Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ascension: Storm of Souls - Deck Building Game

My post about the game - if you don't know it already

Storm of Souls is a stand alone expansion set for Ascension the game. It is the third Ascension game in the series. It has 200 cards for the center row, new art for Mystic, Heavy Infantry (and Cultist?) and a new game board. What is more important though are the new game mechanics.

There is a new card type - Event. When Event comes into the center row the card is put aside. Events have global effect and trophy reward. There are only 5 events - one for each faction. The events are quite powerful if one can achieve to use them. The Trophy reward is something that can be abused but that means that the player needs to be able to defeat Fanatic - a new card available to all - repeatedly which requires a certain amount of power available in the player's deck.

Trophy is also a new mechanic that adds quite some possibilities to the game. Some monsters inlcuding Fanatic mentioned above have Trophy - that means that you keep the monster card till you want to use it (you discard the card and get the reward then).

Storm of Souls is much more balanced and gives the player many more possibilities to think about. Neither Rune or Power strategy is predominant which was the case in Chronicle of the God (Power being dominant). Each player needs to be capable of both even though it seems that pro-Power strategy from the beginning (like buying Heavy Infantries and not really having ways how to produce more Runes is bad - but having cards like Tower Askara (draw three, discard two) or Elder Skeptic (draw two, discard one) can save the day in that case).

The starting number of Honor points in this version is higher but still the 1-on-1 games are pretty short in general (it didn't make the game longer). In more players the game takes longer. Mainly due to the fact that there is not so many monsters (Lifebound under some condition is capable of producing a lot of Honor though which can end the game much earlier if one player decides to do it).

Mechana constructs in Storm of Souls function a bit differently. In the first the game they were really powerful and gave you many points. In this expansion the constructs don't have such a powerful effect when you have one or two of those constructs. The deckbuilding requires to have more of them, when a certain amount is reached the deck becomes unbeatable. There are some new things one can do with constructs. Occasionally you can return a construct to your hand from play or discard pile which quite surprised me. There is also Brazer Drone casting 2 that gives you 1 Rune and returns a construct to your hand from the discard pile. If you can sac a construct to gain 2 Power and then get it back then it becomes really good. Blinking Weapon 303V can be an overkill in many cases (Once per turn, when you play Mechana construct, gain 3 Power). The card that did not really get any love from us was Treasures of the Study (Once per turn, discard 2 cards to gain 3 Honor). Seriously this card does not seem good to us at all but we all like Void that can banish many cards (usually 10 per game).

Lifebound has a new keyword - Unite. A card with Unite allows you to gain additional effect if you already played a Lifebound hero that turn. This usually means 'Draw a card' but can also be 'gain 3 Power' or 'gain 1 Rune and 1 Honor'. Lifebound in general can actually collect quite a big amount of Honor and the cards replace themselves (they draw cards).

Void is much better in banishing cards from your deck. Not only it removes a card from your deck but it also gives you 1 Power (similarly there is Rune variant). There are two constructs that if one player buys them they gets double of the power the cards produce. This gives you 8 power!

Enlightenment is still about card selection.

Seems that in a way I can't really do a review of this game but rather I would comment on each card. Storm of Souls really feels like playing a trading card game and even Organized Played is envisioned for the future. There were already 140 people who participated in a tournament at GenCon so we'll see what Gary Games will bring us in the future. For the time being we have Game Days where each player can get a nice promo card and play lots of Ascension that day.

If you are looking for something more complex than the previous block and you don't plan to invest into a trading card game like Magic: The Gathering you can buy this. It's totally worth it. Easy to explain, easy to set up, can be taken anywhere, fast, has awesome depth and doesn't cost a fortune. You can create your own cube and play with that. There's just one card I would ban which is P.R.I.M.E (constructs are too powerful if kept unchecked).

Rating: 5/5