Star Realms Review

Today’s Star Realms review starts with a memory back in 2018, when me and my girlfriend were visiting Cambridge in the UK.

We were walking down a road in the middle of the city when we passed what seemed like a normal bookshop.
Therefore we stepped into the shop, passively looking for books and we suddenly saw it: an underground floor filled with all kinds of board games you can ever think of!

After spending a solid half an hour checking all the shelves, we went to the two-players board game section with the intention to buy a small and cheap game for the journey back.

After checking and discarding most of them, we were finally in between two potential choices: Star Realms and Backpacker.
Two very different games, but equally perfect for any kind of travel!

After few thoughts we decided to buy the one we were thinking was better than the other: of course Star Rea… WRONG!!

We bought Backpacker.

Star Realms only arrived a year after that day, shame on us! 🔔

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Game overview

Star Realms Pinterest

Star Realms is a space combat board game published in 2014 by White Wizard Games.
It’s a game where you and the opponent fight for dominance over the entire galaxy!

To accomplish this and win the game, you must build a powerful deck and destroy the opponent’s Armada.

Each player starts the game with 50 Authority. If the opponent’s Authority drops to 0, you win the game.

How to play

Each player starts the game with a deck composed of 10 Ships: 8 Scouts and 2 Vipers.

Scouts provide 1 Trade.
You can use Trade to acquire Ships and Bases from the Trade Row to add to your deck and make it more powerful.

Vipers provide 1 Combat.
You can use Combat to attack your opponent’s Bases and Authority.

There are two types of cards in the game, Ships and Bases.
Both of these types of cards can give you different effects, and those are:

Star Realms trade mark Trade points

Star Realms combat mark Combat points

Star Realms authority mark Authority points

The main difference between the two types of cards is that Ships are drawn, played and discarded every turn, while Bases remain on the playground until they get destroyed by the opponent.

In the middle of the playground, we can find the Trade Row.
This is where you can acquire new Ships and Bases, spending your Trade points.

In a nutshell, this game is about drawing cards, expanding your deck, playing better cards while the game progresses, and eventually destroy the enemy.

All seasoned with a “pinch” of randomness.

Game factions

What makes this game a deck-building game is the fact that there are 4 different factions, each with unique abilities and effects.
The player’s ability to combine those factions is the key to the success!

These are:

  • Trade Federation;
  • The Blobs;
  • Star Empire;
  • Machine Cult.

Trade Federation

“In the far future, the more traditional governing bodies of the human race have been replaced with corporate leadership.
The earth and its surrounding colonies are ruled by a group of corporations called the Trade Federation.” –

The Trade Federation specializes in generating large amounts of Trade and in gaining Authority (increasing your life).
This faction is mostly used in the early game for the high trading power and in the late game for increasing your Authority turn after turn.

The Blobs

“These mysterious creatures are the first alien life forms encountered by the human race.
On the few occasions that a Blob ship has been recovered somewhat intact, the only biological remains found inside have consisted of a gelatinous mass, The Blobs.” –

The Blobs specializes in generating huge amounts of Combat and at removing undesirable cards from the Trade Row.
This faction is mostly used in the mid and late game for the massive amount of damage they can deal and blow up the opponent’s strategy.

Star Empire

“The Star Empire consists primarily of former colonies of the Trade Federation.
These colonies were on the outer edges of the Federation.
Not only did they feel used by the corporations, but they felt the Federation failed to give them adequate protection from the Blobs.” –

The Star Empire is a combat oriented faction that draws lots of cards and makes the opponent discard cards.
They are If you want to be hated by your opponent this is the way to go!

Machine Cult

“A cluster of industrial mining worlds were completely cut off from the Trade Federation by the Blobs.
With the threat of annihilation always looming, a cult of technology arose, focused on using advanced technology, robotics and computerization to create strong defenses and a powerful military that belied their relatively small population.” –

The Machine Cult specialises in removing undesirable cards from your deck and from having a large number of Bases to defend your Authority.
This faction is mostly used from mid game and on some occasions in the early game.


I’m going to start by saying what is, in my opinion, the only flaw of this game: the rules book.
I didn’t understand the rules at all when I read them the first time. Neither the second. And the third.

Now, someone could say that the problem is me and I could easily answer “you’re right Sir”, but downloading the free App really saved me a lot of time. But not the one I wasted reading the rules book. That’s gone.

Besides the rules though, I truly think this game is incredible.
It’s compact, perfect if you like travelling, it’s cheap (only £ 14,00), it has a lot of depth and incredible replayability!

Honestly, you get so much value out of a tiny game that it would be a shame not having it in your collection!
And if you lose against your best mate don’t you worry, you can ask for a re-match right afterwards, as the duration of each game is only around 20 mins.

So, what are you waiting for, go get it!! Don’t waste any more time. Don’t be us! 🔔

2 players | 20 mins | Age 12+

P.S.: if you want to read other recommendations, why don’t you take a look at our Best Two-Player board games article?