Big news has not stopped rolling out of Las Vegas's Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Trade Show, but a definite theme is beginning to emerge: big name board games are getting a large helping of extra content in the form of expansions. The big announcement from Gary Games this week is that their hit deckbuilding card game, Ascension, will receive its fourth set of cards.
Titled Ascension: Immortal Heroes, this set is intended to be a direct expansion to Ascension: Storm of Souls, and is recommended to be played when combined with that standalone set. Immortal Heroes builds off of the new mechanics seen in Storm of Souls, but also a delivers a few new tricks of its own, such as new "soul gem" cards that represent some new form of weapon that players can wield during the game.
Immortal Heroes does more than just add a few extra game mechanics though, it also gives us a peek into how Gary Games will continue to evolve Ascension as a property. It seems the publisher is falling into a cycle that centers around annual storylines. These are kicked off with a big-box standalone set (last year's Storm of Souls, in this case) and are then followed up with a smaller expansion designed specifically for that year's core set. The base game has sold through over 40,000 copies at this point, so expect this card release cycle to continue on for quite some time.
All cards, regardless of what year they are published, will remain compatible, but Ascension is beginning to show its Magic: The Gathering roots here. Gary Games is headed up by Magic Pro Tour competitor Justin Gary, and a slew of other prominent Magic players have their hands in Ascension's development. The only question here is whether Ascension lends itself to the same type of competitive play that spurs the Magic release cycle. Judging by the annual Ascension Gen Con tournament, people are definitely interested, so only time will tell how the competitive players adapt to the rollout of Ascension "blocks."
I, for one, enjoy the game and will be mashing all four decks together into an Ascension monstrosity, most likely playing well past the game's actual victory point cap. Maybe some creative fans will come together and develop a true "Epic Ascension" variant a la Thunderstone?