Ascension: Valley of the Ancients preview!

Hello Ascension fans!

It’s Ben Lundquist again and the last time we spoke, I introduced you to Ascension: Alliances. If you haven’t played this fun, team-play set, I highly recommend you do so!

After you’re done checking out Alliances, I’d like to share details about our newest set, Ascension: Valley of the Ancients! This set marks the twelfth full Ascension expansion and the first one I had the opportunity to lead design.

As a baseline, I like to keep things simple. I don’t mind branching out and trying more complicated ideas, but there’s something about simplicity and elegance that always draws me in. When working on a game that has already released ELEVEN expansions, not only has the majority of simple space already been taken, but the target audience is going to be the more sophisticated Ascension gamer.

These caveats posed an interesting question: “How do we come up with something simple, but also appealing to long time fans?”

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As we identified different ways to answer this question, one thing remained constant: I wanted a new way of interacting with my opponents. This desire revealed a new, simple design space, while also doing something that would appeal to the core portion of our audience.

This gave birth to a new Ascension concept: Temples.

In Ascension: Valley of the Ancients, acquiring and controlling Temples is one of the most important parts of the game. Temples begin the game uncontrolled near the center row and never go into a player’s deck. Once acquired, a Temple goes into play immediately and behaves much like a Construct, with one important exception:

Your opponent can steal it.

Adding the ability to steal a Construct from your opponent opened up a new design space for the game. Players can now actively interact on any number of turns during a game, increasing the overall tension as you race your opponents to the finish line.

To make the Temples tug-of-war feel balanced, we needed to find a clear, familiar method to ensure players had fun with this new mechanic. This paved the way to a new resource in the game: Keystones.

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Keystones are the…ahem…key to acquiring a Temple. There are many ways to gain Keystones: from Monsters to Constructs to Heroes. When you gain a Life or Death Keystone on your turn, you also gain access to the corresponding Temple. In other words, if a Temple is located in its designated space near the Center Row, you acquire it. However, if your opponent has a Temple, you steal it!

Clearly, Keystones play an important role. However, during this set’s design, I also wanted to introduce a pair of new, faction-specific keywords to game. Lifebound has always been associated with “Unite” and I felt it was time Enlightened and Void received similar treatment. This gave way to Enlightened’s “Serenity” keyword and Void’s “Echo” keyword.

Serenity is a new keyword that will appear on a select number of Enlightened cards. Since Enlightened is the faction with the most card draw and causes you to frequently shuffle your deck, I thought “serenity” would be a good keyword for the faction. It really hits the flavor mark, since being peaceful and having a clean mind fits the faction very well.

In addition to Serenity, we have “Echo” as a new keyword for Void players. This type of effect was introduced in previous sets and we really enjoyed what it brought to a dedicated Void deck. So much so that we have decided to make it into a keyword that will show up more frequently.

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A special thanks to the rest of the design team. This project looks a lot different than it did when we started and that is due to an amazing team collaborating with one another. Without them, this finished product would not exist in its current form. Thank you Justin Gary for pushing me to try new things. Thank you Gary Arant, not only for sharing your feedback, but for also asking the right questions and helping me understand my own. Jason Zila, thanks for quickly identifying the less fun play patterns and suggesting good ideas to compliment the better ones. Ryan O’Connor, thanks for conceiving and creating such an awesome world and direction for the themes our audience gets to explore. Lastly, thanks to all of you for being loyal fans and making all of this possible.

I had a great time designing it and I appreciate this opportunity to share my ideas with you!

Ascension: Alliances preview!

Hello everyone, Ben Lundquist here.

allianceslogoThis past year I introduced you to a new game that I designed, “You Gotta Be Kitten Me!” and later this year you will get to play the next expansion of Ascension that I had the honor of leading, Ascension: Valley of the Ancients. Today, however, I am here to talk about a new way to play Ascension with Ascension: Alliances.

Look, I really like Ascension. I was hooked on the game before ever getting the opportunity to work on it. However, as someone that enjoyed playing with multiple friends, there was something that I always felt was missing from the game: team play. Team play more than just the ability to work with a friend and enjoy the experience together. It brings about a lot of emotional points in the game that I wanted to be able to share with another player.

Have you ever acquired a card in the Center Row and then replaced it with a heartbreaking card that you knew would make it into your opponent’s deck? Have you ever made something so awesome happen in a game that you wanted to give high fives to people sitting next to you, only to see the look of resentment on their faces?

Alliances was created as a way to tackle all of those concerns in a fast, friendly package.

So, how does Alliances gameplay work? You and as many as seven friends can form up to four teams, with each team consisting of two players. When your team gets a turn, both players on that team take a simultaneous turn. You cannot combine your resources to acquire cards or defeat Monsters, but you do share the same Honor pool. One of my favorite additions to the Alliances system is that you and your teammate may acquire or defeat cards in any order you choose, meaning if there aren’t any cards in the Center Row you are interested in, your teammate can help you flip into them!

ASCA_P04By introducing a team format to Ascension, the experience of working together and investing more into another player’s turn is a natural benefit. The first game we played of “Team Ascension”, before it became “Alliances”, was exactly what you’d expect. You sat catty corner to your teammate and there were new cards that could benefit your teammate and cards that would hurt both opponents. It was definitely fun, but it brought forth some unexpected issues.

Collaborating with your teammate wasn’t as fun as I hoped with that implementation and it was difficult. Having to talk in code in order to not give away too much information, while planning out what you and your teammate would do in advance could stall the game. In addition, it lacked the right amount of comradery.

That’s when I decided we should try sitting next to your teammate. This decision would allow you to share information, plan ahead a little less, and give easy access to high fives. In this switch, we also decided to try a shared turn because…why not?

By sharing the turn, there were some interesting things that we could test. The ability to move the Center Row for your teammate was very appealing, playing cards that would give your teammate bonuses for the turn could be new design space, and comboing specific cards together with “Ally Unite” was a very exciting idea.

ASCA_P12In addition to the advantages that a shared turn offered, we also introduced a new card type: Banners. Banners let players use their resources in order to purchase a card that benefits both members of the team. To acquire a Banner in the center row, a player must pay the cost for one side and the other player must pay for the other side.

If you get a chance to make it to Origins, make sure to check out the US Championship tournament and try get your hands on the first copies of Alliances! It will be on sale for only $9.99 and comes with an exclusive Ascension deck box.

Not attending Origins? Don’t fret! Ascension: Alliances will be available nationwide in July. So, whether you get the game early (or a touch later), I hope you are as excited to play Alliances as we were to make it!

 

Ascension US Championship at Origins Game Fair!

OriginsLogoUltra PRO Entertainment and Stone Blade Entertainment are excited to announce that Origins Game Fair will host the 2017 Ascension US Championship on Saturday, June 17 starting at noon. This Swiss tournament is open to 64 competitors, as participants battle it out in 2-player matches with our latest set, Gift of the Elements. The tournament will also feature a number of limited edition Ascension products:

  • All participants receive a promo card.
  • The Top 32 will receive a playmat and an Ultra PRO Organized Play deck box.
  • The Top 16 will receive their choice of an Ascension backpack or an Ascension watch.
  • The final 8 competitors receive the playmat, deck box, backpack, AND watch.
  • The US championship runner-up will receive all of the above and $500!
  • The US champion will receive all of the above, be immortalized in a future Ascension set, and take home $1,000!

 

If you’re in Columbus, OH and attending Origins, you can register for this event (ID 5766) here. We’re expecting a large turnout, so make sure you register soon. And good luck to everyone that participates — we’ll see you on June 17 at Origins!

Ascension to be part of Unrivaled Tournament series!

Stone Blade Entertainment Announces Ascension: Deckbuilding Game to Be Part of Unrivaled Tournament Series

Tabletop Tournament with $250k in Prizes Starts in April at Local Stores and Finishes with Grand Finals in Las Vegas This October

Oceanside, CA – February 27, 2017 – Stone Blade Entertainment, premier developer and publisher of original board and card games, today announced that Ascension: Deckbuilding Game will be one of the six tabletop games used in the forthcoming Unrivaled Tournament Series, powered by Oomba, Inc. Unrivaled unfolds in three parts: Satellite tournaments at retail stores across the United States from April to June, Regionals at select locations in July, and Grand Finals in Las Vegas in October. Players who advance to the Grand Finals have their airfare covered and get the chance to compete for prizes that total $250,000. Ascension: Deckbuilding Game players can sign up for Unrivaled today by visiting any sanctioned game store.

“Ascension was designed by a team of professional Magic: The Gathering players, who collectively have won hundreds of thousands of dollars on the competitive stage,” said Stone Blade Entertainment CEO and Ascension lead designer Justin Gary. “Unrivaled is a chance for all Ascension players to test their skill at the highest levels of competition.”

Ascension: Deckbuilding Game is a fast-paced card game that is quick to learn, easy to setup, and packed with endless hours of replay value. The experienced team who designed and developed the game includes Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Champions Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler. The lore of the game transports players to Vigil, a world where the Great Seal protecting the world is failing, causing Monsters to break through. Each player becomes a hero with a ragtag band of Apprentices and Militia and attempts to gather an army powerful enough to become the Godslayer, the one who stops the corrupt god Samael once and for all. Every player starts with a 10-card deck made up of eight Apprentices and two Militias. The game revolves around the Center Deck that contains Heroes, Constructs, and Monsters. Players take turn recruiting Heroes or Constructs for their decks, or defeating Monsters for the Honor and other bonuses.

Owners of retail stores can become officially sanctioned for the Unrivaled Tournament Series, featuring Ascension: Deckbuilding Game, by registering on www.unrivaled.com for $250. Stores will receive a special tournament kit with all six games in the tournament series, rules, and assorted bonuses, like a dice tray, a banner, polo shirts, and more. Players can sign up at sanctioned stores, which can be located by utilizing the “Search for Your Store” option on Unrivaled.com.

About Stone Blade Entertainment
Founded by gaming industry veterans in 2010, Stone Blade Entertainment is a premier developer and publisher of original board and card games. Formerly known as Gary Games, Stone Blade Entertainment’s products include You Gotta Be Kitten Me, Bad Beets, the SolForge Digital Collectible Game and the award-winning Ascension deckbuilding game, which has been turned into a top selling iOS and Android app. For more information, visit www.stoneblade.com.

About Unrivaled
Powered by cloud-based social network Oomba, Inc., Unrivaled is on a mission to change the way tabletop tournaments are held across America. With its first tournament kicking off in April 2017, Unrivaled integrates Oomba technology that will make running a tournament faster, easier, and more efficient for its hosts. Unrivaled will not only revolutionize the way tabletop tournaments are held, managed, and run, but will bring a sense of community to the tabletop industry in the process. Unrivaled is a subsidiary of Oomba, Inc. and is located in Irvine, CA. For further information on Unrivaled, please visit www.unrivaled.com.

Press Contacts
B. Huuuze
PR@stoneblade.com

Anthony Villegas
anthonyv@unrivaled.com
(949) 825-6150 Ex: 132