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my rankings of the card pools

Hello everyone. With the release of Fiona and James, we have completed this cycle of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn (and sadly, I have now found out, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is now just done ☹), and the various card pool are now complete. with that fact in mind, I decided I would give my rankings to all the cards pool in a very similar fashion to albino_penguin#09hg’s article here. all originality goes to him for this post, I’m just jumping on the band wagon (if you can even call it that). I also decided to have the self-imposed rule that no two card pools can have the same score.

The way I decided what cards belonged in what pool was using the card browsing feature on so cards with alternate costs (like raptor herder) will be listed twice (in this case, sympathy and nature) but cards like hunt master (costing nature AND sympathy) won’t appear at all (however, if people want me to I can do a write up of all the cards I didn’t talk about in this post). I want to note that everything in this post is entirely my opinion, and I am open to discussions in the comments (half the reason I am making his post). I do not claim all knowingness or a perfect knowledge of the game.

If you notice any formatting errors, please let me know so I can fix them (i.e. if I misspelt raptor herder as rapter herder which would mean the hyperlink wouldn’t work)

Also haven’t been playing the game nearly as long as a lot of people, so any references I make about the past state of the game comes entirely from articles on the strange copy website and from conversations with people a lot more experienced than I am (essentially, I’m giving myself a get out of jail free card here).

Also also, I have used some ashes vernacular in this post which assumes you have a basic knowledge of some of the more meta defining decks and other ideas in ashes. If you don’t understand anything, ask in the comments. I’m sure either myself or someone else would be happy to answer your query.
One last thing (I promise), come join the slack channel! A lot of my thoughts were heavily influenced by the conversations had on there, and I wouldn’t have been able to make this without them.

That being said, lets start making arguments! :D

sympathy card pool
sympathy pre-constructed decks: namine hymntide, echo greystorm, koji wolfcub, Harold westraven, rimea careworn and Fiona mercywind
beast mage
beast warrior
essence druid
Flute mage
jungle warrior
polarity mage
raptor herder
river skald
string mage
action spells
new ideas
seeds of aggression
shared sorrow
transmute magic
reaction spells
shatter pulse
alteration spells
mark of the red flower
ready spells
changing winds
dark presence
drain vitality
gravity training
guilt link
hex bane
join the hunt
magic syphon
summon spells
summon mirror spirit (mirror spirit)
summon nightsong cricket (nightsong cricket)
summon salamander monk (salamander monk, salamander monk spirit)
summon squall stallion (squall stallion)

My thoughts: the sympathy magic is very similar to charm. Both are much more passive styles that aim for a battlefield advantage. Fiona is particularly good at this (no surprises), with cards like summon nightsong cricket being a perfect example. Gain one advantage (either card draw or (more often) an unexhausted ready spell) and, with a small cost, gain another advantage (a new ready spell). Its these small interactions that sympathy is all about. I rank the dice power fifth.

divine card pool
divine pre-constructed decks: Odette diamondcrest, echo greystorm, astrea, sembali grimtongue, xander heartsblood and james endersight.
celestial knight
holy knight
immortal commander
polarity mage
shepherd of lost souls
shield mage
sun sister
action spells
rally the troops
reaction spells
divine is the only card pool that doesn’t have any reaction spells.
Alteration spells
holy relics
power through
ready spells
gravity training
law of assurance
law of banishment
law of domination
law of fear
law of repentance
law of sight
royal charm
sacred ground
summon spells
summon admonisher (admonisher)
summon emperor lion (emperor lion)
summon light bringer (light bringer, infatuated)
summon winged lioness (winged lioness)
My thoughts: the divine cards are very much a tempo/agro lot. Cards like shield mage, immortal commander and the emperor lions healing aura all make your holy knight a lot more menacing. The divine cards also lay down the law (see what I did there?) and limit your opponent’s options in a very different way to illusion. While illusion magic takes away resources, the divine cards simply force you opponent to spend those resources in ways that they don’t want. ‘You wish to feed your hungry wolves with my lions? My apologies, but I shall write a law, assuring me that I will be able to use all of my dice.’ Holy knight is still a good wincon, and one punch decks in particular can be devastating if your opponent isn’t expecting it. Dice power is terrible though, I rank it sixth.

charm cards
charm pre-constructed decks: jessa na ni, maeoni viper, saria guideman, leo sunshadow, astrea and Fiona mercywind.
beast tamer
imperial ninja
action spells
change psyche
mind probe
open memories
seeds of aggression
reaction spells
call to action
cognitive dissonance
sympathy pain
alteration spells
undying heart
ready spells
confusion spores
memory theft
royal charm
summon spells
summon majestic titan (majestic titan)
summon mind fog owl (mind fog owl)
summon nightshade swallow (nightshade swallow)
summon orchid dove (orchid dove)
summon three eyed owl (three eyed owl)
summon weeping spirit (weeping spirit)
My thoughts: I will be honest, I don’t tend to use charm that much. I am a very agro player, and charm has a very slow and controlled style. However, I have been smacked about the head with a few control decks, so I like to think I have some idea about what I’m talking about. Generally slowing the game down and prioritizing control seems to be the way to play charm. The wincon I tend to see is mill, especially with the introduction of cognitive dissonance. However, I think it is worth noting that I most often see charm as support in decks, not as the primary colour. The die power comes in fourth in my rankings.


Ceremonial cards
Ceremonial pre-constructed decks: coal roarkwin, jessa na ni, noah redmoon, brennan blackcloud, Harold westraven and james endersight.
crimson bomber
fire archer
leech warrior
psychic vampire
rising horde (fallen)
action spells
blood chains
bound soul
dark reaping
reclaim soul
reaction spells
adrenaline rush
final cry
summon sleeping widows (sleeping widow)
alteration spells
bring forth
ready spells
chant of revenge
chant of the dead
cut the strings
drain vitality
expand energy
small sacrifice
summon spells
summon blood puppet (blood puppet)
summon dread wreath (dread wraith)
summon fallen (fallen)

My thoughts: Ok, I admit. Ceremonial is my favourite card pool. Brenan was the first phoenixborn I played, and the first one I took to a tournament (never mind I finished dead last). This card pool has a lot of synergy. It mostly just boils down to ‘destroy unit. Trigger a load of damage. Get some dice. Shut down opponents’ units. Get some more units for yourself. Win the game.’ This has always been one of the most aggressive card pools out there, and the expansions have only strengthened that position. They tend to be very quick in the first round or two of the game and then slow down and burn the final points of damage to win the game. the dice power comes third in my rankings.

illusion card pool
illusion pre-constructed decks: aradel summerguard, noah redmoon, saria guideman, Victoria glassfire, sembali grimtongue and rimea careworn.
flash archer
rose fire dancer
shadow guard
action spells
hidden power
sleight of hand
steady gaze
strange copy
summon spectral assassin (spectral assassin))
reaction spells angelic rescue
figures in the fog
shadow counter
alteration spells
body inversion
fade away
reflections in the water
ready spells
gates thrown open
secret door
shifting mist
to shadows
summon spells
summon ancestor spirit (ancestor spirit)
summon false demon (false demon)
summon mist spirit (mist spirit)
summon shadow hound (shadow hound)
summon shadow spirit (shadow spirit)

my thoughts: ah illusion. The dice everyone loves to hate (only when facing though). The illusion card pool has always had a strong showing, and Vicky absolutely dominated the meta for a while. Some highlights from here includes shadow spirits and hidden power. Another control card pool, it also has a heavy focus on powerful things that are easily interrupted (the illusion ability anyone?). this card pool is possible the one that is most all over the place when it comes to power levels, having cards like hidden power, but also having cards like figures in the fog. Die power is first in my rankings.

natural card pool
natural pre-constructed decks: aradel summerguard, coal roarkwin, maeoni viper, rin northfell, koji wolcub and xander heartsblood
frost fang
raptor herder
sleeping bear
action spells
freezing blast
molten gold
natures wrath
reaction spells
ice trap
alteration spells
crystal shield
deep freeze
frozen crown
mark of the red flower
massive growth
root armour
spiked armour
ready spells
frost bite
summon spells
summon biter (biter)
summon butterfly monk (butterfly monk)
summon frostback bear (frostback bear)
summon ice golem (ice golom)
summon iron rhino (ice golom)

My thoughts: when it comes to raw power, you can’t beat natural magic. frostback bears and ice trap were meta shifting and butterfly monks have had a good showing since release. Not particularly subtle, but who needs a scalpel when you can throw a bear on a dinosaur at someone? Nature magic tends to just steam roll (as shown off in BDR), and when steam rolling isn’t quite good enough to finish the game, molten gold has been a favoured finishing card for many decks. It still has the award for most alterations no one wants to use. I would rank the die power second.

and, just for funsies, I decided to put all of the colourless cards together and give my judgment on them.

Basic Card Pool
Basic pre constructed deck: Jericho kill

battle mage
elephant rider
enchanted violinist
iron worker
spear master
temple elder

Action spells:
call upon the realms
hand tricks
Mass heal

Reaction spells:
particle shield

Alteration spells
There aren’t any (non-loyal) alterations that cost basics.
Ready spells:
Chant of protection
Magic purity

Summon spells
summon lucky rabbit (lucky rabbit)
summon turtle guard (turtle guard)

My thoughts: the basic card pool is interesting, in that all of these cards can be used in any deck. This can be both a blessing and a curse. They are great because I love anchornauts (as many people do), but they can also feel slightly over costed (as in number of dice) because of how versatile they can be. That being said, cards like particle shield, turtle guards and elephant riders are still very influential in the meta. I hate the dice power though :p

And that is my thoughts, feelings and beliefs on all of the officially supported cards in Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. If you are still reading this, a. what on earth are you doing? The torture is over, you can stop now, but b. thank you for sticking with it until the end. I hope you at least found it mildly interesting! Looking forward to a whole lotta discussion (I hope!)


  • Basic Card Pool
    [...] I hate the dice power though :p

    Yeah that freaky neutral dice power.

    On Sympathy :
    Sympathy has a Swarm style built into the color philosophy with Beast Warrior,Join the Hunt, Salamander Monk and even Squall Stallion.
    It also makes sense to play 1-cost Allies with a lot of Card draw which is also part of Sympathies Color Mechanics.
    I Agree that Sympathy is not the strongest Color on Average, but it is my favorite one despite the very slow dice power.
    Sure i like the control cards but what it does for me thematically is that Sympathy is kind of the "support-color".
    If you look at color mechanics of other colors Sympathy is always the color which kind of breaks the rule for the usual built in weaknesses - at least design wise.

    • Natural : Does not have big (3/3) allies without restrictions. Exception is Hunt Master
    • Ceremonial : Does not have Conjurations with non-minor (at least dice-cost) attack value. Exception is Vampire Bat Swarm
    • Illusion : No Allies with non-minor Health. Exception is Battle Seer
    • Charm : Charm has no Big (3-cost with about 3/3 stats) Summons without restriction. Exception is Majestic Titan
    • Divine : Has no small Allies that actually fight. Exception is Light Swordsman

    All of these have somewhat reduced stats but provide something the color usually does not have but would want while being somewhat compatible with your dice pool.

    Of course there are other Rules where Sympathy does not jump into the Gap as the supporter, like Divine not having it's own Reaction Spells but one could argue that Gravity Training is a little like that.

    That plus the fact that all parallel costed cards support Sympathy makes it so that i just like building decks with the color.
    My favorit example of it is the following deck where for 15 of the cards, each such card has at least 6 dice with which you can pay for it even though the deck uses literally every color :
    [[Rainbow Namine ]]
    The Dice power is 'meh' a lot of the time, but as a saving grace it does trigger River Skald and if the match up is so slow that stale mates exist (i know - not too common) than it is actually what wins you the game because you can filter for the cards you need.
    And if you do mostly play 3-cost Allies you actually have that 10th dice sitting around for the filter a lot more often. (Which is good and bad).

    What i also like to be able to do is to build my LF (Last 5) by putting cards under the deck and then meditating all the cards above for what is essentially an over engineered finale.

  • Thanks for pointing out the swarm nature of sympathy dice. I had just completely missed that idea. Building the L5 is also a cool idea!

    Natural : Does not have big (3/3) allies without restrictions. Exception is Hunt Master
    Ceremonial : Does not have Conjurations with non-minor (at least dice-cost) attack value. Exception is Vampire Bat Swarm
    Illusion : No Allies with non-minor Health. Exception is Battle Seer
    Charm : Charm has no Big (3-cost with about 3/3 stats) Summons without restriction. Exception is Majestic Titan
    Divine : Has no small Allies that actually fight. Exception is Light Swordsman

    I would disagree that sympathy is the only colour to break these 'rules', but it does do it the consistently.