Rob and Debbie of White Wizard Games (WWG) announced the next “big thing” for Star Realms during their April 28, 2020 live stream:
A competitive 2-player legacy-style game with the working title, “Rise of Empire.”
Rise of Empire will be a prequel to the original Base Set, focusing on the birth of the Star Empire faction and its rebellion from the Trade Federation. Rise of Empire hits Kickstarter in Fall 2020, according to Rob.
Rob’s full description of the “state of the Star Realms universe” at the time this game takes place starts at timestamp 8:34 in the video linked above.
To summarize, humans have been spreading out from Earth and colonizing throughout space for hundreds of years, fueled and overseen by the Trade Federation. Colonists found that colonizing and living on these worlds further and further from the core was hard, much harder than they anticipated. The Trade Federation has been able to suppress the occasional revolt and rebellion that pops up on these fringe worlds, until the Star Empire.
As Rob put it, the Star Empire “built a vast fleet in secret before going into open rebellion.”
In Rise of Empire, we play out the Star Empire’s rebellion against the Trade Federation. Each player will play as either the Star Empire and Trade Federation, each with custom starting decks matching their faction.
While the core game mechanics are “regular Star Realms,” WWG has added several unique elements to this game, including new factions and legacy-style mechanics.
1. New Factions
Rise of Empire will include three new factions in addition to Star Empire and Trade Federation: The Consortium, The Kingdom, and The Scavengers.
The three new factions represent the local governments surrounding the Star Empire. The Star Empire seeks to convince these other factions to join their rebellion against the Trade Federation, while the Trade Federation wants these factions to remain loyal.
During a game, the Star Empire and Trade Federation fight over the cards of these three factions, which are included in the Trade Deck. Buying a card from the Trade Deck represents convincing that ship captain or base commander to take your side, for the time being.
The Consortium is made up of worlds closer to Earth and thus closer to the Trade Federation in terms of wealth and development.
The Kingdom is a militaristic monarchy closer to the Star Empire.
The Scavengers are located further out into space than the Star Empire, closer to unexplored space.
[Machine Cult and Blob are not present in Rise of Empire because at this time in the Star Realms timeline Machine Cult doesn’t exist and Blob has not yet shown up.]
2. Legacy-Style Mechanics
Rise of Empire is designed as a campaign, or series of battles, that led to the formation of the Star Empire.
“It’s going to be a legacy-style experience, where basically what happens in a game will affect the story line and will affect future games.” -Rob Dougherty during the April 28th live stream.
For example, Rob explained that when purchasing a ship from the Trade Deck, you can pay an additional cost (in addition to the purchase cost) to make that ship a permanent part of either the Star Empire or Trade Federation faction, in addition to its current faction.
This is done by placing a sticker matching that faction on the card itself (though Rob noted that sleeves can be used if players don’t want to place stickers directly on the card). That sticker could add a new ally ability matching its new faction, which represents the Star Empire or Trade Federation retrofitting that ship with new abilities when it permanently joins the faction.
In legacy style, these new abilities and factions added to a card carry over from game to game.
Rob also noted that the game will include balancing factors to make each individual game somewhat even, even if on a campaign level one player is “winning the war” over the other.
Replayable or One-and-Done?
While you may not be able to replay the legacy campaign a second time through (or that’s how it sounds) because of the permanent upgrades that will be applied to cards within the Trade Deck, Rob highlighted a few ways in which you can continue to play with this set after finishing the campaign:
1. Play as stand-alone PvP game
Rob noted that once you’re done with the campaign you will have a set “that you can take off the shelf and play again and again . . . with the kind of replay-ability that you expect from Star Realms content.”
2. Combine with the set created by the next legacy campaign. You heard that right! Another one!
Rob announced that the next Legacy-style campaign will focus on the origins of the Machine Cult and Blobs. When you finish with that campaign, you can take the custom Star Empire, Trade Federation, Blob, and Machine Cult cards from these campaigns and combine them with any of the existing Star Realms sets!
If you wanted to combine just the Trade Federation and Star Empire cards from the Rise of Empire with your existing sets (rather than wait for the next campaign), Rob suggested replacing the existing Star Empire and Trade Federation cards from your existing set with the new ones from this campaign. Otherwise, the Star Empire and Trade Federation factions might be overpowered compared to the Machine Cult and Blob factions in that combined set…though he also noted that the players can do it however they want.
Comparison to the Hero Realms Campaign
Rob said that Rise of Empire will be larger in size (i.e., bigger box), as well as involve more individual games than, for example, the Ruins of Thandar Hero Realms campaign.
This is good news. Having played through the Ruins of Thandar and Lost Village Hero Realms campaigns, I found them to be very fun, but also wished they were a little longer. Though the Hero Realms campaigns can be replayed. Since Rise of Empire couldn’t be replayed (or so it sounds), it stands to reason that the Rise of Empire campaign would be longer.
Is Rise of Empire Coming to the App?
Yes! Rob noted that “everything we do in Star Realms physical we eventually bring to the app.” Though Rob cautioned that Rise of Empire would not hit the app until after it hits retail, which they anticipate being Fall 2021. So it could be a few years at least until we see Rise of Empire in the app.
I already can’t wait! The notion of a Legacy-style campaign in the Star Realms app, presumably that can be re-played, is beyond exciting.
Rob and Debbie had teased that there would be some Star Realms spoilers during this live stream, but I did not expect something of this magnitude.
From all indicators so far, Rise of Empire will bring something fresh to Star Realms without departing from its core mechanics. Rise of Empire will also add much-needed lore to the Star Realms universe.
Finally, I am extremely pleased that they didn’t just create a sci-fi themed copy of the Hero Realms campaigns. This is something completely new!
Is it Fall 2020 yet?!