Hero Realms, while seeming on the surface to be just a fantasy reskin of Star Realms, in reality actually distinguishes itself in many ways from its predecessor. It’s not a direct transfer, though the same base mechanics are used in both, and Hero Realms has several aspects that make it a uniquely different experience. This is the first in a series of articles where I’m going to focus on the optional Character Packs you can acquire to spruce up your game.
The experience and games I am drawing from for this article series are all with the same person. We’ve conducted research-oriented matches between various combinations of the character packs over at least a dozen games and the results form the basis for my opinions and reactions. We both have a very similar play style when it comes to Star/Hero Realms: we both like to go for bases/champions (especially outposts/guards) and cards that heal. We did try to cater our purchase choices based on what each pack seemed themed around, though with the same randomized deck for the market and only 5 cards available at a time there are only so many choices available a lot of the time. When using combat, we also generally would always clear every possible champion first (even non-guards) before damaging each other directly.
Also, being a completionist and an avid Kickstarter participant, I have the complete set of Hero Realms that you can possibly have at this point. This means my market deck includes the 21 promo cards (1 came with a longbox) and the character pack starting decks include the magic item promos. We did all our games with these cards included so the results may be different than your experience if you don’t have those cards. The below rankings and opinions are solely my evaluation of the games played thus far.
The base Hero Realms game starts similarly to Star Realms: each player begins with the same deck of 10 starter cards and the same 50 health. The Character Packs throw a thematic wrench into this with an interesting diversity of class-based cards. Their starting cards are similar but unique to each class and starting health ranges from 50 to 60. The breakdown of each class deck will be at the beginning of the pack’s/class’s discussion. Over the course of this series I’ll be reviewing and discussing each of the character packs, including their strengths and weaknesses as well as how I rank them from most powerful to least.
- Starting Health: 55
- Once per turn ability: Target player gains 3 health. That player’s champions gain +1 health until the end of their next turn.
- Once per game ability: Put a champion from your discard pile into play. Use this ability only on a champion that was stunned since your last turn.
- Starting deck:
- 6x Gold: 1 gold
- Prayer Beads: 2 gold or 5 health, If you have 2 or more champions in play, gain both.
- 2x Follower: 1-health guard, exhausts for 1 combat
- Spiked Mace: 2 attack
- Starsoul Amulet: magic item; 1 gold, Gain 2 combat for each champion you have in play. Draw a card.
The Cleric character pack revolves mostly around trying to amass champions and keep herself healed up. She begins with 2 1-health guard Followers and her once per turn hero ability works best if you have a couple champions in play as it gives them 1 additional health until your next turn. She doesn’t have a lot of combat potential right out of the gate and even with the potential 8 gold in the deck she also seems the most under-resourced of the characters.
Her starting cards lack draw power and don’t have a lot of synergy, especially compared to some of the other characters. The only card she starts with that draws is the Starsoul Amulet (which you’ll only have in your deck if you have that extra, Kickstarter magic items set). Even if you manage to get the champion synergy rolling it doesn’t seem to help as much as the synergies of other characters (such as the potential for 9 damage with 3 cards in the Thief deck or the chain drawing in the Ranger deck).
The Followers seem generally lackluster as class cards. Having such low health (even if you give them +1 with her hero ability), they don’t usually manage to stick around very long which means you have to be buying champions from the market constantly (and perhaps solely) to make your synergies at all likely to trigger. During the early turns it’s very likely your opponent will have at least 1 or 2 damage if they drew any cards with combat which means your few champion synergies are even less likely to trigger as your Followers pretty much get removed the first opponent’s turn after they are played. Even the Fighter’s 3-health guard with no other stats seems more useful than these: it actually survived a surprising number of early turns in our games simply because of that 3rd health.
Regarding her hero abilities, she has (in my opinion) the worst and/or least impacting abilities of all the characters. Her once per turn ability can help if you have a champion-laden hand/board but is very dependent on what you draw or play to be useful. If you aren’t getting champions it’s basically just “pay 2 gold to heal 3” which can’t keep up with some of the other class’s abilities. Her once per game ability is even worse. Very rarely does a single champion make a difference in the outcome of a game, and even when you want to use it you’re restricted to only heroes stunned (discarded) since your last turn. This means you can only bring back a champion your opponent just had the resources to get rid of (meaning it’s very likely they’ll have the resources to just get rid of it again after you replay it). I could see it being useful as the last punch you need to reduce your opponent’s remaining life and win the game, but in the games we played with her she was always behind from the start and never was in a position to have that last push help.
I liked playing her and she’s very thematic, and Spiked Mace has one of the funniest flavor texts of all the character pack cards, but overall she just doesn’t seem to stack up to the other characters. In all our test games using her she didn’t win a single time.
Final Standing: 5th place
Stay tuned for Part 2 which will cover more of the character packs!
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