Category Archives: Strategy

Star Realms Card Tier Lists (added Command and Assault)

BEFORE READING: For the newest version of the Card Tier List, CLICK HERE!

-Original by Scott Heise aka HomerJr
-Frontiers, Command, & Assault content by Rick DeMille aka Darklighter

[Updated 9/20/2019] 

This update includes the first two multi-faction sets:

  • United Command
  • United Assault

Before we get to the updated card tier lists, let’s talk quickly about the new cards introduced in the Command and Assault expansions.

(If you want to skip to the update Tier Lists, they’re in the chart below)

Command (“K”) and Assault (“A”) Ships and Bases:

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The Reshuffle: A Strategy Guide (2nd Edition)

by Rick DeMille aka Darklighter

Why a 2nd Edition?

I wrote an article for the Megahaulin blog in 2015 about strategy considerations surrounding the reshuffle in Star Realms.  “The ‘reshuffle’ in Star Realms,” I wrote, “produces some unique strategy considerations, particularly in the on-line game where you must play all cards in your hand.”

Things changed.

Following the Colony Wars update to the Star Realms app, you no longer had to play all cards in your hand, which is consistent with the physical game rules.  You now have the option to “End Turn” before playing all your cards.


So, while many of the principles in my 2015 article are still relevant, other parts of that article no longer apply.

Finally, after hundreds of requests – mostly from myself – I updated this article given that the app no longer forces you to play all your cards.

Basic Principles

The “reshuffle” in Star Realms produces some unique strategy considerations, particularly when you will reshuffle mid-turn.

For example, playing a draw card (e.g., Corvette) when your draw pile is empty will cause your deck to reshuffle during your turn. Any cards in your current hand will not be included in that reshuffled deck. Instead, the cards in your current hand will sit in your discard pile until the next time your deck reshuffles. In other words, when you reshuffle during your turn, the cards in your hand are essentially “lost” for one deck; you will have to wait until your deck reshuffles again to have access to those cards.

This can be good when you are “losing” starter cards for one deck; for one deck those starter cards aren’t diluting your deck. But this can be a bad thing when “losing” stronger cards. Let me set the stage with two examples.

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Star Realms Card Tier Lists (incl Frontiers)

BEFORE READING: For the newest version of the Card Tier List, CLICK HERE!

Original by Scott Heise aka HomerJr
Frontiers content by Rick DeMille aka Darklighter

[Updated 8/26/2019] 

Since HomerJr’s last update to the card tier ranking, Star Realms has added several new expansions.  We’re working on updating the card tier list to include all expansions, but we’ll do so one or two expansions at a time; so it will take a few posts.

Our first update will include the most recent expansion to hit the digital app: Frontiers!

For a brief discussion of each card in the Frontiers set, check out Megahaulin podcast Episode 81, where Dustin and Rick discuss Frontiers.

Updated Tier List

The intent of these Tier Lists is to provide a quick reference to help players, especially newer or less experienced players, when deciding which card(s) in the trade row they should buy (or whether to buy a card at all).  Every card included in the V, 1, B, H, F, & R sets is contained within these lists and grouped into one of three tiers based on the overall value of the card relative to the cost of the card.

HomerJr originally wrote the Tier Lists for the V, 1, B, H, & F sets.  I (Darklighter) have not changed any of HomerJr’s original rankings, and have just added rankings for Frontiers (“R”) using HomerJr’s methodology (as best I could).

While every card in the game can be valuable and help you win, not every card will have equal value over the course of the game thus there are separate Tier Lists for different phases of the game (opening buys, mid game, late game).  Furthermore, many cards are highly situational or valuable only in certain decks.  Please note that this is all the personal opinion of the authors, so don’t take anything in here as law.  🙂   We are always open to feedback, criticism, and discussion.

We rank each card into one of three tiers as follows:

  • Tier 1:  Strong value and/or agnostic to situation; beneficial in almost any deck; you almost always want to have it in your deck if you can
  • Tier 2:  Solid value and/or somewhat situational; may rely on ally ability triggers to be effective; generally a good buy if no Tier 1 card available
  • Tier 3:  Weak value and/or highly situational;  may need exactly the right game circumstances to be effective; best to avoid buying except in rare cases
  • Tier 4:  Poor value in nearly all situations;  buying this card will probably worsen your deck;  you’re probably making a mistake if you’re buying this card

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Convoy Bot Changed My Life

Long before I began playing Star Realms, I played an unhealthy amount of Magic: the Gathering. It has always been my favorite thing to counter a spell and shut people down. I could never actually finish someone off with aggressive decks, and they were lacking in choice and card advantage. I’ve always loved to draw extra cards and to come back from behind. So, it’s no surprise that I lean towards blue/red decks in Star Realms, with lots of bases. For a long time, I didn’t touch green cards if I could avoid it.

Furthermore, back in the days before Colony Wars, what is now “top row” was the “big deck” format for a very long time. I felt very confident in that format, and still believe that the top-tier deck is one revolving around bases/scrap/life gain, and that aggro decks are considerably weaker.

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Podcast Episode 77: Happy Holidays!

[Recorded prior to Christmas]

This week Dustin and Matt reveal our end of the year contest winners. Also detailed coverage on the Star Realms SCENARIOS set. They also take a deep dive into the newly released (to digital) UNITED COMMAND set.

Happy Holidays and thanks to all of our listeners in 2017! This was an incredible year and here’s to a great 2018!

The Four Card Types and Deck Archetypes (Part 2)

Written by Brad Elkey aka PanicFire


In the first part of this article I introduced the concept of the Four Card Types. Economy, Combat, Defense, and Card Advantage are types of cards found across all four factions and have different uses throughout the course of the game. Understanding the four types of cards are essential to understanding how they work together to form deck archetypes.

Deck Archetypes:

By changing the ways you combine the four different card types you can create different deck archetypes that work as a cohesive whole. If you only buy cards of a single faction they will all work well together since most of them work towards the same goal (and Continue reading

How to Play Well with Events

By Derek Thompson (aldaryn)

CardsWBorders_0109_45_TradeMission-copy-Copy-213x300For better or for worse, Star Realms is not the game it was upon release, and I don’t just mean that there are more ships and bases. The original core set was a fantastic deck-building game, but an inherent feature of its gameplay was a considerable slowness to the feedback loop. What I mean by that is, when you purchase a card, it usually takes at least a turn (if not several) for it to show up and do anything of use. The basic exception would be buying a card and then forcing a shuffle; the only other exceptions in the core set are Freighter, Central Office, and Blob Carrier, and those require some combination of ally effects and card draws to have immediate effect.

Since then, we’ve had:

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The Four Card Types and Deck Archetypes (Part 1)

Written by Brad Elkey aka PanicFire


These four cards are good in almost any deck, regardless of factions.

Everyone knows factioning is good. If you can stick to buying one or two colors you are more likely to play them together and get their faction bonuses, thereby increasing the efficiency of your cards and the effectiveness of each turn. In an ideal world, you can choose which cards would be available for you to buy ahead of time to maximize this strategy, while keeping your opponent from maximizing theirs. In this world, however, the trade row and your opponent don’t always cooperate with you so you must think more flexibly and adapt to changing circumstances and create cohesive decks not just based around factions but around what the cards actually do and when they will be played. While factioning can provide useful bonuses throughout the game, the real key to victory is purchasing cards for their primary ability in time to be played in the phase of the game where that ability is most useful and by purchasing cards that fit your deck archetype and counter your opponent’s archetype.
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What’s in a name? A proposal to adjust the digital competitive naming convention

A large number of players are participating in competitive Star Realms via the digital application. Since the beginning of the early Fan Created Community Tournaments or the Board Game Geek Leagues, it’s been challenging to define a specification that lets everyone know what version of the game is required to participate in a particular event.

The folks at have done a great job building out a simple tool to explain how the naming can work and it’s done pretty well up to this point. As more and more expansions come to Star Realms and the app, there’s going to be an ongoing struggle to properly communicate versioning for digital play.

What follows is an expansion on a discussion with Brad Elkey (IGN PanicFire) and represents a proposal for a new naming guideline. With hope, this version will “future proof” the naming against future expansions and modifications.

The new naming proposal works simply like this:

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