<img src=“../assets/covers/star-realms.jpg” alt=“Star Realms” class=“image-right” />
- 5 plays with 2 players
- Played before
If you’ve played Ascension then you’ve also played Star Realms for the most part. They’re both simple deck builders with two different kinds of currency: one used for buying new cards and one used for attacking. Both have a center card row with five cards face up and both have cards on the side that are always available. The biggest difference between the two is that in Ascension you only attack monsters in the middle row and one monster that’s always available and in Star Realms you’re attacking the other player(s).
Mechanics aside, I think Star Realms is the better game. It keeps things simple, the art is superior (totally a preference), it has a lower starting price ($15 vs $40 retail), and it takes a genre that was known for making only multiplayer solitaire games and created a game of pure interaction. Also, you’ll typically know what you did wrong when you lose. You can go back and look at where you went wrong.
That’s also a negative though. You’ll know what you did wrong, but it may have been the best situation given the cards. You’re dealing with the luck of the draw here and that’s all fine and good, just know it can stick you with some crappy cards. This can be dealt with by playing a few rounds, it’s certainly fast enough.
Really, it’s hard not to recommend a $15 game that plays in 20 minutes and is incredibly portable. Next time you need to fill out an order you should certainly add this in, otherwise pick it up at your local store or on Amazon.
<img src=“../assets/covers/imperial-settlers.jpg” alt=“Imperial Settlers” class=“image-right” />
- 1 play with 1 player
- Played before
Imperial Settlers was one of my favorite games from 2014. I pre-ordered it and picked it up from GenCon from the Portal booth. It ticked a lot of boxes for my preferences:
- Civilization theme
- Cards with multiple uses
- Asymmetric factions
- Player interaction
- Fancy wooden pieces
- Fun art
Here are the basics in case you haven’t played it. Your goal is to score points, you do so by placing cards, using those cards, and taking other actions that work with those cards. At the beginning of the game, you select one of four factions that all have a different bent: Egyptians are all about money, Romans are all about building, Barbarians are all about razing, and Japanese are all about guarding their fragile buildings. There are two sets of cards: one that is generic and one that is specific to your faction. You then use those cards to build production buildings, features (which are typically passive benefits), and actions (which require resources to use). After five rounds of play, you count up all of the points (including those earned by your buildings) and the person with the highest total wins.
Everything from my preferences list above is part of the pros of this game. It does so many things right for me. In addition, it always feels like you’re lacking something, whether that’s resources or cards (it can be somewhat hard to get cards in this game). The more I look at this game, the more I realize it really is one of the best games to come out last year.
In addition, the solo play is interesting and challenging as well, but understand that if solo games aren’t your bag, this isn’t going to change your mind. I haven’t tried the campaign mode yet though, that might be next.
There are some cons, as always, mostly in the form of analysis paralysis. You only have so many cards and so many resources, so it’s a puzzle to figure out the order of cards and resources to build most efficiently. If you play with AP prone players, this will be a problem. Beyond that, I’m remarkably happy with the game, it’s excellent and one that I’ll be happy to play any time.