I can’t figure out who managed to dig into my brain to piece together such seemingly disparate likes of mine, but somehow someone did it. Deck building card game, retro video games and Abraham Lincoln have been combined into some strange real world manifestation of the pleasure centers of my brain. I should probably be upset by the mental invasion, but I get to kill John Booth with a chicken cannon… so I’m not complaining.
We’ve reviewed quite a few deck building games here on PGM but just in case you’ve never read any of those reviews (FOR SHAME) here’s the basic gist. Each player starts with the same basic, small, weak deck of cards. They then use those cards to purchase additional cards from a pool of potentials available to all players and add them to their deck. As time goes on the decks get stronger and stronger. They then use that deck to defeat their opponents. That’s super high level since every game is a bit different, but you get the idea. Quarriors has the same basic buy/add gameplay but chucks out the cards and replaces them with dice. Lots and lots of glorious dice.
Of all the games I got to play at PAX East this year, one of my favorites was Miskatonic School for Girls. In this twist on the familiar deck-building game, you get to help build your opponent’s deck… by filling it with enemies. As you’ve probably already guessed, it’s set in the Cthulhu universe, meaning all of the characters – the young girls in the school and the frightening monsters who pose as faculty and staff members – are pulled from, or parodies of, the Lovecraft stories.
As someone fairly new to the world of board games, I’m afraid that I have to admit that I’ve never played Dominion. In fact, I’ve never played a deck building game at all. Puzzle Strike has served as my entry into this particular sub-genre of gaming, and for the most part, it’s been a welcoming experience. With simple rules, quick gameplay, plenty of variety, and the fun of playing with chips instead of cards, it almost seems like the perfect entry point for those looking to delve into the world of deck building – almost.
Loosely inspired by the video game Puzzle Fighter, players will receive gems on each turn that they can try to combine and “crash” into their opponent’s playing field. The object of the game is to destroy your opponent by filling their field with 10 or more gems, thus ending the game. In case you’re not familiar with Puzzle Fighter, think of the gems as your falling blocks in Tetris. Once you have 10 or more of them, the screen fills up and its game over.
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer is a new deck building game, which means you’ll be acquiring cards to build a powerful deck over the course of the game. Each player will start with the same weak 10 cards that they’ll use to buy new cards in-game to enhance the power of their deck and use those cards to kill monsters. The game is similar in setup and execution to the very popular Dominion, in that you’ll buy and use cards to acquire more cards. It’s kinda like Magic: The Gathering but instead of buying booster packs of cards for real-world dollars you’ll buy cards in-game with game resources.
(We talk about this game at length in Ep #00026 of the Perpetual Geek Machine podcast)
In Dominion you’re trying to increase the size of your Estate by adding villiages, markets and such until it becomes a…wait for it… DOMINION. In actuality you’re acquiring victory points (hopefully more than your opponents). I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of Dominion. It was sold to me as “It’s like Magic: The Gathering except you don’t have to buy booster packs.” Turns out that definitely sells the game short. While the game does revolve around building a deck of cards over time it’s the initial simplicity, the developing depth, and the unique way it provides endless replayability that makes it a game worth playing. Let’s take a look at how the whole thing works.