Ascension is a fantasy deckbuilding game created by Stone Blade Entertainment (formerly Gary Games), first released in 2010. The game itself's official title is simply "Ascension," though the "Chronicle of the Godslayer" subtitle was the name of the first set and frequently added to help distinguish the game from the myriad of other games and works called "Ascension."
As is the case with many deckbuilding games, its principle designer, Justin Gary, was formerly a highly-regarded Magic: The Gathering
player, best known for winning Pro Tour Houston in 2002. Ascension was Gary Games first product, and the only product released under that name. (They changed their name to Stone Blade Entertainment in time for their second product, SolForge
, to get a beta release.)
The story is somewhat nebulous, but involves the mad god Samael, and later, his successor, Kithis, threatening the world of Vigil. Vigil is composed of four realms: Arha, Hedron, Ogo, and the Void, which band together against Samael's endless wave of monsters.
Gameplay revolves around building the deck worth the most Honor (victory points). Like most deckbuilding games, each player starts with an equal deck composed of the worst cards in the game, and must "acquire" (buy) new cards over the course of the game to improve their deck; these cards are broken down into Heroes (which take effect immediately when played and are discarded at the end of the turn) and Constructs (which take effect once per turn and stay in play until an effect discards them). Ascension differentiates itself from other games in the genre in that there are also monsters to fight to award Honor Tokens. It also sports an unusually fluid turn structure. On each player's turn, he or she may take any actions he or she can afford—there are no limits or other requirements on how many actions can be made in a turn. The primary resources of the game are Runes, which are used to buy cards, and Power, which is used to kill monsters.
There are basic cards available all times. A player can always buy Mystics and Heavy Infantry or fight the Cultist; starting in Storm of Souls,
players also have the option to fight the Fanatic. Most of the game's action happens in the Center Row, a line of 6 cards drawn from the communal, randomized "Portal Deck." Whenever a card in the Center Row is acquired, defeated, or "banished" (discarded) from the Center Row, it is immediately replaced.
All cards in the game are broken down into six basic factions, each with defining traits. They are:Common:
The basic cards of the game, only the generic Apprentices, Militia, Mystics, and Heavy Infantry are Common.Enlightened:
The cards of Arha, Enlightened cards focus drawing cards, improving your existing cards, defeating monsters in a single shot, and sculpting the Center Row to your advantage. Enlightened also has the only cards that let a player acquire new cards directly to their hand, instead of requiring them to cycle.Lifebound:
The cards of Ogo, Lifebound cards focus on playing multiple Heroes in a single turn, generating Runes, and gaining Honor Tokens peacefully. Lifebound is also able to acquire cards to the top of their deck, instead of requiring the player to wait for them to cycle.Mechana:
The cards of Hedron, Mechana cards focus on slowly assembling a powerful machine. Most Mechana cards are designed to work together, particularly with Constructs. Mechana is unique in that it is the only faction that produces specialized Runes—they can only be used to acquire Mechana Constructs. Mechana Constructs are noteworthy in that their Rune cost and Honor value are always equal, meaning all the most valuable cards in the game are Mechana Constructs.Void:
The cards of the Void focus almost solely on fighting monsters and banishing (removing from your deck) cards. There is very little that Void cards can do that the other factions can't, but none of them do them as well as the Void. Efficient decks almost always hinge Void cards.Monster:
Monster cards are enemies that appear in the center row that must be defeated using Power. All monsters trigger a "Reward" when defeated, awarding Honor Tokens and an additional effect that varies by monster; it can be as simple as letting the player draw a card or as massive as instantly acquiring or defeating any other card in the Center Row. Storm of Souls
introduces Trophy Monsters that are put in front of the player when defeated and can be banished to gain their reward at the player's convenience. Immortal Heroes
expands this mechanic to add Ongoing Trophy Monsters that have a constant effect once defeated.
So far, Ascension is composed of seven sets - four large and three small - as well as a few dozen promotional cards, a 'light' version for newer players (or shorter games) called The Apprentice Edition
and an upcoming large set. Originally, the sets were released in "blocks" of one large set and one small set that would complement each other. While all of the sets can be combined together or otherwise mixed and matched to make a playable game, the sets are designed to be best played in their respective blocks. With Realms Unraveled and onward, the release strategy was changed to be two large sets instead with a mind for future balance and interplay with previous sets in an attempt to avoid the block structure they created. In release order, the main sets are the following:Chronicle of the Godslayer.
A large set that introduces all the basic mechanics. Its boss is the Avatar of the Fallen.Return of the Fallen.
A small set that introduces the Fate mechanic (cards that have an effect when they enter the Center Row). It's boss is Samael, the Fallen (which was a prototype for Trophy monsters).Storm of Souls.
A large set that continues the mechanics introduced thus far and adds the Event mechanic (cards that have an enduring effect on the game), the Fanatic, the Unite ability, and Trophy Monsters. Its boss is Nemesis.Immortal Heroes.
A small set that continues the existing mechanics and adds Soul Gems (reprints of cards from Chronicles
that are gained randomly and do not enter the player's deck) and Ongoing Trophy Monsters. Its boss is Kithis, Rebel Godling.Rise of Vigil.
A large set that retains the existing mechanics and adds Energy to the mix. Energy can be obtained through some heroes, killing/tributing some monsters and from Energy Shards which can be drawn into the center row as Treasures to be taken. Energy allows the activation of additional effects when enough has been accrued during a turn. Its boss is Terrus, Paragon of Strife.Darkness Unleashed.
A small set that adds Dark Energy Shards which have the effect of allowing all plays to banish a card from the hand or discard pile when they first are put into play in the center row. It also adds Transformations, used here when the player has enough energy to Energize an applicable hero. Its boss is Erabus the Exiled.Realms Unraveled.
A large set that adds cards belonging to multiple factions, reintroduces the transformation mechanic (powers up or changes cards under certain circumstances) and the Multi-Unite mechanic (an added effect that comes into play for each hero of the same faction played that turn). Its boss is Adayu the Tormented, who transforms into the all-factions-at-once hero
Adayu the Serene upon defeat.Dawn of Champions.
An upcoming large set that will continue to use the multi-faction mechanics and add special identity cards for the players. This new set will also add Reputation that will "unlock powerful cards and effects" in what is assumed to be a similar vein to energy.
This Game Provides Examples Of: