Published by Stonebridge. Designed by Justin Gary Card Art and Illustrations by Eric Sabee, Anton Kagounkin Magdalina, David Wyatt and Justin Gerard. 2-4 Players Variant for 6 Players or Solitaire. You should be able to pick this up in your local game store at a price of £30.00 - £40.00
The Game Board is designed with some glorious artisty in a shade of golden pastel, with a dark brown/deep gold astral circular and central design. It's good to see the Three Cards again in place of the blank c/w text card spots from Ascension: Realms Unraveled.
The Components differ slightly from the previous two ASCENSION boxed sets I have recently played in as much as the 100 Centre Deck cards are now 96 with the addition of 4 Oversized Champion cards. The setting up ready for play, including the Personal Starting decks of 2 Militia and 8 Apprentices per player remains as before, as do the Available cards: 1 x Cultist, 26 Mystic and 26 Heavy Infantry, there being slightly less of the two latter types than previous sets, plus they all now have silver borders not brown as before. As well as the Oversized Champions Cards the components also mention 4 Champion cards, but these regular sized versions are not titled as "champions" instead they are Heroes with the prefixes Lifebound, Enlightened, Void and Mechana.
Apart from the 50 Honour Tokens (25 Red and 25 Crystal) there are now 40 Reputation Tokens (actually there is a bag of 40 and a small bag of 8 extra RTs).
ASCENSION: DAWN of CHAMPIONS, ASCENSION REALMS UNRAVELED is an expansion of ASCENSION the Deck-Building game. Like these two mother boxed sets it is also a stand-alone game, meaning that you do not require any other cards or rules to be able to play and thoroughly enjoy all the intricacies of this splendid entertainment. Also like the other two boxed sets the artwork and illustrations is superb.
Like all good card games that are expandable, each set introduces not only new cards but also new features to keep the play fresh and appealing. In ASCENSION DAWN of CHAMPIONS the Oversized Hero cards are the largest change from the other sets in this series (in more ways than one) and to aid the players and these Heroes there are regular sized cards that match, but not duplicate, the Oversized cards; these small versions have silver edges and are placed under the Oversized cards at the beginning of the game just after each player has been randomly dealt an Oversized card (actually it is easier to shuffle and deal out the regular sized cards and then give the players the associated Larger card.These new Large Champion cards are optional and need not be used to play, but they are included as part of the game rather than as a variant or as optional extras because using them is good fun and adds a different aspect to play. Each of them has four Reputation Powers that explain how you gain Reputation and may also provide specialised rewards in tune with the characters on the cards.Reputation is basically another resource that can be spent advantageously, tactically and strategically.
The other major difference is the introduction of the RALLY effect. Some of the cards have "Rally" as an ability which allows them to affect the cards in the central row, the effect on these cards is depicted clearly in text, and possibly also with an icon, on the cards with Rally. Cards that have Rally are usually also representative of a faction that is part of the storyline that runs through the ASCENSION game universe; Monsters, for example, are corrupted dwellers of New Vigil, this being the unified world of the gods and denizens of ASCENSION, formed when the Fallen God, Samael, was destroyed and the other gods rallied. The continuing story is briefly explained on the inner front cover of each rules booklet, but to be perfectly honest none of our friends and players truly cared for the reasons behind the characters, heroes, monsters etc aggression, they just liked to build decks and have fun combating each other for the prestige or victory points - do not ask why you are killing that Enlightened Hero, just know that he is now well and truly enlightened (aka dead).
The great thing about the ASCENSION boxed sets is that they are comparatively inexpensive for the number of cards and components and also that each boxed set is a self-contained game that can be played, and played, and played without ever actually being the same. The possibilities of card combinations is numerous, a myriad of strategic ploys at your fingertips. Also, whilst you are waiting for your opponent(s) to make up their mind(s) you can either be determining and planning your own tactics or you could be just sitting and gazing in awe at the amazing artwork. Since Magic the Gathering broke all known rules of card games every company that has tried to sell a collectible or deck-building card game has had to ensure that their card artwork in particular is up to and often beyond that of the original MtG 400 card series. Card games that have failed in the art department have often failed in the sales department also; ASCENSION is, to my knowledge, doing more than alright - it is, after all, a very fine, fun, game.
ASCENSION DAWN of CHAMPIONS has the same endgame rules and point scoring; a chart that tells the required number of prestige points per number of players.
If you are reading this before reading the ASCENSION or REALMS UNRAVELED features and if you are not accustomed to deck-builder games you may be wondering what I have been reminiscing about for quite a lot of this page. Deck Builder games usually have players begin with a small number of cards, in this case it is 10, which are shuffled and five dealt as a hand to play and the other five as a face down deck to be drawn at the start of the player's next turn. The Centre cards held in the hand have either a Rune value or a Power value in their top right corner and this is the amount that you have to discard from the cards in your hand to defeat the Centre card. Once defeated you take and discard the cards you played and the card you won. In future Turns your small deck of cards will grow and although you keep shuffling it as it empties you still only draw 5 cards to make up your hand and you never hold any cards back from one Turn to the next. Some cards may allow you to draw and/or hold additional cards whilst others will have an effect or skill that allows you the chance to extend your Turn.
The Rules for ASCENSION are exceptionally well written and easy to follow so even if you started later into the day, as far as joining in playing ASCENSION games goes you can still obtain any of the stand-alone sets and begin to play it fairly shortly after resolving. You can find out about it online and also about the iPhone and iPad App for your phone by visiting: www.AscensionGame.com .
ASCENSION has the added advantage of arriving on the scene a while after MtG had taken the gaming world by storm and thus it has been able to dodge the majority of the potholes that new concepts often fall into and fold under. It is a good, value for money, game that plays in a world of vivid colour but where the rules are as clear as Black and White.
You can mix any and all of the cards from any and all of the ASCENSION sets to expand your game beyond the realms and possibilities of my mathematical abilities and then when you want to put everything away, back nice and tidy in its own box, it doesn't take long to compile stacks of cards bearing the same symbol in the bottom right of each card that depicts which set it is from - you can find it next to the small dots that inform you how many of each specific card is in the deck, just in case you can card count or if you are wanting a certain card you can know whether it is possible for anymore of them to arrive in the game prior to the Centre deck reshuffle. Players new to ASCENSION or Deck Building games in general should find this an easy system to pick up quickly and learn how to play.