Star Realms, Colony Wars, Front of Box

Star Realms Colony Wars Review

Name: Star Realms Colony Wars
Type: None Collectable Deck Building Game/Expansion
Publisher: White Wizard Games
Players: 2-6 (2 per box used)
Age: 12+
Size: 9.7cm x 7.1 cm x 4.6 cm
Weight: 255g
Playtime: 20 mins
Price:  £12.99
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Star Realms, Colony Wars, Front of Box


Star Realms Colony Wars is a stand alone game and an expansion for the Star Realms Card Game. It is produced by White Wizard Games and was released in December 2015. Colony Wars is the first boxed expansion for the Star Realms game. As with the rest of the Star Realms line, Colony Wars follows an LCG style model and so every single Colony Wars deck has exactly the same cards in it, unlike CCGs like Magic the Gathering.

Colony Wars comes boxed in a standard trading card game style cardboard tuck box with the front decorated by the Mech Cruiser card art and the back of the box giving some general flavour text about the game and the designers. As with the original Star Realms game, Colony Wars was designed by MtG hall of Famers Rob Dougherty and Darwin Castle.

Star Realms Colony Wars, Contents

Inside the box you get-

  • 80 x Trade Cards
  • 10 x Explorer Cards
  • 20 x Starting Cards (comprised of 2 decks of 2 x Vipers and 8 x Scouts each)
  • 18 Authority Cards (12 x double sided 1 and 5 cards and 6 x double sided 10 and 20 cards)
  • 2 x Rule Leaflets (1 x Standard and 1 x Multiplayer rules)

Star Realms, Colony Wars, All card types

The cards come cellophane wrapped in two decks, within the box, and the rules leaflets sit between the two. The cards are of reasonable quality, not quite the premium cards of FFG but better than the ones in Shadowrun Crossfire. They are laminated for protection but still feel a little flimsy and so probably wouldn’t stand up to the spill test all too well, which is worth bearing in mind.

I won’t go into a huge amount of detail as to how the game work, thats covered on the original Star Realms Review, but in simple terms each player starts with 50 Authority (life) and the same starting deck of 10 cards (2 Vipers and 8 Scouts). Players have a hand of 5 cards and take it in turns to play them, using any Trade (yellow coin symbol) to buy cards from a shared Trade Row made from the main deck and using any Combat (red circle symbol) to cause their opponent damage and to loose Authority. The first person to reduce their opponent to 0 Authority or lower wins.

Star Realms Colony Wars, Faction Cards

Each of the cards in the Trade deck falls into one of the 4 factions from the original game, being the Blobs (green), Machine Cult (red), Star Empire (yellow) and Trade Federation (blue). As with the original game the abilities and bonuses that these cards provided are broadly defined by faction. For instance the Machine Cult generally allows you to scrap cards from your hand and discard, so reducing the chance of drawing weak cards late game, while the Star Empire tends towards forcing your opponent to discard cards from their hand, limiting what they can do on their turn.

The card art is a further improvement on the original game and Crisis expansions and is now more defined, brighter and more action packed giving the cards a greater impact on the table. While the standard of the art, in terms of complexity, isn’t exceptional, I don’t feel that this detracts from the game at all and it certainly helps keep the game cheap to buy and play.

Star Realms and Colony Wars Power Comparison

Looking more closely at the cards it seems that there is a little power creep in play, the card on the left, the Trade raft is from the original Star Realms game while the Solar Skiff on the right is from Colony Wars. As you can see, it’s immediately better since you get 2 Trade and the ally ability or drawing a card on the Skiff for the same cost as 1 Trade and an ally draw on the Raft. I’d generally be concerned but as the Trade Deck and Row is shared between players, both are equally aided or hampered by it.

Colony Wars expands the base Star Realms game beyond the 2 player game it was out of the box. Sure you could have bought multiple boxes to play with more people but  generally don’t like buying the same game more than once when I know it’s not going to add content and so the introduction of Colony Wars gives me another way to bring the game to the table for my wider gaming group.

Colony Wars is a great stand alone game and an even better expansion to the base Star Realms set. I hope White Wizard look to make more boxed expansions for the game in the future as it’s a simple great with depth and replayability, making it perfect for a casual evening. The only downside for me is that it’s now too big to fit in my Star Realms Deck Box, meaning i’ll probably need to buy a second one, or the larger one.


One thought on “Star Realms Colony Wars Review”

  1. Heh, we discussed that Raft/Skiff comparison on the forums at BoardGameGeek. The conclusion was that the scrap ability on Trade Raft is a bigger deal than you’d think from glancing at the cards.

    There’s a point in the game, often quite early (as early as the 3rd deck, usually) when you don’t want to draw any more trade. At that point, you want to be able to remove non-combat cards from your deck. Machine Cult cards can do some of that for you, but a trade card which scraps itself is perfect, because it stays around when you need it then takes itself out of consideration.

    In a pure Trade Federation deck, they’re ok cards to have hanging around, since they both draw, but it’s rare you go pure Blue even in Colony Wars. Closest is probably a Central Office base game and even in that you’ll want other colours mixed in, the Star Empire bases are too good to miss and Stealth Tower is, well, Stealth Tower…

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