Star Realms: Taking Spamplay to a Whole New Level

Star Realms

 

Take the Basic Principal of a deck builder, throw in the wild swings of Magic: the Gathering, Set the whole thing in space.  Star Realms from White Wizard games is an exercise in restraint when developing a game.  Everything you need to lose a weekend with your friends comes in a conveniently priced tuck box.   Like most deck builders you start with a ten card deck that allows you to hit your opponent or buy one of the six cards available in the trade row.  As your deck gets bigger you can start to take wild swings at your opponent.  The first player whose life reaches or surpasses zero loses.

Star Realms

The game is, for all purposes, too simple.  The theme is lost after the first round and while you can dig for it, it’s usually not worth it.  Other than that, it is the most incredible game I have ever played.  The only reason it doesn’t break the top five is due to the fact that the theme is completely lost.  That is not necessarily a detriment to the game itself.  A simple to learn and even easier to teach deck builder, Star Realms takes concepts from all of the major Deck builders available and streamlines them for ease of access and over all play.  The app for Iphones and Android devices makes the book keeping easy to understand and execute.  The balance is what I think I love the most about this game.  No card seems out of place.

The Gambit expansions offers abilities to each player to be used either as a one shot or throughout the game.  It also provides the unaligned Merc Cruiser and Bosses for solo or Co-op Play.  Gambit was part of the Kickstarter campaign and was made available due to fan outcry.  If you pay more than ten dollars for it you Might be disappointed.

The Crisis expansion offers four packs of cards that include more ships and bases as well as two new mechanics to the game Events and heroes.  Heroes go into play in front of you and can be trashed during your turn to gain the ally ability of their faction.  Events get shuffled into the main deck and resolve when they are drawn up to the trade row.  All in all the crisis expansion offers an interesting change of pace for players that have been playing Star Realms since release and are starting to get tired of it.

With two expansions available that both offer an intense new style of play Star Realms has a very bright future on my table.  If you need any more reason to go out and own this game, Katie loves it. That should tell you all that you need to know.

Final Score: 9.2/10

Infiltration or Why Can’t We Be Friends?

By: Tim Mattes

The Android universe consists of three games so far. A massive mystery game called Android, a re-theme of Richard Garfield’s Netrunner in the Living Card Game format called Android: Netrunner, and Infiltration.   All three games are very different in style, gameplay, and overall mechanics. They are unified by a cyberpunk world and the people that live in it.

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In Infiltration you take on a criminal that has been hired by Mr. White to steal a prototype of a helper robot.  As you go through the building you encounter various obstacles and are given the opportunity to steal other data for your many, many criminal contacts.  As you continue to run through the threat level goes higher and higher.  If it reaches ninety-nine before you exit the building you are toast.  The survivors count up their haul and whoever stole the most goods wins.

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My first issue with this game is that every description I heard of it before I bought it or saw the box lead me to believe that it was a board game.  It is not.  It is a card game that plays like a Board game.  The plus side to that is that it is easily portable.  My second issue with the game and this one gets a bit heavy, is that the game itself is only fun once or twice.  Running though stealing and stabbing your friends is a fun mechanic but there are so many games out there today that I cannot say that this one is superior to a munchkin (Steve Jackson) or Student Bodies (Smirk and Daggar).   The only thing that keeps me playing Infiltration over and over and over again is the fact that it is set in the Android Universe.  It’s loaded with little easter eggs that any Android or Netrunner fan will love and although it is older than Android: Netrunner it is still relevant to the current story being told.  Infiltration fits in as a nice quick game that continues the mythos of the Android Universe.  Our first playthrough had me geeking out at all of the references and card art that I knew from Netrunner and the fact that Gabe is a playable character was a nice touch.  All in all if you are looking for a game that has less book keeping than Munchkin and won’t make your whole play group salty go for Infiltration.  If you are a Netrunner player or have players in your group then go for it.  But if backstabbing and stealing don’t speak to you as a player then you can skip this one.

Final Score 7.8/10

 

In Security, or A Case of the Mondays

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By Timothy Mattes

In the dawn of my Kickstarter funding career I would look at a game and if I felt even the most remote interest in playing it, or subjecting my friends to playing it, I would back it.  I was deeply rooted into the LCG Netrunner so anything cyberpunk immediately raises an eyebrow from me.  When I saw Koen Hendrix’s In Security, a dice game of hacking into your corporate network to collect secrets to blackmail your way to a better position, I thought “Netrunner: the Dice Game”.  I wasn’t spot on with the assumption but I was not far off.  In Security could easily be dropped into the Android universe as a spotlight game into the lives of the people living day to day similar to Infiltration.   Instead of focusing on Major corporations and Superstar Hackers you are just a normal peon in the corporate landscape.  That Youtube How To video you about hacking basic servers is going to pay off in dividends after the appalling quarterly review you just received.  On your lunch breaks you gain access to the mainframe with a couple other salty coworkers.  You are all trying to gain enough information to put that fat cat boss of yours on his back foot. You are going to force a promotion.  On your turn you can hack deeper into the server to gain new information, or you can just dig through the information that the previous person dug up.  The first player to gain the proper amount of dirt gets the promotion and the rest of you return to your awful lives.

The first time we put In Security on the table I was excited.  While we were playing I became disappointed as I realized the game was not what I was expecting.  However, by the time we finished our first play through I found a game that plays like the antithesis of Antoine Bauza.  There are many ways to get to your victory, many ways to trick your fellow players into forgetting about you just long enough for you to rocket past them, but there is only one win condition.  The first over the finish line wins.  The most interesting dynamic of this game is the play difference from three to six players.  The Game itself scales well between players, but the magic happens when you play a six player game followed immediately by a three player game.  Everything changes, the way you talk, your body language, the plays you make and when you make them.  A six player game is a knock down drag out war for power, a three player game is a nuclear holocaust.  Everybody plays nice in the three player game until the first person gets “caught”. Once a strategy is shown then all hell breaks loose and it is a beautiful mayhem.  All in all for the ten dollars I paid for this one off Kickstarter exclusive I am very pleased.  Koen has created a stylized cool micro game that rivals Love Letter and Coup.  You know that we live in a Golden Age of Tabletop gaming when an absolutely brilliant game can be designed and created on a dare.

Final Score: 7.5/10 While it is fun to play it doesn’t have a tone of replay-ability with the same group of players.

For more information or to reach out to Koen to see if he will reprint In Security please check out the Kickstarter page, just search In Security under tabletop games.

 

And with that, this has been a review from your humble moderator.

Episode One Hundred and Thirty-Six: Scarlet Witch is Watching

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Tim and Matt sit down to talk about the Marvel universe and why Matt doesn’t care for it. They also play a round of Tim’s new jam Dicemasters from WizKids. Find out if Matt likes the Uncanny Xmen set or if Tim is doomed to be alone with his bag o dice.

Episode One Hundred and Thirty-Five: The Kunk

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Cross-Over spectacularness as the boys from Things you probably don’t care about join us at the table along with Amanda to play Superfight! Laughs were had. Special thanks to My brother Stephen and Amanda for our theme song!