Issac Lim
Singapore
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Is this another sister game to Dominion, set in a fantasy world?
This is a review of Ascendants of Aetheros.

Quick Introduction

Ascendants of Aetheros has 3 key components in the game: Lightbringers, Actions and Sky Shards and has distinguishable card backs.


Lightbringers are warriors you acquire during the course of the game to purchase Sky Shards using their costs. They also have abilities to disrupt your opponents or hasten the progress of the game.


Actions are cards you begin with at the start of the game and usually allowing to buff your Lightbringers/Sky Shards or disrupt gameplay by resting other Lightbringers, destroying Sky Shards, etc.


Sky Shards are the key component in winning the game by giving you APs (Ascension Points) and some provide effects during gameplay that may affect or help you during gameplay. The game ends when a player has acquired Sky Shards totalling more than or equal to 125 APs, or when the Sky Shard deck is depleted, the player with the most APs wins.

Components


Ascendants of Aetheros comes in a small storage box with 153 cards, 5 paper playmats, a quick-play sheet and a rulebook. The card count pales in comparison for a stand-alone game as compared to Dominion (500 cards) or Tanto Cuore (280 cards).

Card stock quality is decent (comparable, if not identical to Weiss Schwarz, another card game by Bushiroad) and the storage box can rather take some hard knocks to it. Besides, the Japanese illustrators make awesome work of the illustrations on the cards.

Game Overview
Before gameplay begins, players choose 1 race to represent themselves. Players can choose one of the 5 available races in the game: Elf, Seraphim, Succubus, Werebeast and Yokai. Then, players place their chosen race’s Empyreal Lightbringers in front of them (under their acquisition) and their Legendary Lightbringers in the Communal Domain (or simply, the centre of the table), ready for acquisition. (No other player can obtain your chosen race’s Legendary Lightbringer). After that, players mix their chosen races's remaining Lightbringers with Exile Lightbringers to create the Lightbringer deck.

The other cards are placed in their own decks (Actions and Sky Shards) with their own discard pile in the Communal Domain. Note that the number of Sky Shards changes in the Sky Shard deck with different number of players. Then, reveal the top 5 cards of the Sky Shards deck. These 5 Sky Shards will be available for acquisition at the start of the second player's turn.

All players will begin with 3 Action cards in their hand, dealt from the Action deck. Any player may start first. All players cannot play action cards until the first player's second turn.

A player’s turn consists of 3 Phases: Start Phase, Main Phase and End Phase.

The Start Phase is played in this order: Stand all cards under your acquisition, draw an action card then optionally acquire a Lightbringer. They can be either choose 1 of the 2 Lightbringer cards from the top of Lightbringer deck, then discard the other, on the top of the Lightbringer discard pile or if one has acquired more than 3 Lightbringers identical to their Empyreal Lightbringer’s race, they can choose to acquire their Legendary Lightbringer instead. Players can acquire a Lightbringer that is not of their chosen race.

No player can acquire more than 5 Lightbringers at any time (excluding the Empyreal Lightbringer). Should a new Lightbringer is acquired, the newly acquired Lightbringer will replace 1 of your Lightbringers that is already in your acquisition.

The Main Phase allows players to play Action cards or Acquire Sky Shards. There is no limit to the number of action cards or sky shards a player can obtain, as long as all costs are met. This phase is also the only time where other players (including the turn player) where Quickplay Action cards and/or Lightbringer abilities can be played.

Acquiring Sky Shards is simple – simply rest your Lightbringers, using their power indicated on the cards. A player can obtain one of the five available Sky Shards on the Communal Domain. Note that one Lightbringer cannot obtain multiple Sky Shards even though the Lightbringer’s power exceeds the Sky Shard’s cost. Multiple Lightbringers can combine their powers to acquire a Sky Shard in the Communal Domain.

Activating abilities from Lightbringers/Sky Shards is not difficult. Similar to Weiss Schwarz, it uses 3 types of abilities to determine how they are activated or fulfilled. These 3 types of abilities are: AUTO, ACT and CONT. AUTO triggers once when the condition, as described in the card text is fulfilled. ACT triggers once the cost has been fulfilled with a valid target. CONT are effects that are ongoing throughout the game.

Cards requiring SR (Shard Resonance) costs are simply paid for by resting Sky Shards. No more than 4 Sky Shards under your acquisition can be rested at any time unless otherwise stated by other card effects. However, if a fifth rested Sky Shard falls under your acquisition, that Sky Shard will be in stand position. For Action cards with <Attachment>, they are simply attached to the Lightbringer until destroyed.

The End Phase requires players to discard their hand size down to 5. After which, the player on the left starts next.

Card List
Unless otherwise stated, all cards are of a single copy.
Empyrean Lightbringers

Elf
Lake Chaerlice, Tatiana Orbryn
ACT [Rest this card, 1xSR, Reveal 1 “Prevent Action” from hand] Prevent target Action card.
ACT [Rest this card, 1xSR, Reveal 1 “Prevent Ability” from hand] Prevent target Ability.
ACT [2xSR, Discard 1 “Prevent Action” & 1 “Prevent Ability” from hand] You and your cards cannot be the target of Action cards or Abilities for this turn.

Seraphim
A Maiden’s Legacy, Evangeline Regal
ACT [Rest this card, 1xSR, Reveal 1 “Rock Wreck” from hand] Destroy target Sky Shard.
AUTO When you destroy a Sky Shard, if it is the third Sky Shard you destroyed this turn, you may stand target Lightbringer of your choice.

Werebeast
Elemental Earth, Enola Greenwood
ACT [Rest this card] Look at the top card of the Action deck. You may return it to the top or bottom of the Action deck.
ACT [Rest this card, 1xSR] Draw 1 Action card.

Succubus
Riddle Master, Lilyss Felworn
ACT [Rest this card, 3xSR] Target 1 of your opponent’s Sky Shards, put it under your acquisition and Corrupt it. (Corrupted Sky Shards are permanently placed upside down.)
CONT For every 2 Corrupted Sky Shards under your acquisition, gain +15AP.

Yokai
Hollow Spectre, Touya
ACT [Rest this card, 2xSR] Trigger an “Upon Acquisition” effect on 1 of your Lightbringers or Sky Shards.
AUTO During your Main Phase, when the power of your Lightbringers becomes 9 or more, you may search the Action discard pile for 1 card of your choice and put it in your hand. This ability may only trigger once per turn.

Legendary Lightbringers

Elf
Seven Ice, Noelle Mistwinter
Power 2
Legendary
AUTO [Rest this card, Discard 1 Action card from your hand with "Prevent" in its card name] When another player targets you or your cards with an Action card or Ability, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose a new target for it.

Seraphim
The Game's Light, Trinity Valda
Power 2
Legendary
ACT [2xSR] Destroy target Sky Shard.

Succubus
Lash of Time, Hell Nell
Power 2
Legendary
ACT [2xSR] Use 1 Ability on target Lightbringer without paying its cost. (You cannot use CONT Abilities and must meet the conditions for AUTO Abilites.)

Werebeast
World Eater, Pingu Lynxraider
Power 2
Legendary
ACT [4xSR] Discard X number of cards from your hand, then draw X+2 cards from the Action deck.

Yokai
The Reaper's Doll, Biwa-no-hime
Power 2
Legendary
ACT [Rest this card, 2xSR] Target 1 of another player's Lightbringers. Place it under your acquisition in stand. At the end of your turn, return that Lightbringer back under that player's acquisition. You may have up to 6 Lightbringers for this turn.

Lightbringers

Elf
Forest of Echoes, Alena Goldenleaf
Power 1
Normal
AUTO [2xSR] When you play an Action card with "Prevent" in its card name, you may pay cost. If you do, return that card to your hand instead of putting it into the discard pile after the card resolves.
(3 copies)

Elf
Child in the Spring, Loretta Marissa
Power 1
Normal
CONT Gain +1 power for every 2 other rested Lightbringers under your acquisition.
{Racial Boost} If you have 2 or more other <<Elf>> Lightbringers, gain +1 power.
(2 copies)

Elf
Bridger of Dreams, Genevieve Autumnfire
Power 2
Normal
AUTO [2xSR] When a Sky Shard leaves your acquisition, you may pay the cost. If you do, search the Action discard pile for 1 "Prevent Action" and put it in your hand.
(2 copies)

Seraphim
Knight Realm, Charmeine Engelbert
Power 1
Normal
ACT [Rest this card, 2xSR, Reveal 1 "Rock Wreck" from hand] Destroy target Sky Shard.
(3 copies)

Seraphim
Avalon of Faith, Angelissa Millie
Power 2
Normal
AUTO [Rest this card, 2xSR] When you play a "Rock Wreck", you may pay the cost. If you do, destroy target Sky Shard.
{Racial Boost} The cost is [Rest this card, 1xSR] instead.
(2 copies)

Seraphim
Slayer, Rafaela Orzora
Power 2
Normal
AUTO Upon acquisition, search the Action discard pile for 1 "Rock Wreck" and put it in your hand.
(2 copies)

Succubus
Death's Apprentice, Shirliecious
Power 1
Normal
ACT [1xSR] Once per turn, you may pay the cost to Corrupt 1 of your Sky Shards. (Corrupted Sky Shards are permanently placed upside down.)
(3 copies)

Succubus
Red Midnight, Irinova Fleei
Power 2
Normal
ACT [Rest this card, 2xSR] Target 1 of another player's Sky Shards with any cost(X). Put targeted Sky Shard under your acquisition and Corrupt it. If successful. give up 1 of your Sky Shards with X cost to that player. (Corrupted Sky Shards are permanently placed upside down.)
{Racial Boost} You may give up a Sky Shard with X-1 (X minus 1) cost instead
(2 copies)

Succubus
Coffins Keep, Fyrieth Morle
Power 2
Normal
ACT [Rest this card, 2xSR] Put the top card of the Sky Shard discard pile under your acquisition and Corrupt it. (Corrupted Sky Shards are permanently placed upside down.)
(2 copies)

Werebeast
The Wind's World, Xephiel Tinypaws
Power 1
Normal
ACT [2xSR] Draw 1 Action card. You may only use this ability during the Main Phase of your turn.
(3 copies)

Werebeast
Ivory Taste, Snowfang the Fearless
Power 1
Normal
AUTO Upon acquisition, draw 1 action card.
CONT Your maximum hand size is increased by 1.
{Racial Boost} Your maximum hand size is increased by 2 instead.
(2 copies)

Werebeast
The Stormed Warrior, Ela Bramblethorn
Power 1
Normal
AUTO When you play an Action card, if it is the fourth Action card you have played this turn, draw 1 Action card.
(2 copies)

Yokai
Whispering Spirit, Oiwa
Power 1
Normal
ACT [Rest this card, 1xSR] Target Lightbringer gains +1 power for this turn.
{Racial Boost} Target Lightbringer gains +2 power instead.
(3 copies)

Yokai
Crow's Cavern, Akashi
Power 1
Normal
ACT [2xSR] Target Lightbringer loses its Abilities for this turn. (You cannot prevent an ACT or AUTO Ability that has been used.)
(2 copies)

Yokai
Mystic Glass, Ichimokurin
Power 2
Normal
AUTO When this Lightbringer's power becomes 4 or more, target 1 of another player's Lightbringers. Targeted Lightbringer cannot be put to rest, stand or use its Abilities until the end of that player's next turn. This Ability may only trigger once per turn. (Place the Lightbringer face down until the end of the effect.)
(2 copies)

Exile
Chaos' Birth, Valentina Scarlette
Power 1
Normal
ACT [Rest this card, 1xSR] Prevent target Lightbringer's or Sky Shard's Ability. (You may not target CONT Abilities.)
(3 copies)

Exile
Banished Shadow, Ama-no-jyaku
Power 2
Normal
AUTO Upon acquisition, draw 1 action card.
(3 copies)

Exile
Magical Adventure, Shiyoko
Power 2
Normal
ACT [3xSR, Reveal 1 Action card from hand] Use the effect of the Action card you revealed. (This does not work for <Attachment>.)
(2 copies)

Actions

Prevent Action
Quickcast
Prevent target Action card's resolution. (The Action Card has no effect and goes to its discard pile.)
(6 copies)

Prevent Ability
Quickcast
Prevent target Ability's resolution. (Empyrean Abilities cannot be prevented.)
(4 copies)

Jinx
Quickcast
Put target stand Lightbringer to rest.
(4 copies)

Rock Ain't Dead
Normal
Draw 1 Action card. Choose 2 Sky Shards from the Communal Domain and place them at the bottom of the Sky Shard deck. (Don't forget to filp 2 Sky Shards after!)
(4 copies)

Rock Wreck
Quickcast
Destroy target Sky Shard. (You cannot target Sky Shards on the Communal Domain.)
(10 copies)

Beep Beep Boom
Quickcast
Destroy 2 Sky Shards from target player with 80 AP or more. Filp the top card of the Sky Shard deck. If its cost is odd, you choose which 2 Sky Shards to destroy, otherwise or if the Sky Shard deckis empty, that player chooses. Return the filpped Sky Shard back to the bottom of the Sky Shard deck.
(2 copies)

Silence is Golden
Attachment
Attach this Action card to target Lightbringer or Sky Shard. It loses its Abilities for as long as this card remains attached.
(5 copies)

Cleanse
Normal
Draw 1 Action card. Remove all <Attachment> from target Lightbringer or Sky Shard.
(6 copies)

Redirect
Quickcast
Choose an unresolved Action card, take control of it and choose a new target for it. When this card resolves, resolve the Action card that you chose immediately. (Declare your new target when you play this Action card.)
(4 copies)

Serious Mode
Attachment
Attach this Action card to target Lightbringer. It gains +1 power for as long as this card is attached.
(5 copies)

Sky Shards

The Royal Gravel
Cost 1
10 AP
(5 copies)

Abandonite
Cost 1
ACT [2xSR] Starting from the turn player, all players discard 1 Action card, then draw 1 Action card.
10 AP
(3 copies)

Unnerving Rock
Cost 2
CONT Your maximum hand size is reduced by 2.
25 AP
(3 copies)

Sunken Memory
Cost 2
AUTO Upon acquisition, target Lightbringer gains +1 power for the turn.
15 AP
(3 copies)

Dragon's Talon
Cost 2
20 AP
(8 copies)

Emerald Fox
Cost 3
30 AP
(6 copies)

Astral Quartz
Cost 3
AUTO Upon acquisition, look at the top 3 cards of either the Action or Sky Shard deck. Return up to 3 of those cards to the top of that deck in any order. Return any remaining cards to the bottom of that deck in any order.
25 AP
(3 copies)

The Forgotten Stand
Cost 3
AUTO Upon acquisition, draw 1 Action card.
25 AP
(3 copies)

Time of Magi
Cost 3
AUTO Upon acquisition, draw 2 action cards, then discard 1 Action card.
CONT During your Start Phase, draw 2 Action cards instead, then discard 1 Action card.
20 AP
(3 copies)

Navigation Jewel
Cost 4
AUTO Upon acquisition, stand target Lightbringer.
30 AP
(3 copies)

Blue Desert Rose
Cost 4
ACT [3xSR] Trigger an "Upon Acquisition" Ability on 1 of your Lightbringers.
30 AP
(3 copies)

Sakura's Paragon
Cost 4
CONT You may have up to a maximum of 5 rested Sky Shards.
30 AP
(3 copies)

Meteorite Blade
Cost 4
40 AP
(2 copies)

Jam Gem
Cost 5
CONT Action cards and Abilities targeting this card cannot be prevented.
CONT All opponents cannot draw Action cards during their Start Phase.
45 AP

Rebirth
Cost 5
AUTO Upon acquisition, you may put 1 of your Lightbringers into the Lightbringer discard pile. If you do, search the Lightbringer deck for 1 Lightbringer from your race, and put it under your acquisition in rest.
45 AP

Verdict
Ascendants of Aetheros plays very differently from other Dominion-like games and has some concepts from Dominion. Sky Shards are acquired through purchases available on the Communal Domain using power from resting Lightbringers.

The action cards provide some swings for/against a player’s progress in gaining APs. I observed that some cards are worded too specific for certain situations to use which may cause confusion among inexperienced players or simply stay permanently in your hand. Power balance discrepancies were observed between the races. Some races may be overpowered than the other. However, I cannot correctly judge how balanced this game is. Destroying Sky Shards is definitely a very powerful action to impede a player's progress for victory.

125 APs may seem a weird number for victory, but after acquiring a few Sky Shards, this seems to make some sense to keep the length of the game. The rules not seem to cover every aspect of the game, with some conflicting effects on Lightbringers such as {Racial Boost}, probably giving additional effects on identical races when the effect is used on Lightbringers with the same race and/or identical to your Empyrean Lightbringer. Also, it does not seem to cover the the Corrupt ability in detail. They should have considered having keyworded effects to prevent confusion.

The game also attempts to copy several concepts from Magic: The Gathering. The stack resolution is fortunately made simplified by allowing the turn player effects to happen first then to the player on the left and so on. TLDR - The rulebook lacks illustrative examples to show most rules and is simply a hackwork. There's simply too much text on the rulebook and cards for a simple game. Other then that, you are basically using abilities and effects from Action cards to proceed with the game. Expect a few games played, then probably left on the shelf. 2 or 4 players makes the game a little too less interaction or mass chaos. This game is probably best played with 3 players.

In short, Ascendants of Aetheros has beautifully created art that captures the eyes of players and has somewhat gameplay elements that differs from other deck-building games. Its small card count is what may cause replayability value to decrease, but creates an atmosphere for players in a fantasy world.

Final Score – 5/10
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Tiger Wiccan
United States
Florida
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Just a quick response to this review.

This is NOT a deckbuilding game. You buy shard cards from an ever changing selection like in games like Ascension, and you draw characters from a deck of them or from the discard pile, but you are not building a deck of your own. You have a hand of action cards that you are constantly playing from and drawing to, and you keep a tableau of up to five characters and all of the shards that you buy in front of you, with the goal to get 125 points worth of them or have the most points when no more shards can be played to the communal area.
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Issac Lim
Singapore
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You are right! However, there isn't anywhere in my review that states Ascendants of Aetheros is a deck building game. I was comparing its contents to different deck building games which may give an impression so.

I apologise for those who may mistake this game for a deck-building game.
 
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Daisy and Chris Swaffer
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Actually, you do call it a deck-builder. Thanks for clarifying that Tiger Wiccan!

fireblaster_lyz wrote:
...and has somewhat gameplay elements that differs from other deck-building games.


By referring to "other deck-building" games, you are saying that this is a deck-building game.
This at the end of a review focused on trying to compare the game to dominion (seemingly simply because you buy points cards?) gives a heavy deck-builder implication before this ending statement.

With that said, thanks for the review and the detailed explanation of how the game works, very helpful!
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M Smith
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This game sounds very interesting. My daughter wil sometimes play Rune Age with me and she loves Anime artwork .
Anyone had experience with runeage ? Are these comparable or should I look else where for rune age anime style card game.
 
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Kelly Overholser
United States
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The only two deckbuilding games with an anime theme I could think of offhand are Tanto Cuore and Heart of Crown, both published by Japanime Games (though Heart of Crown isn't out yet). Admittedly, I don't recall how Rune Age plays, so I can't really say how similar the games are (neither of them have any sort of "war" theme), aside from being deckbuilding games.

There's also Barbarossa, by Japanime's sister company Kamikaze Games, which is a World War 2-themed game, though that is... decidedly less kid-friendly in its anime art, so I'm not sure if I'd recommend it for your daughter. Definitely check what the game's art is like first.

If you're curious about any of them, feel free to PM me and I can answer some questions!
 
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