Meet the new heroes, same as the old heroes. Gary Games has shed some new light on the upcoming card game expansion Ascension: Immortal Heroes, where fan-favorite hero cards from earlier sets will get a second shot at play.
Back when Immortal Heroes was first announced in March, Gary Games also revealed their release strategy for the Ascension property. Each year will see the release of one major set that adds a gameplay twist, followed by one smaller set that complements and expands upon those new mechanics . As such, Immortal Heroes is a smaller set that complements this year's Storm of Souls set, while focusing on the Event and Trophy mechanics of that set.
Early previews of Immortal Heroes hinted at an entirely new type of card: "soul gems," representing some new form of weapon that players can wield during the game. What the heck is a soul gem, you might ask? To help explain things, let's take a look at one of the cards and see.
The effects of the Soul Gems are all linked to hero cards from prior Ascension sets, Chronicle of the Godslayer and Return of the Fallen, but they will not be shuffled into the game's main deck of cards. Instead, cards and monster rewards will cause players to earn the Soul Gems throughout the game
From there, the Gems are treated similarly to a Trophy card. The Soul Gem are placed in front of the player, and can be banished in order to gain the one-time effect of a classic Ascension hero. According to Gary Games Senior Designer Brian Kibler, the benefits of handing Soul Gems in this manner comes from adding "a wide variety of effects without a huge jump in how much new stuff players need to learn. Since the Soul Gems have names and art that call out heroes that many players are already familiar with, there's a bunch of extra gameplay variation without information overload."
There is also a thematic link between Immortal Heroes and Storm of Souls. Kibler revealed the villain of the Storm of Souls set's plot, and how that villain created the Soul Gems, stating that "Kythis, once the Gatekeeper of the Underworld, has been syphoning the energies from these fallen heroes to empower himself. That’s a bad thing – not just for those heroes, but for the world – so players set out to stop him. Each of the Soul Gems represents a different hero from the Great War – the conflict against Samael depicted in the first two Ascension sets – and freeing them allows the player to briefly use that hero’s power"
As for what else Immortal Heroes will bring to the table, there is some news on the Trophy card front. Trophy effects in Storm of Souls were one-time-use bonuses that could be kept on the table until a player decided to enact the Trophy's effect. However, in Immortal Heroes, a new class of Ongoing Trophies will reward their owning player's with persistent bonus effects.
Lastly, the Event card type will get a boost as well, with each faction receiving one new Event card in the set. In a recent interview with the Ascension Fans group on Google+, designer Justin Gary also teased at an alternate play mechanic for Events. Suggested by a fan as a way to increase the viability of Event cards when using numerous Ascension decks at once, this suggestion could see life as an official variant, or whatever else Justin Gary might have planned for the rules twist.
Immortal Heroes is scheduled to hit store shelves this August, and will retail for $29.95. For those lucky gamers who will be attending this year's Gen Con, they can stop by the Gary Games booth to pick up an early copy of Immortal Heroes and enter into the Ascension World Championship tournament.
For those not so lucky, they can play the iOS version of Ascension at home. A tweet from Gary Games indicated that the Ascension iOS servers would be going down for maintenance during the night of May 3rd. This is in line with previously announced plans to add Storm of Souls and select promo cards to the app, so by the time you read this post, the expansion may have already been added to Ascension's digital incarnation.