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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!


  • Figures in the Fog Review: Transmutation - A Reposting 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.

    alchemister June 19, 2018
    Hail and well met! We are the Figures in the Fog and today we’ll be reviewing the new cards for Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, added in The Demons of Darmas. This is the second entry in the series. If you haven’t read the other article in this series you can find it here. We have 3 new cards to review today, including 2 new Units and 1 new Action spell. We are very excited to finally see what tricks Harold has up his sleeve.

    And his first trick is an Ally called Beast Warrior. On the surface this Ally looks quite disappointing, it costs your full turn to play, a Main [[main]] Action AND a Side [[side]] Action and a Sympathy class [[sympathy:class]] die for a Unit with 1 Attack, 1 Life, and 0 Recover. But much like Harold, this Unit isn’t all that it appears on the surface. This werewolf introduces a new inexhaustible Transform ability. Transform 1 increases this Unit’s Attack, Life, and Recover values by 1, when his controller doesn’t have the First Player Token. This means that every other round, this Unit is a 2 Attack, 2 Life, and 1 Recover, for only a class die! And if that wasn’t enough, this Ally also has another ability called Group Tactics 1. With Group Tactics, when his controller declares an Attack action with 3 or more Units, his Attack increases by 1 more.

    This Ally has a very interesting design. The obvious weakness of the card is that every other turn it’s reduced to a 1/1, making it very easy to remove. As a result, the best time to play it is when the opponent has the First Player Token. Unfortunately, this really undermines the classic strategy of cheap aggressive Units like this. Typically when a player wants to go wide with cheap aggressive Units, they tend to use most of their dice clearing their opponent’s board, and then drop their cheap Units. Allowing them to swing in at the end of a round, let the round flip, and then swing in again. So this Unit’s inherit weakness after the round flip, is a bit of an anti-synergy with where similar cards fit. That being said, this card could offer a Sympathy spread a kind of budget Shadow Spirit, especially if they have Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice and recur this Ally for only 1 Life.

    X:I’m not really impressed with this Ally. It’s a fairly sizeable tempo hit, due to taking your whole turn to play, even for a 2/2/1. In theory, you might still be able to get extra value out of it with Group Tactics, but that has its own host of problems. Firstly, attacking with multiple Units only has value when you are attacking an enemy Phoenixborn, not an enemy Unit. Attacking an enemy Phoenixborn allows them to choose how they block, making it very hard for the Beast Warrior to trade up. The other limitation of this ability is that it requires keeping 2 more Units unexhausted Units on the Battlefield. In a Meteor and Kneel meta, I just don’t see very many reasons to use this card.

    N: I like this little guy. As with all Sympathy cards, it requires carefully timing to get a good payoff, but a 3-2 for a single Sympathy class [[sympathy:class]] is great value. I don’t think he’s an auto-include by any means. But definitely an interesting option in something like an Aradel swarm style deck.

    The second Ally Harold is bringing with him is another werewolf called Beast Mage. This Ally costs a Main [[main]] Action, 2 Sympathy class [[sympathy:class]] dice, and 1 basic [[basic]] die for a Unit with only 2 Attack, 2 Life, and 0 Recover. But like the Beast Warrior, it’s packing 2 abilities including Transform 2 and a new Ability called Terrifying 1. With Transform 2, on turns where his opponent has the First Player Token, he becomes a 4 Attack, 4 Life, and 2 Recover Unit. And while that’s certainly impressive, the Terrifying 1 is the real game changer for this Unit. Terrifying 1 says that when this Unit attacks, it cannot be blocked or guarded against by any Units with 1 Attack or less.

    Since the beginning of the game, Hammer Knight has been a staple of any deck that wanted to put pressure on board. Beast Mage is slightly cheaper and less restrictive than Hammer Knight, that sometimes has better stats. Despite the stats, where this Unit really shines is the use of Terrifying. Nearly all of the best defensive Units in the game have 1 Attack or less including Butterfly Monks, Gilders, Glow Finch, Three-eyed Owls, and Turtle Guards. This makes Beast Mage an amazing anti-control card, able to bypass his opponent’s best defenses and deal them 4 damage. Another big boon for this card is that it has 4 Life, meaning outside of Fear and Shadow Counter, his opponent can’t destroy it with a single card.

    (Angus note: fear doesn't destroy. Also, Alchemister forgot cards such as sword of virtue, out of the mist {arguably costing multiple cards, but having lots of units on the battlefield is inherently good in ashes}, phoenix barrage and a very lucky rins fury. Costing two cards, shatter pulse also destroys a unit.

    Since the time of the article being written, other cards that can destroy this unit are shared sorrow earthquake)

    X: I don’t quite know how to feel about this card. On the one hand a 4/4/2 for 3 dice is great value. On the other hand, a 4/4/2 that turn will eventually turn into a 2/2/0, feels bad. If a deck can protect the Beast Mage in its weakened state, maybe using Koji and Protect, it could be good. My personal favorite use of this card is to use it as an answer to a turn one Holy Knight.

    N: I really like Terrifying as an ability. It’s great against decks running lots of Doves/Owls/Turtles. It’s the 2/2/0 part about this that is pretty bad. On the other hand, it will definitely draw the attention of your opponent, who will need to spend resources in removing it. Even something like Particle Shield, just to force them into investing a bit more in its destruction is advantageous. Please avoid playing this when you have the first player token and the opponent is showing a nature class [[nature:class]].

    The first Action Spell Harold is bringing is a card call Transmute Magic. This Action Spell uses a Side [[side]] Action a Sympathy class [[sympathy:class]] die and X (any number) of basic dice. In exchange, the player gets to select X dice is in his or her Exhausted Pool and place them in his or her Active Pool on any side! And then the player may change an additional 2 dice in a target player’s Active Pool to a side to any side.

    Woah! That’s a really powerful effect for just a single side [[side]] action. This is effectively a super Call Upon the Realms and will likely replace that card in any deck using a couple of Sympathy [[sympathy]] dice. Some people have compared this to another dice fixing Sympathy [[sympathy]] card, Magic Syphon, but that’s not really a good comparison. Magic Syphon is still the go to card in any Sympathy [[sympathy]] deck that wants to avoid meditating cards. While this card performs a similar function, this card only provides the benefit for a single round. This is great for any deck that wants to play multiple cards requiring power symbols in a single round like Final Cry, Hammer Knight, and Molten Gold or Meteor and Holy Knight. It’s also worth noting that because of the way this card is costed, if the player spends at least 3 additional dice it can trigger Magic Purity, or at least 2 additional dice it can trigger Lucky Rabbit’s Luck Stream. That means the player could spend all of his or her dice, trigger Magic Purity or Luck Stream, target his or her own Active Pool, and have 10 power dice for the round. However, because this card does target a player’s Active Pool it is vulnerable to Vanish and Veil of Reversal, which could be disastrous. As a result, like Rins Fury, it may be prudent to target one’s own Active Pool rather than the opponents.

    X: This card is awesome! It’s low cost, flexible, and can be nicely fit into a variety of different decks. It has several synergies with several pre-existing cards. And while it certainly hurts Call Upon the Realms competitive viability, because it’s tied to Sympathy [[sympathy]] it doesn’t completely destroy it. I also really like how this card adds a new wrinkle to the dice economy, especially against Illusion [[illusion]]. I mean when are you playing a heavy Illusion [[illusion]] deck, typically Vicky, and you don’t have the necessary power dice, you’re put in an awkward spot. Do you only meditate once, and clearly signal what dice you are planning on using? Or do you meditate more than once, spending valuable cards from your deck, in an attempt to disguise your actual intentions? With this card you can only spend 1 card and make all of your dice power dice. Now you can play the cards you want to play without telegraphing your plans to your opponent.

    N: This card is really, really flashy, and I like it. It’s not as game breaking as it first appears, simply because most decks don’t have a use for all the power symbols and any they do need can be gained by careful meditation. I think it’s great against Illusion [[illusion]], and I love the ability to disguise the Call to Action or Final Cry you have in hand. Not an auto-include, but definitely a fantastic card.

    Thanks for joining us today as we reviewed the new cards from The Demons of Darmas. Plaid Hat previewed some new cards today (Tuesday) so check them out now, and we will have a new article shortly afterwards. So while we wait, why don’t you tell us what you think? What do you think of the new Allies, Beast Warrior and Beast Mage? Do you like the Transform mechanic? What about the new Action Spell, Transmute Magic? Are any of these going to break the meta and revolutionize the game? Tell us about in the comments below. The spirits are calling us and we must Fade Away again, but the Figures in the Fog will return!

  • Figures in the Fog Review: Sembali Grimtongue - A Reposting 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.

    alchemisterJune 15, 2018
    Hail and well met! We are the Figures in the Fog and today we’ll be reviewing the new cards for Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, added in The Spirits of Memoria. This is the first entry in the series. Let’s get to the good stuff and check out the Phoenixborn of Memoria, Sembali Grimtongue.

    Sembali has a pretty unassuming stat line with 5 Battlefield, 19 Life, and 3 Spellboard. There is really nothing special about her stats that lends itself to any particular archetype. Her stat line is nearly identical to Brennen, just with 1 fewer Life. Given the prevalence of Brennen in the competitive scene, Sembali better have some strong effects to justify having a weaker stat line than Brennen. Speaking of which…

    Sembali’s Phoenixborn ability is called Ban Manifestation. When a Unit she controls leaves play, she can discard 1 card and place an exhaustion token on herself, to either remove a target opponent’s Conjuration from the game or remove all copies of that Conjuration from that opponent’s Conjuration pile from the game.

    Ban Manifestation is definitely an interesting Phoenixborn ability with a lot of potential applications. It is a very nice soft counter to Fear and other destruction effects, since it triggers when a Unit leaves play. It can also put her opponent’s in a bit of bind, forcing them to choose to get use out of their Emperor Lion, Frostback Bear or Turtle Guard, or to be reduced to what is currently on the Battlefield. However, it definitely comes at a cost. The cost of discarding a card [[discard]] from her hand to activate it will force Sembali to run cards that she can easily recur like Anchornaut, Polarity Mage, or Hand Tricks in order to reliably activate it. Additionally, because the discard [[discard]] effect is part of the cost of activating the ability, if her opponent uses Choke, Sembali is going to be down 1 card and be exhausted for the round. The fact that it can only affect Conjurations and can’t remove the last Conjuration of a specific type (since her opponent can choose to remove all other copies of that Conjuration from their Conjuration pile) are also significant weaknesses to this ability.

    X: I really like Sembali. I was very excited during the War Within event, that despite my local events netting even, Light ended up winning. I loved the idea of shaking up the meta and really giving players a reason to explore using Allies other than just Fire Archer and Hammer Knight. One year later I’m still happy Light won, because Dark’s mechanics weren’t nearly as interesting, but I wish we didn’t have Conjuration removal. Since the addition of Astrea, Echo, Jericho, Koji, Odette, and Namine, the quality and use of Allies has increased a lot. There was a Slam Jam (online tournament) in which nearly all decks were either running Elephant Riders or ways of dealing with Elephant Riders. The game has changed so much since the Sembali reveal, that I don’t think that Conjuration removal is really a needed addition to the game right now.

    N: I think the biggest thing to think about here, is that conjuration removal is not a wincon. Sure, once you get to that point, your opponent is in trouble, but it’s going to take you a little while to get there and while you do, your opponent is happily running along with their win condition.

    Sembali’s signature card is a Reaction spell called Veil of Reversal. Veil of Reversal can be played whenever an opponent targets Sembali, her player, her draw pile, or her discard pile with an ability, dice power, or spell. She can pay two basic [[basic]] dice to prevent all of the effects of that ability, dice power, or spell, and then return a target Ally she controls to her hand. If she returns an Ally, she can then remove a target Conjuration from the game.

    At its lowest, Veil of Reversal is a more efficient Vanish, with the additional ability to return an Ally to her hand and to remove a Conjuration from the game. While the ability to completely counter an impactful ability or spell is certainly powerful, this card really shines when Sembali can utilize all three parts of the effect. This means that she will want to use Allies that can take advantage of being replayed, like Fire Archer or Stormwind Sniper or Sun Sister. This card also allows her to fully remove a Conjuration from the game, making her a nightmare for an enemy Leo and any other opponent using Dread Wraiths, Emperor Lions, Indiglow Creepers, and Shadow Hounds. However, while this ability is certainly powerful it has a couple of devastating drawbacks. Because she can only remove a Conjuration from the game if she returns an Ally and she can only play the Reaction when her opponent targets her (her player, her draw pile, or her discard pile), her opponent will have a lot of control as to when this effect can be triggered, and potentially what parts can be triggered at all. Additionally, much like Ban Manifestation, this card doesn’t interact with Allies. Meaning that she has no innate defense against an opponent utilizing powerful Allies, like Elephant Rider, Hammer Knight, Holy Knight, or Sonic Swordsman.

    X: You guys know that scene from that old movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Thank you Tom Holland! XD)? Indiana Jones is challenged to a duel by an Arab Swordsman. Before the duel starts, the Swordsman shows off his formidable swordplay skills that he has spent countless hours to perfect, brandishing his sword, spinning it in one hand, before seamlessly passing it off the other. He smiles, confident that his dedication to his craft, years of training and practice will allow him to easily defeat this foolish archeologist. And it’s about that time that Indy pulls out his pistol and shoots him, ending the duel before his opponent can get close to him. That is what Veil of Reversal is. It’s a card that has a very powerful effect, but requires so much setup to get much more value out of it, than you would get by just playing Vanish. It’s more flexible than Vanish is, but it still costs 2 dice, and requires a lot of things to go right to get much more than that.

    N: This just seems so easy to play around since it entirely relies on your opponent’s play. If they’ve got something they want to protect they can easily just not play the spell or kill your cheap allies. I do wonder how it will work with bigger allies. The possibility to recover a wounded HK and bring it back in fresh is interesting, though pretty expensive. I also feel bad for Lulu and Phoenix Barrage already

    Overall, Sembali is definitely a powerful Phoenixborn that packs a serious punch for any opponent that dares to use Conjurations against her. Like Astrea, her Phoenixborn ability doesn’t require any dice to use, which is a boon, but the cost of a card [[discard]] from her hand can be pretty steep. Additionally, her signature card requires only basic [[basic]] symbols, giving her the freedom to freely choose what types of magic she wants to deploy. But her reliance on Allies to get the full usage of her signature card, probably pushes towards running at least Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] or Divine [[divine]] magics. Despite this limitation, she remains a very flexible Phoenixborn that can easily fit into a tempo deck, utilizing her powerful disruptive effects to win on the Battlefield, or a late game control deck with a very unique win condition.

    N: I don’t know what to think about Sembali. On the one hand conjuration removal is something new and different, great! On the other hand… I don’t really like it. Overall it just seems like an unfun and annoying mechanic.

    This brings us up to date at least as far as Phoenixborn are concerned. We had 6 more cards revealed this week, so those will be crossing your feed soon. But while we have your attention, why don’t you go ahead and tell us what you think? Is Sembali your new main, your new enemy, or your new pocket pick? What do you think about Sembali’s emphasis on Conjuration removal? What do you think of her silhouette and appearance? Is she going to make a big splash or small ripple? Tell us in the comments below. We will hopefully catch up this weekend and try to stay on top of our reviews as cards continue to be revealed. It appears as though our time is up and we must Fade Away, but fear not, the Figures in the Fog will return!

  • Figures in the Fog Review: Harold Westraven - A Reposting 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.

    Alchemister June 14, 2018

    Hail and well met! We are the Figures in the Fog and today we’ll be reviewing the new cards for Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, added in The Demons of Darmas. This is the first entry in the series. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at our first card, the Phoenixborn of Darmas, Harold Westraven.

    Harold is a unique Phoenixborn with an interesting stat line. 5 Battlefield is average, 21 Life ties with Lulu for the second highest life total in the game, and a measly 2 Spellboard is the lowest in of all Phoenixborn. While on the surface, this stat line looks quite restrictive, looks can be deceiving, especially when Harold is involved.

    His Phoenixborn ability, Mark Prey, is an incredibly powerful board control effect that makes Aradel jealous. For the low cost of a side [[side]] action and a single basic [[basic]] die, he can attach a Hunters Mark Conjured Alteration to a target Unit. Unlike other powerful Alterations, this Alteration is tied to an ability that targets a Unit, meaning it can be Decoyed by Leo’s Glowfinch or prevented altogether using Golden Veil. Hunters Mark has a Conjuration limit of 1, but it’s good enough to only need 1. Once attached, whenever that Unit receives damage, it gets two wounds per 1 damage. And to make matters worse, whenever that Unit is declared the subject of an attack, no guard can be declared.

    Hunters Mark is an incredible asset for Harold. The ability to place double the amount of wounds for each damage dealt to it, will make quick work of enemy Turtle Guards and Elephant Riders. This effect pairs well with anything that deals damage like Anchornaut, Crescendo, Fire Archer, Natural [[natural]] dice power, and Stormwind Sniper, but not effects that deal wounds like Hammer Knight, Molten Gold, River Skald, and Sonic Swordsman. However, that also means that his opponent’s will be able to get added value from Particle Shield and Protect. The second half of the [[Hunter’s Mark]] is also quite good, and will allow Harold to turn any Unit into unChokeable Winged Lioness.

    X: Harold seems good, a little too good I think. Typically Phoenixborn with high Life totals, pay for it somewhere. Maeoni only has 3 Battlefield. Lulu only has 4 Battlefield. Saria’s ability doesn’t impact the board. Harold only has 2 Spellboard. But I don’t think that’s nearly as impactful as 3 or 4 Battlefield especially when it is paired with an ability as powerful as Mark Prey. Harold could reasonably have 17 Life and would still be competitive.

    Harold’s signature card is a Reaction spell called Harvest Soul. Harvest Soul can be played for free, whenever a Unit is destroyed as a result of an effect that Harold controls. The destroyed Unit is removed from the game, Harold gets to draw one card, and a Dark Transformation Conjured Alteration is attached to Harold!

    N: We all know the best cards are the free ones; Fear, Illusionary Cycle, Double Edge. Harvest Soul is less than free. It is just a gain on all fronts. That’s powerful. This is slightly counterbalanced by his slow start with 2 Spellboard, but with that amount of life and good FF choices, he’s not going to be worried. Harold will definitely be a meta changer and capable of throwing down against the top tier Phoenixborn.

    When Dark Transformation is attached to Harold, Harold selects 1 die in his exhausted pool, rerolls it, and places it in his active pool. Harold also gets +1 Battlefield, +1 Life, and +1 Spellboard, for each Dark Transformation that is attached to him. Dark Transformation also has Spell Guard, so once attached, not even Dispel can remove it.

    Wow! Harvest Soul and Dark Transformation are crazy good, and all for the net cost of drawing 1 card and gaining 1 die. However, there are several other interactions to consider with these cards. Recall that Harvest Soul is a Reaction, meaning that an opponent can deny it by using Law of Sight and Harold can recur it by using Secret Door. Also, despite being triggered by a Unit’s destruction, Harvest Soul doesn’t target. This means not only can Harold remove troublesome Conjurations and Allies from the game like Anchornaut, Elephant Rider, Glow Finch, Fire Archer, and Luminous Seedling, but it also works on Holy Knight and Seaside Raven.

    X: This takes Harold from being a little too good to being outright busted. Even though he’s likely to cap at 7 Battlefield, 23 Life, and 4 Spellboard, most games, the possibility of being even higher is insane. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the fact that he receives these bonuses for destroying Units, a thing he wants to do anyway. A thing that is trivialized by his Phoenixborn ability. And just to add insult to injury, he removes the Unit from the game, with virtually no counterplay. Harold has too many strengths for the minor inconvenience of only starting with 2 Spellboard and a First four.

    Harold is a very unique and versatile Phoenixborn. His base stat line is already impressive, but his potential to grow up to 8 Battlefield (tied with Aradel for 3rd highest), 24 Life (highest in the game), and 5 Spellboard (tied for highest) is incredible. Those stats, paired with a Phoenixborn ability and a signature card that aren’t tied to any specific magic types, and you have a Phoenixborn that can fit into almost any deck archetype. His high Life total will help give him time for a control or burn style deck, though his starting 2 Spellboard may make that difficult. His Mark Prey ability allows him to easily manipulate the Battlefield, increasing his control options and allowing him to fit nicely into a swing deck. Harvest Soul’s ability to remove key Units from the game provides him with a unique edge in some matchups, especially in long games, lending itself to either a tempo or a control deck. And that’s without seeing any of the other cards his base deck is bringing with him.

    The biggest drawback on Harold is the lack of flexibility in his First Five and potentially problematic deck constraints. Due to Harold’s dependency on Harvest Soul to increase his Spellboard and to a lesser extent his Battlefield, Law of Sight will likely be used as tech to slow down his opening. This means that Harold players are going to have to choose to accept only having 2 Spellboard during the beginning turn(s) of the game and choose their first five cards. Or they will have to accept that they are only starting the game with four cards in their first hand, since Harvest Soul won’t be able to be played. This will make him even more vulnerable to cards that can disrupt his First Five, like Imperial Ninja or Three-Eyed Owl. The thing to keep in mind is that he can’t reliably play Harvest Soul early, he is stuck at 2 Spellboard. This means he’ll have to choose between powerful utility effects like Abundance, Magic Purity, and Shifting Mist, and a consistent source of Units, with Conjuration Ready Spells. Harold may need to rely upon Allies rather than Conjurations to keep presence on the Battlefield.

    N: I like that there is at least a bit of counter play against Harold. Choke at least breaks even on dice (unlike certain other Phoenixborn I could mention) and can even be Golden Veiled if need be. I think Law of Sight is a decent tech against him, and like it in Orrick who likely can afford to play the extra cards. It very much has the same issue as Law of Assurance against Vicky, however, wherein you are only stalling the inevitable. In the end, I’m honestly a bit conflicted on Harold. On the one hand, I’m pretty certain he will influence a change back to an aggressive meta, which is my style. On the other, I wish this had been done through cards available to all Phoenixborn. As is, I only see another contender for broken top tier Phoenixborn.

    Whew! That was a lot to cover, and there’s still more! But that will have to wait for another day, and another article. In the meantime, tell us what you think. Are there any powerful interactions we overlooked? Are you excited about Harold? What types of decks do you want to run him in? Tell us about it in the comments below. We have a lot of exciting things planned for you, so keep watching. We’ve got to Fade Away now but the Figures in the Fog will return!

    Angus note: the following paragraphs are comments on the original article, but I also thought they were worth saving.

    Cronos 804: I Agree that Harold will be very relevant to the meta game, but I don't think he is borderline overpowered.

    I really like that he can effectively kill an Elephant rider with some 2/1 and an anchornaut.

    But here are some/a lot of things you might want to consider:
    - First of all Harvest Soul is very low tempo as it does not impact the board state. One might go as far as to say that the impact for the current round is so low, that it might as well be nothing.

    Will it be impactfull that you gain a battlefield slot >in that round< ? A Spell Board slot ? A PB life point ? Probably won't change anything in the current round let alone the turn.

    - The card you draw only replaces Harvest soul, so Harvest soul sometimes will have the same effect as a card that reads "When a unit dies, Draw a Card, reroll a dice".

    In that case only the "reroll a dice" will be meaningful and there is obviously some delay compared to the card draw at turn start.

    In this perspective Harvest soul is a terrible First Five Card. Best Case : First Four + 1 Random draw+1 die, while your opponent enjoys Five cards of his choice.

    Then the most important fact about Harvest Soul however is : It is not another Card. duh.

    It is not Fear, it is not Gravity Chaos, it is not Rins Fury – Harolds loyal card is Harvest Souls, a reactive card with little immediate impact and not a proactive one.

    Harolds power has a trade off : Deck building constraints.

    If you draw a fourth ready spell by turn two you will most likely not be able to put it down and that is not that unlikely.
    ~61 % Chance to not draw Harvest soul in your second hand after you already used one.
    Assume 2 Readyspells in First Five then you have :
    ~42% chance to draw at least 2 new ready spells on turn 2, if you play 3 Copies of 4 Spells or
    ~86% chance to draw at least 2 new ready spells on turn 2, for 3 Copies of 5 Spells

    Ignoring minor rounding errors that gives a 25% or 53% Chance to draw one or more dead ready spells on turn 2 depending on Deck Construction, with the lion share in percentages coming from the "or more" part of "one or more".

    So if you want to use 5 Ready Spells you will have to build a deck that can live with drawing a few dead cards on turn 2.

    For Comparison: If you played Jessa instead you get 3 strong cards (fear) in the early turns.

    If you play Harold you don't get that but will often have to dance around playing ready spells, maybe allies too. And you get 3 bonus dice at random points in the game.

    For Huntersmark : Harold will have a really bad time if he does not kill the unit with Huntersmark on the same turn, because some of the new cards can remove conjurations from the game. Huntersmark obviously is a conjuration.
    With there only being one copy that would mean that Harold could lose his ability for the rest of the game. If he becomes too good, people will consider this.
    With Particle Shield and Protect that might be a serious problem as that would lead to Huntersmark staying on the field and potentially being removed from the game.

    Too which niall burton replies:
    You have some interesting points, but I think the results of GenCon show that Harold is indeed extremely good. It remains to be seen if counters to him will develop. On thing to note, however is that Hunter’s Mark actually isn’t considered a conjuration. A conjuration is specifically a unit, instead it’s a Conjured Alteration. It can still be removed from the game by the ability of the Glow Finch, however.

  • Ashes Weekend 2016 at Team Covenant – Top 8 Semifinals 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 May 27, 2016

    Top 8 Round 2 – Semifinals
    The semifinals of the Top 8 put me up against Joshua Trevino’s Jessa deck. The recorded match can be found here

    I believe the first round of this game highlights the strength of Illusion [[illusion]] dice, Hidden Power, and [[Rin’s Fury]] so I’m going to be listing the dice counts after each play.

    Joshua opens up with Enchanted Violinist (Joshua 10 Dice: 5 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 Charm [[charm]] // Me 10 Dice: 4 Nat [[natural]], 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 ill [[illusion]])

    I meditate my Illusion [[illusion]] dice to wolves and play a Summon Frostback Bear (Joshua 10 Dice: 5 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 Charm [[charm]] // Me 9 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 ill [[illusion]])

    Joshua responds by playing Summon Frostback Bear (Joshua 9 Dice: 4 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 Charm [[charm]] // Me 9 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 ill [[illusion]])

    I exhaust a Charm [[charm]] die and play Hidden Power to grab back my spent Illusion [[illusion]] dice to have it ready for more exhaustion (Joshua 8 Dice: 4 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]], 1 Charm [[charm]] // Me 9 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 ill [[illusion]])

    Joshua, afraid of losing that last Charm [[charm]] die, is forced to play Summon Gilder (Joshua 7 Dice: 4 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]] // Me 9 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 ill [[illusion]])

    I exhaust a Nature [[natural]] die and summon my own EV (Joshua 6 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]] // Me 8 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 1 ill [[illusion]])

    Joshua plays down a Chant of Revenge (Joshua 5 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 2 Cere [[ceremonial]] // Me 8 Dice: 3 Nat [[natural]], 4 Cere [[ceremonial]], 1 ill [[illusion]])

    I use my last Illusion [[illusion]] die to exhaust another Nature [[natural]] die then play [[Rin’s Fury]] to grab back both of my Illusion [[illusion]] dice and I luck into a power symbol roll on one of them. This is important because Joshua only has 2 Nature [[natural]] dice available at this point which means that it will not be possible to summon both a Bear and a Gilder if I exhaust a Nature [[natural]] die on my next turn (Joshua 4 Dice: 2 Nat [[natural]], 2 Cere [[ceremonial]] // Me 9 Dice: 4 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 ill)

    If you listen closely in the video you can hear Joshua say “I’m starting to feel so bad”, then we both laugh. This is because he only has 4 dice left against my 9 and is staring down another potential 2 dice worth of exhaustion. If you’ve ever sat on that resource starved side of the table before (I know I have) then you know exactly what he’s feeling at this moment. He decides to summon a Frostback Bear (Joshua 2 Dice: 1 Nat [[natural]], 1 Cere [[ceremonial]] // Me 9 Dice: 4 Nat [[natural]], 3 Cere [[ceremonial]], 2 ill [[illusion]])

    At this point I have 9 dice versus my opponent’s 2. That’s a huge resource advantage that was gained through dice exhaustion and dice recursion. I summon a Hammer Knight and exhaust his last Nature [[natural]] die to lock his Gilder (Joshua 1 Dice: 1 Cere [[ceremonial]] // Me 5 Dice: 2 Nat [[natural]], 2 Cere [[ceremonial]], 1 ill [[illusion]])

    Joshua responds by playing Fear on my Hammer Knight and paying 1 to use Screams of the Departed (Joshua 0 Dice // Me 5 Dice: 2 Nat [[natural]], 2 Cere [[ceremonial]], 1 Ill [[illusion]])

    I use my 3 extra dice gained by Hidden Power and [[Rin’s Fury]] to play Hammer Knight back out (Joshua 0 Dice // Me 2 Dice: 1 Nat [[natural]], 1 Cere)
    Joshua passes

    I use my last two dice to summon a Frostback Bear (Joshua 0 Dice // Me 0 Dice). Now the ground war begins.

    Joshua passes

    I Ice Buff my HK to prevent it from dying to a Bear block plus Chant of Revenge ping and swing in with both my Bear and my HK. Joshua elects to have his Bear block my HK since it would die to a Bear maul + Aftershock anyway and takes the Bear hit to the face. He decides to use Chant of Revenge to ping me in the face.

    Joshua swings with EV at my HK to try and bring it closer to kill range and I decide to take it to the face.

    I respond by swinging back with my EV at his and he takes it with Jessa.
    Round 2 (Me – 1 Bear Book, 1 EV, 1 HK, 1 Bear, 14 Life // Joshua – 1 Bear Book, 1 Gilder Book, 1 Chant of Revenge, 1 EV, 14 Life)

    The first round 1 ends in a perfect spot for me. He only has one blocker left that only requires 1 more wound to remove while I have two big hitters and an EV that can clear the way. This situation is exactly why BDR deck prefers to go second round 1 – so that it can swing big turn 1 round 2. I side [[side]] action meditate to trigger an EV ping on my opponent’s EV, killing it, then main action swing with everything for 8 damage. Joshua tries to stabilize the battlefield by playing his second EV. I respond by playing my second HK. Joshua side action meditates to ping my fresh HK for 1 with his EV then main [[main]] action summons a Gilder to ping it again.

    I use the awesome power of Ice Buff to move the HK out of easy kill range and play Hidden Power to grab back some dice. Joshua meditates and uses EV to ping my HK again then summons a Bear. Seeing my HK’s imminent demise I decide to swing with HK at his Bear. Joshua unit guards with Gilder and I Aftershock his EV.

    As my HK leaves play he uses Screams of the Departed to ping me for one. Joshua side action meditates to use EV to ping my exhausted HK for one and then plays Expand Energy with his newly meditated die. I use Blood Chains, sacrificing my EV, to put 2 exhaustion tokens on his Bear. Joshua activates his Expand Energy and meditates to have EV kill my HK and uses Screams of the Departed to ping me for one.

    At this point Joshua has 0 dice, a double exhausted Bear, and an EV with one wound on it. I have 5 dice available, two cards in hand, and a Bear available to summon. I summon my Bear and Joshua passes. I play Stormwind Sniper to clear his blocking EV. Joshua passes and I swing at face for 5, bringing my total damage hitting face in the second round to 13!

    Round 3 (Me – 1 Bear Book, 2 Bears, 1 Sniper, 12 Life // Joshua – 1 Bear Book, 1 Gilder Book, 1 Chant of Revenge, 1 Expand Energy, 1 Exhausted Bear, 1 Life)

    Joshua opens up by summoning a Gilder to kill my Stormwind. He uses Screams of the Departed to ping me for one but spends a charm [[charm]] die doing it. It would have probably been better for him to spend a different mana color because I was trying to play around Redirect. At this point my lead is probably too big for it to matter, but forcing me to exhaust two charm [[charm]] dice would be more difficult for me because it forces me to use my only two illusion [[illusion]] dice which locks me out of playing Stormwind Sniper if I don’t have a [[Rin’s Fury]] or Hidden Power in hand. I meditate to prep my Illusion [[illusion]] dice for exhaustion and summon my third HK. Joshua responds by using Fear on my HK and uses Screams of the Departed to get those Blood Points in. I side [[side]] action exhaust his last Charm [[charm]] die then play Stormwind Sniper to ping him directly for the win.

  • Reflecting on the first Ashes 500 Slam Jam - A Reposting 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.

    Elliot Kramer April 8, 2017

    The first 500 Slam Jam was an overwhelming success. Here are some stats that make me believe this:

    (Angus note: I have removed an image showing a set of images of the phoenixborn. The breakdown is as follows:
    3x victoria glassfire
    2x brennan blackcloud
    1x noah redmoon
    1x aradel summergaard
    3x maeoni viper
    3x rin northfell
    1x dimona odinstar
    1x orrick gilstream
    2x jessa na ni
    2x leo sunshadow
    1x saria guideman
    1x lulu firststone
    And a single image of coal roarkwin with a red cross over it, signifying that he wasn't used in the tournament.)

    - 21 people competed in the Slam Jam.
    ***The previous high was 16 – from the very first Slam Jam
    - 12 out of 13 Phoenixborn were played
    ***This as many as we saw over the entire course of first four Slam Jam, which had 50 total players combined.
    - No Phoenixborn was played by more than 3 players.
    - The top 3 decks had ten different conjurations between them.
    - Only 12 cards were not played in the entire tournament.
    ***That means over 88% of all printed cards were played.
    ***This is better coverage than all previous Slam Jam’s combined, despite there being under half as many decks.
    ***Many of the unplayed cards clearly have a place in the format, so hope is high that the potential is even greater.
    ***Guess the 12 in the comment for a chance to win the adoration of your peers!

    Overall, the meta was extremely diverse. While some cards were more popular than others, we saw all sorts of cards and strategies succeeding. There are a lot of topics I could jump into, but the one thing I want to talk about today is color balance.

    Color Balance
    Here is a graph showing two things: the breakdown of dice by which decks were playing them (overall, t8, and t4), and the breakdown of dice by the amount we saw (overall, t8, t4).

    https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_/photo/AF1QipOB91m60vWBmtfsLYS3fC-m7R9TddKDPvtZkSc

    (Angus note: In true angus fashion, i have just figured out how to insert images into ashes.live. As such, I will retroactively insert any images that I have not inserted before. Please forgive me, as this may take some time.)

    At first, looking at dice numbers concerned me. Charm had a great showing (far better than standard Slam Jams) in the overall field, but for raw dice counts, Illusion and Nature performed much better. However, looking at the deck breakdowns, things look much healthier. I think this highlights something important – the Illusion and Nature dice powers are much more powerful and flexible to have excess of. Because of this, it’s harder to be successful with dice spreads that are heavy into Charm or Ceremonial.

    That being said, I don’t think this is a problem. As long as the individual cards are all playable, and each color feels balanced as a whole, I think it’s partly the nature of the game if it’s easier to make a 7 Nature deck (which there was one in the top 4) or a 9 Illusion deck (which won the tournament) than it is to make a 7+ Charm/Ceremonial deck. As long as Charm and Ceremonial themselves feel unoppressed and there exists strong strategies playing 5 dice of either type, I am not going to try to make adjustments to specifically address the dice counts. The ubiquity of the Nature and Illusion dice powers will inherently lend themselves to being a primary color in a format where dice powers are even more important due to their increased relative power.

    For players, this should be a lesson – playing 7+ Charm is inherently hard. Not because the cards themselves are necessarily bad, but because in close games, there are more likely to be turns where you have trouble getting optimal use out of your Charm dice powers and your opponent is virtually guaranteed targets with their Nature and Illusion powers. Be wary of this weakness when building; not because I’m telling you to not play heavy Charm, but because understanding your deck’s weaknesses can help you cover them.

    The Decklists
    The full lists are available here (Angus note: I was an idiot and forgot to save these. please forgive me). Please note, that these may not be the actual dice spreads used. We did not collect dice spreads, and instead I filled in what I would find an appropriate spread given the decks. This means the stats above may also not be perfect; but I feel they are a very strong approximation.

    Take a look at them and draw some inspiration, though know that the point totals are from the current tournament and not accurate after price adjustment (which will be coming in the next few days).

    Here are some of my favorite lists*, in order of how they placed:

    Kaile’s Surprise Attack Noah
    Widows and Wolves to attack on turns when you thought nothing was coming, Dread Wraiths or Mist Spirits to thwart off different types of attacks or provide their own pressure, and Chant of Revenge to help Noah get the final bits of damage in.

    Prawnyman’s Four Color Maeoni
    A controlling Maeoni list that protected its board while managing yours. After building up it’s Silver Snake’s that were nigh unkillable with 3 recover backed by Protect, it swung in for massive Hypnotized damage. I myself was victim to a huge 13 damage hit from a single Silver Snake hypno attack.

    Papa Pratt’s High Tech Brennen
    Featuring an astounding 18 different non-Phoenixborn cards, Papa Pratt’s deck has the complexity of a wine way too expensive for Ashes 500. He has a well overclocked spellboard, versatile utility spells, and an overall gameplan of nullifying exactly whatever the opponent is doing so that he can eventually burn them over the top.

    Rococolo’s Flex OM Rin
    This deck can open up with an OM for either Blood Puppets, Nightshade Swallow, Doves, or Owls – giving it a lot of opportunity to flex how it handles matchups in order to control the game. Rin’s Ice Buff synergizes extremely well with many of the units including Nightshade Swallow, Dove, and Anchornaut.

    • Names are descriptive creations from me, not from the creators. Creators, if you have a name you would like to use or a PHG Play page you would like to link to, please reach out to me and I will edit the article.
  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Law of Sight, Heal, and Shield Mage - A Reposting 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.

    this is part 4 of a four part article. the other parts can be found here, here and here

    Elliot Kramer April 17, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Law of Sight
    Law of Sight is the first card of its kind and its kind is very cool. For 2 dice [[divine:class]][[basic]], a side [[side]] action, and a spellboard slot, this gives you two cards and protection from Reaction spells for the rest of the round (though you also can’t play your own reaction spells) For the decks that want this, this is well-costed and going to do irreplaceable things for you.

    In order to get full use out of the card, you are going to want to have a high chance of making use of the cards you draw. This means either having lots of dice, lots of cheap focusable spellboard cards, or just cheap draws in general (e.g. Call Upon The Realms). Without making use of the draw, two dice is kind of expensive for the effect of just stopping reactions. Take Orrick, for example – with this card protecting you from Choke and bounty, you have 10 dice left – the same as if you had just not activated bounty. However, if you draw into two usable cards, you can come out a good deal ahead. One way to think about this is that Law of Sight is a Sleight of Hand, but one card you draw is guaranteed to be a Law of Sight put directly on your spellboard. In matches where your opponent can’t have the reactions you care about, it’s vital that playing LoS is still a reasonable option.

    The best uses of this card are going to be protecting units from Ice Trap (Owls, Iron Worker, etc.), ensuring your PB ability resolves (Water Blast, Bounty, etc.), ensuring your damage/removal spells aren’t stopped by a Particle Shield/Golden veil (Fear, summon Gilder, Water Blast again), or ensuring a hypnotized attack gets through (no Choke or Redirect). I do think, however, there will be some decks that play this largely for the draw hoping to just randomly screw their opponents – if you like drawing cards and are not playing reactions, this card is an option. Basically, to want this card in your deck you want:
    - Flexible spellboard room, which likely means at least 4 slots.
    - Divine dice
    - Some strong use-case (defined above)
    - A desire and use for the two cards drawn

    There will definitely be decks that meet this criteria, and you should expect many of them to be throwing in a LoS or two. For players playing reaction spells, there are going to be opponents meeting some of this criteria… are they playing the Law of Sight? The first five mind games are going to be real.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    6/6/6

    Heal
    Oh man, healing is in the game and is finally giving an avenue besides butterflies or Chant of Protection to protect your life total. Heal is going to be a decent card; it’s good enough to play but I don’t think it’s good enough to be an auto-include in every divine deck. It will likely want similar criteria to Chant of Protection, while being a little more flexible due to the lack of a spellboard slot needed and the ability to heal units. Healing yourself is only good if you have board control or otherwise can find a way to present lethal. If your opponent has board control anyway, face-heals aren’t going to help you take back the game.

    The option to heal units should not be ignored; popping off a particle shield when your opponent tries to Water Blast + Gilder your 3-toughness dude is going to be a haymaker when you follow it up with a Heal. Swinging your bear into theirs, having them counter without freezing expecting to ping yours dead next round is also going to be devastating if you follow it up with a Heal. Unit heal is going to provide occasional ways to maintain board control against an opponent desperately trying to claw it back. This option probably becomes even stronger in combination with things like Ice Buff or Shield Mage, where you will often have units who take an extra turn or action to kill, making it easier to interrupt their moves with a Heal. It should be noted that these opportunities aren’t always available though, I’ve played many games where everything trades cleanly and there is never a living unit with more than 1 damage on it. Sometimes you even want your units dying.

    The Phoenixborn healing portion is also very useful. It’s not as large of a swing as the Chant of Protection, but it’s much easier to cast. Often decks rely on meditating part of their spellboard in order to go into chanting mode – Heal will never ask that of you. You can continue threatening with your full force and still regain a few health; because it’s a side action you don’t even need to lose tempo. If you were going to start taking draw damage, Heal saves you just as much health as a Chant of Protection, as the discarded card is equitable to a point of life. Finally, this also protects you from wounds – if your opponent is threatening Molten Gold and you are at 3 life, you will feel much better with Heal instead of Chant. Overall, one of the big pluses for this card is that it presents two modes that are both fairly priced, giving it flexibility to more often do something useful.
    The extra point of life from Chant is not insignificant however. Many of the matches where extra life matters, every point counts. I don’t think it will be a given that divine decks play Heal over Chant, and some of them may even play both. The amount of resiliency against bursty decks you get by playing both is huge and if your game plan vs slow decks is solid you can hedge your bets with little risk.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    9/9/9

    Shield Mage
    Let’s take a look at what the Shield Mage can provide. Right now, in many situations, I’m comparing this card to Golden Veil. If your opponent wants to Ice Trap or Water Blast one of your other units, they are probably going to have to do it to this girl first or pay a long-term tax. You don’t get the tempo benefits in those situations, but one dice for a deal like that is much more affordable. With high priority units like an Owl, requiring an extra point of damage for them to be dealt with can be backbreaking, these are units that you just want to survive until the next turn so you can at least get a use out of them; afterwards if your opponent kills them you are still up in value.

    Many other units gain extreme benefit by having an extra toughness, painting a target on the Shield Mages back lest she taxes your opponent too much. Orchid Doves become painfully efficient taxing machines. Iron Worker becomes just a hair harder to get rid of giving him a lot more potential to give you repeated advantage. Sometimes, an Ice Buff in stats is all that’s needed to gain an edge. And if your opponent kills the Mage, she’s extremely cheap to get back with a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice if you are playing them.

    On the other hand, let’s look at some of the difficulties in using her. She takes a battlefield slot; something that’s not always easy to come by. When you play the shield mage you are turning BF 5 Phoenixborn into Lulu, who we all know has a very constraining battlefield. She takes a main and side action to activate, which will be a tempo hit for whatever you are trying to do. She presents what I refer to as the Anchornaut blocking problem: outside of Odette, she presents a constant consequence free attack target that you have to let die or take on the chin. Finally, for the targets she buffs, she does not help with their recovery. If you have a bunch of Sleeping Widows and Masked Wolves with one damage on them, those units are going to die at the beginning of the next round. It may be worth the initial tempo gain for them to survive the first ping, but units with Recover will see the most game-long gain from the Mage.

    All in all, the Shield Mage can definitely prevent the value for her cost. The tempo costs and battlefield restriction however will make you think twice before throwing her down – you need units that want to be protected. She can thrive with a huge amount of existing known Phoenixborn, including Leo, Rin, Aradel, and Namine, and provides some great benefit to even more units, some of which are Owls, Anchornaut, Iron Worker, and Butterfly Monk.

    Oh, and if she ever starts getting too popular, just start playing Blood Puppets.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    12/12/12

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Shatter Pulse, Guilt Link, String Mage - A Reposting 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.

    this is part 4 of a 4 part article. thee other parts can be found here, here and here

    Elliot Kramer April 20, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout the week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Shatter Pulse
    Shatter Pulse is probably about half a dice too expensive. People are happy to pay two dice to handle a unit – Regress let’s you answer a small subset, Molten Gold let’s you answer a subset… Shatter Pulse let’s you answer them all, and get a bonus on top of it. Destroying that cleanly costs about 2 as a Phoenixborn Unique in Sword of Virtue, so it’s reasonable that outside of a unique it costs around 1 more.

    However, that extra dice turns out to be a lot. There are very few things this even trades evenly with, and more often not than you’d like there will be nothing on the other side of the board worth paying the cost to Pulse. Pulse may see some play, but I think it’s just too expensive to be consistent enough. The double Sympathy [[sympathy]] in the cost does not help.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    1/1/1

    Guilt Link
    The immediate comparison for Guilt Link is Chant of Revenge, a very powerful card that has seen play in all metas since it’s release. The conditionality of Guilt Link will ensure that Link is never as powerful of a card as Chant, but I do think it has the ability to be powerful in it’s own right.

    Effects that give your opponent a choice are historically, in card games, very often on the weaker side. When you really need one option of a card, it’s killer to have your opponent be able to blockade the card and never allow that option to take effect. Guilt Link is no different, but in terms of Ashes cards the options are closer on the spectrum to Anguish than to something like Memory theft. Often, I think, you will be able to trigger Guilt Link in a way that provides your opponent with a lose-lose situation.

    Early on, I think, you have to use Guilt Link to gain board control. Every single trigger of it must target an opposing unit. In this way, you force the opponent to sacrifice board position no matter what they choose. Combined with other unit damaging effects, and you can ensure the wound from the link alone is capable of eliminating units. If your opponent hits you with a Shadow Spirit round one, it’s an awesome board gain to be able to kill that spirit dead no matter what option they take. This is something Chant of Revenge can’t offer – in some way you have to sacrifice board positions in order to use it; chant of revenge let’s you trade life for control. In combination with cards like Heal, you may be able to make a lot of trades.

    If you ever lose board control in a Guilt Link deck, the card is never going to help you go over the top. Unlike Chant of Revenge, the opponent can always sacrifice the weakest part of their board to stay alive. This reach that Chant of Revenge provides is a huge part of why it is so good; as a game comes to it’s end, Chant provides inevitability your opponent cannot escape. It’s this lack of reach that makes me question the link. There are some unit compositions that your opponent will have that make Guilt Link just not worth the card. In those matchups, Guilt Link is just too narrow.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    3/3/3

    String Mage
    Alright, some people may not agree with me – it’s a strong statement… but I think this is probably one of the two strongest Allies in the game. String Mage has the ability to take over games when abused, and has extremely reasonable defensive stats to back it up in normal use. I’m very high on String Mage, and time will tell if it can show it’s strength.

    A 1/3/2 unit for 2 is a great deal, and it blocks very well. Not only is it difficult to kill without spending equal resources, it can be brought back with a Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice power for minimal pain. Any blows that don’t kill it, it doesn’t only shrug off, it throws back at your opponents side of the board. If your opponent isn’t prepared to deal with it, the String Mage can be both a brick wall and a typhoon.

    It combos with Small Sacrifice to turn the card into a spellboard-based Water Blast. It steals Iron Worker tokens and shrinks Silver Snakes. It heals your units on the brink of death. It foils your opponents plans to kill off their beautiful Blood Puppets (why are they trying to kill them?! They were a gift!). It gives your opponent very difficult choices in how to attack with their weenies against Odette. It has so many flexible uses and ability to win an attrition war, and dice-wise it’s very well costed for all of them.

    The only strike I have against the card is the double Sympathy [[sympathy]]. Double-colored costs on units have proven to be a real hamstring on otherwise powerful units. With the Sympathy [[sympathy]] dice power being on the weaker side of dice powers (no board impact), this may be highlighted for String Mage. He wants to be in a deck playing a reasonable amount of Sympathy [[sympathy]] dice, no less than 3 but probably at least 4. The only thing keeping this card between a cost of 50 or higher is changing a class to a basic.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    33/33/33

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Winged Lioness, Law of Assurance, Meteor - A Reposting 1

    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.

    this is the second of a 4 part article. the first can be found here

    Elliot Kramer April 24, 2017
    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Summon Winged Lioness
    This is it. This is the card that will make people play divine, whether or not other divine cards are good. This is the best new summon spell. This is the best summon spell period. Hell, this card alone makes gives the Divine dice power reason in life.

    A 2/2/1 for 2 dice is already great value. It’s the stats of an Iron Worker, which is a card occasionally worth playing just for the body. Winged Lionesses can pump out an Iron Worker of stats each turn and for the same amount of dice. There’s no initial cost for the book, and even making the lioness takes only a class – meditation will rarely be required. Recover on conjurations is very rare, and it gives them survivability that is a very welcome bonus.

    Stalk is incredible — it completely changes the game. Owls can no longer hide behind Finches, or their pretty little Phoenixborn – if a Lioness sees an Owl in the sky it is taking it down. As an added bonus, if the owl fights back the damage will even be recovered at the end of the round. Exhausted units, which in the past may also be protected by Butterfly Monks or the Phoenixborn, are once again easy targets for a Lioness. Normal combat becomes greatly beneficial for the Lioness wielder; and when backed with their own Unit Guard units have a complete upper-hand in ground-combat.

    I’m very high on this card and I can’t imagine any divine deck not playing Lionesses during this meta. It’s the reason to go into divine, and I think the card is so good that it is Hidden Power level – if you are in this color and not playing it, I think you are likely making a mistake.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    100/25/25

    Law of Assurance
    Finally, some illusion protection. For ~cheaper~ than 0 dice and a spellboard slot, you get protection from the almighty wolf until the end of the round. It’s cheaper than 0 dice because you actually get free meditations on two dice.

    The dice-shifting portion of LoA is fairly interesting on its own. It’s somewhere between a Call Upon The Realms and a Hidden Power in terms of functionality and power level, though definitely much closer to Call Upon The Realms in the power aspect. The reason that it’s part-Hidden Power at all is the color shifting. Law of Assurance gives you some light affordance to cheat on dice pools with sketchy dice bases because of how it can smooth out an awkward draw. Playing Bears with 4 nature dice, and you just drew 2 Molten Gold? Well, if you also drew LoA, you can cast it all and not have either MG stuck in hand. This trick will be occasionally useful, but may also potentially be a trap. If your deck is awkward enough that you want LoA purely for fixing, then your deck will be just as awkward when you don’t draw LoA.

    The illusion [[illusion]] protection, however, is real. Played early in the round, and you can completely shut off your opponents dice power – and if they were planning on using that dice power 2-3 times, this can do more than give you protection: it can hamper their hands efficiency. The benefit of LoA in the First Five is that you will know the other 4 cards in your hand can be cast – your opponent doesn’t know whether they can leave room for the wolf power when picking their First Five. I think we will see lots of decks with powerful first fours + LoA for illusion matchups and more flexible First Fives otherwise.

    Outside of the First Five, I think LoA is most beneficial in decks with heavy spellboard costs – ones that try to make Bears, etc. These decks can be especially punished by illusion decks, as their costs only go up as the game goes on (whereas with things like Illusionary Cycle, the illusion decks ability to constraints goes up). Having a turn in the mid-game where you can make everything you want to in a matchup against heavy illusion can be enough to turn the tide completely.

    In the end, you do need the spellboard slot for Law of Assurance – and it’s non-protection ability to color fix probably isn’t worth the slot alone. Even if you are countering Sympathy’s [[sympathy]] dice-turning in abilities like Shatter Pulse, it’s not worth it. You want the ability to capitalize on 10 dice and the incentive to protect that strategy. Not all Phoenixborn have large enough Spellboards to casually throw a Law like this in. Illusion decks, I think, will also be less prevalent. With 6 colors now, an even split means that only ⅓ of 2 color-decks would have illusion in them. The more popular this card is, the less popular illusion probably is. Finally, many illusion decks can simply pivot their options in the face of the Law. If you lock out Victoria’s ability to steal your wolves, she may just make Frogs to help control the battlefield for that round.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    6/6/6

    Meteor
    Meteor is a very exciting card, and it’s effect gives you the sense that even if it’s not played immediately it will find a slot eventually. There is something slightly awkward about it, however, that makes it unclear where it fits right now.

    I think Meteor is going to do best against Owl and Spirit decks, particularly variants of the Shadow Spirit/three eyed Owl/Butterfly Monk builds that try to capitalize on a variety of effective 1 dice units. But timing an effective Meteor can be especially tough – if your opponent sniffs it out, it’s often possible for them to okay around it and support rebuilding their board. When it’s a surprise, I think Meteor will win more than a few games. When suspected, it will take a lot more work. Compare the card to something like Mist TyphoonMist Typhoon sees some play, but not an absurd amount; and it’s really best used in decks like Luck 14. While Mist Typhoon causes less wreckage – it’s much easier to get your opponent to give you value for it because the effect is one-sided. When you commit units to the board, your opponent has to as well. You can’t quite do that as simply with Meteor – units you commit are going to be hit just as hard.

    How can you best encourage them to commit more of their resources to the board than you, so that Meteor can be worth the symmetrical damage? This is going to be the question to answer if you want to crack Meteor. Perhaps Dread Wraiths can do it alone. Maybe Coal can force units out and use Meteor in a Luck-14-esque way to get fatties through the next turn (after paying the exhaustion tax). Can Dimona shake off the exhaustion penalty by having her Rayward Knights take a 2nd exhaustion on the chin? If it’s hard to get value these ways or similar, it’s possible that Jessa’s ability to cause a cacophony of screams will simply be enough. I think it’s going to be possible to use Meteor to your advantage, but I don’t think finding out how to do it is going to be easy – and I’m not sure that top-decks will figure it out in this first divine Meta.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    6/6/6

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Summon Salamander Monk, Flute Mage, Magic Syphon - A Reposting 1

    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.

    this is part 3 of a 4 part article. the other parts can be found here and here

    Elliot Kramer April 27, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout the week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Summon Salamander Monk
    Man these guys are cute. Hard to find a place for, but cute. This card is hard to evaluate. Up front, I’m going to say that they are better than Mist Spirits and in some ways comparable, but it’s not clear by how much. In general, they are going to give you “asterisked” 2/2 for 1 dice – which is a great deal. Being able to trade pieces of that for triggers or things like Spirit burn is also nice. However, the asterisk attached to getting full values out of these guys is what is going to give them trouble and why it will be hard to make good use out of them.

    Here are some ways to get good value out of these guys:
    Make a Salamander Monk, attack. If they block and counter, you did 1 damage, exhausted a guy, and made a 1/1 monk spirit for 1 dice. That’s decent value already. If they don’t block…
    - Use Small Sacrifice to convert the monk and deal another damage.
    - Use Spirit Burn to convert the monk and deal 2 damage.
    - Use Redirect to convert the monk and save yourself some life.

    I think all of these (and more) represent an above average value for the 1 dice spent on the original monk.

    Once you have the Salamander Monk Spirit out, it’s something like a Mist Spirit. It’s inability to block is a liability, but it’s inability to be targeted by attacks means that you when you attack with it you have no risk of it being targeted for consequence free attacks. A real drawback of attacking with 1/1s is that they can swing their own 1 attack dudes back into them with no risk. The drawback of not being able to block is definitely a bigger drawback than the gain you get from not being targetable, but it’s not a pure drawback.

    There are three major drawbacks to these guys however that I think are going to make it difficult to find the right place for them. Firstly, it’s not always easy to get good value out of them. Brennen is the best positioned, and if we see them working I expect it to happen with her. Outside of her, I think there will often be awkward decisions or games where you can’t quite make them work.

    Second, the conjuration counts can also put you into awkward situations. Having only 2 of the Monks and 3 of the Spirits means that sometimes your opponent can exploit these counts to force you into winless decisions. It’s not going to be a good feeling having 2 Monks out and knowing you can’t make a monk until you clear one out, and it’s going to be an even worse feeling when a monk dies and you don’t get the spirit because you haven’t managed to cycle your other 3 yet. It’s hard to imagine playing more than 1 book because of how awkward it is to make multiples.

    Finally, these guys kind of want a large battlefield. That is, you either want to reliable clear (e.g. Brennen) or you want to have at least 6 battlefield. You want the opportunity to put out the full threat of the units and I don’t think a deck can easily thrive with these as the only unit – so you want extra room. This limits the places the Salamanders can be seen.

    Ashes 500 Cost Prediction:
    3/0/0

    Flute Mage
    And here we have our fourth variant of Refresh. The first 3, all charm, are Refresh, Change Psyche, and Transfer. Each has little benefits over each other, each is probably fringe playable, none really see play. Flute Mage, I think, is a level above the rest and sure to see at least some play.

    The best way to think of Flute Mage is as an unexhaust effect with a body that has to be answered. If you begin the next round with Flute Mage on the battlefield, unexhausting a unit for no dice cost can be extremely powerful. Swinging at an enemy with your Hammer Knight and immediately having it back at the ready is suddenly very value heavy if you can do it two rounds in a row (for 2 dice total). When the Flute Mage is out, it’s easy to craft situations where your opponent either has to answer the rest of your board, or they have to answer the Flute Mage.

    It is fairly easy to answer the Flute Mage. For 2 dice, there are a few options that trade up against it, and plenty that will trade evenly (dice-wise) with the unit. That being said, unexhausting a unit and exhausting some of those options (e.g. dice and water blast) from your opponents side seems very worth the cost of two dice if you’ve got a good refresh target.

    All in all, the biggest issue with the card will be finding places for it that have targets worth unexhausting. Not every deck has those and the room for Flute in deck and on board. Luckily though, it’s stats aren’t totally unreasonable and the payoff/punishment can be big.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    9/9/9

    Magic Syphon
    Strictly better is a magic concept that refers to a card that either does the exact same thing as another card for a cheaper price, or something that is purely beneficial over another card for the same price, or both. Moltener Gold, a Molten Gold for one nature [[natural]] power dice is strictly better than Molten Gold. Molten Lead, a card that deals 3 damage for one nature [[natural]] power dice, is not. While the card may be better, the damage vs wounds distinction is meaningful and prevents the card from being strictly better.

    Magic Syphon is also not strictly better than Shifting Mists: the difference in magic type requirements is meaningful. The card is sweet, and once on the board, is unquestionably better than Shifting Mist. It can perform the exact same action as shifting, but also gives you the opportunity to instead meditate one of your opponents dice. But because it’s not strictly better, we will still see some people occasionally opting for Shifting over Super shifting.

    The illusion [[illusion]] dice has two major benefits over sympathy [[sympathy]] for effects like this. Firstly, and most importantly, it has the best dice power in the game. By playing sympathy[[sympathy]]-less illusion [[illusion]], you are giving yourself more opportunities to break apart your opponents game plan with the almighty wolf dice. Secondly, illusion [[illusion]] has already shown itself to have multiple powerful conjurations that act as meditation sinks over the course of the game. Shadow Spirit and Shadow Hound both benefit strongly from free meditations, and are already in the same color as Shifting. By playing Shifting with these cards, you allow yourself to have a more consistent dice pool. The second point may change if we see powerful Sympathy [[sympathy]] conjurations previewed or released in the future, but the first will probably always remain true.

    I wanted to get that out of the way so it’s clear why shifting still has a place in the game. Now on to Super Shifting. The card is clearly very powerful. Shifting was already a card shown to be a great tool of control type decks, giving them inevitability towards the end-game by not making them mill themselves. Super Shifting does exactly that, but also gives you opportunities to force your opponent to meditate by changing their critical dice. We will definitely be seeing Super Shifting on the spellboard. Also, with just a single class dice cost, Super Shifting is easy to splash. Victoria can fairly reliably play just one Sympathy dice, if she wanted, in order to support Magic Syphon instead of Shifting Mists.

    Like Shifting Mist, Magic Syphon is going to be used predominantly in control decks or in decks trying to shore up control matchups. Preventing your own meditation or forcing your opponent to meditate does next to nothing in a game that doesn’t end up with a player milled out (see Papa Pratt’s must-read article on Aggressive Meditation). Super Shifting can force your opponent into awkward turns where they planned on using their dice power and now have to meditate, but those won’t be strong enough to include the card in aggressive decks.

    A note on balance:. Sympathy [[sympathy]] is allowed to have better dice manipulation than illusion [[illusion]] because that’s simply one of it’s strengths. Yes, dice manipulation is also a strength of illusion [[illusion]], but illusion [[illusion]] has some strengths not available to Sympathy [[sympathy]], like dice advantage (Hidden Power) or and an oppressive dice power. In a game with 6+ dice types, there is going to be some overlap in capabilities. Ceremonial [[ceremonial]] can’t be the only type with strong allies, and Nature [[natural]] can’t be the only type with strong conjurations.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    50/12/12 – with same penalties as Shifting Mist

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Summon Emperor Lion, Holy Knight, Power Through - A Reposting 1

    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.

    this is part 3 of a four part article. the other parts can be found here and here

    Elliot Kramer May 1, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout the week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Summon Emperor Lion
    The lion joins a motley crew of 3-cost conjurations. Compared to its brethren (Ice Golem, Dread Wraith, and Shadow Hound), the Lion may be the best out of the box. All 3 of the prior have seen successful competitive play (with Ice Golem’s case for viability being the most flimsy), but none have risen to the level of a dominant mainstay — while good, you rarely have to think, “Well, how does this deck handle ~” because their presence in decks/the meta is niche and sparing.

    Emperor Lion maybe will be no different, but its well-balanced stats combined with some very relevant bonus abilities make it a threat to be a card more commonly included. It’s worth pointing out that the first lion has the same cost (cheaper, meditation wise) as the first bear – and it is a unit that is definitely better. Let me repeat that again, the first lion you make is at least as good as one of the best conjurations in the game right now. Damn, I’m getting myself excited about this lion.

    Lions hit a Phoenixborn as hard as a Hammer Knight, are just as hard to kill, have the same dice cost, and you can make them each turn. Healing Aura randomly makes your opponent plays inefficient. If you can turn an aura into a heal at the end of the round, that’s about a dice worth of value for each damage. Combined with cards like Particle Shield it may be very possible to turn this into a gamelong advantage. Because it’s inexhaustible, it means that even if your opponent Steady Gazes it the lion can continue to provide value. The whole package of the Lion is good, they didn’t skimp this time around and I think PHG is really learning what kind of value you can put into 3 dice.

    This all sounds awesome; why wouldn’t this be a a dominant mainstay? A few things make cards like this hard to play or risky moves. Putting 3 dice into a unit gives your opponent a lot of ways to gain a value advantage: Regress, Molten Gold, Sword of Virtue and more are all great deals, dice-wise, for your opponent. When you pump this much into something, your opponent can turn the tempo of such a trade to their advantage.

    Secondly, a double-color cost can make your dice or turns awkward. The Divine dice ability is on the weaker side, and so having heavy Divine dice spreads is a little harder to support. The lion can’t go in every deck and succeed, especially with wolf [[illusion]] dice running around. Though the lion beats the bear in value round 1, bears are easier to summon and present less of a deficit in subsequent rounds when answered. Overall though, when the card works it is definitely going to be worth it.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    33/2/2

    Holy Knight
    I’m going to go ahead and start by saying that 3 of any dice type is a lot. It’s very restrictive. There’s barely any playable cards that require 2 of a dice type right now; and they are often early cuts in decks trying to be flexible with their dice pool. Even Molten Gold gets cut because 2 Nature [[natural]] is a lot to throw down. Holy Knight asks for 3 Divine [[divine]] dice for each one you play with. And that’s a lot.

    Consider that if Holy Knight isn’t the best Divine divien card, you probably want other Divine [[divine]] cards. Something to give you a consistent use, like Lioness, is going to push you to four divine dice on the turns you want to play him. Even if youre hoping to also draw into Law of Assurances on the same turn, you really gotta have at least 5 Divine [[divine]] dice to feel semi-comfortable supporting a deck like that. This itself is very restrictive. And even with 5 dice, your placing yourself at risk of some very awkward turns. Such a Divine [[divine]] heavy non-summon card ensures that you will have hands drawn that either can’t be supported by your dice, or leave you with an excess of Divine [[divine]] dice – which does not have a particularly flexible dice power. In order to support Holy Knight, you’re probably going to need dice help: meaning Rin (rins fury), Expand Energy, Victoria, or Orrick. The latter two, however, seem more like less than ideal fits.

    So what do you get for fitting to this restrictive cost? A 5/3/2 unit that is resistant to just about everything. No Fear. No Regress. No Molten Gold. Not even non-spell based tricks. Fire archer + Water Blast? Pffft. Anchornaut + Spirit Burn? Yeah, right! None of it touches the Holy Knight.

    Until it exhausts. Then it’s all free-game. And that’s kind of the problem; you can get a single attack or counter in, but then your opponent gets to use whatever spell they normally would have on your Knight. If your attack is wasted on a Gilder or Butterfly Monk, you didn’t get a lot of value on that attack. Your best case scenario is dropping the Holy Knight in the first five to an unprepared opponent, and getting 5 in because they had no allies to drop and protect. Getting 5 in and then forcing them to remove a 3 toughness unit is pretty good value for 4 dice.

    But the other cases are much less appealing. The thing is, this Knight is just really bad at fighting. It trades with a lot of 3 cost dudes, and once exhausted can easily be extinguished by any multitude of weenies + ping effects. He’s just not great when he has to fight other units. There are ways to unexhaust him before he falls victim to your opponents abilities, but they are either expensive and awkward (Dimona) or in colors that are probably hard to currently support with Holy Knight (Flute Mage). One of the best ways to deal with a Holy Knight is just going to be attacking into it and leaving something up to block.

    I know some good players that are really high on Holy Knight, so you should maybe take my opinion with a grain of salt… but if you can’t tell, I’m low on Holy Knight. And I’m glad I am. Invulnerable effects and similar are incredibly dangerous; if they get too good – they let you do broken things. I don’t think Holy Knight is one of those cards though; it’s just too awkward.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    2/2/2

    Power Through
    Offensive alterations are often very tricky to get right. Because they inherently pour your resources into a single unit, they open yourself up to trades that are beneficial for the opponent instead of you. In general, one big threatening unit is harder to make use of then an army of less threatening but still effective units. Many alterations tend to have multiple of the following common problems:
    - No element of surprise. It doubles down on a threat and says “Can you deal with this?”, and then it gives them a chance to deal with it.
    - Easy to avoid or chump. You make one big attack dude, but it’s completely negated by a Butterfly Monk; or one bad-ass blocker that your opponent just doesn’t attack into.
    It opens yourself up to 2-for-1s. You give your dude +3 attack, and when they
    - Fear or Molten Gold it, they just used 1 card to get rid of both your unit and alteration.
    - They have overcosted or no respark cost at all, an ability which can help make up some of these other weaknesses.
    - They are overcosted for their stats.

    Power through shakes off a lot of these weaknesses. It’s side-action cost + offensive ability means that it does have the element of surprise – you can often guarantee at least one hit with it before your opponent can react. Chumping does very little; as the real benefit is the overkill ability punishing their chumping. It does get 2-for-1d, but it’s respark costs no dice at all, making it much easier to play again if that’s what you want to do. Any card in your hand is another Power Through.

    So what about cost? It’s hard to say without getting a lot of play in, but I think Power Through is fairly costed for it’s ability. It’s certainly not vastly overcosted – I can say with some certainty that 1 dice for the effect would be unfairly good. On Lionesses, Power Through is an absolute house. Guaranteed kills overflow into Phoenixborn damage, advancing your win condition and controlling the board. On Shadow Spirits, you threaten 3 damage to the dome or 2 + a likely dead unit. There are a lot of ways to get reasonable use for the cost out of Power Through.

    To me, the key word is reasonable – outside of Lionesses hunting it’s preferred prey (e.g. Owls), many uses are not anything crazy. And they still require 2 dice and 2 “cards”. I really think it’s going to take the meta shaking out to see if this card is worth it. It’s the best offensive alteration we’ve seen yet though, and I have high hopes for it. The fact that it brushes off a lot of traditional downsides for alterations give it a ton of promise.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    16/16/16

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Summon Squall Stallion, River Skald, Crescendo - A Reposting 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.

    this is the second of a 4 piece article. the first piece can be found here

    Elliot Kramer May 4, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout the week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Summon Squall Stallion
    The Stallion is an interesting card. It has the potential for some explosive finishes. People will experience games where 3 of them are swinging for a total of 21+ damage all at once. It also has the potential to go games where the Stallions are overpriced duds. At the price of a bear, you get to draw a card and make a ~1/3. It’s definitely more than 1/3, but you really do have to put work into making it more effective than a bear. On defense, especially, it’s going to be hard to make this more than a 1/3 for 2+ dice.

    Empower is the spiciest combo with the stallion. This formerly useless spellboard gets new life with the stallions – in combination the cards actually form a powerful combo. Empower not only gives you a way to turn the stallions into powerful offensive threats, and even eliminates their defensive liability by turning them from 1/3s into 4/3s when activated. With multiple Empower’s on the board, it becomes easy to have single alpha strikes with an army of high attack horses. The trouble with this combo is the dice requirement – double Sympathy and double Nature limits what you can do. With pieces picked apart – e.g. your stallions killed, you are not in a great place. Further, there is a lot of up front cost to getting these pieces out. In a long game, you may be able to have some explosive units, but it takes a lot of setup time and a lot of dice. Secret door is another option for potentially triggering large amounts of times, but even harder to make use of.

    In “fair” decks, making use of the Stallion will generally require spending about 1 dice to draw a card with a side-action. You can use Namine, Saria, or the Sympathy [[sympathy]] dice power – and with an Iron Worker you can do this multiple times in a turn. Activating these once per round should not be a problem in decks designed to. Activating them twice will likely be slightly more awkward, which means you will have to consistently swing with all of your horses at once or take the value hit. If you could consistently count on the ponies having +2 attack, they would be fine. A unit that is only conditionally a 3/3 for the price of a bear, however, isn’t the best deal on its own.

    The card draw attached is a nice bonus; and making use of that is going to be key to making the stallions work. If you can find value out of the draw attached to breeding a stallion, you will have success with them. If you can’t, the Stallions are going to be likely best summarized as a gimmick – occasionally capable of explosive games, but too hard to pull off to be a consistent threat.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    3/3/3

    River Skald
    Crescendo has arrived. This little bard will come into the board and threaten to kill opposing enemies of equal size and still leave behind it’s exhausted body. The ability to control things on the board is very real, and a Melody Knight that lasts more than one round can end up being very cost effective in removing targets.
    This card will see play, but I think that there are a few caveats that bring it down in value from where people may initially have it:
    - It costs double Sympathy [[sympathy]]
    Double class costs on allies is historically very hard to get past. Beast Tamer and Crimson Bomber are both very reasonable units that have seen much more limited play than expected due to the dice pool building constraints they impose.
    It costs 3 dice
    - The answers for units like River Skald are all cheaper than 3; and so when answered will often give your opponent a dice advantage.
    The skalds ability to slay the turn it comes down helps limit this. If you kill a Hammer Knight or a Bear, you don’t care how your opponent handles your Skald, you’re probably ahead. But if you face against cheaper costing unit spreads, it may be easier for your opponent to get the upper hand.
    - Triggering it isn’t free in opportunity cost or dice.
    It’s pretty much going to cost you a dice and side action to trigger this. It won’t always be convenient, and doing it in the first round means you’re spending 4 dice. Again, if that’s on a big fatty, you are ahead. If it’s on an owl, not as much.
    - It’s a utility unit weak to the same things combat units are weak too
    In particular, regress shuts it down.

    All in all, the card is very powerful but the above caveats make me reconsider including it as often as I might. It’s strong; I’m just scarred by Beast Tamer and can’t trust Power/Class/Basic 3/3/2s any more. It just brings up too many bad memories.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    20/20/20

    Crescendo
    Damn, this card is sweet. 3 damage for 1 dice is incredible value, and though it has other costs associated with it to gain that extra power, trading one resource for another can be a very broken thing.

    For 3 damage, you can clear off some of the most potent threats we’ve seen yet. Hammer Knight, Frostback Bear, and more all die for one class dice. And while we’ve seen this cost for removal in the past, cards like Fade Away and Poison required you to let the offending unit get an attack in before it died. Crescendo gives them no warning; when it is fired off it threatens to remove the unit immediately.

    The tempo gain of such a move is real. You don’t have to take a turn off removing the unit; you can sequence a threatening attack on the same turn that you removed your target. With Phoenixborn like Aradel or Brennen, you can get rid of 5 toughness of blockers on the same turn you attack. This leaves then no opportunity to play defending units to protect themselves in the mean time. That being said, Crescendo does ask that you attack. That means it’s better placed in decks that want to do so; if most of your dudes prefer to stay back and protect your helm, making the Crescendo play is going to be more awkward. You want to benefit from the tempo it provides, not be a victim to the requirement of attacking.

    Overall, the card is easy to cast and splash – at one class dice, it’s easy to reliably play in builds running as few as 2 sympathy [[sympathy]] dice. Discarding a card is less of a cost in the later game; especially if you are aiming to end the game sooner rather than later and don’t mind sacrificing resources to do it. However, it can be awkward if you draw multiples of these. I still think it’s worth playing 3-of, but you may want either card draw or be willing to hold some Crescendos off until later rounds. Finally, the 1 damage is negligible but may be an annoyance at times. Sometimes, it will be easy to put on a regressed or blood chains target, or even clear off an already exhausted Shadow Spirit to give you more board room. With String Mage, the damage is easily turned into a bonus. Rarely, however, your units will be valuable and weakened already, and placing that damage is going to be very difficult.

    Despite the discard and damage requirements, I think Crescendo’s payoff is high enough to make it a staple of whatever else Sympathy [[sympathy]] has to offer.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    40/40/40

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Namine and Odette - A Reposting 1

    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.

    Elliot Kramer April 13, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout the week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Odette Diamondcrest:
    Let’s start with the stats. Odette, sitting at 5/17/4, is just 1 health below the “average” Phoenixborn. Not much more to say there. She is going to be a hair easier to kill than average, has a spellboard that’s usually sufficient but not overly flexible, and a battlefield that is again usually sufficient, but occasionally will feel clogged.

    Retribution:
    Retribution is a very interesting and nuanced ability. We should note off the bat when exactly it triggers – which is only when you receive damage from guarding with Odette. This means your opponent has to take an attack a unit action, and Odette has to step in to protect the unit. If your opponent never does that and always attacks Odette directly… well, then the ability will never trigger.

    This is going to happen a lot. And people are going to point out that her ability never triggers. They are going to make the mistake of thinking, however, that this means it never does anything. This isn’t really true, though – Retribution’s strength is in the way it makes your opponent change how they attack and the ways you can take advantage of that.

    If your opponent only attacks your Phoenixborn directly, it means that all of your units have a sort of pseudo-unit guard. Knowing this, it’s key to include units that benefit from this. If your deck is Gilders and Butterfly Monks, Retribution will never have a meaningful impact. If, however, your battlefield is Nightshade Swallows and Owls, you now have a unit that shines with unit guard (swallows) and a unit worth protecting (owls) that will make your opponent’s decisions cost them. Be careful not to only include units that benefit from unit guard, however. If you have nothing worth guarding, the impact is again removed.

    Sword of Virtue
    Sword of Virtue is strong, but probably about average when it comes to Phoenixborn uniques. The clear strength of the card comes from the first half – destroying any unit. Wiping a bear, Hammer Knight, or Dread Wraith off the board for 2 dice is a pretty good deal. The flexibility to remove any unit is definitely good, but at 2 dice it’s not insane value. The more big expensive threats that people are playing, the better Sword of Virtue gets.

    There will be matches when the ability to kill a unit is a bad deal, if your opponent is Brennen and only packing Gilders, Butterflies, Anchornauts, and Fire Archers… Well, two dice and a card to remove one of them is a bad trade. There are a lot of decks in the current meta where the sword will never trade up.
    Because of this, you may build your deck to include ways to benefit from the second half of the card. Being able to freshen up a Hammer Knight or let a Dread Wraith soak up a new slew of damage can give a potentially great alternative use of the card. However, in previous metas, Refresh like cards have not been very strong; and adding a heal on top is nice but may not be enough to push it to unique strength. It may be difficult to get an edge out of the Sword in matches that rely on the shaving edge.

    Overall
    Odettes unique and ability combination could create a powerful Phoenixborn in the right meta, but they lean towards the reactive side and are not proactively powerful. She is probably a lower-middle-tier Phoenixborn that can occasionally perform very well but will not be a perennial top-placer due to her meta dependence. Proving me wrong will require finding a way to heavily punish players with the retribution ability in a way that works against a large of different deck archetypes. Ashes remains a game with incredible parity for the most part, and even though I think she is not top tier, I do think she will be winning tournaments. She’s just probably not going to win GenCon.

    Ashes 500 Cost Predictions:
    Odette Diamondcrest- 12
    Sword of Virtue – 25/25/25

    Namine Hymntide
    Namine has Rin stats; which basically means she’s about average, a hair easier to kill but will tend to be resilient to clogged battlefields. In general, I think that extra battlefield slot is a little bit better than the single lost life, and her stats are a hair above average.

    Calming Melody
    This ability is sweet, and in some matchups incredibly powerful. The best comparison is Saria guideman’s Hearts Pull. Hearts Pull’s strength primarily lies in its ability to draw a card, and as an added bonus you marginally push forward a mill win-con (or give yourself a chance to punish focus book strategies common in Phoenixborn like Victoria). Hearts Pull is a decent ability and the best part about it is the draw. Contrary to Saria, the card draw for Namine is the worst part of Calming Melody. In exchange for the option to occasionally mill, you get the option of occasionally shutting off your opponents Phoenixborn every other turn. That's not to say that Hearts Pull is just a worse Calming Melody, simply that Calming Melody has the potential to be devastating in multiple types of matchups, whereas the mill portion of Hearts Pulll thrives mostly in control mirror matchups.

    Some Phoenixborn rely heavily on their abilities to get advantage. If you can shut off Leo, Noah, or Brennen’s ability for 2 out of the first 3 turns, you will likely be able to find a way to turn that into an insurmountable advantage. Some, maybe most, Phoenixborn sacrifice raw deck quality in order to gain advantage with that ability. Rather than just play good stuff, they make synergistic choices that overall function better because of their ability. Brennen plays cheap units to sacrifice and cards that trigger off them. Victoria cheats on dice counts by having lower non-illusion dice knowing she can rely on a Hidden Power each turn. Coal draws extra cards (often at a low rate with cards like Most Typhoon) and relies on being able to not only pitch them with Slash but use that slashing to clear the board. Calming Melody can hamstring these abilities and consistently stop them from being used for 2 out of the first 3 turns. At that point, it’s your deck (designed to play a normal game) versus theirs (designed to play a different game than the one you are now).

    Encore
    Winning the game from that point is partly going to rely on how good your unique is versus them. Luckily for Namine, Encore is pretty darn good. Now you’re going to be tempted to do some silly things like use Open Memories to double focus books out round 1, and I understand that temptation. But stop. It’s not that good. And Encore is great without it.

    Without going for anything gimmicky, Encore is a fantastic tool to get you whatever you need in the moment. At its worst, Encore is as good as the best non-unique in your deck. And there are some good non-uniques: to start with, Hidden Power is more powerful than many unique spells (and pretty much always castable, to boot). You can fairly reliably have Encore be Hidden Power 4-6. And that is it’s floor. It’s ceiling is the copy of summon Shadow Spirit that you accidentally meditated. Or the 4th Molten Gold that you need to win the game. Or copies 2-4 of the singleton Choke that happens to be critical in the matchup despite you only running one. It’s whatever is best.

    The thing is, Encore is sort of like a free Open Memories. In a few ways it’s worse (e.g. it’s not good at focusing books Round 1), but in many ways it’s better. Getting additional copies of cards already used is something OM cannot do. OMing outside of the first round for random cards is rarely seen, but part of that is the Open Memories 2 dice cost. When you can do it for free, tutoring can be very powerful. In a pinch, you can even meditate until you see the card you need and follow it up with a main [[main]] action Encore.

    Overall
    Namine is top-tier, a flexible Phoenixborn that will only get better with time. Her ability will shut down any new powerful Phoenixborn ability, and her unique will only get more targets. When more cards are released and you can run a toolbox of powerful 1-ofs that thrive in certain matchups, Namine is going to shine with the ability to “duplicate” those 1-offs. The only limiting factor to Namine is how good Sympathy [[sympathy]] is right now. Because she wants to play a “fair” game, she needs powerful Sympathy cards to support her generically powerful ability and unique. If she doesn’t get them now, she likely will eventually, and I suspect we will be hearing Namine singing her tune for the long haul.

    Ashes 500 Cost Predictions*:
    Namine Hymntide – 50
    Encore – 33/33/33

    • I think Namine will be a tough nut to crack. Like Victoria in the last meta, people won’t figure out how to play her to her best strengths initially. I predict though that that nut will be cracked before the subsequent expansions come out and she will eventually reach this level.

    Thoughts? Questions? Want to say where you think the cards should be priced? Let me know in the comments, or start a discussion on the Ashes slack chat.

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Echo Greystorm (Part 2) - A Reposting 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.

    Elliot Kramer November 20, 2017 0

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective

    Light Swordsman
    This is the first non-unique unit of any type that can come out as a side [[side]] action and attack. Unfortunately, two class dice and a side action for a 1-time surprise hit for 1 isn’t super great.

    There are a few ways to make that better; but most of them are mediocre at best because of how clunky they are (e.g. Empower, Secret Door). The most likely to be worth playing, in my view, is Polarity Mage in combination with offensive alterations (like Power Through).

    I have serious doubts, though, about the viability of a 2-class dice ½ battle advantage, despite its ability to grow its attack value. Opportunist 1 means that it will rarely be greater than a ½, and almost always the unit will be exceptionally weak on defense. Requiring other clunky cards to make it useful is never a good thing; which makes me have to think that this card is just bad. The flexibility of a side or main just doesn’t have that much benefit when it’s attached to a base ½.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    1/1/1

    Sonic Swordsman
    Now this is what I’m talking about. Three drop allies immediately draw comparison to Hammer Knight; and this is the first one that really can shine in a similar spot. On a raw power level, I think Hammer Knight is the better card; but they are different colors and will fit in different decks. Sonic Swordsman has a very strong case for inclusion in any divine & sympathy deck.

    Compared to the Hammer Knight, the Swordsman is a better unit against armies of X/2s. When attacking with the swordsman, you can always walk-away with at least one killed unit on any attack. Against X/3’s, when combo’d with nature [[natural]] or anchornauts, you can ping pre-combat and force an awkward particle shield less their unit face certain death.

    Sonic is a superior unit when it comes to battlefield control; especially combined with its increased survivability. With Rhythmic Healing, Knuckles is better than a 2-recover unit; it will almost always heal 2 before the beginning of the next round, and in cases where you need to force a heal early you can do so through a variety of means (Hand Tricks, Sympathy [[sympathy]] Dice, Changing Winds, etc.)

    Where Sonic fails in comparison to the Hammer Knight is the Hammer Knights ability to throw raw pressure on the opposing Phoenixborn itself.

    Hammer Knights win games by hitting Phoenixborn; each connect is a massive blow to their total health. With Sonic Swordsman, people can feel much more comfortable taking a hit to the face. That being said, you almost never will be faced with the decision of playing one of these allies over the other. Unless you are playing four or more colors, the two units can’t be in the same deck. If you are doing that, you still might just want to play both. Alas, Hammer Knight’s threat to the life total makes it a first-five drop that people have to worry about. Without that, Sonic Swordsman is a little easier to avoid as a threat.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    33/33/33

    Polarity Mage
    I absolutely adore this card; it’s a really cool design fit into about an aggressive cost as you could place on it. This is how I want to see synergistic cards; they require a lot of work to make work, and If you are able to do that it should be viable.

    There are a lot of cool tricks the Polarity Mage can pull off, and I’ve got a lot of pro’s in my list:
    [[side]]She fits in either [[Sympathy]] or [[Divine]] decks; if you are in both then she is extremely flexible to cast.
    [[side]]With Massive Growth, Polarity Mage can not only turn all of your new durdles into deathbringers, but he can save your Massive Growth for subsequent rounds.
    [[side]]With Body Inversion, Polarity Mage can reduce the cost of all your illusion units by 1; even turning one of your basic [[basic]] dice into a wolf [[illusion]] as a result. Free Shadow Spirits? I’ll take 1.
    [[side]]With Power Through, Polarity Mage can slot into an already existing deck and provide a new vector of threat for an already good Power Through.
    [[side]]Versus Regress, Polarity Mage offers another counter besides Dispel that can affordably handle multiple negative alterations.
    [[side]]Polarity Mage can be returned with ceremonial [[ceremonial]] dice for 0 damge.

    1 dice for 2 toughness means that it will never trade evenly for a dice power; your opponent will either need to use a card or exhaust a reasonable unit in order to try to remove the Polarity Mage.

    The only real con I have for the card is that a lot of the effective uses are fragile or require playing with otherwise bad cards (or both, really). I think the Polarity Mage is cheap enough, though, to find a useful spot in decks – and I’ll be very happy if it does.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    6/6/6

    Enlightenment
    Removing exhaustion has been a historically overcosted ability – every flexible version of the effect costs 2 dice, has some other uses, and is entirely unplayed. Enlightenment adds a new bonus, but I’m not sure that it’s the best variant we’ve seen yet.

    A lot of people will immediately jump to Enlightenments ability to remove an exhaust off of a Phoenixborn. I don’t think this will ever be good, however – I feel confident that it will never be good being your plan A. All of the best Phoenixborn effects are just not cost-effective to use again for 2 dice and a card. Dealing an additional 2 dice to a unit in Aradel with 3 dice and a card is bad. 2 more to a Phoenixborn in Brennen for 3 dice a card and a unit is worse. It’s just not an effective option. On top of unexhausting units being shown to be a weak effect, this portion of the card just is not really a selling point for me.

    The most likely place where we will see Enlightenment is in it’s ability to remove exhaustion from a spellboard card. However, I don’t think anything exists right now that makes this portion worth it. In particular, Open Memories often seems like a better choice; or spending 2 dice to use again just seems bad. We may in the future, however, see some ready spells that can make this card shine.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    1/1/1

    Holy Relics
    The Holy Relics aren’t very exciting. They are the first alteration we’ve seen like this – a straightforward cost for a straightforward bonus; but despite being a first the effect is quite plain.

    Because of that, I don’t have a ton to say about the card. Alterations will lead to you being 2-for-1’d, and ones that don’t have respark will do so even more. As a result, alterations that can only be used once should be quite powerful in order to be worth playing. This one, however, is not. For 2 divine dice, I’d rather just have Power Through.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    1/1/1

    Law of Fear
    Law of Fear has so far been a surprisingly untalked about card since its spoiling. It’s effect is very powerful; and it fits into some existing deck archetypes very well. I’ll say it right out of the bat – I think this card pushes Meteor Victoria into outright broken.

    When combined with an effective offensive deck that can strip you of dice, Law of Fear can result in an absurd amount of guaranteed damage. Imagine having out 4 Shadow Spirits and an Orchid Dove after stripping your opponent of dice; regardless of what your opponent has out, when you play Law of Fear you are guaranteeing 10 damage by the end of the round. Attack one at a time, and they take 2 regardless – the only choice they have is if they are going to try to trade a unit while doing so.

    Outside of Victoria, Law of Fear makes a very effective tool for offensive decks. It’s the Orchid Dove of beating face. Like Victoria, I think it will usually find it’s most effective situations in separating your attacks into separate rounds. The card tricks you into wanting to attack with groups due to it’s “enter play” effect, but that is oftentimes the wrong decision. Law of Fear will be a constant threat to worry about in the upcoming meta; and not to be punny but it is a card that should always be feared against divine [[divine]] decks.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    25/25/25 (50/50/50 in Victoria)

    That’s all for today, I’ll try to have the wrap-up for Jericho before Thanksgiving (but don’t hold me to that).

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Echo Greystorm (Part 1) - a Reposting 3

    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.

    Elliot Kramer November 13, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Echo Greystorm
    As always, let’s look at the stats. A 6/17/4 Phoenixborn, Echo joins the good company of Rin and Namine. A hair easier to kill, but slightly more resilient to clogged battlefields. Since Echo will himself be clogging battlefields, this is definitely good. I think 6 battlefield is the bare minimum for something like Shield Mage to potentially see play; and Echo has a decent case to try her.

    Increase Gravity
    This ability is awesome. Adding an exhaustion token for a single dice is definitely an aggressive cost for the ability, beating out any comparable cards (e.g. Change Psyche) in the cost of an exhaustion token. I do think that the cost of adding/removing an exhaustion is closer to 1.5 or 1 than it’s current 2 placement, but Echo’s ability still fits within or under that window.

    This ability is going to be brutal against any small battlefield PBs (5 or smaller) and certainly strong against others just for the effect it has on key units. Just because of this ability, Echo will be much more resilient to double-attacks (an attack at the end of the round after clearing followed by an attack with the first player token) than other Phoenixborn.

    Increase Gravity, though, is really hard to judge. My gut wants to place it in a stalling control-deck; something like Southern Dandy. But the ability is more flexible than that and can also help you make more favorable attacks by just giving you increased board control over the course of turns. In fact, putting him into a dandy like shell just seems like it would be worse than Leo in most situations.

    Chaos Gravity
    The new parallel-cost mechanic is really lovely. I love how it allows Echo to be a host for either a Sympathy or Divine (or, of course, both). I hope we see more Phoenixborn with this kind of flexibility in the future – to me it is much more interesting than purely basic Phoenixborn or Phoenixborn tied to a single dice type (or worse, a pair).

    I’ve seen some people comment that this card is essentially 6 dice of effects (2x Change Psyche + Transfer) for 2 dice. This is hardly true — the named cards themselves aren’t really worth the two dice they ask. Chaos Gravity’s pieces also aren’t perfect replicas of of these cards but rather lightly restricted variants. Even if they were, the difficulty of lining up a useful situation for all 3 effects should also be considered a heavy tax. Each of the effects on Chaos Gravity is probably more appropriately costed between 1 and 1.5 dice; bringing it around 1-2 dice below curve (which is about appropriate for a Unique card).

    The good thing about Chaos Gravity is that you can pretty much always find a good situation for one of it’s abilities (in which case it’s fine), usually find a use for two of them (where it’s good), and occasionally find a strongly effective use for all three (when this happens, it can be insane). In order for Echo to crack the upper echelon of Phoenixborn, however, he’s going to need to have Chaos Gravity be insane as often as possible.

    The key to turning Echo into a powerhouse is to effectively be able to use the ‘transfer’ portion of Chaos Gravity. Being able to exhaust 1-2 of your opponent’s powerful units and unexhaust 1-2 of your own can be a massive tempo swing. Doing this on your side of the board is probably the easiest way to do this; all you need is a low value unit to move an exhaustion to (like a Squire or Shield Mage) and two beaters (or otherwise effective units, like an Owl). Transferring onto Shield Mage has the potential to be great; but do note that it means you have to play Shield Mage. Due to Echo’s tendency to give his guys multiple attacks, however, the extra life from Shield Mage may make him worth playing. On your opponent’s side of the board, it will be slightly trickier to arrange a truly sweet transfer effect. The opportunities will come along, however, and simply having that option will be useful.

    Overall
    Echo has some powerful potential due to a well-costed power, a large battlefield, and a high-ceiling unique. However, he will require a lot of work to make work well and the ‘trickiness’ of his play will make him easier than others to disrupt. I expect him to be a mid-tier Phoenixborn, capable of performing well at tournaments with the right player but not dominating any metas anytime soon.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    Echo – 25
    Change Gravity – 25/25/25

    Gravity Training
    Spellboard slots are always hard to dedicate board slots too; the cards have to be good. A spellboard slot is capable of providing you some huge value, either by being a continuous source of good units or some other advantage (like damage from Chant of Revenge). Gravity Training asks a fair amount of you in order for it to provide enough advantage.

    What I like about Gravity Training:
    [[side]]The cost to activate it is flexible
    [[side]]It’s free to put down
    [[side]]1 dice for +1/+1 is a relatively fair cost
    [[side]]It counters Blood Chains

    What I dislike about Gravity Training:
    [[side]]It feels very mediocre
    [[side]]It’s “bonus” doesn’t come into play until the turn after you activate it, each turn (putting you perpetually behind a turn in value)

    What I hate about Gravity Training:
    [[side]]There are only 3 Enhanced Strengths. Ugh.

    Overall, the delayed gratitude of the effect and the limited ceiling (with only 3 conjurations) make me very low on the card. In the future, if we see more effects that allow us to double-exhaust our dudes to great benefit become more prevalent (e.g. attacking with River Skald and exhausting him mid-combat for his effect with Secret Door, dealing out 4 wounds and connecting for another 4), then the stock for this card goes up. As it is, it’s too hard to really make gains from the card for me to love it.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    2/0/0 (WIth only 3 conjurations, excess copies can very easily have no value).

    Summon Raccoon Doge Mirror Spirit (summon mirror spirit
    It’s hard to talk about Mirror Spirit without talking about the art. It’s really a fantastic advancement of technology that Plaid Hat Games is showing off here. What they’ve done is put a real-world mirror into your actual soul. Many of us are good bois, and thus see good little doggies when we look at the card. Others, however, are more sinister. I’ll let you ask your friends to find what other creatures they see when they take a look within.

    As to the actual mechanics of the card, they are one of the more interesting designs we’ve seen on a conjuration. Oddly enough, they remind me of Silver Snakes… on one hand, they can perform the role of a finisher; threatening large attack power to deal massive blows to the opponent. On the other hand, they can slow down your opponent’s own progression (in this case, by exhausting their units as opposed to presenting a large health/recovery blocker).

    My highest hopes for Galaxy Camels come as some sort of surprise finisher for decks. Any deck with sympathy can threaten these out of hand and make your opponent wary of making a large unit like a 5/2 for only 2 dice if they don’t watch what they are doing. During the early game (e.g. as part of the first five), I think these guys are way too slow to be worth playing. But sneaking in at the end? That’s where I can see them earning a spot in a deck. The biggest downside here, though, is that your opponent will always know they could be coming due to the odd effect on your conjuration count.

    There’s a lot that I wish was slightly changed about the Donut pups, though. Two dice for 2 toughness rarely feels good. 3 conjurations is highly limiting. The focus ability inherently clogs your battlefield. With some minor changes, I feel like you could really see them shine. As is, I think they will fall a hair too short.

    Some things that I think are worth trying with the card:
    [[side]]Use Odette to force your opponent to kill off your ‘drained’ mirror spirits (or face retribution)
    [[side]]Combine String Mage and Gilder to stock up status tokens on a large spirit
    [[side]]Use them as a 1-2 of to be drawn into to threaten large damage in the late game.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost
    3/3/3

    Changing Winds
    I really love this card; it’s a powerful effect that warrants its spot on the spellboard but it is also a unique enough effect that not every deck will want it. In the right decks, this card will be a game changer – and yet not every sympathy deck will want this.

    On the round it comes out, Changing Winds will allow you to see as many cards as Sleight of Hand does. For decks that have considered Sleight of Hand in the past (often Focus book decks), this will often seem like a huge upgrade. Not only do you see 3 cards the first turn, but you continue to see extra cards each turn after that.

    On top of that, you are getting a free meditation each turn. Considering that the most powerful focus book cards (Butterfly Monk and Shadow Spirit) are both power hungry, the inherent synergy is just delicious. We will see Victoria and Namine decks Changing the shit out of some winds in the coming months. The card will likely replace Shifting Mist/Magic Syphon in focus book lists, while also filling the role of Abundance in some others.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost
    50/25/25 with same penalties as Shifting Mist

  • Elliot Reviews Ashes – Jericho Kill (Part 2) - A Reposting 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.

    Elliot Kramer November 20, 2017 0
    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Battle Mage
    Battle mage brings with it the third gimmicky viable but not really explosive kill deck, in the vain of Grow Finch (Glow Finch + alterations) and One Punch Man. I call the deck, “Oops, all Refreshes”. The general idea goes like this:
    - Turn One, you start a First Five with something rather innocuous looking like Summon Three Eyed Owl, Summon Gilder, Summon Butterfly Monk, Battle Mage, and… Amplify. You threaten their hand a little, try to kill some dudes, and just prepare for the next round with an Amplified Battle Mage.
    - Round 2, you draw an average of 3-4 Refresh effects and start beating face over and over with your 6-10 attack Battle Mage. With Battle Mage, Refresh/Transfer/Change Psyche/Enlightenment/Chaos Gravity/Flute Mage/Sword of Virtue/Order (dimona odinstar) all cost an effective single dice. And you can easily include 12-15 copies of them. With Amplify, your Battle Mage has a huge recovery to survive to the next round and do it all over again. The deck is fragile as all hell, but man is it fun when it works. Works in Dimona, Odette, or Echo.

    Outside of that gimmick, Battle Mage is actually a really solid ally. An effective 2 dice for a 2/3/1 that can potentially gain you more dice in subsequent rounds is really great value. The card is an auto-include in any decks trying to gain advantage with Lucky Rabbits or Magic Purity, but it’s also totally viable in general. In decks making reasonable use of cards like Chaos Gravity or Sword of Virtue, the ‘one dice refresh’ effect is still a useful trick. Battle Mage is nothing crazy, but it is efficient.

    If your opponent kills the Battle Mage before you attack with it, you generally aren’t super upset. The best thing they can really do is Molten Gold your Battle Mage, which is a trade that isn’t the worst thing in the world for your 3 basics [[basic]]. If they try to Regress it, the Battle Mage still acts as a pseudo-expand energy for you to make use of. In combination with its gimmick potential, Battle Mage is one of my favorite cards in the new releases.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    12/12/12

    Elephant Rider
    Now, this is one sneaky assassin. I had doubts of Jericho’s assassinating abilities, but the Elephant Rider is as sleuthy as they get. I mean, just look at her! You can barely tell she’s even there, what with the elephant blocking your view!

    7 dice is a lot of dice. It’s a whole lot of dice. It’s the kind of dice you spend, feel really satisfied with your awesome threat, and then start to feel really depressed as you watch your opponent do all sorts of things with their seven dice. I think Elephant Rider is a really powerful threat for the dice you put into it; but it’s largest problem lies in how easy it is to stop souped-up voltrons.

    It’s hard to justify First Fiving a card that costs so much and can easily be countered by a Regress or Fade Away, and I don’t think there will be great strategies that do so. Elephant Rider will probably best succeed in decks with small Battlefields (like Maeoni or Lulu) that are trying to put powerful threats in each slot. Drawing into an Elephant Rider in such a deck in the later rounds may prove to be occasionally useful, especially if the meta is such that there aren’t great answers for the card.

    Outside of ‘fair’ uses of the card, the most likely place that I foresee Elephant Rider seeing play is as a combo with Redirect and Living Doll. After pumping up your Living Doll’s toughness with something like Ice Buff + Root Armor, you can send a massive 6 damage to your opponent’s dome by recurring an Elephant Rider and redirecting it to your living doll and on through your opponent’s skull. I’ve had moderate success doing similar with Hammer Knights in the past, but really this sort of strategy is probably relegated to mediocre at best. I’d feel a lot better if the Elephant Rider cost 6.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    2/2/2

    Magical Purity
    I’m really not a fan of this card, and in particular I’m not happy with how a lot of people talk about this card. This card is comparable to Expand Energy – it does not ‘reduce the cost’ of your 3 dice colorless cards. Instead, it’s just a conditional Expand Energy that can only bring back dice (but won’t guarantee to do so). A discount would apply to each copy made in a turn.

    There’s two ways to play this:
    - With a ‘reliable’ conjuration (Seaside Raven or Turtle Guard) that you can make each turn

    - With a large amount of triggering cards you draw into, like Battle Mage or Rayward Knight.

    Let’s start by looking at the second way: I don’t think it’s reliable enough. In particular, in order to reliably trigger this card, you need to include so many 3 drops that your deck becomes unreliable as a result; having clunky draws that you can’t consistently play. A deck looking to benefit from Magical Purity is either going to be bad, or Expand Energy (an already middling card) is going to be better.

    So that leaves us with one viable way of playing Purity: Saria or Turtle Guards (Rhino’s? I’ve never heard of them). In such a deck Purity will act as a pseudo-HP/EE hybrid – bringing you an ‘extra’ dice the turn it comes out in addition to each round after that. The biggest issue, however, is that these dice will often require meditations. The decks that truly benefit from EE like effects, though, want to go long – and meditations are not good for a deck trying to outlast.
    I do think we will see people try to bring Purity into the meta, but it’s gonna take some creative minds to truly make it work.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    0/0/0 (2/2/2 with Seaside Raven or Summon Turtle Guard)

    Spear Master
    This card is pretty pricey for what it does, which is unfortunate. Where I would really want to use a 3 power battle advantage ally is to counter Hammer Knights, Lions, and Bears (oh my) in first fives. Unfortunately, the discard cost makes this a highly deeply unattractive first five option for me. You can pay 4 dice with a Hand Tricks first five, but that is now in the realm of too expensive and less consistent (with the random draw you are now getting).

    However, a discard is definitely cheaper than a dice – discard costs are one of the reasons I was so high on Crescendo. Because of that, Spear Master may be a viable card to draw into after the first five. The problem is that the barrier for a 3+ drop is pretty high, and I’m not sure that Spear Master quite meets that. We haven’t had a super-playable battle advantage unit quite yet; and I don’t think this card is that. Their biggest problem is that after they attack they are as vulnerable as ever.

    The meta and card pool just isn’t ready for this card, and I don’t know if it ever will be.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    1/1/1

    Squire
    The Squire is pretty elegant; I really like mechanically how it works. Rather than costing any extra dice, you de-meditate to gain a benefit.

    In the right decks (decks with large or disposable battlefields), this is my favorite new answer to Three Eyed Owl. Rather than pay a power dice to recur an anchornaut, or pay a basic for a hand tricks, you can de-meditate that power dice to get a 1/1 and ‘discard’ the top card of your deck. If your deck isn’t upset about a Mist Spirit on it’s board, this is slightly better than some already viable anti-owl strategies.

    Outside of Three Eyed Owl, Squire can be useful in focusing books or finding high-impact cards while adding a small point of damage onto the board. The decks that will be trying to do all of the above, though, won’t be all. I foresee this card having the most impact in Jericho, Coal, or Brennen. Outside of that, the 1/1 actually just usually isn’t worth the battlefield slot.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    1/1/1 (9/9/9 in Jericho, Coal, Brennen)

    Hand Tricks
    Here it is, the most ubiquitously great card since Enchanted Violinist. This card should be a 3-of in 95%+ of decks, and I’m here to tell you why!

    The first mistake that people make when looking at Hand Tricks is to start by analyzing it in the context of Return 1. “But you have to mill to return it!” they say. Ignore that part of the card. It is purely gravy. The top card of the card makes it worth playing without ever returning it once.

    In Ashes, like any other card game, there is going to be a difference between the best and worst card in your deck. Games aren’t perfectly balanced, and even if they somehow were, the synergy between cards still makes you want some cards more than others. As a result, it’s almost always better to run the minimum cards possible in a deck, increasing your median card power and increasing your chances of drawing your most impactful cards. Hand Tricks lets you play with 27 cards; and that is almost always a good thing.

    But that’s not it; Hand Tricks doesn’t just let you draw a card for essentially free, it does it for better than free. Hand Tricks lets you do something I call ‘dice shifting’ – changing one color of dice for another. Illusion [[illusion]] is an extremely powerful boogeyman in the meta right now, and being able to gain an extra dice of a type an illusion player is pressuring can be invaluable. If you have 4 Nature [[natural]] dice, being able to spend one of your charm [[charm]] to get back a nature basic [[basic]] (that can later be meditated into a useful nature [[natural]] type) can be critical on turns that you are being pressured. This flexibility is good in pretty much every deck against a dice type that will be in > 50% of matchups you face.

    So Hand Tricks is already amazing, and we haven’t even gotten to the second part of the card. In normal decks, Return 1 is if nothing else an option always available to you. Have an extra dice and trying to hit a win-or-lose card? Return hand tricks and draw a card. Really need to get an extra nature [[natural]] dice, and even willing to spend some non-nature to do it? Return Hand Tricks and convert. Trying to mitigate the damage of a Three-Eyed Owl? Return and protect the cards in your hand that you know are good. But what happens when you put Hand Tricks into a shell that actually has synergy with the amazing card?

    Hand tricks = coal is an unkillable pre-nerf EV

    On top of being an auto-include already, Hand Tricks turns into a gatling gun that can even hit players in Coal. In Jericho, it provides extra magic ammo and is a great first-five card to store face down. In Namine, milling 1 to draw a card is just fine when Encore can return the milled card anyway.

    Overall, I’m happy with the card. Despite being a near auto-include; it’s not oppressive. Nobody ever feels bad because their opponent plays Hand Tricks against them. It simply streamlines decks and in doing so weakens the power of the oppressive wolf dice. So… to wrap it up…Play Hand Tricks. Just play it.

    Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:
    33/33/33 (50/50/50 in Coal or Jericho)

    While this card is an auto-include, it’s power is really revolved around the cards around it. In a cost-based deck building situation, Hand Tricks alone isn’t always worth spending your points on. If costs were based purely on power level, Hand Tricks would be at least 50.

  • New In Game 2

    Hi guys, I'm a spanish player who is starting in the game.
    First, I'm getting all the cards that are printed (I only need 6 decks: James Endersight, Fiona Mercywind, Xander Heartsblood, Echo Greystorm,Jericho Kill and Koji Wolfcub) if someone want to sell them just let me know ... ;)
    I have played Magic TCG, L5R, VS System and many other games but I found this game fresh and something diferent (I love it).
    Now, I´m playing with my gf because here (in Spain) there is not organiced game and I trying to guide my friends to the game.
    I've seen the fan expansions and they look great, well done and very balanced.
    I hope read you here

  • Elliot Reviews - Jericho Kill (part 1) - a reposting 1

    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.

    Elliot Kramer November 14, 2017

    It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

    Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

    Jericho Kill
    Stats! Jericho comes in as a 9/15/4, which immediately brings comparison to Coal. This will not be the first comparison we will see to the defender of Rustwatch.

    I’m of the mind that 15 health is much more defensible than people make it out to be; especially if you’re able to put out a lot of pressure yourself. In combination with Jericho’s ability, I think we will find she is very survivable.

    9 Battlefield is the largest that we’ve seen yet; and if Aradel is any indication it’s practically infinite. Jericho has the room to ignore most effects that would otherwise be concerning for ‘clogging battlefields’ and the power to overwhelm those with smaller battlefields. It’s a very real strength, and an extremely large battlefield is one of the reasons Aradel has herself remained relevant today.

    Build Magic & Re-tool Magic

    Let’s talk in plain terms about how Jericho works, roughly. At her base, she can ‘discard’ up to 1 card per round to deal 1 to a unit or heal herself for 1 at some point during the round. She can do this with 1 additional card for each copy of Prepare on her spellboard. In general, this model usually means less explosive turns than what Coal would see – if you want to deal 3-4 damage a round, you’re going to have to prepare ahead for it (which is tough). It’s also worth pointing out that you can’t ever hit Phoenixborn with this; which could occasionally spell a few extra points of damage when playing Coal.

    On the flipside, her ability to heal with the card means that she can stay out of reach of burn much easier than Coal did. With prepare, she can likely gain tons of health over time. I’m not sure how great this is, though. Coal, for instance, could run Chant of Protection – and with his 5 spellboard do so at little opportunity cost. Jericho can’t as easily do so; as she not only has a smaller Spellboard but an additional slot locked up due to her reliance on Prepare. Chant would give Coal 3 health for 2 cards, and my gut tells me it’s probably about as easy to protect Coal as it is Jericho. Jericho doesn’t need to draw Chant; but Coal doesn’t need to draw Prepare.

    There’s one last little bonus to Jerico’s ability. A popular trick for some players is to discard a First Five Anchornaut (or other ally) in order to draw another card and have a chance to focus some books. Jericho is able to do so and still use that card to deal damage. I’m not a huge fan of the original strategy; but Jericho can essentially FF a card that costs 0 and says “Deal 1 damage to a unit, draw a card.” That’s a pretty good card, and one I’d be happy to play in many circumstances.

    Double Edge

    This is the largest difference between Jericho and Coal so far. Double Edge is a totally different card than OneHundred Blades, and given the importance of One Hundred Blades to Coal’s play style, this is important.

    To start, Double Edge is the best card draw spell in the game, by far. The largest problem with most card draw spells is that they cost dice. Changing Winds, Sleight of Hand, even Abundance – they all cost precious dice. Dice that you really need to make use of all the cards you are drawing. Double Edge can help you focus your books, and when you draw non-book spells (like perhaps Hammer Knight), you can still have the dice left-over to afford them.

    But that’s not it; Double Edge is also flexible – it’s also one of the best burn spells in the game. Capable of dealing 2 unblockable wounds for an astonishing 0 dice to either units or Phoenixborn, the card that can help you set up your board can also help you end your opponent. With Double Edge, you can afford more reach than almost any Phoenixborn on a lethal turn.

    Overall

    Jericho compares directly to Coal, and unlike any pair of Phoenixborn we’ve seen in the past they should often be compared as such.

    Coal’s biggest strength, though, is his ability to devastate an entire board with One Hundred Blades + Mist Typhoon and swing in big as a result. Jericho isn’t going to be able to do that. On the other hand, she will be able to get a little more reach with double edge. She’ll also never succumb to a clogged board; one of the reasons I lost at Gencon 2016 with Coal was because Regress and Blood Chains made it too hard to build a substantial enough board to threaten Leo. Jericho can almost always fit in more beef.

    I like Coal more. But they are close, and they have different strengths where the other has weaknesses. I think Coal will perform slightly better than Jericho at the moment but that doesn’t mean Jericho isn’t a force to be reckoned with. Being comparable to Coal is a huge compliment; Coal is the only Phoenixborn to top 4 both Gencon 2016 and Gencon 2017.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    Jericho – 12
    Double Edge – 25/25/25

    Prepare

    Prepare is nearly unplayable outside of Jericho. I don’t think it’s the absolute worst card in the game outside of her; it draws half a card a turn and it can hide cards from Three-Eyed Owl… but it’s pretty bad. You almost certainly shouldn’t play it outside of Jericho.

    Inside of Jericho, though, it’s almost a necessity. If you aren’t playing Prepare, I just don’t know that Jericho has enough advantages to be worth playing instead of Coal. Prepare offers something that Coal cannot do – Slash from the top of your deck. This is a huge advantage over Coal, and one that Jericho needs to use in order to succeed.

    Prepare also allows for a couple of neat tricks. I don’t think these will be used every game, but they are options that are available to you, and flexibility is good:
    You can store a First Five card and pull it out later with Prepare.
    You can store bad early-game draws for later

    You can pitch an extra card from hand with Prepare to make sure you draw a full hand next round.

    You can draw the cards ‘slashed’ from the top of your deck.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    0/0/0 (12/12/12 in Jericho – It’s an auto-include, but it’s also part of her identity.)

    Summon Turtle Guard

    Let’s get one thing out of the way. “Battle”, as is currently defined by the rules, requires countering. “If the blocking unit counters, both units are now considered to be in battle.” So if Turtle Guard doesn’t counter, it doesn’t get an extra exhaust. This means the card is a little better than it appears on first glance. Being able to block multiple durdles is significant, and for the time being the Turtle Guard can do that.

    Another thing – I don’t think this guys a turtle. He doesn’t actually have his own shell. He’s just a lumpy green dude who probably killed a turtle. This is Summon Lumpy Green Dude.

    Because this unit can guard without blocking indefinitely, it actually makes for a pretty strong wall. It can continue to block weenies from your opponent, and then save its counter for a strike that would kill it. This thing is probably better at guarding than Dread Wraith.

    People will tell you it’s a good Blood Chains target. But 4 dice is a lot of dice to spend to remove a unit from the battlefield, no matter what color you are. Occasionally this will be the right move, but I wouldn’t want this to be my plan A.
    Overall, I think Turtle Guards are worth trying out.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    6/6/6

    Summon Lucky Rabbit

    I really want to like this card. It’s cute as hell, when focused it’s got a great cost. It’s one of the few cards in the game that can actually allow you to get back multiple dice per round. A lot of people advertise cards like Expand Energy or Magic Purity as being magical wonder-cards that make your Rayward Knights cost 2 and your Iron Rhinos 1 cheaper as well. These people are liars! A Rayward Knight that costs 2 the first time a round and 3 the second is not a discounted Knight at all. It’s an extra dice, simple as that.

    Lucky Rabbits, however, can discount your cards. It’s possible for every Lion, every Hammer Knight, every 3+ cost card you make in a round to be discounted. That’s some real advantage that we haven’t really seen before. The problem, though, lies in three places.

    First – the math. With one Rabbit, you’re getting back 0.42 dice per 3-drop. With two, you’re making back .67 dice. If you’re keeping the Rabbits alive, that’s a fifth more than a single dice if you’re able to cast two 3-drops a round. That’s fairly good; but with the variance included – I’m just not sure if it’s good enough to warrant the battlefield slots, spellboard slots, and overall deck design.
    Second – the non-focus cost. These little buns are nothing but trash rabbits until they are focused. At 2 dice, you are paying an exorbitant cost for a ½ that might discount your future cards. You simply have to get the book focused.

    Finally, the battlefield slots. In order for these Rabbits to pull your crops, they’ve got to have a place to sit. These things don’t work on any battlefield size, and that has to be considered.

    But when focused, the Rabbits are great. Not only do they effectively cost 1, but they also color-shift for you, letting you make use of more dice of a color than you’d otherwise be able to (though you’ll have to meditate them, guaranteed). Overall, though, these things are probably just too much of a gimmick to make work in a real environment right now. They are close though, so I hope I’m wrong.

    Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
    3/3/3

  • Recurring widows 2

    Did anyone consider building a deck with Summon Sleeping Widows and Secret Door, adding Essence Druid for recursion?

    If yes, would you have any advise? Or shall I let this idea aside as fast as it came to my mind?

  • Top 5 Most Dominant Decks 2

    Here are my top five most dominant deck over the course of ashes. This is not based on how they would play against each other but how they dominated their meta at the time. I'm going to keep one PB in total. Otherwise the list would likely have multiple Jessa and Victoria. I'm sure there is something obvious I am missing that I may have to fix later.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Southern Dandy Gencon Winning Mill Deck - This Matt B creation was a surprise. The idea was to mill with Owls and Last Request while stalling battlefields with regress and blood chains. Included a lot of burn as well. The most important moment in ashes competitive history was a mill deck winning gencon. Up until that point the meta was mostly burn, Hammer Knights and Bears. This was not shown to be as dominant as the others on the list as its competitive streak was short lived.
    • Magnitude 11 Slam Jam Winner and AIL Top 8 Deck - This Orrick deck used Sonic Swordsman and Hammerknight to make use of efficient trades. Adding in other big units like Bears and Winged Lionesses made defeating this dice efficient deck tough. While its dominant streak was somewhat long, it was held back by a much more dominate build that outshined it later in its era.
    • Fallen Rush - Another smart Matt B creation. This deck featured over meditating allies in your discard pile and summoning rushes of Fallen units. That was combined with Immortal Commander and Meteor. The dominance in this deck was not defined in its success as it was a surprise deck. The dominance was defined but the pure threat of seeing it.
    • One Punch Man - This deck featured Holy Knight combined with double amplify, Maeoni's strike and hypno to win in a single turn. Again, this deck's dominance never showed in its proven success but the fear it has just by being a threat.
    • Brennen Double Butterfly Monk - Brennen burn as a whole was always a threat since he was introduced. The double butterfly build has had the most success. It made a top 8 appearance at gencon by Skyler T and has had other success before and since then. The idea is to use open memories to focus butterfly monk. You then have a great wall to burn over the top. The heal of burning butterfly monks will help you survive until late game. This is mostly a placeholder for Brennen. Brian B also created a very successful double Rabbit build.
    • Big Damage Rin - Ashes Weekend 1st Place - If the mill deck Southern Dandy winning first place was the biggest event in ashes history, ashes weekend and the emergence of The People's Champ Erik R is the second biggest event. Ashes dropped the releases of Brennen and Rin first at this tournament. This made some people believe playtesters had a huge advantage. Erik, a non-playtester, winning was a big deal giving him his nickname. This deck used Bears, Stormwind Snipers and Enchanted Violinist as its main units. Enchanted Violinist pre-nerf was the best card in the history of ashes. It was a free 1/2 unit that could deal 1 damage for a side action, mill and 1 basic. In Rin EV could become a free 2 damage combined with Rin's Fury. This deck was top notch but does not make the top 5 due to a more dominant deck in the era.

    5. Coal - Coal has never won large scale tournament. However since Coal's sudden arrival taking up a large percentage of the slots at the first gencon he has never disappeared. Coal reminds me a bit like a slightly more successful Brennen in this regard. Never had a first place finish at a big event but was always up there. Coal used 100 blades and Mist Typhoon to clear out swarms quickly. Slash was used liberally but not with a draw engine other than 100 Blades and Mist Typhoon. Later on New Ideas became an auto include.
    4. Elephant Meteor/Kneel - AIL Winner - Prior to the introduction of Harold, Elephants had nearly no counter. With Elephant's immunity to Meteor and Kneel it made playing against this deck one of the most frustrating experiences. This deck is what keeps Mag 11 of the top 5. In addition to being such a dominant deck, it was the most widely used deck. Nearly everyone played Elephants. Many thought playing with such a big unit was a lot of fun. This lead to one of my favorite matches to watch. Christian P and Joey C played an Elephant v Elephant game in which they went back and forth charm buffing their Elephants to allow theirs to survive combat. The two most successful builds used Orrick and Astrea. Orrick for pure dice. Astrea for first five nightmares. Astrea back then would include Imperial Ninja/Devotion tricks, MotG/Blood Chains tricks and Elephant. Jason P made this nightmare of an Astrea deck. It was impossible to know which one to prepare for and if you guess wrong you likely lost. If you guess right, you still probably lose.
    3. Ruby's Push Harold - Gencon Winner, Slam Jam Winner - It has competitive history. It has been influential in other decks. The idea is to win trades with efficient units and a strong PB ability while leveraging illusion pressure. This is the most recent of these decks so I won't talk a ton about it.
    2. Vicky Meteor - Slam Jam Winner, AIL Winner - Vicky's illusion was always tough to deal with. She put constant pressure on you to play at her tempo. Traditional you would have to play your units quickly or else you couldn't play them at all. She controlled your tempo she was among the best but she wasn't unbeatable. With the introduction of Meteor she became nearly unbeatable in her meta. You would have 2 options. 1. Slow play and attack your units one at a time. Losing a ton of dice between turns. 2. Hurry and play all your units before all your dice was taken and lose them all to meteor before you could make use of them. There was little options to get around this deck. This surprisingly didn't win gencon. Matt B and Christian P piloted a version of this that lost to Elliot's Namine deck. Note that Namine is not on this list even as an honorable mention. That was just how good Elliot was.
    1. Jessa Base Set - Jessa as a whole could be included. Fear the Bear has had successful versions throughout each meta. Fear the Bear has won multiple Slam Jams though there was some other good decks in its era. Fear the Bear was likely the better deck when Erik's Big Damage Rin won Ashes Weekend. All that said, this isn't about Fear the Bear. This is about Base Set Jessa. Jessa's gap of dominance over the other 5 PBs was the largest gap between best and second best deck in the history of ashes. Add to that this deck had pre-nerf EV to create a damage engine feeding screams of the departed. Interesting note, pre-nerf of EV, ceremonial's dice power was often considered the best. Recurring EV for 1 damage and playing it for free was a top notch play. After the long delay after PHGs being bought out the biggest blow to ashes was the balance of the core set.

  • Hey guys! 5

    Hi all!

    After quite a long hiatus, I've busted my Ashes stuff out again. My 10 year old son enjoys it and we've started playing. I played some on TTS back in the days of the Slam Jam tournaments and some live events. Man I've missed how good this game is!

    What's going on nowadays? Anyone still playing online? Any events? I see a couple custom Time decks which are sweet.

    Basically, just what's going on with Ashes right now???