One of the reasons I really like Ascension is that its flavor takes some time to appreciate. This is a game that simmers instead of pops. You won’t recognize these cards as your standard fantasy tropes. For instance, the game’s four factions might look vaguely familiar, but how familiar are they? They’re called Enlightment, Void, Mechana, and Lifebound. A look at the artwork and a basic understanding of each faction’s dynamics might lead to certain conclusions. So, uh, priests, evil, machines, and fairies? White, purple, brown, and green? Paladins, necromancers, engineers, and rangers? Humans, demons, dwarves, and elves? Religion, obfuscation, science, and nature? Knowledge, power, technology, and peace? Who knows.
After the jump, WWTBD
In terms of game mechanics, Enlightenment lets you cycle your hand more readily. The Void focus on banishing cards to manage your deck better. The Mechana offer expensive machines for specialized purposes that might end up virtually useless. And then there are the Lifebound cards. As near as I can tell, they just hang out in the forest.
The Lifebound gimmick is to basically giving you free victory points, which you normally earn by buying cards or defeating monsters. But if you can efficiently cycle Lifebound cards through your deck, you’ll rack up victory points by virtue of the cards’ powers. Fire up an Yggdrasil Staff, Dandelion Witch, or Snapdragon. Use Lunar Stags, Flytrap Witches, Initiates, and Great-Omen Ravens. They’re all a steady trickle of free victory points. The mental picture I get, since Ascension is mercifully free of exposition, is a freaky druidic power lurking in the deep forest, buzzing with latent power. My favorite example of this is a new card in the add-on: Nairi, Henge Queen.
If while walking you should find a lock of hair, tie one end around a finger and follow it deeper into the wood. It will lead you either to the queen, or to your doom — whichever you deserve.
She does absolutely nothing except give you five victory points every time you draw her. That’s all. She is the only card in the game who does nothing except give you victory points, straight up, without a pre-requisite, without further action from you. As such, she’s a strange combination of power and simplicity. Get her into your deck early enough that she’ll pass through your hand at least two or three times and you’ve got a valuable woodland friend.
Up next: stop calling me Samuel!