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Subject: Deck building game redundancy? rss

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Justin Brauchler
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Hey fellow tabletop gamers, I am about to make a few purchases and I thought I needed your opinion. Now, I have Dominion and I love it, so I wanted to take my DBG addiction to a new level these are the games I'm thinking of purchasing:

The Lord of the Rings - Deck Building Game

Ascension- Chronicles of the God Slayer

Thunderstone Advance

Marvel Legendary


I know these games have similar mechanics- I love the deck building mechanic engine but I don't want to have several games that are the exact same (only with a different theme pasted on) so are any of those games super redundant? Or are they unique in their own way?
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Scott Kelly
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I think Ascension's 'purchase' mechanics are annoying and don't make sense to me, but that's just my opinion.
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Justin Brauchler
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Thank you and I'm looking for just that, opinions appreciate your input!
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Benjamine Allen
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I have not played ascension since the 2nd expansion, but the game is easy and quick to set up, the purchase pool changes every turn, because you have six cards up and whenever someone either buys a card or kills a monster, you replace it with a new card from the stack. It is not complicated and easy to learn as well. I am not as much of a fan as I am of dominion, but I cannot complain about how you can start playing ascension practically within a couple minutes of opening the box. I have no experience with the other 3 games.
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Nate Walker
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I like Ascension's purchasing mechanic, but that's just my opinion.
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Justin Brauchler
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Yeah, that is something that I feel like I would love with ascension- simple and fast! Thank you
 
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Ascension and LotR deckbuilding have a similar setup: a few cards that you can always buy, and center row with cards that change as they are bought (immediately for Ascension, after a persons turn for LotR).

Ascension has 2 types of currency (triangles and fighting - they have names that I can't remember), which means that it can happen that you have a lot of triangle money, but only cards that require fighting money are in the center row. Also, you're getting point tokens as well as points on the cards, where LotR only has points on the cards.

I like both (we own LotR and have friends that own Ascension), but don't feel the need to own both, as they scratch a similar itch.

As for the other two:
-I've never played Legendary, so can't comment. But if you like the superhero theme, DC Comics Deck-Building Game uses the same engine as the LotR game, and has superheroes (just different ones as its DC not Marvel).
-I've played a version of Thunderstone (one of the first I think) and didn't really like it, because the choice of either shopping or going out to defeat a monster isn't really a choice, you only go for the monster if you have the cards in hand to defeat it. It seemed at the time just a needlessly complicated version of Dominion. And I really wanted to like it because of the fantasy/dungeon crawl theme.


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Christian Gienger
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Id go with Ascension as its different and still a deck builder.
Thunderstone is imho just bad(Thunderstone advanced is slightly better but still bad.)
I haven't played the other games you mentioned but you should consider core worlds as 3rd deck builder.
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William Cennamo
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Legendary all the way, It gives you schemes that alter the way you build every game...its different enough from all the rest to stand out in this list...... in my opinion...of course.
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Ruud
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Dominion and Thunderstone are very similar. Personally, I like Thunderstone better because the theme and non-existance of theme in dominion but own both. I would certainly recommend buying Dominion expansions if you like the game, instead of thunderstone basegame. You can really get more involved by adding more options and interactions to dominion instead of buying/owning 2 different base sets, which by nature are less complicated (and a bit more dull) compared to an expanded game.
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Justin Brauchler
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Thank you very much for your reply!
 
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Matt Kruczek
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Haven't played Lord of the Rings, but out of the other three I'd say that Legendary is the one where the deckbuilding and card synergies add to the theme rather that detract from it. I'm thinking about teaming up heroes and abilities rather than arranging "draw cards", "trashing cards" and "currency cards". I've played games of Ascension that have felt like nothing more than a mathematical exercise in arranging bits of cardboard. Every game of Legendary has told a story of heroes foiling a dastardly criminal mastermind.

That said, Legendary is not cheap, and it's not quick to set up or put away. For me, Ascension might not be as good as Legendary, but it still provides good value. Although that opinion may change once I've tried out LOTR.
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Adam Porter
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I love Dominion. It was one of the very first games I bought when I discovered the hobby, and it is still one of my most frequently played. My girlfriend absolutely loves it (and she isn't keen to play many games at all). We've introduced it to many non-gamers, some who have gone on to purchase it. The deck-building mechanic is ingenious.

That all said, I don't feel this single mechanic is enough to sustain a whole glut of games which feel EXTREMELY similar. I quickly picked up Thunderstone after playing Dominion, but was disappointed by the similarities and felt it lacked a lot of what I loved about Dominion (primarily the fast play time, and memorable card abilities). I have since played Tanto Cuore, Star Trek Deck Building Game, Penny Arcade, Fzzzt!, Arctic Scavengers, Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, Arcana and totally fallen out of love with the mechanic. All of these games feel like a re-run of Dominion to a greater or lesser extent, and none of them improve on it. The addition of theme doesn't help me with these games - the activity is fun enough: generating income to buy special actions and abilities, in a race to win points.

That said, I have appreciated some of the more innovative experimentations with this newly "discovered" mechanic. Quarriors! and Puzzle Strike are two of the most interesting attempts at properly developing the mechanic, rather than repeating it. Unfortunately, I did not find either wholly satisfying. Great ideas though.

I am a big fan of Friedemann Friese specifically because he seems to find innovative new approaches to existing game mechanics. Copycat and F├╝rstenfeld both rework the deck-building mechanic, experiment with it, and create something truly different. Copycat adds in the worker-placement mechanic; Furstenfeld reverses the process, with players trying to find suitable opportunities to remove cards from their deck, ridding themselves of low-level cards to generate income to allow them to afford to remove more expensive cards. Neither is as good a game as Dominion, but both are interesting and engaging enough to stay in my collection.

Two truly innovative deck-builders I'd like to try are:

Deck-building meets chess in For The Crown, whereby players use their cards to purchase chess pieces (and "super pieces" with new movement abilities) which they incrementally add to a chess-board to play out a chess battle. Weird idea that just might work...

Deck-building meets Scrabble in the upcoming Paperback, whereby players use their cards to purchase letters which they then put together to form words. This just seems a perfect fit for the deck-building mechanic.

I know plenty of people who enjoy multiple deck-building games, and the small changes in gameplay mechanic and theme are enough to hold their interest. Sadly, this wasn't my experience. After Dominion, every other deck-builder has felt like a disappointment.
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J H
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I love Ascension: Deckbuilding Game and actually prefer it over Dominion because of the variety of cards during the game. They both provide great replayability but with Dominion I know what the card pool looks like right from the start, with Ascension: Deckbuilding Game I have to adjust according to the cards that come out in the center row.

I have not played LOTR card game so no opinion there.

Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin I have played once and if I recall it was just ok

I did not like Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game at all. It is semi-cooperative first of all, I am not a huge fan of co-ops so I am biased and the game play just felt scripted. When it was my turn I didn't feel like there was any decisions to make since it was pretty obvious what I needed to do. YMMV.

Welcome to BGG and I hope you pick some games that you love.

Happy Gaming!
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Justin Me
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I've played each, and will give you a bit of my opinion:

Lord of the Rings - It has a lot of flavor I think. Players buy stuff, kill monsters, and kill bigger monsters. It's pretty straightforward. As you buy/kill things new ones pop up. Some of the items you buy/kill feed off of other ones so there is some strategy there. Oh, and each person has a character with a special item in the beginning. It is a nice touch.

Ascension - I really liked this game at first. It was my first deck building game (I bought it when it was first available at GenCon several years ago). Over time it got old though. There are a couple of strategies that are much stronger than others (buy Mechana constructs) that bring the game down a bit in my opinion.

Thunderstone Advance - This is one of my favorites. You buy stuff in the city, kill monsters in the dungeon until the super bad guy shows up. There is strategy in what you buy, and watching what other people buy. You can level up the cards you bought earlier in the game, so the early purchases don't weight down your hand towards the end of the game. It forces you to balance between killing monsters and buying items in the village, something that Ascension lacks in my opinion.

Marvel Legendary - I hated this game. I cannot pinpoint why. I know I didn't like how all of a certain character's cards had the same art - that took me as very lazy. I mean, there are decades of character art for each character, but they chose one picture and used it for each card. And the bad guys slowly move off of the board. Since deckbuilding games have an element of randomness (not a bad thing IMO), I didn't like being punished for the wrong cards not coming up in people's hands or in the main deck. If you really wanted a superhero game I guess the DC one from Cryptozoic would work - it is the same game as the Lord of the Rings game only with a different theme. As a side note to reveal any bias I may have I don't care for superhero themed games, and I like DC characters least of all. So for me to recommend the DC game over this one must reveal how much I didn't like the game!
 
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I thought Ascension was terribly boring.

I think Legendary is great! I loved it. It's one of my favorites! The theme is amazing, the gameplay is fun, it'd be my pick for sure.

If you're looking for a deck-builder that feels different, maybe Puzzle Strike (Third Edition). It's really fun as well.
 
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Jonathan Challis
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I'd look at Eminent Domain for a new take, and more Dominion expansions for more of the same.

To be honest, I'd skip everything you listed, and others like Core Worlds, etc.
 
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Mark Judd
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justinbrauchler wrote:
Hey fellow tabletop gamers, I am about to make a few purchases and I thought I needed your opinion. Now, I have Dominion and I love it, so I wanted to take my DBG addiction to a new level ...

According to your collection, you only own Dominion: Intrigue but none of the other expansions. If you love Dominion and want to take your DBG addiction to a new level, I think you should start by picking up more Dominion expansions (if you don't have access to all of them already)

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James
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You could have a look at A Few Acres of Snow for a unique use of deck building.
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Pasi Ojala
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If you are looking for a different (non-redundant) game with a deck-building component, check out Core Worlds.
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Christopher Birkbeck
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justinbrauchler wrote:
these are the games I'm thinking of purchasing:

The Lord of the Rings - Deck Building Game

Ascension- Chronicles of the God Slayer

Thunderstone Advance

Marvel Legendary


I can't really say in the case of LotR or Thunderstone, but I've Ascension and Marvel Legendary a good deal, as well as DC Deck-builder, so I can talk about those games. In general, DC is the simplest, Legendary is the most complex and Ascension is in between. If you want to get one of them, that should be the main deciding factor.

They all have similar set-ups, with five randomly placed cards in a center line (or two in the case of Legendary) that you can buy on each turn, along with a few 'default' cards that are always available for purchase. This makes deck-building less predictable and more chaotic, especially with more players.

None of these game have Dominion's victory cards, instead VP are awarded in the from points directly on the 'action' cards. There are no money cards, the 'currency' to acquire cards is on the cards themselves. There are no Action or Buy restrictions in any of these games; you just play as many cards as you need to, and buy as many cards as you are able to.

DC Deck-builder is the simplest. There is only one type of currency 'Power', and you spend it to get cards into your deck. If you got enough power, you can defeat the super villain de jour, and place that super villain into your deck. A new super villain forth, often bring a new annoying effect. You get a superhero card that gives you a bonus for playing certain cards, so for example Superman gets +1 Power for playing superpower cards, Batman gets +1 Power for playing equipment cards, etc.

Ascension is a bit more complicated. There are two currencies, Runes and Power. Runes is used to buy cards for your deck, placing them into your discard pile like Dominion. Power is used to defeat monsters, which are immediately discarded away (after any special effects have been applied). That player then acquires honour points, which are small plastic gems placed in the middle of the board at set-up. The honour point pool is 30 per player, and its depletion is the end-game trigger.

Legendary is the most complex. It has the longest set-up of the three games. First you have to choose a super villian to fight, and he comes with his own team of minions. Then you chose a scheme that they are running, and combine those (with some other cards I'm forgetting) into a villain deck. Then you choose the superheros to play with, and those are shuffled into a separate hero deck. The hero deck forms one line you can buy stuff (they are acquired with the 'star' currency), and villain has separate line that you add by drawing a card per turn. Legendary is different in that it's a 'semi-cooperative' game, in which there is still a single winner, but it is possible for everybody to lose if the super villain pull off his scheme.

So what do I think about these games? I enjoy all of them, and I probably wouldn't turn down a game on any of them when offered. They offer interesting decisions and at low player counts they run quickly enough. However, I don't think they are as well designed as Dominion, and they suffer from a few problems. While these game are supposedly more 'thematic' than dull old Dominion, with superheros and fantasy worlds, I find them they aren't really thematic at all. It comes down to if you got the currency or currencies to buy whatever it out there or not. DC probably the worst offender in this regard, and it has some additional problems: the different superhero abilities seem imbalanced (well that might be thematic ...), and (at least two player) there seems too also a runaway leader effect. Ascension's single line means that you got currency of one type, but the cards can only be acquired with the other, you're out of luck. Legendary is has the set-up/take-down that is long and can be annoying.
 
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Scott Crawford
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a1bert wrote:
If you are looking for a different (non-redundant) game with a deck-building component, check out Core Worlds.


I second the recommendation for Core Worlds -- it has a deck building aspect, but there are enough other things going on that it doesn't feel like a redundant copy of a gme that has deck building and no other mechanic.

(Don't get me wrong, I love Dominion. However I don't want 10 games that are exactly like it, either. I'd like each game I own to have enough different aspects that they can be uniquely enjoyable.)
 
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Jason Ritz
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Having played all and own four...(and this may have been said already) I will be the one to say they are essentially the same, with only minor differences.

My family has landed on loving Legendary for its depth and DC (Lord of the Rings) for its fast setup and take down time.

You may want to check out Pathfinder. It is a deck builder that plays completely differently than the typical deck builder.
 
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Tony Go
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It seems that every game night I go to there is a group playing and enjoying Ascension: Deckbuilding Game. I've never played the game but most of the time these players look very concentrated in it.

The first time I saw people playing Forbidden Island they did not look like they were having fun. Then at the end they all said they loved the game.
 
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Brandon
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You may also want to try out Trains which is pretty popular right now. It's very Dominion-ish but also has a board component.
 
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