Hero Realms Game Review

If you like deck builders, you'll probably find Hero Realms a worthy addition to your gaming library.
  • Setup is simple and easy; you can set a game of Hero Realms up in just a few minutes.
  • Replayability is high, especially as you start learning new strategies and synergies.
  • Game is faster-paced and more dynamic than Star Realms. 
  • Expansions are adding even more value to the base game. 

Whenever anyone in our group gets bored, we bust out Hero Realms. In fact, it's even drawn the attention of those who otherwise can't stand games. A simple deck builder, Hero Realms ramps up faster than its predecessor Star Realms and offers a more dynamic, unpredictable experience. And while it may not be entirely well-balanced, it's a great mainstay and staple.

The Experience of Playing Hero Realms

A turn in Hero Realms usually goes as follows: you place your five card deck in front of you. You take any special actions that are triggered (including any cards that synergize with each other), such as drawing another card or scrapping another card. Using gold, you buy an item from the trade row (five cards from the main deck). You then count up your damage and dole it out to whoever you want, including special ally cards which stay out permanently until destroyed. Some cards have to be destroyed before another player can be damaged. You then throw the cards in your discard (including anything you bought) and then draw up to five again.

A Game of Simplicity

Every turn of Hero Realms is about the same -- there's nothing to remember. Even though the strategies are comparable to any other deck builder, the game itself can be walked away from for a day, come back to, and you'll still know exactly what's going on. Of course, because each game of Hero Realms only lasts 30 to 45 minutes, you'd have no reason to do so. But that simplicity is a beauty in itself. You always know exactly what's going on in Hero Realms, affording yourself the ability to strategize.

Hero Realms Expansions

In addition to the base game of Hero Realms (which plays three to four players), there are also expansion decks for five characters: Cleric, Rogue, Wizard, Fighter, and Ranger. In our play, we noticed that certain characters nearly always won in a two player game -- for instance, the Cleric's healing ability can become overwhelming in a two player game, while the Cleric was more often targeted in a three or four player game. These expansions can also be used with upcoming boss battles and campaign settings. 

The Final Word

There are some problems with Hero Realms. Because gameplay is generally the same, it can get repetitive; you probably aren't going to play round after round of Hero Realms. Instead, it'll become something you pick up when you have 30 minutes to kill. Hero Realms' dynamic abilities can also come out of nowhere, leading 9 damage turns to suddenly jump to 49; you can easily blink and you're dead.

But perhaps most importantly, Hero Realms solves the largest problem with Star Realms: the godawful authority counters. Star Realms came with flippable authority counters you had to constantly micromanage; Hero Realms has an elegant two card solution that provides a convenient score-tracker.