by networktoast (BGG League Commissioner)
I’m pleased to announce that we’re just a couple days away from the BGG Star Realms League – the oldest running Star Realms competition – beginning its 50th season of play on 1 July. This is not only a major milestone for the League, but it also marks the implementation of the biggest set of changes to the League during my tenure as League Commissioner and possibly in the entire history of the League.
The League was started almost six years ago by Remy Gibson (a.k.a. Aweberman) back when there was nothing but the Core Set (V) to play online and the Star Realms Fan Page was just being created (the League predates the Fan Page by a mere four days). The League quickly grew from 24 players in three divisions to 100 players in ten divisions to an eventual peak of 262 players in 22 divisions. At the same time, the number of available card sets grew rapidly. What used to be “do you want to play with Gambits?” has become an alphabet soup of VWR-G1BEHFC2KUAMLN.
Star Realms has evolved over the years, and it became clear late last year that the League needed to adapt. That’s when the Steering Committee began discussing significant structural changes to the League that would better handle the large number of available card sets while holding true to its core tenets of inclusivity and competitive fairness.
So beginning in Season 50, matches in each division will follow a double round robin format. Each player will now play each opponent in a division twice, once in their own format (home) and once in their opponent’s format (away). This is a big shift away from the old single round robin format where preference conflicts were handled by assigned formats and LCD (lowest common denominator).
We will continue to roster players with others who share similar home formats, but we will now have much more flexibility in making divisions homogeneous. The ad hoc messaging of players to get them into divisions that don’t match their stated preferences is no longer necessary. Optional preferences are now a thing of the past. Players will likely play ten out of their 20 league matches of the season in their desired format, although that might mean playing some matches with sets they don’t like. This is a trade-off, but we think it’s a good one for players as well as the League overall.
We’ve made other changes as well – compressing five tiers into four, expanding the schedule from 45 to 60 days, and shrinking divisions from 12 players down to 11 (except for Platinum, which will grow to 16 players). These changes come from both handling the new home/away system and accommodating the smaller player pool in the League.
Making these changes for Season 50, which is a milestone all by itself, was serendipitous. The start date lined up with the alteration to the schedule, and it gave us the lead time necessary to discuss the changes with players, figure out the myriad details, and implement everything in time. The Steering Committee is excited for the new League format, and we hope you are also!
So if you’ve never competed in the BGG Star Realms League before or you’re a veteran who hasn’t played in awhile, now is a great time to sign up. To do that, go to the waitlist thread on BGG and post there with your Star Realms name, home format, and contact preference. You can find all the instructions you need in the original post, but you can GeekMail me on BGG (my username is toaster83) should you have any questions or need any assistance.
Years ago when Remy announced his retirement from the League, MarauderMo made a prediction that it would “live on for a long time and continue to be one of the gold standards to which other Star Realms events are compared.” That prediction has come true, and with these changes, it will continue to be true for many seasons to come.