Star Realms is an awful lot like Ascension. It includes the mechanic of multiple cards in the same faction reinforcing each other that Ascension didn’t add until a later expansion, some cards let you trash them for a benefit, its equivalent of constructs can be attacked, and of course many of the card effects are different, but still: you really don’t have to squint very hard at all for the two games to look the same.

So I was pretty surprised that, even though I’m good at Ascension, I was bad at Star Realms. It took me a while to come to terms with that, but: the numbers on the cards are different enough that cards that are a solid card in Ascension (e.g. 1 money + draw a card) aren’t nearly as good in Star Realms. Which was pleasant to realize, good that I can’t just coast.

And, even after realizing that, I wasn’t actually doing well: I was still losing more than half the time on medium difficulty. It took me a while to figure out the next thing I was doing wrong, because the interface didn’t make it as easy as I would have liked to watch my opponent’s play and figure out when they were making different choices than I would have. Eventually, though, I realized that they were trashing cards a lot more often than I was (not trashing bad cards through a different card’s effect, but trashing decent cards through that own card’s effect); and I realized that, in particular, trashing for money is an important accelerant early in the game.

I actually never got really good at the game: I couldn’t win reliably against the hard AI, and some of the story mode scenarios took a lot of tries. Based on those story mode scenarios, I suspect that there’s still more that I could do to accelerate my play?

Interesting experience, at any rate. I won’t say that I enjoy it more than a random Ascension expansion, and in fact I’ve been a little tired of the last few of those as well, but it’s always nice to have another set of cards to think about.

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