As part of the celebrations to mark International GM’s Day, one of my generous Players gave me a copy of Hero Realms. I really am a very lucky GM.
Hero Realms is a fantasy deckbuilding game designed by Rob Dougherty and Darwin Kastle, published by White Wizard Games in 2016. The page on Boardgame Geek describes the game as follows:
Hero Realms is a fantasy-themed deck-building game that is an adaptation of the award-winning Star Realms game. The game includes basic rules for two-player games, along with rules for multiplayer formats such as Free-For-All, Hunter, and Hydra.
Each player starts the game with a ten-card personal deck containing gold (for buying) and weapons (for combat). You start each turn with a new hand of five cards from your personal deck. When your deck runs out of cards, you shuffle your discard pile into your new deck. An 80-card Market deck is shared by all players, with five cards being revealed from that deck to create the Market Row. As you play, you use gold to buy champion cards and action cards from the Market. These champions and actions can generate large amounts of gold, combat, or other powerful effects. You use combat to attack your opponent and their champions. When you reduce your opponent’s score (called health) to zero, you win!
I have played Hero Realms many times since March. Of the four colours, we have found green the most effective, but every colour faction works when used together. Many cards have a bonus Ally ability which triggers with another card in play from the same faction. Thus, it helps to collect cards from a single faction, but this is not obligatory.
The Market deck has a few duplicate cards, which helps give continuity to the four factions. However, there is enough variety that the games do not feel repetitive. The Market deck adds a random element to the game, and keeps it fresh.
Hero Realms has proved popular with the whole family. I help the boys through their turns, but the basic principles are simple enough for them to understand. A multi-Player game did not work so well for us, but two-Player matches are fast and fun.