While I always prefer to play a game with someone face to face, sometimes real life responsibilities prevent that from happening. Luckily, in this digital age, the old saying “there’s an app for that” applies to many popular tabletop games. Mobile Mayhem is a regular column from Unorganized Play about these mobile games and how they compare to the IRL experience.
In this blog, we’ll cover the app for the hit deck-building game, Star Realms by White Wizard Games.
- Available Platforms: iOS, Android and Steam.
- Cost: Free demo, $4.99 Full version, and various in app purchases for additional sets.
- Game length: 10-20 minutes.
Star Realms is a deck-building game that adds something that other big name deck-builders such as Dominion and Ascension inherently lack – direct player interaction. The tl;dr version of the game is to buy ships and bases to strength your arsenal and reduce your opponent to 0 Authority (health) – so no victory point win condition. This makes the game ideally a 1-on-1 experience. In fact, the mobile app does not even give you the option for 3+ player games.
The app was first released on August 14th, 2014; I remember that vividly as I downloaded it just before playing in their first World Championship tournament at Gen Con (I lost in the Top 4 to the eventual winner). I remember it having a very crude UI, but still worth a few practice games to get more familiar with the game. My biggest gripe with the app was that action from online games did not happen in real time. A player’s turn was not visible to their opponents until it was completed, and there was a big lull between turns. There was also no real timer for a game, so your opponent may take one turn, not come back for hours, and make it a much slower process. A player would forfeit if they did not make a move in 48 hours. In the digital age of instant gratification, that’s way too much time.
(Screenshot of the old UI)
I kept the game installed for a while, mostly playing their surprisingly challenging campaign mode. Players are pitted against an AI that had different special rules from chapter to chapter. Completing chapters in the campaign mode unlocked special user avatars viewable in online play as a badge of accomplishment. Once I finished that, I deleted the app to make space on my phone; I wasn’t as sold on their format for online play and wrote it off as another app that did not meet its potential…
Any issues I had with the app were fixed with a massive update that was released on May 14th, 2017. The game now has real-time games with a turn timer of two minutes. Also, the new UI and game-play animations are much nicer from a visual and functional standpoint. I immediately downloaded it and once again began slingin’ ships against players from all over the world. The update also introduced their Colony Wars expansion into the digital meta-game: a new set rather than the small card expansions that they historically had released. While Colony Wars can be a stand-alone game mode, players can mix and match any of their many expansions as they desire.
If you’re looking for something with a little more depth strategy-wise, this is the game for you. While there’s always variance in how the cards fall in the center row, your decisions of what to buy, what to attack (the player or their Bases) and what to keep your opponent from getting really make Star Realms a must-play for any gamer.