Having a Healthy approach to Star Realms (and gaming in general) – Part 1

By Ryan Powell – aka Hypaspist

Hi everyone! It’s Hypaspist here (aka Ryan Powell) I’d like to talk to you today about something that I find deeply interesting, and lies outside the remit of the traditional strategic articles you see in the community. 

It’s not limited to Star Realms, though it definitely applies here.

I’m going to talk through a few categories that I feel are important to getting the most out of enjoying your play and hopefully you find them useful.

We are going to start (in part 1) with broad-brush topics like psychographics, commitment and understanding which talk more about your relationship with games in general and then dive into some topics that apply more *within* any one game you might play.

A lot of what I’m going to talk about requires a lot of introspection and self-honesty to get the most out of and for me, the bottom line is that we play games to ENJOY ourselves. If we aren’t enjoying it, we should look to change something about our relationship with the game.

What are psychographics?

Defined as the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles when we use psychographics in the gaming world, we are really talking about what makes individual players tick. What do they want to get out of a game?

Magic the Gathering Head Designer Mark Rosewater has a couple of excellent articles from several years ago, I would urge you to go and read them before we carry on, it’s ok, I’ll wait! If you don’t read it, because I’m not your real Mom, (and that’s ok too!), I’ll make a very brief summary of it.


Finished? Ok!

In Rosewater’s eyes there are three main psychographic groups that each have some subsets (we won’t go over subsets here, you can read up on those yourselves!)

In essence though, the three main types are :

  1. Players who want to feel something – whether it’s the thrill of the Command Ship purchase, drawing your entire deck, or experiencing 7 events in a row!) the primary driver is that they want *to have fun*
  2. Players who want to express something – This is a player typically trying to put together a specific deck archetype, or win with panache, or a signature combo/engine, essentially their primary driver is “to be noticed”
  1. Players who want to prove something – Generally speaking, this is where the most competitive players reside, though it could easily be someone wanting to have the most foils, the largest number of games played, mostly though the primary driver is “to test themselves”.

    I have a few observations about the above, (bearing in mind, it is a game designer’s theories around their own game and not perfectly analogous to Star Realms, there are definitely some broad strokes that fit).

Firstly,  these are labels, and obviously no one fits completely into any one box, these are best kept perhaps, as descriptors of your default style. 

Secondly, your default style can and will change over time, it’s perfectly normal to bend and flex your default as time progresses and your priorities change.

Thirdly, being self aware of both your own default and that of your opponents/communities, I’ve found where friction occurs it is most often when we play games with people who want different things from the game. It’s important to understand that it’s neither person’s fault. When two people want different things from a game they are not *always* compatible.

Personally speaking, I’m a pretty big 1), with undertones of 2)  and a hint of 3). This is where I’ve found my enjoyment resides and brings us neatly to our second topic.

Understanding your commitment

Everyone has different pulls on their time, whether that’s a busy work/study schedule, large social circles, other (*Gasp*) hobbies/games/communities that they are involved with, or a multitude of other activities that all require your most precious commodity. Time.

Consciously or subconsciously, the amount of time you are willing to commit to play any game is a subset of the free time you are able to commit.

It’s important here to acknowledge two things.

Firstly, some factors are concrete, and some are flexible, what these are will be different for everyone (as an example, I treat sleep as a flexible restriction on my time, others might consider a minimum of 8 hours sleep as a concrete one).

Secondly, you (ultimately) choose how you manage your flexible factors. It can be shocking to realise this at first, but it doesn’t matter how large or small your available time is to play a game, what matters (in my opinion) is having realistic expectations of what that might be.

The reason this matters is how this translates into your enjoyment of the game.

It is a very easy subconscious trap to compare yourself to other community members.(and because humans are odd beings, these are usually unfavourable comparisons).

“Player A has won their second Arena, I’ve never even won one”.
“Player B just gained two levels last week and I’ve been stuck on mine for weeks”.
“Player C has over 20,000 games played, I can’t even begin to imagine how”.

Stop it!


Whilst whimsical, the thrust of including that video is really to ensure that you are being honest with yourself. If you compare yourself to people who have a different level of commitment, you are bound to end up mismatching your expectations.

Ultimately, you need to either match your expectations to your commitment or match your commitment to your level of expectation. Expecting the moon on a stick and being able to deliver only one single ice cream will only lead to disappointment.

Appreciating your understanding of the game (where on the learning curve are you?).

This is a challenging one for everyone, at every level of the game.
Having a candid understanding however, of your knowledge of both the surface, and the deeper strategies, can greatly improve your position in terms of how to improve. 

Here, again, we need to be honest with ourselves as to how much we feel we know and what areas for improvement we can see in our own game.
(Tip : If the answer is “None” you almost certainly have areas to improve on and are stuffing your head in the sand on acknowledging it.)

This is a handy document where I’ve copied some some key articles written by others, which if you have not read, will definitely assist you in areas of your game :

I can’t tell you what you have yet to learn (most especially if I myself have yet to learn it!) However, watching other players’ streams/videos, hearing them talk through their plays, and reading articles written by well respected players, can provide you with some things to provoke thought that may not have risen to the surface of your conscious thought thus far.

Whilst, win percentage, level and recent tournament performances can all give indications to you of how you are doing, it’s not a fully quantifiable number, and as always, in all walks of life, we are always learning.

Invariably, (and there is an excellent piece in the links document that speaks directly to this) we can all hit plateaus. These are the times when we begin to feel like we ‘Should’ be doing better, and can get frustrated that we aren’t.

Whenever I hit those moments, I try my best to review the basics, ensure I am still making good decisions, and then try to look for a concept, theory, or insights that I haven’t yet read.

All these articles are very much different tools going into your own private toolbox.
Some, you might find useful often, and bring them out frequently whilst others might sit unused for a long time, if at all. Sometimes, reminding ourselves that we have the correct tools, is as important as acquiring it in the first place.

I hope this (or parts of it) has been useful to at least some of you.
Please join me again when we go through Understanding your role, Tilt, and Finding your capacity in part 2. Which you can find Here

If you have any questions, or want to expand on any of the topics above, please feel free to catch me in A Star Realms Fan Created Community Page, private message me, or if you want to send me a challenge I never turn them down =D

1 thought on “Having a Healthy approach to Star Realms (and gaming in general) – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Having a Healthy approach to Star Realms (and gaming in general) – Part 2 | Star Realms Strategy!

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