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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > March 2019 (#28) > How We Made

How We Made

Rob Dougherty and Darwin Kastle reveal how their shared love of Magic: The Gathering and Dominion led to the creation of a deckbuilding experience out of this world


Star Realms has seen multiple releases in both physical and digital

2014 science-fiction card game Star Realms hands players command of fleets of mighty spaceships in a battle of military aggression and economic might. It challenges them to expand their forces, build mighty orbital bases and fight for supremacy in a universe of trade, diplomacy and ultraaggressive globules of green slime.

While other games of galaxy-spanning conquest can be long, complex and mentally exhausting, Star Realms condenses its cosmos into a tiny box and a tight, minimalist ruleset, with games rarely taking more than 15 minutes. Based on the same deckbuilding formula as games like Dominion and Legendary, it mixes planning, opportunism and just a pinch of luck to create a game that’s accessible, engaging and completely addictive.

Since its release it’s seen success in the tabletop and digital spheres. It’s picked up awards and captivated armies of players, and its polished app for smartphones, tablets and PCs has cost fans untold hours as they go to war with opponents around the globe.

We spoke to its designers, Rob Dougherty and Darwin Kastle, to discover the story behind their hit creation, and what the future holds for this fast-paced and thoughtful game of deep space domination.


Dougherty and Kastle’s early experiences of gaming were remarkably similar. Both were fans of iconic games like Risk, Axis & Allies and Dungeons & Dragons. But one game more than any other had a profound effect on both men: the original collectible card game Magic: The Gathering.

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