Having been a strong fan of Ascension for over a year now, it seems like this blog is overdue for an Ascension strategy article. This week I’ll start with some basic math about starting hands. Note that these probabilities will still apply even with the newest base set, as the energy shard allows you to draw a card when you play it.
So, the starting deck is 8 Apprentices (A) and 2 Militia (M). As a brief remind, an Apprentice provides 1 rune when played and a Militia provides 1 power when played. With a starting hand size of 5 cards, that gives 3 starting hand possibilities:
- 5 Apprentices
- 4 Apprentices, 1 Militia
- 3 Apprentices, 2 Militia
Now, generally speaking, the 4A/1M hand is considered undesirable, as it means you will most likely draw the exact same hand for the first two turns and waste the two Militia and lose the opportunity to acquire a card of cost 5 runes. However, there is the rare case that the 4A/1M is preferable, which is when there is something to acquire for 4 rune both turns.
Because of the starting deck, you’re guaranteed to get 3 Apprentices. That leaves 5 Apprentices and 2 Militia in the deck.
5 Apprentices: (5/7)(4/6) = 20/42
4 Apprentices: (5/7)(2/6) + (2/7)(5/6) = 20/42
3 Apprentices: (2/7)(1/6) = 2/42
And of course, unless a fate card changes your deck, your next hand is set. 5 Apprentices yields 3 Apprentices next, 4 Apprentices yields 4 Apprentices next, and 3 Apprentices yields 5 Apprentices next. Since there are only 2 militia, this makes the 3 Apprentice hand very rare, and the other two are equally likely.
So why does this matter? It gives you some idea of what to expect from your opponent’s first turns. If you’re deciding what cards to leave available in the center row, it’s basically a coin flip if your opponent will be able to afford a card for 5 runes. Affording a card that costs 4 runes is nearly guaranteed (40/42). What else is interesting is that the maligned hand (4A/1M), shows up about half the time.
I’m keeping it short this week, but feel free to add your own thoughts.