All hail Star Realms. It out ascension’s Ascension.
I first spotted Star Realms at a games night. I didn’t play it, I just saw it and asked what it was like. “Yeah it’s o.k.” I was told. It’s a compact little number that hides it’s light under a very tidy bushel.
You can’t look at Star Realms and not compare it to Ascension. It’s very similar. In place of wizards and demons we have spaceships and space stations.
It’s a deceptively simple game. You have three resources. Authority (life), trade (gold) and firepower (attack strength). Each turn you draw a hand of five cards and depending on how much trade you have you get to buy a card or more from the centre row of seven. You also get to unload whatever firepower you have reducing your opponents authority (life points)
So far so simple. Obviously it’s more complicated than that so here’s what’s what. There are four factions in the game and they all have ships of various costs and abilities. Most ships when they appear in your hand with another of the same faction get a bonus like more firepower or more trade or some other special ability like being able to scrap a card in your hand or discard pile.
Scrapping cards is a big part of this game. Getting rid of your lowly starter cards and replacing them with better gear is critical. In addition to your ships you can pick up space stations that stay in front of you and add bonuses and some (outposts) act as shields from incoming firepower. Space stations are, like the ships of a particular faction grant bonuses to matching faction ships.
A lot of ships and stations come with a power that only kicks in if you remove the ship from the game.It’s a very nicely balanced game where that little push of removing a ship might cost you next round if your opponent is still alive.
For such a simple game. Pretty much two resources it’s a complex beast with a nice chunk of strategy and tactics woven into easy play. Granted luck does play a part but you know when you’re up against a good or mediocre player.
In addition to the card game there’s a very slick phone/tablet/pc version of it. Very slick. I’ve played dozens of games on it now and it’s very accessible. Also the payment model is superb. If you buy it for your phone you get it for your tablet and pc too. It’s the best €5 I’ve spent in a while. I’ve gotten my value a dozen times over.
All in all this is a lovely game. It’s fast. It’s got bottom. It’s easy to learn and it’s got a real one more go feel to it, just like Ascension did.
You’ll be hearing more about this game as time goes by. Hopefully the expansions will not muddy it’s simple Charm.
More games like this please