Ascension: Realms Unraveled is part of the excellent Ascension deck-building game series, it is a stand-alone game for 2-4 players. It is also an expansion that can be combined with any other Ascension game and allows the addition of two more players (up to 6); it also includes exact copies of the rules from the first Rules book for Solo and Team play. Like the original game ASCENSION REALMS UNRAVELED is designed by Justin Gary and includes supreme artwork by two of the original artists; Eric Sabee and Anton Kagounkin Magdalina.The artwork in ASCENSION REALMS UNRAVELED is just as deliciously magnificent as it is in MtG or any other top rated card game in this or similar genres, it is a joy to behold (to coin a well used phrase) that for so many of the cards you have to look at them studiously outside of playing to really encapture all of their glory and nuances.
As a stand alone game ASCENSION REALMS UNRAVELED has its own playing arena board. It is a change from the board in the original game, adding eye-catching but empty space illustrations and damping down the specific card spaces by having simple text replace the card style artwork. Agreed the board is now darker and more dynamic but personally I like the card space art on the original board and would have liked to see it instead of the almost bare boxes; it doesn't affect the gameplay obviously, it's just personal opinion.
The rules for Ascension Realms Unraveled are virtually the same as for ASCENSION with very few mini nuances and three quitef major differences: MULTI-UNITE, MULTIFACTION and TRANSFORM.
Some cards have an ability called Transform. Although these are specifically marked as Transform they are not of any one type of cards, so it's not all Monsters can Transform for example, and they can dramatically change the gameplay when they transform from one type to another. These card transformations can change to variations of their original, such as a Lifebound Hero transforming to a Transformed Lifebound Hero, or a much more dramatic change, such as a Monster transforming into a Transformed Hero. There are three sets of Transform cards included and at the beginning of play you should decide if you are using the first deck that has double-sided cards, which mean you have to ensure you have the correct side facing up to begin with but then they just need flipping over when the transformation takes place or you use the second deck of cards with the regular reverse-sides and keep the third deck to one side so you can find in it the necessary cards when needed. This third deck has the same regular reverse side (the Ascension name and logo) as the main deck but on the front side are the transformed versions of the cards in the second deck. Believe me it's not as confusing as it sounds. The main difference being that if you use the first deck you will always know when a Transform card is coming into play; basically you have to decide if the time it takes to search deck three to find the correct cards makes the game better because all cards have the same back. Our preference is to use the two deck method.
The second main change between ASCENSION and ASCENSION: REALMS UNRAVELED is the new Multi-Unite card mechanic. The Multi-Unite cards have additional effects that only happen when a player brings them into play in the same turn as other Heroes. There are Sixteen cards with the Multi-Unite ability on them. These are as follows: Adayu the Serene (1) Black Watch Exemplar (2) Cetra, Matron of Stars (1) Deathdealer Noble (3) Dhartha the Eternal (1) Everbloom Clique (3) Matron of Discovery (3) and Sage of Lucid Dreams (2) each different card type has a different advantageous additional Multi-Unite ability.
So ASCENSION: REALMS UNRAVELED is not just a number of extra cards that can be added to your ASCENSION card box or played as a stand-alone game; there are enough Apprentices and Militia cards for four players to begin with a predetermined mixed deck of 10 cards. If you are mixing ASCENSION: REALMS UNRAVELED with cards from ASCENSION to simply make the game both larger and with different options, remember not to include both stacks of Apprentices and Militia. Of the "always available cards" the Cultist (1 that is used but not taken) the Mystics and the Heavy Infantry, it is okay to add the 26 Mystics from the expansion to the 30 Mystics from the core game and the similarly the 26 Heavy Infantry from the expansion with the 29 Heavy Infantry from the core game. But only put ONE Cultist in play.
Adding the two boxes together will also give you two lots of 100 Centre Deck cards which you can either sort into whatever 100 cards you like the look of or you can simply play with 200 cards in the central area to begin with. The Honour point tokens put onto the tabel according to the number of players is the same for both games but it is still a good idea to have both lots of Red and Clear gems available to save a lot of swapping 5s for 1s, but do remember to put the necessary number to one side for general use and to determine the end of the game. The game end for ASCENSION: REALMS UNRAVELED is the same as for ASCENSION, when the number of Honour points for the number of players is exhausted (you may go over during the last game Turn which is why it's handy to have the others available) and then you count who has the most Honour, in Gems and on their cards, and declare them the victor. Like all good TCG's, CCG's and Deck-Building Games each boxed set of cards has its own specific icon so if you do mix and match the decks it is easy to reassemble them after playing. These icons can be found in the bottom right of the card next to the dots that denote how many of that card there are in the set (that's also an interesting fact to know and remember).
The Game End conditions are the same - when the last of the pre-determined Honour Tokens has been taken everyone counts the Honour (or Honor) points on all Heroes and Constructs in Hand, Deck, Discard Pile and Played Constructs plus any Honour Tokens gained during play.
Each Rules booklet is just 12 pages and as well as the details, illustrations and descriptions of how to play plus a Glossary to explain the Key Action words and clarify the symbols used. There is also a page (or more) of FAQ that refines and clarifies some of the legitimate questions that pop up during play. There is also a link to the Official website where you can discover more Frequently Asked Questions and also how certain specific cards can be combined with each other and the effects of those combos.
The game play is just as intense as the original game and the new inclusions, especially the Transform ability which adds an extra tactical element as well as being fun. I have to say that I also like the fact that it matters not the order that you play out your Heroes when using the Multi-Unite ability as long as all cards are played in the same Turn.
The full set of ASCENSION deck-building games should be available at your local games store Ascension Realms Unraveled is about £33.00
Retail and trade outlets can obtain Ascension from Esdevium Games Public customers should locate their local Game Store where hopefully they will be able to find ASCENSION