Ascension is known for its compelling deck-building gameplay and gorgeous artwork, and now UltraPRO and Stone Blade Entertainment have teamed up to deliver the condensed and lower-priced 2-Player version Ascension: Eternal that captures the essence of the core experience but with a quicker pace and easier road to entry, and I couldn't recommend it more. Eternal still holds true to the addictive mechanics fans love, but a carefully curated selection of cards and faster-paced games overall make this a go-to experience for any game night and all types of players, experienced or new, so don't find yourself sleeping on a gem.
Ascension is a deck-building game for 1 to 4 players designed by Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Champions Justin Gray, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler, and features gorgeous artwork by Eric Sabee. Ascension has players slowly building their deck up with more powerful cards by buying cards off the Center Row with the number of Runes available to you in your hand. Some cards have unique abilities that allow you to access more Runes, and the more Runes you have available, the more powerful cards you can buy from the Center Row.
Your options can also be affected by Constructs, which are cards that stay out on your board once they are drawn into your hand after being purchased. You can have any number of these in play, and they can have any number of effects, granting you extra Runes, extra Power (used to defeat monsters on the Center Row), or the ability to banish cards in your hand or your opponent's deck.
Constructs can really make all the difference, as they contain abilities that build on each other and make your deck more effective as you move through it. Those cards (and most of the cards in general) convey their abilities with precision, keeping players from becoming overwhelmed. That said, the more you become familiar with the various cards and their abilities, the more depth shines through, so despite the streamlined experience and smaller amount of cards overall, there's plenty of replay value present.
Adding to that replay value are the four factions present in the game, each with its own playstyle. While cards of the same faction (split into Enlightened, Void, Mechana, and Lifebound) obviously work well with each other, it's the mixing of them that makes building your own custom deck so fun and pairing oddball combinations can yield some great results.
The last piece to the game is Honor Points, which are represented by red and clear gems. You can earn these either by defeating monsters or by purchasing certain cards that contain abilities that net you Honor Points throughout the game. After all Honor Point tokens have been used and distributed, the game enters its last round, and whoever has the most wins the game. It's a straightforward win factor and because there is a limited pool of Honor Tokens, games move quickly and don't overstay their welcome.
Oh, and if you're worried about space, don't be, because Eternal has one of the most compact table footprints regarding deck-building games, making it perfect for a traveling game session or a quick demo for someone new to the franchise.
Ascension: Eternal offers a welcoming learning curve without sacrificing the depth that board game enthusiasts love and come back to time and time again, and with the tightened playtimes and lower price, it's a package that is difficult to beat.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Publiehsed By: UltraPRO
Designed By: Stone Blade Entertainment
Review copy provided by UltraPRO