Last Spring, my Twitter feed became slowly infested with #Ascension tweets. I was busy playing in two Dungeons & Dragons campaigns at that time and did not know what the hashtag meant. But one thing became clear; people were having a great time playing a specific game called Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. My first exposure to Ascension came at Gen Con 2012, where I was able to play the game at the Gary Games booth. As someone who only played a few rounds of games such as Magic: The Gathering and Dominion, the game play was familiar enough to quickly grasp the rules. I played several games of Ascension at the booth and soon after returning home from Gen Con, I bought the iOS version – I’ve been hooked ever since!
Recently, I learned that Gary Games – the company that launched Ascension and its numerous Expansion Sets – is now Stone Blade Entertainment. The company is in the process of releasing a new game, SolForge, and I was able to communicate with the CEO of Stone Blade Entertainment and creator of Ascension and SolForge, Justin Gary. In the interview below, I pry into the development of his self-contained deck-building game and how it is both similar and different to the Magic: The Gathering behemoth. I inquire about the mechanics of Ascension and how they have evolved throughout the expansion sets. He also discusses the collaboration with Dr. Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering, on their new game, SolForge.
Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions. Diving right in, I became hooked on Ascension after playing it for the first time during Gen Con 2012. The game felt more alive and interactive than previous deck-building games I’ve played like Dominion or Thunderstone. How much of this was purposeful during your design process?
Certainly game variance and excitement were some of the key goals of designing Ascension. One of the problems I always had with games like Dominion, is that once the available cards are determined, there is very little excitement and drama left in the game. Every game of Ascension is different and card valuations change dramatically based on when they are revealed and what your opponents are playing.