Meeple Blog > Meeple’s Eye View – Star Realms

Meeple’s Eye View – Star Realms

Meeple’s Eye View – Star Realms


The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library

Ruling the stars is the goal in Star Realms. Build your fleet of ships, bases and outposts. Take out your opponent to claim the game, and the realm!

Theme: Head-to-head space combat

Number of Players: 2 or 4 (two teams of two) also a solo variant

Game Time: 15-20 minutes

Age Appropriateness: 12 and up

Game Type: Star Realms is a deck-building game with hand management

Game Play: Each player starts with the same base deck containing Viper ships (for attacking) and Scouts (for trading) and 50 Authority (think hit points). Five cards from the trade deck are placed face up in a community Trade Row, with a deck of Explorer ships (worth 2 trade). Like a normal deck-building game, players draw cards from their deck to use on their turn, and then place them in a discard pile.

Four factions make up the Trade Deck. These four factions have a slightly different focus or play-style. For example, the Blue Trade Federation faction focuses on replenishing lost Authority points. The Red Machine Cult is an attacking style faction. The factions in Star Realms will give bonuses for using multiple cards with the same faction on a turn. All four factions can be used by both players.

Bases and Outposts are different than ships in that they are not discarded at the end of a turn if they have not been destroyed. These provide faction bonuses and Authority protection as they serve as a shield between you and your opponent.

Players go back and forth using their hands towards their best strategy to outlast the opponent.

Component Quality: The only components in the game are cards, and they are standard quality. Cards are used to keep track of Authority points, which can be a bit fiddly. I believe I abandoned the score cards halfway through the first game I ever played and have used a notepad and pen since.

My Take: Star Realms was one of the surprise hits of 2014. The game exploded on the scene during convention season and was played over and over.

The design is simple and compact, with the entire game fitting in a medium sized card box. It plays quick but doesn’t skimp on theme or gameplay.

The faction bonuses are what make the game for me. Build a deck based on one or two factions and let the bonuses add up. I also like that you can trash a card to earn bonuses and to help keep your deck in check.

This game is one of the easiest deck-builders to teach, and anyone familiar with the genre will pick up on the game very fast.

Unlike collectable card deck-builders, the Trade Deck being available for both players levels the playing field, and I really like it. There aren’t special cards that cost a small fortune and give you a huge advantage over your opponent. Well done. In addition, the game is very affordable.

Expansions and Replay-ability: There have been promo cards and a few small expansions for Star Realms. The expansions add new ships and bases similar to what is in the base game, or they add new card types to enhance gameplay. There are also new cards that add solo game challenges or scenarios.

No matter what the expansion, the gameplay stays the same in that each player is afforded the opportunity to use the new cards. They aren’t something that only one player has the chance to utilize.

Truth be told, I purchased an expansion and have yet to use it in a game. The base game will give you plenty of plays.

Rick Grayshock is a husband and father who is a digital content producer for FOX Sports Ohio and is a co-founder of the Cleveland sports website Rick is excited to contribute to Meeple Moments and to write about his ‘other’ favorite hobby.