Ascension World Championship at Gen Con!

OriginsLogoUltra PRO Entertainment and Stone Blade Entertainment are excited to announce that Gen Con will host the 2017 Ascension World Championship on Saturday, August 19 starting at 10AM. This Swiss tournament is open to 64+ competitors, as participants battle it out in 2-player matches with our latest set, Valley of the Ancients. The tournament will also feature a number of limited edition Ascension products:

  • All participants receive a 10 Prize Tix which can be used to purchase Ascension merchandise
  • The Top 32 will receive a Gen Con exclusive playmat.
  • The Top 17-32 will receive 50 Prize Tix.
  • The Top 9-16 will receive 100 Prize Tix.
  • The final 8 competitors receive an Ascension backpack, an Ascension watch, and 200 Prize Tix.
  • The World Championship runner-up will receive $500 in addition to the Top 8 prizes!
  • The World Champion will receive all of the above, be immortalized in a future Ascension set, and take home $2,500!

 

If you’re in Indianapolis, IN and attending Gen Con, you can register for this event (ID CGM17121937) 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 August 19 at Gen Con!

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?”

ASC_012_P49

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.

ASC_012_P19

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.

serenityecho

 

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!