Ascension Tactics: Creative Hurdles

Ascension Tactics: Creative Hurdles

I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be bringing Ascension Tactics to life during the 10th anniversary year of the Ascension deckbuilding game. Below you can see an image of our original Arha Templar (which was the cover image on our very first release) translated into it’s 3-D sculpt form.

Tactics Arha.png

Making a miniatures game is a ton of work and very expensive. The upfront costs to make a miniatures game are easily ten times that of a normal Ascension set, and the design and development time is far more than any tabletop game we’ve done at Stone Blade. So with all the cost and headache, why make this game?  Why not just keep doing what we know and stick with card games?

For the same reason we do most anything around here these days: Because it's awesome!

We wanted to do something really special for Ascension’s 10th anniversary. Now, we get a chance to bring our characters to life in 3-D while innovating a brand new game category. 

Flytrap Witch.png

We've been working on this for about eighteen months, and I've never seen the team more motivated and excited about a game. That excitement has driven us to work harder and find ways to overcome the obstacles that get in our way. Which leads me to one of the most impactful lessons I've learned:

If you have inspiring goals that challenge you, you will be able to marshal resources, you didn't know you had to find a way to succeed.

Often, the challenges themselves are what force innovation, because restrictions breed creativity. When I first starting envisioning Ascension Tactics, I was planning to use a variation on the "tick" resource system I designed for the World of Warcraft miniatures game. At the time, it was an innovative way to command your miniatures by spending "ticks" or time on each miniature depending on how powerful their move was. The more time you spent, the longer it would take before they could act again. I was eager to resurrect this system and update it with what I've learned over the last ten years, but as we started diving deeper into the game, it just didn't feel like Ascension. There was no connection (other than the characters themselves) to the game everyone knows and loves.

Finally, Ryan Sutherland, suggested we try a game engine that combined miniatures and deckbuilding mechanics directly, with each piece influencing the other directly. It was something we had never seen before, and even though the first engines had significant challenges, we knew we were on to something. 

We faced another huge challenge over these last few weeks. Along with most of the world, we are in mandatory quarantine here in California. Without the ability to go into the office and playtest, how could we finish the game in time for our Kickstarter?

Once again, the challenge forced us to innovate. We have started using Tabletop Simulator to playlets our games, allowing the team to continue to function while staying remote. This system has proved more efficient in many ways since we can now playtest directly with our Cultists (the affectionate name for the Stone Blade playtest team), giving us even more games and feedback cycles in than ever before. We've also begun to plan ways to get all of you involved! 

Of course, there have been continual challenges along the way. Tactics is still a long way from done, and we won't be able to get the game made without your help, but I do not doubt that together we'll make something truly epic.

Oh, one last note – I mentioned our ability to remote test Ascension Tactics...

We have a tentative plan to let our backers play Ascension Tactics remotely even before the campaign ends. We might also run a backers tournament with prizes, giving players a chance to enjoy the game long before they get the physical product in their hands! 

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