Ascension Strategy: Knowing the Deck

By Brian Durkin

The only monsters with the Fate effect.
In a game of Texas Hold ‘Em you have two hearts and two more hearts come out on the flop. Assuming no one else holds any hearts, what are your chances of making your flush by the river? You must learn the answer to these types of questions in order to improve your poker game. The same concept applies to all card games. Predicting what cards most likely will show up in the center row can give you a big advantage in Ascension, but what cards should you pay attention to?
Monster Mash
If you play with Chronicle of the Godslayer, Return of the Fallen, and the suggested amount of promos (1 Vedah, Sage of Swords, 2 Pathwarden, 2 Deep Drone, 2 Rat King, 1 Kythis, the Gatekeeper) the center deck will equal 125 cards. Fort-eight of that 125 will consist of monsters; monsters make up approximately 38 percent of the deck. A continuous run of monster cards hitting the center row will normally prove rarer than cards you can acquire, but it can happen. Gauge how many tokens will remain after the current onslaught of monsters. This will help you decide when to convert to power and start dashing for honor tokens versus waiting for those key constructs to appear, because the game may never last that long. A large supply of monsters early on will shorten the length of the game and hurt any player gaining the majority of their points from cards in their deck instead of tokens. Besides knowing the distribution of card types, you pay attention to specific card effects.

Destiny Draw

Return of the Fallen adds cards with the new keyword fate. Learn these cards and what each fate effect does. Askara of Fate allowing you to draw an extra card could change what you can acquire or defeat. Be careful not to lay down your entire hand because you could draw a Temple Librarian off of Askara of Fate and now you cannot use it.

The two heroes with Fate and
the two constructs with Fate.

Same goes for Arbiter of Fate. Playing Militia just to play it could cost you the opportunity of banishing it out of your hand. Stone Circle usually will help you decide which card in the center row to banish with an effect, because your opponents could use their Mystic before you with an effect to draw extra cards. Keep in mind that when acquiring constructs you might put one of them into your hand if Reclamax comes out.

All of the fore mentioned heroes and constructs typically promote accelerating the center row. The more cards that come out of the center deck, the better your chances to hit one of these fate effects. Ravenous Gorph’s fate effect helps this strategy; however, be mindful that his appearance could foil your plans on acquiring or defeating a particular card. If you need certain cards to stay in the center row for a while as you build up to acquire or defeat them, try not to accelerate the board too much. Monster effects like Mephit and Mistake of Creation give opponents the opportunity to banish the card they know you want. Another way to block players from the cards they want also involves a monster card: Rat King. The Giant Rat tokens force players to keep some power in their decks. The rats possess the potential to derail a player’s plans to acquire or defeat cards on the board. Try to evaluate how devastating a Rat King will affect your turn and plan accordingly.
How Many Times Will This Stuff Matter?
Including the Rat King as a card with fate, this effect only constitutes about ten percent of the deck. Some people might argue that planning around these cards will hurt you rather than help because the odds of hitting them do not justify expecting to see them. I say you should never expect to hit a ten percent chance event all the time, but you should stay aware of the possibility. Planning for Reclamax might accelerate you so much that you can catch up to your opponents, or put you so far ahead that no one can catch you. Acquiring cards in the right order can prevent the Rat King for disabling your ability to acquire the most important cards for your deck. The lesson: know the odds of certain special events happening, whether or not your want them to happen, and what you will do about it when they happen.
Today’s Challenge
Snapshot of your opening hand and center row
for Today’s Challenge
You go first in a two player game opening with two Militia and three Apprentice.
The center row consists of the following cards:

Mechana Initiate
Hectic Scribe
Wolf Shaman
Battery Monk
Arbiter of Fate
Rat King
Would you banish a card out of your hand with Arbiter’s fate effect (you do not know what your opponent decided yet)? What cards would your acquire and which Giant Rat(s) would you defeat? How does your opponent’s potential opening hand affect how you play out your turn? How does the probability of cards remaining in the deck affect your decisions?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer? Try the following links.
You can purchase Ascension: Return of the Fallen from here:
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Almost every staff member knows how to play, and most of the MTG community that hangs out in the store enjoys playing pick up games as well.

Alternate Universes – Ascension


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I just wanted to note that I do consider Kythis as a fate card, but not for the subject matter of this article. His effect just enables a free slaying of a monster or acquiring of a card. Even if someone banishes him with an effect, the card still hits the center row instead of the void. I agree that he could receive errata stating he has fate, but it doesn't affect the game like Rat King or the other fate cards because they give immediate bonuses or effects.

  3. I would banish a Militia, kill the Giant Rat that's covering Wolf Shaman and acquire that. I don't think there is a better play no matter what your opponent has in hand. The other play I'd consider is to not banish your Militia and free up the Mechana Initiate with the extra power to give your opponent the opportunity to hang himself by drawing multiple cards in the center row (giving you more options for your next turn). This is a better short term play because you'll have extra Militias to get rid of rats, but now that one Rat King has entered play it's unlikely you'll see another one any time soon. On the long term I like banishing the Militia better. The cards that are still covered aren't that great so the odds are that you'll get better options in the slots that were freed up by you and your opponent. Note though that banishing your Militia telegraphs the fact you have a 3/2 hand so your opponent will play with that in mind.If your opponent has 5 Apprentices he's now in trouble. If he has 4 he probably can't get rid of his Militia this turn so you'll either be up in card quality (he doesn't banish anything) or he has to purchase something horrible. I think your opponent will likely not ban anything and take the Arbiter in that case (he can banish more stuff with it later so it's not a big loss).If your opponent also starts with a 3/2 hand he'll likely also banish a Militia so he's stuck with mediocre cards.In any case the Wolf Shaman play puts your opponent in a tough spot while you start with an excellent, lean deck.

  4. Where are you getting 125 cards from? Wouldn't it be 165, 100(main set)+65(expansion)+promos?

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