Influences on Ascendancy
Nigel Buckle
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I saw the recent 'Influences on ...' geeklists. Nice idea, so here are the influences on my latest game.

Ascendancy is not a boardgame version of the PC game Ascendancy though (not just to confuse people, I hadn't heard of it nor played it)
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1. Board Game: Omega Centauri [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:3835]
 
Nigel Buckle
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The blurb:

Two millennia ago a loose federation of planets combined to form the Galactic Empire. From that small beginning, the Empire ruthlessly expanded - enslaving or exiling all races that were a threat to their dominion. Recently, the Empire has suffered revolts from conquered races, and on the barren galactic rim, the exiled races gather their forces to strike at the weakened Empire. As the Empire's might and influence wane, a new era is dawning, and what new race will ascend to power?

Ascendancy is a game of galactic empire building for 2 to 4 players. A 6 Round game of Ascendancy (the Short Game) can be completed in one hour, and a 9 round game of Ascendancy (the Long Game) can be completed in about two hours.

Throughout the game, you will be compelled to make important decisions regarding how to advance your civilization - will you focus on obtaining technological or cultural superiority or will you build an invincible armada to crush those who stand in your way?

The winner of the game will be the player who has accumulated the most victory points at the end of the final round of play. Ascendancy offers players many routes to victory, and you can accumulate VP by wresting control of sectors of space from the Empire (or from other players), by improving your infrastructure and planetary defences, or by expanding your cultural influence. The player with the most victory points ("VP") at the end of the final round is deemed to have ascended and established the new dominant Empire in the galaxy.
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2. Board Game: Stellar Conquest [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:3405]
Nigel Buckle
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Thornton Heath
Croydon
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The main inspiration for my game was Masters of Orion - the PC game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Orion,
which in turn was inspired by Stellar Conquest.

Ascendancy is a 4x game:

eXplore: The map is not totally visable at the start, and players discover parts as the game progresses. This isn't a major part of Ascendancy, but the hidden aspect is there.
eXpand: Players start off with a small territory and have to go out and take more.
eXploit: Players get resources from areas they control, and can steal them from others.
eXterminate: Players attack each other - and in the case of Ascendancy the non-player Empire.

Also (for me) a 4X game has to have:

Technology - stuff you can research to gain extra powers and abilities and allow differences between the players
Racial Powers - each player has a unique starting setup and special abilities. In Ascendancy this is only implemented in the Long Game, to keep the Short Game easier to learn.
Strategy - these games are much more strategic than tactical, you have to carefully plan your development, pick the technologies that fit your plan and optimise your actions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4X
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3. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:228] [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked]
Nigel Buckle
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Three influences from this game.

Firstly the combat system - simple, quick and elegant. To keep playing time down and put more emphasis on strategic planning I used a combat system based on Civilization.

You just compare fleets, and remove them one at a time until only one side is left, of course technology shakes this up somewhat.

Secondly the Civilization cards - in Ascendancy these are the Technology Cards, you don't have to save resource points to get them (just spend a research action) but they all alter the game in different ways and build on each other.

Lots of Space Empire games have a technology tree (and the computer version of Civilization has a tree too), the Tech-Tree in Ascendancy is much more like the Civilization cards, very flat, and the game is about combinations rather than taking one to lead to another.

Thirdly the Succession Chart (AST) - in Civilization this is your route to victory, progress along this through the ages. In Ascendancy you can progress your race too, by spending valuable resources, but rather than an end in itself, the chart is an investment in victory points, each advancement gains you a greater income in victory points, but at a cost. You could have used the resources elsewhere and as you enter a new age you lose a fleet, representing corruption and decadance, if you want your empire to progress and expand you need to put some effort into mobilisation (which represents technology used in ship design)
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4. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:49]
 
Nigel Buckle
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Thornton Heath
Croydon
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Movement - in Ascendancy you either activate a sector and move any/all fleets from that sector, or you activate a sector and move any/all fleets in range to that sector.

This is similar to the system in Twilight Imperium, but unlike TWIII Ascendancy fleets with improved movement can 'jump' over occupied sectors.

Variable Map - you build the galaxy from a set of tiles, like in TWIII, the game comes with suggested setups but you can use your own.

Racial Powers - the long game has unique races, so each player has a their own special power and unique setup, similar to TWIII.
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5. Board Game: Wizard's Quest [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:2964]
Nigel Buckle
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Thornton Heath
Croydon
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Possibly a bit tenuous, but I played a lot of Wizard's Quest in the early 80's and I loved the way the game system (the orcs) fought back against the players.

This is represented in Ascendancy with the non-player Empire. Each turn a chit is revealed showing what the Empire does, and if ever a resource sector is vacated the Empire claim it back. The Empire also develop combat technology as the game progresses making the sectors they hold harder to take.

In Ascendancy the Empire doesn't attack the players, rather it just defends what it has and reclaims empty sectors. The Empire starts the game holding all the valuable resource sectors though, so players have to attack it.
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