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Basic 4 player rules.
Using two sets of cards, start by shuffling and separating them into "packs" of 13 cards (there will be one left over, just pick one to not play with). Then in standard (MTG) drafting format, each player gets three packs. Proceed to draft from a single pack passing left, then the second pack passing right, then the third pack passing left again until you have a deck of 39 cards. Each player then shuffles his or her own deck and lays out 5 cards. Play proceeds as per regular Star Realms rules except each player buys from his or her own trade row. Explorers are universally available.
We usually combine this with Cthulhu Realms rules in that all damage and discard target is targeted at each neighbor simultaneously, start with 92 health.
This tends to "smooth out" the perceived randomness of "that one person" getting the beneficial ships early and "you" never getting such ships because they always get purchased before your turn. It plays surprisingly like Star Realms with one minor difference. Scrapping cards in the trade row is now worth significantly less. (Alternatively one could play scrapping cards in neighbor's trade rows. Untested and initial impressions would be overpowered.)
Sounds like a cool idea. I play casual MTG and am only starting to get into Star Realms. I laugh a lot (usually when I'm winning) while playing SR in 2 player games, but a four player game might be safer for me. Your variant might be nice if the crowd starts to get tweaked by to many beneficial buys.
I cannot help it if I'm "that one person".
Has anyone else tried something like this?
"What do you mean, I can't pay in Meeples?"
Untested, but here's two suggestions for 'scrap trade row' abilities for your drafting variant:
Allow them to target opponent's Trade Rows, but instead of going to the scrap pile, shuffle the card back into the draw deck.
If that's still too powerful, try burying the scrapped card under X number of cards in the draw deck, perhaps based on the scrapping card's Trade purchase value.
You still get the denial mechanic without being able to cripple an opponent's deck permanently.