Published by: Ultra Pro Entertainment
# of Players: 2 to 4
Ultra Pro Entertainment has acquired the Ascension series and with that brings up questions. Ascension has changed over the years in terms of art and card quality. I am happy to say that the card quality is very good in Gift of Elements. The art in Gift of Elements is some of the most detailed and eye catching in the series. Though some cards are very dark. The rule book is very detailed with huge illustrations that explain everything in great detail. I like how the rule book has a part that explains the parts that are new to the game for those who are experts in the series. This made reading the rules much more enjoyable because I did not have to try and find each new item in the rules. The box is the standard rectangle ascension box and has a plastic insert that works great for everything. There is also a board for the central play area. If there was no need for a board, this game could fit into a significantly smaller box. Overall the component quality has either stayed the same or slightly improved from previous versions.
Due to this being the 11th game in the series, I will not be going over basic game play, but wanted to focus on what is new. The biggest addition is 2 new keywords added to the cards. One is used with cards you purchase and the other is used on monsters you defeat. The "Empower" keyword allows players to banish a card that they have played that turn anytime they have acquired a card with the empower keyword. This is a great way to quickly get rid of the weaker cards in your deck and improving your deck at the same time. I love that you are able to use the card before banishing it unlike prior games in the series. The other new keyword is "Infest". Defeated monsters with the word infest will be placed in an opponent's deck instead of the void. The card clogs up their deck and is only useful if they have certain cards that take advantage of having infest cards in their deck. Returning from previous entries in the series is Events. This time the events are transforming. When an event is revealed from the main deck, it is not placed in the central buying row, but instead placed next to the main deck. The event will have a passive ability that affects everyone while the event is in play. Players can spend runes (money) to transform the event into a hero and place it in their discard pile. These heroes are very powerful and provide a good amount of experience points. Besides these 3 mechanics, Gift of the Elements plays like the other Ascension games in the series.
Gift of the Elements is a nice addition to the Ascension series and can be easily mixed with the early entries in the series. The 2 new keywords play well off each other and help pick up the pace of game. I really like how infest can be used to try and stop that person who has efficiently cleaned up their deck. I see it helping with a possible runaway winner. Also a big fan of being able to use a card and then banish it after acquiring a card with empower. The keyword loses some of it's power late in the game, but early game and getting rid of infest monsters is a great tool. The art in my opinion is some of the best in the series even though some are very dark and tough to make out. Transforming events are nice, but also add to the randomness in the game. In terms of feeling different than other entries in the series, I feel Gift of the Elements doesn't stand out as different. Rather I find it more of a complementary addition to the series that could mix well with the early games in the series. Others such as War of Shadows and Rise of Vigil have had more drastic changes and their own feel in the series. I would recommend Gift of Elements to anyone who is a fan of the Ascension series or deck building games. The only one who I would not recommend this to is someone who wants drastic changes in the series. I will be adding this to my Ascension collection and look forward to trying to combine it with other entries to find new and weird combos.
+New keywords work well together providing a smooth experience
+Art is some of the best in the series
+Will mix well with other early entries in the series
-Transforming Events add more randomness to the game
-No drastic changes to set it apart from other entries
-Lots of extra space in the box