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Subject: HomerJr's Card Tier Lists [x-post Megahaulin' Star Realms Strategy Blog] rss

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Scott Heise
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Hi everyone,

I just posted my Card Tier Lists to the new Megahaulin' Star Realms Strategy blog. The intent of these Tier Lists is to provide a quick reference to help players, especially newer or less experienced players, when deciding which card(s) in the trade row they should buy (or whether to buy a card at all). Every card that is available in the online app (base plus year 1 promos) is contained within these lists and grouped into one of three tiers based on the overall value of the card relative to the cost of the card.

Star Realms Card Tier Lists at the Megahaulin' Star Realms Strategy Blog

Cheers!
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Jason
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My experience with the game isn't nearly as deep as yours or many others. I've played probably a few hundred games against the app's AI and have never played a human opponent. With that in mind...

Why does Recycling Station go from Tier 3 in the early game to Tier 1 in the late game? This seems backwards. I feel this card is most powerful in the early game, where it helps cycle the deck more quickly and filters Scouts and Vipers. I would always buy Recycling Station over a Barter World, for example.

Why are cards like Patrol Mech and Ram ranked Tier 3 in the late game? Both deal a guaranteed 5 damage, which is decent at that stage of the game. I understand they don't have secondary abilities that are useful in the late game, but it seems the damage they provide should at least move them up to Tier 2.

Similarly, Survey Ship is one of the few cards I don't hesitate to buy in the late game because it's a cantrip. If Corvette is Tier 2, I don't see why this shouldn't be.

I'm also surprised to see Dreadnaught at Tier 2 in the mid game. I would almost always buy that before e.g. Central Office unless I were deep into blue. I was looking for Mothership as a point of reference in this regard, but it's not on the list.

Anyway, those are my one-step-above-a-newbie thoughts. Tell me why I'm wrong.
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Flying Arrow
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General agreement, HomerJr. But a few disagreements. Most of which you're probably already aware of.

Opening Buys
Missile Bot and Trade Bot up to Tier 1.
Blob Fighter, Merc Cruiser, Battle Screecher, Survey Ship to Tier 2.
Trade Escort, Defense Center, War World to Tier 3.
BattleMech, Blob Wheel to Tier 2.

Mid Game
Recycling Station up to Tier 1.
Trading Post up to Tier 2.
The scrapping bots are tricky. They all move up a tier during deck 2, but you have them in the right spot for deck 3.
Battlecruiser, Dreadnaught, Battle Blob to Tier 1.
Port of Call, Central Office to Tier 2.

I think Blob World is Tier 3. I always thought it was a big gap between Blob World and Command Ship/Brain World. Now I'm not convinced it's much better than Fleet HQ... unless you have a bunch of green already (which makes it situational... definition of Tier 3).
Also good if your opponent is combat-starved, but again situational.


End Game
Corvette to Tier 1
Trading Post to Tier 2.
Battle Station to Tier 1.
Ram to Tier 2.

Outposts you can scrap for damage serve double-duty in the endgame... protection or a finisher. More valuable there.
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Scott Heise
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Hi Jason, these are great questions! Thanks for asking.

binaryeye wrote:

Why does Recycling Station go from Tier 3 in the early game to Tier 1 in the late game? This seems backwards. I feel this card is most powerful in the early game, where it helps cycle the deck more quickly and filters Scouts and Vipers. I would always buy Recycling Station over a Barter World, for example.


The reason for this is that Recycling Station actually takes a card away from your hand the turn you play it (giving you a 4-card hand), so it is really only actually helping you if either 1) it is pulling your powerful cards into your hand (thus making up for the fact that you have only a 4-card hand), and/or 2) your opponent is unable to destroy it immediately and it stays out for an extra turn or two. In these situations Recycling Station is very beneficial, but the odds of (1) are low in the early game and (2) is unlikely against a well-prepared opponent. A nerfed 4-card hand is generally not worth advancing your deck by two cards unless they're really good cards.

binaryeye wrote:

Why are cards like Patrol Mech and Ram ranked Tier 3 in the late game? Both deal a guaranteed 5 damage, which is decent at that stage of the game. I understand they don't have secondary abilities that are useful in the late game, but it seems the damage they provide should at least move them up to Tier 2.


The quick answer to this is that these cards should already be in your deck before the late game. The final turns often come down to a single turn rally for 20-30 combat to finish of your opponent, so while these cards will increase the average combat per card of your deck, they can actually disrupt a big late game rally because they are dead cards (they don't draw a card). The extra combat in your deck may not be worth slowing down the velocity of your deck by adding a card. For example, in the late game, rallying for a single turn of 20 damage may be quicker at finishing off your opponent than dealing 15 damage then 25 damage on two subsequent turns.

binaryeye wrote:

Similarly, Survey Ship is one of the few cards I don't hesitate to buy in the late game because it's a cantrip. If Corvette is Tier 2, I don't see why this shouldn't be.


In the late game, it doesn't hurt your game but it doesn't help either unless you have other yellows already. There are many other cards that are more likely to help your deck, and there is risk of flipping a critical card for your opponent.

binaryeye wrote:

I'm also surprised to see Dreadnaught at Tier 2 in the mid game. I would almost always buy that before e.g. Central Office unless I were deep into blue. I was looking for Mothership as a point of reference in this regard, but it's not on the list.

Anyway, those are my one-step-above-a-newbie thoughts. Tell me why I'm wrong.


Dreadnaught/Mothership are very good cards; arguably, Tier 1.5 in the mid-game. However, my definition of mid-game might be earlier in the game than most people realize (Decks 2/3). In my experience, a Central Office bought during Deck 2 (after the opening buys) will outperform a Dreadnaught because it'll be played 2-4 times (or more if your opponent can't destroy it immediately) and the top-decking of the ships bought while it's out can deal more damage over the course of the game than the Dreadnaught would. Top-decking is extremely powerful; it essentially acts as if the ship you just bought was bought the turn before. Ideally, you buy the Central Office first and then top-deck the Dreadnaught using the CO on the next shuffle, which is results in the same damage as if you bought the Dreadnaught first (except now you also have a CO).

I knew I'd forget a card when putting this together. I would place Mothership would be placed in the tier lists alongside Flagship/Dreadnaught/Battlecruiser.

Thanks for the great questions! And you're not wrong... these are just my opinions and you're free to have your own, but hopefully I've given you some things to think about.
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Scott Heise
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Hey Flying Arrow, I'm glad you posted your thoughts! I was hoping to spur some discussion. I agree with many of your comments as well, and I actually think many of the differences you point out are just "rounding errors" where I was torn between two tiers and you round up and I rounded down or vise versa.

Just a couple thoughts:

FlyingArrow wrote:
General agreement, HomerJr. But a few disagreements. Most of which you're probably already aware of.

Opening Buys
Missile Bot and Trade Bot up to Tier 1.
Blob Fighter, Merc Cruiser, Battle Screecher, Survey Ship to Tier 2.
Trade Escort, Defense Center, War World to Tier 3.
BattleMech, Blob Wheel to Tier 2.


The scrappers are clearly good opening buys, but I put them in Tier 2 just because I think they are a tad below the Cutter in terms of total value and because 3 trade from a $2 card usually leads to great things. I think BattleMech is underrated as a scrapper/early base killer combo. The other cards were inbetweeners for me.

FlyingArrow wrote:

Mid Game
Recycling Station up to Tier 1.
Trading Post up to Tier 2.
The scrapping bots are tricky. They all move up a tier during deck 2, but you have them in the right spot for deck 3.
Battlecruiser, Dreadnaught, Battle Blob to Tier 1.
Port of Call, Central Office to Tier 2.

I think Blob World is Tier 3. I always thought it was a big gap between Blob World and Command Ship/Brain World. Now I'm not convinced it's much better than Fleet HQ... unless you have a bunch of green already (which makes it situational... definition of Tier 3).
Also good if your opponent is combat-starved, but again situational.


I'm a bit surprised that you'd put the big damage cards above the blue bases at this point in the game. Central Office in particular always seems to lead to great things for me, as I think it's ability to top-deck without ally is a very underrated power. Not sure I get the Trading Post love at this point... it just doesn't seem to do anything well IMO other than be there to ally with other blues.

I think Blob World is strictly superior than Fleet HQ, so for that reason alone I'll put it in Tier 2. I think it's a good buy for $7 even without other greens so I put it in the "solid" category, though it's a half tier below the other $7s in a non-green deck and a Tier 1 in a green deck.

FlyingArrow wrote:

End Game
Corvette to Tier 1
Trading Post to Tier 2.
Battle Station to Tier 1.
Ram to Tier 2.

Outposts you can scrap for damage serve double-duty in the endgame... protection or a finisher. More valuable there.


Finally, someone else showing some love for the Battle Station!

And I agree about the value of double-duty outposts, but the 4-authority or 3-combat Trading post is still too weak to justify a late game buy in my book.

Cheers, buddy!
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Flying Arrow
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Yeah, I was probably too eager there with Trading Post. It's not a very good card, but that's because it does a little bit of everything and nothing that great. A little bit of trade, a little bit of protection, a little bit of end-game combat. In the mid-game it's on par with the Battle Station because its 1-trade still has some value. But probably still Tier 3 mid-game. Low Tier 2 late-game. The scrap-for-combat bases can be so huge in the end game. It's not as good as Barter World or Battle Station in that situation, but can still provide an extra turn by being an outpost, or provide the final bit of combat.

BattleMech is a tricky buy in deck 1. It's a good card, but if you take it in deck 1 you can find yourself trade-starved. And if other scrappers are up, I'd much rather take cheaper scrappers in order to cover both the scrappers and the trade needs. Very dependent on what else is in the trade row, but along with ram it's one of the best combat options in deck 1, and easily the best of the 5-cost cards during deck 1.

The whole point of the big-trade bases is to buy the big-damage cards. Unless the trade row is stocked with all 6+ cards, I'd rather get the big-damage cards while I can. When I take a big-trade base, too often it seems to mean I get the big-trade base while my opponent grabs the big-combat ship. That's actually what happened in our last Platinum game when you took Port of Call. In that case, I think you did the right thing because there were multiple big cards available and you did it in deck 2 (not deck 3). But I was lucky enough to grab 2 big 6-cost ships. When there's just one big ship out and one big-trade base. I prefer the ship... taking the base could just mean you get to buy tons of 2-4 cost cards later.

For Blob World, yes... it is better than Fleet HQ. But I think it's closer to Fleet HQ than it is to Command Ship. And nowhere near Brain World. (Unless you're already holding the Mothership and 3 Blob Fighters.)
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Scott Baughman
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Good reviews, thank you so much for sharing this. I just picked up the game with a friend at DragonCon 2015 (the booth had a nice deal to get all the cards currently in the game) and we love it so far. I also downloaded the app, so I got bit by this bug pretty hard, LOL!
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