Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cool Things at Origins

This was my first big convention in memory with no responsibilities, which made it weird. The biggest obvious effect was that my sense of time got absolutely shot. Summer sunlight plus being further west (plus a light right outside my hotel window) meant all my cues for telling the time were shot. This was a little problematic, and I missed one of my evening video calls home to the kid as a result, but once I became aware of it, I compensated.

I didn't play a single RPG while I was at the con. This hadn't been the plan, but it was a result of my really enthusiastically diving into the card and boardgame side of things this year, enough so that I shelled out for a board room pass to be able to try different games form their library. This lead to one of the real finds of the con, Ascension.

Ascension is a card game in the general Dominion/Thunderstone family, where a lot of the play revolves around accruing cards and then using them to win. I've heard them called deck building games, and it's not a great term but it will do. Ascension was getting some decent push on the floor as they were premiering their first expansion at Origins, so I was curious. I tried it, and I promptly walked to the floor and bought the whole set, so safe to say I liked it.

But here's the thing: it's a great game, but that wasn't enough. There are LOTS of great, fun, well designed games out there, so many that it has become the minimum I look for in a game. It needs to be a great game, but it also needs to do something else, and Ascension pulled that off. Specifically, it's got a lot of the fun of Dominion or Thuderstone without being nearly as much of a pain in the ass. Setup and breakdown (which are my biggest annoyance with those other games) is quick and easy, meaning it's a game that I can actually _play_ with a minimum of friction, and that's fantastic.

Not to say it's flawless. The art on the cards is uneven, and unfortunately some of the worst art is on the most common cards. They also clearly changed card printers between the initial game and the expansion, and the expansion cards are a tiny bit smaller and not necessarily perfectly color matched. Both problems go away when you sleeve the cards (which i did, since they don't feel like they can take as much abuse as I'd dish out) but it's a bit annoying that it makes sleeves a very near necessity rather than just a nice to have.

Still, I'm glad I got it, and I look forward to playing it more in the future.


  1. We need to try the second row addition- I hear it makes the game absolutely sing when combined with the expansion's cards that do different things when dropped into the center row.

  2. I've heard them called deck building games, and it's not a great term but it will do.

    Yeah, there is no good term for games where you craft a deck as you go along but is not collectible.


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