K. David Ladage
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I reviewed the core game, gave it a positive overall review, but called it deck building lite. For this, I was criticized. No problem.

I reviewed the expansion, gave it a lackluster overall review, and stated that it offered little to the game. For this I was told I was missing the fact that the expansion increased the viability of rune-based strategies.

I gave some examples of the design space I would like to have seen explored. I was then told that I should design my of expansion -- which I am doing. As a part of that project, I did an analysis of the cards that make up the center row. I had some suspicions, now I had some facts.

Since I started playing this game, many people have made the claim that rune-based strategies were made more viable after the expansion came out. After doing this analysis, I am desperately trying to wrap my head around this one.


Core Set
Not including the always-available cards and the cultist, the core set is 28% monsters and 72% heroes and constructs. Thus, the typical starting 6-card center row will be 1 or 2 monsters, and the rest things to be purchased.

Monsters have an average strength of 4.22 and give the defeating player an average of 3.00 honor.

Heroes and constructs have an average cost of 3.70 runes, give the acquiring player an average of 2.3 honor at the end of the game, as well as an average of 0.25 honor every time a non-starting-hand card is played.

Only 15% of monsters will allow you to draw more cards (giving you more options); 35% of the center deck heroes and constructs will.

Now, if this is not an environment rich for rune-based strategies, I am not sure what anyone would think could be. After all, you start with eight rune-producing cards and only two power producers in your deck; vastly more cards can be acquired from the center row than defeated, it takes less runes to acquire cards than power to defeat monsters, you have vastly more opportunities to draw additional cards if you purchase more than fight, and you gain nearly as much honor at end-game, as well as a good chunk of honor as the game progresses.



Expansion Set
Not including the always available cards and the cultist, the expansion is 26% monsters and 74% heroes and constructs. Thus, the typical starting six card center row will have 1 or 2 monsters, the rest will be things to be purchased.

Monsters have an average strength of 4.35 and give the defeating player an average of 3.24 honor.

Heroes and constructs have an average cost of 3.25 runes, give the acquiring player an average of 2.28 honor at the end of the game, as well as an average of 0.85 honor every time a non-starting-deck card is played.

None of the monsters in the expansion will allow you to draw more cards; more than 36% of center-deck heroes and constructs will.

Hell, this is not making rune-based strategies more viable... it is making power based strategies just plain silly most of the time.
shake


Conclusions
From beginning to end, rune strategies are based on...
* Greater percent of acquirable cards than monsters
* Acquirable cards less costly to buy than monsters are to defeat (and you start with more rune producers than power producers)
* Acquirable cards will let you bring more cards into your hand (as well as thin your deck) more than monsters
* Acquirable cards can provide honor at end-of-game, and well as in-game

Power strategies are based on...
* Monsters provide marginally more honor when defeated than acquired cards provide at end-of-game (less than 1 honor more!)

I have enjoyed the core game. The expansion made the game less fun for me. I think I am very close to just being done with Ascension.
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I think you're missing some of the analysis from the rune versus power discussion. A card that provides X power is cheaper than a card that provides X rune, as a rule of thumb. This makes it easier to obtain higher power numbers in a deck. There are also a variety of ways to gain power through constructs, making power gains not clog down your deck. Also, when starting, it is impossible to defeat a monster in the center row. It is quite common to see at least half of the center row as monsters after both players shuffle their decks for the first time.

While I tend to work towards a rune strategy, your deck needs some balance in order to succeed. In the games I've played and seen played where a player has only runes and the is faced with a wall of monsters in the center row, the player who adapts and is able to fight off those monsters usually wins.
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Ken Mortis
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I don't think he's saying scrap the power strategy altogether, but rather 1) challenging the claim that the expansion made the rune strategy a viable option and 2) that gaining attack power is secondary at all times to gaining more runes, even in the base game. Yes, you need the power for those times that there are either few options or no options to buy, but when it comes down to deciding if you should have more rune or power cards, going more rune makes more sense.

The conclusion is then, the expansion did nothing to get away from this, but rather game more of the same.
 
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K. David Ladage
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No... I am not missing that at all. The spreadsheet I put together has a lot of data in it... I just touched the surface here.

The best I can tell, the most solid strategy is a rune-heavy deck with one or two cards early on that provide a boost in power. If you can grab one of the "defeat a monster worth 'X' or less" cards, then you can essentially begin to thin the deck as needed, and ignore power strategies for the most part.

Granted, some adaptation is needed -- obviously, given the sheer randomness of what will be available for you to buy/defeat at any given time.

But the core remains true: runes were already a more-than-viable strategy; runes were pushed even further in the expansion; and everything that twisted my gut as I played and wanted to like this game more than I could was verified by analysing this game at its core.

Honestly... the worst part of this experience has been the fact that I was hoping to overcome and prove to myself that I was just imaging the things that bugged me. I wanted to show that my gut was wrong, that the game was better than that.

Nope.

soblue


 
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Joel Eddy
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I think the main thing people forget in a rune vs power debate, is that everything in this game is situational. Think back to your TCG drafting days, if those days ever existed for you.

It's not one archetype vs another archetype, like it would be in the constructed format. It's a question of "What is the value of this card to me?" You have to consider a fair number of things. But "basically", you only have to consider three things (because you discard your hand every turn).

1) Honor reward from the purchase or defeat.
2) The effect of the card on your current deck. AKA: How much Honor will this card net me in the short and/or long term.
3) The effect of removing this card/leaving other cards for your opponent(s).

Other than that, just balance your deck so you have a better opportunity on later turns to take effective actions.
 
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K. David Ladage
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I do not think so.

Given the fact that turn is unlimited in actions -- i.e., you can continue to make purchase as long as you have runes to spend; and you can continue to attack monsters as long as you have power remaining -- the considerations are minimized.

A turn of Ascension comes down to:

a. purchase all of the cards I can afford, placing priority on those that give me the most honor, provide the best impact to my deck, and will deny those cards from my opponent (as you indicated above).

b. defeat all of the monsters I have the strength to defeat, placing priority on those that give me the most honor, provide the best impact on my current turn, and will allow me to deny that card and/or others from my opponent.

Not always in that order, and not always linearly (e.g., you may do some b, then a, then b again... or what-have-you).
 
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Joel Eddy
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Yes, but the are certain cards you should NOT defeat or purchase even if you can afford them... almost ever.
 
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Ken Mortis
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KDLadage wrote:
I do not think so.

Given the fact that turn is unlimited in actions -- i.e., you can continue to make purchase as long as you have runes to spend; and you can continue to attack monsters as long as you have power remaining -- the considerations are minimized.

A turn of Ascension comes down to:

a. purchase all of the cards I can afford, placing priority on those that give me the most honor, provide the best impact to my deck, and will deny those cards from my opponent (as you indicated above).

b. defeat all of the monsters I have the strength to defeat, placing priority on those that give me the most honor, provide the best impact on my current turn, and will allow me to deny that card and/or others from my opponent.

Not always in that order, and not always linearly (e.g., you may do some b, then a, then b again... or what-have-you).


About the only thing I'll add is the deck thinning aspect. I purposely buy Void cards so I can ditch the Appenticies and Militia (generally in that order of preference) so my bigger guns come out more often. Making my buying power more concentrated and my attack power more effective.
 
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Ken Mortis
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eekamouse wrote:
Yes, but the are certain cards you should NOT defeat or purchase even if you can afford them... almost ever.


Since I don't have my deck in front of me, you you give an illustration?
 
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Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Yes, but the are certain cards you should NOT defeat or purchase even if you can afford them... almost ever.


Since I don't have my deck in front of me, you you give an illustration?


Mechana Initiate is one. But depending on what turn it is and how much Honor is left, it could be any number of cards.

For example, someone mentioned banishing cards. In the first few turns of the game, those are automatic buys, but at the end of the game, stay the heck away from them. They are usually worth less honor/rune, and you will reveal a big whopper for your opponent(s).
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Ken Mortis
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eekamouse wrote:
Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Yes, but the are certain cards you should NOT defeat or purchase even if you can afford them... almost ever.


Since I don't have my deck in front of me, you you give an illustration?


Mechana Initiate is one. But depending on what turn it is and how much Honor is left, it could be any number of cards.

For example, someone mentioned banishing cards. In the first few turns of the game, those are automatic buys, but at the end of the game, stay the heck away from them. They are usually worth less honor/rune, and you will reveal a big whopper for your opponent(s).


Ok, but those are all situational exclusions, not absolutes. Your initial statement made it sound like there were cards you were suggestiong to never buy...ever.

I agree with your premise then. There are strategic and tactical reasons to buy or not buy cards. Doesn't change the fact that the base game has a rune bias, and the expansion made it moreso.
 
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K. David Ladage
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eekamouse wrote:
Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Yes, but the are certain cards you should NOT defeat or purchase even if you can afford them... almost ever.

Since I don't have my deck in front of me, you you give an illustration?

Mechana Initiate is one.


Seriously?

You think that a card that costs 1 rune, gives 1 honor, and can be used as either an apprentice or a militia on any given turn, depending upon what you need it for, it a card that you should almost never buy?

So... you have purchased some cards, defeated a card or two... and you have a single rune left over. There is a Mechana Initiate in the center, and everything else is either a monster, or costs 3+ runes.

Without regard for your deck's focus... you think that this Mechana Initiate is one you should almost always pass on and let the last rune you have remain unspent?
 
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Joel Eddy
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KDLadage wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Yes, but the are certain cards you should NOT defeat or purchase even if you can afford them... almost ever.

Since I don't have my deck in front of me, you you give an illustration?

Mechana Initiate is one.


Seriously?

You think that a card that costs 1 rune, gives 1 honor, and can be used as either an apprentice or a militia on any given turn, depending upon what you need it for, it a card that you should almost never buy?

So... you have purchased some cards, defeated a card or two... and you have a single rune left over. There is a Mechana Initiate in the center, and everything else is either a monster, or costs 3+ runes.

Without regard for your deck's focus... you think that this Mechana Initiate is one you should almost always pass on and let the last rune you have remain unspent?


Absolutely. What if I buy it and a Tablet of Time's Dawn pops in the row for my opponent(s) to acquire?
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Joel Eddy
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Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Yes, but the are certain cards you should NOT defeat or purchase even if you can afford them... almost ever.


Since I don't have my deck in front of me, you you give an illustration?


Mechana Initiate is one. But depending on what turn it is and how much Honor is left, it could be any number of cards.

For example, someone mentioned banishing cards. In the first few turns of the game, those are automatic buys, but at the end of the game, stay the heck away from them. They are usually worth less honor/rune, and you will reveal a big whopper for your opponent(s).


Ok, but those are all situational exclusions, not absolutes. Your initial statement made it sound like there were cards you were suggestiong to never buy...ever.

I agree with your premise then. There are strategic and tactical reasons to buy or not buy cards. Doesn't change the fact that the base game has a rune bias, and the expansion made it moreso.


Well to a degree. I think I've never understood a the whole rune vs power argument. You have two forms of currency available to both players. It's not such a diametric argument that people make it out to be.

For example, I think the following statement needs to be considered:

Quote:
You need runes to increase your power, so rune heavy decks are obviously going to be favored more than power heavy decks. For example, it costs runes to buy Infantry and Void Heroes. Thus, you need Runes anyway. So, don't worry about Runes vs Power, but worry about things on a turn by turn basis.
 
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Ken Mortis
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eekamouse wrote:
Absolutely. What if I buy it and a Tablet of Time's Dawn pops in the row for my opponent(s) to acquire?

Except that you can make opportunity cost argument for any crd in the deck. And if you're playing with more than two players, then it's a really bad argument because you've just passed up getting an honor for one rune.

I do see your point though. And I think you'll agree that it's still not a blanket "never buy this card under penalty of being called a stupid poopy-head", but rather being aware of the situation at hand and deciding in context if it's a net help or net hinderance.
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Joel Eddy
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Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Absolutely. What if I buy it and a Tablet of Time's Dawn pops in the row for my opponent(s) to acquire?

Except that you can make opportunity cost argument for any crd in the deck. And if you're playing with more than two players, then it's a really bad argument because you've just passed up getting an honor for one rune.

I do see your point though. And I think you'll agree that it's still not a blanket "never buy this card under penalty of being called a stupid poopy-head", but rather being aware of the situation at hand and deciding in context if it's a net help or net hinderance.


100% agree. The small dabbling of "push your luck" keeps it interesting.
 
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eekamouse wrote:
Well to a degree. I think I've never understood a the whole rune vs power argument. You have two forms of currency available to both players. It's not such a diametric argument that people make it out to be.

For example, I think the following statement needs to be considered:

Quote:
You need runes to increase your power, so rune heavy decks are obviously going to be favored more than power heavy decks. For example, it costs runes to buy Infantry and Void Heroes. Thus, you need Runes anyway. So, don't worry about Runes vs Power, but worry about things on a turn by turn basis.


Even keeping that in mind, though, if you on the whole focus on accumilating more rune over power you'll increase your chances to win more than if you did the opposite. Yes, you need both, but rune should dominate your deck.

And, to bring this back to how we got here, it was another BGGer that had brought up that the expansion made the rune strategy "viable", all Dave was showing is that it's been viable since the start.
 
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KDLadage wrote:
I have enjoyed the core game. The expansion made the game less fun for me. I think I am very close to just being done with Ascension.
soblue


I feel that way about many deck building games, but I still go back to them from time to time.
 
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EDIT: I've played a lot more now and am not sure I think the game is so simple!

I recently played a lot of Ascension (iPhone) on a holiday. I had periods of downtime and ended up really trying to take the game seriously. Overall, it's a game where your choices are rarely impactful and players lack significant control.

Runes vs Power is overstated. It's the only consistent choice you have, but it rarely matters because the centre row can change so fast. The games that bog down in the middle bog down because all players have awkward decks, and to change that just becomes a random shitfight over who can draw significant military first after you all go Heavy Military for a turn or few.

Ascension is a quick game. The deckbuilding mechanism essentially is a built-in randomizer. Unfortunately, the vagaries of the centre row mean you can't decide to take a Mystic for 4 instead of two Heavy Infantry for any sound reasons. There just aren't enough decision points in the game to justify being inefficient to build a certain type of deck.

The AI that simply scores points is very good in this game. Of course it misses awesomely powerful cards like early game Arbiter and sometimes doesn't maximise its sequencing, but it's really not that far off optimal play for the base set at least.
 
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August T
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Kmortis wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
Absolutely. What if I buy it and a Tablet of Time's Dawn pops in the row for my opponent(s) to acquire?

Except that you can make opportunity cost argument for any crd in the deck. And if you're playing with more than two players, then it's a really bad argument because you've just passed up getting an honor for one rune.


Re Mechana Initiate, I only buy them when I'm sure that I won't reshuffle my discard deck before the game end. Otherwise, I'd rather waste the 1 rune than opening a possibly good card for my opponent to buy.

My reasoning is that the flexibility of getting 1 rune or 1 power is nice but I'd rather cycle my deck faster and see Mystics or Heavies more often.
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Matthew Twomey
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I agree that the Mechana Initiate is a weak card. My handling of it is identical to August T's - I typically will only purchase it at the end, if I'm not going to reshuffle. The choice it provides is just not worth its space in your deck earlier on in the game.
 
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James 3
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runes have always been powerful. they just didn't have many ways to control the pace of the endgame, as most cards that removed honor from the pool were simply monster rewards. so a deck could focus itself to have great buying power, then be unable to close out a game on its own terms, just keep buying cards and let the other player(s) end the game eventually via monster death.

Yggdrasil staff, Lifebound Initiate, and Avatar Golem were some exceptions to this in the base set. The new set adds more cards like these, and they are more powerful in general. ie: Nairi, Askara of ...something, Great Omen Raven ( hint: naming apprentice is usually the right call) So I now think you can buy heavy runes AND end the game on your own terms through heroes rather than monsters.

most games will have players finding a nice balance of the two strategies, but there is more to the "rune" strategy than there used to be as there are more paths to rune victory now than just loading up the deck with high value cards/Mechana.

re: Mechana Initiate. i mostly agree he's terrible, as only providing one resource is a pretty weak effect for something that costs a full card in your hand. that said, I sometimes buy him early if i have a ton of runes and nothing good to buy/tons of power and nothing good to kill and want to see something flip, and Ill take the chance. Im also more likely to buy it if i have gone serious "halfsies" and loaded my deck up with tons of both Mystics and Heavy Infantries, which can lead to alot of awkward draws. the choose power is a bit more relevant in those types of ddecks, but Id rather be putting in Librarian, Scribes, and Senseis to help fight that than Manchana Initiates. in the final turns when you are unlikely to cycle your deck, ANY card with a near 1:1 rune: honor ratio is a good buy.

a card i really never want to buy: Askara of Fate. casting this is like giving your opponent a free Ascetic of the Lidless Eye. you only get an extra banish effect out of the deal, and that 6th card can often make that player get over the hump and make a big purchase/kill of a 7+ drop. Id always like my opponent to buy it and let me benefit. And it costs 4, so cant be a cheap "flip" like the initiate. Seems too risky and symmetrical to ever want to buy it yourself if you are playing with a competitive angle.
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flamejuggler wrote:

a card i really never want to buy: Askara of Fate. casting this is like giving your opponent a free Ascetic of the Lidless Eye. you only get an extra banish effect out of the deal, and that 6th card can often make that player get over the hump and make a big purchase/kill of a 7+ drop. Id always like my opponent to buy it and let me benefit. And it costs 4, so cant be a cheap "flip" like the initiate. Seems too risky and symmetrical to ever want to buy it yourself if you are playing with a competitive angle.


That's the one where you banish a card from the center. If it's a monster, then gain 3 honor? I've only played the expansion once, but I ended up getting that since I say my opponent was going heavier into Power.
 
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Eric Leath
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I think Askara of Fate is the one that Fates to have everyone draw a card.

Its main ability is: You Draw 2, Opponent(s) draw(s) 1, then you banish a card in the center row.

There has to be SOMETHING it combos with, I'm just not seeing it right now :-/
 
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