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  • Second fan expansions available in deck builder!

    The cards for Devlin Longbow and Plutarch Eastgate are now available in the Ashes.live deckbuilder!


  • My Ashes Weekend 2016 at Team Covenant - A Repost 0

    On the 17/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to Brandon Miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didn't write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, I have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    Erik Rodriguez April 20, 2016

    I’m a bit lazy when it comes to writing things like this, but I really enjoy reading them. As a fan of the game, I think I owe it to the community to provide a write-up of my experience at Ashes Weekend 2016 hosted by Team Covenant. It will be easier if I break up my experience into a few separate articles. This article will strictly cover the Swiss rounds of the tournament.

    Pre-game:
    The day started with waking up and heading over to Team Covenant with Isaac and crew. I messaged Papa Pratt (aka Christopher Pratt) earlier in the day asking him to run First Fives with me before the tournament. “Running First Fives” is a practice technique for Ashes where you only play the first round of the game. You pick your First Five and a First Five that you’re worried about facing and play it out. You don’t worry about shuffling decks or rolling dice; just assume you meditate for whatever you need.

    The goal is to end the round in an advantageous position. If your first attempt doesn’t work, adjust your FF and try again. Rinse and repeat for every opposing FF you’re worried about. Papa Pratt helped me practice against Jessa with Summoning Books, Leech Warrior, Enchanted Violinist, and Fear. After running it twice we concluded that starting Hidden Power with [[Rin’s Fury]] and focusing on dice exhaustion was the play against Jessa because it stripped her removal options and denied mana for Screams. The math didn’t change if Leech was swapped for Hammer Knight and I still ended the round in a strong position (this ended up being extremely close to the FF my opponent played in the Finals match). We started to run FF for three book Brennen but they started calling for deck list submission so it got cut short.

    The deck’s original name was “Yolo Rin”, but I didn’t want to keep being tagged as the “Yolo” guy, so I decided to name the deck “BDR” per Jarret “JtheSecretBoss” Berman’s suggestion. I’ll spare explaining what BDR stands for just in case StrangeCopy wants to keep their PG rating.

    (angus note: for those who wish to know, it can be figured out as “Big… Rin”, ill leave you to figure out D)

    Swiss Round 1 – Rin vs. Brennen:
    I was very nervous. I had practiced A LOT with the expansion cards on Tabletop Simulator the two weeks leading up to the tournament so I knew that my deck was strong, but I didn’t have any experience participating in big competitive events like this and was very stressed out. I kept telling myself that my goal for the day was to just try and make Top 8 so that I could win one of those sweet playmats. After that it wouldn’t matter if I lost because then I could just hang out with friends and watch the final matches being livestreamed. I wouldn’t stand a chance at taking 1st place anyway.

    When the first round of Swiss pairings were displayed on the television screen I saw that I was paired against none other than Rodney Smith from Watch It Played. If you haven’t met Rodney then you should know that he is probably one of the nicest, coolest people you will ever meet. I was very relieved to be playing against him first round because I knew that, no matter the outcome, the match would be a blast to play.

    Rodney was playing his “Where’s Aradel?” deck. The story behind this deck and its name is pretty humorous and I think you can read about it on Rodney’s twitter and/or Facebook pages. Rodney was running Brennen with I think a 5 Natural [[natural]], 5 Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] build. I started my standard FF against Brennen:Frostback Bear, Hammer Knight, Crimson Bomber, [[Rin’s Fury]], Choke. It’s important to note that PlaidHat changed up the first player rules for this tournament. Whoever rolled the most basic dice was allowed to choose who received the first player token in the first round. I chose to go second every game because BDR wants to be able to swing in on an empty battlefield turn 1 of round 2.

    I focused my dice exhaustion efforts on his Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice to deny him recursion and reaction spell shenanigans. Bear, Bomber, and HK established board presence while clearing Brennen’s battlefield. By the end of the first round I was in position to swing in for 7 damage turn 1 round 2. More big units followed and the game snowballed in my favor. Rodney ended the game with a friendly handshake and funny twitter photo. This match was a joy to play and a tremendous help in getting me to relax and put my mind in the right spot for the rest of the tournament. Thanks Rodney :). Current Record: 1W-0L

    Swiss Round 2 – Rin vs. Jessa:
    Round 2 was against Ben Ruggles of Team Covenant. Ben is another really cool guy that is just fun to play a game of Ashes against. Ben prefaced our match by saying he had only played Ashes a handful of times.

    Ben was playing what appeared to be Good Stuff Jessa with a 4 Ceremonial [[ceremonial]], 3 or 4 Nature [[natural]], and 2 or 3 Charm [[charm]] spread. I started the FF Papa Pratt and I had practiced before the tournament: Bear, Hammer, Violinist, Hidden Power, Rin’s Fury. I stripped his dice aggressively without committing anything to the battlefield.

    Ben started with Open Memories for a copy of Expand Energy (and I explained to him that Open Memories does not require you to reveal the selected card) and ended up playing one or two copies of Expand Energy to his spellboard along with a Living Doll to his battlefield. I don’t remember what else happened but by the end of the first round he had an empty battlefield and I had already hit him with a Bear for 3. I meditated a Crimson Bomber earlier in the round and had 3 Ceremonial dice left over so I brought it back from the discard and played it to swing in for another 3. Turn 1 round 2 was a Hammer, Bear, Bomber, and EV to the face for another 11 damage. Current Record: 2W-0L

    Swiss Round 3 – Rin vs. Rin:
    Round 3 was against Elliot Kramer. I knew Elliot from the AshesRules slack chat and we hung out at dinner the night before. Elliot is a sharp guy and fun to dojo with. Dojo is what a few Ashes players call the process of theorycrafting, deckbuilding, testing, and tweaking. Elliot was playing Rin with a 4 Natural [[natural]], 4 Ceremonial [[ceremonial]], 2 Illusion [[illusion]] spread.

    When I first saw this I got a bit worried as I did not want to play into a mirror match up. I especially hate playing 2 Illusion [[illusion]] into 2 or 3 Illusion [[illusion]] because the dice exhaustion mind games are real. I tried a new FF that seemed to make sense: Bear, Hammer, Violinist, Rin’s Fury, Blood Chains. This ended up being the right move. Turns out Elliot was playing a Golem Rin.

    He put out three books round 1 (Ice Golem, Bear, and Dread Wraith) along with Frostbite. I exhausted his dice to prevent the Wraith but he still got the Golem and Bear out. I ended up sacrificing Violinist to Blood Chains the Golem and killing his Bear with HK. By the end of the first round I had a strong board with Bear, HK, and EV against a chained golem. My draw for the second round was perfection: Hammer Knight, Crimson Bomber, Hidden Power, [[Rin’s Fury]], and Blood Chains. Hidden Power and [[Rin’s Fury]] let me play the heavy exhaust game while putting out another Hammer, Bear, and a Bomber. Blood Chains on the newly summoned Golem tipped the battlefield advantage heavily in my favor without any room for Elliot to recover. Current Record: 3W-0L

    Swiss Round 4 – Rin vs. Noah:
    As fate would have it, round 4 was against The Secret Boss Jarret Berman. J was doing work with his Noah deck. He ran a 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 3 Nature [[natural]], 3 Illusion [[illusion]] spread. Shadow Target is incredibly strong in a bear heavy meta and he knew how to use it. My FF was Hammer, Bear, Fury, Violinist, and Choke.

    Playing against another player who uses Illusion [[illusion]] to exhaust aggressively is a pain in the ass. It’s like playing a game within a game. I focused on exhausting his Illusion [[illusion]] dice to force an early Hidden Power play. I also suspected he might be running False Demon (he wasn’t) so stripping him of that color would deny the summon.

    J played really well and was able to strip me of dice so that I couldn’t play Choke on his Shadow Target (though I was able to get a Bear out the first round before that happened). The round ended with me slightly ahead on battlefield presence. My round 2 draw had a second copy of Summon Frostback Bear in it. I knew this would help tilt the game in my favor if I surprised him with it. I held it all round and waited until he thought I had nothing left before playing it.

    Having two books let me pump out bears despite Shadow Target and Ice Buff let my units outlast his. The combination of these two things ultimately won me the game. Current Record: 4W-0L

    Swiss Round 5 – Rin vs. Jessa:
    Going into the final round there were three players with a 4-0 record: Austin Mills with his Brennen, Grant McKinney with his Aradel, and me with my Rin. I ended up being the one to play down against a 3-1 opponent, The Main Action’s Callin Flores.

    Callin was sticking to his usual script of piloting a variation of Christian’s current Jessa deck, and he was actually performing better with it than Christian. He ran a 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 3 Nature [[natural]], 3 Illusion [[illusion]] spread. Ugh, another exhaustion match up.

    I started the practiced FF into Jessa: Hammer, Bear, Violinist, Hidden Power, Fury. My dice exhaustion pressured him heavily. He played Fear on my Hammer Knight to bump it back to my hand but I just recast it with the help of extra dice from [[Rin’s Fury]]. Future rounds I focused on stripping his Illusion [[illusion]] dice to deny potential False Demon, Out of the Mists, and Shadow Counter shenanigans. In the end I was able to pump out more threats than he could handle. Final Swiss Record: 5W-0L

    Final Results:
    After five rounds of Swiss the Top 8 players were announced. They called up each player who made the cut one by one and handed them that sweet Team Covenant Ashes playmat.

    #8: Jarret Berman – Noah – 4W 1L – 24 Tiebreaker Points – 82 Blood Points
    #7: Tim Keefe – Jessa – 4W 1L – 24 Tiebreaker Points – 82 Blood Points
    #6: Zach Armstrong – Lulu – 4W 1L – 27 Tiebreaker Points – 76 Blood Points
    #5: Joshua Trevino – Jessa – 4W 1L – 27 Tiebreaker Points – 87 Blood Points
    #4: Grant McKinney – Aradel – 4W 1L – 30 Tiebreaker Points – 76 Blood Points
    #3: Elliot Kramer – Rin – 4W 1L – 30 Tiebreaker Points – 77 Blood Points
    #2: Austin Mills – Brennen – 5W 0L – 33 Tiebreaker Points – 92 Blood Points
    #1: Erik Rodriguez – Rin – 5W 0L – 33 Tiebreaker Points – 93 Blood Points

    This is where I go on a small rant about Blood Points. Austin is an extremely skilled player. We both went 5-0 and yet I was given the #1 seed because the sum of life values for the Phoenixborn I played against just happened to be 1 more than what Austin played against. This was purely random. There is nothing Austin nor I could have adjusted in the games we won that would have altered this outcome. That being said, I’m happy I was the #1 seed though I would have preferred to not play against Jarret again in the first round of the Top 8 (because we had just played each other in the Swiss rounds and I considered his deck my most difficult match up next to Austin’s deck).

    After hearing the applause and collecting my playmat I held it up, looked at it, and thought “You did it. This is all you wanted right?” I rolled up the playmat and placed it in my bag. Not anymore. I wanted to go further. I wanted to win.

    That’s all for now. Next article I’ll talk about the Top 8 bracket.

    (Angus note: I am currently unable to find a deck list BDR, since the PHG deck builder is no longer online. I am currently trying to contact Erik for an original deck list. failing that, I will put together a decklist that I would consider to be a rough approximation of what it would look like, given the meta at the time.)

  • hidden power - episode II - Aggressive Meditation - a re posting 0

    On the 17/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to Brandon Miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didn't write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, I have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    Christopher Pratt May 11, 2016

    Welcome to Hidden Power – Episode II – “Aggressive Meditation”
    Last episode, we talked about “Thunder Numbers” and how to pick a solid first five/dice spread for efficient casting. In this episode, we’ll allay some common concerns and talk about the best ways to leverage dice, deck, discard, spellboard and hand manipulation through meditating… aggressively.

    [[ceremonial]][[charm]][[natural]][[illusion]]

    The Basics

    “I meditate. Meditation helps me.”
    -Rick Springfield

    I could probably drop the mic right now after finding that nugget of wisdom on the interwebs, but in case you won’t just take the word of the man that warned you not to talk to strangers, who pined for Jesse’s girl, or you (and far more likely) are too young to even know what the heck this old coot is talking about, I will go ahead and move forward.

    Meditate:
    verb, Ashes Vernacular

    Discarding cards from your hand, deck, or spellboard to change a die in your active pool to the side of your choice for each card discarded.
    Something Rick Springfield does. It helps him.
    Forms: Med, Medded, Meditate

    Aggressive Meditation:

    Noun, Ashes vernacular
    The practice of meditating without concern for the cards you may discard from your deck, hand, or spellboard if doing so betters your overall position and game state.

    A tactic used by winners. Like Rick Springfield.

    Roll them Bones!

    You’ve just rolled your dice and the cosmos was unkind. All basics [[basic]]. Dang.
    Surely you are going to lose this game now, right? Your days of getting mana flooded or mana hosed in Magic the Gathering come storming back. “Great, more random ways to lose the game, Bah!” But then, you remember! You have some control in Ashes, and decide you are going to go ahead and meditate to turn some of those dice so you can actually cast something this round. You begin off the top of your deck. Flip. Flip. Flip. As you’re flipping that third card, you see it. THE perfect card for this match-up/situation. You curse under your breath and despair.
    Well, you really shouldn’t. Just…

    (Angus note: i removed an image. It showed the four dice types with the words ``keep calm and meditate on” with a red background. I'm sure all of you can imagine it, it's nothing that's hasn't made its way around the internet before)

    This episode is about why, especially in the current meta, you need to be meditating, doing so aggressively – and wisely – in order to set up the round, ensure you have all of your options open, and all of the information you need in order to be able to deal with what may come. Further, we’ll break down some strategies that may become more viable, and some higher level plays you can use in order to use meditation to your advantage.

    Unleash the Power

    I have to say that I know this isn’t an easy topic to discuss because some of it flies in the face of that feeling you get when you see one of your best cards get turned over into the discard. I’ll admit it. When I see a Molten Gold or Hidden Power get turned over while fixing my dice, I swear a little swear, and hear my opponent’s friendly jab at me.

    “Oh,” I say.
    “That’s too bad,” they say with a chuckle.

    But know that the better players do this almost more as a communal rite rather than a real lament. It’s kind of a grim inside joke shared among the people that “get it.” Sure, that card there in the discard pile may be an unfortunate happenstance, but if meditation was necessary to win, it’s of less importance than following the path to victory set out by the deck. Which specific card it was is irrelevant to the extent that meditating reduced the chances at drawing that card.

    Ugh. That was a mouthful and likely confusing, so let’s get into some examples and hopefully I can clear this up.

    You are playing Saria. You have Heart’s Pull ready to roll with a [[charm]] and [[natural:class]] showing. You also have Summon Frostback Bear in hand but no [[natural]] to cast it.

    You’ve decided, based on early board pressure from your opponent – “If I don’t cast this Summon Frostback Bear this Round, I lose the game.”

    You have 25 cards in your deck, but for this example, let’s just focus on the top 2 cards, nothing else. You take your well shuffled deck, set the top two cards in front of you face down, and the rest of the deck aside.

    Now, let’s imagine that one of these top two was THE CARD you wanted – if you could pick a First Six, it would be in it. The other is a bring Forth you splashed as a lark, because you boasted you could whoop your friend with it in your deck. And since you don’t have any False Demons, you really would prefer not to draw it.

    You know you need to meditate this round at some point to shift that [[natural:class]] to [[natural]] so you can cast that Bear. In my ever-growing elaborate hypothetical, you’ve decided that meditating out of hand is a non-starter because your FF is carefully selected for your friend’s deck.

    Two cards. One brilliant. The other drek. And you with a choice – Heart’s Pull first or meditate first?

    What do you do? What could happen here?

    The truth is – in regards to which card is ultimately going to end up in your hand this round – it just doesn’t matter. You could: meditate yourself closer to THE CARD, meditate off THE CARD, Heart’s Pull the Bring Forth or Heart’s Pull THE CARD. Half the time happy with the card drawn. The other, not so happy.
    But what cannot be lost here is – regardless of what was meditated off, and/or what was drawn – you had to meditate or you lose the game! Meditating, regardless of where THE CARD ends up, has to be seen as a “good” thing because it moves you closer to your win condition. If THE CARD ends up over there rather than in your hand, but you win because you meditated? Give it no second thought.

    This is why when I’m on the other end of that Heart’s Pull, and I have to discard a card from the top of my deck, I don’t really worry about it all that much, unless I feel as though running me out of cards is a focus, rather than a side effect, of the action. While the card being rolled off may have “taken a card I wanted away from me,” it just as easily could have “moved me closer” to a card that might be better, or provided me a [[ceremonial]] target. If THE CARD didn’t end up in my discard when you Heart’s Pulled me, maybe I’m going to draw it now!

    Mentally redo this exercise. This time, since you’ve chosen your deck carefully, all the cards are good cards. Begone Bring Forth fluff! You meditate so you can win the game, and roll off one good card into your discard. But! The other is good too! So, you’ve gained a power die, and are now closer to the other good card, ready for Heart’s Pull or your next turn draw. If you meditate good cards away – simply draw the other good cards in your deck, and win.

    Also note – the circumstance painted – meditate or lose – may seem dire, but I guarantee you will likely lose if you sit on a card in hand in your FF because you are concerned about meditating something “of value” into your discard.

    Undrawn = Meditated = Undrawn

    Think about, on average, how many rounds your games last. Right now for me, it seems to be at about 3.5. So, let’s round up – 4 rounds.

    This means with no card draw (from you or forced by your opponent (Abundance)), or deck manipulation (Open Memories), going four rounds, you will draw* a total of 20 cards per game on average. This means you will not draw 10 cards. I hope to, with the following, illustrate how refusing to leverage these not drawn cards as a resource is folly.

    (*for this exercise, your FF counts as “drawn” cards)

    First let’s take a look a game with no meditation from the deck:
    Begin by taking your well-shuffled 25 card deck (you’ve got your FF for round 1), and setting aside your opening hand. Next, take the top five cards and place them face-down in a pile representing your second round hand. Repeat this for rounds 3 and 4. At the end of this 4 round game, since you didn’t meditate so you could “protect your cards” you have 10 random undrawn and unused cards in your deck.

    Now the same game with meditation:
    Take your well-shuffled 25 card deck (again your FF is set aside), and imagine you decided to meditate three cards that round. You meditate three cards off of the top of your deck and set them face-down in the discard pile (don’t peek!). Next, you take the top 5 cards and set them aside face-down as your round 2 hand. Again, imagine a three dice meditation and put the top three cards face-down into your discard pile. Repeat this for round 3, and for round 4, put the last card left in the discard pile.

    At the end of this, the two scenarios look very similar: 20 cards drawn for each game, and 10 random cards not drawn. Though, in the second example, those 10 cards in the discard pile bought you 10 power dice. This is a non-trivial amount of dice-fixing and likely allowed you to perform the actions you needed to in order to effect your strategy throughout the game.

    Again, in both instances, 10 RANDOM cards were not drawn. It’s this that is the key. Whether those random cards are the 10 at the bottom of your draw pile, or the three, three, three, one meditated during the rounds is irrelevant. You didn’t/won’t/don’t have access to 10 random cards.

    For these examples, should it concern you that you don’t/do know what’s in the draw/discard pile? Not insofar as you didn’t use/used, potentially very efficiently, the resources available to you to make you more competitive during the game.

    By “playing carefully” and “protecting your key cards” you aren’t really doing yourself a service. If your deck sits with any number of cards greater than zero and meditation from your deck could have helped you in the game, then it was a mistake to not meditate – regardless of what may have flipped over into your discard when you did it.

    These are the golden rules of deck meditating:
    Presuming you aren’t out of cards when the game ends, the cards in the discard pile that were meditated from the deck represent cards you wouldn’t have drawn anyway.

    Utilizing your deck as a resource is a key to winning at Ashes.

    Quick Aside: I wrote that the average games are lasting 3.5 rounds. This means that many a game are only lasting 3 rounds total. Doing the math here shows that on average, only 15 cards are going to be drawn, leaving another 15 for meditating. Since the length of these games belie just how aggressive these decks are, it isn’t unusual to see pilots meditating 4-5 cards per round to get the dice they need to bring the pain.

    A Glimpse of the Future

    Now that we have the mindset that what I’ve meditated from my deck represent cards I wouldn’t have drawn anyway, and we are at peace with that BEST card flipping off into the discard pile, we can talk about some of the things that can be gleaned from the information you get by knowing cards are no longer available.
    What seeing the cards in the discard allows you to do is figure out what the chances of drawing a specific card may or may not be based on the information presented.

    Certainly, your opponent may be able to suss out some information – especially when that information is absolute (all three of a card is in the discard pile). But, as the creator and pilot of the deck you are running, and knowing intimately all of the cards available to you based on the meticulous deck construction you performed, you should be able to gain advantage from that knowledge.

    Can you race? Should I guard for this creature? How much more damage do I have coming up in the subsequent rounds? With the discard filling up, you are better able to answer those questions for later rounds of the game.

    Your opponent may play differently based on what cards are shown in your discard as well. A singleton Choke, or Hypnotize may make them think they should be “playing around that card.” The point is, it isn’t always a bad thing that they see the cards from your deck in your discard pile. Have I had the “surprise” spoiled before? Yes I have, but again, not meditating wasn’t an option if I wanted to win the game.

    Further, knowing that it is likely imperfect information, you should be paying very close attention to what your opponent is rolling off into their discard pile. For not only the intel about what may be coming from an Action/Ready spell standpoint, but from one of the better sides to Ashes – Allies.

    [[ceremonial]][[ceremonial]]
    “We were always coming back.”
    -Deltron 3030

    Since one of the strengths of the Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] die is its power ability, meditating from your deck allows you to “fill the well” so to speak, in order to provide you targets for that power die. This may happen organically (you need to meditate and just happen to run across some allies that can be brought back), or (and way cooler) it can happen purposefully.

    Since you are allowed to meditate more dice than you have available (or even if you have no dice available), you may effectively meditate off the top of your deck until you see an Ally you want to target with your [[ceremonial]].

    To illustrate this – a story from Tulsa.

    In the fourth round of the tournament Jarret “JtheSecretBoss” Berman needed 2 points of damage to finish the game. He knew he had Stormwind Snipers in his deck as he hadn’t seen one, and knowing this, proceeded to meditate. Even though he only had four dice, he meditated seven cards in order to ensure the Sniper was in the discard and available next turn for the win**.

    Now, here’s the tricky bit that Jarret pulled, one of the reasons he made it to the Top 8, and illustrates the point this article has been trying to get across – the Stormwind Sniper was actually the fourth card Jarrett meditated over – yet he continued meditating three more cards to hide the sniper so as to not draw attention to it!

    This is a brilliant play on several levels and demonstrates a full understanding of the game! He knew the cards he was meditating were a resource – not only to prepare him for the win on the next turn but as camouflage to hide his intent!
    Bravo!

    (**Note: the rule about meditating dice/spellboard/hand is that you can meditate any number of cards of your choosing, even if the number of cards meditated is higher than the total of your dice – even if your dice total is zero! This is because of the order of operations for meditating. First, you are meant to meditate any number of cards, set that number, and then change your dice.)

    Book Burning

    If you ever get a chance to watch some really great Ashes being played, where the game comes down to those last cards, one of the things you will likely see is people meditating from their Spellboard. I can’t express how wonderful a mechanic this is and how sharp players are able to make the most out of all of the resources available to them. It’s always interesting to me to see a player build this base of books and other ready spells, only to tear it all down as the game progresses, in order to fuel the game forward.

    Some things to consider when it comes to Spellboard meditation:
    It isn’t always a last resort! Need a spot for a different Ready spell? Meditate a Book!

    Know what’s left in the 5 cards left in your draw pile (based on what you’ve meditated off) and you want to ensure you draw it next turn? Meditate a Book!
    Want to kill your Butterfly Monks and gain some life? Meditate a Book… or in this case – all of your Butterfly Monk books – even if you don’t have any dice to change!

    The point is, don’t forget your Spellboard late in the game when you potentially have very difficult decisions to make!

    Small Sacrifices

    Remember that Bring Forth you had in your deck because you were confident you would win? Well, even if you did draw it – it wouldn’t be completely useless. Meditating from your hand, and leveraging your hand as a resource, is another important aspect to the game. Since you get to replenish, fully, your hand at the beginning of each round, there’s no – game reason – stopping you from using your hand resources as efficiently as possible.

    When you are tallying up what you can do for the turn, there will likely be some cards you may not necessarily be able to cast due to lack of number of dice types. Remember to think about your hand as a resource to maximize your efficiency for the round!

    (angus note: i removed images of out of the mist, deep freeze and blood puppet)

    My Sides are Killing Me!

    You’ve got the idea that meditation isn’t something just for Mr. Springfield, and you are willing to use the various methods to power up your rounds, but are there guides for how many dice you should set up and when?

    As with most things, I’m going to talk in generalities. In general, it’s wise to go ahead and meditate all of the dice you think you will need for the round as soon as you can, because you never know when you need to cast that Out of the Mist, or respond to an effect your opponent plays. Since those might require a side [[side]] action, you can’t both fix your dice and deal with the challenges.
    I’m not saying you should always do this, but I am saying that getting in the habit will allow you to open windows of choice later on in the round. I’ve seen plenty of situations where not meditating earlier in the round actually has lost people games; the action they needed to take was a reaction, or required both a side and a main that “do work” but the dice weren’t there. This after several turns of passing without taking a meditate action.

    I understand that by consistently fixing your dice up front through meditation, you might feel as though you are telegraphing your rounds. Even this can be gamed a bit. For instance, if you know you are going to finish the game with Molten, and don’t want to let your opponent know you have it for the win (so they don’t use their Blood Transfer), it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to wait until your turn before meditating to create the [[natural]][[natural]].

    One last point on this. The dice you have showing portend your options whether you want them to or not. Only [[basic]][[basic]] (angus note: in the original article the [[basic]]s were pink to indicate charm. This doesn't carry over to ashes.live) or no [[ceremonial]]? Your opponent knows you can’t cast Redirect, Sympathy Pain, or Final Cry. By presenting Power dice, it unlocks your options, and may make your opponent have to at least consider the circumstance that you may have those cards.

    Killing Me Softly

    Of course, as soon as I suggest you might want to meditate early to fix the dice you need for the round, I’m going to give you a reason not to do so.
    The best card (currently) in the game, Enchanted Violinist, allows you to meditate very, very aggressively.

    Her ability turns every off die into a [[natural]] effect and since you are likely going to be meditating (as is your opponent) she can do amazing work for you. By meditating a single dice each turn, you can leverage her ability each turn.
    Her synergy with your Thunder Number, and with your need to meditate, is amazing. When you find yourself at a low Thunder Number for the round, and you want to leverage those dice, look to this wonderful lady.

    Simply meditate one card a turn and sing them a Song of Sorrow. Anyone running [[ceremonial]] will likely be playing her to eventually Side [[side]] Action get her back, lose a life, and then cast her. I’ve seen this card hold off Hammer Knights for turns, and the surprise factor of casting it late in the round after your opponent believes there’s nothing you can do since you passed, passed, passed for three turns is awesome.

    If you don’t know the power of the Enchanted Violinist, I strongly suggest you put one in your FF. Her value, flexibility, and synergy with your Thunder Number, and with your need to meditate, is truly incredible.
    (Yes Callin, she should be Saria’s unique ;))

    “More than one mage was driven insane by the sound of the Millstone relentlessly grinding away.”

    In Magic the Gathering, the Millstone was one of my favorite cards. When I took 19th in Nationals a long, long, long time ago, my deck had no way to actually deal damage. I relied heavily on the Millstone. This card coined the term “Mill” – a now ubiquitous term – for a deck or strategy designed to run your opponent out of cards.

    With all of the aggressive meditation, resource-utilization, and efficient kill decks abounding, are there mill strategies available in Ashes, and what do they look like?

    Right now, you have two straightforward “mill” cards designed to push people through to the end of their deck – Abundance and Purge:

    Abundance is always tricky to use. Sure, it’s great in Coal, but for any other Phoenixborn, it’s has a sharp double-edge. While you are pushing them through their deck, you are also feeding them, potentially, the good stuff they need to burn you out. With the prevalence of the good person from Blackcloud, this can be a dangerous game indeed.

    Purge is just a dice beast for absolutely no tempo gain at all. Further, if you don’t push them to the end of their deck, you are simply helping them in ways already noted about meditation: you are filling the well for [[ceremonial]] usage and providing them intel about how the rest of the game is going to line up
    While I am not saying it is impossible to leverage these cards in a consistent winning strategy in the current meta, I am going to say I think they may need help. In light of the topic of this article, there may be a much more nuanced methodology to attack someone’s deck and to push them to the end of the game…

    [[illusion]][[illusion]]

    Again, my favorite dice rear their wolf-shaped heads. Here, they are a potential means to run the game longer through the exhaustion of the power dice that your opponents have meditated to. If you can increase the number of times your opponent has to meditate – by a mere 2 per round – and you are built to be able to make the game go long – you can potentially limit your opponent’s effectiveness later in the game and/or force them to take damage from drawing from their now empty deck.

    You don’t necessarily need to be “Heavy Exhaust” but running 2-3 [[illusion]] dice and a Shifting Mist can prevent you from having to meditate those wolves, and provide you a leg up on the deck race. If the Shifting Mists don’t hurt your tempo too much, they may be a good sideways “mill” option.

    There are potential flex strategies against decks that like to swing with big creatures, rather than burn you out. You just may be able to clog up the field and [[illusion]], Purge, and/or Abundance them out the rest of the way.

    We’ll see if the future holds more cards that can help this strategy, but what we are seeing is – people are effectively aggressively mill-meditating themselves, so a surprise strategy that helps them along the way is right around the corner.
    Maybe you will make it the next tier one mill deck!

    Wrapping it Up!

    Hopefully in this entry into the “Hidden Power” archive, you found something of interest or something that may help you play this awesome game just a bit better. I understand that many of the top tier players knew, pretty much, everything I’ve written, but I hope as the game grows, more players may be able to leverage this information as a base and provide discussion points for those new players just beginning to grasp second-level strategy in Ashes.

    If nothing, hopefully the “Golden Rules” of meditating can be helpful for those new players who may be concerned about rolling off their good cards.
    Whatever happens. Keep Calm. Meditate On.

    As always, if you feel there’s something I missed, something I got wrong, something I could have done better, please don’t hesitate to reach out. If there’s a topic/deck/card/strategy you would like to see discussed, please feel free. If I did okay, don’t hesitate to provide that feedback as well. It’s always welcome.
    Thank you very much for taking the time to read. It is appreciated.

    Best of luck to you.
    -Papa Pratt

    Angus’ note: the following thoughts are not part of the article, but from the comments section. I do believe they are worth recording though.

    Giovanni Corzana (thesnipertroll) says:

    Awesome article, like the previous one!

    If I may offer a suggestion, here’s a psychological tip that can help people overcome the fear of meditating good cards away: when you meditate from the deck, just pretend you are discarding cards from the bottom.
    If the card you discarded was at the bottom of the deck, you’ d probably think “well, guess that card wouldn’t have come up anyway, so at least I could get some value out of it”, whereas when discarding from top the temptation to think “I might have drawn that card and now it’s gone” is high. Don’ t tell me you never thought that.

    Anyway, since cards in the deck are in a random order (barring deck-stacking effects that are however not in the game yet), the chance of a given card to be in any position of the deck are the same. As it doesn’t matter where the card was it’s much better to be optimistic and pretend that card to be unavailable since the beginning.

  • Making the Project Phoenix Expansions 1

    Hello Friends!

    I recently dusted off Ashes after having it sit neglected on my board game shelf and found that this game was A LOT better than I remember it being a few years ago. Naturally finding out that plaidhat is not making anything else for it, I've begun the quest to acquire as much as I can as fast as a I can. This includes the project phoenix expansions. Has anyone actually gone through and used makeplayingcards.com as they suggest on the project phoenix page? I was trying to feel my way through it, but warnings about low res images and putting cards together has me a touch leery. Any tips?

  • ashes basics: deck building - a repost 2

    On the 17/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to Brandon Miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so I will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didn't write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    thesnipertroll October 17, 2016

    Hello everyone! In the last few episodes of my Ashes Basics series, we dealt with the Phoenixborn in the Core Set and with their preconstructed deck. Before we begin addressing the expansions, though, I’d like to talk about deckbuilding, because attempting to build and play with a customized deck is a step that, in my opinion, anyone, even who didn’t have any previous experience with this kind of games, might want to take sooner or later. If you are here to discover the secrets behind building a tournament-winning super-deck, I’m sorry, I don’t have the magical recipe for you; but at least I hope to provide you some principles that – still in my opinion – you should always keep in mind when building a deck.

    How to Build a Deck in 30 Seconds

    You bought the game, you studied the rules and played some games with the preconstructed decks. Many of you most likely cursed a bit when playing Noah against Aradel, but this didn’t stop you. You like the game, but then you begin to know the decks by heart; you want something more. Then you happen to take a look at the sidebar on page 14 of the rules: “Deck Building”. Mmh… sounds interesting… here’s how to create a custom deck:
    - Choose a Phoenixborn
    - Choose exactly 30 cards, not one more, not one less, with the following limitations
    - You can include up to 3 copies of the same card in you deck;
    - You can’t include in your deck cards that are exclusive of other Phoenixborn (those that have a picture of a Phoexnixborn different from the one you chose in their bottom-right corner);
    - Choose exactly 10 dice to form your pool. There are no limitations in the types and distribution of the chosen dice.

    Conjurations are not included in the deck, but in a conjuration pile that is created by taking all the conjuration that the cards in your deck could potentially bring into play. Each card will be included in the conjuration pile in a number of copies equal to its conjuration limit.

    Great. Done. That’s all. Next time we’ll begin to talk about the expansion decks. Thanks for reading! See ya!



    Ok… fine, that’s not everything. Well… yes, from a certain point of view it is all, these are the rules. With these simple rules, and the cards in the Core Set, you can create a myriad of decks, so have fun! Truth is, among all the possible combinations, a lot would be completely unplayable, and among the playable one, some will be more efficient than others. The purpose of this article is to give you some general criteria to narrow the field and allow you to dedicate only to those combination that could seriously work.

    Disclaimer: I listed the following steps in a somewhat logical order, that is the one I usually follow, but that doesn’t mean you should follow this to the letter. Actually, you’ll most likely find yourself jumping back and forth between those steps in an iterative way, adjusting your choices again and again and reviewing what you already decided, polishing your deck until you reach a satisfactory point.

    Strategy First

    Let’s start with the basics. Game objective? To win. How do you win? By putting as many wound tokens on the opponent Phoenixborn as they have Life.
    That’s your deck’s task. There are no other ways to win other than dealing 15-22 wounds on the enemy Phoenixborn and make them stay there, so the first question you have to ask yourself is: how do I fulfil this objective?

    The answer to this fundamental question defines your deck’s general strategy. There are many out there, but the most common are the following:
    - Repeatedly attack the opponent’s Phoenixborn with many small units, in succession or as a group.
    - Attack the opponent’s Phoenixborn with medium-high attack units, so that you could close the game with 2-3 well-struck blows;
    - Directly deal damage to the opponent’s Phoenixborn through spells and abilities, thus ignoring any unit that could defend them;
    - Let the opponent’s Phoenixborn suffer damage because their controller can’t draw in the Prepare Phase.

    Those strategies aren’t “absolute” of course. On the contrary, since each offers advantages and disadvantages, they could be combined in various ratios to gain more flexibility and to mitigate your weak points. For example, you would want to use a mix of large and small units, or you would combine the capability to inflict direct damage with discard, to reduce the number of rounds you need to win thanks to the damage for not being able to draw.

    Once you set your broad strategy, you should choose a “package” of core cards that would allow you to lead that strategy to completion. You want to use swarms of small units? Maybe units like Gilder, Mist Spirit, Shadow Spirit, Fire Archer or Sleeping Widows could do the job. Direct damage? You would most likely consider cards as Molten Gold, Sympathy Pain or Stormwind Sniper.

    The Phoenixbonrn could be one of these core cards, but it’s not mandatory: you could choose a Phoenixborn only to support your chosen strategy, there’s nothing bad in that. In picking your Phoenixborn, take into account the exclusive card you’ll gain access to: if that allows you to further advance your strategy, considering to use it makes sense, otherwise you could well do without.

    There are obviously cases where you would only want to use a given Phoenixborn precisely to have access to its unique card. In such situations, in my opinion, you should attempt to choose a strategy to which your Phoenixborn could at least give a minimum of support, or you would find yourself with a card of limited utility in play.

    (Angus note: I've had to remove an image showing fear, [[Rin’s Fury]] and summon silver snake as examples of loyalty/exclusive cards)

    The Colour of Magic
    Once your strategy is set, and you chose the core cards around which your deck would be played, you should start to take a look at what kind of dice those cards will require, to understand which could be your (approximate) dice distribution. Don’t worry to choose exactly which and how many dice of each type to use, that’s something we’ll get back later at, but theoretically you should have, from just the core cards and your Phoenixborn, a rough idea of which types of dice you’ll mostly need, and which would act as a support or would most likely be cut, which would help you narrow the field of cards you could add to support the deck’s strategy.

    If, for instance, you would want to create your strategy around launching unblockable attacks with a Hammer Knight and Hypnotize*, you would need at least a Nature [[natural]], a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]], two Charm [[charm]], and a fifth [[basic]] die to set this up in a single round. As a precaution, both to limit meditation and as a countermeasure against Illusion dice, having at least another die of each kind is never a good idea, so your strategy could force you to commit at least 7 of your ten dice: 2x [[natural]] 2x[[ceremonial]] 3x[[charm]], which most likely mean Summon Shadow Hound (costing 3x[[illusion]]) won’t be a fitting addition – unless you go heavy with dice recovery – while Summon Gilder (play cost 1x[[charm:class]], activation cost 1[[natural:class]]) could find some room more easily, and could be a good support card to protect your Hammer Knight.

    *Angus note: this is a good example of why I want to save these articles

    A question you could often find yourself asking, especially at the beginning, would be: how many dice types to use? The short answer is: it depends on which cards you are using. Contrary to what happens in other games that require specific resources to play given cards, having all the resources available from the beginning allows you to include a broader array of options; you’ll rarely run the risk of having a given resource available and not drawing cards that require it, or – much worse – having specific cards in hand that you can’t play because you lack the corresponding resources.

    This said, the ideal approach is to go for 2-3 magic types. Even with the “mono-magic” expansions, the card pool is at the moment too narrow to build truly efficient single-die decks especially because of the predictability of the cards you’ll have to use, and the excessive specialization that would lead you to have many weak points in other areas, which more versatile opponents would easily exploit (though you definitely won’t have any problems in finding the right resources at the right time). On the opposite side, diluting the dice distribution over all the 4 types, though feasible, would make managing your deck more complex, and would make you an easier prey for the Hungry Wolves (i.e. Illusion [[illusion]] dice).

    In the end, like in most other cases, there’s no universal recipe that could be OK in any situation, you should find the right distribution that most fits your play style by yourselves. Seen the most frequent deck types, however, the “standard” dice distribution you could in my opinion start with could be:

    - For 2 kinds of dice: 5/5, 6/4 or 7/3, according to how much you want to dig into one of the two magic types, relegating the other to a support role;

    - For 3 kinds of dice: 4/3/3 (balanced), 4/4/2 (balanced, with a “splash” of one type – one of the most common distributions), 5/3/2, or 6/2/2 (growing emphasis on one of the three magic types).

    Bringing It All Together

    After choosing the cards you’ll need to put your strategy on the move, and beginning to think about a possible dice distribution, it’s time to think about the side dish, i.e. all those cards who don’t directly advance your strategy but:
    - make the realization of your strategy easier/faster to achieve and/or
    - allow you to exploit their synergy with the “core” cards in your deck to support the strategy you have in mind and/or
    - take care of possible lacks or limits of your strategy

    I wrote “and/or” because frequently those aspects overlap, and the same card can cover more functions at the same time.

    For instance, if you wanted to enact a “swarm” strategy, cards like Final Cry or Chant of Revenge could show some utility though they don’t directly advance your strategy of putting a lot of cheap units into play and attack the opponent. An overall weakness of this strategy is the fact that such units tend to be extremely frail and will be destroyed with ease: having cards that, with a moderate expense, allow you to transform the loss of units into damage to the opponent is a good help for sure.

    Or, if you want to go for strong but expensive units, [[Rin’s Fury]] and Hypnotize can both make this strategy easier, giving you extra dice to play those units and the upgrades you need, and a way to directly attack the opponent, but also mitigate some of the deck’s limitations, like the generally high cost of larger units, and the fact the opponent can easily block those units with smaller, cheaper ones, making you waste precious resources.

    In general, even if you aim for direct damage or to discard the opponent’s deck, it’s good to have a way to constantly bring units into play, both to attack and to defend. Ready spells that put conjuration into your battlefield are the most obvious choice, but they are slow and predictable, while allies deal more damage on average, and allow you to put some pressure to your opponent and to somewhat exploit a “surprise effect”, but require to be drawn, and the cost for you to recover them from the discard pile might turn out to be quite steep.

    Once you have chosen your strategy, you should think about how to implement it, and about when, during the game, you could be in need of a given card: this might help you to understand how many copies to use. A card that can help you set the course in the first round, but won’t be of much use if drawn later will probably be enough in a single copy, to include in your First Five. On the other hand, if you want to maximize the chances to see a card you don’t immediately need, but becomes fundamental from round 2 onward, you should include three copies of it.

    You should evaluate, based on the average cost on the cards in your deck and the number of drawing effects you have, how many cards you might draw each round, because this will influence the chances you have to see exactly that card you need a lot: if your costs are high, you’ll most likely play less cards per round from your hand, thus drawing less. The same goes if you rely much on ready spells in your spellboard and on those cards that require you to spend dice to activate their abilities. On the other hand, cheap spells and allies in hand will lead you to save very few cards from round to round (with the opposite risk, that’s finding yourselves with a lot of unspent dice, beware!) and so drawing a lot, increasing the chances to see the cards you need.

    Last, always take into account the fact that, even if you don’t draw cards that require a given type of magic, you always have access to the dice powers, whose efficiency may vary a lot based on the situation ([[natural]] and [[illusion]] have a broader utility, [[ceremonial]] and [[charm]] are a bit more situational), but it’s never to be underestimated.

    The First Five

    Another fundamental aspect is the choice of the First Five you’re going to usually play with, which is something that usually happens when defining the key cards for your strategy. This won’t automatically mean your First Five must all be key cards: it’s possible, especially if you aim for a long match, that the majority of those will stay in the deck, and the First Five will serve to set up a first round that allows you to mitigate the damage and initiate a strategy that will develop in the following rounds.

    The choice of the First Five also brings with it a good chunk of the evaluation about which and how many dice of each kind to choose for your deck, and how many dice will you presumably spend in the first round in a “standard” environment” (remember you are not bound to use always and forever the same group of First Five, you’ll most likely want a flexible hand to adapt to your opponent), which in the Ashes lingo is called the “Thunder Number”. Right, just so. Don’t look at me, I have nothing to do with it, blame Callin Flores of The Main Action Podcast. Some time ago I suggested something more scientific, possibly something that could be summarized with a nice acronym, something like Theoretical/Heuristical Unified and Normalized Distribution of Expected Rolls, but no one listened…

    Anyway, however you want to call it, the Thunder Number is a fundamental concept for the Ashes gameplay and strategy, thus I invite you, if you didn’t already do it, to read Christopher “Papa” Pratt’s Hidden Power article, which addresses the topic much better than I could ever do.

    Let’s Assume the Deck is a Sphere…

    Your deck won’t obviously be flying alone in the intergalactic void, but will be put to the test against an opponent, who has a strategy of his or her own, which you can’t know in advance when you sit down and plan your deck construction. A further step forward is, thus, considering the possible threat to your deck, how common they could be in your “meta” (the group of players with you will habitually play) and to think during deck building about which tools you have to react to those threats. These situation can be extremely various, and the answers to them even more, so I can’t give you a solution that works for sure against anything, but you should always ask yourselves questions like:

    - What do I do if the opponent opens with Hammer Knight + Frostback Bear and goes directly at my throat? How can I stop such an attack?
    - How do I react to an opponent who tries to slow down my game by exhausting my dice and cards, or forcing me to fill up battlefield slots with unusable stuff?
    - How do I protect cards that are fundamental for my strategy and prevent them from being blocked, discarded or more in general made useless by my opponent?
    - How do I create a breach in the defenses of an opponent who hides between a wall of units?

    The answer to these questions will vary a lot depending on which cards you chose, and on how significant is the threat posed by this or that strategy. Consider this a sort of costs-to-benefits analysis: how big is the risk to ignore this or that card/ability/effect? How much do I spend, in terms of resources and advancement of my win condition, to prevent that?

    (Angus note: i removed a picture of choke as an example of a card to counter your opponents plans)

    Unfortunately, you can’t prevent every risk, on the contrary, this may be counter-productive, as you might find yourself with a deck full of answers to issues that will not materialize. Each of those cards will remove oxygen from your strategy, which has the sole purpose of doing damage to the opposing Phoenixborn, not exhausting their units, nor cancelling their abilities, nor removing from play their alteration spells: those should only be means that allow the other cards in your deck to fulfil your main objective of destroying the opponent’s Phoenixborn, they should never replace it.

    To be true, in some cases the answer to a potential threat could be, to quote the proud hierarch Gaetano Maria Barbagli, a sound “I don’t care!” followed by a meaner counter attack on the opponent’s forces.

    The evaluations made above should always integrate with the choice of the First Five: the more your starting hand is “locked”, the less room you’ll have to deal with threats from your opponents’ decks, so is usually a advisable to keep at least one “flexible” pick, to make at the beginning of the game, after seeing the opponent’s Phoenixborn and (following competitive rules) dice.

    Some choices can be quite obvious: if you see a bunch of Illusion dice, keeping your Thunder Number low and not relying much on cards which require power symbols is probably a good idea, while if your opponent shows 4 [[natural]] and 4 [[ceremonial]] expect an aggressive start, which could most likely feature a Hammer Knight and/or Frostback Bear. Other considerations will be harder to make, and depend a lot on how much you know your about your opponents’ play style, but just on the Phoenixborn they chose you can already expect a kind of gameplay: relying of frail units against Coal or Aradel is quite risky, the same goes with putting a lot of resources in a single big unit against Jessa, while if you see Leo across the board, you should take into account the incredible annoyance posed by his Glow Finch.

    …and, Cut!

    Good, it’s almost done. We set a base strategy and choose a “core package” of cards to implement it, we integrated this strategy with support, synergy and disadvantage mitigation cars, we thought about suitable answers to the opponents’ threats, and finally we decided which cards could form our hand of First Five and evaluated the costs and dice distribution. Cool. Our 38-cards deck is ready to be tested. Or is it? Mmhh… there’s something wrong here…

    Right, because you’ll most likely find yourselves with more than the 30 mandatory cards. A few, let’s say 3-4 extra cards, is fine. It usually means smoothing the deck to cut a copy here and one there, evaluating the implication of each modification one by one: Do I risk not having enough units by cutting a Summon Frostback Bear? Do I really need three copies of Molten Gold or are two enough?

    If you find yourselves with 35+ cards in the deck, however, you’ll probably have to be much more heavy-handed, retrace your steps and thoroughly evaluate if one or more cards are really that necessary, until you have just a few cards in excess of the required 30, so that you can then polish and refine your deck.
    Ok, now here we are. The deck is over, at last!. 1 Phoenixborn, 30 cards, 3 copies of each max, the respective conjurations, and 10 dice. Now deckbuilding is over, and we can finally play.

    The Crash Test

    Well, actually this is true up to a certain point. Technically, yes, deck building is complete and you have a ready-to-play deck, but is it efficient? Does it manage to realize the strategy you wanted to use? Is it satisfactory to play? Since no plan survives first contact with the enemy, there’s only a way to find out: play, play, play.

    When you test a new deck, pay attention to each and every detail: which cards you tend to use and which you don’t, whether the dice at your disposal are the right ones to play everything you need in every situation, or if you often find yourselves thinking “ah, if I had that card now…” or “one more Nature [[natural]] die would have been useful here”.

    Do you often find yourselves with unspent dice? Maybe your costs are too low, or you have too many resource-generating cards you don’t really need that much. You jump-start, but then after 2 rounds you can’t deal any more damage and lose in the long run? Maybe you are not applying the right pressure onto your opponent, and you need something to put them in a tight spot more frequently. Don’t underestimate any aspect, and train to analyze any game situation with critical eye.

    Do not stop at a single game, try the deck repeatedly, against different opponents, to evaluate which kinds of deck give you a hard time, and which ones you can beat with ease, but play also against the same deck, adjusting the strategy from time to time to understand in which measure the final outcome depends on the deck construction and in which on the way you play.

    After the match, think about what you did good and what you could have done better. What would have changed if you chose this card instead of that in the First Five? Were there any cards you realize you didn’t have the chance or the desire to play or, worse, when you drew them, you wished you didn’t? Reverse your point of view: don’t be afraid to talk with your opponent in an attempt to understand what they found an issue to deal with in your deck, or which situation they would have a hard time with, if you just did this move instead of that. The Ashes community is full of great people that are more than eager to discuss in a constructive way and provide advice and opinions. The more info you get, the better you could adjust your deck, especially when approaching an important event like a tournament.

    An useful advice – not an idea of my own, it was hinted some time ago in an episode of The Main Action Podcast as something used by Erik Rodriguez and Christopher “Papa” Pratt to prepare for the Tulsa tournament, but since it’s a wonderful idea I think is right to post it here – is that of trying your First Five, repeatedly playing the first round, and then resetting the game, choosing your starting hand each time. This will allow you to understand if you have a solid opening, and if there’s something you could improve in the first, crucial, phases of the game. Remember that a good opening won’t make you automatically win, but if you start bad, you’ll have a high chance to lose.

    Wrapping Up

    To recap, in order for you to create an efficient deck, you need to:

    - Choose a strategy, and a core set of cards that will allow you to put it into completion;
    - Begin to define a possible dice distribution based on the core set of cards you chose;
    - Choose cards that allow you to support or accelerate your strategy, to exploit the synergies with it or to mitigate the disadvantage it entails;
    - Evaluate the potential First Five and the costs associated to them, and in general, the more useful dice distribution to use every card in your deck;
    - Evaluate which can be the most likely threats you’ll need to address when playing, and which are the ways your deck is going to deal with to them;
    - Evaluate which cards to cut if you chose more than 30;
    - Play. Play. Play. Test the deck repeatedly, improving it from the feedback you received in the test games;
    - Repeat the above steps iteratively, further refining your deck until you reach absolute perfection!

    That’s all. I hope my advice would turn out to be useful, and allow you to build decks that, if not efficient, are at least satisfying to play. Because if it’s true that the object of an Ashes match is to defeat the opponent’s Phoenixborn, the purpose of playing Ashes is (as with any other game) to have fun, so whatever deck you may want to use, whatever strategy you wish to follow, the first and most important question you always have to ask is: will I have fun in playing this deck?

    Thanks for reading! Until next time,
    Giovanni

  • will the phoenix rise from the ashes once more? 12

  • the hidden power - episode one - "Thunder Number" 0

    On the 17/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didn't write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, I have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    Christopher Pratt April 28, 2016

    Welcome to the first article in my series – Hidden Power – about Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn, the brilliant ECG from Plaid Hat Games. If it goes well, maybe it will be a long series. If not, I’m hopeful that along the way we will have had some good discussions, I may have taught you something, you’ve taught me some things with your feedback, and we’ve played some great games.

    These articles presume you know the game, and is geared towards those players that want to start/have begun constructed play. If you aren’t there quite yet, no worries. I will be updating this space with links that have a more introductory bent:

    An Introduction to Ashes

    I know there are more coming, and if you have suggestions, please send them along. As this space fills with foundational information, and you start your trip through the wonderful game that is Ashes, I’m hopeful that the things I write about make more sense to you in the long run.

    Now, without further ado – What the heck is a Thunder Number (TN) and why is it important – First Five and beyond!?

    [[ceremonial]] [[charm]] [[natural]] [[illusion]]

    The Basics

    Thunder Number:
    noun, Ashes vernacular
    The number of dice required to cast all cards in your hand, use all of your ready spells, and use Phoenixborn (PB) abilities – especially important for your First Five (FF).

    Rai Kotaru’s favorite motorcycle: http://godzilla.wikia.com/wiki/Thunder_Number

    origin: Callin Flores from The Main Action podcast.

    This article isn’t about Rai Kotaru. Sorry to those Godzilla lovers. It is, however, particularly concerned with the math of the choices of your FF, and what goes into the deck. The cards you might choose, based on PB, meta, and dice shown, will be in a future installment.

    When someone asks – “hey take a look at my deck?” – almost immediately, my question is: “what are your typical FF?” I say typical, because those choices may change depending, but in general there is a core that players want to adhere to in driving the strategy of their deck.

    (Note: if you are going to post your deck and are looking for serious feedback on it, please let folks know what you think your FF should be. Erik’s Plaid Hat post about his Tulsa winning deck is a perfect example of this. It allows discussion about what should/could/may be better in different match-ups and gives you an idea of the thought process.)

    From the FF information provided, I do some counting. How many dice are required to cast all of these spells, and leverage the PB ability if there is one? Further, how many dice types are required to make all of this happen. For instance, if someone is packing Dread Wraith (requiring [[ceremonial:class]][[ceremonial:class]][[ceremonial:class]]) , and Crimson Bomber ([[ceremonial:class]][[ceremonial:class]]), is playing Noah and wants to Shadow Target ([[ceremonial:class]]), they had better have access to at least six Ceremonial (Ce) dice to be able to do all that they would like to do round 1.


    Rolling with the Thunder – The Good
    Since it did win Tulsa, let’s take a look at what Erik’s deck is packing as a Thunder Number for a “Standard” opening:

    (Note: For this exercise, anytime a Basic dice symbol is used ([[basic]]), it can be of any dice type.)

    - Summon Frostback Bear: [[natural]]to cast, [[natural:class]] [[basic]] to summon the bear. Thunder Number (TN) +3
    - Hammer Knight: [[ceremonial]][[natural:class]][[basic]] to cast. TN +3
    - Crimson Bomber: [[ceremonial:class]][[ceremonial:class]]to cast. TN +2
    - Enchanted Violinist: FREE to cast. TN +0 (Angus note: the deck and article were created pre errata. EV now costs 1 [[basic]])
    - [[Rin’s Fury]]: [[basic]][[basic]][[basic]] to cast. TN -2!

    Frostback Bear, Hammer Knight, Crimson Bomber, and EV all give you a TN of eight, but whoa, look at the effect [[Rin’s Fury]] has on the TN – it actually decreases the value, bringing his total TN to six! That leaves four dice left over to do whatever else he would like, potentially leveraging the power faces of those dice to tremendous effect! That’s maybe four more [[natural]] pings, a [[natural]] resurrection of an ally (with dice to use to cast it), or (far more likely) to [[illusion]] exhaust your dice!

    This is the first clue to begin understand why this deck was so efficient and effective. Not only is the deck putting 10 Attack/11 life on the board (the 11th life is Rin’s Ice Buff), it’s doing it with six dice! Wow.

    [[illusion]][[illusion]]
    Thunderstruck!

    Now, imagine your deck has some really great cards. You’ve got a 4[[ceremonial]], 4 [[natural]], 2[[illusion]] dice spread. You are playing Noah.
    In your FF you’ve got:

    - Summon Frostback Bear: [[natural]] to cast, [[natural:class]][[basic]] to summon the bear. TN +3
    - Hammer Knight: [[ceremonial]][[natural:class]][[basic]] to cast. TN +3
    - Enchanted Violinist: FREE to cast. TN +0 (Angus note: the deck and article were created pre errata. EV now costs 1 [[basic]])
    - Steady Gaze: [[illusion:class]][[illusion:class]] to cast. TN +2
    - Blood Chains: [[ceremonial:class]] to cast. TN +1
    - Shadow Target (Noah Redmoon’s PB ability): [[ceremonial:class]]to use. TN +1

    You count the TN and come up with ten, and figure this isn’t a bad strategy. You think “I can shut down a summon they play with Shadow Target, Steady Gaze a unit, Blood Chains using the EV (getting it back later in the game with [[ceremonial]]), play my Bear and Knight and have a dominant board position.” It’s a strong plan, really.

    Until Erik’s deck uses single [[illusion]] and wrecks it all.

    Your Thunder Number at ten leaves you in a precarious situation and particularly vulnerable to [[illusion]] power usage (or Leech Warrior shenanigans). Further, the fact you need three nature dice ([[natural]][[natural:class]] for the bear, and [[natural:class]] for the Hammer Knight) and only have four available, means that if your opponent were to aggressively exhaust your nature dice, you may be left with a Hammer Knight in hand or a Bear unsummoned. That’s a brutal board/tempo hit.

    Your TN for both count AND type need to be able to handle a die or two being exhausted!

    Now, if your opponent isn’t playing [[illusion]] dice, you can relax a little bit, maybe chock your hand full and do, pretty much, everything you wanted. But if you see your opponent has [[illusion]] dice (or think a the Leech Warrior is in play), you need to back up, slow down, and rethink your FF immediately.

    Here, we’ve changed the initial FF due to our opponent presenting [[illusion]] – a single card that suddenly makes all the difference:

    - Summon Frostback Bear: [[natural]] to cast, [[natural:class]][[basic]]to summon - the bear. TN +3
    - Hammer Knight: [[ceremonial]][[natural:class]][[basic]] to cast. TN +3
    - Enchanted Violinist: FREE to cast. TN +0 (Angus note: the deck and article were created pre errata. EV now costs 1 [[basic]])
    - Hidden Power: [[illusion:class]] to cast. TN -1!
    - Blood Chains: [[ceremonial:class]] to cast. TN +1
    Shadow Target (Noah’s PB ability): [[ceremonial:class]] to use. TN +1

    The addition of the Hidden Power allows your first turn to likely be very smooth. Your TN is now seven – leaving you three dice left over to maybe pull your own [[natural]][[ceremonial]][[illusion]] dice usage, or to recover if some of your nature dice were exhausted for you. Once again a dice fixer, a negative TN card, can be quite effective to allowing your deck to shine.

    (Angus note: i removed an image showing a gilder, three eyed owl and butterfly monk)

    Thunderbirds are GO!

    You don’t always need to include cards with a negative Thunder Number (Hidden Power, [[Rin’s Fury]], Expand Energy (though this is really for subsequent rounds)) to play the game effectively.

    Austin Mills’ Brennen deck for Tulsa, in the face of illusion [[illusion]] dice, used ridiculously cheap/efficient units to ensure board presence, and allow him to react/deal with these kinds of challenges. With a 4 [[natural]], 3 [[ceremonial]], 3 [[charm]] dice spread, a typical FF for him might be:

    - Summon Three Eyed Owl: [[charm:class]] to summon. TN +1
    - Summon Gilder: [[charm:class]] to cast. [[natural:class]] to summon. TN +2
    - Summon Butterfly Monk: [[natural]] to summon. TN +1
    - Fire Archer: [[ceremonial:class]] to cast. TN +1
    - Enchanted Violinist: FREE. TN +0 (Angus note: the deck and article were created pre errata. EV now costs 1 [[basic]])
    - Spirit Burn (Brennen Blackclouds PB ability): [[basic]]to use. TN +1

    That’s a stellar TN of six, putting five units on the board for a total of five attack, eight life, doing one damage direct, one unit damage direct, memory drain available, last blessing available, and plenty of Spirit Burn targets. Really, that’s efficiency in a nutshell.

    You know Austin was able to leverage those dice he had leftover to cycle Fire Archers, pump up units, or ping things down. This is key! Those dice need to be doing work for you, or you are missing out on one of the greatest aspects of the game!

    (Update! Note from Austin (via Slack) – if his opponent didn’t have illusion, he would usually swap out the Enchanted Violinist for a Hammer Knight bringing his TN to 9. This he says is “perfectly fine if he’s not losing dice.” He’s 100% correct.)

    Echoes of Thunder

    Now that we have our FF TN set, let’s talk about the round 2 TN and things you need to consider when filling your deck out.

    We are now in round 2. Let’s say we have a Summon Frostback Bear, Summon Dread Wraith, Summon Ice Golem, and a Frost Bite in play (much like Elliot Kramer’s Rin deck here).
    Elliot’s dice spread is a fairly meta-typical 4[[natural]], 4[[ceremonial]], 2[[illusion]].
    To use every ready spell he has in play this round, he needs a total of nine dice. Obviously, he’s probably not summoning a Dread Wraith every round, nor maybe not even a Golem every round. What he drew, current board state, is he first player or not, etc. etc. go into the decisions he has at this time.

    I wanted to point out that the second round has its own, new, Thunder Number: the cost to use all of the ready spells, plus all of the cards in hand is that new number.

    Also note, Elliot’s deck has a pretty heavy nature reliant Spellboard: Bear needs [[natural:class]], Golem needs [[natural:class]][[natural:class]], and an un-focused Frost Bite needs [[natural:class]]. That’s all of the [[natural]] dice available. Sure, he could draw a fixer (Hidden Power or [[Rin’s Fury]]) but woe be unto him if he drew a Summon Frostback Bear, Hammer Knight, and a Molten Gold – darn good cards – without a fixer available. There’s a significant chance at tempo loss.

    The average cost of the cards in Elliot’s deck (using negative numbers for Hidden Power and [[Rin’s Fury]]) is slightly less than 1 (if I did my math right, and that’s unlikely). This means, on average, when he draws up his hand, the TN, presuming he doesn’t want to cast a Dread Wraith, and wants to use Frostbite, is eleven.

    In comparison, Erik’s deck had only a Summon Frostback Bear in his Spellboard, which meant the rest of his deck ran on the eight dice (presumes one Summon Frostback Bear is in play). The average cast for a card for his deck is 1.3 dice, which means he should have that 8 dice to do what he wants (I decided he would get 3×2 cost spells and 2×1 cost spells – or something that smooths dice etc.).

    Austin’s Spellboard took 3 dice to run, Brennen takes another dice, and his average casting cost was 1.5. It’s likely he will be able to run his deck and get the spells off he needs to get off. It’s also likely that with Chant of Protection, he doesn’t need to cast a card in his hand, but use it as a resource, so even if there is a dice tight turn, he might be okay.

    Note that if several fixers are drawn, Elliot’s deck, with the summons he has in play, is ripe to exploit them fully with the ready spells eagerly awaiting the excess dice. It’s likely if Erik were to have drawn a hand that was light on threats, but heavy in dice fixers, he would switch gears and start a heavy dice exhaust strategy ([[illusion]]) to shorten the round, and limit the opponent’s options.

    Expanding Horizons

    Expand Energy is an interesting card that basically plays for “free” round 1, but increases your available dice subsequent rounds, meaning you can support a higher TN. You are basically sacrificing early game tempo for later game efficiency. A really cool Aradel deck run by Grant McKinney from the Vader’s Finest podcast, actually banked on this, and ran Open Memories for a second copy of Expand Energy. He piloted this deck to a top four finish. I was able to see this strategy in effect, as he basically, game after game, filled Aradel’s Battlefield to max because of the significant die disparity he enjoyed. Grant had a fundamental understanding of the awesome resource advantage that comes from tipping the table of available dice in your favor.

    Wrapping it up!

    “Far away, through the gash that led the way into the mountains, he heard the thick mouth of the perpetual thunder.” -Stephen King, The Gunslinger”

    In general, for my FF, I would like my TN to be around seven, and have two more dice of a type than I need to have to get everything cast. The second half of that sentence might not be as clear as I would like, so let me explain. Barring dice fixers, if I count up the number of [[Ceremonial]] dice I must have to cast all of my [[Ceremonial]] dice cards, I would like to run +2 [[Ceremonial]] dice than that number. So, if I have Dread Wraith, Crimson Bomber, and no other Ce type cards, I would want to run at least seven [[Ceremonial]] dice to ensure, for the most part, that I can cast both of those cards. Though, note, if your opponent rolls a lucky [[illusion]] even this could be challenged!

    The Thunder Number – calculated each round – is kind of Ashes’s “mana curve” in a comparison to Magic. You want to be able to use the cards you have in play, cards you draw, your PB ability, and have really efficient turns. Signs you might be off of a properly tuned deck are dice left over after turns that weren’t being utilized efficiently/effectively, or cards left in hand that can’t be cast because of dice type or number.

    There are zero hard and fast rules here. My best advice is to play, play, and then play again. Look for hidden gems in the card pool that may have a very large impact, or cheaper cards that can perform a function you need. This, a tip of the hat to Jarret Berman for running Fade Away in his FF. He realized that he was going to lose the dice war to some opponents, and he used this [[illusion:class]] cost card to remove more expensive threats. People were quite often stunned at the play.

    I hope that this first entry in “Hidden Power” has given you some things to think about the next time you build your deck, sit down from an opponent, evaluate their dice pool, and choose your first five. Remember, if you see [[illusion]] , plan accordingly.

    Please feel free to leave comments, point out something I’ve gotten wrong, or, if I did okay, let me know. If there’s a specific strategy aspect/card/PB you would like to see covered in an edition of Hidden Power, feel free to suggest away.
    Thank you very much for taking the time to read. It is appreciated.

    Best of luck to you.
    -Papa Pratt

    Angus’ note: the following questions and answers are not from the article, but they contain interesting discussions that i believe are also worth including.

    Elliot Kramer says:
    Great write-up!

    Some perspective on my deck and your comments:
    1. I treat Frost Bite as an upgraded dice ability. I don’t intend to use it each round (its not mandatory), and really its use is in later rounds as a way to use excess dice to greater effect ( by either being able to go face, or with multiple FB using Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice as nature [[natural]] dice). With this consideration, I treated my FF thunder number as 8 (3 + 3 + 3 -1). It’s a flexibility play, and I don’t personally I costed it at 0 for TN purposes.
    Looking forward to future articles.

    Giovanni Cornara (thesnipertroll) says:

    Definitely expecting a very long series given this excellent first article.
    Since I’m pretty new to the game, I’d like to pose a (maybe stupid) question: how do you factor “cancel” reaction spells like Choke, Ice Trap or Golden Veil into your TN? Do you count their cost for your “effective” TN or do you consider it to be part of the dice you keep in “reserve”?

    To which papa pratt responds:

    Thank you for the kind comment!
    In your FF, I think you have to count all cards as part of your Thunder Number regardless of type. You put those cards in there for a reason, and if you run out of mana, through maybe leveraging dice effects, then those cards cannot perform the function for which you put them in.

    But, being able to roll with the ebb and flow of the game to obtain advantage is the rule of the game – not some arbitrary article written by an old guy (I am nothing if not fallible. :)).

    If you have reaction spells that require a trigger – Golden Veil for instance – and the round plays out that you are confident your opponent isn’t going to play something you can say “No” to, or saying “No” isn’t as important – then feel free to spend the dice allocated to Golden Veil without feeling too terribly bad. If your unit was crucial and was able to withstand a round without you casting the veil, hopefully you are ahead of the curve.

    After that first round, reaction spells are an evaluation on return on investment in pressing action through spending your dice, versus holding those dice waiting on the proper trigger.

    To answer the question directly – “Do I count the cost of reaction spells into my “effective” TN?” Yes. Early in the round. Through the turns, as I suspect I cannot force the trigger, my trigger may not come, is less important than other effects, or my opponent’s dice exhaustion strategy may remove my ability to react in a specific window, I may disregard playing specifically for that trigger, and spend the dice I had allocated in my “effective” TN moving those dice mentally to “reserve.”
    This evaluation holds true for any card you’ve put in your deck after Round 1, by the way. Sometimes, it’s just better for you to not cast something now, discard it for meditation, or hold onto it for subsequent rounds. While I may have alluded to the idea/concept you must. cast. everything. every. round. It’s not what I meant, and not a hard and fast rule.

    I was more identifying rounds where you wished you could have cast some cards, but had the wrong dice and or number of them, and it consistently created rounds with bad tempo.

    Hope this helps and answered your question. Thank you for reaching out. It really is appreciated.

    Lastly, I look forward to more of your work here:
    https://shiftingmists.wordpress.com/

    And, everyone should check that out as well!
    -Papa P.

  • PHG Reacquired by Original Founder 5

  • the cloudsea siren - how to 0

    On the 17/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didnt write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    thesnipertroll October 7, 2016

    Hello everyone, and welcome to another instalment of my preconstructed deck reviews, aimed mostly at new players who want to know more about the various cards and strategies in the game. As we already covered five of the six decks that come in the base set, today it’s time to address the final one: Saria Guideman‘s Cloudsea Siren deck.

    With a Battlefield limit of 5 and a Spellboard of 4, Saria falls in the middle of the Phoenixborn cast: nothing noteworthy, neither good nor bad here. Her life value of 20 is slightly above average, and is quite good considering that she’ll probably aim for a long-term strategy. Her special ability, Heart’s Pull makes you draw a card for a Side [[side]] Action and a Charm [[charm:class]] die once per round, granting you a nice card advantage: you’ll be basically be running 6 cards and 9 dice instead of 5 cards and 10 dice per round, if you wish, which means you’ll have slightly more flexibility than your opponents.

    The relatively low cost of many of Saria’s cards (with some of the most expensive allowing you to choose how many die you want to invest when activating them) makes spending a die to get an extra card not much of a burden to your energy reserves. In addition, when drawing with Heart’s Pull you’ll be able to make the opponent discard a card off the top of their draw pile, laying the foundations for a “discard” strategy – further supported by many other cards in this deck, as we’ll see later – and also providing a way for the Enchanted Violinist to trigger her Song of Sorrow.

    The suggested dice pool for this deck is:

    [[illusion]]x5
    [[charm]]x5

    With Illusion [[illusion]] providing dice and board control, and Charm [[charm]] here showing two of its characteristic traits: deck and hand disruption, this deck is unique amongst the six of the core set, as is it goes for a totally different strategy: locking down the board as much as possible and attempting to deplete the opponent’s deck – also commonly known as “milling”. Its goal is to stall the game long enough, removing enemy options and preventing the opponent from attacking, and to get to a point when the opponent starts taking damage from being unable to draw in the Prepare Phase.

    If you manage to get there, the game will be usually over in a few rounds, but you need to exploit every trick in your sleeves in the meantime, because your opponent won’t sit down and stare at you tearing through their deck, and will probably press the attack and attempt to close the game before it’s too late. In this situation, both the Illusion [[illusion]] and Charm [[charm]] dice power come in handy, although for totally different reasons: Illusion [[illusion]] will help you undermine the enemy supply lines, removing any key dice they’ll need to play their most useful cards. The lower the number of dice at their disposal, the shorter their rounds will be, allowing you to get to the late game quicker (yes, I know, more cards sitting unused in their hand means they’ll draw less, but more on that later), and if you take out specific magic symbols, you’ll force the opponent to meditate more, thus advancing your win condition.

    On the other hand, the purpose of the Charm [[charm]] die in this deck is mainly defensive in my opinion, allowing your overall fragile units to survive from round to round, instead of providing extra damage, as you probably won’t be attacking much. That is, of course unless you actively work towards creating avenues for surgical attacks, which is something you definitely can do, but – still in my opinion – requires a bit of build-up; in this situation you can exploit the attack bonus granted by the Charm [[charm]] die to put more pressure to the opponent and make the threat of depleting their deck even more significant.

    Saria’s unique card is Summon Seaside Raven, a Ready Spell with the somewhat hefty activation cost of a Main Action [[main]] and 3 basic [[basic]] dice. Although not requiring specific symbols lessens the impact on your dice pool as you are free to choose whichever combination you need, the amount of dice spent in a single time is somewhat taxing to your reserves, more so if you consider the relative fragility of the Seaside Raven itself. Sure, it possesses the Magic Guard ability that renders immune to all spells controlled by the opponents: it can’t be targeted by spell effects, can’t be hit by effects that affect multiple units without targeting, or spell effects don’t directly target it but affect him somehow (like for example Transfer), nor may Alteration Spells be placed on it by an opponent, but there are still a lot of effects and abilities that can interact with the Raven and render it useless – most of them cheaper than the 3 dice you had to spent to play it in the first place.

    Phoenxborn and Unit abilities that deal damage or exhaust units, like Aradel summergaard‘s Water Blast, the Blue Jaguar‘s Gaze, the Anchornaut‘s Throw or the Fire Archer/Stormwind Sniper Ambush, all are able, if not to remove the Raven from play, at least to weaken it for a Nature [[natural]] Die ping or to render it useless for a round. Its main drawback here being its relatively low Life value of 2, which makes it pretty vulnerable for a 3-dice unit, and most likely requires you to spend more dice in the form of the Charm [[charm]] Power to increase its endurance. Be also aware of Spiked Armor, whose ability is granted to the unit it is attached to, so technically the 2 damage from Spiked Skin originate from the unit and can spell doom for the Raven.

    with an attack of 3 and the ability to hit first due to Battle Advantage, the Seaside Raven is an excellent unit killer, easily making short work of strong brawlers like the Hammer Knight or the Frostback Bear without worrying to trigger their special “on damage” abilities. Its ability to surgically swoop on strong enemy attackers can act as a support for Saria’s discard strategy, allowing you to suffer less damage overall, and to get easier to the late game where all your discard effect convert into damage on the enemy Phoenixborn. On the other hand, if you manage to create gaps in the enemy defenses with the help of Enchanted Violinists, Rose Fire Dancers and Sympathy Pain, you can also plan to use the Raven offensively, maybe packed with some Charm [[charm]] dice for extra damage.

    Weird aspect about this spell: it has a conjuration limit of 2, but no focus ability, so you won’t probably need a third copy in play, unless you plan to reuse it over and over again to replace a lost Raven (but that will cost you 9 total dice, not sure how much it is worth), but still having three copies in the deck could help you to get a second one in place faster if you want, especially given Saria’s incredible card draw potential.

    Ready Spells

    Saria’s three other Ready Spells work in conjunction one another to quicken the grinding of the opponent’s deck.

    Summon Three-Eyed Owl is one of the most annoying spells in the game to play against. At the cost of one charm [[charm:class]] die, its activation is super cheap, and allows you to refill your battlefield turn after turn with minimal effort. The three-eyed Owls themselves are an excellent 1-cost unit, with an attack of 1 and a good life vale of 2, which makes most attempts at destroying them more expensive for your opponent’s reserves than yours. Their utility as cheap chump blockers for enemy attacks is surpassed by far by their special ability, Memory Drain, which, by spending a Main [[main]] Action and exhausting the Owl, forces the opponent to choose and discard a card from their hand. Not only this limits the options at their disposal during the current round, but also indirectly advances your “deck discard” strategy as the opponent will be forced to draw more in the following Prepare Phase, thus emptying their deck faster.

    Having a Three-Eyed Owl down in the first round can hurt the opponent’s First Five strategy a lot, so when play against this deck keep in mind that you would risk not using one of your key cards. In order to prevent this you could either aggressively attempt to destroy the Owl as soon as it comes into play (direct damage is much better than attacking here, as Saria could step in to protect the Owl, potentially triggering a Sympathy Pain in the process) or – if you play Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] – you could include a low attack ally, like the Anchornaut or the Living Doll in your First Five as a sacrificial card for Memory Drain, since you could still recover it with the Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] Power later.

    Abundance is a card with a pretty weird design, compared to most of the other in the game. It costs a Main [[main]] Action and an Illusion [[illusion:class]] die, and then it allows you to spend a Main Action [[main]] to let each player draw up to 2 cards. If a player can’t or doesn’t want to draw, however, that player’s Phoenixborn takes 1 damage for each card that wasn’t drawn (with the option of mitigating the damage your Phoenixborn would take for each focused copy of Abundance). Free card draw is good. Making the opponent draw as well while it is you that spend actions… well… that is less good; so, what’s the point of this card? First of all, Saria has – with the exception of Seaside Ravens – access to relatively cheap cards, plus an incredible resource accelerator like Hidden Power, so drawing more can give you an edge over opponents with higher costs. Moreover, you will be also making the opponent discard with Three-Eyed Owls, thus basically turning all the card draw into milling, and you have access to Illusion [[illusion]] dice, through which, as I already wrote above, you could exhaust any key dice the opponent could need, so they’ll get stuck with a hand of cards they couldn’t use.

    When you reach the late game and your opponent has no cards in their deck anymore, Abundance can deal the killing blow to the enemy Phoenixborn (a double-focused Abundance scores you 6 damage per round, dice-free) and can help you overcome the obstacle posed by opponents who refuse to play cards from their hand so they wouldn’t be forced to draw, or can’t play those cards because you keep exhausting their dice.

    While Abundance and the Three-Eyed Owl work indirectly towards your discard victory condition, the last Ready Spell at Saria’s disposal, Purge is more straightforward. Once in play, by spending a Main Action [[main]] and a Charm [[charm:class]] die, it forces the opponent to discard a card from the top of their draw pile, thus getting your opponent closer to the “point of no return” where they begin to take damage from being unable to draw. Furthermore, if the spell is focused, you have a chance to pay an additional cost of 1 basic [[basic]] die each time you activate its ability, to force a second card to be discarded. With time and dice at your disposal, you will eventually deplete the opponent’s deck for good.
    There are two strategical issues with this card that must be taken into account:

    the first and more obvious one, is that once your opponent’s deck is empty, Purge becomes completely useless, as it won’t further increase your winning chances, so, unless the opponent has ways to get cards back into his or her deck, you’ll find a better use by meditating it away (which will save a card from you deck or hand by the way, reducing the risk of emptying the deck yourselves).

    The second, subtler and most important issue is that while Purge allows you to get to your strategy’s critical point faster, it doesn’t do much along the way. You spend actions and dice to grind through the opponent’s deck, but you don’t affect either player’s current game state: you don’t put units on the board, don’t put pressure on the opponent, nor you control their board or their current options. What this card basically does is converting your spare dice into “future” damage, which may or may not come into effect depending on your overall gameplay, so my suggestion is to avoid investing too much on it, unless you can gain and maintain a solid board control. The best moment to use it, in my opinion, is at the end of the round, especially if your opponent has no more dice to spend and is forced to pass, as you will be able to freely spend up all your unused dice without fearing too much about giving the opponent two turns in a row to do their things.

    Allies

    Saria has two allies, that help controlling the opponents’ battlefield and prevent enemy unit from becoming too much of a threat.

    The first of Saria’s allies, the Enchanted Violinist, is a really vicious unit. Another 1 attack/2 life unit costing a single basic [[basic]] dice, it is definitely a really cheap blocker and comes with an extremely powerful unit-killing ability. Let’s compare with the Nature [[natural]] Power: side action, spend a Nature [[natural]] Power die to deal 1 damage to a unit. Damage that can be prevented by effects like Protect or Particle Shield, and that can trigger abilities like the Living Doll‘s Pain Link or the Leech Warrior‘s Shadow Drain. The Violinist’s ability, Song of Sorrow, on the other hand, doesn’t cost an action to trigger, it costs a basic [[basic]] die, and it allows you to directly place wound tokens on the targeted unit, thus bypassing all the effects that trigger on damage like those I listed before.

    And the cool part is that the Enchanted Violinist is not exhausted for using it, so you can trigger it multiple times in a round, as long as you have dice available, and are able to trigger it. Right, because the issue here is you need an opponent to discard any number of cards off the top of their deck. No worries: on top of your opponent’s meditation (which you can “facilitate” with an aimed use of your Illusion dice) we also have already seen some tools this deck has to force discard: Saria’s [[Heart’s Pull]] is the most effective, but Purge can work too, if you have dice to spare.

    “Hey” I may hear some of you say “This is not the card that’s in my deck!”. Right, because last July, the Enchanted Violinist received an official errata from the designer itself, as the original version was perceived (deservedly, in my opinion) as too powerful in constructed play, mainly because you could trigger Song of Sorrow “at will” by discarding your own cards thus wreaking havoc among the enemy lines with ease, but also because – costing nothing – you could recover her almost infinitely with Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice. Personally, if restricted to preconstructed decks, I don’t mind the original Violinist too much, as it is restrained by the overall mechanics of Saria’s deck, but in constructed play it definitely was a beast, so the change has been for good.

    The other ally, the Rose Fire Dancer is not that much problematic… 3 attack and 1 life for an Illusion [[illusion:class]] and a Basic [[basic]] die is fine, though you need to be extra careful of cheap damaging effects or you are going to waste those two dice with no significant return. The dancer’s Distract ability allows you to spend a side action and exhaust her and another unit, which is quite a good trade for 2 dice, considered that you could play the Rose Fire Dancer and use her ability in the same turn to get temporarily rid of a strong threat like a Hammer Knight or a Frostback Bear. Sure, she will keep a Battlefield slot occupied for a while, but she’s so fragile she probably won’t last long; and if she does survive until the end of the round (remember you have Charm [[charm]] dice if you need), you would have access to a continuous source of exhaustion, or to a deceptively strong attacker.

    Action Spells

    Where Saria’s spellboard works toward achieving the deck discard condition, her action spell provide ways to delay the enemy and get extra power to fuel the deck.
    Hidden Power is one of the most ubiquitous cards in the game, and it’s probably one of the most valid reasons to splash a couple of Illusion [[illusion]] Dice in a deck (in addition to the annoying Illusion [[illusion]] power itself). Does it deserve all its popularity? Let’s see: at the cost of a Main Action [[main]] and an Illusion [[illusion:class]] die, it allows you to get two exhausted dice (one of which can be the one you spent to play this card, as dice spent to pay cost go into their owner’s exhausted pool before the effect is resolved) and move them back to your active pool, giving you a net bonus of +1 die for the round. As in any resource management game, being able to play with 10% more resources than the opponent, even if just temporarily, can be quite helpful.

    Moreover, you can choose the facing of those dice, which will most likely show a Power symbol, providing yet another way to reduce the randomness of the dice roll and allowing you to use the right combination of dice when you need them (you can get a Power dice and spend a side action to use its power in the same turn, which is extremely action efficient). A nasty trick you can pull, for example, is this: you spend an Illusion Power [[illusion]] die to exhaust an opponent’s die. In a following turn, you can spend another Illusion [[illusion:class]] die to play Hidden Power, recovering both dice and immediately use one to exhaust another enemy die, having a third Illusion Power available for a future turn to further undermine your opponent’s energy reserve. Illusion [[illusion]] is really annoying, don’t you think?

    Speaking of annoying things Illusion can do, we have Seal. This action spell is the only card in the game that costs both Illusion [[illusion:class]] and Charm [[charm:class]] so far, and its effect is pretty straightforward: you name a ready spell in play, and each copy of that spell in a target player’s spellboard gets exhausted, being unusable for the round. Similar to Noah Redmoon‘s Shadow Target, this spell is quite annoying in the first round, as it renders one of the opponent’s First Five useless (combine with Three-Eyed Owl for maximum effectiveness, as the opponent will be left with a First Three), but contrary to Noah’s ability, it doesn’t lose its utility through the course of the game, as you will always be able to exhaust multiple spells at once. Furthermore, it indirectly helps your discard strategy, as when your opponents find themselves unable to use what they already put on the board, they’ll most likely play cards from their hand, lest their dice remain unused. Playing cards from the hand means they’ll most likely draw more cards next round, which in turn helps you wear their deck thin.

    Another card with unique design, Strange Copy is really intriguing, but unfortunately depends a lot on what units your opponent plays, and has the inherent drawback almost all Illusion-based units have of being unable to stay in play for long, this time due to its Fleeting ability, which means you need to use it the round you play it, or it will be wasted. So, what does it do? For two Illusion [[illusion:class] Dice (a non-trivial cost, unfortunately) it becomes a temporary ally in your battlefield, with Attack and Life equal to the number of Status Token on it, which in turn, is initially equal to the Attack value of a unit currently in an opponent‘s battlefield.

    So, for example, if you choose a 4-attack Hammer Knight your opponent has in play, the Strange Copy will have 4 Status token on it, and would count as a 4 Attack / 4 Life / 0 Recovery ally. The stronger and more expensive the unit you copied, the more cost-efficient this card becomes.

    Note that the current attack value of the chosen unit is used when determining the number of Status Tokens to place on the Strange Copy, not the value printed on the card, so for example if the opponent has a Blue Jaguar (Attack 2) with a Massive Growth (Attack +4) on it, the Strange Copy would come into play with 6 Status token on it and would be a 6/6 ally. Moreover, once the number of Status tokens is set, any modification in the chosen unit’s Attack won’t modify the number of Status tokens on the Strange Copy. Also remember that, while you can’t place alteration spells on this card, you can place Charm dice on it to get it stronger: a single Charm die will enable it to trade 1-on-1 with any unit that it copied and survive the exchange of blows.

    As a final note, remember that being an Action Spell, and only becoming a unit after entering the Battlefield, Strange Copy does not trigger effects that happen when a unit comes into play, like the Blue Jaguar‘s Gaze

    Reaction Spells

    Saria has a single Reaction Spell, but what a reaction…

    Sympathy Pain is probably one of the most powerful reaction spells in the game, allowing you to deal 3 damage to a target unit or Phoenixborn after your Phoenixborn has received damage, at the cost of 2 Charm [[charm:class]] dice. A 2 dice / 3 damage exchange is definitely good (though a bit magic-intensive as you need two class symbols to trigger it), more so for a direct damage spell, although it comes with a triggering condition that in fact lessens the damage differential you’ll be able to achieve, as you would gain at most a 2-damage advantage over your opponent.

    Nevertheless, its triggering condition is quite easy to achieve, and the game offers various opportunities to trigger it by yourself so that you could minimize its drawbacks, especially in constructed play (taking damage by recovering allies through the Ceremonial power comes into mind as one). In the context of this preconstructed deck, the only way to self-trigger Sympathy Pain is by taking damage with Abundance for choosing not to draw, so it is mainly used as a “punishing” tool against opponents that attack you, both as a way to deal direct damage to their Phoenixborn, or as a unit-removal card, in a way similar to Shadow Counter.

    As always, before we wrap up, let me describe a list of strengths and weakness of this deck

    Strengths:

    Lots of tools to limit the opponent’s options: battlefield control, hand discard, and dice exhaustion among them. The opponent will struggle to advance their strategy.

    This deck is very good in long games, where it stalls the opponent and slowly discards cards from their deck until they take damage for not being able to draw.

    Incredible card draw capabilities, combined with relatively cheap costs and dice recursion, that will allow to gain and keep card advantage throughout the game.

    Weaknesses

    The deck has few ways to attack and/or directly damage the enemy Phoenxiborn, and to be aggressive in general. It must rely on controlling the opponent’s resources and battlefield to be a serious threat.

    The discard strategy takes a while to kick in, forcing you to forfeit immediate rewards and spend dice and actions planning for the future. In the meantime the opponent would have the possibility to apply a lot of pressure to you and unless you delay their game, they’ll probably win before all your efforts come into fruition.

    Even if you manage to delay defeat long enough, you won’t have the resources to stop everything the enemy throws at you. You need to be careful about selecting which key units, cards and dice to control.

    And with that, we have seen all the cards in the Core Set. Thanks for staying with me along the way. Before we begin to take a look at the various expansion decks, I’d like to talk about the first step that needs to be taken when passing from preconstructed to constructed decks: deckbuilding.
    Until then. Thanks for reading!

  • the iron men - how to 0

    On the 17/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didnt write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    thesnipertroll September 30, 2016

    Hello folks! Here we are again to take a look at another preconstructed deck from the Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn base set. This time the spotlight is all on Coal Roarkwin, Phoenixborn of Rustwatch, his assortment of swords, knives and blades of any kind and shapes, and of course his Iron Men deck.

    Ready to rumble? Here we go!

    With a Life of only 15, Coal is by far the lightest Phoenixborn in the game. This means he cannot hope to outrun enemy Phoenixborn on the long distance, not without an adequate protection at least: he needs to take any opportunity he can to close the life gap between him and the enemy Phoenixborn as soon as possible.

    This is where his special ability, Slash, comes in to help: by spending a side [[side]] action and discarding a card [[discard]] from your hand, you can have Coal deal 1 damage to a target unit, or – if the opponent has no units in play – to their Phoenixborn. As it costs no dice, this ability turns each card in your hand into damage, offering you a good way to get value from those cards that are otherwise going to sit dead in your hand at the end of the round. As the average life of a Phoenixborn is somewhere between 18 and 19, it just takes 4-5 slashes to even the odds against most enemies, as long as you can keep the board clean from units and slash directly at them.

    A Battlefield value of 6 is quite good, allowing you to field anything you need without worrying too much about cluttering the board, while Spellboard 5 is weird. On paper it looks good: a high value means more stuff you can put into play, but since Ready Spells usually require 2 turns each to be used (one action to play, one to activate), you’ll want them on the table as fast as possible; still, since in this deck the only ready spell capable of summoning units is the super-expensive Summon Iron Rhino, you’ll also want to drop some allies soon or you wouldn’t have any low- to medium-cost unit in play to defend you. In the end, how many Ready Spells to have into your First Five is up to you, but chances are you won’t be able to exploit Coal’s Spellboard value to its maximum each game, unless you draw 5+ cards each round, and manage to stretch the game long enough where multiple ready spells matter.

    The suggested dice pool for this deck is

    [[ceremonial]]x5
    [[natural]]x5

    Unsurprisingly, Coal is geared towards the two most direct and aggressive dice types of the game, which offer him damage to get rid of enemy units, thus facilitating the use of Slash against the enemy Phoenixborn, and the ability to get back allies (which form the bulk of Coal’s battle line) turn after turn. Be aware, though: Coal’s low life total means each time he goes for the Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] Power he is likely going to take a serious hit so you should always take care when taking those Hammer Knights back from the discard pile.

    As for his card effects, Coal embodies the most straightforward aspects of both Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] and Nature [[natural]], with simple mechanics that focus on gaining combat superiority: mostly in additional ways to get extra damage, but also some defensive abilities that allow his units to stay in play longer (so they can dish out some more damage).

    Coal is also unique in the Phoenixborn spectrum, so far, as three of his cards (four, if you include the activated effect of Summon Iron Rhino) only require basic dice to be played. This gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing which dice to spend and makes you somewhat less reliant on meditation, but also balances out the need for two kinds of magic at once on three of his other cards.

    Coal’s unique card is One Hundred Blades, an Action Spell that deals 1 damage to each enemy unit in play (regardless of the opponent controlling it, which makes it huge in multiplayer) and 1 damage to a single target Phoenixborn. All for the cost of 2 basic [[basic]] dice and a Main [[main]] Action. As it replaces itself by making you draw a card, you could consider it a better version of Mist Typhoon, so any consideration I made about that card in my Aradel’s article can be applied here as well. One Hundred Blades is cost efficient as long as you can hit at least an enemy unit, and by making you damage multiple targets at once by spending any two dice, it’s extremely action efficient too. It also combines quite well with Coal’s Phoenixborn ability, as it can, in the right situations, clear the board and create the right window for a direct Slash at the enemy Phoenixborn.

    Ready Spells

    Coal’s high Spellboard value makes him the Phoenixborn with the largest array of Ready Spells in the base game, each one bringing to the table something different, from extra damage to dice recovery, but all contributing to Coal’s strategy of hitting the enemy with any means possible, and give them no quarter.
    I’ll be honest about it: the single most expensive spell in the game, Summon Iron Rhino is a problematic card to say the least. It’s not utterly bad, but it has a lot of issues that must be overcome in order for it to be useful, which means you will generally find other cheaper and/or more reliable alternatives. Let’s check it out:

    it costs one Nature [[natural:class]] dice to play, and then six basic [[basic]] to activate in order to bring a 5/4 unit with no abilities to the board. That’s right, seven dice, 70% of what you have available each round. Sure, you can reduce its activation cost by focusing it, but still the first Iron Rhino you are summoning is going to cost you 7 dice no matter what, so the discount is only affecting the second summoning and beyond. It can be OK if you manage to focus the ready spell twice, as you will then be able to put into play an Iron Rhino after the other for 4 dice each, but you need time – something Coal will strive to get, given his low Life – in order to get to that point, you need to draw those two additional books without any card draw effect in the deck besides One Hundred Blades, and then more time to be able to exploit that strategy.

    Then, assuming you manage to pull out 1 or even 2 Rhinos per round, you still have to face the problem posed by low-cost control effects, like Fear, Regress, Steady Gaze or Blood Chains, or by any unit that could block the Rhino with ease: in short, your opponent will almost always spend less resource to neutralize an Iron Rhino than those you spent to play it in the first place, making it an overall cost-inefficient unit, at least in this deck. That’s not to say it’s an useless card, as it can still put some pressure to your opponent in the right situations, but still it requires a lot to work around in order to get some value out of it. You have been warned.

    Oh, as a personal note, despite its massive disadvantages, I somehow love this card. I hope in the future new card releases could make it viable for constructed play. Not necessarily in a tournament scene, but I’d be glad to have a chance to create decks that may play around it.

    Ok, now that we have dealt with the Iron Rhino, let’s see what else Coal brings to the game, because some of these cards are super cool in my opinion. The first one is Expand Energy, a Ready Spell costing 1 Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] Power dice that can be activated once per round as a Main [[main]] Action in order to take an exhausted die, re-roll it and put it back to your active pool. Having more resources available each turn is always good, and this card basically enters play for free, repaying itself in the same round you play it and becoming dice-efficient from the next one.

    It requires you to be patient: the longer the game drags out, the most you can get out of it, which is – yet again – something that Coal wants to achieve, but goes against his low Life total. Sometimes though, even getting an extra die for 1 or 2 rounds is enough to make a difference, so you shouldn’t only look at it by thinking about very long term plans. Two things I like a lot about this card are its ability to “fix” your dice pool, allowing you to get the dice type you need in a given situation, and most importantly, the fact that it somewhat acts as a counter to “heavy exhaust” decks (i.e. decks that exploit the illusion [[illusion]] dice power and other shenanigans to make you exhaust a lot of dice and thus limit your play options).

    Chant of Revenge is another extremely useful card in Coal’s deck (and in many others in constructed play). It contributes to Coal’s overall aggressive strategy by providing a cheap source of direct damage on the enemy Phoenixborn. Fine, you’ll need a unit you control to be destroyed in order to do that, but that’s something that’s going to happen a lot in this game, so you shouldn’t worry about finding ways to trigger its ability, especially when you have access to a cheap, disposable ally like the Anchornaut, which can support this card again and again. As far as economy goes, this card basically means you pay 1 die now in order to deal 1 or more damage later. It is generally useful and cost-efficient for a single use, and gets even more and more valuable the longer the game goes and the more you can trigger it. Yet again, we see something that gets more utility with time, and reinforces this tension between Coal’s need to close the game as quickly as possible, and extending it long enough to get in a position where this can be accomplished easily.

    With multiple Chants of Revenge in play, you can put your opponent in a tight spot, as you’ll be able to punish them for attacking you or your units. And if they don’t, the better: you’ll get extra time to slash and deal some more damage, and remember that you can use your Nature [[natural]] Power, the Anchornaut’s Throw or the Hammer Knight‘s Aftershock on any player’s unit, so you can trigger the chant yourself by destroy your own units if you want to.

    The first of Coal’s three Nature [[natural]]/Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] cards, Strengthen lets you spend a side [[side]] action to increase a unit’s attack value by 2 (or by 3 if the spell is focused twice). This is a pretty useful spell if you are aggressive, especially in the mid-to-late game when it can help you get the damage you need to finish off the enemy before Coal’s low life total becomes an issue. As with Chant of Revenge, the more rounds you use it, the more cost-efficient it becomes. The issue here is that you need to dedicate a whole turn to this card (Side [[side]] Action: strengthen a unit, Main [[main]] Action: attack) so you need to set the stage up correctly to create the right opportunity to use it, whereas other side actions like Slash or the Nature [[natural]] dice Power will offer you more flexibility with the timing.

    If you have multiple copies of Strengthen in your spellboard, the extra side [[side]] actions granted by the Iron Worker‘s overtime ability can allow you to deliver some very hard hits. The sheer threat of incoming damage could make your opponent think twice about leaving openings in their ranks, which could – again – buy you some time to build up your damaging engine. On the other hand you could also benefit from Strengthen’s attack bonus to destroy enemy units and then slash directly at the enemy Phoenixborn when their battlefield is empty.

    The final ready spell in Coal’s arsenal, Protect, goes in a totally different direction, providing a way to… err… protect your own units from damage. This can allow Coal to obtain battlefield superiority by turning disadvantageous trades in his favor. What I like about this card is that you can choose how much damage you want to prevent, so you can adapt to the situation and win trades by the amount you just need. When playing it, please bear in mind two important rules:

    - (1) Protect only prevent damage, so it can’t do much against wound-placement effects like Molten Gold or the Enchanted Violinist‘s Song of Sorrow.

    - (2) You don’t need to exhaust [[exhaust]] Protect in order to use its ability, but if it gets exhausted somehow (i.e. through Seal, Transfer or Noah Redmoon’s Shadow Target ability) its non-inexhaustible text becomes blanked, and you can’t use it.

    Allies

    Though filling different roles, Coal’s three allies share some common elements: they all are quite cost-efficient, they can both deal damage and defend pretty well, and they can – each in their own way – help their Phoenixborn dish out extra damage.

    Let’s talk about one of the most renowned units in the game: the Hammer Knight. She is the paragon of unit efficiency: 4 attack, 3 life, 1 recover for three dice (a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] Power, a Nature [[natural:class]] Class and a basic [[basic]]). And an extra damaging ability that makes it easier for you to get through the enemy ranks without running the risk of triggering nasty stuff like the Living Doll‘s or the Leech Warrior‘s abilities. Being an ally, she can enter play and attack 1 turn faster than a conjured unit. This tempo advantage, and her high damage allows you to put a lot of pressure on the opponent in the early stages of the match. If you manage to get her through once, you have pretty much evened out Coal’s life disadvantage against most Phoenixborn, and you have already dealt more damage than you spent dice for. Attack twice with a Hammer Knight and you’ll have gained much much more than you paid for, while your opponent’s health would almost be reduced by half… what’s not to love about her?

    Of course, being a really strong unit, she’ll have a target on her as big as her hammer, but as Coal you’ll get some tools to make her stay on your battlefield a little longer: Protect her from damage, increase her life with Spiked Armor and use all your damage dealing shenanigans to get rid of enemy units (which is something you would be doing anyway, so it’s a double gain). Just be aware of those very same effects that can hurt your Iron Rhino plays, for they work quite as well against the Hammer Knight too: Fear, Regress, Steady Gaze, Blood Chains, all can be pose a quite cheap solution to your Knight, and be aware of Fade Away and of Maeoni’s Silver Snakes that would remove your Hammer Knights from the game preventing you to recover them with Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice. Speaking of which: yes, it would cost you 4 life, which is a lot for Coal, but it’s something you shouldn’t be afraid to do when needed, especially if you are ahead and can even out the damage loss immediately with a well-placed attack.

    Continuing the series of people wielding disproportionately big hammers (here on a smaller scale), the Iron Worker is a solid unit which mixes good stats (2 attack and 2 life for 2 basic [[basic]] dice is quite nice, 1 recovery is an added bonus that never hurts) and an incredibly useful support ability that allows you to get an extra side [[side]] action once per round, or even more, if you hold on to them and manage to keep the Iron Worker alive. What can you do with bonus side [[side]] actions? To begin with, you can slash like a madman, dishing out lots of damage. Or you could meditate and use the just-gained power dice without running the risk of seeing it gone to an Illusion [[illusion]] dice. Or – as I have already hinted – you could also pack multiple activations of Strengthen onto a single unit for a big swing (provided the opponent has no way to Redirect the attack, of course). All this, while the Iron Worker can hit and/or defend, as its abilities are inexhaustible – which also makes him immune to negation effects like Choke and Reflections in the Water.

    Last, but definitely not for usefulness, the young Anchornaut. One of the cheapest units in the game, only costing 1 basic [[basic]] die to play, he is quite versatile: you can use it either as a chump blocker (combined with Chant of Revenge for even more nastiness), a cheap damage dealer, or – due to the potentially infinite recursion with no life loss involved via the Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] power – as a sacrificial card for Coal’s Slash. If you have time and dice to spend – and here Expand Energy and the Iron Worker can give you a big hand – you could discard him away to Slash and get it back multiple times in the same round. While on the battlefield, he is extremely vulnerable to almost any damaging effect, from Nature [[natural]] dice to Mist Typhoon, so you’ll probably want to hang on to your Anchornaut and play him when it’s relatively safe, or to use his Throw ability as soon as it gets into play, otherwise his utility drops a lot.

    A note about timing: you can use the Throw ability any time during your turn without spending an action, but you can’t do it while you are resolving another card’s ability: once it has been triggered, it must be fully resolved before you become able to use Throw again. Note however that while you launch an attack, you can trigger Throw at any time between any of the steps of the attack resolution described in the rulebook (but not while resolving any of those steps).

    Alteration Spells

    And finally, we get to Coal’s only Alteration spell, Spiked Armor. For 1 Nature [[natural:class]] and 1 basic [[basic]] die, this grants the attached unit a +2 Life modifier and the ability to deal 2 damage to each enemy unit that is attacking or countering it. This can work as a deterrent to prevent enemies from attacking or countering your Hammer Knight, and is a good way to get some extra damage in on enemy units, especially in defense as it doesn’t require the attached unit to actively counter, but it’s a bit costly and – too bad – it doesn’t have respark, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    Note that Spiked Armor grants it’s ability to the unit it is attached to, so it’s the unit that deals damage from Spiked Skin, not the spell. This is important for interactions with effects like the Seaside Raven‘s Magic Guard ability, which only prevents the Raven from being affected by spells, thus allowing the unit with Spiked Armor to deal 2 damage back to the Raven even if the latter attacks first due to its Battle Advantage.

    Before concluding my review, let me point out some of the most notable strengths and weaknesses of Coal’s deck:

    Strengths

    High brawling abilities due to relatively good allies (Hammer Knight is one of the best units in the game so far) and a combination of damage dealing and protective tools.

    Coal’s Phoenixborn ability Slash, can be used multiple times per round, potentially turning each card in hand can into damage on the enemy Phoenixborn or on their units.

    When reaching critical mass, this deck can dish out a lot of damage in a short amount of time, trampling over any defense the opponent might put out.

    Weaknesses

    Coal has the lowest life total of the Phoenixborn cast: he struggles to keep pace against opponents with a high damage output, especially direct damage abilities and effects.

    His deck requires some build-up to fully reach its high damage cap; unless he is able to delay the opponent’s strategy, he won’t be able to express his full potential.

    Besides the Anchornaut, Coal lacks cheap ways to continuously refill his battlefield: Summon Iron Rhino is very expensive, and only becomes useful in the very late game, while recurring the Hammer Knight comes with a very high life cost that Coal can’t light-heartedly afford.

    And that’s all. We are getting near the end, only one more Phoenixborn from the base set remains to be examined now: Saria Guideman, Phoenixborn of Lighthouse Bay and her mind-wracking Cloudsea Siren deck.

  • TIME for a tournament. 8

    Greetings Ashes community! I've just received a large shipment of alt arts from an eBay auction and as I don't get the chance to play in person anymore I thought it'd be great to put some of these alt arts up as prizes for an online tournament!

    I didn't realise how many cards I'd actually purchased so depending on number of participants I might actually be able to offer a card per game played or similar.
    I haven't worked out the details of prizes or tournament structure yet but its great to get a feel for what the interest levels are in one last big online tts bash!

    I had thought it'd serve as a great celebration for the final time card releases too! It'd give everyone a chance to see and use the cards in a great competitive setting. Please reply or dm me if you're interested!

    Prizes:
    5x blue hammerknight
    5x green hammerknight
    30x enchanted violinist
    30x gilder
    7x lulu and 21x Phoenixbarrage
    7x Dimona and 21x Rayward knights

  • the shadows of viros - how to 23

    On the 13/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didnt write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    thesnipertroll September 27, 2016

    Hello again. I’m glad you are still following me in my analysis of the Ashes core set preconstructed decks (because you are still following me, aren’t you?). Today, we’ll take a look at what has been labelled by many as the “weakest” preconstructed deck: Noah Redmoon’s The Shadows of Viros. Is this true? Maybe. For sure this deck is somewhat trickier to use than the other five, and it’s definitely not recommended for first-time players.

    I don’t want to get too deeply into this debate, this is not the purpose of this article, so I’ll state my own personal opinion and go on. To me Noah’s deck is not much weaker than the other preconstructed decks, but compared to them it requires the player to take an extra step, both in knowledge of the game mechanics and in strategic thinking, in order to be played properly. This said, many of his cards do have a place in constructed play, Noah himself first, and should not be underestimated.

    With an above-average life value of 20, and a quite good 6 Battlefield, Noah Redmoon, Phoenixborn of Viros, is definitely ready for fighting. He has plenty of room for units big and small, and has no problems whatsoever in taking one or two hits for the cause in a way similar to Maeoni Viper: with few ways to deal direct damage, and with incredibly fragile units, Noah needs to protect his army from enemy attacks if he wants to have a chance to significantly harm the enemy Phoenixborn.

    His low spellboard value of 3 might seem as a disadvantage at first, as he’ll have to focus on a few, selected spells, thus lacking he variety of options other Phoenixborn have. On the other hand, ready spells are open information to all players: with most of your strategy relying on the cards in your hand, your opponents will have a harder time predicting your moves.

    Also, Noah’s special ability, Shadow Target allows him to exhaust an opponent’s ready spell by spending a side [[side]] action and a Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] die. As the vast majority or ready spells requires a main action to be played and another main action to be activated, Noah can basically spend 1 die to negate an opponent’s turn and disrupt their game. As the game progresses, the effectiveness of Shadow Target wanes as the opponents can play (and focus) more ready spells while you can only exhaust one each round. Nevertheless, its value in the first round of the game is incredible, as it can disrupt the opponents’ First Five and force them to reconsider their opening moves.

    This is the suggested dice pool for this deck:
    [[illusion]]x5
    [[ceremonial]]x5

    Illusion is pivotal in Noah’s gameplay, as it adds another layer of disruption to his kit. The ability to exhaust enemy dice through the Illusion Dice Power is a useful tool to restrict enemy options or to negate them altogether, and is even more powerful in constructed play, where decks running on 3 dice types are quite common. But even if you can’t completely shut down an opponent’s dice type, you always have the chance to remove Power Dice from that player’s active pool, forcing them to meditate (and thus, lose resources and/or tempo) to regain them. On the other hand, this deck is not as ally-heavy as other preconstructed decks that use Ceremonial dice, but still features some typical Ceremonial themes such as unit sacrifice and revenge.

    Noah’s special card is Summon Masked Wolf, which has the unique ability (at least until Leo Sunshadow gets released) to summon a unit with a Side [[side]] Action. This means you can summon a Masked Wolf and attack with it in the same turn, allowing it to deal damage before the opponent can destroy it with a Nature [[natural]] Power or other 1-damage effects. The base summoning cost for the Masked Wolf is 1 Illusion [[illusion:class]] and 1 Basic [[basic]], which is quite high for a 2 attack/1 life unit, but after focusing the spell, you have the option to change it to a single Illusion Power [[illusion]] Die.

    Yes, a Power face is harder to get, but spending 1 die instead of 2 is a great deal, and meditation is always a good option, especially with Illusion dice. The big drawback is that you can’t meditate and activate Summon Masked Wolf in the same turn (as you could do for example with Summon Silver Snake or Summon Butterfly Monk): you should always have some Illusion Power [[illusion]] Dice available beforehand, which, by the way, is almost never a bad option, as you can always use them to exhaust enemy dice.

    Ready Spells

    Noah’s main strategy is to make his opponents waste resources and to take them by surprise with a series of low-damage, hard to avoid attacks. While Summon Masked Wolf is one of his main attack tools, his other Ready Spells help him deal with potential threats.

    Summon False Demon is a relatively cheap summoning spell, that brings into play a 1 Attack / 4 life conjuration with Unit Guard for an Illusion [[illusion:class]] and a Basic [[basic]] dice. At first sight, the False Demon is a wonderful blocker… it’s one of the units with the best stats-to-cost ratio the game, so it has to have some sort of drawback to balance its high toughness out, don’t you think. Unfortunately, it does: the Illusion ability forces you to destroy the False Demon when it takes damage from an attack or counter, so even if it can block for Noah or guard another unit, it will only last for a single attack, no matter how low it is.

    Nevertheless it has its value, though, as appropriate to its magic type, it’s a little tricky to use. First of all, it doesn’t die to unit damage as easily as other blockers, like Gilders or Butterfly Monks: your opponent will take a greater effort in taking it down with spells and dice power than you did to summon it in the first place. It will die after blocking, sure, but it will likely survive until that moment, whereas cheaper but weaker units won’t. And if the opponent attacks it, either they send in a small unit to trigger Illusion, to which you answer by guarding with Noah, or they swing hard, overcommitting to eliminate a 2 dice unit. I call it a win-win situation. Furthermore, 4 life makes the False Demon immune to cheap removal effects like Ice Trap, making it safer to get into play than Gilders or Butterfly Monks.

    Another reason to play with False Demons is Noah’s third Ready Spell: Small Sacrifice. For a Main Action [[main]] and a Ceremonial Class [[ceremonial:class]] die, this spell allows you to replicate the Nature Dice [[natural]] Power and deal 1 damage to an enemy unit… as long as you are willing to deal 1 damage to one of your own. No pain, no gain: that’s the nature of Ceremonial magic. In a deck where every other unit has a Life value of 1, False Demon become an almost obvious choice to suffer this effect, but you can also get rid of exhausted units to gain some extra value out of them, or to make room in your battlefield.

    When focused, this card gains an alternative ability, allowing you to exhaust both yours and your opponent’s unit (as long as no one was already exhausted) instead of dealing damage. Whereas the first effect helps you to clear the board from small targets, this one helps you to deal with large threats like Hammer Knights or Blood Archers. It’s a bit expensive, it’s a bit slow, but it does its job quite well.

    As a final note, remember that “deal of 1 damage to a target unit on your battlefield” part of the ability is part of the effect, not a cost (the same goes for exhausting of a unit on your battlefield if Small Sacrifice is focused), thus if its effect gets cancelled by cards like Golden Veil, your units won’t take damage or be exhausted.

    Allies

    The Shadow of Viros includes a single ally: the Stormwind Sniper. With a cost of 3 dice (1 Illusion [[illusion:class]], 1 Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] and 1 basic [[basic]]) for 2 attack and 1 life it can seem overpriced, and it definitely falls in the high end of the spectrum, but its Ambush 2 ability compensates it.

    Consider this: for 3 dice you deal 2 damage to an enemy unit or Phoenixborn and you have a 2/1 unit on the battlefield. Unless the opponent does something about it (possibly spending 1 or more dice), you threaten to deal 2 more damage. So basically most of the times you have gained either 4 damage, 2 damage and a blocker or 2 damage and 1+ dice spent by the opponent for the cost of 3 dice; each of these options look quite good to me. The only issue I have with the Sniper is its cost per se, rather than what it brings to the table. 3 dice are always a big investment – about a third of your dice pool, and will most likely give your opponent a significant dice advantage for the current round if you spend them too early.

    Action Spells

    Noah uses his Action Spells to increase the options at his disposal, by getting card advantage and recovering his allies from the discard pile. Bound Soul is essentially a more efficient version of the Ceremonial Die [[ceremonial]] Power, with an increased action cost (Main [[main]] instead of Side [[side]]), but a much more affordable magic cost, and without the innate life loss the Ceremonial power [[ceremonial]] entails. The chances your Stormwind Snipers are going to see the end of the round are ridiculously low, so you should already know you’ll need to recover them from your discard pile from time to time. As long as you keep your life total above your opponent’s, spending the Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] die and playing the Sniper is going to keep you ahead: you’ll take 2 damage to inflict 2 – or potentially 4 if you manage to attack – and that’s acceptable. Bound Soul gives you an even better life trade, and also allows you either to save cards or to hide your intentions to your opponent if you don’t have Ceremonial Power [[ceremonial]] dice available.

    The Main [[main]] Action cost on the other hand means you can’t recover an ally from your discard pile and play it in the same turn, which may allow your opponent to react. The biggest deal with this card, however, is that you have to spend a card slot to basically do something you are already entitled to do by just spending the die. It’s just a matter of efficiency, and to evaluate whether you can afford to take damage and possibly meditate some cards away or not.

    In the history of customizable card games, hand advantage has always been one of the main avenues for success. More cards in hand, means more options at your disposal, and with a 30-card deck, the probability an extra draw brings you that card you need in any given moment is not negligible. Enters Sleight of Hand, that allows you to draw 3 cards (that’s 1/8 of your deck in round 1!) for the cost of a Main [[main]] Action, an Illusion Power [[illusion]] and a Basic [[basic]] dice.

    One can argue that Spellboard also offers more options. Essentially, you can treat each card in your spellboard as a card in your hand that your opponent knows of, you don’t discard after use, and doesn’t count in your draw cap at the beginning of the round. Thus, when you have a spellboard limit as low as 3, like Noah does, the value of having more cards in hand is increased, and that’s why Sleight of Hand can be a good asset in Noah’s deck.

    Usually, the best time to use it is at the beginning of the round, when you still have all of your dice to spend, and the three cards you draw are effectively extra options for your round. Essentially if you open a round with Sleight of Hand you are replacing a 5-cards, 10-dice hand with a 7-cards, 8-dice one. As Noah’s cards are generally cheap, costing no more than 2 – except for the Stormwind Sniper, it is generally a trade you can afford. On the other hand, if you wait until later in the round before using this card, you are running the risk of drawing “dead” cards you would have drawn anyway in the following round: you have to weigh the expenditure of 2 dice against the usefulness of extra cards. Having a chance to get that Fade Away now, when you need it can often be a better proposition than saving 2 dice and having a slightly higher chance to get that same card next round, when you would have much more difficulties playing it. Unfortunately, I don’t have the perfect recipe for every situation, you’ll have to figure it out by yourself on a case-by-case basis; and that’s a good thing, otherwise the game would be predictable and boring.

    Reaction Spells

    Noah’s reactions have a distinct purpose: to bring retribution to an opponent that steps too far, and to force them to reconsider their priorities.

    It can’t be helped: with a bunch of fragile units in his deck, Noah is eventually going to take damage. His large battlefield and relatively cheap units can protect him from attacks, but not eternally: any unit that blocks will be destroyed, no matter how weak the attacker is, and you’ll often trade favorably by having Noah guard a 1-2 damage attack and answer with an attack on your own rather than have one of your units die.

    Shadow Counter will ensure larger units (virtually any unit: 6 damage is huge!) will be out of their way, preferably before they had a chance to attack. The issue here is you need to be attacked, as you can’t trigger this reaction from the damage you take, for example, from recovering allies from the discard pile with the Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice power, but knowing this card can be in your hand, your opponents will think twice before attacking with small units first to open the way for larger heavy-hitting ones.

    Noah is a master of tricks, and his Reaction Spells show it. You have units on the board, the opponent wants to clear a path for a big attack but knows you may have Shadow Counter; thus they avoid attacking your troops directly with their weaker units, and opt to use direct damage to destroy them. They look so fragile, after all… and then it happens.

    They just killed a Masked Wolf or Stormwind Sniper and suddenly two Sleeping Widows have taken its place, threatening their Phoenixborn with 4 potential damage for just 2 dice. Unless they have some multi-target ability, like Mist Typhoon, One Hundred Blades (which maybe they can’t even use this turn as they may have already taken a Main Action) or Crimson Bomber, you are going to get them, perhaps putting in a Masked Wolf as a side action a big 6-damage attack.

    Alteration Spells

    Noah is the only Phoenixborn featuring all of the five card types in his preconstructed deck; so, without further ado, let’s take a look at his Alteration Spells.

    I’ll be honest: Bring Forth is definitely hard to evaluate. I kind of like it, but it is so expensive and of a so limited use I understand why many consider it one of the worst cards in the Core Set. A +2 Attack and +1 Life modifier for 2 dice looks quite good on paper (although I think 1 Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] and 1 Basic [[basic]] could have been a much more affordable cost), but it can only be attached to a unit with the Illusion ability, which in this deck (and for deckbuilding purposes, in the whole Core Set) means the False Demon and nothing else.

    With this spell attached, the False Demon becomes a 3/5 unit with Unit Guard at the expense of 4 dice. Overall that’s not a bad deal, and definitely, paying for a unit in two steps is less taxing than getting rid of 4 dice in a single go, but still 3 class dice and a basic is a lot even without mentioning its whooping 2-dice respark cost, and yet a brought forth False Demon dies 1 vs 1 against a Blood Archer (which costs the same) or a Hammer Knight (which costs 1 less). Nevertheless, this is one of the few ways this deck has to deal some decent damage to the opponent, so, even though possibly not a wonderful card, it has its uses.

    Last but definitely not least, Fade Away is the ultimate unit removal card. No escape here: the attached unit is destroyed at the end of the round, period. Insult to injury, if it was an ally, it is removed from the game. No Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] Dice shenanigans allowed. The cost? a mere Illusion [[illusion:class]] die. The big issue is that while it will wreck your opponent’s battlefield later, it can’t do anything to help you now. Moreover if your opponent discards it, or manages to make the attached unit leave play before it triggers, Fade Away is wasted.

    Two possible solutions here: first, you have to be patient, possibly take some damage, but save an illusion die and wait until the end of the Players Turns Phase, when the opponent has no more dice or effects to play. Then you hit with a last turn Fade Away they can’t do anything about. The second approach is to force the opponent to react to your play: you attach Fade Away and make them spend resources to counter it. The efficiency of this strategy greatly depends on how easy is for them to get rid of it, or to destroy the attached unit and recover it, of course.

    And with that, my review of Noah’s cards is complete. Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t; in any case, feel free to leave comments and suggestions below. Before leaving, I’ll summarize what I believe the biggest strengths and weaknesses of The Shadows of Viros are:

    Strengths

    Lots of ways to hinder the opponents’ play, or force them to reconsider their strategy, especially with Noah’s Phoenixborn ability.

    Surprise effects and out-of-turn plays will make you hit the enemy when they have their guard down.

    Relatively cheap cards overall. Though you’ll lose units with ease, you can get them back to play as easily.

    Weaknesses

    No source of damage except for units, which are extremely fragile, and need to strike over and over again to close a game. Your battlefield will be shaky at best.

    The deck as a whole can be quite tricky to use, as there is no immediate strategy and requires a higher level of game knowledge. If you are approaching Ashes for the first time with Noah, expect sound defeats and don’t let them discourage you.

    Low spellboard value means the deck has to rely more on heavy card draw to have consistent performance.

    Next time, we’ll take a trip to the seaside and give a look at Rustwatch’s grizzled veteran Coal Roarkwin and his Iron Men (and Rhinos) deck.

  • the bloodwoods queen - how to 1

    On the 13/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didnt write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    thesnipertroll September 23, 2016

    Hello! Here I am again with a new article discussing the basics of Ashes and the preconstructed decks that come with the base set of the game. Today, we’ll take a tour into one of the darkest and bloodiest sides of magic with Jessa Na Ni, Phoenixborn of the Bloodwoods Clan, and her deck: The Bloodwoods Queen. Be aware: this isn’t a trip for soft-hearted people!

    Jessa Na Ni has a pretty average stat line, with 18 life points, a battlefield value of 5 and a spellboard of 4. Nothing really shiny here, but no great weaknesses either: she has a decent survivability and can field a good array of spells and units. Her special ability, Screams of the Departed, however, enables Jessa to spend 1 basic [[basic]] dice in order to deal 1 damage to her opponents every time one of their units leaves play.

    Direct damage to a Phoenixborn is inherently good in this game, and benefiting from a consistent way to bleed your opponent out is definitely super-good. The only serious drawback to this ability is its cost, both economic, temporal and situational: you’ll spend a lot of dice to use Screams of the Departed repeatedly, which in turns means you’ll need the time to trigger it again and again, and to do so you’ll need to make enemy units leave play (which, by the way, is not a difficult task with this deck, as we’ll see in a moment).

    The suggested dice pool for this deck is:
    [[ceremonial]]x5
    [[charm]]x5

    Given Jessa’s inclination to stall out the game and delay the enemy plans as much as possible while she stings their Phoenixborn to death with Screams of the Departed, having a way to increase the endurance of her units, and to recover the allies that will eventually die from her discard pile is vital to Jessa’s survivability. With possible exception, Jessa won’t be attacking too much: her tribesmen will form a protective shield around her, willingly sacrificing their lives to increase her power and to punish the enemy for daring to attack their queen.

    Fear is Jessa’s unique card, and what a card! With no cost besides a Main Action [[main]], this powerful Action Spell makes a unit controlled by an opponent leave play, returning to its owner’s conjuration pile if it’s a conjuration, or to their hand if it’s an ally. This is a wonderful game stalling card, the biggest and more expensive its target, the more satisfying it is to play it (and the larger the dice advantage you’ll gain, turning all the dice the opponent spent to play that unit into a waste of resources). iron rhino,hammer knight, dread wraith, frostback bear; you name it, no one is safe from Jessa (unless they are immune to spell effects, like the seaside raven, that’s it).

    Moreover, by making enemy units leave play almost for free, Jessa has a super-cheap way to trigger her Screams of the Departed and add insult to injury by dealing damage to the enemy Phoenixborn… what else to say? Too bad it’s a unique card and can’t be splashed in every deck. But maybe it’s better this way.
    As a final note, effects that trigger on a unit being destroyed (i.e.chant of revenge, chant of the dead, or summon sleeping widows) can’t be used as a reaction to Fear, since the affected unit leaves play without being destroyed.

    Ready Spells

    With no “standard” summoning spells and two cards that force you to inflict damage to your own units in order to resolve their effect, Jessa’s spellborard is quite different from that of other Phoenixborn’s decks. The purpose of her ready spells is to ensure Jessa’s survivability by making the enemy waste resources and negating progress they have made during the turn. Also, as we’ll see later when discussing allies, you’ll actually benefit from damaging your own troops, turning a resource trade (unit life for a beneficial effect) into a potential gain.

    Jessa’s only summoning spell is Summon Blood Puppet, which is as cheap as a ready spell can be, costing nothing but a Main Action [[main]] to play, and a Main Action [[main]] plus a Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] die to activate. The Blood Puppet itself is an OK blocker, with no attack and a life value of 2, though its abilities are a real pain for its controller: Cursed 1 will place 1 wound to your Phoenixborn at the end of each round (bypassing any damage prevention effects, since it causes direct wounding), while Self Inflict 1 allows you to spend a Side Action [[side]] and a Basic [[basic]] Die to deal 1 damage to the Puppet, so that you can destroy it before the end of the round and thus avoid taking damage from Cursed… mmh… on a second thought it’s not that cheap… it hurts you, and it it forces you to spend dice and side actions for the sole purpose of getting rid of it.

    That’s annoying.

    But wait, here’s the catch. You can place the Blood Puppet on any player‘s battlefield, so you can actually give it to your opponent. Now they become the controller of the conjuration (remember: you control anything that is in your play area, battlefield, spellboard or attached to cards you control), and thus they’ll be affected by the Puppet’s annoying abilities. For a mere ceremonial [[ceremonial]] die you’ll fill up a slot in the enemy battlefield with a unit that, if not destroyed in another way, will either deal 1 unpreventable damage to your opponent (that will trigger even if the Blood Puppet is exhausted once, as one exhaustion token will go off in the Recover Phase, before the end of the round), or will force him to waste 2 turns and 2 dice. And if your opponent destroys the Blood Puppet to prevent Cursed from triggering, or uses it to block one of your attack, you can benefit from it anyway through Jessa’s Scream of the Departed. I’d say this card is perfectly fitting Jessa’s theme of punishing the enemy for the choices they make.

    Don’t you agree?

    One of the two “life sacrifice” spells in Jessa’s arsenal, Blood Transfer allows you to spend a Side Action [[side]], a Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] die and a Charm [[charm:class]] die to deal 2 damage to a unit you control in order to heal either 2 damage to another unit you control or 1 damage to Jessa. This is a good, yet somewhat expensive, way to increase your survivability or to prevent a key unit from dying while at the same time providing an alternate way to trigger the living doll’s and leech warrior‘s abilities should your opponent be shy and decides not to attack you.

    Similar to Blood Transfer, Cut the Strings also requires you to deal 2 damage to a unit you control in order to trigger its effect, this time discarding an alteration spell. Its activation cost is a bit more affordable than Blood Transfer‘s, requiring a Main Action [[main]], a Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] die and a Basic [[basic]] die. The list of alteration spells you might want to discard with Cut the Strings is long (and will get longer as the game progresses, with new cards coming out), but major offenders include alterations that threaten your own units: fade away, reflections in the water, and regress. Note that, while you would have all the reasons to discard a massive growth from play, its Spell Guard ability prevent it from being affected by Cut the Strings so you can’t do nothing about it except from destroying the unit it is attached to.

    Allies

    The Bloodwoods Clan comes to the aid of Jessa Na Ni with an array of allies with medium-level stats and incredibly annoying (for your opponents) abilities. Their big drawback is their non-trivial magic cost, which makes them an investment that must be protected, especially from effects, like fade away or the silver snakes‘ Consume ability that would remove them from play. Having 5 ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice at your disposal, you always have the option to take them back from your discard pile, but if one of them gets out of play, it’s gone for good, which is something you don’t want.

    One of the most annoying units in the game, the Leech Warrior has pretty good stats with an Attack of 2 and a life value of 3, plus a recovery of 3 which makes him heal any damage that doesn’t kill him outright. And you’ll want him to take damage, because his special ability, Shadow Drain 1, will force an opponent to exhaust an active dice of your choice every time the Leech Warrior receives any amount of damage. This will help you limit the options at your opponent’s disposal (unless they have dice-recursion options like expand energy or hidden power) and consequently drag the game longer, which is something Jessa wants because of her general lack of burst damage.

    Similar to the Leech Warrior in cost and purpose, the Living Doll is another medium-sized unit with an ability that triggers on receiving damage. This time, her Pain Link allows you to spend 1 basic [[basic]] dice to deal the same amount of damage she receives (up to her Life value) to a target unit or Phoenixborn. With both these and the Leech Warrior, attacking Jessa risks to become expensive in terms of both resources and life loss. Moreover, with an attack value of zero, the Living Doll can be recovered through the Ceremonial Dice [[ceremonial]] Power at no additional costs, making her easier to recycle than the Leech Warrior. Remember that Life Value can be modified by alteration spells, but is not affected by wound tokens, so an unaltered Living Doll which already suffered two wounds still has a Life of 3, and that’s the damage she’ll deal with Pain Link if she suffers 3+ damage in a single instance.

    One way to deal with these two units is to directly place wounds on them, via effects like molten gold, the enchanted violinist‘s Song of Sorrow or the hammer knight‘s Aftershock abilities: as explained in the FAQ, these effects bypass the “Receive Damage” step of the Damage and Destruction Resolution Process and thus do not allow their target to trigger reaction based on receiving damage, so be aware when playing against decks including those cards.

    While the Leech Warrior and the Living Doll thrive when receiving damage, but have little to no direct offensive capabilities, the third and final ally in Jessa’s tribe, the Blood Archer is among the strongest fighting units currently in the game, were it not for his high cost. His Battle Advantage ability allows him to snipe enemy units and makes him a good tool to clear the board and feed Jessa’s Screams of the Departed, or to keep enemy attackers at bay. When needs arise, you could increase his attack value to 5 and punch hard at the enemy Phoenixborn, but this makes the Blood Archer extremely vulnerable to 1-damage effects like Nature [[natural]] dice or the enchanted violinist‘s Song of Sorrow.

    Combine this with the Archer’s high cost of 4 total dice and the potential 3 damage you’d take when recovering it from your discard pile through the use of a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice power, and you’ll understand why you’d want to keep this ally in play as much as possible. This deck has tools to achieve such a task in the form of blood transfer and undying heart, but don’t be afraid to step in with your Phoenixborn to protect him from an attack either, and never forget the usefulness of the +1 bonus to Attack and Life granted by the Charm [[charm]] dice power.

    Reaction Spells

    As you might have noticed by now, Jessa definitely prefers her allies to shield her and take damage in her stead, triggering nasty stuff like Shadow Drain or Pain Link as a result. Her reaction spells further enhance this attitude by providing other ways to exploit her units’ sacrifices.

    final Cry is a quite cheap way to deal direct damage to the enemy Phoenixborn without sacrificing tempo. At 2 damage for just 1 dice, it’s one of the most cost-efficient direct damage effects in the game per se. The drawback is that you need a unit to be destroyed in order to trigger it, but that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. Regardless of the deck you are playing or facing, unit removal is not too hard in Ashes. Moreover, you want your units to take damage. To say you’ll find ways to use Final Cry sooner or later is a pretty safe bet. Fact is, your opponent knows you might have a Final Cry in your hand, especially if you keep a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] Power die available, so they play sub-optimally and attempt not to destroy your units until you run out of Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice. This might give you time to ensure their survivability through the use of Charm [[charm]] dice or undying heartt, rendering any future attempt at destroying them this round useless. Either way, you win.

    Jessa’s kit also enables her to trigger Final Cry herself, if needed, by using damage-dealing effects such as blood transfer and cut the strings with the added advantage of being able to trigger effects that happen on receiving damage first.

    Jessa’s second Reaction Spell it’s another extremely useful and versatile card, which can easily fit in any deck that uses Charm [[charm]] dice. For a single Charm [[charm:class]] symbol, Redirect allows you to… err… redirect all the damage your Phoenixborn is going to suffer onto a unit you control, getting the twofold effect of preserving Jessa’s life a little longer and potentially triggering all those annoying effects you can trigger when your units take damage or are destroyed, which I’m pretty sure you are familiar with by now. It also can protect Jessa from an attack even if your units have been exhausted, effectively granting an exhausted unit the ability to defend from that attack, giving you a big surprise factor.

    Always remember that effects like molten gold don’t deal damage, but directly place wounds on the target, so Redirect can’t do anything to block them, otherwise any other source of damage can be redirected on a unit you control, be it a direct damage effect or an attack. Speaking of which, when defining how much damage is redirected when Jessa takes damage from multiple attacker, you need to consider whether she is the original target of the attack, or is going to take damage because she stepped in to protect a creature being attacked.
    If the opponent declared multiple units as the attackers in an “Attack a Phoenixborn” action, then each unit’s attack is resolved separately, and you could only redirect the damage from a single unit. When suffering damage from an “Attack a Unit” action, instead, all attacking units will add up their attack value and deal that much damage in a single instance to the attack target, this means that Redirect will move all the damage Jessa would suffer from that attack to a unit she controls. Long story short: when playing against Jessa be extra careful when declaring attackers – especially on a unit – if you see a Charm [[charm]] dice in her active pool.

    Alteration Spells

    Jessa’s Alteration spell, Undying Heart, provides additional survivability to a unit, by increasing its Life and Recover values by 2 points.
    Costing 1 Charm [[charm:class]] and 1 Basic [[basic]] dice, and with a Respark cost of 2 Basic [[basic]], it’s certainly not a cheap spell (in contrast, for example, with root armour), but its uses are many and various. Pretty much any unit in Jessa’s deck can benefit from the endurance boost granted by this card: Living Dolls and Leech Warriors will stay in play more and will thus have more time to do their stuff, while the Blood Archer is going to have an easier time surviving after he uses his Blood Oath ability. If you feel nasty and plan not to attack too much, you could also cast Undying Heart on a Blood Puppet you placed onto the enemy battlefield, forcing your opponent to spend 4 side actions and 4 dice to get rid of it…

    As always, let me summarize what I think the strongest and weakest points of Jessa’s deck are:

    Strengths:

    Multiple ways to deal damage directly to the enemy Phoenixborn, the most important of which, Screams of the Departed is always available.

    Includes many cards that hinder the enemy efforts and/or punish the opponents for taking action, forcing them to play sub-optimally;

    Relatively high toughness of both the Phoenixborn and her units.

    Summon Blood Puppet. ’nuff said. (Yes, I know, I usually list three strong points, but Blood Puppets are so cool they deserve a separate entry).

    Weaknesses:

    Very few attacking units, and, on average, low burst damage capability: you would most likely slowly bleed the enemy away 1 damage at a time rather than inflict a few, powerful, hits.

    Many cards have above-average costs, or require you to pay extra dice to activate, making you burn through your dice pool quickly if you are not careful.
    Many effects require your units to suffer damage in order to trigger, making them vulnerable and potentially leaving your Phoenixborn defenseless.

    And with that, we are halfway done, at least for the base set. 3 Phoenixborn done, 3 more to go. Next time we’ll explore the ruins of the once beautiful city of Viros in search of the man who was supposed to be its champion, and instead burnt it to the ground: Noah Redmoon.

    Until then, if you have any comments and/or suggestions, please feel free to leave a message below.

    Thanks for reading!

  • the bloodwoods queen - how to 0

    On the 13/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didnt write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    thesnipertroll September 23, 2016

    Hello! Here I am again with a new article discussing the basics of Ashes and the preconstructed decks that come with the base set of the game. Today, we’ll take a tour into one of the darkest and bloodiest sides of magic with Jessa Na Ni, Phoenixborn of the Bloodwoods Clan, and her deck: The Bloodwoods Queen. Be aware: this isn’t a trip for soft-hearted people!

    Jessa Na Ni has a pretty average stat line, with 18 life points, a battlefield value of 5 and a spellboard of 4. Nothing really shiny here, but no great weaknesses either: she has a decent survivability and can field a good array of spells and units. Her special ability, Screams of the Departed, however, enables Jessa to spend 1 basic [[basic]] dice in order to deal 1 damage to her opponents every time one of their units leaves play.

    Direct damage to a Phoenixborn is inherently good in this game, and benefiting from a consistent way to bleed your opponent out is definitely super-good. The only serious drawback to this ability is its cost, both economic, temporal and situational: you’ll spend a lot of dice to use Screams of the Departed repeatedly, which in turns means you’ll need the time to trigger it again and again, and to do so you’ll need to make enemy units leave play (which, by the way, is not a difficult task with this deck, as we’ll see in a moment).

    The suggested dice pool for this deck is:

    [[ceremonial]]x5
    [[charm]]x5

    Given Jessa’s inclination to stall out the game and delay the enemy plans as much as possible while she stings their Phoenixborn to death with Screams of the Departed, having a way to increase the endurance of her units, and to recover the allies that will eventually die from her discard pile is vital to Jessa’s survivability. With possible exception, Jessa won’t be attacking too much: her tribesmen will form a protective shield around her, willingly sacrificing their lives to increase her power and to punish the enemy for daring to attack their queen.

    Fear is Jessa’s unique card, and what a card! With no cost besides a Main Action [[main]], this powerful Action Spell makes a unit controlled by an opponent leave play, returning to its owner’s conjuration pile if it’s a conjuration, or to their hand if it’s an ally. This is a wonderful game stalling card, the biggest and more expensive its target, the more satisfying it is to play it (and the larger the dice advantage you’ll gain, turning all the dice the opponent spent to play that unit into a waste of resources). iron rhino,hammer knight, dread wraith, frostback bear; you name it, no one is safe from Jessa (unless they are immune to spell effects, like theseaside raven, that’s it).

    Moreover, by making enemy units leave play almost for free, Jessa has a super-cheap way to trigger her Screams of the Departed and add insult to injury by dealing damage to the enemy Phoenixborn… what else to say? Too bad it’s a unique card and can’t be splashed in every deck. But maybe it’s better this way.
    As a final note, effects that trigger on a unit being destroyed (i.e.chant of revenge, chant of the dead, or summon sleeping widows) can’t be used as a reaction to Fear, since the affected unit leaves play without being destroyed.

    Ready Spells

    With no “standard” summoning spells and two cards that force you to inflict damage to your own units in order to resolve their effect, Jessa’s spellborard is quite different from that of other Phoenixborn’s decks. The purpose of her ready spells is to ensure Jessa’s survivability by making the enemy waste resources and negating progress they have made during the turn. Also, as we’ll see later when discussing allies, you’ll actually benefit from damaging your own troops, turning a resource trade (unit life for a beneficial effect) into a potential gain.

    Jessa’s only summoning spell is Summon Blood Puppet, which is as cheap as a ready spell can be, costing nothing but a Main Action [[main]] to play, and a Main Action [[main]] plus a Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] die to activate. The Blood Puppet itself is an OK blocker, with no attack and a life value of 2, though its abilities are a real pain for its controller: Cursed 1 will place 1 wound to your Phoenixborn at the end of each round (bypassing any damage prevention effects, since it causes direct wounding), while Self Inflict 1 allows you to spend a Side Action [[side]] and a Basic [[basic]] Die to deal 1 damage to the Puppet, so that you can destroy it before the end of the round and thus avoid taking damage from Cursed… mmh… on a second thought it’s not that cheap… it hurts you, and it it forces you to spend dice and side actions for the sole purpose of getting rid of it. That’s annoying.

    But wait, here’s the catch. You can place the Blood Puppet on any player‘s battlefield, so you can actually give it to your opponent. Now they become the controller of the conjuration (remember: you control anything that is in your play area, battlefield, spellboard or attached to cards you control), and thus they’ll be affected by the Puppet’s annoying abilities. For a mere ceremonial [[ceremonial]] die you’ll fill up a slot in the enemy battlefield with a unit that, if not destroyed in another way, will either deal 1 unpreventable damage to your opponent (that will trigger even if the Blood Puppet is exhausted once, as one exhaustion token will go off in the Recover Phase, before the end of the round), or will force him to waste 2 turns and 2 dice. And if your opponent destroys the Blood Puppet to prevent Cursed from triggering, or uses it to block one of your attack, you can benefit from it anyway through Jessa’s Scream of the Departed. I’d say this card is perfectly fitting Jessa’s theme of punishing the enemy for the choices they make.

    Don’t you agree?

    One of the two “life sacrifice” spells in Jessa’s arsenal, Blood Transfer allows you to spend a Side Action [[side]], a Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] die and a Charm [[charm:class]] die to deal 2 damage to a unit you control in order to heal either 2 damage to another unit you control or 1 damage to Jessa. This is a good, yet somewhat expensive, way to increase your survivability or to prevent a key unit from dying while at the same time providing an alternate way to trigger the living doll’s and leech warrior‘s abilities should your opponent be shy and decides not to attack you.

    Similar to Blood Transfer, Cut the Strings also requires you to deal 2 damage to a unit you control in order to trigger its effect, this time discarding an alteration spell. Its activation cost is a bit more affordable than Blood Transfer‘s, requiring a Main Action [[main]], a Ceremonial [[ceremonial:class]] die and a Basic [[basic]] die. The list of alteration spells you might want to discard with Cut the Strings is long (and will get longer as the game progresses, with new cards coming out), but major offenders include alterations that threaten your own units: fade away, reflections in the water, and regress. Note that, while you would have all the reasons to discard a massive growth from play, its Spell Guard ability prevent it from being affected by Cut the Strings so you can’t do nothing about it except from destroying the unit it is attached to.

    Allies

    The Bloodwoods Clan comes to the aid of Jessa Na Ni with an array of allies with medium-level stats and incredibly annoying (for your opponents) abilities. Their big drawback is their non-trivial magic cost, which makes them an investment that must be protected, especially from effects, like fade away or the silver snakes‘ Consume ability that would remove them from play. Having 5 ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice at your disposal, you always have the option to take them back from your discard pile, but if one of them gets out of play, it’s gone for good, which is something you don’t want.

    One of the most annoying units in the game, the Leech Warrior has pretty good stats with an Attack of 2 and a life value of 3, plus a recovery of 3 which makes him heal any damage that doesn’t kill him outright. And you’ll want him to take damage, because his special ability, Shadow Drain 1, will force an opponent to exhaust an active dice of your choice every time the Leech Warrior receives any amount of damage. This will help you limit the options at your opponent’s disposal (unless they have dice-recursion options like expand energy or hidden power) and consequently drag the game longer, which is something Jessa wants because of her general lack of burst damage.

    Similar to the Leech Warrior in cost and purpose, the Living Doll is another medium-sized unit with an ability that triggers on receiving damage. This time, her Pain Link allows you to spend 1 basic [[basic]] dice to deal the same amount of damage she receives (up to her Life value) to a target unit or Phoenixborn. With both these and the Leech Warrior, attacking Jessa risks to become expensive in terms of both resources and life loss. Moreover, with an attack value of zero, the Living Doll can be recovered through the Ceremonial Dice [[ceremonial]] Power at no additional costs, making her easier to recycle than the Leech Warrior. Remember that Life Value can be modified by alteration spells, but is not affected by wound tokens, so an unaltered Living Doll which already suffered two wounds still has a Life of 3, and that’s the damage she’ll deal with Pain Link if she suffers 3+ damage in a single instance.

    One way to deal with these two units is to directly place wounds on them, via effects like molten gold, the enchanted violinist‘s Song of Sorrow or the hammer knight‘s Aftershock abilities: as explained in the FAQ, these effects bypass the “Receive Damage” step of the Damage and Destruction Resolution Process and thus do not allow their target to trigger reaction based on receiving damage, so be aware when playing against decks including those cards.

    While the Leech Warrior and the Living Doll thrive when receiving damage, but have little to no direct offensive capabilities, the third and final ally in Jessa’s tribe, the Blood Archer is among the strongest fighting units currently in the game, were it not for his high cost. His Battle Advantage ability allows him to snipe enemy units and makes him a good tool to clear the board and feed Jessa’s Screams of the Departed, or to keep enemy attackers at bay. When needs arise, you could increase his attack value to 5 and punch hard at the enemy Phoenixborn, but this makes the Blood Archer extremely vulnerable to 1-damage effects like Nature [[natural]] dice or the enchanted violinist‘s Song of Sorrow.

    Combine this with the Archer’s high cost of 4 total dice and the potential 3 damage you’d take when recovering it from your discard pile through the use of a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice power, and you’ll understand why you’d want to keep this ally in play as much as possible. This deck has tools to achieve such a task in the form of blood transfer and undying heart, but don’t be afraid to step in with your Phoenixborn to protect him from an attack either, and never forget the usefulness of the +1 bonus to Attack and Life granted by the Charm [[charm]] dice power.

    Reaction Spells

    As you might have noticed by now, Jessa definitely prefers her allies to shield her and take damage in her stead, triggering nasty stuff like Shadow Drain or Pain Link as a result. Her reaction spells further enhance this attitude by providing other ways to exploit her units’ sacrifices.

    final Cry is a quite cheap way to deal direct damage to the enemy Phoenixborn without sacrificing tempo. At 2 damage for just 1 dice, it’s one of the most cost-efficient direct damage effects in the game per se. The drawback is that you need a unit to be destroyed in order to trigger it, but that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. Regardless of the deck you are playing or facing, unit removal is not too hard in Ashes. Moreover, you want your units to take damage. To say you’ll find ways to use Final Cry sooner or later is a pretty safe bet. Fact is, your opponent knows you might have a Final Cry in your hand, especially if you keep a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] Power die available, so they play sub-optimally and attempt not to destroy your units until you run out of Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice. This might give you time to ensure their survivability through the use of Charm [[charm]] dice or undying heartt, rendering any future attempt at destroying them this round useless. Either way, you win.

    Jessa’s kit also enables her to trigger Final Cry herself, if needed, by using damage-dealing effects such as blood transfer and cut the strings with the added advantage of being able to trigger effects that happen on receiving damage first.

    Jessa’s second Reaction Spell it’s another extremely useful and versatile card, which can easily fit in any deck that uses Charm [[charm]] dice. For a single Charm [[charm:class]] symbol, Redirect allows you to… err… redirect all the damage your Phoenixborn is going to suffer onto a unit you control, getting the twofold effect of preserving Jessa’s life a little longer and potentially triggering all those annoying effects you can trigger when your units take damage or are destroyed, which I’m pretty sure you are familiar with by now. It also can protect Jessa from an attack even if your units have been exhausted, effectively granting an exhausted unit the ability to defend from that attack, giving you a big surprise factor.

    Always remember that effects like molten gold don’t deal damage, but directly place wounds on the target, so Redirect can’t do anything to block them, otherwise any other source of damage can be redirected on a unit you control, be it a direct damage effect or an attack. Speaking of which, when defining how much damage is redirected when Jessa takes damage from multiple attacker, you need to consider whether she is the original target of the attack, or is going to take damage because she stepped in to protect a creature being attacked.

    If the opponent declared multiple units as the attackers in an “Attack a Phoenixborn” action, then each unit’s attack is resolved separately, and you could only redirect the damage from a single unit. When suffering damage from an “Attack a Unit” action, instead, all attacking units will add up their attack value and deal that much damage in a single instance to the attack target, this means that Redirect will move all the damage Jessa would suffer from that attack to a unit she controls. Long story short: when playing against Jessa be extra careful when declaring attackers – especially on a unit – if you see a Charm [[charm]] dice in her active pool.

    Alteration Spells

    Jessa’s Alteration spell, Undying Heart, provides additional survivability to a unit, by increasing its Life and Recover values by 2 points.

    Costing 1 Charm [[charm:class]] and 1 Basic [[basic]] dice, and with a Respark cost of 2 Basic [[basic]], it’s certainly not a cheap spell (in contrast, for example, with root armour), but its uses are many and various. Pretty much any unit in Jessa’s deck can benefit from the endurance boost granted by this card: Living Dolls and Leech Warriors will stay in play more and will thus have more time to do their stuff, while the Blood Archer is going to have an easier time surviving after he uses his Blood Oath ability. If you feel nasty and plan not to attack too much, you could also cast Undying Heart on a Blood Puppet you placed onto the enemy battlefield, forcing your opponent to spend 4 side actions and 4 dice to get rid of it…

    As always, let me summarize what I think the strongest and weakest points of Jessa’s deck are:

    Strengths

    Multiple ways to deal damage directly to the enemy Phoenixborn, the most important of which, Screams of the Departed is always available.

    Includes many cards that hinder the enemy efforts and/or punish the opponents for taking action, forcing them to play sub-optimally;

    Relatively high toughness of both the Phoenixborn and her units.

    Summon Blood Puppet. ’nuff said. (Yes, I know, I usually list three strong points, but Blood Puppets are so cool they deserve a separate entry).

    Weaknesses

    Very few attacking units, and, on average, low burst damage capability: you would most likely slowly bleed the enemy away 1 damage at a time rather than inflict a few, powerful, hits.

    Many cards have above-average costs, or require you to pay extra dice to activate, making you burn through your dice pool quickly if you are not careful.

    Many effects require your units to suffer damage in order to trigger, making them vulnerable and potentially leaving your Phoenixborn defenseless.

    And with that, we are halfway done, at least for the base set. 3 Phoenixborn done, 3 more to go. Next time we’ll explore the ruins of the once beautiful city of Viros in search of the man who was supposed to be its champion, and instead burnt it to the ground: Noah Redmoon.

    Until then, if you have any comments and/or suggestions, please feel free to leave a message below.

    Thanks for reading!

  • the silver snakes - how to 0

    On the 13/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didn't write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, I have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    Thesnipertroll September 20, 2016
    Here we are again, continuing with our review of the preconstructed decks of the Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn base set. As I already wrote, the purpose of this series is to help new players get some basic insight on the various cards of the game, without stepping too much into strategy matters.

    After treading through the mists with Aradel, today we’ll take a look at a totally different deck: The Snakes in Silver, featuring Maeoni Viper, Phoenixborn of Silverwood.

    In some aspects, Maeoni is the opposite of Aradel: she has a very high Life value of 22, but comes with the smallest Battlefield capability in the game, with only 3 units available at a time. She can’t definitely afford to pursue a swarm strategy and must rely on her toughness to stay alive as she won’t have many units around to block enemy attackers for her (quite the opposite, her few units are so precious to her gameplay she’ll have to step in and guard them in person from time to time). Her Spellboard of 4 is pretty respectable, and should allow her to play whatever she needs to support her plans.

    Her special ability is Strike, which is a reaction that triggers after a player has declared attackers (but before the defending player decides whether to block or guard the attack). For 1 basic die you can increase the attack value of a creature by 2 for the remainder of the turn, which basically means for the resolution of the current attack. Note that you don’t need to be the attacking player in order to trigger this ability: you can also use it on a unit you intend to defend and counter with, if that can help you destroy the enemy attacker. In a multiplayer game you can also use Strike when two opponents are fighting each other, to help another player dealing with a particularly nasty enemy unit.

    The suggested dice pool for this deck is:
    [[charm]]x5
    [[natural]]x5

    To me, this combination screams “board presence” aloud. Both types of magic want you to get units on the field, make them stay as long as possible, and get the most value out of them, which is something you are somewhat forced to do with Maeoni, given her small battlefield. The destructive side of Nature magic and the trickier aspect of Charm Magic will also come into play, albeit more as a side note, providing ways to deal with the opposition.

    Maeoni’s unique card is Summon Silver Snake, a ready spell costing a Main Action [[main]] to play that allows Maeoni to field a really strong unit with the expenditure of a Main Action [[main]], a Charm [[charm]] Power die and a Nature [[natural]] Power die. For each focused copy of the spell you have, you get to put a status token on the Silver Snake you just summoned, saving you some of the time you need to make them grow. As an added bonus, with Silver Snakes being pivotal to Maeoni’s strategy, Summon Silver Snake has the Spell Guard ability, which prevents enemy spells like Seal or Transfer from affecting it (but can’t block unit or Phoenixborn abilities like Noah Redmoon‘s Shadow Target or the Blackcloud Ninja‘s Seal Strike.)

    The Snakes themselves are one of the toughest units in the base set, with a Life value of 4 and a Recover of 3, they will regenerate to full health at the end of every round, so your opponent can’t just take them down slowly one damage at a time: either they destroy them in one round, or they’ll have to restart the process over again. As for attack goes, they have a value of X, which is equal to the number of status token on them. We have seen before that by focusing the Summon Silver Snake spells, new Silver Snakes will come into play with 1 or 2 status token already, but there’s another, satisfying way, to making them grow, as their Consume ability let them eat enemy units!

    How does this all work? Basically, whenever an effect you control causes an enemy unit to be destroyed, each of your Silver Snakes will gain a Status Token, therefore increasing its attack value by 1. Being an inexhaustible ability, it is always active, even if the Silver Snake is exhausted. As for “control”, the FAQ specify:

    Control: A card is controlled by a player if it is on a player’s battlefield or spellboard or is that player’s Phoenixborn. A player also controls any card that is attached to a card she controls.

    This means your Silver Snakes will not be able to use Consume when another player triggers the destruction of an opponent’s units (or such an effect spontaneously triggers), even if you originally played the card that caused the opponent to destroy that unit. For example, playing alteration spells like Poison or Fade Away on an enemy unit, or your opponent destroying a Blood Puppet you played on his or her battefield through its Self Inflict ability, won’t trigger your Snakes’ Consume (but you can put Blood Puppets in the enemy battlefield and destroy them through other means, that would work as long as you control the destroying effect). The same goes for engaging the False Demon in battle: it will be destroyed by its own Illusion ability before you can destroy it with damage, and won’t trigger Consume as well.

    Icing on the cake, whenever the Consume ability triggers due to the destruction of an ally, that allies doesn’t go to its owner’s discard pile, but it’s removed from the game for good. This hurts Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] players a lot, as it will prevent those allies from being resurrected through the Ceremonial dice power.

    Ready Spells
    With a battlefield as large as 3, Maeoni must get the best out of her pet snakes, which means feeding and protecting them from harm until they are ready to wreak havoc on the enemy battlefield. Enter Summon Gilder, Maeoni’s second ready spell, costing a Main Action [[main]] and a Charm class [[charm:class]] dice, and a Main Action [[main]] and a Nature Class [[natural:class]] dice to activate.
    Its activated effect is unique among the Summon spells as it not only allows you to place a conjuration onto the battlefield, but as an added bonus makes you deal 1 damage to a target unit. Compare that with the standard Nature Die [[natural]] power and you’ll agree it’s an incredibly cost-efficient card, especially in support of the Silver Snakes’ Consume ability. When discussing this card, a couple of fine points regarding timing and the resolution of effects from the FAQ must be taken into account:

    When you use a spell, ability, or dice power, you first pay the costs, then declare the target, and then resolve the effects of the spell/ability/power you played. This means you must choose the target for the damage (even if you don’t want to deal the damage) before placing the Gilder conjuration into play. This allows the opponent to react to the use of the ability (for example with Golden Veil) and, if the ability is cancelled, its effect don’t take place as a whole, so not only the damage is cancelled, but also the Gilder isn’t summoned.

    You should be aware that you can activate the effect of a spell or ability even if you can’t fully resolve that effect. In that case, you resolve as many effects as you can and ignore the rest. For example if your battlefield is full, you can still activate Summon Gilder and deal 1 damage to a target unit, even though you don’t have the room to effectively summon the Gilder.

    The little mice themselves are an incredible unit for their cost, even taking into account the extra magic symbol you had to pay to put their summoning spell into play. 2 life is good for a small unit, preventing it from being destroyed by a single Nature Power [[natural]] die, Enchanted Violinist or Anchornaut. Its Unit Guard ability is just amazing, as it protects other powerful allies like the Snakes from being attacked and relieves some stress from Maeoni, who would be otherwise forced to answer a bit too many attacks by herself. Also they have the Inheritance 1 ability, which allows you to place 1 status token on another unit you control when they are destroyed, making their sacrifice even more worth with the further growth of one of your Snakes.

    All those work in making your Silver Snakes as big as trucks is most likely going to be wasted if your opponents barricade themselves behind a wall of units and avoid being attacked directly. To help you land decisive hits, Maeoni brings another powerful ready spell to the board, Hypnotize. It costs nothing but a Main Action [[main]] to play, and then a Side Action [[side]] and 2 Charm class [[charm:class]] dice to activate in order to grant a unit you control the Bypass ability until the end of the turn. Bypass reads “this unit cannot be blocked or guarded”, which ensues it will hit its designated target, though some effects can foil your plans: one you must be aware of is Redirect, that will divert the damage of the attack on another target, Reflections in the Water will prevent Bypass from being used, and also Choke will cancel the effect of the ability the moment it is going to trigger (the rationale behind the last two being Hypnotize gives the Bypass ability to a unit, and then is the unit that triggers the ability the moment it attacks).

    2 Charm [[charm:class]] dice in order to land a direct attack is not cheap, but it’s worth it if you manage to deal at least 3-4 damage with that attack. Using multiple instances of Hypnotize in the same round, though feasible with this deck is extremely taxing to your resources and should only be attempted if you can land a decisive blow. That said, drawing multiple copies of Hypnotize doesn’t necessarily mean they are dead cards in your hand, as you can place a backup copy for free in order to safeguard your plans from Noah’s Shadow Target ability, and you can always discard them to meditate in a later round if you need.

    The last ready spell in Maeoni’s arsenal is Empower, which is definitely not a cheap card, costing 2 Nature class [[natural:class]] dice to play, and then a basic [[basic]] die to trigger, once per round. Its first effect is essentially a weaker version of Maeoni’s Strike ability, granting a +1 bonus to the attack value of a unit after attackers have been declared. 1 dice for 1 damage looks good, though the initial tax of 2 Nature dice would make this ability worth playing only on the long run, were it not for its other effects.

    As an added bonus, whenever you trigger Empower, you may draw a card, discarding a card from your hand if you did. This effect lets you cycle through your deck faster, and helps you fix your hand by swapping cards you don’t quite need at the moment for (hopefully) more useful ones. But there’s more. Empower focus effects allows you to re-roll one of your exhausted dice and add it to your active pool, essentially letting you activate its ability for free (yes, you can re-roll the dice you paid to activate Empower, as you exhaust dice to pay the cost of a card or ability before resolving its effects).

    Focusing this card, even though it has a steep initial cost, makes it extremely cost-efficient in the long run, balancing the 1-die for 1-damage equation after 4 uses, i.e. a couple of rounds. Moreover, the immediate benefit of fixing your hand by drawing and discarding a card is supplemented by another, more subtle advantage: a focused Empower lets you adjust your dice distribution by making you swap the dice in your active pool with those in your exhausted pool, allowing Maeoni increase her chance to get the magic types she needs at any given moment.

    Action Spells

    The majority of Maeoni’s Action Spells focus around increasing the efficiency and flexibility of her deck and gaining the most out of her Silver Snakes, with a somewhat notable exception.

    Open Memories is an all-round utility card, letting Maeoni search her deck for any 1 card (without the need to show it to your opponent) and put it into her hand for a Main Action [[main]], a Charm class [[charm:class]] die and a basic [[basic]] die. Whether you dig for that Molten Gold or Refresh you need to deal the final blow to your opponent, or to get another copy of Summon Silver or Empower in order to gain their Focus effect, you can always find a useful way to take advantage of it.

    Placed in your First Five, Open Memories basically acts as a “wild card”, allowing you to read the board and adapt to whatever the enemy is doing, trading some resources and tempo for flexibility and reliability, and allowing you to “circumvent” the rule that imposes the First Five to be all different cards.

    Another resource-fixing card, this time affecting your dice instead of your deck, is Call Upon the Realms. This Action Spell allows you to change 3 of your active dice to a face of your choice, effectively giving you a 3-dice meditation by spending a single card and a Main Action [[main]]. Like Open Memories, this is another “resource trade” card, as it makes you save cards you would otherwise have discarded by meditating three times, but at the expense of tempo: as it costs a Main Action [[main]], you most likely would have to wait for the following turn to use the dice you changed, whereas by meditating you could spend those dice with a Main Action [[main]] in the same turn.

    However, this card does not always comes with a tempo loss: you can’t normally meditate and use a Dice Power in the same turn since both effects cost a Side Action [[side]] to play. By making you meditate as a Main Action [[main]], Call Upon the Realms leaves your Side Action [[side]] open for a surprise damage from your Nature [[natural]] dice or a temporary boost from your Charm [[charm]] dice.

    The worst part of having a Battlefield limit of 3 is seeing the Silver Snakes you fed with much love unable to do anything because your opponent locks them with nasty stuff like Steady Gaze or Blood Chains. Fortunately for you, Refresh is a perfect counter for those cards, as it gets rid of all exhaustion tokens from one of your units for a Charm [[charm:class]] and a basic [[basic]] dice. Offensively, it can be used to allow a Snake to attack twice per round (without giving the enemy a chance to block if you have multiple copies of Hypnotize) and, in the right situation it can help dealing the killing blow to an enemy Phoenixborn. Just take care, as similarly to other Maeoni cards, it makes you spend a turn, giving the opponent a chance to react.

    Similar to Refresh in some regards, Transfer has the same cost (1 Charm [[charm:class]] and 1 Basic [[basic]] dice), the same timing issues and certainly can be used in a similar way, moving an exhaustion token from a unit to another card and potentially readying it for another attack. But that’s only one of the various possibilities this incredibly flexible card offers: you can transfer any one token from any card to any other card, as long as both belong to the same player and neither card is a Phoenixborn. Want to move a status token from an exhausted Silver Snake to an unexhausted one? Move a damage token from a Silver Snake to a Summon Silver Snake card? Move exhaustion tokens from an enemy unit to another to prevent the most dangerous one to attack? Accumulate damage on an enemy unit in order to destroy it, clearing the path for your Silver Snakes and making them grow more? The possibilities are too many to be listed here, but I think you got the message: Transfer increases your deck efficiency by granting you tactical flexibility.

    Of the various cards in Maeoni’s deck, Molten Gold is the one that, at first sight, may look a bit odd with regards of her theme of efficiency and support to her Silver Snakes. It doesn’t make your deck run smoother and it doesn’t directly help your Snakes, but hey, 3 wounds to an enemy target for 2 Nature Power [[natural]] Dice looks like a pretty solid investment of resource to me. Let’s compare it with the Nature Dice [[natural]] power: 1 damage to a target unit for a Nature Power [[natural]] dice. Here we have 3 wounds for 2 dice on a target unit or Phoenixborn. You have to invest a card and spend a main [[main]] action, but save 2 turns, gain a 50% more damage return for your dice investment, can wound the enemy Phoenixborn directly and have the not-so-trivial advantage of directly placing wounds on the target, thus bypassing all the effects that trigger on dealing or receiving damage, like the Living Doll‘s Pain Link ability or cards like Sympathy Pain or Redirect. If that’s not efficiency…

    Moreover, if used to target and destroy enemy units, Molten Gold indirectly helps your Silver Snakes in two ways: it helps opening up the enemy battlefield, removing a potential threat, and at the same time makes your Snakes grow more and deal more damage. If you are aiming for a long game, maybe targeting the enemy units may be the best course of action, while if you feel you can quickly finish the enemy Phoenixborn, Molten Gold to the face is the way to go.

    Reaction Spells

    Maeoni has a single Reaction spell, Golden Veil, whose main purpose is… you guessed it, support her Silver Snakes.

    Golden Veil is, at the present time at least, one of the few cancellation effects in the game, helping you preserve your Silver Snakes from harm by negating the effect of spells, abilities or dice powers that would target one of your units for the cost of a Nature [[natural:class]] and a Charm [[charm:class]] dice. There’s nothing much to be said here, except maybe reminding some fine notes that come in the rules and FAQ, for example:

    Golden Veil only cancels the effects of the spell/ability/dice power, but doesn’t negate its cost, which must be paid by that effect’s controller (so for example if you cancel a Nature Dice [[natural]] Power affecting one of your Silver Snakes, the dice is still exhausted but the damage is not inflicted).

    Effects that don’t have a target or don’t specifically target one of your unit, such as Mist Typhoon or One Hundred Blades (whose text reads “target Phoenixborn” but has no such limitation on units) can’t be prevented by Golden Veil. The same goes with Alteration Spell, that affect the unit they are attached to, but don’t target it.

    If a spell/ability/dice power has multiple effects, some of which target one of your units and some don’t, by playing Golden Veil you cancel all those effects, and not just those that target your unit. For instance, against an enemy Summon Gilder, Golden Veil both negates the damage and prevents the opponent from placing a Gilder onto his or her battlefield. The same goes with Small Sacrifice (whether focused or not): Golden Veil cancels the damage/exhaustion on your unit as well as the damage/exhaustion on the opponent’s unit, as both are part of the spell’s effect.

    And that’s the last card from the Snakes in Silver deck. As I did before, let me summarize what I think are the main points, strong and weak of this deck.

    Strengths:
    Maeoni is the Phoenixborn with the highest life value in the game: it will take some time to defeat her, and she has little problems guarding her units against attacks.
    Many cards are extremely efficient or provide tactical flexibility.
    Can deal a huge amount of damage in just a few turns once properly set up.

    Weaknesses:
    Extremely low Battlefield value, which makes it difficult to defend from multiple attackers and to find attack routes and makes Maeoni vulnerable to hard unit-control effects.
    Many options in the deck have either high resource cost (Empower, Hypnotize, Golden Veil) or action cost (Refresh, Call Upon the Realms, Open Memories).
    Needs time to make her Silver Snakes grow and to get all her stronger spells in place before landing a decisive blow.

    That’s all for now. As always, if you have any question, criticism or just want to say “Hi”, feel free to comment down below or leave a message in the “contacts” page and I’ll gladly answer as soon as I can. Next time, we’ll deal with Argaia’s resident mistress of Voodoo and Queen of the Bloodwoods, Jessa Na Ni.
    Thanks for reading!

  • the mist guardian - how to 0

    On the 13/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didnt write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting. the following post was originally written by thesnipertroll

    After my brief introduction to Ashes I’d like to take a look at the six preconstructed decks that come with the base set. These allow new players to promptly get into the game without worrying too much about deckbuilding.

    My intent with this series is to give an overview of the base decks, their synergies, strengths and weaknesses, and to shed some light to some more obscure aspects of the rules, which might require some practice to get accustomed to, and may sometimes throw new players off. I’d rather not talk much about strategy, at least not at this stage, first and foremost as I consider myself to be quite a new player myself, so the little nuances and subtleties of the game are still out of my grasp and I’d rather not venture in a field I don’t feel ready to cover yet. I hope you’ll forgive me.Anyway, without further ado, let’s start.

    The first deck I’m going to review is The Mist Guardian, featuring Aradel Summergaard. I chose to begin with this deck because of the six preconstructed decks it’s certainly one of the most straightforward to play, but also because it’s the deck I used in my first ever Ashes game, and it includes the card that gives its name to the site so, what better candidate to begin with?

    Let’s take a look at Aradel herself first:
    With her huge Battlefield value of 8, Aradel Summergaard, Phoenixborn of Evermist Valley is – currently at least – the Phoenixborn that can field the largest army in the game. It is no surprise that one of the main strategies of this deck is exactly that of flooding the board with cheap units and overwhelm the enemy defenses with numbers advantage. Her Spellboard value of 4 is pretty standard, allowing her to field whatever Ready Spells she needs, while a Life of 16 puts her on the frail side of the spectrum, meaning she has to be careful not to be hit too much.

    Her special ability, Water Blast is simple but extremely cost-efficient, and has a tremendous utility value: once per round, as a Side Action [[side]], Aradel can deal 2 damage to a target unit by spending a Nature Class die [[nature:class]]. Who wouldn’t like a double-damage, easier to cast Nature Die Power once per round? There aren’t many damage-dealing effects that inflict more than 1 damage in the game, and most of them have either some play restriction or a higher cost-to-damage ratio (if not both). And besides the very affordable dice cost, being able to deal with a 2-life creature with just a Side Action [[side]] is always an extremely valuable option.

    The suggested dice pool for this deck is:
    [[nature]]x5
    [[illusion]]x5

    This combination of dice fits with the board control strategy Aradel is trying to achieve, supplementing her special ability and her many unit-removal cards with the extra damage coming from the Nature Power and using the Illusion Power to limit the enemy capability to catch up on her, helping her get and maintain board advantage.

    Every Phoenixborn has a unique spell (Angus note: while this was true at the time of writing, there are now allies that are unique), which you can use only in a deck using that particular character. Aradel’s one is summon blue jaguar. As many ready spells it only costs a Main action to play, and then a Main Action [[main]] and two basic [[basic]] dice to activate. With 2 Attack, 2 Life, 0 Recover the blue jaguar is already a solid unit by itself given its rather low cost, but there’s more: its Gaze ability allows you to spend a basic die after an enemy unit has come into play, and immediately exhaust that unit. Note that this ability doesn’t exhaust the Jaguar itself, meaning it can be used multiple times per round. Of course it can be only triggered once per unit played by the opponent, but if you have several Blue Jaguars in play, each of them can trigger its own Gaze ability on the same unit, rendering it useless for multiple round.

    As a side note about timing, effects that happen when a unit comes into play, will trigger before those that happen after a unit comes into play, so if your opponent plays a Stormwind Sniper, the latter can damage and destroy your Blue Jaguar before it has the chance to use its Gaze.

    Ready Spells
    Aradel’s deck includes no allies, but relies on pretty cheap conjurations to fill the board with relative ease.

    In addition to Summon Blue Jaguar, you get Summon Mist Spirit: a ready spell costing a Main Action [[main]] to play and a Main Action [[main]] plus an Illusion Class [[illusion:class]] die to activate in order to place a 1/1/0 Mist Spirit on the battlefield. Don’t get too attached to them, as they will leave play too soon, but nonetheless they have their uses. First of all, they are expendable: as any conjuration, you can always bring them back into play over and over again, and they are so cheap you will only need to allocate a couple of spare dice to the task if you wish. That said, they offer an extremely good option for blocking enemy attackers aimed at your Phoenixborn.

    Moreover, whenever you activate the Summon Mist Spirit spell, you have the chance to spend an extra basic [[basic]] die in order to place a second Mist Spirit into play so, even if they get destroyed quickly, they’ll return into play with ease, thus forcing the opponent to spend more and more dice to take them out again. Of course, having a life of 1 makes them extremely vulnerable to multi-target effects like Mist Typhoon, Coal Roarkwin’s One Hundred Blades or the Hammer Knight‘s Aftershock ability, so be aware.

    The third and final Summon spell at Aradel’s disposal is one of my favorites: Summon Butterfly Monk. Yet again with no magic cost (just a Main Action [[main]]) to play, it requires a Main Action [[main]] and a Nature Power [[nature]] die to activate, and brings another “small” unit into play. Butterfly Monks have a lowly Attack value of 1, but a Life Value between 1 and 3, being it equal to the number of Summon Butterfly Monk spells in your spellboard, and also Unit Guard, making them very good defenders with some staying power if you need, further enhanced by their Recover 1: once you are set up, the opponent can no longer ping them one damage at a time: they must take them down or somehow bypass them, or the Monks will slowly heal any damage.

    And sometimes even killing them is not the best idea, as their Last Blessing ability makes you heal 1 damage from a target unit or Phoenixborn whenever a Butterfly Monk is destroyed. In a game where healing effects are (at least at this stage) extremely rare, being able to shrug off even just 2-3 points of damage in the course of a game pretty much makes up for Aradel’s below-par Life value. What I like about them is that they are incredibly useful even with just a single Summon Butterfly Monk spell in play as their lower life makes them die quicker, thus offering you more options for healing. Also note Last Blessing is inexhaustible, so you are free to counter with your Butterfly Monks knowing that they will heal you nonetheless.

    As a last tip, you can always trigger Last Blessing yourself by discarding your Summon Butterfly Monk spells through Meditation. This might come in handy if both you and your opponent are at low health in order stave off nasty effects like Sympathy Pain or Molten Gold for that one last turn you need to win the game.

    Should you be worried about [[Summon’s Butterfly Monk]]‘s activation cost of a Nature Power die, relax, as Aradel has the ultimate solution for any dice-fixing problem: Shifting Mists. Entering your spellboard for just an Illusion Class die, this ready spell allows you to mitigate the randomness of the dice rolls by changing the facing of 2 of your active dice once per round with just a Side Action [[side]]. Think of it as a free 2-dice Meditation once per round, doesn’t it sound good?.

    And as with Meditation, being a Side Action [[side]] offers you the option to change the dice to a face you need in the exact moment you need them, without the need to sacrifice cards from your deck, spellboard or hand. This allows you to keep your tempo, at least when the dice you are changing the facing of are used to fuel a spell or ability that requires a Main Action [[main]]: activating dice powers, out-of-turn reactions or any spell or effect that requires a Side Action [[side]] like Aradel’s Water Blast or Out of the Mist will force you to use Shifting Mists one turn in advance.

    Action Spells

    Aradel’s three Action Spells have a purpose in common: they all help her to deal with the enemy Battlefield by removing the threat posed by the opponent’s units in various ways.

    Mist Typhoon is the card you need when facing hordes of small creatures like Mist Spirits or Noah Redmoon’s Masked Wolves (masked wolf) and Sleeping Widows. It’s the first of Aradel’s multi-colored spells, costing an Illusion [[illusion:class]] and a Nature [[nature:class]] class dice in addition to a Main Action [[main]], and it deals 1 damage to all opponents’ units, clearing the board from all the little creatures, but also priming Aradel’s Water Blast ability against medium-sized threats like the Hammer Knight if needed. Also, it doesn’t make you lose card advantage as you may draw 1 card after you play it, effectively replacing itself.

    Note that its effects reads “all opponents’ units”, which means in a multiplayer game this card will indiscriminately hit everybody outside of your battlefield. The more players, the more powerful its effect, but be careful: you are definitely not making any new friends with that. And be aware of unit that like to be damaged, such as the Leech Warrior or the Living Doll as there won’t be ways to prevent them from being hit.

    Whereas Mist Typhoon let you deal with swarms of little guys, its “sister” Out of the Mist helps you focus on big targets, dealing damage to a single unit equal to the number of units you have in play (and with Aradel’s large battlefield and cheap summons, chances are you are going to have some). Its cost is somewhat high, requiring both an Illusion [[illusion]] and a Nature [[nature]] Power dice, but that’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a well-timed Meditation or the use of Shifting Mists, though, and by only requiring a Side Action, you can use it to create a gap in the enemy defenses and attack before your opponent can react.
    Though it can have a high damage cap, due to the relative fragility of Aradel’s units this card will probably deal 3-4 damage on average, which anyway will be more than enough to deal with anything but the hardest units in the game. And besides that, if you compare it with the Nature Magic Power (1 Frog = 1 damage to a unit), it can have an equally cost-efficient effect with just 2 units in play: that will be 2 Power dice for 2 damage, with a net card expenditure of zero due to Out of The Mist allowing to draw 1 card. As an advantage over the Dice Power, you’ll just need a single Side Action [[side]] to do the 2 damage, whereas by using the dice you will have to also spend two turns. And of course, having more than 2 units in play makes this card even more cost-effective.

    Last but not least, Steady Gaze is Aradel’s tool to deal with big units without even bothering to find the resources to deal enough damage. For two Illusion class [[illusion:class]] dice and a Main Action [[main]], this Action Spell puts two exhaustion token onto a unit, effectively taking it out of the game for two rounds. This has an incredible synergy with the Blue Jaguars, as they can only deal with units the moment they come into play, but can’t do much afterwards.
    By using the Jaguar’s Gaze ability on an enemy unit, and then playing Steady Gaze on it in the following round, you have 3 rounds of (almost) guaranteed freedom from that unit, with the added effect of hindering the enemy play by taking up its Battlefield space with something they can’t use.

    As a general consideration, neutralizing units using non-violent methods is an effective way to deal with Ceremonial Magic [[ceremonial]] in particular, as this kind of magic has several effects that trigger when a unit is damaged (Leech Warrior, Living Doll) or destroyed (Chant of Revenge, Final Cry, Summon Sleeping Widows), and prevents the recursion of allies through its Die Power.

    Alteration Spells

    The way to battlefield supremacy is further enhanced by Aradel’s Alteration Spells, that offer yet another trick to deal with enemy threats, but also some effective ways to power-up her small units.

    The last card in Aradel’s arsenal of control effects, Reflections in the Water, helps to defuse those units whose special abilities may be a pain to deal with otherwise (such as Living Doll, Hammer Knight or Frostback Bear). That’s not much that can be said on this: it’s definitely a useful card albeit extremely situational; however it is definitely cheap costing just an Illusion Class [[illusion:class]] symbol, and being able to reuse it with Respark is a possibility not to be underestimated. Sure at the present time, with just the base set and the first two expansions packs in store, the number of cards Reflections in the Water can affect in significant way is quite limited, but that number can only grow.

    Something that can be easily missed at first is that some spells, like Hypnotize or Crystal Shield, have an effect that grants an ability to a unit. Such effects (unless they are inexhaustible, of course) do not work on a unit affected by Reflections in the Water, since its effect applies to all abilities the attached unit has, not just those printed on the card itself.

    Root Armor is definitely a spell that embrace Nature’s philosophy of “simple but efficient”. It may not have one of the flashier effects in the game, nevertheless giving a unit 2 extra life for just 1 Nature Class [[natural:class]] symbol guarantees it has some staying power against low-damage effects and attacks. That might be quite good per se, but possibly a bit slow to build up, were it not for the fact that you can cast Root Armor as a Side Action [[side]]. Yes, you read it right! This means you can summon a unit and cast Root Armor on it on the same turn. Having trouble dealing with a Blue Jaguar? How about a 4-life one?

    When you’ll experiment with deckbuilding, you’ll find this card has incredible value, for almost any unit can benefit from its effect. Due to its relatively cheap costs, both to play and to recover via Respark, it’s not too absurd of an idea to include just a single copy of it in your deck to keep in your First Five, in order to boost whatever unit you plan to use in the turn you play them. All in all, for its simplicity, elegance and usefulness, this is one of my favorite cards in the whole lot and I have no qualms about admitting it.

    Tired to sting your opponent with one or two Mist Spirits at a time? Need to swing for a big hit to close the game? Massive Growth offers a cheap way to increase your damage output. For a Main Action [[main]], a Nature Class [[nature:class]] symbol and a basic [[basic]] symbol, this Alteration Spell will grant a +4 boost to a unit’s Attack and Life values until the end of the round. And these bonuses will stick around, for Massive Growth has the Spell Guard ability, making it extremely hard to deal with, as your opponent has to take down, exhaust or otherwise lock your now powered-up creature (and in the case you were wondering, no, the unit altered by this spell doesn’t get the immunity from opponents’ spells, only Massive Growth itself does).

    Sure, you can’t attach it to units with more than 2 Attack, but guess what? Aradel’s units have 2 Attack at most, making all of them valid targets for this spell. With all the tools at her disposal to deal with enemy threats, Aradel will probably have 1-2 unexhausted in play at the end of the round, so instead of pestering the enemy Phoenixborn with a few damage it can be definitely better to exploit this opening in your opponent’s defense for a big 5-6 damage hit.

    And with that, our overview of Aradel’s preconstructed deck, The Mist Guardian is complete. Before wrapping up, I’d like to post a list of what I think are the key strengths and weaknesses of this deck:

    Strengths
    High Battlefield value, with cheap, expendable units that can be summoned quickly;
    Control of enemy units through exhaustion and damage;
    Relatively cheap effects that allow her to keep dice advantage and control the pace of the round;

    Weaknesses
    Low life means vulnerability to direct damage effects;
    Relatively weak units, require some time to setup for an attack and won’t deal much damage per round without Massive Growth.
    Lacks ways to directly damage the opponent Phoenixborn, and must rely on having unexhausted units at the end of the round to attack, which isn’t always an option.

    If you have any questions, comments or criticism to what I wrote, or even just if you liked this article and want to see more, please feel free to leave a message below and I’ll answer as fast as I can. Next time, we’ll take a look at a radically different playstyle, with the powerful Snakes in Silver of Maeoni Viper.
    Until then, thanks for reading!

  • An introduction to ashes - a re posting 0

    On the 13/02/2020, the website strangecopy.com will be/was taken down. Many thanks to brandon miller for hosting it up until now. However, there are a few articles that i believe are worth keeping a hold of, so i will be creating a series of posts that is literally a copy/paste of the original articles. I didnt write any of them, full credit to all those who put in their time and effort into writing these. In addition to that, i have edited it as little as possible, mostly just formatting.

    An Introduction to Ashes
    The sniper troll
    September 13, 2016

    Note: This article was originally posted on the Shifting Mists blog on April 27, 2016. In an attempt to collect as much community-based material in a single place, I’m going to slowly move all my introductory articles here, and then I’ll continue with the reviews of the preconstructed decks I began on Shifting Mists, which in the meantime will be re-purposed and dedicated to the Italian Ashes community.
    For those who were already following Shifting Mists, please be patient, it won’t take long before I’ll release new content. To anybody else, I hope you’ll enjoy the reading!
    So here we are, at the beginning of a new adventure. As my first blog post I’d like to start at the beginning and give a general introduction to Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn without getting too much into details like card analysis or strategy, which I’ll leave for later.

    To put it simply, Ashes is a competitive card game in which 2 to 4 players will face one another assuming the role of Phoenixborn, demigods of the world of Argaia who wield mysterious magical energies. The object of the game is to be the first to reduce the life of all opposing Phoenixborn to zero, which is achieved by casting spells and summoning units to attack the enemy.

    Three of the six Phoenixborn from the Ashes base set: Aradel Summergaard, Jessa Na Ni and Noah Redmoon.

    Similar to other expandable card games like Magic: the Gathering, Game of Thones or Android: Netrunner, each player uses his or her own personal deck which includes all the spells and allies he or she wishes to play, and is constructed prior to the game by choosing 30 cards (with a maximum of 3 copies of an individual card) from the pool of all the available cards in the game.
    A feature unique to Ashes is that the starting hand is not drawn at random, but is chosen by the player by picking 5 different cards from the deck (the First Five). This removes the frustration of having a match conditioned by a bad hand of cards, giving the players much more control of the early game and emphasizing opening moves strategies.
    Another peculiar feature is the resource-generation mechanism, which is based not on cards included in the deck, but on a pool of 10 special 6-sided dice which dictate which resources you’ll have at your disposal each round. There are 4 types of dice in the base set of the game, related respectively to Ceremonial, Charm, Illusion and Natural magic (and yes, you can choose which dice you’ll bring to play when building your deck).
    Each die has 3-in-6 chance of showing a Class symbol, which provides a resource of its type, and a 1-in-6 chance of showing a Power symbol, which is required to cast some of the spells in the game, but can also be spent to activate the dice power ability, giving players extra options besides the cards in their hand.
    Ok, cool, but how does it work?
    After a setup, in which players announce the Phoenixborn they will use for the game, and choose their First Five, the game is played over a series of rounds, each divided in a sequence of three phases, which are resolved in order:

    Prepare Phase

    Player Turns Phase

    Recovery Phase

    In the Prepare Phase, players roll their dice to see which resources they have available for the round and place them in their Active Dice Pool, then draw until they have 5 cards in hand, with the option to discard any number of cards before drawing to make room for new cards. There is no maximum hand size in Ashes, so if a player has more than 5 cards in hand the beginning of the round he or she doesn’t have to discard down to 5.

    If a player’s deck is empty during the Prepare Phase, that player’s Phoenixborn will suffer 1 damage for each card the player was required to draw and wasn’t able to.

    The largest part of the round will consist of the Player Turns Phase. Here, beginning with the First Players, players will take Turns until they both decide to pass. During a Turn, each player must perform a Main Action, and has the option to perform a Side Action (which can be taken before or after the Main Action for that Turn).

    [[main]] A Main Action allows a player to do one of the following:
    Play a card or activate a card effect showing the Main Action symbol (the majority of spells, allies and spell effects require this);
    Attack an enemy Phoenixborn;
    Attack an enemy Unit;
    Pass

    [[side]] While a Side Action allows a player to:
    Play a card or activate a card effect showing the Side Action symbol;
    Activate a Dice Power by exhausting a dice showing the corresponding Power symbol;
    Meditate: the player discards any number of cards from his or her hand, Spellboard, or top of the deck in order to change the facing of dices in his or her Active Pool to a face of his or her choice.

    Most cards and effects require the expenditure of a determined number of dice symbols (in addition to the Main or Side action cost): in order to play those cards or activate those effects, a player has to exhaust dice showing the corresponding symbols and move them from his or her Active Dice Pool to the Exhausted Dice Pool.

    A Power dice symbol can always be spent in lieu of a Class dice symbol of the same class (i.e. you can use a Ceremonial Power symbol to pay for a card that requires a Ceremonial Class symbol, but not for a card that requires an Illusion Class symbol) and any dice can be spent to pay for a Basic symbol cost.

    A power symbol on a dice can always be spent in lieu of a class symbol on the same die and any symbol may be spent in lieu of a basic symbol. You can’t to spend a class symbol in lieu of a power symbol, or spend a power symbol instead of a class symbol on a different kind of dice.

    Finally, in the Recovery Phase, Units in play will heal damage based on their Recover Value, exhaustion tokens will be removed from cards in play so that they could be used in the following rounds, and players will choose which unspent dice to keep in their Active Pool for the next round and which to move to the Exhausted Pool so that they could be rolled in the next Prepare Phase.

    There are 6 types of cards in Ashes:
    Allies are a type of Unit that can played in a player’s Battlefield and can be used to attack the enemy Phoenixborn or their Units, or to defend against attacks. Each Phoenixborn has a Battlefield Limit that dictates the maximum number of Units he or she can have in play at a given time. (Angus addition: the ally shown here was a stormwind sniper)


    Ready Spells are played in a player’s Spellboard, and provide effects that can be activated multiple times (usually once per round) by paying their price. As for the Battlefield, each Phoenixborn has a Spellboard limit, which shows how many different Ready Spells that Phoenixborn can have in play – multiple copies of the same Ready Spell can be played during the game and only count as a single spell for the limit, this is called Focusing a Ready Spell. (Angus note: the ready spell example was chant of revenge)

    Many Ready Spells allow players to put conjurations into play. These are Units that are not found in the players’ decks, but come in a separate Conjurations Pile that is built alongside the main deck and includes all the conjurations your spells can bring into play. (Angus note: the conjuration example was three eyed owl)



    Action Spells are one-time effects that require a Main or Side Action to be played, and are placed in a player’s discard pile after they are resolved. (Angus note: the action spell example was open memories)




    Reaction Spells are another kind of one-time effects, which do not require an Action to be played, and thus can be played “for free”, but only when the conditions stated on the spell are met (and with a limit of one Reaction Spell played per Turn by each player). (Angus note: the reaction spell example was redirect)




    Alteration Spells are played on other cards to modify their properties, commonly increasing or decreasing the stats of a Unit or giving it additional abilities. Some Alteration Spells have a Respark cost, which can be paid when the spells leaves play in order to take it back into its owner’s hand instead of discarding it. (Angus note: the alteration spell example was massive growth)


    Included in the base game there are four types of dice, that will be used to play or activate the effects of the cards, or to activate their special Dice Power:

    [[ceremonial]] [[ceremonial:class]] Ceremonial Magic works around manipulating your own Units to your advantage, sometimes by sacrificing some of their Life or by getting beneficial effects, like dealing damage to the opponent or bringing extra units into play on their destruction. Its Dice Power allows you to take back allies from the discard pile into your hand, providing a way to recover powerful allies your opponent might have destroyed or to bring cheap “cannon fodder” units back into play to delay the enemy attacks.

    [[charm]] [[charm:class]] Charm Magic manipulates gameplay options, both yours and your opponent’s, to your advantage, giving you the chance to ready exhausted units, to render a unit temporarily unblockable or to search your deck for a card you need. Its Dice Power works as a temporary boost to a Unit’s Attack and Life Values, getting the most out of them.

    [[illusion]] [[illusion:class]] Illusion Magic provides resources control by giving players the power to modify the dice to a facing of their choosing and to draw additional cards. It also helps controlling enemy Units without damaging them, either through exhaustion or the negation of their special abilities. Its Dice Power forces the opponent to exhaust his or her Active dice, giving you control over what and how many cards they can play during the round.

    [[natural]] [[natural:class]] Natural Magic is probably the most straightforward type of magic, allowing a player to gain and maintain board presence, both by bringing into play and boosting powerful Units with Alterations, and by destroying enemy Units with lots of damage. Its Dice Power is simple but effective, as it allows you to deal damage to Units in play.

    One of the most common ways to deal damage to the enemy Phoenixborn is to spend a Main Action to launch an attack with your Units. When attacking, you choose any number of your unexhausted Units and choose their target, either an enemy Phoenixborn or an enemy Unit.

    The opponent has now the option to defend, with slightly different rules depending on the target of the attack:

    If you are attacking a Phoenixborn, the defending player can block your attacking Units with his or her own unexhausted Units on a one-by-one basis. Each blocked Unit will engage its blocker in a battle, while unblocked Units will deal damage equal to their Attack value to the enemy Phoenixborn.

    If you are attacking a Unit, the defending player has the option to guard that unit with either his or her Phoenixborn or with an unexhausted Unit with the Unit Guard ability. Note that when guarding against an attack directed to a Unit, the guarding Phoenixborn or Unit will suffer damage equal to the sum of the Attack values of the attacking units.

    When an unexhausted Unit is attacked, blocks or guard, its controller has two options: he or she can just have the Unit suffer the damage, which will leave the Unit unexhausted (if it survives the attack, of course) or he or she can exhaust the Unit in order to counter, and start a battle.

    Units engaged in a battle will simultaneously deal damage equal to their respective Attack values to each other. When a countering Unit is engaged in battle with multiple attackers, its controller can distribute the damage dealt by the countering Unit’s against multiple attackers as he or she prefers. After a Unit has attacked or countered, it receives an exhaustion token.

    Each point of damage inflicted on a Phoenixborn or Unit is marked by a Damage Token. After receiving damage tokens equal to its Life value, a Unit is destroyed and goes to its owner’s discard or conjuration pile, while a Phoenixborn is defeated, and its controller loses the game. In the Recovery Phase, each Unit will remove a number of damage tokens equal to its Recover value.

    Attack example. Left: Aradel Summergaard spends a Main Action to attack Coal Roarkwin, declaring two Mist Spirits and a Blue Jaguar as attackers (1). Coal has the option to block one of the attackers, and does it by declaring his Iron Rhino to defend against the Blue Jaguar (2). The attack of the Mist Spirits goes unblocked, and each deals 1 damage to Coal. (3), while the Coal player decides the Iron Rhino would counter the Blue Jaguar. Both units are now in a battle and each deals damage equal to its attack value to the other (4). Suffering more damage than it has Life, the Blue Jaguar is destroyed, while the Iron Rhino survives the battle. Afterwards, exhaustion tokens are placed on each attacking unit, and also on the Iron Rhino as he was countering the attack (5). Right: This is the game state after the attack has been fully resolved. Coal and the Iron Rhino both have 2 damage tokens on them; the two Mist Spirits and Iron Rhino are exhausted.


    The Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn base game comes with six Phoenixborn cards, each with its ready-to-play preconstructed 30-card deck (don’t worry, I’m going to talk about each of the preconstructed decks in a not-so-far future series of posts), but you can also create your own custom Ashes deck by following a really simple set of rules:

    Choose a Phoenixborn;

    Create a deck with the following restrictions:

    Each deck must consist of exactly 30 cards;

    Cards featuring the image of a Phoenixborn in the lower-right corner can only be
    included in a deck if you are playing that particular Phoenixborn;

    A maximum of 3 copies of any card can be included in the deck;

    Conjurations cannot be included in a deck, as they are brought into play by other cards’ abilities.

    Create a Conjuration Pile by collecting a number of copies of each conjuration the cards in your deck allow you to put into play equal to the Conjuration Limit Value of that card.

    Choose exactly 10 dice, in any combination.

    And that’s it. You have your own personal Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn deck.
    Of course, easy as it is, choosing which cards to include in your deck is a huge part of this game. One of the topic I’d like to examine in the following months will be various strategies and deckbuilding options, so stay tuned.
    The rulebook also provides a set of rules for drafting cards and dice, allowing up to 4 players to participate with just a single base set.

    At the present time the following Ashes products have been released by Plaid Hat Games:

    The base set, containing 40 dice and featuring 6 Phoenixborn, each coming with a 30-cards preconstructed deck requiring two types of dice:

    The Mist Guardian (Nature/Illusion) – aradel summergaard

    The Iron Men (Ceremonial/Nature) – Coal Roarkwin

    The Bloodwoods Queen (Ceremonial/Charm) – Jessa Na Ni

    The Snakes in Silver (Charm/Nature) – Maeoni Viper

    The Shadows of Viros (Illusion/Ceremonial) – Noah Redmoon

    The Cloudsea Siren (Charm/Ilusion) – Saria Guideman

    Four expansion decks, each featuring a new Phoenixborn and his own preconstructed deck, requiring 10 dice of a single type (note that dice are not provided in the packs, you’ll need a copy of the base set to play with these):

    The Children of Blackcloud (Ceremonial) – Brennen Blackcloud

    The Frostdale Giants (Nature) – Rin Northfell

    The Roaring Rose* (Charm) – Leo Sunshadow

    The Duchess of Deception* (Illusion) – Victoria Glassfire

    • Leo and Victoria have been pre-released at GenCon 2016, and would publicly released in October

    Three exclusive Phoenixborn (aka Promos), Dimona Odinstar, Lulu Firststone and Orrick Gilstream, each coming with 3 copies of their unique cards, are also available on the Plaid Hat Games website. In order to obtain them you can either (a) purchase them on the Plaid Hat Games web store, (b) purchase any other Ashes product from the PHG web store: an exclusive Phoenixborn of your choice will be included for free with each purchase, or (c) get them as

    participation gifts in official Ashes tournaments.
    As for the future, Plaid Hat Games officially announced here they plan to release:

    A new boxed set with 4 new Phoenixborn and 20 dice of 2 new types (Divine and Sympathy Magic) around the end of the year;

    2 new decks every 3 months in 2017, each providing a combination of these new dice types with those in the base set;

    A new promo Phoenixborn with each new expansion release.

    That is quite a bunch of stuff in the works, and it will keep us busy for the next year and a half. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not bad.
    That’s it, for now. Sorry for the lengthy post, but I thought it was better to have it all in a single run rather than splitting it in two parts. Next time we’ll start analyzing the six preconstructed decks from the base set, beginning with aradel summergaard, Phoenixborn of Evermist Valley.
    See you soon.

  • Second fan expansions available in deck builder! 0

    Fan-made cards for the second pair of expansions from Project Phoenix are now available in the card browser and deckbuilder!

    I have additionally updated the links and info on the Project Phoenix and Turtle dice pages, and Tolliver images and card text are now up-to-date (some discrepancies from an old set of images were hiding in the card data).

    Enjoy, and let me know if you run across any typos or other inaccuracies!

  • Custom Errata 6

    A long time ago i posted a list of changes that me and my playgroup did to the official Ashes Cards in order to address some of the common problems with underused Cards. (Old Post)
    This has been furher developed and has increased our enjoyment of the game quite a lot. You can find the Change list below.

    The main things that have been done are :

    • Increased the relevancy of Status Tokens
    • 3 Copies of any given Card have been made potentially legitim
    • Increased the overarching themes of Magic Types
    • Increased the relevancy of most underused Cards
    • Some overperforming Cards have been nerfed in a minor fashion

    We also tried to have the pre-constructed Decks still make sense so you can just play them with these changes and not have the powerlevel of Cards explode.
    Mostly you are just given another exclusive option instead of more stats or lower costs.
    These Changes are not inteded to be balanced with Project Phoenix Cards.
    Timing rules make a difference but you can use normal, what we call simplified timing, or Raven Rules and they all mostly work fine for kitchen table play.

    The Document could be improved in many ways but i figured i should post this Version, so that people that are interested can use our rules while the game still has some life in it !

    ############################### Community_Custom_Errata_1.4.txt ############################# How to read this

    If a Card is listed twice, the lower one in the list is up to date and the other is to be ignored. I removed most of those but probably not all.

    At the Current time the Changes are 'informally' written, meaning I did not write the precise wording that you might be use to on an actual
    Card (all the time).
    Example :
    Secret Door : Cost lowered to 1[Illusion]. Putting a Reaction spell back into you hand costs an additional 1 [Basic].
    The Intention is that you put the Reaction Spell back into your Hand at the same time you normally would, which is after the Effect of the Reaction spell has been resolved. And of course the Playcost becomes 1[[Illusion:class]].

    You are assumed to know what the intention is here.
    Text is usually additional to what the card already reads.
    (New Version) does not mean it is a replacement Text, we just had multiple versions of this.
    Have Fun !

    ################################### Status Tokens ############################################

    Shining Hydra : Now uses up to 7 Status Tokens instead of Hydra Heads for the same effect.

    Drain Vitality : Second Part may now take up to 2 Statustokens from a single Card and place as many on a single Unit.

    Transfer : Changed "Move Up to 1 Exhaustion and 2 Wound or Status Tokens between any non-phoenixborn Cards of the same player."

    Deep Freeze : Comes into play with 5 Status tokens. Can be attached to Units that are Immune to your spells if you pay an additinoal 1 [Basic].

    Vampire Bat Swarm : Removed Fleeting. Gain 1 Status Token when killing a Unit. Remove 1 at the End of the Round or destroy the Swarm.

    Strange Copy : "that has an attack and Life Value equal to X.
    X = Number of Status Tokens on this Unit plus 1."
    Fleeting Removed
    Added "Unstable: At the End of the Round return this to your Hand. Then you may return Target Ready Spell to its Owners Hand."

    ################################## (Mana)cost Changes & Similar #########################################

    Summon Gilder : Activation Cost increased to 1 [natural:class] 1[Basic]

    Blood Transfer :
    +"Channeled : For each exhausted copy of this spell on your Spellboard you may
    reduce the costs of the spell by any one class Die."
    (First Activation would cost 1[charm] 1[ceremonial], second would cost 1[charm] or 1[ceremonial], third would be free, you never get dice back !)

    Summon Steadfast Guardian :
    +Channeled (ref. : Blood Transfer)

    Purge : +Channeled (ref : Blood Transfer) (note that even with focus, Purge still costs 1 Basic, since that is not a class Die).

    To Shadows : + channeled (ref. Blood Transfer) (you do not get back dice!)

    Secret Door : Cost lowered to 1[Illusion]. Putting a Reaction spell back into youre hand costs an additional 1 [Basic].

    Flash Archer : Cost reduced to 2 [Illusion] 1[Basic]

    Blood Archer : Cost Reduced to 1 [charm] 1[ceremonial] 1[Basic]

    Augury : Activation cost is now "[Mainaction] [SideAction] or 1[Basic] [Sideaction]".

    Vanish (new Vesion): Cost reduced to 1[Illusion].
    Blue Text : You can play Vanish from your discard pile.
    If you do, remove Vanish from the game after the effect concludes.

    Veil of Reversal : Costs reduced to 1 [Basic]. Also is triggered by the end of the Round in which case you return an ally, remove a conjuration but prevent no effect.

    Fear : Only targets opponents Allies. Cost X Basic. X=Target Units Play Cost minus 1.

    Elephant Rider (New Version): When this is delcared as an Attacker, place a Card from your Hand Face Down under your Phoenixborn. If you do not, discard this from play.

    Brennen Blackcloud : Spirit Burn now costs 1[ceremonial] (can still destroy conjurations).

    Figures in the Fog : Cost reduced to 1[illusion] 1[Basic]
    'You may play this when an Opponents Units would deal damage to a Unit you control in Combat.
    Prevent all damage your Units would receive from those Units.'

    Frozen Crown : Cost reduced to 1[natural] 1[basic]
    Respark : Reroll 1 exhausted Die, put it into your active pool.

    Victoria Glassfire : Illsionary Cycle. PlayCost increased to [MainAction] 1[Discard].

    Hidden Power : Can only be used while Phoenixborn is not Exhausted. Exhausts your Phoenixborn.

    Blood Chains : Can only destroy allies.

    Dark Reaping : Can only destroy allies.

    Sleight of Hand : Costs changed to 1[Illusion : Power] 1[Discard]

    Empower : Focus 1 is now always active.

    Enlightenment : If the target was not a Unit, regain 1 Dice on its Class Side.

    ################################### Class Identity Improvments #################################
    ####### natural / rerolling Dice, raw stats instead of text ###########

    Empower : Focus 1 is now always active.

    Golden Veil : Added "Reroll a Die or Draw a Card"

    Freezing Blast : "Deal 2 Damage to a target Unit. Shuffle this Card into your Draw Pile."

    Shining Hydra : Now uses up to 7 Status Tokens instead of Hydra Heads for the same effect.

    Crystal Shield (New Version): Now grants 'Spell Guard'.

    Ice Golem : Now has Skin Morph 3 instead of Skinmorph 2.

    Iron Rhino (conjuration) : Now is a 4/5/0 with 'Trample : When this destroys a Unit via Combat, remove that Unit from the game'.

    Rin Northfell : Rins Furry : Now Costs X Basics. Rerolls X+1 Dice. Rest stays the same. Can at most deal 3 Damage.

    Forst Fang : now has 2 Attack.

    Hunt Master : now has 4 life.

    Massive Growth : Spell Guard removed.

    ########### Ceremonial / Using allies instead of Conjurations, Discardpile Interaction ############

    Chant of Revenge : Only is triggered by Allies:

    Blood Chains : Can only destroy allies (you control).

    Dark Reaping : Can only destroy allies (you control).

    Summon Blood Puppet : Focus 1 : Blood Puppet counts as an ally if targeted
    by a Spells that costs ceremonial Dice to play or activate.

    Summon Dread Wraith : Focus 1 : Dread Wraiths count as an ally if targeted
    by a Spells that costs ceremonial Dice to play or activate.

    Summon Vampire Bat Swarm : Focus 1 : Vampire Bat Swarm counts as an ally if targeted
    by a Spells that costs ceremonial Dice to play or activate.

    Vampire Bat Swarm : Removed Fleeting. Gain 1 Status Token when killing a Unit.
    Remove 1 at the End of the Round or destroy the Swarm.

    Cut the Strings : Additonally :
    Focus 1 : You may take an alteration spell without
    'Respark' from your Discard pile and put it into your Hand.
    Focus 2 : You may remove an Ally you control from the Game instead of the above. If you do, you may put an Ally from your discard Pile into your Hand."

    Bring Forth : The Unit with this attachment also counts as an ally count as an ally if targeted
    by a Spells that costs ceremonial Dice to play or activate.
    Respark "Remove an Ally in your Discard Pile from the Game."

    Regress : Does not remove Attachments anymore.

    ########### Illusion / Situational Card Draw, mana efficient ######################

    Strange Copy : "that has an attack and Life Value equal to X.
    X = Number of Status Tokens on this Unit plus 1."
    Fleeting Removed
    Added "Unstable: At the End of the Round return this to your Hand. Then you may return Target Ready Spell to its Owners Hand."

    To Shadows : + channeled (ref. Blood Transfer) (costs can not become negative)

    Secret Door : Cost lowered to 1[Illusion]. Putting a Reaction spell back into you hand costs an additional 1 [Basic].

    Flash Archer : Cost reduced to 2 [Illusion] 1[Basic]

    Sleight of Hand : Costs changed to 1[Illusion : Power] 1[Discard].

    Victoria Glassfire : Illsionary Cycle. PlayCost increased to [MainAction] 1[Discard].

    Hidden Power : Can only be used while Phoenixborn is not Exhausted. Exhausts your Phoenixborn.

    Body Inversion (new Version): additionally : When in Combat, decreases the one of the printed Values by 1 and increases the other by 2.
    Active Players Choice.

    Seal : added Text '...then put seal at the Bottom of your Draw Pile.'

    Vanish (new Vesion): Cost reduced to 1[Illusion].
    Blue Text : You can play Vanish from your discard pile.
    If you do, remove Vanish from the game after the effect concludes.

    Masked Wolf : When you would pay the Costs of a Card that costs at least 1[ceremonial:class] from your hand or 'Shadow Target', you may discard this unit to pay for 1[Discard] or 1[ceremonial].

    Magic Syphon : Now has Focus 1 : Whenever you would discard a Card from your Hand or Deck, you may exhaust this Spell instead. This can be used to pay for 1 [Discard].

    Summon Ancestor Spirit : After you discard through an effect* or play this Card you may remove 1 exhaustion Token from a Target Ready Spell.

    ##################### Divine / Magic Aversion, Returning Permanents, Combat expertise, Preventing effects #########################

    Holy Relics : When the Unit with this attachment is destroyed, shuffle this Attachment into your Draw Pile.

    Holy Knight : Purity : This Unit can not Gain abilities.

    Light Swordsman : You may 'use the Sympathy Dice power' when an Ally enters play on your battlefield (including this one).

    ############# Sympathy / parallel Costs, Card searching, conditional effects##############

    Augury : Activation cost is now "[Mainaction] [SideAction] or 1[Basic] [Sideaction]".

    Light Swordsman : You may 'use the Sympathy Dice power' when an Ally enters play on your battlefield (including this one).

    New Ideas : Only draws a Card on Discard, if you started the game with Sympathy Dice in your active pool.

    ############# Charm / Defensive, Direct Damage, Manipulating Handcards, Exhaustion Manipulation #################

    Seal : ...then put seal at the Bottom of your Draw Pile.

    Royal Charm : 'Whenever a Divine or Charm Power Dice enters your exhausted pool ..."

    Golden Veil : Added "Reroll a Die or Draw a Card"

    Undying Heart : Only attaches to allies.
    When attaching this spell to an Ally, you may remove 1 exhaustion token from that ally.
    When attached Ally is destroyed, you may Discard a Card to put that ally into your Hand.
    Removed Respark (See Cut the strings)

    Refresh : "... and remove 1 wound from that Unit".

    Transfer : Changed "Move Up to 1 Exhaustion and 2 Wound or Status Tokens between any non-phoenixborn Cards of the same player."

    Hypnosis : Target Unit with attack X or less gets 'Bypass, where X is 3 plus 2 times the Focus of Hypnosis.(X can be 3,5 or 7)

    Summon Steadfast Guardian :
    +Channeled (ref. : Blood Transfer)

    Purge : +Channeled (ref : Blood Transfer)

    ##################### Phoenixborn rebalancing ##################

    Maeoni : Now has a Spellboard of Five. Ability is now 0 Basics (free) instead of 1.

    Astrea : Ability now costs 1 Basic in addition.

    Sembali Grimtongue :
    Ban Manifastion : You may also look into the opponents Conjuration Pile at any time.
    Veil of Reversal : Costs reduced to 1 [Basic]. Also is triggered by the end of the Round in which case you return an ally, remove a conjuration but prevent no effect.

    Noah : Masked Wolf : When you would pay the Costs of a Card that costs at least 1[ceremonial:class] from your hand or 'Shadow Target', you may discard this unit to pay for 1[Discard] or 1[ceremonial].
    Life increased to 21. .

    Rin Northfell : Rins Furry : Now Costs X Basics. Rerolls X+1 Dice. Can at most deal 3 Damage. Rest stays the same.

    Victoria Glassfire : Illusionary Cycle : PlayCost increased to [MainAction] 1[Discard].

    Brennen Blackcloud : Spirit Burn now costs 1[ceremonial] (can still destroy conjurations).

    Saria : Ability now costs 1 [Basic].

    Odette : Life reduced to 16. Ability reworked :
    Honorable : After your first turn, Odette may be declared as an attacker and can counter the same way a Unit would, including exhaustion after combat.
    She is still a Phoenixborn and not a Unit and has an Attack Value of 2.

    Diamona, Rayward Knight (new Version) now have 'Armored 1'. Life reduced to 2.

    Astrea, Mark of the Goddess : Can only be attached to an unaltered* Unit.

    Orrick, Gobi Sunshield : Spells owned by Opponents that Target or alter this Unit have their Cost increased by 1 Basic.

    Leo Sunshadow : Added Ability Text :
    'If Glow Finch is removed from the Game, you may remove any Conjuration you control from the game to return Glow Finch.
    Place a Glow Finch Conjuration onto your Battlefield.'

    ##################### Tempo Based Mechanical Changes #######################

    Beast Mage : Now has 'Spell Guard'.

    Summon Weeping Spirit : Focus 2 : You may change the activation cost of this spell to [sideaction] 1[charm].

    Undying Heart : additionally : Only attaches to allies.
    When attaching this spell to an Ally, you may remove 1 exhaustion token from that ally.
    When attached Ally is destroyed, you may Discard a Card to put that ally into your Hand. (Removed Respark)

    Prepare : "When this comes into play, put the top Card of your draw Pile facedown under your Phoenixborn."
    "Focus 2 : This Spell does not use a Spell Board Slot anymore."

    Turtle Guard : Now always exhausts while taking damage by being attacked (even if not countering). Life is now 4. Recovery is 1.

    Royal Charm : 'Whenever a Divine or Charm Power Dice enters your exhausted pool ..."
    (Difference is that a Divine Dice can then be used over multiple turns and the Illusion Dice Power hits less bad).

    Transfer : Changed "Move Up to 1 Exhaustion and 2 Wound or Status Tokens between any non-phoenixborn Cards of the same player."

    Refresh : "... and remove 1 wound from that Unit".

    Transmute Magic : Play costs is now 1 [Sympathy]. You now pay X in the Effect then return X dice from your exhausted pool on a side of your choice.
    Only difference is the interaction with counterspells that would normally force you to pay X dice.

    #################### Changed Unit Stats & Similar #####################

    Turtle Guard : Now always exhausts while taking damage by being attacked (even if not countering). Life is now 4. Recovery is 1.
    (Essentially Attacked Units are in Combat, which is not the case in standard rules for some reason)

    Enchanted Violinist : Now has 3 Life.

    Elephant Rider (New Version): When this is delcared as an Attacker, place a Card from your Hand Face Down under your Phoenixborn. If you do not, discard this from play.

    Iron Rhino (conjuration) : Now is a 4/5/0 with 'Trample : When this destroys a Unit via Combat, remove that Unit from the game'.

    Forst Fang : now has 2 Attack.

    Hunt Master : now has 4 life.

    Diamona : Rayward Knight now have 'Armored 2'. Life reduced to 1.

    Orrick, Gobi Sunshield : Spells owned by Opponents that Target or alter this Unit have their Cost increased by 1 Basic.

    Strange Copy : "that has an attack and Life Value equal to X.
    X = Number of Status Tokens on this Unit plus 1."
    Fleeting Removed
    Added "Unstable: At the End of the Round return this to your Hand. Then you may return Target Ready Spell to its Owners Hand."

    Light Swordsman : You may 'use the Sympathy Dice power' when an Ally enters play on your battlefield (including this one).

    ################## Ready Spell relevancy increases #################

    Strengthen : Target Unit also gets Battle Advantage until end of turn.

    Join the Hunt (new Version): Target Unit also gets 'Gigantic 1' until end of turn. (Gigantic 1 : Unit cant be blocked by Units with 1 or less life)

    Shifting Mists : Now has Focus 2 : You may remove 1 exhaustion Token from a Target Ready Spell instead of the above.

    Magic Syphon : Now has Focus 1 : Whenever you would discard a Card from your Hand or Deck, you may exhaust this Spell instead. This can be used to pay for 1 [Discard].

    Summon Ancestor Spirit : After you discard this through an effect* or play this Card you may remove 1 exhaustion Token from a Target Ready Spell.

    ============== Unsorted Changes in late 2019 ==============

    Astrea, Mark of the Goddess : Can only be attached to an unaltered* Unit.

    Enchanted Violinist : Now has 3 Life.

    Body Inversion(new version) : additionally : When in Combat, decreases the one of the printed Values by 1 and increases the other by 2. Active Players Choice.

    Hypnosis : Target Unit with attack X or less gets 'Bypass', where X is 3 plus 2 times the Focus of Hypnosis. (X can be 3,5 or 7)

    Freezing Blast(new Version) : Damage reduced to 2 again. Status Token get removed again. Now shuffles itself into your draw Pile after use.

    Enlightenment : If the target was not a Unit, regain 1 Dice on its Class Side.

    Strengthen : Target Unit also gets Battle Advantage until end of turn.

    Join the Hunt (new Version): Target Unit also gets 'Gigantic 1' until end of turn. (Gigantic 1 : Unit cant be blocked by Units with 1 or less life)

    Shifting Mists : Now has Focus 2 : You may remove 1 exhaustion Token from a Target Ready Spell instead of the above.

    Magic Syphon : Now has Focus 1 : Whenever you would discard a Card from your Hand or Deck, you may exhaust this Spell instead. This can be used to pay for 1 [Discard].

    Summon Ancestor Spirit : blue Text : After you discard this through an effect* or play this Card you may remove 1 exhaustion Token from a Target Ready Spell.

    Protect : Now comes into play with 4 Status Tokens.

    Orrick, Gobi Sunshield : Spells owned by Opponents that Target or alter this Unit have their Cost increased by 1 Basic.

    Diamona, Rayward Knight (new Version) now have 'Armored 1'. Life reduced to 2.

    Leo Sunshadow : Added Ability Text :
    'If Glow Finch is removed from the Game, you may remove any Conjuration you control from the game to return Glow Finch.
    Place a Glow Finch Conjuration onto your Battlefield.'

    Transmute Magic : Play costs is now 1 [Sympathy]. You now additionally 'pay' X in the Effect then return X dice from your exhausted pool on a side of your choice.
    Only difference is the interaction with counterspells that would normally force you to pay X dice if countered.

    Shatter Pulse :
    Order of Operations Changed.
    Change was made to reflect the intention under old timing rules. Was meant to be able to prevent Reactions to the Destruction via Dice Changes, which is possible under standard rules.
    (Short version : changes dice first, then kills)
    Was
    'You may play this spell after a unit you control is destroyed.
    Destroy a target unit.
    You may change 2 dice in a target player's active pool to a side of your choice.'
    and now is
    'You may play this spell after a unit you control is destroyed.
    You may change 2 dice in a target player's active pool to a side of your choice.
    Destroy a target unit.'

    Drain Vitality(Value Changed again) : Second Part may now take up to 2 Statustokens from a single Card and place as many on a single Unit.

    ======================= unsorted changes 23.01.20 =========================

    Summon Biter : Focus 1 : While you control at least 2 Biters, your Phoenixborn has 'Spellguard'.
    Focus 2 : Biters you control have 'Spellguard'.

    Summon Salamander Monk : Focus 2 : At the End of the Round, remove 1 wound Token from your Phoenixborn if you control an unexhausted Salamander Monk Conjuration.

    Summon Turtle Guard : Now has 'Bound'.
    After you play a 'Summon Spell', you may put 3 Exhaustion Tokens on this Card,
    to activate that Spell without paying its Main Action Cost. If you do, draw a Card. (Dice still need to be paid)

    Summon False Demon :
    Focus 2 : [Main] Search your Drawpile for a Ready Spell, reveal it, and put it into your Hand.
    Then shuffle this Card into your deck.

    Exhortation : To Do

    Elephant Rider (New Version): When this is declared as an Attacker,
    place a Card from your Hand Face Down under your Phoenixborn.
    If you do not, discard this from play.

    All 'Summon XYZ Mounts' : Can only remove an Ally from play that you own, not any that you control.

    ========== Clarifications =========

    • A Unit is unaltered when it has no Alteration Spells attached to it. Otherwise it is 'altered'.
    • Effects are any Spell, Unit or Phoenixborn Abilities and Dice Powers. Meditating and paying costs are not effects.
    • A 'Summon Spell' is a >Ready Spell< that >can< summons a Conjuration. E.g. Summon Ancestral Spirit is a Summon Spell.
    • A Spell can only be activated if it has an activated Ability. Triggered Ability like Summon Stead Fast Guardian do not qualify.
  • Great War Format 0

    I do not play game often but i`m still big fan of it. And i thaught of format where both both players come up with six decks ( you can go with 4 or five if you don`t have necessary expansion ). The catch is if you use a card or dice in one deck you cannot do this in other decks ( this doesn`t limit conjuration pile though ). So if you bring one mono-nature deck you cannot use nature dice in any other of those decks. To win whole match you must win once with every of your decks. What do you think about this?

  • Blood Puppet 4

    If I use the Blood Puppet my opponent gives me to attack, it would deal no damage, but become exhausted anyway, right? So, at the end of the round, it deals 0 damage to me, cause it is exhausted and the curse is not an inexhaustible effect, and the exhaust token is removed after that, in the prepare phase. Is this correct? Am I bypassing the damage this way?