopsided games are over quickly and sometimes the underdog gets a surprise win.

    That’s good enough for me, and I’m expecting this to get couple of hundred of iOS plays, and regular face-to-face play as the last game of the evening against the one guy who takes the same bus home as I do.

    As a side note, I don’t like Ascension much. Star Realms is much, much better.

    Mikko Saari

    February 5, 2015 at 6:13 am

    • The comparison to Ascension was in mechanics, not a comparison of how much I like it. I was finished with Ascension after a few weeks (10 plays? Yes, that what BGG says). Getting an early scrap was awesome, but didn’t shorten the game.


      February 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm

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