So Star Realms is a deck building game that's been out since 2014 and which I only just got introduced to. Note, everything in this is based off of my opinion of the Core Set only.
So what is Star Realms? Well, it's a deck building game where you actively attack other players to win. To start with, each player has 50hp (otherwise known as Authority) in the game. When you're the last player standing, you win. Now as a note, the core game only comes with enough starter cards for 2 players but they have rules that support up to 6 and then there's the infinite Free-For-All mode which really just needs you to buy more core sets to support more players.
There are 4 different factions in the game but since players buy everything from a centralised marketplace/deck, each player can choose to buy different faction cards to fill up his deck. However, there are benefits to being focused on one faction.
For example, these are typical Faction cards. Note that on the Federation Shuttle, there is a (2) in the first row, which is your primary effect. Whenever you play a card, you gain the primary effect instantly. However, some cards also have secondary effects, which is denoted by the (4) greenshield below the (2) gold. Notice the symbol beside that (4)? To gain secondary effects, you must play another card of that faction symbol in the same turn. Once you do so, you gain secondary effects of ALL the cards you play or have played that turn. This means even the first card you played will gain its secondary effect. Needless to say, some of the secondary effects are pretty powerful.
Some cards also have a trash effect, which takes place when you trash/destroy the card. This mean the card is removed from your deck, so it may or may not be worth it.
There are 2 types of cards in Star Realms; ship cards and location cards. Ship cards are the most common and it's very easy to tell which is which. Location cards are cards that stay in play until destroyed by an enemys attack, at which point they go back to the discard pile. Location cards all have a HP assigned to them; as in the Defense Center example above, that has 5 HP. So enemies would have to use 5 attack to destroy it. Not only do Locations also provide benefits during your turn, but certain locations also shield you from attacks. Those locations; known as outposts, are the ones with the HP in black shields. For an enemy to attack you directly, they need to destroy ALL locations you have in play that are outposts, which usually means they will end up dealing less damage to you.
As I said before there are 4 different factions in the game. And each faction tend to has a certain playstyle.
-Lots of trade(gold) and health recovery. Their 2 cost cutter is insanely good.
-Highest damage output of all the factions. Their 1 cost card is insanely good.
-The only faction that can ACTUALLY destroy cards. Attack power is kind of average I feel. But you'll probably end up taking some red cards cause they're the only faction that can destroy stuff.
-Probably 2nd highest attack power in the game but very little gold. They also force opponents to discard cards.
With all that being said; while I do enjoy the game, it also has several glaring issues with the gameplay.
Certain cards are just ...overpowered for their cost level I feel. Let's look at the 1 cost blob card for example. It costs 1 gold, gives you 3 attack and its secondary effect is to let you draw a card. A DRAW card effect at 1 cost. That's not even mentioning the 3 attack. Then there's the 2 cost Federation card; the Cutter, which is 2 cost, recover 4 health, gain 2 gold and with a secondary effect of 4 damage. And then there are the combos...Let's just say that during one of my first games in a 4 player FFA, I managed to output 50+ damage in ONE turn. That's enough to immediately reduce a healthy player to 0.
Secondly, I have issues with the card stock itself. This is the condition of my cards after 2 games with friends. I had just bought it that very afternoon, opened it and then played 2 games. And it's already very visibly warping.
To be honest, this is horribly bad quality for a card game. It pretty much means you have to sleeve everything; which I was going to do anyway, but I at least expected it last longer before warping this much.
Overall, I enjoy the game. It's fun even if the combos can be silly at times and there seems to be a real balance issues with parts of the game. Would I recommend it though? Well, it's currently selling for about 10USD on Miniaturemarket, which I think is a fair price for the core set, so if you can get it for around that price, then you should.