Name: Star Realms Gambit Expansion
Type: None Collectable Deck Building Game
Publisher: White Wizard Games
Playtime: 20 mins
Price: Varies, around £10.00
(4.0 / 5)
The Gambit Set is a 20 card expansion for the card game Star Realms. It introduces co-operative and solo play as well as new mechanics in the Gambit cards and mercenary ships. As with all Star Realms expansions the Gambit Set follows a Living Card Game (LCG) in that every pack contains exactly the same 20 cards. The Gambit Set represents the commercial release of all of the year 1 promo cards for Star Realms. The cards are as follows-
- 13x Gambit Cards
- 3x Merc Cruiser ships
- 2x Nemesis Monster challenge cards (1 for solo play and 1 for co-operative)
- 2x Pirates of the Dark Star challenge cards (1 for solo play and 1 for co-operative)
Taking a quick look at the packaging and cards I can say that the artwork on the packet if of the usual high standard. It’s actually a bit of a shame to rip the packet open because the artwork looks so nice but nevertheless it houses new goodies and so it gets torn open and cast aside rather quickly.
The cards themselves are quite nice with the Gambit cards themselves being the nicest of the bunch. In terms of quality mine tended to be of a slightly lower standard than the previous sets with some of the cards feeling almost faded. The lack of a full gloss finish hurts the cards here I think. It’s worth noting that the Gambit cards have a grey boarder on the back, as opposed to the traditional black so you can easily identify them if you accidentally shuffle them into you deck. All 4 of the challenge cards also come with the rules for playing those challenges on the back, which if quite helpful.
The Gambit cards are the big addition in this set. There are 13 of them and they bring a new mechanic that adds an extra element of change to the game while providing further tactical options. Those 13 cards are made up of 9 unique cards with 3 having doubles in the set and one appearing in triplicate. To use Gambit cards simple deal, face down, an agreed upon number to each player, ensuring everyone gets the same amount (I find 2 each is a good number). They can be revealed at any time but I prefer the mechanic that has all players reveal their Gambit cards simultaneously, at the start of the game so everyone can make appropriate tactical choices.
Gambit cards provide a variety of benefits. Most have a scrap benefit that provides a one off boost to a pool (influence, currency or attack), or allow you to draw extra cards, or both, but there are exceptions that have other uses. Some also provide ongoing benefits such as an additional 1 attack every round or a -1 to damage against the owning player (not their bases). By strategically scrapping these cards at opportune times players can acquire a massive advantage for a single turn, greatly boosting their chances of pulling out a win.
The Merc ships are an interesting addition and a powerful ship to add to your force, especially for 3 points. They have no ally ability themselves but have a straight attack of 5 and can align themselves with any other faction, chosen at the time the card is played. This means that they can be used to ally with the Blob the first time it comes out and the Star Empire the next, or any other faction. It makes them versatile and really helps if your deck has a smattering of multiple factions.
The challenge cards add another mode of play to the game. Both challenges come in two formats, solo and co-op, although they work fundamentally the same way regardless. Both of these challenges seem to come from the app version of the game, where they function as Boss fights on the campaign mode and their inclusion in the card game is a nice touch and allows players to get some practice in, even if they don’t have an opponent.
The rules for each challenge are written on the back of the cards but, as I’ve said, they work the same way aside from their starting influence score. Each turn the challenges play after the players and they take the card in the Trade Row furthest from the deck, placing it face down in front to them. The Trade row is move along one space and a new card is drawn and added. This drawn card determines the ability for the challenge that turn, as specified on the front of the card (making players discard, extra damage, destroy bases etc.). Finally the challenge deals damage equal to the number of facedown cards in front of them, plus any additional based on their ability for the turn.
In this was the challenges get much harder the longer the game lasts as their damage will, almost certainly, increase every turn. They can pose a touch challenge, especially the Nemesis Beast, but are a fun alternative to the standard game and well worth a shot.
All in all this is a very solid expansion that adds some interesting new options to the game. The downside is sourcing a copy in the UK is hard and so I reached out to White Wizard Games, via their Star Realms Twitter, to see if they could tell me a UK supplier. Unfortunately they didn’t get back to me and so, in the end, I had to order a copy from the US, which I managed to get for £11 including postage. Generally though it’s closer to £14 including postage, which is quite a lot for a 20 card expansion to the game, costing more than the base 120 card deck. It’d be nice if more UK stockists had the Gambit expansion and if White Wizard Games were a bit more active in helping the None US player base source cards and expansions for this great little game.
Is the Gambit expansion required for play? No, you aren’t missing out on anything by note having it, but it’s a fun little addition if you can get it for the right price and so it’s worth checking out.