For fans of Star Realms, the next few months promise to be very exciting. Not only is a new core set being announced - Star Realms: Frontiers - we also have brand new Command Decks to enjoy that will be compatible with any Star Realms core game. It's these that we'll focus on in this post.
Command Decks: The Basics
White Wizard Games are releasing six command decks, with each one representing a different faction pairing. Here's a quick reminder of all of them:
- The Alignment - Machine Cult & Star Empire.
- The Alliance - Trade Federation & Star Empire.
- The Coalition - Trade Federation & Machine Cult.
- The Pact - The Blobs & Trade Federation.
- The Union - The Blobs & Machine Cult.
- The Unity - The Blobs & Star Empire.
Each Command Deck is designed to replace the standard starting deck, allowing players to play asymmetrical games by pitting the Command Decks against each other, or to play one-vs-many games with multiple regular decks facing down a single Command Deck.
Let's break down the contents a little further:
- One Commander (more on this shortly).
- Two starting cards from each faction.
- Eight unaligned ships: Vipers, Scouts and Rangers.
- One trade deck ship.
- Two unique gambits.
If you want a glimpse of one of these decks, take a look at the Alignment deck on White Wizard Games' website.
The addition of Commanders is one of the things that I find most interesting. Each one has a couple of different metrics that have been tweaked to keep them balanced. Each one has a unique starting life total and, interestingly, a unique hand size.
The unique hand size is the most fascinating element, for me. The unique starting life total has been done before in Hero Realms, but I haven't seen a different starting hand size before. I'm intrigued to see how the designers have balanced that across the six commanders. It also makes sense if they're pushing them as bosses for a one-vs-many game variant.
The New Starting Cards
If you've played through the campaign on the digital version of Star Realms, you'll be familiar with opponents who have one or two faction cards in their starting deck. Ever since seeing that, it's something that I've wanted to see supported properly in the full game. And now, finally, it is. Each Command Deck will have not one, but four faction-specific cards: two for each faction in the deck.
It is these cards that will give each deck a unique identity and strategy from the start of the game. They will also incentivise players to keep buying cards from the trade row that match their factions, as those cards will have faction abilities turned on much more easily.
The ships that I've seen look well-balanced. Each one looks like it could cost one or possibly two if it appeared in the trade deck, which sounds about right.
The Dual-Faction, Eight-Cost Cards
Each Command Deck comes with a dual-faction, eight-cost ship. That player isn't guaranteed the ship, however, as it's shuffled into the trade deck at the start of the game. I'm a sucker for big, flashy cards in deck-building games, so while I don't see these ships having a massive impact in comparison to the rest of the cards, they're a nice inclusion.
Finally, we come to the gambits. I'm not that fussed by the regular gambits, but it looks like these Command Deck versions will do some solid work in providing a further identity marker for their deck. Even more interesting is that one of the two will trigger both ally abilities when played, which gives players a great way to have a little starting boost. Both gambits help guide their players towards a certain strategy without forcing them to stay one-dimensional.
I'm really impressed with everything I've seen from the Command Decks so far. I don't know whether I'll splurge and get them all in one go or whether I'll pick them up more slowly over time, but either way I can see these making their way into my Star Realms collection and I can see myself having a lot of fun with them.