For me, a good game is really a window into another world. It’s like a miniature story that is told with a set of pre-defined rules. The war games I play are rarely just games, like tic-tac-toe or chess, but instead a single battle in a larger war, which in turn is part of the story of the rise and fall of nations and the struggles of the people within them.
It was this perspective on gaming that first drew me to Privateer Press’s Warmachine line of miniature games. Though I loved the physical look of the figures, the fact is that I’m not an artist or a visually-compelled person as a rule, so it was really the setting that drew me in, the possibility to, in some small part, take part in the stories set in this world. And the giant warjacks didn’t hurt.
In fact, the first article I wrote for Black Gate was a review of Privateer Press’s Iron Kingdom roleplaying supplements, exploring their magically infused steampunk-style world of giant mechanical behemoths. Soon after, though, my involvement in Warmachine died off. I got married, became a father, and the disposable income to buy metal miniatures and disposable time to sit painting them went by the wayside (and there was a vast increase in anxiety, as little two-year-old fingers would inevitably seek to play with “Daddy’s dolls,” as they became known in my house).
Fast forward to the present, and it’s as if Privateer Press has found a solution to getting me back involved in one of my favorite gaming worlds. In addition to a whole new Iron Kingdoms line of RPG supplements (Amazon, Privateer Press) and digital fiction set in the Iron Kingdoms (Amazon), they have released a new deck-building game, Warmachine High Command (Amazon).
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Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer is a deck-building game from Gary Games. “What is Ascension?” you may ask. Here’s a quick intro from the Ascension website:
Ascension is a fast-paced deckbuilding game that’s quick to learn, easy to setup, and packed with endless hours of replay value! Our goal with Ascension was to make a game that we would bring out again and again for our own game nights. With an all-star team working on design and development, including Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Champions Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler, we spent the better part of a year making a game that will appeal to fans of the board games, trading card games, and non-gamers alike.
It’s also useful to have a bit of the background for the world in which the game is set. Again, from the Ascension website:
The game takes place in Vigil, a world that has been protected for millennia by the Great Seal, keeping the realm free from divine influences. It was put in place after an ancient war with a corrupt god, Samael the Fallen, when it was decided that none of the gods should be able to interfere. But now, the Seal is failing, and nightmarish Monsters that had been forgotten are breaking through. Your job, as a hero of Vigil, is to take your small, ragtag band of Apprentices and Militia, and gather an army powerful enough to lead you to your destiny as the Godslayer, and in doing so, slay Samael once and for all.
The next obvious question is: what is a deckbuilding game? Deckbuilding implies that you do not start with a predetermined deck, i.e. one of your own choosing before the game begins. Rather, you begin with a starter deck and customize your deck through the course of the game, hopefully in such a way that allows you to outplay your opponents, who are customizing decks of their own.
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