Hero Realms is Good!
By Ray Snyder
Hero Realms a deckbuilder, and is very similar to White Wizard’s first game, Star Realms, while combining the imagery and ideas of its second game, Epic Card Game, to create a new game that is greater than the sum of its parts. It features very similar rules and mechanics, but does so in a way that creates a new more exciting experience. The starting deck of cards used in Hero Realms is much more powerful then the decks in Star Realms. Additionally, Hero Realms is different from most deck builders available because you can purchase different character classes to play and each class has unique starting decks and powers. While the character packs are upgrades and not required to play (as the game comes with four “basic” starter decks) the character packs add so much to the game that I feel they are must-buys.
I’ve played countless games of Star Realms and have enjoyed it thoroughly as have many of my friends – it’s always been an easy sell to get people to play. Even so, Hero Realms is much more popular with my friends, as they feel it’s more exciting and dynamic. I agree – having bigger resources in your starting deck, combined with the unique abilities and cards of the different character classes (if used), makes for a much interesting early game and more interesting choices for the late game.
Additionally, Star Realms featured Bases, cards that, when played, would remain on the table until destroyed, while in Hero Realms they use Champions, which are much more common and proactive when compared to Star Realms Bases. Hero Realms also added an Exhaust and Ready mechanic that often allows you to use the same champion several times in a turn, as you Exhaust the Champion to attack or gain a beneficial effect, then “untap” him with a Ready effect. Champions have really changed up the way the game feels when compared to Star Realms and I like it.
For those unfamiliar with Star Realms or deck builders as a whole, the core game play of Hero Realms is that you start with a small and low powered deck of cards that give either money or attack damage. The starting decks are mostly low powered money cards with a couple cards that give you damage to inflict on other players or their assets. A central deck of “market” cards is placed between all the players and a trade row is made by flipping the top five cards of the market deck over so everyone can see them. On each player’s turn they use the money cards they drew to buy cards from the trade row, that are then added to their starting deck, so the deck slowly gets more powerful cards in it that either give you more money to buy even more expensive cards, or bigger attack damage to destroy your enemies with. Each player has 50 life points to start with and each starting deck only has a few points of damage in them, but by purchasing powerful attack cards, you can sometimes do 30 or more damage in a turn once your deck have enough cards added to it.
Hero Realms’ art is pretty great. Playing the game reminds me of my youth playing Magic the Gathering, as Magic has always had amazing art and seeing all the different champions and different cards being played just captures that feel for me. Each faction’s colors once again remind me of Magic from over 20 years ago, It just feels like I’m coming home.
Hero Realms is full of improvements based on player feedback from both of White Wizards’ earlier games: it comes in a larger and sturdier box than the comparable previous products, it has a new health tracker design that works better any other system I’ve used to track large totals of life, its cards are often named individuals and the themes of the different factions seem to tie together better instead of the more generic namesof Star Realms and Epic.
Hero Realms takes a game that’s been a huge success (Star Realms) and makes it new and exciting again with the higher powered starting decks, the character classes, and proliferation of Champions.