So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Monday, June 29, 2015


In September, we will celebrate the seventh year of our gaming group. I am the only left of the original members, but it has steadily grown. Our struggles to even get four people together are long gone; last month we had more than a dozen at three different tables.  Our growth has created it's own set of blessings and complications. 

Over the next couple of posts I will talk about some of the changes made, particularly topics I talked about a few years ago. I will cover how I handle teaching games with this many,  as well as some of the dynamics in the group. Included will be a discussion on how my collection is shaped by the group.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Expand and Exterminate: A Review of Star Realms

One of my better finds this year has been the game Star Realms.  This is a deckbuilding game with combat - a first of it's kind.  Furthermore, it is designed for two players, which is unusual in this type of game.

What is deckbuilding?  It is a mechanism in which a player starts with a deck of cards which act as "money" and can purchase other cards.  The purchased cards either have a special ability, or a higher value which in turn allows the player to buy yet more powerful cards.  This continues until some endgame condition is met, and then a winner is determined.  The grandaddy of deck builders is Dominion, which is both the first and best selling deckbuilding game.  If you are familiar with Dominion, you will easily grasp the concept in Star Realms.

In fact, if you are also familiar with the online collectable card game (CCG) Hearthstone, you could start playing Star Realms almost without reading the rules.  The combat is similar in the two games.

There are three specific reasons that I think Star Realms is a must-have game:

Quick to learn, quick to play.  The rules for two players are on a double-sided glossy.  They will take just a few minutes to read through, and you will be up and running.  Games last about 20 minutes, so it can be played in those small bits of time that can't fit in other games.  My son and I have played while in the waiting room at the doctor's office.

Portability.  Have you seen the deck boxes used to carry around Magic the Gathering or Pok√©mon cards?  Star Realms comes in a box that size.  It is probably too big to fit in your pants pocket, but could easily go in a purse or backpack. 

Affordability.  At $15 (USD) a copy from Amazon, Star Realms is a bargain.  I have played it thirteen times in just a couple of months, and everyone I have played it with loves it.  Two members of my gaming group bought their own copies.

While the game is designed for two players, it can be played as a three or four player game with a second copy.  The style of multi-player play is exactly the same as Magic the Gathering I am told.  I haven't tried it; I would probably play as a mini-tournament instead.  While the box says it's for ages 12 and up, many younger children could easily play it.  The biggest issue is the text that is on the cards, but my experience is that kids easily memorize that type of information.

Star Realms is a game that should be in everyone's collection.  It has achieved tenure in my collection in just a few months.

It's Your Move!

Star Realms: ages 12 and up (or maybe less!), 20 minutes, 2 players.
Good Casual Gaming! Kid Friendly!