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Ascension: Deckbuilding Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: 100 Plays Review - Ascension rss

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Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
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I review all my games when they hit 100 plays. For the full list of my 100 play reviews see My 100 Plays Reviews.

First Impressions:

Deckbuilders were still relatively new when Ascension came along, and I was a big Dominion fan, so another game with the same deckbuilding idea, but different cards, and VPs scored in a different way was very appealing. And right from the start I enjoyed the game, playing it about 7 times in the first ten days or so I owned it.

Getting to 100 plays:

It's taken a few years, but I have today just hit my 100th FtF play of this. Of course this doesn't count the probably several hundred, if not more, games I have played against AI on the computer/phone - it's a game that works brilliantly against AI, even if the AI isn't wonderful.

But including just FtF plays, as that's all I record:
2011: 46
2012: 19
2013: 16
2014: 10
2015: 5
2016: 4

As you can see this has had a sharp drop-off in plays over the years. Even buying the expansion didn't maintain its playrate after the first year.

Current Impressions:

Ascension can be very slow as a 4 player game, so since the first year hasn't seen much play that way, but does work well as a 2 player. Nowadays too there are so many deckbuilders, that it doesn't have its own niche in the same way.

Having said that, I still find it very enjoyable, and if I didn't have the computer version of it that I play almost daily would certainly be clamouring to play more. Star Realms has definitely hit its plays though, as it does feel just like a slightly better version of the same game.

Will there be another 100 plays?

At the current playrate it might get there, but it will take a long time! It's still enjoyable, but has too much competition.
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Nice insight.

It also has seen a sheer drop in plays here. First, because we have focused more on expansions. Second, because we have tried other DB games, which we found to be deeper in terms of strategies and options, making Ascension feel more luck-driven, and less interesting, than other options.

Other options being:
- Star Realms. You're never stuck in one resource with nothing to do, the way you can be in Ascension where you have all runes and there are but monsters in the center row. Bad luck is more punishing in Star Realms though, since it is so fast and has such a focus on card synergy.
- Aeon's End. Only one resource but you've got so much to do with it... Fixed market set up and no deck shuffling make this very, very strategic, and you ALWAYS have good options available.
- Mystic Vale. At heart, this is a deck builder. But with 9 cards available, plus 8 Vale which require another resource, you always can put your mana to good use, and are never stuck buying 1-cost cards when you have 10 resources, just because they didn't show up. You can also manipulate your drawing and push your luck, making this a lot less luck-driven.
- Vikings Gone Wild. So many things you can buy and do on your turn, and access to the high-end cards is conditionned by VP instead of resources, making the race different. You can attack other players' building but do not deny them there use, so this is less frustrating.

I honestly cannot stand the center row anymore. How many times have I had 8 runes in my pool, been forced to buy a 2-cost card because the center row sucked, only to flip a 7 or 8 cost card? That's just getting old. The expansions? I dislike them so much I'm not even gonna thread that path
I have tried several ways to get more options each turn, augmenting the center row, dividing it by cost or faction, but although I like it better, the other players don't find it fair.

This has become better against the AI, turning it into a puzzle that you try assembling to generate the most VP possible, rather than a fun race where you try to do better than the oppponent with a limited card pool and timeframe.

I still like the year one block very much, and most of the year one promos too (except for Vedah, awful mechanic). But we have played it so much as a two-player game that we do not feel like it anymore. Makes a good four-player game with seasoned player, but is way too long with new players.
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ackmondual
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With most of the "first batch" DBG, I really only play them on digital vs. AI. It works out SOOO much better that way for me. This is no exception. I wouldn't be as wild as playing this IRL as I used to be (again, ditto with many of the early batch DBG).
 
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By "early batch DBG", do you mean the first games featuring that mechanic, such as Dominion, Ascension, and the like?

What about Star Realms?

My problem with center row deckbuilders is that they don't give you enough options and screw you way too much for bad luck.

I'm particularly impressed with Aeon's End because there is so much you can do with your aether, and most of the cards can be used to do more than one thing, such as "gain 3 aether and everyone can look at the top card of their deck and either discard it or put it back", or "destroy -banish- up to two cards from your hand. For each card destroyed that way, deal 3 damage", or "deal 2 damage, and you may discard a gem card from your hand. If you do, deal additional damage equal to the cost of the discarded card".

This is exactly the kind of choice I want a deckbuilder to give me.

I'm expecting a lot from Vikings Gone Wild, too. A lot of stuff you can do on your turn, permanent resources, "solid" resource that can be stored between turns, high-end card that can't be purchased but gained upon reaching a certain threshold...

It seems more fair than Dreamscape's "Have 5 runes on turn 1, buy Hedron Berserker (so overpowered). Have 7 runes on turn 3, buy Verdagris. Do you concede? Because you should."
 
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ackmondual
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Razoupaf wrote:
By "early batch DBG", do you mean the first games featuring that mechanic, such as Dominion, Ascension, and the like?
For lack of better way of defining them.... yes

Razoupaf wrote:
What about Star Realms?
Downloaded on Android... way before the iOS crowd was able to. I haven't touched it at all. Got busy, and these days, I'm still going back to Ascension. I may never bother with Star Realms since I currently have 3 card games that I play often.... Race For the Galaxy on PC, Ascension on iOS, and Dominion on Android. I may not have the time to get into it. I heard it's quite a worthy game though.



Razoupaf wrote:
My problem with center row deckbuilders is that they don't give you enough options and screw you way too much for bad luck.

Ascension can get VERY swingy. For me, the power creeps have hit an all time high with the Realms Unraveled exp where somebody described it best... "even the player taking the 'uber turn' is bored or feeling somewhat dejected, whereas, it used to be fun for those watching power plays being played out" (paraphrased, not quoted).

However, I've gotten used to it more, and this doesn't aggravate me as much since I play mostly vs. AI, with a few, but ongoing MP games vs. gamers I know directly or through them, so it's much less pronounced vs. IRL games.

I knew one person who also hated how random Ascension can get, but playing on iOS was a joy since games go by so quickly there.

Razoupaf wrote:
I'm particularly impressed with Aeon's End because there is so much you can do with your aether, and most of the cards can be used to do more than one thing, such as "gain 3 aether and everyone can look at the top card of their deck and either discard it or put it back", or "destroy -banish- up to two cards from your hand. For each card destroyed that way, deal 3 damage", or "deal 2 damage, and you may discard a gem card from your hand. If you do, deal additional damage equal to the cost of the discarded card".

This is exactly the kind of choice I want a deckbuilder to give me.

I'm expecting a lot from Vikings Gone Wild, too. A lot of stuff you can do on your turn, permanent resources, "solid" resource that can be stored between turns, high-end card that can't be purchased but gained upon reaching a certain threshold...

It seems more fair than Dreamscape's "Have 5 runes on turn 1, buy Hedron Berserker (so overpowered). Have 7 runes on turn 3, buy Verdagris. Do you concede? Because you should."
I haven't played any of these, so I can't comment beyond the info you provided. However, it sounds like they did improve upon your issues with the CR mechanic.

Thunderstone was somewhat better about having choices, and TS Advance further made refinements so that bad luck or bad draw could be more mitigated (like the Prepare option.. I think that's what it was called where you can put any number of cards from your hand back on top of your deck. Makes combos easier to pull off).
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ackmondual wrote:
Razoupaf wrote:
What about Star Realms?
Downloaded on Android... way before the iOS crowd was able to. I haven't touched it at all. Got busy, and these days, I'm still going back to Ascension. I may never bother with Star Realms since I currently have 3 card games that I play often.... Race For the Galaxy on PC, Ascension on iOS, and Dominion on Android. I may not have the time to get into it. I heard it's quite a worthy game though.


You should try it someday. It's not as good as it's advertised, but it still is interesting. The heavy emphasis on what Ascension calls unite makes bad luck even more of a punishment, but it can also lead to impressive power plays that tend to end the game as your hp triggers the endgame. And it ramps up pretty quickly.
If given the choice, though, I'd prefer (digital version, as I only own Star Realms) Cthulhu Realms over Star Realms. The icons suck but they are pretty well explained on the app, and the powers are a bit more interesting in my opinion. The fact that there are only three factions makes bad draw less of a punishment, and the starter decks are more powerful.

Thanks for your answers anyway, they were very constructive and interesting, which is not the norm when someone is saying something bad against Ascension nowadays
 
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