A lot has happened since I originally wrote this card tier ranking almost a year and a half ago. Not only have four new expansions containing 16 new ships/bases been released (B&B, Heroes, and F&F), but I played about 5500 more games in that span. Both of these demand a lot of discussion and necessitate an update to my Tier Lists, so let’s get into it!
Before we get to the updated card tier lists, let’s talk quickly about the new cards introduced in the B&B, F&F, and Heroes expansions. I think these cards are still new enough to many players that it’s worth going into each card in a little detail.
(If you want to skip to the update Tier Lists, they’re down below with my original ranking concept description.)
Once players have grasped the basic strategic principles of Star Realms, they understand that the early game is often about building up enough trade/economy in order to purchase the “power” cards that cost 6 or above. But what happens when you finally get to up 6 trade and you have a choice of four different 6-cost cards? Which ones are the best? The worst? Which ones fit into which kinds of decks? When do these cards shine? When are they weakest? Read on to find out…
Star Realms fans spend substantial time staring at trade rows. Which cards are the most efficient? Should I counter-purchase? Am I getting enough bases? What about scrap? We scrutinize, rationalize, and eventually settle on the best purchase. Often we see posts asking, ‘What would you take?’ accompanied by a screenshot. Deck Building offers simple-but-lively discussion about what to take, when, and why.
I will ask you to assess your process. Where are you as a Trade Row Decision Maker?
It is generally acknowledged that cards with strong trade and scrappers are some of the strongest opening buys in the game. (Freighter, Supply Bot, Patrol Mech, Cutter, Trade Pod, just to name a few.) However, as has been discussed in The Pace of the Game Part 1, economic cards and scrappers are “time-sensitive” in that they require an shuffle to amortize their value. For example, for a Freighter bought on Deck 1 (opening buy), the earliest it can be played is Deck 2 which means the earliest a card that bought using the Freighter’s trade can be drawn is Deck 3.
This time-sensitivity of economic cards and scrappers means that they are very sensitive to the bad luck of “bottom decking”, which is where a shuffle is triggered before you get a chance to play the card because it was near the bottom of your deck. If your opening buys revolved around buying economic cards and/or scrappers (which they often will), then it can be a complete disaster if these cards are bottom decked at the end of Deck 2. Such bad luck can literally ruin your game by delaying disrupting the timing of your deck and delaying the benefit of trade and/or scrap until Deck 4. In a game where you only get 4-5 decks on average, this bad luck can often be irrecoverable.
Bottom-decking is mostly just bad luck of the shuffle… but is it really that simple? Is there something that can be done to shift the odds in your favor and avoid your opening buys from being bottom-decked? Yes, there is.