Here is a report on my route to 5-0 at the final organized Ashes tournament, held in Dallas TX. I posted a copy of my deck here: https://ashes.live/decks/view/5658/
By winning the event I was given the awesome award of picking the final Phoenixborn left standing at the end. Even though I played Harold in the tournament, I picked Jericho, as she is my personal favorite and is always fun to play.
The folks at PHG did a great job organizing the event. I was especially happy to see that a number of players who had dropped off the competitive ashes playing scene (Elliot, Erik, Nick, Kian, to name a few) came back for this event. I only started playing Ashes competitively last year. So, this was a chance for me to meet and play against some of these legends of the game for the first time.
As for the event itself, my first two matches were against Aradel decks. The first of these was piloted by Tony, a relatively new player. His deck used Gilders, Bear, Butterfly Monks and Owls. I had a better position on the battlefield throughout the match, but Tony did a really good job clearing my bears with gilder ping and water blast, thereby limiting the damage he took (I often ended up swinging with Gilders and Owls). Later in the match when he had several butterfly books on the battlefield I had to switch over to frost bite to push through the final damage. My second match was against Jessica, who also played Aradel, relying on divine conjurations (lion + lioness) and butterfly monks and Jaguars. Lions are a tough play against Harold because he can mark them and remove without sacrificing anything valuable. I also was able to ice-trap a blue-jag. This gave me a big edge on the battlefield and I was able to swing for critical damage in round 3 (I think).
My 3rd match was against Elliot, playing a variation on the Namine deck he used to win GenCon in 2017. Because of all the ping in my deck I had a dominant board position through most of the match and I was ahead on damage throughout. Nonetheless, focused butterflies mitigated damage to Namine considerably and Elliot summoned a LOT of butterflies in this match. I used Harvest Soul on butterflies to avoid triggering last blessing. I switched over to mill/burn later in the match (owl + frost bite), and I was able to deck my opponent. Elliot countered by using ceremonial dice to return anchornauts to hand. While it was clear that I would soon win the match via frost bite + mill damage (I still had a lot of life left), our match went to time. Elliot was extremely gracious by not pushing for a technical draw. He could have created a technical draw by meditating away his butterfly books, stalling the game more than the 2 turns granted when time is called. Side note: 50 minutes is tough when butterflies are involved.
My 4th match was against Xander playing an updated version of his One Trick Pony deck used back in AIL 1.0 [Stallions, Bears and Shadow Spirits]. At this point, Xander and I were the only 2 undefeated players (there were some draws). Gilders assisted by hunter’s mark gave me a big advantage on the battlefield. I also put considerable damage through onto Vicky without taking much on Harold. Xander was able to clear out several of my bears via Crescendo and Seeds of Aggression, but he was unable to put any meaningful illusion pressure on me (he had very bad luck with drawing IC) before I put critical damage onto Vicky.
My final match was against Christian. He was running Coal with spirits, butterflies, bears and hammer knights. This was the only match-up all day where I did not have an upper hand on battlefield from early on. Credit a combination of HK aftershock, slash, and 100 blades for that. This did not surprise me. Christian is an excellent player and Coal is awesome!! Nonetheless I maintained adequate board presence and was also able to trade damage with Coal. Move of the match for me was playing a remorse on Christian late in the game. I think he had about 3 cards left in his draw pile and almost none in hand. This was effectively a 4-damage remorse, as Coal was already going to take draw damage between rounds. It also forced Christian to meditate away his butterfly books. Coal put more damage on me than anyone else all day, but Harold has a lot of life to work with The match ended with Coal taking draw damage between rounds.
It was fun to play against a number of old-school decks. Unlike many big tournaments where the newest PBs are over-represented, I did not see anyone playing James or Fiona. My biggest concern going into the tournament was Vicky meteor, and I was a little surprised no one brought this. My other big surprise is that I was able to put draw damage onto my opponent in three of my five matches. Going in I viewed mill as an unlikely win-con for me, but memory drain proved valuable throughout the day.
I am of course sad that PHG is no longer producing new content, but this was a nice event with a lot of great people, and I hope to keep playing Ashes with many of them into the future.