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Ascension: Deckbuilding Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First impression Life in Games Review rss

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Chris Hamm
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Originally posted with session report info at http://www.lifeingames.com/2012/06/24/first-impressions-asce...


Ascension is a fantasy deck building game designed by Justin Gary. Players draft from a play area stocked with cards from a common deck. Each player begins with an identical set of cards that allows for minimal combat strength and purchasing power. From these modest beginnings players recruit heroes to fight monsters and build constructs to aid the pursuit of honor. Honor may be gained from a community bank of tokens that consist of 30 stones per player. When this pile is depleted it triggers the endgame conditions wherein all players receive one additional turn until the player who went last in the first round of the game takes one. If the final player emptied the honor stockpile then no one takes any further turns. I found this to be an excellent rule for the purpose of negating much of a first player advantage. While honor stones are visible to all, an interesting feature is that each card also has an honor value that is tallied at the end of the game. Unless you are playing with a professional card counter, it is highly unlikely that your opponents have more than a rough estimation of your total score. This can lead to wildly different strategies that either pursue overt or covert honor gain, and sometimes to a surprise winner!

After playing the Ascension for the first time last night with my friends Eli, Jeff(owner of the game), and my wife Heather, our first impression was almost entirely positive! So much so, that my sweet gamer wife demanded that we head to the local game store and purchase the base game and its expansions! Poor me. However, I know better than to deny a determined gamer wife and we were of to the Game Preserve in Greenwood, Indiana. Can one give a more positive review than to purchase a game after only one play? If it is possible, I am not sure how. Since returning home with our new prize Heather and I have played three games with me emerging the winner of 2! In the very close third and final game, I managed to eke out a one point win! How is that for close?

All in all, we had a blast! We both really enjoyed the game. She liked the idea of building from a common deck and having to adapt to what cards come up each turn. As an old school Magic The Gathering player, I found it to be similar to the 2 player continuous draft format which I have always found entertaining. The clear and simple rules allowed us to quickly move from the learning stage and focus on enjoying the game. The artwork on the cards is well done and does an excellent job of capturing the fantasy theme. The board and other components are easy on the eyes and perfectly serviceable. The only negative that we encountered was the high level of randomness in what cards come up for draft and how that complicates the formation of long term strategy. It may be possible to mitigate this effect with more experience, but for now it does limit our enthusiasm a little.

In conclusion, Ascension showed itself to be an enjoyable, relatively light, fast paced game that should offer excellent replay value. After just a handful of plays I would rate it 7.0 out of a possible 10. It remains to be seen if this will rise or fall with further exposure, but it most certainly made a positive first impression. I look forward to exploring all that Ascension has to offer and reporting back with more in depth analysis in the future. I know it will be fun!
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Ryan Tullis
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Glad you had a good time! As far as a 2-3 player experience goes, I really enjoy Ascension. It scratches the same itch as when I played Magic back in high school AND my wife likes it! Can't beat that. If you enjoy Magic, I also recommend giving a Dominion a shot later, too!

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Chris Hamm
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Oh , I have played way more than my share of Dominion and I love it. I was an extremely competitive magic player, but my favorite part was the deck building! I enjoyed playing, but for me the greatest satisfaction in Magic came from winning with decks that I had built. Games like Dominion and Ascension take my favorite part of Magic and make it the whole game!
 
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Mario
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Mesa
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Obligatory comment about how the game is great but the art is shit.

For those without a sarcasm detector, this was written sarcastically
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Dex Quest
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Maryport
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MerryHo wrote:
Obligatory comment about how the game is great but the art is shit.

For those without a sarcasm detector, this was written sarcastically


One of the main reasons I want this game is for its art. I absolutely love the slightly naive pencil-drawn look. It reminds me of old '70s rock LP covers and early 2000AD stuff, maybe even Tarot cards and William Blake, too. I'd actually like to get hold of some bigger prints to put up in the office if anyone can help out here. Not all card art has to be Lord of the Rings CCG CGI-style. In fact, I'd much rather it wasn't.
 
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