This week’s Monday Night Gaming: Ascension.
Publisher: Stone Blade Entertainment
# of Players: 1-4 players* (yes, you can play with yourself)
Best with: 2 players
# of Expansions: 7 (as of 2015)
# of Parts: 1 board, 50 beads, 200 cards in the base set.
This game takes everything I love about Dominion and adds in the element of a center row. My first exposure to this game was via the iPhone App, but I enjoyed it enough to jump in on the physical deck builder.
General Mechanics: Like other deck builders, each player begins the game with a “deck” comprised of 10 cards (8 Apprentices and 2 Militias). Apprentices give runes, which can be used to recruit hero and construct cards, while Militias give power. This is used to defeat monsters. Honor, which can be thought of as victory points, is gained by collecting cards and defeating monsters.
At the beginning of the game, six cards are played in the center row, face up. Whenever a player takes a card from the center row, they replace the card with another from the center deck.
Unlike Dominion, this game contains a center deck, which contains heroes, constructs, and monsters. Players take turns recruiting heroes and constructs for their decks and defeating monsters. Defeated monsters will give a player honor or other bonuses such another turn or free cards.
Players can also take two other cards: mystics and heavy infantry, or they can spend 2 power to defeat a cultist and gain 1 honor. These cards are often used in the beginning of the game to build up enough points for the center deck, or later in the game with excess runes or power.
Like most deck builders, what cards others take will change your strategy, as will the cards in your deck. Played cards are placed in the discard pile, which is shuffled into a new draw pile once your draw pile is empty. The more you recruit cards, the more your deck grows and your strategy changes.
How to Win/Lose: The game is over when there aren’t any more honor tokens available. Players will count up the number of honor on their cards and add that to the number of honor tokens they possess. The player with the highest honor count wins.
What I Liked: Having the center deck with a limited number of options adds a certain strategy to the game that’s different from most deck builders. I really like how the mechanics of this work.
What I Didn’t Like: As with any deck builder, what cards you can afford from round to round rely some on the luck of the card draw in your deck. Sometimes that sucks, though for the most part, it’s not a huge deal.
Overall Rating/Impression: 9.0/10.0. Absolutely love this series of deck building games.