Ascension Eternal: A Two-Player Introduction to the Dark Fantasy Deck-Builder | Casual Game Revolution

Ascension Eternal: A Two-Player Introduction to the Dark Fantasy Deck-Builder

Ascension: Eternal

Defeat vicious monsters, acquire allies, and gain honor in order to emerge victorious in this tight, two-player deck-builder.

Published by Stone Blade Entertainment and Ultra PRO, Ascension has been around for over a decade now. Ascension: Eternal aims to be an introduction to the game, designed for two players and featuring some of the best cards from the game’s run.


Both players have a starting deck of ten cards. You shuffle your personal deck and draw five cards for your starting hand. The rest of the cards are shuffled to form the main deck. Six cards are then drawn from it, face-up, to form the display. The cards in this display will either be monsters that need to be defeated, or cards that can be purchased for your deck. The purchased cards are either heroes, which go into your discard pile at the end of your turn once they are played, or constructs, which stay face-up in front of you once they are played. Each card you purchase will also belong to a faction in the game.

On your turn, you have four actions you can take in any order and as many times as you wish or are able to. These actions include playing a card from your hand, using a played construct’s ability, buying a card from the display, or defeating a monster.

There are two resources in the game, runes and power. Runes are used to purchase cards while power is used to defeat a monster. Most cards you play will award you one or the other of these resources, occasionally both. Some cards you play also have special abilities such as allowing you to draw another card into your hand. Some abilities will trigger if you meet a certain requirement, such as having another card of the same faction in your hand or in your discard pile. Some card abilities will also earn you honor tokens.

Once you purchase a card or defeat a monster from the center display, you immediately draw a new one from the deck to replace it. There are also some basic cards, set to one side that you can always purchase.

In order to defeat a monster, you must have the required amount of power shown on the monster card. When you defeat a monster, it is moved to the general discard pile and you take the number of honor tokens shown on it. There will sometimes be a special action as well, such as forcing your opponent to discard a construct or earning runes to spend during the rest of your turn. You can always spend two power to defeat the cultist card that is next to the draw pile. The cultist is never moved to the discard pile and you can fight him multiple times on a single turn.

At the end of your turn, you move all cards you played and any still in your hand, into your personal deck’s discard pile. Any cards you purchased that round also go straight to your discard pile. Unspent runes and power do not carry over to the next turn. You draw a new hand of five cards. If your deck runs out, you shuffle your discard pile to form a new deck. Your turn is now over.

The game ends once the last honor token is claimed and both players have taken an equal number of turns. If, during your last turn, there are no more honor tokens, you can still earn more honor — you simply have to use cards to help track it.

Both players then count up all their honor tokens, and the honor value of each card they purchased. The player with the most honor wins the game.

Ascension Eternal Components


Ascension: Eternal is a great deck-builder. It’s tense, it’s got a large variety of card abilities, and a unique art style. The need to balance buying cards with fighting monsters is important, and solely focusing on one while ignoring the other is likely to lose you the game.

There’s plenty of room to pull off some fun combos with your cards. It’s typically useful to purchase multiple cards from a single faction, but there’s also room to collect other cards, as well. You often have a couple of intriguing choices each turn.

Using the honor tokens as the end game trigger is a great idea, as it really gives players a very visual idea of when the game is likely to end and can increase the tension as the pile starts to dwindle.

This is a great introduction to the Ascension games if you only have two players. Ascension also just works really well at two players, so you don’t feel like you’re losing anything tactically from this two-player game. The box is also smaller and more compact than the full sized version of the game.

The components to the game are really nice, with a solid board for the display and discard pile, and nice chunky gems to act as the honor tokens. The game’s dark fantasy theme will not appeal to everyone, but the artwork is very distinctive and original.

There are already a lot of Ascension games, and if you’re looking to play with more than two players, you’ll want to look for a different version of the game. This game also features some of the best cards from the series, so if you’ve been playing and collecting the series for a while now, Eternal probably won’t offer enough new things to interest you. But it does act as a solid introduction to the game without being overwhelming, and it’s more portable than other versions. If you’re looking for a great two-player game and enjoy deck-builders, we recommend giving Ascension: Eternal a chance.

Pros: Great introduction to Ascension, easier to travel with than predecessors, excellent component quality, nicely balanced deck-builder

Cons: Not a great choice for owners of another version of Ascension, the theme will not appeal to everyone

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.