Death or Glory: Solo Rules for STAR REALMS

By Doug Mann, 2015

A. Introduction

Star Realms is a fun deck-building game designed for two players in its one-deck version. These rules introduce a simple AI that controls a second hand of cards so that you can play the game solo against a reasonably challenging opponent.

That opponent’s name is Drax the Conqueror. Here’s his challenge:

Foolish Human! You dare to oppose me for control of the galaxy! Your puny ships are no match for my battle fleet. So be it: let slip the targs of war… but remember, in space no one can hear you scream!

B. Drax’s Strategy

  1. Play the game with the regular rules with the following exceptions. Draw a regular five-card hand for Drax: you can see his cards. You go first with your three-card hand. On Drax’s turn, establish Trade and Combat pools by playing all the cards in his hand.
  1. Drax is hyper-aggressive. He will always use up his entire Trade and Combat pools if possible. He plays his cards and takes actions in the following order. This is his general order of preference:
  • Recovery Authority
  • Attack You Savagely
  • Buy New Bases and Ships
  1. First off, if Drax has any way to recover Authority without scrapping a ship, he does so.
  1. Second, he commits as many cards to attacks as possible, without scrapping any ships to do so – unless this will win Drax the game, or the card has no value other than to be scrapped to gain Combat points. He will hold off actually doing the attacks until he has spent his entire Trade pool. In all cases, Drax uses whatever Faction bonuses he can.
  1. Third, he uses all ships or bases which contribute only Trade points to buy new ships and bases by purchasing them in the following order:
  • The most expensive outpost. If he already has 2+ outposts in play and there’s a ship with a Combat of 5+, he picks it instead.
  • A ship with the highest Combat value.
  • A ship with the highest Recover Authority.
  • A base with the highest single value.
  • A ship with the highest Trade value.
  • Cycle back to A if he has any Trade left.

In the case of ties in A-E above, Drax prefers Combat, then Authority, then Trade; if there’s still a tie, he picks a card with the highest faction bonus, preferring Combat. If this doesn’t work, flip a coin. If he can’t afford a ship or base at one level, move to the next until he has exhausted all his trade points.

  1. Drax uses all special card powers at his disposal (e.g. “Draw a card”). He will scrap his Scouts if he can, followed by his Explorers. Consider the Stealth Needle as worth 5 Combat when buying new cards.
  1. Drax finishes with a massive attack. He targets outposts first, as per the rules, then killable bases with a Combat value of 5+, then your Authority.

C. Endgame

If Drax loses, he has the following message:

The fortunes of war favour you this time human! But Drax is like a phoenix: one day he will rise from the ashes of defeat to win glory on the battlefield of the starry cosmos! You will hear of mighty Drax again!

If he wins, here’s his message, which you should intone in a deep voice punctuated by laughter:

Your defeat was inevitable given the weakness and stupidity of your species! But you have left me with a difficult dilemma: shall I make you a astro-serf working in the Gelenite mines of Jiridia Prime, or a robo-drone cleaning the latrines on the pleasure planet of Zerotica? Hmmmm…. what shall your fate be, foolish human?

In the first game, using a simpler draft version of these rules, Drax beat me 33 to 0. In the second, using a tweaked version of the Trade rules under B5, he beat me by 56 to 0 with a massive array of four bases and three bonus card draws.

Appendix

Crowded Cosmos: Single-Deck Star Realms for 3 or 4 Players

A. Introduction

Star Realms is a fun deck-building game designed for two players in its one-deck version. Let’s say you’re either too poor or too cheap to fork out another $15 for a second deck, as suggested by the rules, but want to play the game with three or four players. With these rules you can.

B. Three Players

1. Use the standard three-player “Free-for-all” rules. Each player starts with 1 Viper, 1 Explorer, and 5 Scouts. Then shuffle the last Viper, the last Scout and one more Explorer into a mini-deck, randomly dealing one to each player.

2. The player with the extra Scout goes first, followed by the player with the extra Viper, while the one with the extra Explorer goes last.

3. On the first turn, the first player gets 3 cards, the other two 4 cards each. From turn two on, all players get the standard 5 cards.

4. All other standard rules apply.

B. Four Players

1. Use the standard “Free-For-All” or “Hydra” rules for four-player games with the following changes.

2. Each player starts with 1 Viper, 4 Scouts, and 2 Explorers.

3. On the first turn, the first player gets 3 cards, the other two 4 cards each. From turn two on, all players get the standard 5 cards.

4. All other standard rules apply.

C. Addendum

Here’s the mix of cards in a standard deck of Star Realms:

  • 80 Trade cards
  • 16 Scouts
  • 4 Vipers
  • 10 Explorers
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