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Knight

Tyler Moore

gamer level 5
3329 xp
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Treasure Map
Treasure Map
Explore select games by completing a series of exploration actions. learn more »
Followed my first game
Followed my first game
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Judge - Level 2
Judge - Level 2
You be the judge! Demo 5 games at Gen Con. List of participating publishers »
Explorer - Level 1
Explorer - Level 1
Earn Explorer XP to level up by completing Explorer Quests
Go to the 7 Wonders page
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Go to the Dominion page
8
Go to the Ascension page

Ascension

28 out of 32 gamers thought this was helpful

What is Ascension?
Ascension:Chronicle of the Godslayer is a deckbuilding game in the vein of Dominion. Each player takes an individual turn which consists of playing Heroes and Constructs from their hand to gain Runes (the money attribute used to buy new cards) and Power (the money attribute used to kill Monsters.) Cards are flipped from the Portal deck into a communal purchasing area. These cards can be Monsters which players can banish to the void for Honor (victory points), Heroes which players will gain into their decks to be played on future turns, and Constructs which the players will also gain, but once they are played they will remain in front of the player to provide a small bonus until they are forcibly discarded from play. Heroes and Constructs provide a certain amount of Honor as well. The cards themselves are full sized and wax coated for longevity (though some of my cards are improperly coated or lack coating at all, making them very easy to tell from the rest of the cards when shuffling and drawing.) The game also comes with a board which details the basic structure of the turn and provides a template for setting up the Portal deck, as well as the Cultist card (a basic monster any player can kill any number of times for a small Honor bonus), Heavy Militia, and Mystics. In addition to the cards and template board, the box includes a large number of honor “jewels”, small plastic irregular solids in either red or clear which represent the honor you gain from killing monsters and from certain heroes and constructs. The game ends when the predetermined number of jewels is dispensed. From there the players finish the round (so each player has had the same number of turns) and the game ends. Players then total their Honor provided from jewels and from cards in their deck and the player with the greatest Honor wins

What is Ascension not?
Ascension is not Dominion II. Ascension is not even a spiritual successor to Dominion, they have a very distinct feel to them. Ascension is not as tight strategically as Dominion, which some players may find a boon and others a bane.

How do I play?
Players shuffle the Portal deck and place it as well as the Cultist, Heavy Militia, and Mystics within easy reach. Each player assembles a deck of 10 cards consisting of 2 basic heroes, Militia and Apprentices. Like Dominion these are some of the worst cards to have in your deck and many strategies revolve around removing them as quickly as possible. After each deck is assembled and shuffled, each player draws 5 cards and the center row is populated with the top 6 cards from the Portal deck. Militia provide +1 Power and Apprentices provide +1 Runes. Since each player starts with a 5 card hand, there are two permutations of starting hands: +4 Runes/+1 Power on turn one and turn two or +3 Runes/+2 Power, then +5 Runes. Neither is distinctly better than the other inherently, unlike Dominion where a 2 copper/5 copper split can really hurt the early game (or unreasonably help it.) A turn consists of buying cards with Runes and banishing monsters with Power in any order the player chooses. During his turn, any cards purchased from the center row will leave an open slot which will be immediately filled with a random card from the Portal deck. If a player has more Runes and Power left to use, he could then purchase/kill that card and see another. After the player has spent all his available Runes and Power, he discards any Heroes he has played, as well as any cards left in his hand and draws a new 5 card hand. Any Constructs the player has played will remain on the table for subsequent turns. Then the next player takes a turn. The game ends when all the Honor jewels have been claimed.

How do I win?
In the base set there seem to be two main strategies that I’ve found to work well. The first is my favorite, but is heavily dependent on luck in the early game. If you can quickly buy cards which allow you to banish cards in your deck (known as “Trashing” in Dominion), you can get an early advantage over your opponents which you can then extend by purchasing cards which give you card advantage through drawing or more banishing. I’ve seen someone get 101 Honor in a three player game using this strategy, when most games that I’ve played are won by a player that has 60-80 Honor by the end of the game. If you can’t seem to purchase cards that allow you to banish cards in your deck, a focus on Power also seems to work well. I imagine that it is more effective because it can allow you to short circuit the game since the Honor gained from killing Monsters comes from the jewel pool and will bring the game to its end more quickly. And, since you aren’t buying as many cards, your deck remains very small and focused (just like the deck from strategy one). Hybrid approaches work less well (unless luck is on your side.) This game seems complex at first, then simple, and now I’m diagraming it like I would any other CCG. I see this one eventually losing replayability, but I’ll definitely get my money’s worth out of it before then.

A Simple Review
Ascension is a deckbuilding game that plays up to four players and is very quick to set up (much quicker than Dominion), and very quick to play. It avoids analysis paralysis in most situations by limiting the decisions a player has to make in a given turn. Since a player only has access to, at most, 9 unique cards at any one time it’s easy to find the optimal expense of Runes and Power in a given situation. The game is strategically simple and requires on-the-fly decision making. Replayability is pretty good, but I can see the game getting pulled out less and less over the years. Expansions help a little, but the randomized Portal deck means that you’ll be seeing the old cards and the new at the same time, so it could be annoying in a certain light. The art is amazing (and definitely my favorite part of the game.) It’s thematic and very well done. The components themselves are produced to a high standard, but I did have a problem with the coating on a number of my cards (maybe 10% of the whole, mainly the apprentice and militia cards.)

I give Ascension an 8.

9
Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

71 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

What is Seven Wonders?
Seven Wonders is a card drafting game played in 3 communal turns. Each player selects or has a random unique wonder drawn for them from the available 7. These components are printed on thick cardboard with an A side and a B side. The components depict one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and also describe the in-game effects of each. The A side tends to be more straight forward with a clear language of symbols describing the gain of victory points, gold, or some other minor bonus. The B side is more advanced with effects that allow its owner to gain a more unique, though still balanced, bonus. Each turn has an associated deck of unique cards (though some cards are duplicated within each Age), and each card depicts a type of building that can be constructed. Some cards contribute to your “economy” by generating money when they are played, some increase your military might, others grant victory points, still others grant resources which are used to construct new buildings in subsequent rounds and turns. There are other buildings that grant you scientific advances which translate into victory points at the end of the game based on the number and type of sciences played. The player with the most victory points at the end of the third turn wins.

What is Seven Wonders not?
Seven Wonders is not a traditional board game. It is not a long play. It is not a game with a steep learning curve. It is not strategically complex.

How do I play?
Each turn (called an Age) consists of dealing each player 7 cards from the appropriate deck (labeled with a particular Age and a draft rotation for that Age.) After all the cards for the Age are dealt, players examine their hands and select a card to play by setting it facedown in front of their wonder board. The remaining cards are passed in the appropriate direction as depicted on the card back. This is done 6 times each age, with the final round consisting of selecting a card to play and one to discard from the two remaining. Cards can be played in a number of ways. They can be flipped and constructed, provided you have the resources available to pay for it or they can be used to construct a stage of your wonder (most wonders have 3 stages which must be constructed in a specific order and which provide significant bonuses) or they can be discarded for a one time coin bonus. After each player has selected their 6th card of the Age, each player compares their military might to their neighbors (literally the people sitting to your left and right) and either receives a small penalty for losing or gains a relatively large benefit for winning. This benefit increases from turn to turn. Then the next Age deck is shuffled and 7 cards are dealt to each player. After the final Age is completed, victory points are tallied.

How do I win?
A player wins by generating the greatest amount of victory points. These points come from military victories (red military cards), economic success (i.e. the number of coins you own), purple Guild cards which generate large end-of-game bonuses, cultural depth (blue cultural buildings), scientific advances (green cards depicting one of three science symbols including Math, Writing, and Engineering), and the completion of your wonder. The game does not reward focusing on a single exploit, neither does it reward full diversity. The winner will often be the player that was able to succeed (but not necessarily be the most successful) at a couple of the different pursuits (i.e. getting a reasonable military while focusing on drafting buildings which generate victory points and completing their wonder.)

A Simple Review
I really enjoy playing 7 Wonders and am looking forward to purchasing the expansion. It is well balanced, plays quickly, and can fill in between heavier board games. I would recommend it to the new collector and the avid board gamer. The components are well-produced and the art is thematic and well drawn without being distracting. It is well-balanced for any number of players and can easily handle 7 without significantly increasing the length of the game. I enjoy the drafting mechanic because it allows players to indirectly interact in an elegant way.

I give Seven Wonders a 9/10. Here’s to many more expansions.

8
Go to the Power Grid page

Power Grid

45 out of 87 gamers thought this was helpful

One reason I love this game and one reason most of my group hates it is that the last turn is a quagmire of analysis. Since most of the information is available to you (the cost of the power plants, each player’s available cash, etc.) you can actually run the permutations in your head and find the perfect final selection. It can lead to some kingmaking and sometimes the last turn can go on for ages if someone just can’t decide, but I love pulling this one out. Viva la Power Grid!

9
Go to the Dominion page

Dominion

62 out of 111 gamers thought this was helpful

I loved Dominion a lot. I mean, I still love Dominion, but I feel like we have drifted apart and not through any fault of ours. These things just happen, y’know? I play other deck building games and always say to myself, “Dominion did this first and better!”, but then I don’t ever pull it off the shelf for a go. I think that it’s just gone a bit stale for me. I still think she’s the strongest competitor among deck building games, but I also think that she won’t have that title for too much longer. As companies continue to produce misses after tweaking the formula, eventually they’ll hit the perfect combination.

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