7 things about life I learned from the game Ascension – Part 2

22 01 2013

2. Have an awareness of your environment and situation

One of the most subtle but important things you can do is simply to pay attention. Pay attention to what has been showing up in the center row. Pay attention to what players are purchasing, and how much runes/power they are averaging per turn. Pay attention to what cards are getting banished, and which are being left alone. Pay attention to over-talkative players who trumpet their good hands and announce their intended next plays. All of these aspects are sources of information that can be helpful guides to your decisions and help you make the best choice to help you in the long run. Even though there is a fairly low amount of interaction in Ascension, the game is not played in a vacuum. The cards that players purchase and banish are made unavailable to the others, and the cards that are in demand by certain players will likely continue to remain in demand for the entire game.

One of the most basic applications of monitoring your opponents is having an awareness of “competitive analysis.” Remember that the center row is a communal and all players make purchases from this same source. It’s open information on who buys what cards from the center row, and the purchases your opponents make can be indicative of their game plan. Also realize that there are only so many copies of given cards in the deck, and some very valuable cards have only one copy, so it is very possible for player to accidentally or purposefully cut into each other’s strategic niche by wanting to buy the same kinds of cards. If you see that the opponents are going for a strategy favoring runes or favoring constructs, for instance, there are two ways that you can react: You can imitate their strategy to try to compete with them directly, but this will sometimes result in both you and the opponent performing poorly due to the shared demand for cards that support the strategy leaving the other players (if playing with more than 2) at an advantage. Alternately, you could consciously avoid going into the strategy of your opponents and identify what they are neglecting and specialize in that; the “do the thing that everyone else isn’t doing” approach. If you take this approach, you’ll often find that this path gives several advantages: The in-demand cards of your opponents will have a high turnover rate and the center row will have a better chance of being populated with cards that reward your strategy, and those same cards will be ignored by the opponent even if they are powerful simply because it does not ascribe to their chosen strategies. Using the above example, you could react by going for a power-based strategy to clean up all the monsters that your opponents are neglecting to kill with their rune/construct strategies.

The other side of the coin is “denial.” As its name would suggest, the denial tactic is simply to be aware of what the opponent needs the most-what their deck/strategy is sorely hurting for-and make sure that they don’t get it, either banishing it from the center row or even purchasing it for yourself as a last resort. Remember that the game is a direct competition in the end, so sometimes you need to evaluate whether a play that hinders your opponent can be more valuable than a play benefits you in the grand scheme of things. If you pay close attention, you’ll have a better awareness of when this is the case and you can know when there is an opportunity to cripple the opposition in lieu of making a marginal gain for your own deck.

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Enlightened cards have the majority of the effects that banish from the center row. They are very effective for denial by players who monitor their opponents.

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Would you know which one to banish from the center row? Have you been paying attention?

The other very basic consideration that players should always keep en eye on is the approach of the end of the game. When the pool of honor crystals begins to dwindle, that should be your cue to change your perspective on what kinds of things you should be investing in. This is the time when your one and only focus should be getting as much honor (victory points) as possible, as quickly as possible since you will have only 3-4 turns remaining. At this time you should be looking at the cost-to-honor ratio of the things you are considering buying; Mechana constructs typically give the best cost-to-honor at a 1:1 ratio and in the end game, they should be purchased if possible even by players who are not playing a Mechana strategy.

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Mechana constructs have the best cost to honor ratio and are coveted by all players in the end game.

If you pay as much attention on your opponents’ turns as your own, and monitor the other happenings within the game, you’ll get a great amount of useful information that will help you make the best decisions when it is your turn to play. A little observation, analysis, and foresight can go a long way: Just like in real life.


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