Ascension: Realms Unraveled Review

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Ascension: Realms Unraveled is a game by Justin Gary, published by Stone Blade Entertainment. It is a stand-alone game for 1-4 players but can be combined as an expansion with any of the other versions of Ascension to support more players. There are however a few minor adjustments that will have to be made to use this game in that way. In this game, players will be building their decks by acquiring heroes and defeating monsters. The player who is best able to do this will be the winner.

To start, each player is given 8 apprentice and 2 militia cards. Those cards are shuffled together and the player draws 5 cards. The Heavy Infantry, Mystic and Cultist cards are placed on the side of the play area for easy reach. The rest of the cards are shuffled together and form the center deck. The game also comes with transform cards. Depending on whether you use sleeves for your cards or not, will determine which set that you use to be shuffled into the deck. The first 6 cards are drawn and played face up in a line. 30 Honor tokens are placed on the table for each player. There are large red Honor tokens worth 5 points and small white tokens worth 1 point. The first player is chosen randomly. Play can now begin.

On a player’s turn, they will draw 5 cards and then play those cards from their hand in any order to gain runes and power. Runes will allow them to acquire more powerful heroes. Power will allow the player to defeat monsters which will give Honor. When a player plays a construct hero, these cards will remain in play and provide special abilities once the proper conditions have been met. Sometimes monsters will have a special reward ability called Trophy. This allows the player to hold onto the special ability from that card till they decide to use it. These are the basics of game play.

Integrated into Realms Unraveled are two new mechanics, multi-unite and transform cards. Multi-Unite allows a player to gain extra power, runes or abilities if another hero of the same type is played. If a multi-faction card is played it counts as both types listed. We’ll talk a little bit more about these types of cards in just a bit.

The other new ability is transform. Earlier I mentioned that there were two types of transform cards included in the game. One set is double sided and one has only the transformed side. If you choose to use the one sided transform cards, like I do, you’ll set these cards to the side of the play area. What these cards do is when certain conditions are met on some cards, usually when a set amount of energy has been played, it allows that card to transform into a more powerful card. This is represented by banishing that card and pulling out the proper transformed card from the stack as indicated by the card. That card is put into your hand and is able to be used. The previous powers from the original card are disregarded.

Earlier I mentioned multi-faction cards. These cards are special hero cards that belong to 2 different factions, like an enlightened void hero. The hero is both an enlightened hero as well as a void hero. When playing multi-unite cards that have one or both abilities listed, you will be able to gain whatever the extra abilities of that card are.

Once a player has played all of their cards and can no longer acquire heroes, defeat monsters, power up or transform any more cards, they will end their turn, discarding all the cards they played and drawing five new cards to replenish their hand. Play then passes to the next player. This continues back and forth until the last Honor token has been earned. This signals the end of the game. The player finishes their turn and now the game is over. Players then add up the star points from the bottom left hand side of the cards in their deck and the Honor tokens that they collected. The player with the most points wins.

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COMPONENTS
There are 243 cards included in this expansion. It has enough starting cards for 4 players. It also has plenty of mystics and heavy infantry cards, as well as the single cultist card. There are 25 transformation cards that are double sided which I didn’t use when I played. I chose to use the single sided and set aside the transform cards to be added to my player deck as necessary. The artwork is really great and continues to get better in each game. It has a really unique look that I’ve only seen in other Ascension titles. The cards are great quality and are easily shuffled and played with. The Honor tokens are nice sturdy plastic gemstones. They look great and have a very neat feel to them. The board is really bright and beautiful with the box cover’s image on it. As with other versions of Ascension that I’ve played, I love the components. Everything looks really great and fits superbly in the insert. This is one of those games that I just never get tired of looking at the components.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is very well done. It is in color and is easy to read and understand. The new card types are explained properly and clearly. There are lots of pictures and examples of how these new card types work. There are extra variations for team play as well as solo rules. It fits nicely and neatly inside the box. It has plenty of great things about it. All in all, the rules for this are as just as great as the previous versions.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I really enjoy this game. It’s great. Having played the Darkness Unleashed expansion, I only got a taste of the transformation cards. I really liked the concept and was very glad to have even more of them available to play in this game. It really does add new depth to an already great game. The multi-unite and multi-faction cards make it really important to chose cards of the same type, unlike in previous versions where the card’s faction didn’t much matter. The deck building mechanic as always is really well represented in this game. I really like being able to play it solo or with more players. The game is really easy to play. I’ve been able to teach it to friends that have never played Ascension, much less a deck builder before with little to no trouble at all. The game plays fairly quick and is something that can very easily be played by any player 13 and up. I really find that this version adds even more depth and beauty to an already wonderful game.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Ascension: Realms Unraveled is a light to medium weight deck builder. It’s a lot of fun and is even more awesome than previous versions. That’s saying a lot. The artwork is unique and beautiful. The starter cards are easily picked out with their white borders so it’s really easy to separate when you’re cleaning up the game. I would highly recommend this to anyone that likes deck building games. Ascension players will most definitely want to pick up a copy of this as it adds so much more to an already awesome game. It is a game that is easily taught and can be a great introductory game into Ascension or any other deck building game. I really love that there are even more new transformation cards. They are a great addition to an already great game. As I said before, this is a great game and one that every Ascension fan must own. I can’t say enough good things about this game. Give it a try and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
10 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Stone Blade Entertainment at their site.

http://stoneblade.com

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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One Response to Ascension: Realms Unraveled Review

  1. razoupaf says:

    Well, that is a very well written, but immensely partial review. While I personally think Realms Unraveled is a interesting game, due to the new card frames, the addition of transform cards and the way they are triggered, and the double faction cards, adding to the design space, I consider this as a solitaire game, due to the amount of ridiculousness Multi-Unite brings. As a multiplayer game, there is less interaction between players than in previous iterations of the brand, no way to get rid of constructs, and no way to stop the sheer amount of ridicule and time-sinking turns the higher-costed cards create.

    Things I dislike in this game is that you cannot banish cards in your hand, which is quite a punishement for ill luck. Dhartha, Emri, Adayu, Remus and Cetra are cardx I believe you should consider removing from the deck when playing with more than one player, or house-rule a maximum number of unite trigger, unless you are prepared to wait for half an hour before your next turn, which is far from being fun. Heck, it isn’t fun anymore for the player taking the turn!

    The power creep in RU is real, and I don’t feel like I’m building an engine, but playing a challenge where I try to go infinite… And can do it pretty easily. As such, it is fun against an AI opponent, but not quite so against real players. Making every number high is no way to make a game better. Making high number difficult and rewarding to reach is.

    And Terrorizing Fiend is a bad card.

    I will probably rate it 5.5 out of 10. I gave CotG and RotF a 7 and 7.5.

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