Although burdened with a cumbersome title, Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer scratches an itch many gamers didn’t even know they had, at least prior to the release of Dominion.
Ascension is a deck-building game created by a team of Magic: The Gathering tournament players. Originally publishes as a conventional tabletop game, it feels a bit like a mashup of Magic and Dominion. Players take turns building a deck by buying various cards. Most cards either generate Runes or Power. Runes allow you to buy more cards to add to your growing deck, while Power allows you to defeat monsters. Players earn honor points by defeating monsters, and the player with the most honor, wins.
Each turn, a player can draw five cards. At the center of the table is a line of cards which can either be purchased for your deck, or “banished” in order to keep another player from purchasing them. As your deck grows, you begin to search for cards in specific classes—Enlightened, Lifebound, Mechanic, or Void—since these work well together. By careful deck building and management, you can create a hand that allows you to buy and fight effectively, thus earning more honor and winning the game. There is a modest strategic element to the deck building, and the game has a quirky, appealing feel.
There is a load of data on the screen, which makes the layout a bit cramped on an iPhone/Touch screen. It functions well, however, and there are no accidental moves that can ruin a game. Gameplay is addictive, with clever card design and a diverse range of powers to draw upon. The AI didn’t impress me much, but fortunately the game has a multiplayer component with a matching service. The result is quite entertaining.