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Ascension: Storm of Souls» Forums » Reviews

Subject: My late Ascension Storm of Souls review rss

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Justin
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I got Ascension Storm of Souls without having played the earlier sets as it looked like a great way to get into the game. I was slightly worried that I should have started with the earlier chronicles of the godslayer set since that is simpler but was glad I went with this set.

I went into Ascension wanting a game that was fairly quick to set up and play and easy to learn yet something that offered enough depth to want to replay a lot and get competitive with. I wanted something more in depth than most of the simpler games I owned yet not too complicated to learn. The game definitely met my expectations.

Components:

Before getting the game I heard how Ascension switched to better cardstock after the first expansion return of the fallen. Knowing that I was a bit disappointed initially in the card quality since that set my expectations higher. However, the cards do have a good feel and the artwork is by far the best of the series up to this release. A bit thinner and easier to bend than I would like but have held up fairly well. If you have sleeved other games you will likely want to sleeve this. I thought about it after seeing seeing some cards get a bit bent by others but never sleeved a game before so didn't feel like going through with it for this. The game comes with a board that while not really necessary adds a lot to the presentation and organization of the game. It's a well made sturdy board filled with nice artwork from the game. It comes with a good looking full color manual that explains the rules well.The pieces used to represent honor look cool and and everything is nicely organized in the insert. Somehow my insert unfortunately got cracked shortly after opening the game. The box that holds it all looks great and is very sturdy. Overall, the components are very well done and make it feel worth what you paid. I bought it on amazon for about $29.

Rules:

The basic mechanic of the Ascension games is that its a deckbuilder where you compete for the most honor. There is both honor you directly acquire with the honor pieces and honor that the cards give you with endgame scoring. You acquire honor during the game by purchasing cards using runes or defeating monsters using power. You start with 8 cards that supply 1 rune and 2 cards that supply 1 power. You shuffle that deck and draw 5 cards. You can play as many cards each turn as you can use. Most cards go into your discard pile until they are shuffled back into your desk though there are constructs that stay in play until destroyed by an effect. There are 4 cards set aside as always available to purchase or defeat and 6 "center row" cards that constantly change throughout the game and are replaced whenever removed. When all the set aside honor is gone the game ends after that turn.

Those are the main rules to the game and pretty much all the rules of original cotg set. Storm of souls adds events that go to its own section when revealed on the center row and usually give a bonus for playing one of the 4 factions or increase the reward for the always available monsters. There are also trophy monsters that let you choose when to activate its effects and then you banish the card to the void like you usually would after defeating a monster. The new always available card the fanatic has a reward that depends on the current event. It carries over the fate effect from the return of the fall expansion where you follow the effect listed as fate when revealing a card on the center row.

The rules are easy to learn and the additional rules introduced in this set don't make the game much harder to learn. If you wanted you could just ignore the additional rules and set aside events when they come up if you wanted to try a basic trainer game.

Gameplay:

The game is elegantly designed in that there are no more rules than necessary. For instance you don't need to worry about the amount of actions or buys you have you just play everything you can. Since its easy to learn you can almost immediately focus on the tactics and strategy of the game. I've seen some players say Ascension doesn't have any long term strategy but I don't think that is true. While you are more at the mercy of luck than Dominion and similar deckbuilders since what you can purchase or defeat is always changing you can and should have a strategy you are trying to go for in the game. Depending on how things go you might have to consider changing your strategy but you will still have some long term goal. There is a nice balance to the decisions you make in the game. Do you get what you need or block your opponent? Focus on honor from the pool or buy cards worth a lot of endgame honor? Focus on runes or power? Focus on a faction to get its bonuses or spread out card types? Direct player interaction if fairly minimal with only a few monsters doing things like forcing your opponent to discard or destroying constructs. However, the game can get very competitive with players competing over the best cards in the center row and trying to influence the game indirectly.


Conclusion:

Overall I feel this is a well made game and currently seems to be the best way to start playing Ascension. I like the artwork much better than the original set and I can't imagine playing the game without the rules introduced in storm of souls such as events and trophy monsters. The game is easy to play and doesn't force a lot of attack cards yet remains fiercely competitive. It's also fairly well balanced. There are a couple cards that felt a bit overpowered to me initially though repeated play found ways to deal with them. The main one being treasures of the study construct which gives 3 honor for any 2 cards discarded. If you get it early in the game it can have a big effect but good playing can overcome that card. Besides that the game is well balanced and lends itself well to a variety of play styles. This game is something I will continue to play for a while and is great for both veteran board game players and deckbuilder players as well as people new to both. It's easy to play for beginners and gives you a lot to consider on your turn for veterans. Currently this is probably my favorite 2 player game.

note: The expansion Immortal Heroes has come out since I initially started this review but considering that it goes for about the same as Storm of Souls online and that both are meant to be played together I’d still consider this game to be the best current starting place for new players.
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