Justin Gary, Creator of Ascension: Previewing Storm of Souls
We’re delighted to have Justin Gary with us, sharing his thoughts on the new expansion for the Ascension series. We previously featured the core game as it also had an iOS component but now, a number of expansions later, their latest — Storm of Souls is ready to go.
1. Ascension was built by pro tour Magic players — how were they inspired to come up with Ascension and what are they doing now?
I originally came up with the concept for Ascension after playing Dominion for the first time. With my background in Magic, I immediately recognized the excitement and opportunity that comes from being able to build a deck and develop a strategy during the course of a game (and without spending tons of money to collect all the cards).
After playing several games of Dominion, I noticed that once I became familiar with the piles of cards, I could plan out my entire strategy from the beginning of the game and the rest of the process was a kind of boring simulation to see what happened. Ascension spawned from the idea that you could combine the randomness of Magic booster drafts with the deckbuilding concept of Dominion. Then, I brought in my many talented Magic Pro Tour friends to test it out and refine to make the game as fast, fun, and strategically interesting as possible. I’m happy to say that all of the talented Pro Tour players involved in the initial development of the game (Rob Dougherty, Brian Kibler, John Fiorillo) are still on board today making new sets for Ascension!
2. What’s your view on deck-building card games? How much influence did games like Dominion have in crafting the Ascension series? What aspects of deck-building did they take and make to improve Ascension?
See above. Dominion gets a lot of credit in my book for inspiring the deckbuilding genre of games. I designed and developed Ascension before any other deckbuilding games came out. The main improvements I tried to make over Dominion are:
– make the game faster to set up,
– make the game faster to play,
– increase the variation between and during the game so you have to make more relevant decisions as the game goes on
– allow players to influence the cards that are available during another player’s turn
3. Are there any plans to build up the lore of Ascension? Looking at the cards, it seems like there’s an epic backstory to the whole thing. What does the latest expansion bring to the table in terms of lore?
There are a lot of people asking for more about the lore of Ascension and we are planning to deliver. Right now most of the story is told through the art and flavor text on the cards, but we have put some stories up on AscensionGame.com and are working to get more info to the players soon. One other big aspect of our story is that players can interact with it through our organized play system. This summer at Gencon, we had our Godslayer tournament, where players were able to battle to determine who would earn the title of Godslayer, killing Samael once and for all and saving the land of Vigil. He will receive a card in a future Ascension expansion to commemorate his victory.
Storm of Souls takes place after the fall of Samael, with each faction trying to claim dominance over Vigil now that the common threat is removed. This is represented in part by the different events in the set. In addition, as this battle is going on, a new threat is arising, with the souls of the dead flooding into the realm and a mysterious Nemesis (a dragon made up of lost souls) looming in the storm of souls above the land of Vigil. Learning who is behind this new development and how to defeat him will take place during Storm of Souls and the follow up expansion.
4. For the latest expansion, what are the new features that players should look forward to?
Events are an exciting new addition to the Ascension world. Event cards represent the different factions of the Ascension world rising to dominance. When an event card flips into the center row, it is set aside and creates a new rule for the game that all players must follow. Some cards interact with the Event cards, becoming stronger when their faction’s events are in play.
We have a lot of exciting new ideas for future expansions and I know Ascension fans are going to love what we have in store. Storm of Souls represents a lot of great mechanical changes to the game, not just with the new Event card type, but also with Trophy Reward monsters, and a whole slew of exciting individual cards and interactions.
5.One of the comments by most Ascension players was that there was no direct way to influence your opponent’s deck apart from say, Xeron Duke of Lies. Will there be such things in this latest expansion?
We are very cautious about making ways to directly take cards out of an opponent’s deck because this is a very negative experience for a lot of players. We do introduce a lot of ways to disrupt each opponent including making them discard cards, constructs, and distrupting which cards are available to them on their turn.
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