Title: Tranquility: The Ascent
Designed By: James Emmerson
Art By: Tristam Rossin
Published By: Board Game Hub
Released: Coming to Kickstarter June 2021
Player Count: 1-5
Time to Play: 20 Minutes
Tranquility: The Ascent is a standalone sequel to Tranquility, which was released last year. In this cooperative, 1-5 player game, players will work together to scale a mountain. Make it to the top without any mountaineers being unable to take a turn and you all win the game!
While the mechanics for Tranquility: The Ascent is may seem simple, the game is deceptively challenging. Tranquility: The Ascent is a limited communication game, meaning that you cannot discuss your actions with other players during your turn. This adds to the challenge of successfully climbing to the top.
There are a variety of different cards included in Tranquility: The Ascent. Most of the main cards are known as Accent cards and contain numbers 1-12. They are red, green and blue. There are also Campfire cards, Bridge cards, Guide Rope cards, and Summit cards. The base of the mountain will be made of the 12 panorama cards. These are double-sided, but you will only use the numbered side for an alternate mode.
Start by laying out the triangle panorama cards face down in a single line. This will be the bottom of your mountain so make it as low on the table as you can to leave enough room for 9 more lines above it.
Distribute a bridge card to the correct player(s) based on your player count. Shuffle the remaining bridge cads in with the ascent, summit, and campfire cards to create the deck.
Divide the deck evenly (or as close as possible) between all players to create everyone’s personal decks.
Have each player draw 5 cards.
You are now ready to begin.
How to determine the first player:
Pick a random player to go first.
How to Play:
On a player’s turn they must take one of two actions:
Draw a card
Discard two cards
Once they have completed an action of their choice, they draw back up to five cards.
The game ends one of two ways. First, a player is able to complete the mountain by paying the summit card at the top. If this happens the players win the game. However, if a player is ever unable to take an action on their turn, the game ends and all players lose. Player’s do not need to be able to draw at the end of their turn, they just need to be able to play a card or discard two cards.
When it comes to playing a card, there are several rules that a player must follow. Cards must be played let to right and follow one of three placement options:
Be immediately next to an existing card on the mountain
Start a new row of the mountain
Cover a bridge
Cards can never be immediately adjacent to the same color in the row they are placed. A card placed in a new row can be the same color as the cards below it, but it must fully be supported by two cards underneath it (no overhangs on this mountain!). When placing a card next to an adjacent card, you must pay (discard) cards equal to the difference between the numbers on the two cards. For example, if there was a 10 already on the board, and you played an 8, you would need to pay two cards. If you cannot discard enough cards, you cannot play that card.
Lastly, cards cannot be placed in a higher row value, than the number on the card. For example, a card with a “2” on it could not be placed in the 8th row.
In order to win, a Summit card must be played at the last spot on a complete mountain. There are only 5 summit cards in the game, so while you can discard them like any other card in the deck, make sure you don’t discard all of them!
Bridge cards can be played instead of an ascent card, and provide temporary coverage in a row. Players can then build on further in that row, or the row above it, as the spot is filled in. However, in order to win, the bridge must be replaced with an ascent card. So think of them as placeholder cards, good for advancing forward temporarily but ultimately not a permanent solution.
Campfire cards are the last option that players have as a card they can use. Campfires are used to move existing cards up the mountain. You replace a card of the matching color of the campfire and move the original card up at least one row (can be more) following normal placement rules. This is helpful for moving high-numbered cards upward.
There are also rope guide cards the can be used in solo mode, but we will leave these for you to learn later!
If a player cannot, or chooses not to place a card, they must instead discard two cards. At no point in the game, can player’s look through any discard piles.
If at any point a player can no longer play a valid card or discard two cards, the game ends and all players lose. If players manage to place a summit card on top of a completed (no bridge remaining) mountain, everyone wins!
First off, Tranquility: The Ascent is beautiful. The artwork fits the theme wonderfully, are there are loads of cute little details, like the abdominal snowman hiding on some of the blue tiles. Tranquility: The Ascent is a large game in a little box. It will truly leave your table transformed by the end of your adventure through the game. That said, make sure you have a big enough space before you start a game!
One of our favorite things about Tranquility: The Ascent is all the different ways you can play it. Besides solo mode, there are several expansion modules includes with the game to help increase the level of difficulty of your climb. For example, the Green Path challenges players to complete the mountain with a consecutive path of green cards from the base to the peak. The Panorama Objective encourages players to create numbered patterns matching panorama cards. In order to win the game, you must both reach the summit and capture the correct panoramas. There is also the Mountain Goats variant, with goat meeples! Need we say more? Lastly, for all backers on Kickstarter, there are the “Friends in High Places” promo cards with unique player abilities to add even more variety. With so many ways to play, Tranquility: The Ascent has great replayability.
Lastly, we love the limited communication aspect of Tranquility: The Ascent as it helps to prevent one player from mostly running the game. With many cooperative games, it is easy for louder, or more experienced players to take the driver’s seat role and kind of move everyone else around like pawns to accomplish their own personal goal, this can leave other players feeling bored or useless. With Tranquility: The Ascent players will need to think about their own moves and how they will impact the game.
Tranquility: The Ascent will be coming to Kickstarter on June 28th, 2021.