RogerBW's Blog

Star Realms: Colony Wars 05 February 2016

Star Realms: Colony Wars, designed (like the original) by Darwin Kastle, is the first "big" expansion for Star Realms. On its own, it's for 2 players.

It's a stand-alone expansion: like the original Star Realms, you get enough bits for a two-player game, but you can combine it with another Star Realms box for a three- or four-player game. But this isn't a matter of blending the two sets: if combining, you take only the generic cards from one set (the Scouts and Vipers that make up your starting deck, and the Explorers that are always available for purchase during the game) for the extra players, and otherwise play with the cards from just one set at a time. This is to prevent dilution (specific cards not coming up often enough) and streaks (too many cards of the same sort coming up in a row).

So how is this set different from the base game? The factions are the same: the Trade Federation, the Star Empire, the Blobs and the Machine Cult. There isn't a single overall theme, but rather a series of small changes that point in different directions.

There are new small bases that only cost 2 trade to set up. There are more ships that directly give Authority (the hit points of the game), making a strategy of healing and occasional attacks more viable. There are more ships that help you scrap other ships from your hand (i.e. getting rid of the cards you bought early in the game that are no longer useful), or which can be brought into play immediately if you've just played another of the same faction.

Basically it's a different game. For the serious card-counters who've been playing Star Realms since the beginning this will require a whole bunch of new strategies. For the casual player like me it changes things round a bit, but in my experience so far not with a consistently different flavour. I get the impression that there's been some effort to avoid the more boring low-powered ships, which perversely may make for a slower start (fewer ships one can afford); the new bases may compensate for that to some extent.

If you don't have either game, and only intend to play with two players, I don't think there's anything to recommend one set over the other. If you want to play with three or four, you might as well get the two different sets rather than two identical ones; then you can play either version with any number of players up to four.

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  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 03:20pm on 05 February 2016

    Thanks for this. Star Realms is my current favourite game, and I'd been thinking of doing it as a 3 player version. Might look out for this to do that.

    I'm always cripplingly short of scrap ability, and cheap bases sound good.

    Have you played the basic game with the 'booster' expansions? I thought the Heroes were a waste of time, but the Events were entertaining (if random), and liked the additional ships and Bases.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 03:36pm on 05 February 2016

    No; I looked at reviews on BGG and opinions were generally negative, so I haven't tried them. I got this (a) because I was at Essen where it was just out and (b) because I wanted the 3-4 player option - though I haven't yet tried that. There are several variants for larger games, so it's not just "dogpile the weakest player".

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