Ascension: Return of the Fallen: the write stuff

, | Game diaries

That’s the Hectic Scribe up there. I hate that guy. As per his flavor text:

They are nimble with the quill — fast enough to keep pace with history as it unfolds.

I’m going to talk about a different card every day for the next week. Wait, don’t go! Maybe you don’t play Ascension. That’s cool. I’ll try to make it interesting for you, too.

Ascension is a deck building game, where you and your opponent start with ten cards and gradually use them to buy more cards, which help you buy more cards. It’s all about making choices for what to buy for your deck, and then the luck of the draw for what cards show up in your hand every turn. It’s a bit mathy, but with oodles of atmosphere, thanks to designer Justin Gary and artist Eric Sabee. The folks at Incinerator Studios have done a superlative port to the iPhone, which just added the Return of the Fallen expansion as a $3 add-on.

After the jump, send the kids to bed, because things get sexy and I got the pics to prove it

There are four different factions in Ascension. It’s a little like colors of mana in Magic, with each faction relying on certain gameplay mechanics. The Enlightened, which include the Hectic Scribe pictured above, let you do various card management tricks to better cycle your deck into your hand. For instance, drawing extra cards every turn, which is a huge boon. That’s where the Hectic Scribe comes in. When you get him, you can use him to take two more cards into your hand, and then discard from your hand two cards you don’t want. Great idea, right? The conceit seems to be that he’s so fast at writing history that he lets you manage it a little. You may think you got crappy cards this turn. But with the Hectic Scribe, you can draw two more cards and then discard the crappiest of them. History averted!

It seemed like a good deal to me. I was all over the Hectic Scribes when they showed up. But as I played them, it felt like I was getting cheated somehow. The math of how many resources I got to spend each turn seemed off. Since I’m really really slow, it finally hit me that the Hectic Scribe himself was basically burning a slot in my hand. He didn’t give me any resources! He just offered me some choice. Which can be fine, but it also means I basically get four cards in my hand instead of five. Forget that. I think I’d rather have five cards randomly than four cards with an element of choice. Of course, as I mentioned, I’m really slow, so maybe I just haven’t yet appreciated the trade off between randomness and quantity. I’m betting the guys at Gary Games have. Let me play about fifty more games and I should have a handle on it.

But when it comes to Enlightenment cards that let you cycle your cards, give me a Temple Librarian any day of the week. At least she lets you draw an additional card, essentially replacing herself before forcing you to make a hard choice. Which is why she’s more expensive than the Hectic Scribe. Plus she’s way cuter. Dig it:

You know you fantasize about her whipping off those glasses, taking those chopsticks out of her hair, and shaking out her long flowing tresses. In slow motion. With a saxophone caterwauling in the background. You do, right? I mean, it’s not just me, is it? Surely I’m not alone in this.

Up next: pardon me