September Game of the Month – Star Realms

The Game of the Month series highlights one of the many games in our library at Ravenwood Castle. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it.

Game: Star Realms

Publisher: White Wizard Games

There seems to be a trend of late towards smaller games, typically with a faster playtime and lower price point than a big box game. These games usually play in 5 to 30 minutes and many will fit in your pocket. While I still enjoy a meaty game that will tie up an afternoon, I’m all for this trend. We’ve found that these type of games make a great entry point into the hobby for non-gamers, and are great ‘filler’ games for more experienced gamers.

One of our favorite of these mini-games is Star Realms, a spaceship combat deck building game. Star Realms was designed by the developer of Ascension, one of our other favorite deck building games. Like many deck builders, the various cards in Star Realms provide players with money and/or attack power. Many have additional powers, and some have special abilities that trigger based on other cards in play. Each player begins the game with ten basic cards and builds their deck by purchasing stronger cards and trashing weaker cards.

Unlike Ascension, in Star Realms players are able to attack their opponents directly. This makes Star Realms a far more interactive game, and adds a layer of strategic decision making. In addition to striking a balance between economic and offensive power, players have to mount a defense against attacks by their opponent. The defense may take the form of bases and outposts which act as shields, or cards which regenerate a player’s authority (health).

In its entirety, Star Realms weighs in at slightly larger than two decks of standard playing cards. While it won’t quite fit in your pocket, it’s small enough to pop into a backpack or purse (try that with Ascension or Dominion!) At a price point of less than $15, keeping a deck around won’t break the bank either. Such ready accessibility means it’s going to be far easier to get a game of Star Realms going than it has been with other deck builders. And that’s perhaps the best part of this smaller game trend!

There is also a digital version of Star Realms, accessible cross platform on iOS, Android and PC. The app isn’t quite as polished as Playdek’s Ascension, but it is certainly serviceable. At a price point of $4.99, it’s a great way to give Star Realms a shot before purchasing a full deck.

Of course, you can also stop by Ravenwood Castle and try Star Realms out at our free Intro to Game Day September 13th. Doors will be open between noon and 6:00 PM!

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.