Ascension is a fantasy deck building game designed by Justin Gary. Players draft from a play area stocked with cards from a common deck. Each player begins with an identical set of cards that allows for minimal combat strength and purchasing power. From these modest beginnings players recruit heroes to fight monsters and build constructs to aid the pursuit of honor. Honor may be gained from a community bank of tokens that consist of 30 stones per player. When this pile is depleted it triggers the endgame conditions wherein all players receive one additional turn until the player who went last in the first round of the game takes one. If the final player emptied the honor stockpile then no one takes any further turns. I found this to be an excellent rule for the purpose of negating much of a first player advantage. While honor stones are visible to all, an interesting feature is that each card also has an honor value that is tallied at the end of the game. Unless you are playing with a professional card counter, it is highly unlikely that your opponents have more than a rough estimation of your total score. This can lead to wildly different strategies that either pursue overt or covert honor gain, and sometimes to a surprise winner!
After playing the Ascension for the first time last night with my friends Eli, Jeff(owner of the game), and my wife Heather, our first impression was almost entirely positive! So much so, that my sweet gamer wife demanded that we head to the local game store and purchase the base game and its expansions! Poor me. However, I know better than to deny a determined gamer wife and we were of to the Game Preserve in Greenwood, Indiana. Can one give a more positive review than to purchase a game after only one play? If it is possible, I am not sure how. Since returning home with our new prize Heather and I have played three games with me emerging the winner of 2! In the very close third and final game, I managed to eke out a one point win! How is that for close? Here is a brief overview of the games played for those veteran players among us.
Visible Honor 41 22
Deck Honor 32 43
Total Honor 73! 65 🙁
Basic Strategy Lifebound+Void Mechana
. Strong Combat Weak Combat
. Medium Rune Production Plentiful Rune Production
. Heroes Constructs and Card Drawing
Visible Honor 16 44
Deck Honor 38 48
Total Honor 54 🙁 92!
Basic Strategy Strong Combat Strong Combat
. Medium Card Drawing Heavy on Constructs
. Heavy on Mechana
*Post game analysis by Heather. “Yeah, that didn’t come together!”
Visible Honor 23 37
Deck Honor 39 26
Total Honor 62 🙁 63!
Basic Strategy Heavy on Mechana Heavy on Mystics
. Constructs+Heroes Heavy Card Drawing
. Medium Combat Heavy Combat
All in all, we had a blast! We both really enjoyed the game. She liked the idea of building from a common deck and having to adapt to what cards come up each turn. As an old school Magic The Gathering player, I found it to be similar to the 2 player continuous draft format which I have always found entertaining. The clear and simple rules allowed us to quickly move from the learning stage and focus on enjoying the game. The artwork on the cards is well done and does an excellent job of capturing the fantasy theme. The board and other components are easy on the eyes and perfectly serviceable. The only negative that we encountered was the high level of randomness in what cards come up for draft and how that complicates the formation of long-term strategy. It may be possible to mitigate this effect with more experience, but for now it does limit our enthusiasm a little.
In conclusion, Ascension showed itself to be an enjoyable, relatively light, fast paced game that should offer excellent replay value. After just a handful of plays I would rate it 8.0 out of a possible 10. It remains to be seen if this will rise or fall with further exposure, but it most certainly made a positive first impression. I look forward to exploring all that Ascension has to offer and reporting back with more in-depth analysis in the future. I know it will be fun!
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. Join the conversation in the comments below!