The Apprentice Edition is a cheap starter version of the Ascension deck-building game. Insofar as it is marketed, it is generally advertised as a stripped-down version of the base game, without a board or fancy crystal tokens, and with cards for only two (rather than four) players. It currently sells for about $10.00 as compared to $40.00 for the full game, making it a quite good deal and a good introduction to the game.

However, I recently discovered that this description is not quite true. The Apprentice Edition contains cards from the base game, but also cards from Ascension: Return of the Fallen, Ascension: Storm of Souls, Ascension: Rise of Vigil, and one monster invented solely to prey on apprentices, the 'dragonsbane chimera' (nothing special, just 3 to defeat, gain 3 vp). Oh, and if you are not an obsessive Ascension fan, stop reading here. Things are about to get really, really boring.

This mixing of decks could be quite annoying, as one reason to buy the apprentice edition is to rebalance a game distorted by too many expansions (that's certainly why I bought it). Fortunately, Stone Blade Entertainment and I are pretty much in agreement as to what the core cards are, and they dropped only a handful of cards that I wanted. Since it is not widely advertised, and is completely ignored on Stone Blade's card database, here's a list of all the cards included:

3x Dragonsbane Chimera
3x Samael's Trickster
3x Tormented Soul
2x Doom Weeper
2x Mordant Widow
1x Wind Tyrant
1x Earth Tyrant
1x Noxious Soul
1x Tarik, the Trickster
1x Avatar of Samael (This is identical to Avatar of the Fallen, except that it is not unbanishable).
2x Burrower Mark II
2x Rocket Courier X-99
1x The Grand Design
1x Hedron Cannon
1x Kor, The Ferromancer
1x Reactor Monk
2x Grease Monk
1x Shadow Star
2x Spike Vixen
2x Demon Slayer
2x Abolisher
2x Nihilmancer
1x Emri, One with the Void
1x Snapdragon
2x Lifebound Initiate
2x Wolf Shaman
1x Lunar Stag
1x Dandelion Witch
1x Starchild
1x Flytrap Witch
1x Landtalker
1x Cetra, Weaver of Stars
1x Nairi, Henge Queen
1x The All-Seeing Eye
2x Elder Skeptic
2x Ascetic of the Lidless Eye
2x Arha Sensei
1x Oziah the Peerless
1x Twofold Askara

In addition to these 59 center row cards, the set also includes the base decks for two players, 15 Mystics and 15 Heavy Infantry, and one Cultist. One minor hope I had for this deck is that it might include the original art for these cards, but no. It is the Apprentices with the circle on his forehead, the eyepatch militia, the Valkyrie Heavy Infantry, and the Mystic with the double forehead circle. Likewise, the center row cards use updated art rather than that from the initial release.

The big disappointment is the lack of a Hedron Link Device, particularly if you are mixing this into a deck that includes the original base game. Hedron Link Devices are harmless in multiples, while the included Hedron Cannon is seriously not something anyone needs two of. Meanwhile, keeping the Hedron Cannon in a beginners set without the Link Device to support it seems an odd choice. Other annoying absences include the Master Dhartha, Seer of the Forked Path, Temple Librarian, the Tablet of Time's Dawn, and replacing all of the Void banisher cards with just the Abolishers and Nihilmancers. And no Mistake of Creation, so no monsters to help you banish either. (Note, though, that the Arha Sensei helps make up for this; apparently they were trying for a slow game, not a dead one).

It's also interesting to note that this game is very light on constructs, although thankfully they kept most of the Mechana. This is balanced by the absence of the Sea Tyrant and the Corrosive Widow, leaving the Mordant Widow as the only attack on your opponent's constructs. While I have not yet and might not play this deck on its own, it strikes me that this makes specializing in Mechana possibly an even better deal than in the original base deck.

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