Star Realms – Review

Star Realms

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Published: 2014
Game Concept/Design: Robert Dougherty, Darwin Kastle
Artists: Vito Gesualdi
Publisher: White Wizard Games
Rules PDFs

Ages: 12+  |  Time: 20  |  Players: 2

Company line:

”Rule the stars. Forge your own star realm. Build up your military through shipping and trade, then use your mighty fleet of warships to protect what’s yours and take what isn’t!!”


Star Realms is a popular game in the “deck building” genre. Players start with a small basic deck of ten cards; 8 Scout cards (trade), and 2 Viper cards (combat), and deal themselves 5 cards from that deck. They use these base cards from their hand to either acquire more powerful cards from the trade row, or attack their opponent. 

As players acquire better cards containing a combination of trade, combat, authority, abilities, and defence, players can then potentially draw these cards into their hand or play area. The ultimate goal is to attack their opponent, lowering their “Authority”. When you lower your opponent’s authority to zero, you win.

128 cards, and 2 instruction papers in a large tuck box

Primary game mechanisms:
Deck building



❤️ Love

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This game has probably seen more play at our house than any other game. I am sure it will always be one of my favourites. It's fun, challenging and satisfying.

Read below for our full review.


❤️ Love

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This is one of my all-time favourite games. It is well balanced, fun, strategic, and different every time. 
Star Realms is pretty much perfection in a box!

Read below for our full review.


❤️ Love

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It's a fun deck building game with a nice combination of luck and strategy.

Read below for our full review.


❤️ Love

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It's a strategic game packed with oodles of fun.

Read below for our full review.



The cards are great quality. They are not linen finish, but don’t really need to be. After many plays these cards suffer from the same issue as other card games that use black borders, the edges of the cards will show white nicks. 

The cards used to keep track of scoring are functional, but can hurt people’s heads if they struggle with doing math on the fly. We ended up making two sets of dials that we often use instead, although we think the cards work perfectly too.

The box is a standard card stock tuck-box, so it may not stand up to heavy use. For the amount of play this game gets at our house, it is holding up better than many other games we own, which can likely be attributed to the game using the right size box.

The instructions are printed on two sheets of glossy high quality paper. It is printed in 3 columns but folded into quarters. Having the folds at the column gaps would be a much better choice in this instance, and a booklet might be an even better way to go.


Art/Theme/Graphic Design:

The art in the game has a 70’s/80’s science fiction feel. It’s great. The graphic design is clean and polished. It feels like a lot of thought was put into it. Cards are highly readable and a pleasure to look at even after many plays. We love and appreciate that the cards are not busy, and make great use of iconography and placement. This is not the case in some of the spin-off versions of the game, which is why Star Realms remains a favourite.

The theme comes through in the gameplay but as with most games, not much. It’s a game that revolves around the deck-building mechanism, and could be themed with almost anything. That being said, the quality of the art/design pushes the theme forward.


The rules are pretty straightforward, and it’s fairly easy to teach, especially if the person you are teaching has played a deck-building game before. There were a couple of times that we had to look up rule clarification online, but generally the rules in the game are thorough. There are rules for 3+ player, but we seldom play more than 2 players. The game, in our opinion, is designed to be best played at 2 players.



Once you get the hang of how to play (which generally only takes a game or two), a game will hum along with each player taking their turn quickly. You can get into a rhythm and the game flows nicely. The game has never felt long and drawn out.

StarRealms is a game that requires you adapt to what is thrown at you. You can’t really have a strict strategy about what faction cards you will buy before the game starts. You have to roll with what’s available. And that is just one of the reasons the game can be enjoyed over and over again.


Overall Thoughts:
Star Realms is a polished deck-builder that provides a fun and interesting experience each game. If you have never played a deck-building game this is a good one to start with. The game play is solid and the art/graphic design is attractive, clean and very functional. Each game is a unique experience as you try to create a synergistic and effective deck hoping for good card draws. You can play the base game for free on the app store, and Steam. We recommend giving it a try.

You will probably enjoy Star Realms if you like any or all of these:
-quick 1 vs 1 competitive card games
-deck-building games
-light to medium weight card games that wrap up in under 30 minutes

You may not enjoy this game if you:
-prefer standard playing card games and don’t want to learn a new type of card game
-don’t like competitive games where you are trying to take your opponent out
-don’t like 2 player games