This review is going to be a little different. I will be reviewing Ascension: Chronicles of the Godslayer but I will also be taking a quick look at the two expansions - Return of the Fallen and Storm of Souls - and seeing what new things they bring to the table. So this is really a three prong review of the entire Ascension family of games.
Now, onto the review!
Rules and Setup
At the beginning of the game, each player takes their starting deck. These decks contain 2 'Militia' and 8 'Apprentice' cards. Each of these will give you +1 of one of the two currencies - Power and Runes respectively - when you play them from your hand. Power is used to kill monsters while Runes are used to buy cards to use in your deck. Depending how many players there are, a number of 'Honor' gems are placed to the side of the board. You will gain these mainly for killing monsters, but there are other ways to do so. When this pile runs out, the game is over.
A large deck of 'Center Row' cards is shuffled together and six are placed faceup in the middle of the table. This deck is a mixture of heroes, constructs, and monsters. As soon as a monster is defeated or a hero bought, they are immediately replaced with a new card. You can buy or kill as many cards as you are able to during the course of your turn.
There are 3 other always available cards. Two of these cards - 'Heavy Infantry' and 'Mystic' - are upgrades to the basic cards already in your deck. They grant +2 of their respective currency instead of just one. The other is a 'Cultist.' This dude is a weak little monster that is always there to be killed. He can be killed as many times as you want.
Players will shuffle their ten card decks together and drawn five cards. They will use these cards to buy or defeat monsters in the center row. When a monsters is defeated, they will give you a certain number of 'Honor' gems as well as another benefit like drawing a card or destroying a 'Construct.' All cards that can be bought with 'Runes' are also worth victory points but they are not taken from the gem supply. Instead, they are counted at the end of the game. As with all deck building games, you deck is very weak at the outset, but the cards you buy will make it stronger and stronger so when the big bad monster and heroes make their appearance, you will be able to afford them. At the end of their turn, a player discards all cards they played, all cards in hand, and all cards they bought and draws back up to their max handsize.
In addition to the heroes that are played and then discarded at the end of turn, there are cards called 'Constructs.' What makes constructs so useful is that they are not discarded after play like heroes. Once you play a 'Construct' from your hand it stays in play giving you a continuous or once per turn benefit. There are, however, monsters and other cards that will give players the ability to destroy(placed in owners discard pile).
Play continues in this manner until the 'Honor' gem tokens are gone. Players will then add up all their points and declare a winner.
Now, I will tell you a bit about the mechanics added by the two current expansions.
Return of the Fallen
In this expansion, a mechanic called 'Fate' is added. Some of the cards that will come up in the center row will cause something to happen immediately when they are revealed. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not so good. This is a very interesting concept as it makes each game play out a little different since you never know what fate cards are going to come up.
Storm of Souls
This expansion adds three new mechanics to the game.
A new type of card to the 'Center Row' deck; the 'Event.' When 'Event' cards are revealed, they are placed outside of the 'Center Row' and have a global effect as well as a 'Trophy Event(see below).'
There are now monsters called 'Trophy Monsters.' When they are defetaed, they are placed in front of the player instead of being banished. On the players turn, they can choose to banish this creature to get a special benefit. Draw a card, +X to 'Power' or 'Runes,' etc.
A new always available card called the 'Fanatic.' This is a trophy monster and you can only have one in front of you at a given time. What banishing this monster(which does not go into the void but back on top of the 'Fanatic' pile) does depends upon what event is currently in play.
The cards are great quality and really stand up to shuffling quite well. The 'Honor' gems are a nice bit of eye candy and I like how the victory points are actually outside of the player's decks in this game. The boxes hold everything easily but I cannot fit all three into the same box unless I get rid of the plastic insert. I was able to fit the base game and Return of the Fallen into one box, but I still have Storm of Souls in its own box.
A nice, relaxing, easy deck building game. There is not as much strategy as there is tactics. You really just need to decide what is the best thing to do at any given moment. It is very different from most deck building games as the cards you can buy are never the same. And a card you really liked that was very useful last game may never come up in the next game. So you really have to adjust your style based upon what cards you can get your hands on.
The expansions are a must buy! Especially Storm of Souls. I very much enjoy Chronicle of the Godslayer and Return of the Fallen, but Storm of Souls really shows you what the game can do. If you only buy one, buy Storm of Souls. If you can buy more than that, buy them all.
Chronicle of the Godslayer
Return of the Fallen
Storm of Souls