Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer Board Game Review

July 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm (Board games, Games) (, , , , , , , , )


So I had an impulse buy last weekend; I bought a new deckbuilding game; Ascension. While I haven’t had time to thoroughly test the game in-depth and appreciate or be irritated by the finer points, I feel like I’ve played it enough to make a judgement on the game. At least I feel confident enough to make an “overview judgement”.

First Impressions

The game comes in a somewhat multi-textured box. By this I mean, some parts are smooth and some have the criss-cross, plaid texture that games like Elder Sign has. It’s a little unusual that there are different parts, but whatever. Right now I feel like complaining that the box was bent when I bought it, so this is a reminder to always examine board game boxes before you purchase the game. The art on the box (and the rest of the game for that matter) isn’t low quality or anything. It is stylized, but overall it kind of felt unpolished. It is good, but not quite up to the quality of some of the art of many of the Magic: The Gathering cards.

The quality of the cards is fairly lacking. They are thin and easy to damage, so depending on how much you enjoy the game, you might want to purchase some card protectors. The downside to doing this however, is that it makes it very difficult to keep the cards in the tall stack necessary to play the game. Related to this, the game box has a section with ridges obviously meant to house and separate subsets of the cards. However, similar to the Resident Evil Deckbuilding Game, they fail at succeeding at this. The sections are too small to hold the cards and will bend/warp them if you try to jam them in. Thankfully there are two card “pits” in the box that make it simple enough to store everything.

Gameplay

The game plays out very similar to other deck building games. I would say it is closer to Resident Evil than Dominion though. Instead of a large set of cards that you can always choose from, you have a set of 3 cards that remain constant. Then there is a flop of 6 cards that you can purchase or battle, but the selection will change as cards are removed or purchased. This adds an element of strategy and luck as you will have different options available to you than the previous and next players will. Ultimately you are trying to collect more “honour” than the other players, but there are multiple ways you can do this (adding replayability). You can obtain honour points by either defeating monsters/bad guys, or you can get it by purchasing cards that are worth honour (tallied up at the end of the game).

There are two resources in the game: runes and fight. Runes let you buy resource cards to add to your deck, and Fight lets you battle monsters, which doesn’t add cards to your deck, but you typically will gain honour or other effects. I’ve only played this game a limited number of times so far, but it has become apparent that it is bad to focus solely on one resource. I attempted to only collect Rune resources so I could buy all the powerful cards, but then had my opponent kill monsters that had effects that crippled me to the point where I could not recover.

On the note of winning or losing games, it is not clear who is ahead unless you are closely watching who buys which cards. I won a couple games by making sure I purchased very high value cards instead of buying a bunch of cheaper cards. That being said, I lost a particularly gruesome game because my opponent defeated certain monsters that made me lose my high value cards. What a sad day.

Summary

This game was surprisingly fun. The randomized nature of the game gives it some good replayability. The game is simple and straightforward and the games seemed to go quickly and not drag on. It had a somewhat low price tag as well, so I feel like it was totally worth the money instead of feeling like I was just paying for an IP license or getting ripped off. I look forward to playing the game more and possibly getting one of the expansions for it.

 

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Board game review: Elder Sign

December 3, 2012 at 10:55 am (Board games, Games) (, , , , , , , , )


This is a review of the board game (more accurately a card game) Elder Sign. This is a suspense-horror game set in the Arkham Horror world which is ultimately based on H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. The game pits 1-8 investigators against the horrors of the unknown with the end goal of sealing away the Great Ancient Ones and preventing them from devouring the world. One of the big highlights of this game for me is that it is a Co-op game! This means that all players are working together to beat the game itself. Furthermore it’s a game that can be played solo, which in my opinion makes the game much easier to win.

Presentation

This is a game that is very well put together. The card stock is very high quality and the tokens are plentiful. The art and descriptions on all of the cards were created with detail in mind and they help to add to the general horror-feel of the game. My initial complaint was that the item cards were too small, but it turns out they’re meant to be placed in front of you instead of kept as a “hand”. The dice are all custom which means that you had better not lose any of them since you won’t easily replace them. The box that the game is packaged in was one of my lingering complaints however. A lot of card games use a gigantic box, but then block 2/3’s of it so you can only use a narrow channel for storage. This box is much better designed than say the Lord of the Rings card game box is though. The Elder Sign box has little flaps that pop up to help separate the decks of cards and all the components. I suppose I just rather would have had a small, thin box like that of Space Hulk: Death Angel so that it would travel easier. Overall, this is a game that regardless of if you like it or not, feels like it’s worth whatever money you spent on it.

Gameplay

Elder Sign is a fairly straight-forward game to play, but it is immensely satisfying. The general idea is that you visit quest locations which require the player to complete one or more tasks. These tasks are completed by rolling the set of custom dice to get specific results from them, sometimes in a specific order. On each failed roll the player loses a die, but can choose to keep one die from the previous roll. They continue to try and hit their goal until they run out of dice. If they ultimately fail their quest on their turn then bad things happen to them or all players. However if they succeed, then they claim new items to help them in future quests, and sometimes Elder Signs. Collecting elder signs are how the players win the game; if they collect enough of them then they seal away the Ancient One and save the world. Failing quests, or taking too long to collect enough elder signs will add doom tokens, which eventually cause the Ancient One to awaken. When this happens, they must battle it or be devoured (generally the players won’t stand a chance).

This game has a ton of customization options and ways to keep the game fresh. There are numerous Ancient Ones to choose from, and a big set of characters, each with their own specialties and abilities. The items in the game do things like allow additional dice to be added to the rolls or allow dice to be saved for future rolls for other players. Personally, I hate games that rely entirely on dice rolls, but this game has managed to do things right. There are many ways to skillfully enhance your chances of getting the right outcome so you’re not always left wondering why 1/6 odds are so difficult to pull off. They never quite remove that sense of suspense from the game though and you’re generally left saying “I can totally make that roll with this many dice… right?”

Summary

I’d highly suggest this game; it works great when you have too many people to play most 4-player games or not enough to make the 4-player games interesting. The quality of the whole set makes it worthwhile, and the gameplay elements give you a sense of satisfaction when you manage to pull off some difficult tasks of a quest using items and/or help from other players. As I noted earlier, the game tends to be somewhat easier when you play with less people, but it still offers a good challenge.

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Board game review: Resident Evil Deck Building Game: Alliance

November 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm (Board games, Games) (, , , , , , )


This is a review of the Resident Evil Deck Building Game. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the Alliance stand-alone expansion since that’s the version my local comic book store erroneously ordered for me. It makes some modifications to the original set, most notably the addition of partner cards, which I will get into later.

Presentation

Unfortunately this game scores VERY low on this metric. The cards are printed off on horribly cheap card stock so I had to buy card covers for every card in the set just to avoid them being damaged by the storage box, much less actual use. The storage box attempts to provide storage for your cards in a similar way that the Dominion deck building game does. However, it is horrendously implemented. By default, it isn’t able to fit all of the cards in a way that doesn’t damage them. The point of the box is to hold all of your cards and keep each type of card separate, but the grooves meant to hold each type of card are all uniform. The problem is that the number of cards in each type is not uniform. All together, the card holder that comes with the box is worthless and I had to throw it out (I hate throwing out pieces that come with expensive games).

The art on the cards is fairly weak. It consists of what looks like screenshots of pre-rendered characters from the games. Unfortunately the quality of these 3D images is pretty low resolution, so they look awful.

Gameplay

The gameplay is very similar to Dominion (a more popular deck building game). You have a big variety of resource cards that you can purchase using gold to add to your deck. My complaint about how RE does it is that there are very few resources types that come with the set that you end up using almost all of them in every game. Not all of the items are useful either, and many require a certain number of players to be useful or effective. For a game that can be played solo, that does not bode well.

One of the other aspects of gameplay though, is that you explore a Mansion deck and fight monsters using your resource cards. This makes the game pretty fun, since you’re fighting the game instead of each other (although you’re still competing against each other for score). Some of the monsters and events are not balanced well though; you can end up running into the boss monster on turn one and have him kill you flat-out. Also, there are some resources that are under or overpowered, especially depending on what character you choose at the start of the game. These are somewhat minor issues though and they don’t stop you from playing the game.

The addition of partner cards means that you are much more powerful when you go to battle the mansion deck. Depending on your character combo, you can pretty much become indestructible. So depending on your play style and preference, this may or may not be a good thing.

Summary

While this review seemed fairly negative, this game is actually pretty fun. There is a nice selection of characters with a variety of abilities, and the mechanics of the whole game are closely coupled with the actual video game. For example, there is a survival mode similar to the one in Resident Evil 4. If you can get over the “cheap” feeling of the cards and some of the unbalanced cards, then you will have a blast. Fans of the series will recognize lots of things so they’d get even more enjoyment out of it. Overall, I’d suggest this game, but I’d also tag along a list of the issues with it.

 

Board game review:

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