Sorcerer has a great hook. Never mind that it’s also Smash Up’s hook. You take three decks — your identity, magical lineage, and domain — and shuffle them together to form one big wad of acolytes, demons, and spells. One moment you’ll be playing as a necromantic count from deep in a haunted forest. Half an hour later you’ll be mister flameface the shapeshifter of the lunatic asylum. In theory, no two decks will feel quite the same.
Too bad they nearly always blend together like a bowl of soggy oatmeal.
Star Realms is a purebred deck-building game, descended from deck-building stock and distilled from deck-building ingredients, and completely unburdened (or perhaps “unadvantaged,” depending on your point of view) by the frills that round out most modern deck-builders. There’s no board to explore. No bidding. No hybridization with other genres. Just a bunch of cards, the compulsion to buy them into your deck, and a whole bunch of shuffling. It is, in short, what we would surely call a deck-building game, through and through, nothing more and nothing less.
Or is it?