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Star Realms» Forums » General

Subject: Game On Rails? rss

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Kyle Johnson
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Does anyone find Star Realms to be a bit of a game on rails? There are options and decisions but ultimately it feels like you picking a faction or two early in the game, then snowball those cards for bonus damage, extra cards and authority. After the first handful of turns it feels like to me, note the term, "feels like," not "is", a game on rails. As if I can make decisions but the decisions become painfully obvious that there is no real alternative.
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Jeremy Scranton
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The more you play it, the more layers you'll find with the game. There certainly times that it is as simple as snowballing cards together. However, paying attention to what your opponent is buying and denying them the opportunity to build on their strategy is very important too.
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Against better opponents, the game is less about sticking to a faction and more about getting the best cards to compliment the type of deck you are trying to build. Then you will not be able to find cards you need in the trade row so you scramble stall the game out until your deck comes together or you try to adjust it on the fly to fit what you can get. It is a bit frustrating at times, but also fun when you succeed and blow your opponent to smithereens.
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v b
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Yes this is one of those great games with hidden depth. You must pay attention to several factors simultaneously and respond to your opponent appropriately. If your opponent uses the same strategy every time then yes I could see it feeling on rails however as soon as they change it a little you'll have to think in your feet.
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David Low
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To give an example: I'm currently playing a game against someone who is widely regarded as Having A Clue about SR. I like to play against people like that, because it helps me move along the path towards finding my own Clue

The game started with me buying a well-regarded starting card. My opponent, instead of buying probably would be regarded as the best card on the row, instead took the second-best card, because that denied me the opportunity to consolidate in my first-buy's faction. It also turned over another decent card for him, which he could buy, and take a good foothold in another faction. So my next buys are coloured by knowing that if I leave cards in either of those factions, he can move into them at my expense.

Later in the game, I made a buy to deny him a good card for his deck, but which left a stack of good cards and one mediocre card. He bought the mediocre card, because it was the only one I was going to be able to afford to buy on my own turn! Hence, he left me with nothing to buy on my own turn, and on *his* next turn, he still had his pick of the good cards.

Even later, the row wasn't good for me, but there were two decent cards for him that I could have bought. Instead, I left them, hoping for him to buy them and open up two more spots on the trade row. He didn't: he left them there, knowing that if I didn't want them then, I probably didn't want them next turn, so he picked up a single other card that was useful to him, thus opening up just one spot to renewal.

There are levels, and levels, and levels. And a fair helping of luck that lets me pull off wins that I don't deserve
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Kyle Johnson
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Seems I need to give this game a second look :-)

Thanks for the input guys. It still may not be for me but there are quite a few possibilities I didn't consider in strategy. Bloody casual gamers... laugh
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Cliff Roberts
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dlow wrote:
To give an example: I'm currently playing a game against someone who is widely regarded as Having A Clue about SR. I like to play against people like that, because it helps me move along the path towards finding my own Clue

The game started with me buying a well-regarded starting card. My opponent, instead of buying probably would be regarded as the best card on the row, instead took the second-best card, because that denied me the opportunity to consolidate in my first-buy's faction. It also turned over another decent card for him, which he could buy, and take a good foothold in another faction. So my next buys are coloured by knowing that if I leave cards in either of those factions, he can move into them at my expense.

Later in the game, I made a buy to deny him a good card for his deck, but which left a stack of good cards and one mediocre card. He bought the mediocre card, because it was the only one I was going to be able to afford to buy on my own turn! Hence, he left me with nothing to buy on my own turn, and on *his* next turn, he still had his pick of the good cards.

Even later, the row wasn't good for me, but there were two decent cards for him that I could have bought. Instead, I left them, hoping for him to buy them and open up two more spots on the trade row. He didn't: he left them there, knowing that if I didn't want them then, I probably didn't want them next turn, so he picked up a single other card that was useful to him, thus opening up just one spot to renewal.

There are levels, and levels, and levels. And a fair helping of luck that lets me pull off wins that I don't deserve


Excellent summary, David. This clearly shows a great example of the different levels of strategy in this game, and part of why I love it so much. Nice write-up. thumbsup
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Mick Adams
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epinema wrote:
Does anyone find Star Realms to be a bit of a game on rails? There are options and decisions but ultimately it feels like you picking a faction or two early in the game, then snowball those cards for bonus damage, extra cards and authority. After the first handful of turns it feels like to me, note the term, "feels like," not "is", a game on rails. As if I can make decisions but the decisions become painfully obvious that there is no real alternative.


I'm inclined to agree with the OP. My view is that many - by no means all but many - games of Star Realms do effectively run on rails, with truly meaningful decisions few and far between and luck, in the form of how the cards happen to fall in the market and each player's draws, the key factor in determining the outcome. Talk of there being great depth to Star Realms smacks a bit of the Emperor's new clothes to me. Again, it's not that there is no depth - for a game of it's scale and nature it actually does a pretty good job of making itself more strategically and tactically interesting than it might be - but it certainly has nowhere near the depth of broadly similar games like A Game of Thrones LCG, Warhammer 40k Conquest LCG or Imperial Settlers. Obviously, those are all longer, meatier games (though not necessarily hugely so) but my point stands, I think. Those other games all provide considerably more scope for skilful play, throw up, on average, a lot more interesting and meaningful decisions, and will more consistently be won by superior play over luck. Star Realms CAN provide a really meaty, strategic and tactical experience and indeed, given its limited nature (smallish number of cards, no pre-game deck building, short game duration), it does so fairly often but chess it is not. But, hey, that's fine. There's something to be said after all for games in which luck can allow a less skilful player or team beat a much better opponent on any given day. Just look at the global popularity of football...
 
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corum irsei
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Puglord wrote:
it certainly has nowhere near the depth of broadly similar games like A Game of Thrones LCG, Warhammer 40k Conquest LCG or Imperial Settlers.
I don't know Imperial Settlers, but LCGs are a completely different type of game, so the comparison is rather moot. 'Star Realms' is a deck-building game, LCGs are games with customizable decks that are constructed _before_ playing the game.

It's also important to stress that Star Realms is played with a fixed, limited card set. LCGs are called 'Living' because it's expected you keep buying expansion packs to increase the card pool over time. So, if anything, you'd probably have to compare the LCG core sets with Star Realms.

Given what it is, Star Realms has a quite surprising depth, though. I'm definitely with jeremy6801 on that.
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Ben Gartner
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epinema wrote:
Does anyone find Star Realms to be a bit of a game on rails? There are options and decisions but ultimately it feels like you picking a faction or two early in the game, then snowball those cards for bonus damage, extra cards and authority. After the first handful of turns it feels like to me, note the term, "feels like," not "is", a game on rails. As if I can make decisions but the decisions become painfully obvious that there is no real alternative.


If you feel like you have to stick to a faction or two, then yes I would imagine it does feel like a game on rails.

I don't feel that need at all - this isn't an 8-player Magic draft. Every card you take deprives your opponent of the opportunity to buy that card. Which means you can justify the purchase of almost every card - not just the ones that are good in your deck, but the ones that would be good in your opponent's. So every purchase is a choice between improving your plan or disrupting your opponents, and usually a bit of both.

Not only do you have to think about this with the cards that are in the row, you get to weigh the risk of flipping up cards that are good or bad for you.

To me this adds up to a very interactive feeling game, and I would say fewer than 1 in 20 games feel like I don't have any control over it.
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