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my strategy is still pretty awful, here it is, throw darts at it...!!!

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greetings and salutations --


okay, another couple of weeks into the game...  at last check, i have 50 wins and 77 losses...  that's probably not actually as horrible as i feel about it...  essentially, for every 2 games i win, i lose another 3...  i guess if i won almost 40% of my games as a n00b at MtG, i'd be pretty happy about it...  i actually do win a fair percentage of my games at SolForge, probably about 65%, which i'm also a n00b at, but i sort of wallet-warriored my way into that, and it's just the Random Online queues, anyway...  but i expected so much more out of myself with Ascension, for some reason...  perhaps i'm underestimating the learning curve or over-estimating myself, i can't really say for sure...


anyway, i've been fairly active on the subject of strategy, here, and i've gathered a lot of useful information from a bunch of you fine folk -- thanks a million for your suggestions and for bearing with a n00b making the painful and excruciating learning-curve climb...


so, i have a [digital] sticky-note on the side of the screen which i reference during games, tips gleaned from many of you...  here's a cut&paste of it:





-- get rid of the redshirts, thin out the deck:
-- draw, draw, draw [take the cards that draw a card]
-- banish from the center to help yourself & hinder your
    opponent:  PRIORITIZE BANISH
-- 5 mystics, 5 heavy infantry [+/- 2],  10-12 total
-- ignore 1 & 2 rune cards that do not self-replace unless they
    are strictly better than a Mystic or a Heavy Infantry
-- have a Plan, & a Plan B
-- if there is no good move, pass the turn
-- purchase constructs that have continual effects
-- watch for cantrips, buy them whenever possible
anybody care to comment on the effectiveness of these strategic elements, either individually, or taken as a whole...?  or point out anything i'm missing...?
thanks, as always, for all the help...
peace --
-- khs

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In response to your sticky (aka, your "10 commandments of Ascension,) here are some things I can add in hopes of helping you out: 

1. get rid of the redshirts, thin out the deck: PRIORITIZE BANISH
In general, this is a really good strategy. The smaller your deck, the faster, theoretically, you can get to the cards that actually do something. Going a little deeper, don't banish just for the sake of banishing; meaning, if there's a good card that you can only buy/defeat by not banishing an apprentice/militia that turn, hold off on banishing it for a turn or so. This seems pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised at the levels of tunnel vision people get into when they are close to banishing their entire starting deck. Secondarily, go "meta" and give yourself an out in the form of "What will banish my banishers?" 

For example, if you pick up something like Arbiter of the Precipice on turn 1 or 2--a VERY strong opener--you're going to get to the point where all the chaffe in your deck is gone and the Arbiter is either drawing you into something good you are required to banish or NOT being played when drawn, turning it into a dead card in your hand. If you pick up a "release valve" of sorts (e.g. Void Initiate, Nihilmancer), you can banish the Arbiter once it becomes a liability. Since the Arbiter is only a loss of 1 honor when banished, it's not as much of a penalty as it could be should you draw higher cost cards off its ability.
2. draw, draw, draw [take the cards that draw a card]
As a general rule, cards that draw you more cards are often pretty good (save for very few exceptions). However, don't mash on the accelerator right from Round 1. I say this because, if you prioritize card draw and only card draw, you are going to run into one of two problems, if not both.
a) you haven't purchased anything good, meaning your draw cards are simply drawing more Apprentices and Militia. Whoop-de-doo!
B) you haven't purchased anything BUT card draw, meaning you can cycle your entire deck without getting any type of worthwhile ROI. 

To alleviate this, establish what your deck hopes to do, and purchase draw cards that will augment this central strategy. For example: draw cards are super beneficial to archetypes such as Lifebound Unite Chains that want to see as many cards as possible in order to hit more Unite Chains, which will gain more honor and draw more cards. Likewise, a "Halfsies" deck, one that aims to produce equal amounts of Runes and Power each turn, needs card draw so it doesn't hit flat turns of things like 3/3. 
3. banish from the center to help yourself & hinder your opponent:  PRIORITIZE BANISH
I;m horribly biased when it comes to this strategy, because I love control/defensive strategies in most games. I'll generally snap pick things like Eternal Askara or Nethersnare that let me control my opponents' options. If I'm playing a heavy rune deck or all-in Construct strategy, it's also nice to be able to banish any monsters that might come up and hasten the pace of the game. No matter HOW much I like this strategy though, there's not enough in the game right now that makes it a viable PRIMARY strategy (were there more ways to manipulate the portal deck, MAYBE... hopefully we'll see that in future expansions). 

To put this into Magic terms, if you have banish cards in your deck... think of them as 2 untapped islands. Let your opponent know that you have the capability of banishing his/her options, and then sit back and watch how they try to play around what they think you're capable of doing/countering. 
4. 5 mystics, 5 heavy infantry [+/- 2],  10-12 total
5. Ignore 1 & 2 rune cards that do not self-replace unless they are strictly better than a Mystic or a Heavy Infantry
These beliefs are going to get you in trouble if you hold them as hard and fast guidelines. Instead of a "par" for Heavies+Mystics, try to think of them in terms of "What will adding this always available card do for my deck?" Is there a glut of Monsters in the center row and little other way to get power producing cards? If yes, you're going to need to purchase more Heavies than normal. In the same vein, is your opponent starting to buy up high-cost constructs or go for a Lifebound Unite deck? If yes, you might need to start buying more Heavies to drain the honor pool faster (subsequently making the game shorter, giving them fewer opportunities to buy or chain high point turns).  

With the 1 and 2-costs, again, try to look at it in terms of what the card will do for your deck. There are some VERY powerful 1 and 2 cost cards in Ascension that don't replace themselves. Off the top of my head: Aiyana's Messenger/Lifebound Initiate/Leotan's Familiar are good for Unite Chains in a heavy-green deck, Honiskrot Tribesman is fantastic in a deck with lots of Energy Shards, Snake Shaman is a life-saving Runes to Honor Converter, and Deathsworn Warrior is probably the best 1 cost in the game (and was COMPLETELY broken in playtesting, trust me on that one). 
6. Have a Plan, & a Plan B
If you can map out a plan from Turn one and have it stay the same until the end of the game, you are a far better player than me. Rather than a rigid plan A/B, I guess I'd try to think of things in an If > Then type of mentality. While your opponent is making his/her play, try to run through as many "If A happens > Then B" points of a decision tree that you can. Even better is if you can add a "Because..." justification for your decision(s) to the end of the thought process. Being able to explain your choices, even to yourself with no one around, and then reassess those decisions based on outcome (both short and long term) will go a long way to making you a better player. 

Finally, a HUGE skill that helped me is just loading up a 1v1 game vs. the computer, trying to figure out and justify the best plays for my opening 2 turns, then conceding and loading up another game and doing it over ... and over... and over again. really helped. If you have the tangible cards, this is a lot easier; but it's still a really good exercise. The articles on gamehead.com pertaining to this will help too. 
7. If there is no good move, pass the turn
There are multiple camps on this one. When I first started playing, I would try to use all my runes/power in a turn, with the thought that not doing so left "honor on the table" and when that honor loss was compounded turn after turn, it would lead to my inevitable loss should my opponent NOT be leaving the aforementioned honor. Rise of Vigil changed my mind on this, and playing Dominion hammered it home. For me, now, having an efficient deck that can compensate for not purchasing something JUST to get honor is better than sweeping up little bits and pieces of heroes/constructs. 
8. Purchase constructs that have continual effects
So long as those constructs help your overall goal. If you had a 5/0 opening hand, it wouldn't make much sense to buy the 5 cost Mechana Construct that give 1 Rune toward buying more Mechana Constructs because if more constructs don't come out, you just stalled your deck by a turn. My friend Brandon is a construct-wh0re, purchasing every one that hits the center row. Sometimes, this is good for him, as he has a constant outpouring of resources from said constructs. BUT, he never has a contingency plan and a well timed Sea Tyrant, Polarity Demon, etc blasts him back into the stone age until he can take 4-5 turns to go through his deck and replace what he lost again. 

tl;drHave a contingency plan for what you will do if the constructs get destroyed. I like things like the Burrower Mark as "fodder" for construct hating effects. You can pitch them without losing MUCH tempo, and they give a nice bonus (card draw, for example) when you get them back out again. 
9. Watch for cantrips, buy them whenever possible
See Bullet Point #2 above. 
Agreed. :) 

Hope this helped.

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hey --


it did help, indeed, OmenRaven -- thank you...


i just wanted to post a quick "thank you" to everyone who has offered up their experience an insights on Ascension strategy & tactics in the forums here...  as a result, my game has come quite a ways toward being better, although i'm still just not really very good at Ascension, despite putting a lot of work into it...  the fault there lies with me, given the treasure trove of information you have all been so forthcoming with...  just because i stink at it doesn't mean i don't enjoy it, though...  really, thanks, all...


peace --


-- khs

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