Published by: White Wizard Games
# of Players; 2 to 4
White Wizard Games have stepped up the quality with Hero Realms. Instead of the thin cardboard deck box that Star Realms and Epic came in, Hero Realms gets a very thick box that holds the base game and all the Character Packs. The Character Packs are sold separately, but enhance the gameplay with giving each player the feel of a class type. Those packs include a new starting deck and cards that display and explain unique abilities the characters have to use during the game. Hero Realms contains cards that track your health similar to that in Star Realms but with only 2 cards. Alternatively you can use the Epic score keeper app to keep track of all player's health. I highly recommend using the app and it is free on iOS and Android. Hero Realms consists of cards and a rule sheet. The cards are a good quality card stock that many trading card players will be used to. The art is very colorful and well done. Some of the art contains blood and dark creatures that parents may want to consider if their children are interested in playing. The rules are very straight forward and if you have played Star Realms, you will be able to jump in with little explanation. The rules also includes how to play with 4 and 6 players for those who want to play with more than the standard 2 player count. Hero Realms components stick with the formula of providing as much content as possible for a low price point.
Hero Realms is a competitive deck-building game. Each player will start with a deck of 10 cards. The starting deck will be the same as the other player if playing with just the base game. The character packs come with a unique starting deck for that specific character. Each player will start with 50 health (character packs have different health for balance). Player's will have start each turn with 5 cards in their hand. The middle of the table will have 5 cards to purchase during the player's turn along with Fire Gems that can be purchased that provide 2 gold and can be trashed for 2 attack. Cards will have a purchase amount in the top right corner. Players will use gold earned from cards played during their turn. Cards purchased will go into your discard pile and will be shuffled in when your deck runs out of cards. Cards can provide 3 types of numerical benefits. I have already mentioned how gold is used for purchasing other cards. Cards may also have a Combat value in a red circle that is used to attack the other player and a Health value in a green potion that heals your character.
There are 3 types of cards. Magic Items and actions are very similar and after your turn ends, they are placed in the discard pile. Champions when played will stay out after your turn ends. Champions provide their abilities each turn unless they have been defeated by your opponent. Champions will have a shield with a numerical value in the lower right corner. This is the cards health and if the shield is black and contains the word "Guard", then the opponent must defeat that champion before attacking your health. Players can remove another player's champion by either doing enough damage equal to that shield value or by using the stun ability that may be on a card you play from your hand. There are 4 factions in Hero Realms and playing cards of the same faction can unlock second abilities on cards from the same faction if shown on the card. The above picture shows that if the player had played those 3 cards he would have unlocked the second ability on the first champion and the recruit card, gaining that player the ability to draw a card from their deck and 1 additional gold. Once a player has finished their turn, they will discard any cards that are not champions, refresh any exhausted champions (used abilities) and draw 5 new cards from their deck. Players will keep alternating turns till one player has dealt enough damage to eliminate the other player's health.
Hero Realms is very similar to Star Realms. This is good because it is easy to jump from Star Realms to Hero Realms and play. This is can be bad because I would like to see more variation. Hero Realms does have a different feel. The game plays quicker and players will ramp up faster. There are more combos that can be performed and provide different and more strategies than Star Realms. I prefer the space theme, but I like the pace and combos of Hero Realms more. The Character packs offer up some variety and add to the theme greatly. White Wizard Games is releasing a co-op expansion in the near future that will add more value to Hero Realms. I think both Star Realms and Hero Realms have a place in a gamer's collection, but picking one will be up to what that person enjoys in theme and flow. The art is very good and I enjoy looking at each card's art. Some of the art may not be for children, but I am not a parent so I could be wrong on that. Hero Realms has an easy learning curve to play, but also some strategy that can make the game good for competition. I would recommend Hero Realms to anyone who enjoys Star Realms or is looking for a competitive deck-building game. Hero Realms provides a lot of fun for a fairly low price that makes it accessible to anyone. I highly enjoyed Hero Realms and see it being played often in my future as one of my top deck-builders, right above Star Realms. I recommend checking out both games for a quick competitive game that does not require you to collect cards by buying endless packs of cards.
+Low price point
+Easy to learn, but plenty of strategies to master
+Character packs add theme and variety
+Same great gameplay as Star Realms but quicker
-Co-Op and Character packs are separate expansions
-May feel to similar as Star Realms
-Some art may be too graphic for children
-Generic fantasy theme