Ascension: Storm of Souls – A Gamey Proposal

Many guys will describe themselves as non-artistic or uncreative, but these men fail to realize that at least one important life moment presents an unparalleled opportunity for creativity and individuality. Boy takes girl to a scary movie to give her a great excuse to jump into his arms; however, the boy also enjoys seeing the reaction. Guys play tricks all the time on their mate because they want to see the shock and awe and spender of surprising him or her. Positive emotion always trumps negative emotion, and the best creative surprise that will guarantee an emotional reaction is proposing to your partner. Regardless of the style of the proposal, everyone can recognize a good one. It takes careful planning. It takes intimacy.

It takes help.

Alan reached out to Gary Games to make his creative personalized proposal possible, and they delivered in spectacular fashion by creating an original card for the occasion. Check out the video of the proposal.

 

 

I want to thank Justin Gary, Eric Sabre, Ryan O’Connor, Shari Lesser, and everyone at Gary Games for their contribution to this beautiful moment. Let’s not forget to thank Alan and Crystol for sharing this moment with us as well. Best of luck to both of them, but I’m sure they won’t need it. ūüôā

Additional Information

For more information about Storm of Souls, check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with just about anyone. Many gamers know how to play this game and enjoy playing with anyone.

Ascension: Storm of Souls – Interview with Justin Gary

by Brian Durkin

Later this week Gary Games will release Storm of Souls, the third installment to the hit deck building game Ascension. Storm of Souls adds a new card type and new mechanics to the game. Visit the Ascension Official Website for more details about product information, and how you can receive a copy.

Justin Gary is the lead designer and creator of Ascension. I was lucky enough to ask him several questions about Storm or Souls, game design, organized play, and much more. Below is a copy of our conversation through e-mail.

Interview with Justin Gary

What was you and your design team’s inspiration for the new mechanics featured in Storm of Souls?
Storm of Souls was really the opportunity for us to flourish as a design and development team.  Chronicle of the Godslayer was an introduction to the game, and so we had to keep it as simple as possible.  Return of the Fallen finished that arch and introduced a lot of the mechanics (like Fate) that were originally in the game but pulled to streamline it.  Storm of Souls, as our first full size expansion, really takes Ascension in a new direction, introducing our first new card type (Events) and new Monster type (trophy).  While Storm of Souls is fully playable by itself, it is recommended for generally more sophisticated players, as the mechanics give you a lot more options and interesting decisions to make throughout the game.
What do you hope Storm of Souls will add to the gaming experience that was lacking in previous sets of Ascension?
While I believe each card and mechanic in storm of souls adds a lot to the Ascension game experience as players learn and evaluate the new effects, I believe in particular Trophy Monsters add a ton to the gaming experience.  One of the challenges of the heavy power strategy is that players rarely have a lot of decisions to make on the mid-late turns (i.e. kill biggest monster, buy more power).  Trophy monsters let you decide when you want to get the reward effect, allowing you to strategically plan the best course of action from turn to turn.
What criteria do you and your design team use to gauge and balance the two basic ways a player may build his or her deck (Runes versus Power)?
This is a pretty involved question- the short answer is that we playtest a lot (along with getting feedback from our large playtest group of Ascension fans) to make sure no one strategy is too dominant. 
It took approximately a year to release an expansion to Chronicle of the Fallen. With two new sets out this calendar year, what kind of release schedule should players expect from Gary Games as far as new content for Ascension? How many promos, base sets, and expansions will Gary Games produce each year?
We don’t have a set release schedule- our focus is on quality first, so we will only release a set when we believe it is awesome. ¬†I’m hoping this amounts to about 2 sets a year with enough promos to keep people excited about new content in between, but we aren’t committing to that.¬†
Gary Games recently announced Organized Play events with top finishers receiving electronics. This type of marketing contains many parallels to the OP of a trading card game. Will the future of organized events and marketing of Ascension model itself like a trading card game? Are these types of events something players should expect on a regular basis, similar to the Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour? Does this type of marketing aim to capture TCG players or provide a service that your company feels is missing from the board gaming community?
Ascension is a game that appeals to both board game players and TCG players, and since our team is made up of many Pro Tour players (and champions), of course we are inspired by that organized play model. ¬†This summer, we had over 140 people come to Gencon to play in our Godslayer tournament- where Aaron Sulla was crowned the Godslayer (and will appear as a card in a future set). ¬†Ascension’s most successful OP program is its Game Day program, where players can get free promo cards by going to their local stores. ¬†We will continue to try different styles of Organized Play with the focus being more about getting people to enjoy hanging out and gaming more so than a focus on the top end prizes.¬†
Is there any official guidelines for players to build their own custom center decks? Do you have any rules you would like to share with us? What type of conventions should players follow if they want to play with cards from every set, but limit the amount of cards in the center deck? What do you feel the maximum amount of cards players should play with in the center deck?
In general, I recommend keeping a similar rune/power cost ratio to what we currently have – if the acquire/defeat costs get too high, then the game can stall out and won’t be as much fun. ¬†Players can play as many cards as they want – the more cards you have, the more variation you will have from game to game but the less you can rely on key cards coming up to support a given strategy. ¬†Otherwise, I don’t want to restrict players at this point- I built the center deck(s) I think are best already – I’d like to see what fans create and how they work!
One could argue that Lionheart is a almost strictly better version of Nairi, Hedge Queen. How do existing cards affect your team’s ability to design new content? When do previous cards inspire new card designs? Have preexisting cards hampered new content, and if so, what is the solution to fix that problem?

We still have a lot of space to design cards in Ascension and I don’t feel hampered by old designs- Lionheart and Nairi fill different niches in the game, even if they look a bit similar. ¬†Every set is going to need some ratio of cards to fulfill the basic functions of the game (banish cards from deck, banish cards from center row, gain power/runes/honor, etc.) but we like to make each set’s cards combine together in a way that feels coherent and highlight’s that sets mechanics. ¬†The example you mention above shows what I’m talking about. ¬†Nairi was ¬†the first card we made that produced honor but didn’t replace itself or provide any other effects. ¬†Lionheart fills a similar niche but highlights one of the set’s core mechanics (Unite) to make it even more powerful if you build your deck correctly.

Final Thoughts

Storm of Souls will add a lot of great dimension and new levels of strategy to the game. Adding more decision making to power heavy decks is a step in the right direction. Gary Games’ focus on quality versus quantity really shows in the new content in Storm of Souls. Ascension should demonstrate positive growth over the next year or so given the company’s point of view on organized play. The fact that Gary Games organizes events show great initiative to build interest in the product; however, keeping the goal of organized play limited to building interest as oppose to competition for prizes allows the gaming atmosphere to stay friendly and minimizes sharks. So many trading card games have failed in the last several years in part because their OP efforts gave away too many prizes. It shaped a player base that cared about winning stuff as oppose to the product, the actual game players were playing. If players are not already excited about Storm of Souls and Ascension, they should be. The product looks great and the company possess great values for producing quality products and programs.

Special Thanks to Justin for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions.

Special Thanks to Shari for organizing this interview.

How do you feel about Storm of Souls? What kind of organized play would you like to see? Let us know what you think

Additional Information
 
For more information about Storm of Souls, check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with just about anyone. Many gamers know how to play this game and enjoy playing with anyone.

Ascension Strategy: How to Win Solo Games

By Brian Durkin

Snapshot of Today’s Challenge

‚ÄúThe bickering that came in war‚Äôs wake must end. A Godslayer must take up arms a second time. The Fallen has returned.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Ascension: Return of the Fallen Rulebook
Are you ready to fight once again? Are you prepared to do this journey alone? In order to tank a god you will need to know what support cards will allow you to slay the mighty Samael. Before entering the ring with The Fallen, draw upon your experience for guidance.

Arbiter of the Precipice
If It Works Then Don’t Fix It
Minimizing your deck size still pays off during solo play. Samael can acquire points fast, so banishing alone will not make your deck degenerate; however, you still need to see your best cards as often as possible to keep pace with The Fallen. If banishers do not present appear try acquiring constructs or heroes that draw cards. This strategy at least keeps your deck from theoretically growing. Building your deck this way will exploit a powerful hero and allow you to defeat a god.
Find the Achilles Heel
In order to defeat any enemy you must know his weaknesses. In solo play, Samael suffers from his inability to choose which cards to defeat or acquire. Take advantage of his tunnel vision by planning on cards to come back to you on future turns. For example you may need to prioritize acquiring Arbiter of the Precipice in a game with other humans, but Samael cannot take Arbiter until it finds its way to the end of the center row. You might find it difficult to break your normal habits of play at first, but remember that taking on a god requires some new ways of thinking. You need to exploit every advantage, especially anything that involves the center row and what Samael will defeat and acquire.
God Complex
Askara of Fate

If you can manipulate what cards Samael will take at the end of your turns you put yourself in a great position to win the game. Prioritize cards like Seer of the Forked Path and Askara of Fate. Effects that banish cards from the center row allow you to control everything in solo play: what cards Samael acquires, what monsters Samael defeats, how long the game will take to play. Assuming you do not defeat monsters yourself, preventing Samael from defeating monster through banish effects extends how long the game will last. This puts you in a great position to acquire better cards than Samael and ultimately score more honor tokens.
When to Let Samael Tap Out
Combining all the fore mentioned strategies can create degenerate scenarios. If you banish your entire starting deck, acquire only constructs and heroes that draw cards, manipulate the center row so no one defeats monsters, and earn more honor than Samael through acquiring cards you could theoretically continue the punishment forever. Of course eventually the deck or center row will consist of only monsters. You might find yourself in a situation where the last honor tokens must go to someone; however, that does not mean the game will end. Hopefully through your expert control of the board and deck building you assembled a deck that can take infinite turns. Do not know about this combo? Check it out.
Infinite Turn Combo
  • Banish Tablet of Time‚Äôs Dawn
  • Hedron Link Device or play Dimension Diver
  • Use Reclamax‚Äôs effect
  • Replay Tablet of Time‚Äôs Dawn
  • Repeat


You can insure the combo works on a consistent basis with other support cards. Rocket Courier X-99 makes it so you do not need to draw Tablet of Time’s Dawn and replay it because it will start in play again. Any player able to take infinite turns will usually pilot a deck that draws itself every turn as well. Lucky for you the almighty Samael just consumes and does not understand which cards he should take away from you. Punish his ignorance by taking the banish effect cards. With a deck that decreases size over time and controlling the board you will end up in a position where you might score infinite honor tokens. Be the better god and mercy rule Samael. You need to finish up that game somehow so you go tell your friends about it.
Today’s Challenge
You start a solo game. You open with the five Apprentices and the center row contains the following cards in order from their distance from the center row.
  • Arbiter of the Precipice
  • Askara of Fate
  • Wolf Shaman
  • Snap Dragon
  • Hectic Scribe
  • Tablet of Time‚Äôs Dawn


What would you acquire first? How do the cards Samael will acquire affect your decisions? What do you acquire on your second turn? Do you play in a way that attempts to prevent Samael from acquiring Tablet of Time’s Dawn?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
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

Ascension Strategy: Knowing the Deck

By Brian Durkin

The only monsters with the Fate effect.
In a game of Texas Hold ‚ÄėEm 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 BoardGameGeek.com.
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

Ascension Video Coverage: Brian vs. Paul and the Power of Path Warden

by Brian Durkin

Path Warden is a recent Games Day Promo

The following videos cover a game of Ascension between Brian Durkin and Paul Durkin. This game ends up demonstrating the power level of Path Warden, the importance of controlling the center row, and what can happen when you make mistakes banishing the wrong cards. The video below covers the first half of the game. Enjoy.
Video Coverage Part I – Brian Durkin vs. Paul Durkin
Wielding a deck with such high card quality, Paul really pushed ahead of me. Can I redeem myself by acquiring a few big Mechana Constructs? Check out the conclusion in the second part below.


 


Video Coverage Part II – Brian Durkin vs. Paul Durkin
Thanks for tuning in. Did you agree or disagree with the players’ moves? Did you agree or disagree with my comments in the videos? How would you play certain game states that appeared in the video? What did you think of the video coverage?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer? Try the following links.
You can preorder Ascension: Return of the Fallen from here:

Gary Games – Ascension: Return of the Fallen Preorder

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

Video Credits:
 Shot, edited, narrated, and produced by Brian Durkin
 Music sampling “Oscar Wilde” by Company of Thieves
You can find more information about that band here: Company of Thieves
Interested in purchasing their music? Try iTunes or the band’s store: Company of Thieves Store