Thursday, June 20, 2024

Star Realms: Frontiers Is The Rare Expansion That Doubles As A Great Game All Its Own

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I first discovered Star Realms when a friend brought it to play between the rounds of a Magic: The Gathering tournament. It was quick, fun, and extremely compact—perfect for the situation. I bought myself a copy and started bringing it to tournaments myself. When Colony Wars came out, I purchased it immediately from my favorite local game store. Four player Star Realms? More cards? What more could a Star Realms fan want? White Wizard Games finally has the answer—Star Realms: Frontiers.

Dan already did an unboxing of the game a little while back, so you can check it out to get a “hand’s on” look at the box and the things that come in it before we dig into the gameplay!

What’s New?

Both a standalone game and an expansion to the already existing Star Realms games, Frontiers also introduces a new Challenge Mode, available to play solo or co-operative. Right out of the box, Star Realms: Frontiers supports up to four players, but with the addition of the Core Set or Colony Wars, the game can now support up to six players. Various rulesets have been added, from killing your neighbors to joining them on a team. And the best part? The box is perfectly designed for having a deck of set up cards and a deck for the Trade Row… I cannot be the only person who cares about this.

Frontiers adds in brand new ships for all of the main factions of Star Realms, and reflect their respective design philosophies beautifully.

New game modes are not the only change brought to Star Realms with Frontiers. Scorecards have now been added as a way to keep track of how long you have before you die. I much prefer these innovative cards to the original hand of cards you needed in previous games. Now I won’t be reaching for a pen and paper every game.

There is, however, a significant level of power creep seen in the new cards as well. Not only are the cards themselves more powerful, but your allies can now help you even more with the introduction of Double Ally Abilities. These abilities work just like their original counterparts, but require two matching faction ships instead of one to activate. Faction loyalty matters.

The new Challenge Mode adds a fun and dynamic way to experience Star Realms. Each challenge card comes with a story scenario, building the lore of the factions and the world. And with each challenge having four difficulty options, the stakes only increase. For solo play, you could work your way up through the ranks, truly mastering the boss in front of you. Or maybe you’d rather save those truly difficult levels for a strike team of your friends. Will the factions be able to join together to take down these truly massive threats?

You can also supplement your play with the new Command Decks, which add in brand new cards and mechanics that merge the strengths of the powerful factions of Star Realms.

The Verdict

Star Realms: Frontiers is perfectly capable of standing on its own as a complete game in its own right, thanks to challenging gameplay, exciting new cards, and the high level replayability we expect from deckbuilders and especially Star Realms. With all the new game modes, you could easily go a while without playing the same type of game twice. It also works great as an expansion. It strengthens the base game by adding dynamic options to the core set while also opening the game to even larger groups.

Would I recommend this as someone’s first Star Realms experience? Perhaps. I’m a little biased though. With every new release I have the joy and pride of seeing my Blob army grow more powerful. Who am I to take that experience away from someone else? For anyone out there who already loves the game, go explore this new Frontier.

Star Realms: Frontiers is availiable now from the White Wizard Games shop, where it retails for $19.99. The Star Realms Command Decks retail for $5.99 a pack. Keep an eye out for our definitive ranking of the new decks soon!

Images Courtesy of White Wizard Games

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