Since taking off at the 2010 GenCon, Ascension from Gary Games has shown no signs of slowing down.
Ascension’s first expansion, Return of the Fallen is ample evidence that the design team has fallen short of ideas for this deck building genre entry.
“The response to the game has been unbelievable,” said Justin Gary, one of the designers and the owner of the company. “I think we hit a niche with this game. It is a tactical game where you have to make decisions on the fly. It is encouraging that we have top level players from other card games who like this game and compete in it.”
The evidence of that can be found at the 2011 GenCon. During the Godslayer event, the maximum of 128 players signed up on the final day of the con. Included in that group were Magic Hall of Famer Darwin Kastle and poker star David Williams. Williams joked that if he won he’d refuse to answer to anything but “The Godslayer” for a month.
The winner was Aaron Sulla, from Lansing, Mich., who has played relentlessly since being introduced to the game a year ago.
The new set of cards called Return of the Fallen has a theme of its own and a new mechanic. The theme is hand and center row manipulation through the ability to exile cards, which allows players to better control what they can defeat or purchase and to prevent opponents from getting certain cards. The mechanic is “Fate,” which causes the center row to change more dramatically than with just the base card set.
The Return edition can also be played as a stand alone by two players. “We wanted it to be possible entry point to the game at a lower cost than the base set,” said Gary. “This set is the completion of our initial vision of the game. We intended for Fate to be included in the base set but we left it out because we didn’t want to have the first set bog down with too many game mechanics.”
The next set for Ascension will be another larger collection of cards and will take off in a new direction, probably with some new mechanics.
“I would love, love for it to be out for the holidays,” said Gary. “It will have some of the core game mechanics and some new mechanics as well.”
Gary believes that the hobby and game stores carrying Ascension are very important to the industry. To that end, Gary Games has been offering periodic promo cards to those stores for free. The organized game days are opportunities for fans of the game to gather and play and get a promo card that won’t be available any other place for a month or two. In Anderson, Reader Copies has hosted each of those game days.
At GenCon, two promo cards were made available, Leprechaun and the Pot of Gold.
With a strong tournament atmosphere, special promo cards and two strong card sets, Ascension is a major player in the deckbuilding genre and has staked a strong claim to its future as well.