Some of the Ascension sequels I’ve enjoyed as much as the original; sadly, Rise of Vigil was not one of them. The new mechanic this time is a third currency, called “energy”: unlike the other two currencies, though, this one doesn’t go away until the end of the turn. Instead, many cards gain special effects if your energy level is above a certain threshold when you play or acquire them.

The energy-providing cards almost always come with card draw, so they don’t clog your deck. Also, the standard energy-providing card never shows up alone to purchase, instead other cards will randomly show up with one or more energy cards under them. So this means that, sometimes, you have to decide whether to buy a card that would otherwise be suboptimal in order to get more energy, and because of the card draw, the energy itself is always a good thing.

Which could be okay: it encouraged me to to buy cards I otherwise wouldn’t consider, and variation is always good. But the flip side is that I didn’t feel like I was building up a strategy in response to the cards available for purchase: instead, I was ending up with a random-ish hand in order to maximize energy. Or, to look at it another way: the limited card row meant that the game already had a mechanic encouraging me to mix it up; I didn’t find it helpful to have a second such mechanic.

Of course, I didn’t have to focus on energy, and indeed sometimes I didn’t. The thing is, though: some of the energy effects are crazy-powerful, so if you skip energy, you’re shutting out the possibility of the most powerful strategies, and those powerful effects and energy are both plentiful enough that you’ll probably lose in that situation. Energy effects can turn a cheap, bad card into a card that can acquire any hero for free, they can turn a powerful card that can defeat any monster into a card that can defeat all monsters.

There’s probably more balance than I’m giving the game credit for: I didn’t play it enough to get a super-solid feel of it. And part of that isn’t Rise of Vigil‘s fault: I’ve got other ways to spend small chunks of time. Still: not my thing.

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