Tag Archives: Chronicle of the Godslayer

State of the Union 2011: Part One – The Digital Bit

It’s already been said a lot this year, but 2011 really has been incredible for games. I’ll write about why I reckon this is so soon, but in this – the first of three end-of-year wrap-ups – I really wanted to focus on the iOS games that seem to have exploded this year. Sure, if you don’t have access to a device capable of playing them (iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch), this may well be no more than a vaguely interesting read (hopefully!) but I felt that these fantastic interpretations deserved a tip of the hat.

Seriously, I love this one. Exactly how a game should be translated to iOS.

Out of all the games I’ve played on my iPhone this year, Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer has taken up a huge amount of my time. A perfect replica of the original release from Gary Games (which you can see a review of here), it’s a brilliant version of the quick-playing deck builder. It’s very easy to explain to new players yet still has enough depth in there to not leave experienced gamers bored. One of the most appealing aspects with Ascension is the fact it runs asynchronous play – a very important addition to any iOS game release! The push notifications that signify it’s your turn are always a welcome sight and turns take mere moments, but if your opposition are online, games can also be played in real time. With the recent addition of the first expansion (“Return of the Fallen”) there’s now a whole raft of new monsters to defeat, heroes to recruit and additional mechanics to try out, plus you can also combine both versions. An excellent game all round and one of my favourites of the year.

The daddy of them all is still going great, especially now it finally has expansions.

A long time favourite that has recently seen a new lease of life thanks to the addition of expansions is the fantastic Carcassonne. It’s been out for some time and is pretty much the poster child for how iOS games should be made: there’s an excellent user interface, the rules are straightforward and – again – there’s that all important asynchronous play facility. This has been a mainstay of my mobile gaming life since it was released back in 2010 and I always have a couple of games on the go, but with the recent additions of The River and Inns and Cathedrals expansions I’ve noticed a rise in the number of players who are getting back into it. One minor downside is the price – at £6.99 / $9.99 you don’t need a laser pointer to realise it is one of the most expensive iOS game releases, but it is well worth handing over the cash.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, sure – but Arkham fans will love it.

The portable version of Fantasy Flight’s dice-rolling extravaganza Elder Sign is an incredibly high quality production. Specifically built for solo play, it’s actually called Elder Sign: Omens and from the moment you boot it up you’ll be impressed. It’s a stunning looking game that sees you choose a group of four investigators looking to save the world from the Great Old One Azathoth. While it’s referred to as casting runes in the game, it’s all about rolling digital dice and matching them to symbols that make up missions. When missions are completed, the player will be rewarded with objects to assist their quest and – with luck – the titular Elder Signs that are required to imprison Azathoth for good. While I really enjoy this game, I’ve seen that it can be a bit marmite with others – the main feeling amongst those who have negative opinions is that it’s too difficult and random despite being a stripped back version of the original. However, if you’ve even got the slightest interest in the Cthulhu mythos, it’s a fun diversion. Now, if we could just get a few different GOOs to take on? Please?

Amazing how well this one works on such a small screen. A fantastic adaptation.

Another simplified version of a larger game next. Ticket to Ride Pocket was released specifically for iPhone and iPod Touch late in the autumn, the little brother to its big iPad sibling. This pocket version focuses on single-player action against a range of AI bots but also offers options for Pass & Play as well as Local Play – fantastic if you’ve got a couple of people armed with their phones! Using the original USA map, the game is incredibly speedy and does everything it can to make your life simple. Destination tickets can be prodded to have them show up on the map and placing tickets by playing cards is a simple matter of dragging your finger across the screen. Anyone who has sat around and tried out the original will take to this immediately, especially as it looks exactly the same as the tabletop game. A minor downside: there’s no compatibility with the iPad release, but to compensate for this Days of Wonder have made it dirt cheap!

There are, of course, hundreds of other games out there that you can play on your various shiny iOS devices, but those four mentioned will keep you happy for a minimum amount of cash. Not everything is a bright and shining piece of brilliance, admittedly: there’s a lot of digital takes on Hasbro titles that really feel like cash-in efforts, for example. However, a little digging about will throw out some little gems… just try typing “Knizia” into the search engine on the App Store and see how much pops up! Just avoid FiTS, OK? Through the Desert is pretty good though… maybe I’ll grab that one again…


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Episode 27 – Back to Normality

The Little Metal Dog Show is very much like a London bus – you wait ages for one to show up, then get two within a few days. This one is back to the normal interviews format as I’m joined by the founders of two independent companies who are creating some great games. First of all, from Indie Boards and Cards, I speak to Travis Worthington – currently finishing off their biggest game ever (Flash Point – Fire Rescue), they’re a small company who are responsible for some great titles, especially The Resistance. I also get to talk with Justin Gary, a former Magic: The Gathering pro-tour champion who moved on to designing his own stuff and formed his own company, Gary Games. Makers of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and the follow up Return of the Fallen set, we cover card gaming in all its glory…

You can get the episode from iTunes or download it directly from here. As always, if you’d like to get in touch with the show, if couldn’t be easier – you can email me over on michael@littlemetaldog.com and find me on Twitter under the name of @idlemichael. Do get in touch – it’d be a pleasure to hear from you!

Don’t forget, we’re ramping up for the year’s Essen SPIEL show. I’ll be heading over to Germany to interview as many people as possible, finding out what they’re up to at the moment and what games they have planned for the future. Of course, if you fancy helping out and donating to the show that’d be welcomed – it’s a little difficult walking across the English Channel…

Right. Enough talk, more links!

Indie Boards and Cards site – http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/

Flash Point – Fire Rescue’s Kickstarter site – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2012515236/flash-point-fire-rescue

Gary Games’ / official Ascension site – http://www.ascensiongame.com/

The Story of the GenCon Ascension Championship – http://www.ascensiongame.com/news-archive/item/aaron-sulla-the-godslayer




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Higher Ground – Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer review

I do wonder sometimes how game designers come up with their ideas. Do they have an algorithm that specifically works out the silliness of a backstory to the Nth degree? Do they roll custom made dice covered in words in order to come up with the name? Or do they just drink a lot of beer, take a thesaurus, choose some random entries and hope for the best? Who knows, but ladies and gentlemen – it’s time to look at Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, a brand new deck-building game from first-time publishers Gary Games…

So, what’s different about Ascension then? Can we not just stick with Thunderstone or Dominion? Well, no. First of all, it has roots in the daddy of all deck-builders, Magic The Gathering – it was designed by MTG Tour champions Rob Dougherty, Brian Kibler and Justin Gary (who also founded Gary Games). While this may be their first release, you can tell that they have considered their approach – this is no rush release, thrown together to capitalise on a craze. The team have thought about how the game should play and what to do in order to make it stand out from the crowd.

So, how exactly does it differ? Well, first of all, it’s a simplified take on the genre. Ascension focuses on three areas – Runes (which allow you to buy new cards), Power (for smooshing monsters) and Honor (this game’s take on Victory Points – and yes, I’m using the American spelling as it’s plastered all over the cards and board). Depending on how many players are at the table, a certain amount of Honor points – depicted using little plastic crystals – are set aside. Once these are gone, the game is over – total up how many you have, add on the Honor from the cards in your deck and the highest total is the winner.

There’s no limitation as to what you can do here as long as you have the Runes or Power – unlike in Dominion with it’s one action / one buy mechanic. Similar to other deck-builders, you start with a weak pile of cards, but your purchasing options are slightly different. You always have the option for beefing up your deck by grabbing Mystics (more Runes) or Heavy Infantry (more Power) cards, or beating up the Cultist for a single Honor point, but there’s also The Central Row. This is a bunch of six cards that will cost more Runes or Power to acquire or defeat, but will bring greater rewards – getting rid of one of them will see it’s spot replenished immediately, so judicious decisions can really reap you some good stuff.

Monsters, as mentioned, will at least get you some Honor, but could also allow you to banish a card (chucking it on the Void – this game’s discard pile – which means you can strip out the poorer cards from your deck) or affect another player’s turn. Heroes boost your power, making monsters much easier to despatch, but there’s also another type of card to consider – the Construct.

Constructs are an interesting concept. Where most deck-building games have you discard everything you touch in a turn, the Constructs you manage to get your hands on actually stay in play, often giving you hefty bonuses (especially if you manage to pull a selection together). Other cards in the deck can see Constructs returned back to players’ hands or discard piles, so they won’t always be around – but when they are, you’ll certainly have an advantage.

Games are quick – even a four player effort can be done in 45 minutes. The artwork is good, really showing the differences between the four in-game factions, while the cards and board are great quality – satisfyingly heavy and made to last (although you can get Ascension branded card sleeves if you so desire). Some of the flavour text is a bit cheesey, but it doesn’t detract from the game. Also, while it’s not a bad thing, you can tell that the whole game has been put together with expansion in mind, but what do you expect from a design team with such a huge love for MTG?

Michael has lots of Constructs! Michael will lose this game by one point! Michael is sad.

So, is it worth picking up? I reckon so. If anything, it’s a good introduction into the deck-building genre and plays quicker than Dominion or Thunderstone – the level of simplicity is incredibly appealing… hell, the rules to the game are so easy they’re printed on the board. Twice. After a few plays you’ll find yourself working out strategies rather than just going for The Big Stuff – will you focus specifically on on faction or go for a range of different ones? Keep an eye on what your opponents are picking up though – remember that the winner is the highest total Honor points, and that includes crystals and cards. All in all, an awful lot deeper than first impressions portray – the more I play it, the more I enjoy it. Ascension will be coming to the table pretty regularly, I think.

Ascension: Chronicles of the Godslayer is published by Gary Games, and will be available here in the UK from August 31st. Designed by Brian Kibler, John Fiorillo, Justin Gary and Robert Dougherty (with art by Eric Sabee) – there’s no word on price yet, but looking at what it’s going for in the US, it’ll probably be around £30. Cheers for reading!


edit: My oh my. Months on and I’m still playing Ascension – and now you can do it on iOS devices too! There’s an excellent conversion of it available now on iPhone and iPad, complete with asynchronous play (in other words, you don’t have to all be playing at the same time and it’ll notify you when it’s your turn)! If you fancy a game, give me a shout – my username is idlemichael. Just ask me on Twitter!

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