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4.6 out of 5 stars
Ascension Deck Building Game
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2013
When Dominion came out a few years ago, the board gaming world went head over heals for deck-builders. There were many clones (most of which were awful) and few seemed brave enough to really try something new. Then came along Ascension. Lets break it down.

THEME
It's.....uh.....um....hmm. Well, I know you're buying stuff and beating on monsters. I've honestly been playing this game for multiple years now and have no idea what the theme is. It's probably written on the box or in the rulebook somewhere, but I'll say this: it's not obvious from the game itself.

COMPONENTS
The cards are perfectly fine stock and the art is WONDERFUL. Half the fun of the game is admiring the art. The gems do a perfectly good job.

GAMEPLAY
Like Dominion, you start with a basic deck, buy more cards which add to your discard pile and when reshuffled, become part of your deck. The twists here are that you don't only have money to buy cards, but fighting power to defeat monsters (which give you points along with either a benefit for you or hurt your opponents) and you can get Constructs, cards which stay in play all the time (unless you're forced to discard them) and provide a benefit to you every turn.

Unlike Dominion, there aren't a few stacks of cards (where every card in the stack is the same) to use. There's one giant deck of both cards to buy and monsters. As one card is bought, defeated, or banished (trashed), another one is flipped up off of the deck to take its' place. There are a few static cards which are always there, but the available cards generally keep changing constantly, making you have to plan on the fly.

GAMEPLAY POSITIVES
-Unlike a game like Dominion, if you don't have the best plan at the start of the game, you haven't already lost the game.
-If you don't want a card to be available, there are many cards which let you get rid of the card so other players can't get it.
-Constructs add a level of strategy since you don't have to rely on luck for them to be in your hand, they're just out there.
-The length of the game is variable, as you play until all the gems are gone. Start with more or less gems, and you can change the game to exactly what you want.
-There are different types of cards and they all work well with the same type, so it's easy for beginners to pick up. Until you really know what you're doing, if you just stick to mostly cards of the same type, you'll do fine!

GAMEPLAY NEGATIVES
-It's much more random. The fact is, you can start the game, look at the cards out there, start going towards one strategy, and then never see a card of the type you want, again. Then you're stuck with either trying to shift mid-game (and probably lose to someone who is doing what you're now trying to do, only they can do it better since they started that way) or stuck in a holding pattern hoping the cards you want show up.
-There's a lot more for new players to take in. In a game like Dominion, there's a few set cards then 10 cards to know, for the whole game. In this, there's a deck of cards where there are 2 copies of each card in the whole deck, the rest are all unique.
-Turn order matters quite a bit. The first player in the game gets to see a whole new board of cards. Normally, that player buys the best available. The next player gets the leftovers + 1 new card. This continues down the line. Unless players 3 and 4 have great cards flip up or every card is great at the start of the game, players at the end of the turn order are behind the 8-ball after 1 turn.
-With more players, it's even more random, as there's a lower chance a newly flipped-up card will make it back to you.

FINAL THOUGHTS
It's OK. It plays well on the iPhone/iPad app. It's pretty. It's an interesting twist on the classic, but the twist brings in just as many issues as it solves. There are a number of expansions (I've tried all but the latest one), and while all alter gameplay slightly, none really make it better. They just make it different. So would I recommend this? Well, if you don't have any other good deck-builders and would like a middle of the road one, sure. Would I recommend this over Dominion? No, not at all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2013
The main question about it, was if Amazon would send the second or the first edition since the description do not mention anything about it. But for my luck it was the Second edition!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2011
Played a lot of magic in my college years and was looking for a fantasy card game to play with my 9 year old son. Didnt catch it was 12 and up when it arrived, but i got into the game via the ipad version and i figured he could figure it out.

We must have played 10 to 12 games the first weekend we had it as he picked it up real quick and absolutely loves it as do i.

The game was designed by two magic tournament champions but is a unique game that was well thought out. Building your deck as you play from a bunch of communal cards is fun and there are many strategys to employee as you play, but overall its quicker and more laid back than magic as everyone uses the same cards plus you can play 2 to 6 people if you own this game and the expansion pack, return of the fallen.

Average two player game is 25 to 30 min...longer for more players.

Great social game also.

My son has quickly learened how to kick my ass and is winning about half the games as i teach him all the different ways you can play the game :)

High quality cards with colorful, well done art work and a nice game board give it a nice quality...highly recommended if you like any fantasy based card game, and is a bit more accessible for those that arent hardcore fantasy card game fans.

A 6 player game with the expansion pack and this combined is a lot of fun...

Its also worked well as somewhat as an educational tool for my son who has struggled with math as it forces a lot of quick adding and subtracting along with learning some new vocab reading the cards...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2011
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer is the best new game I've played in a long time. While the game Dominion deserves praise for innovating the entire deck-building category, Ascension has perfected it. Every turn, players have the opportunity to purchase or "defeat" cards the center of the board. Every card you obtain becomes part of your deck, giving you more resources to purchase increasingly cool cards. Players can choose to focus on acquiring high-value cards or focus on defeating monsters, but must shift their strategy every turn as the cards in the center of the table change.

Reasons to give Ascension a try:

1. It remains fun throughout the game. Even the best games (I'm looking at you, Settlers of Catan), can get decidedly un-fun when you're losing. In Ascension, the "score" is always partially obscured because the information is concealed on the cards in your deck. Counting up points at the end of the game is almost always suspenseful.

2. It rewards a nice balance of skill and luck. Experienced players will tend to beat newbies, but there's always a chance for a first-time player to come out on top as long as he or she is making the right choices.

3. It stands up to repeat play. I just bought the Ascension app for my iPad, and I've easily played it 100 times over the last week. Even once the game gets familiar, it remains unpredictable and satisfying. (I've also played it plenty of times in person, but the app games go faster.)

4. The theme is cool. There's a subtle but evocative story at work here, communicated through nice flavor text. The art is uneven in places (and the artist's somewhat loosely rendered style isn't for everyone), but I personally really like it.

5. More is coming. I haven't played the newest expansion yet, but I've seen some of the cards from Return of the Fallen, and they look like a ton of fun. If you get this and enjoy it, you know that an expansion awaits you!

All in all, I couldn't recommend this game more. Buy it today!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
The game itself is awesome.. But in order to mix this game with the expansions u need the second edition of this game and amazon carries it!!! You have to order from amazon themselves though.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Like the similar Thunderstone, Ascension is a fantasy-themed knock-off of Dominion but with a bit of steampunk thrown in. Like Thunderstone, Ascension is okay: playable but I didn't have much fun. It is faster to set-up and play, as well as easier to learn, than Thunderstone. Each player gets a starter deck of eight Apprentice (money) and 2 Militia (attack) cards. You draw 5 cards into your hand each turn and can use the money and attack points to buy more heroes or items and to kill monsters. Monsters you defeat grant victory points and may also provide other bonuses.

Ascension comes with a plastic storage tray, crappy quality cards and surprisingly, a game board that shows you where to place all the cards. One bizarre, totally unnecessary but kind of neat extra is it comes with a bunch of small, hard plastic uncut diamonds (1 victory point markers) and larger rubies (5 victory point markers); the typical punch-out cardboard tokens would have been more practical though, and might have brought the game's cost down. The rulebook is badly formatted; we couldn't easily find a rule we had a question about despite multiple people reading through the book looking for it in our first game! Finally, although not everyone in my group had a problem with it, Ascension loses major points with me for its amateur, weirdly stylized artwork. I didn't like looking at any of the card art so that impacted my enjoyment of the game as well.

To be fair, in some ways I do like Ascension better than Thunderstone (faster set-up, easier to learn, and you are only limited in your actions by your money and attack power so you can buy or kill multiple things each turn, a major advantage over Thunderstone). However, even with Ascension's streamlining, the two games are so darn similar in mechanics that they are practically the same except Thunderstone has better art, already has an expansion set and is fully customizable to suit your fancy. But for all of Thunderstone's neat deck customization options, I'm not sure the extra trouble is worth it... It takes too long to sort the various decks (and then decide which cards to play with, not to mention the extra time each player's turn can take while trying to pick from so many options). In the end, neither game was very much fun for me so I can't really recommend Ascension or Thunderstone. I wouldn't play either game again. I do, however, strongly recommend Dominion and its expansions if you're looking for a fun, customizable deck-building card game with a medieval/Renaissance flavor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I am a casual gamer who would play a whole lot more but finding gamers can be difficult. The recommended age is 13 but lets be honest my five year old undertands the mechanic and I help him for what he lacks in understanding the text. Do not hesitate to teach a child (unless you find the cards offensive). One thing I've learned about my son, and children in general they have a great capacity for memorization. The only other thing I'd change, and do change, is the honor token play. The instruction recommend 60 tokens but that is way too few and you will blow thru those quickly. I recommend at least 100 for two people and (+40 for each additional player) this gives you a chance to really get into the deck and have some fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2013
I've played other deckbuilders, but this one rang the most true to me. Dominion of course spawned the genre, but this one solidified it in my mind.

Ascension is, of course, a deckbuilding game. Players compete to build an army and garner resources to vanquish evil from the land! At their disposal are heroes and resources from various factions that have synergy with one another and promote various strategies to build the most powerful army. Players do this by starting with identical decks and then drafting cards and defeating monsters from an ever-changing central pool of cards. Once you take a card from the center, a new one is drawn to replace it. This means that you must worry about the cards that you need, but also about the cards that your opponent may want.

Theme is pervasive in this game. The artwork is consistent from card to card. The factions that are available are interesting and allow you to customize your game experience. Everything is tied together very well thematically.

The components are good to great. The crystals that represent victory points are strangely shaped but interesting. I suppose the only drawback is that they serve only to represent points, something that could easily be done with a pen and paper. If they were more ornate, perhaps this wouldn't stick out to me. While they look sort of different, they aren't anything that I see and *want* to have. The cards seem thick enough to stay sturdy but I also opted to put the whole set in card sleeves. They take up a lot more room this way, but cards in deckbuilders get so much use and I don't want to pay to replace the set of cards. The player board is thick and sturdy. It perhaps isn't necessary in this game and other companies may have offered instead a paper or cardboard playmat instead of this nice board. It has a place for every type of card to sit and a concise version of the rules printed on it. While it isn't necessary, it's functional and certainly adds to the theme.

Strategy in this game is fun. There's a lot of room for tactical decision making, and you may need to make changes to your strategy mid-game depending on what cards you have managed to find and/or which ones are available. There are multiple paths to victory for certain, and you have the opportunity to change your opponents plans by impacting the pool of available cards, thus denying them to your opponent.

Overall, I recommend this game. It does not take a long time to play, usually. It is fair, varied, and interesting. The theme is strong, and really spoke to me (as a former Magic: The Gathering player). I find it to play very well with two players, though more are allowed. The included player board is built for two players to use most comfortably, though that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2013
This has such high reviews on Amazon that I feel like I'm missing something.

Full disclosure, I've only played one deck building game before this one and that was Dominion. In addition, I only played one game.

I've had this game sitting on the shelf for a while and finally decided to give it a whirl. Since then I've played four games. Three of them consisted of two players and the other one was three players.

The first game, which was a two player game, was our first time so we were learning the game as we went along. We had no idea if the decks what we were building were good or bad. Eventually when all the honor was gone, we tallied up our points. I was shocked to find out that the winner had double the number of points than the other person.

This gave me an uneasy feeling that the game was unbalanced.

We started the second game (also just a two player game) with a little more experience under our belt. After a few rounds of play, it seemed like one player was going to runaway with the game leaving the other player in the dust. I was right; no contest.

The third game was played with three players. It was not apparent that there was a clear winner in the beginning. However, once the game ended the winner had nearly as many points as the other two players combined.

The fourth game was largely the same as the second one that I played. Within a few rounds I knew that the game was essentially over. When the points were tallied, my suspicions were confirmed. Another runaway leader.

In the two player games where I suspected that the game might essentially be over in a few rounds, it wasn't due to some dazzling display of strategy. Just dumb luck, plain and simple. A few random card draws allowed one player to build their deck with what seemed like exponential power while the other one was building on a linear scale.

To me a game is fun, when there is a healthy dose of competition. A game in which one person takes off from the beginning and can't be challenged isn't fun (even if you're the one winning).

I'm left wondering of the expansion packs even this out or if the game tends to create a runaway leader more often than not.

At ~$20 to ~$30 a piece, I'm not sure if I'm willing to find out.
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on February 18, 2015
Amazing and impressive! I was not looking forward to playing this game, initially, as it just did not sound appealing to me at all. I like games, but I've never played a game like this. Once I got into it though, I discovered how truly amazing it is.

Give yourself time to learn all the rules and don't be discouraged, it is well worth learning how to properly play. The add ons really add a lot to the gameplay but make sure you learn the basics first. If you have an iphone, I strongly recommend purchasing the ascension app - definietely worth it! It also really helped me learn how to properly play the game and now I am so much better at playing the card game. With the app you can play against a friend, a random opponant or the computer. It gets really addicting but it is a lot easier learning the rules through the app.

The makers of this game really did an outstanding job!
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