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Ascension: Deckbuilding Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Ascension as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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I've been writing a series of reviews of how games work 2 player - for the full list, see my geeklist:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/44048/my-2-player-game-rev...

Ascension is one of my newest acquisitions, and my favourite filler right now. I've played it with 2, 3 and 4, and even tried it with the expansion, although we don't own that. I absolutely love this game so keep suggesting it over and over again - hopefully everyone else in my gaming group isn't too sick of it yet!

Rules - how are they different with 2 players?

The only rule difference with different number of players is how many VP chits you play with - with just 2, the number is lower, and increases with each extra player you add.

How is the game different with 2?

The gameplay is identical, but there are a few subtle differences to the feel of the game.

Firstly, you don't cycle through the cards in the centre as quickly - sometimes you can even get a selection stuck, if both players are unable to buy high cost cards in either military or cash. In four players in particular, the cards in the centre change very dramatically between your turns. This can mean that you can get more bad luck with the cards for your strategy just not turning up - if you go heavy military, and there are no military cards for the top 10 cards, say, then that's quite a lot of turns where you're not doing much useful with your deck! In a 4 player game, you'll get through those 10 cards much more quickly.

Secondly, there are several main strategies - the military strategy and the construct strategy being the main two, but there are others too. With just 2 players you often find one player goes military, while the other goes for cash/constructs, whereas with 3 or 4 players there is often a bit more overlap between strategies. This makes some of your decisions different, as you're trying to find the gap in strategies that your opponents, in particular your right-hand neighbour, are ignoring, so that you can specialise that way in a multiplayer game, whereas in a 2 player, you only have one opponent to consider.

Finally, the game tends to be slightly shorter with 2 players - it's a game where it's pretty much a certain length of time per player, so adding more adds to it's length - not really an issue with such a short game though!

Verdict

I absolutely love this game regardless of player count and think it scales well from 2 to 4 players. There are different things to think about as the number of players change, but the game loses nothing major by going down to just 2. Over half of my plays so far have been 2 player, and it's replaced Race for the Galaxy as the end-of-evening filler for our 2 player sessions, as well as replacing 7 Wonders when we want a filler for 3 or 4!
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EnderWizard
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Niskayuna
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Nice review. Funny since I've only ever played Ascension as a 2-player game (just my wife and I) and we love the absolute hell out of it.
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Andy Andersen
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Michigan
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Great, just what I need - another game recommendation.

Thank you for the review. I really enjoy your series as my wife is my only gaming partner.
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James 3
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I personally think Ascension is at its best as a 2 player, and gets worse the number of folks you add. This is primarily due to downtime issues. I think 3 players works pretty well too, and does create some overlap of strategies between opponents, which has its positives.

In the base game only, the number of honor per player is not consistent, so power strats are better the higher the player count, as there is less honor per player as you add more. This was to try to make the game length consistent regardless of players, but i dont like how it changes the ramp up time so much. With the expansion, its always 30 per player, which makes the number of turns per player more consistent, though the game IS longer the more players there are. Due to downtime and being unable to fully plan until you see the center row on your turn, not to mention minimal ability to help control the center row, i VASTLY prefer the 2 player game. I won't play this with more than 3 without a compelling reason, and never want to play a game with more than one rookie in it ever again...ugh.

i REALLY don't like that all official tournaments so far have been 4 man pods. NOT the best way to find the best player IMHO as there is too much chaos out of any one person's control. gulp

Ascension. one of the rare games that scales in reverse (better with fewer but a broad range of support) and DOES play well with 3. I find most games that support 4 are terrible with 2, not the case here at all.
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Gabe Alvaro
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Berkeley
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If you mean the iOS tournaments, they've all been 2 player.
 
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