I rarely purchase 1-Rune cards. Their effects are pretty poor, and I feel that these cards lower my deck strength (Note: I'm a recovering Dominion addict, and a strong believer in "trash early; trash often" strategies).

I might buy a 1-Rune card if:

  1. I won't get through my deck before the game is over, or
  2. There are quite a few on the board and I have a bunch to spend (here I'm hoping that a higher cost card will come up).

When, if ever, is it a good idea to buy 1-Rune cards?

(Edit - I had confused "Rune" with "Honor". I mean the Resource that the Apprentice provides, and which is the COST of adding a card to your deck)

  • (If someone would do me the favor of cleaning up the formatting, I would greatly appreciate it. For some reason I can't get numbered lists to display properly...) Jul 5 '12 at 23:54
  • I think you may want to differentiate between the 'free' 1-honor cards like Spike Vixen or even Arha Initiate and the ones like Lifebond Initiate. The former are always a good buy (when you have nothing else to buy) because they cost no space; the latter I think you're right to avoid almost uniformly. Jul 6 '12 at 2:21
  • @Steven: Please see the corrected version of the question. Even though Spike Vixen is outside the scope of the (corrected) question, I will comment that I would rather buy a Heavy if it's late in the game, to prevent my opponents from having access to a potentially better card that would replace SV (for example). Jul 6 '12 at 6:00

When, if ever, is it a good idea to buy 1-Rune cards?

Almost always. If Chapel in Dominion has taught you anything, it is that trashing the chaff from your deck makes you much more likely to draw the good cards in your deck. For this reason, you should almost always buy Void Initiate. This is especially true early in the game, when you have a high density of Apprentice & Militia cards that are the polluting your deck (which are also worth 0 Honor).

For similar reasons, you should almost always buy Arha Initiate. It gains you 1 Honor (half the cost of a Heavy Infantry, and a third the cost of a Mystic and replaces itself when drawn.

Void InitiateArha Initiate

Lifebound Initiate isn't a bad card, but buying a copy isn't a no brainer like Void and Arha Initiate cards are. This card becomes much better with other Lifebound Cards in your deck, and other Void/(Enlightened) cards that strip your deck of the chaff/(draw more) and make you draw into your Lifebound cards more often

Lifebound InitiateMechana Initiate

Mechana Initiate is the worst of the bunch. I would almost never buy this card. The flexibility of adding Runes or Power doesn't seem that great. Perhaps if enough Burrower Mark II (Draw 1 first Mechana) or Rocket Courier X-99 (When acquire Mechana put into play) and other Mechana cards are available in the center row, then I might consider it, but usually I would pass.

Regarding holding off on buying a Heavy Infantry instead of an Initiate to prevent an opponent gaining a better card

The only real way to calculate this would be to figure out how likely a good card would come up, when your opponent wouldn't have had access to the card if they had to buy the Initiate themselves. For example, imagine if our opponent has 5 Runes worth of cards in their hand and 2 Power. There are 48 cards left in the center deck, (one of each different name). Lets assume for the moment that all the cards showing in the center row have 3 Power or more, and are 6 Runes or more. By not buying the Initiate, you have the possibility of the new center card being a 5 Rune cost card, that your opponent wouldn't have been able to purchase if you hadn't removed the initiate from the center row for them. Since their are only 5 cards that cost 5 Runes ( Ascetic of the Lidless Eye, Flytrap Witch, Snapdragon, Watchmaker's Altar, Voidthirster) out of 48 5/48 = 10% of the time you help your opponent.

Technically speaking, 3 of those 5 cards only gain you 2 Honor anyway. If the game was close to ending, and no one would be able to shuffle anyway, those 3 wouldn't matter (they could have just bought a Mystic and Heavy Infantry instead). If you had exactly 2 Runes though, it would be more likely in this scenario that you would draw one of the 4x Initiates to replace the Initiate in the center row. So you should probably buy the Initiate anyway.

  • Thanks for the answer. I actually haven't played Ascension proper since the SoS expansion was released on iOS, but I probably play 3-4 games a day of RotF/SoS. The 1-rune cards in SoS are worth - at most - as much as Lifebound Initiate, which is still pretty low in my eyes. Jul 7 '12 at 14:45
  • I think you're missing a big factor, and that's opportunity cost. Example: Arha Initiate may be a great buy for points, but I would pick Mystic over it almost every time in the early game to increase my buying power. Nov 1 '15 at 2:40
  • Opportunity cost is also the reason I would get Arbiter of the Precipice over Void Initiative. The former cycles through your deck faster, and will almost always give you a hand that has better buying power. Nov 1 '15 at 2:45

When considering expansions, some of the cross-set card interactions are covered here...

With just that set alone, Lifebound Initiate combos with Snapdragon (5/2 l/c... 5 cost, 2 honor; lifebound construct) which says you get +1 honor for the first l/h you play. This card also pairs with Runic Lycanthrope to get +2 power as well. Void Initiate is nice early on to thin out your deck of Militias and Apprentices.

It may be a good idea to buy these as a cheap way to get new cards into the CR (center row). In your OP, you mentioned higher cost cards, but also Monsters. If you have 1 rune and 8 power, buying one of those cards could clear the way for a juicy Monster for all that power to kill.

Cross expansion stuff not covered in that link...
Immortal Heroes (exp #3) -has an Enlightened event where each Enlightened card you buy lets you draw one card
-has a Void event where each Void card you get lets you banish a card from your hand or discard pile

-There are cards that look for # of lifebound cards played, or have Unite effects, or Multi-Unite with Realms Unraveled (exp #6)

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