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Which Ready Spells are not worth playing and why?

So me and my play group did a bit of analysis on the games balance/diversity and specifically looked at ready Spells.
Noteably that you almost always want 2 summons in your deck and this alone leaves very little room for non Summoning Ready Spells.
We came up with 6 Categories (list below) that say a lot about how likely a ready spell is to be put in a deck.
Those Categories were :

  • Direct Damage (that is repeatable Phoenixborn damage that can not be prevented without Vanish etc.)
  • Bypassing (again unpreventable damage but in the form of a Unit attack)
  • Life (something that effectively increases your own life)
  • Ressource Gain (Gives you extra dice, saves you Dice, saves Meditation,draws Cards etc)
  • Unit only Stats/Effects
  • Silver Bullets/Slow Effects (Specific Counter Cards or Cards that have most of their effect in the next round)

Below is a list with all official ready spells in those categories

Most of our actually good decks contained Cards in the first 4 categories while
the last two were mostly considered to be not worth it in general.
From a creative standpoint this is somewhat sad to me and i have 2 questions for you :
1) Do you agree with our categories,
and
2) is it by general design of the game that the last 2 categories seem to underperform ? are they just bad ?

The 'silver Bullet' category in my opinion are in big parts bad cards. Not all of them but for example cut the strings just is not really neseccary or useful for anything.

Unit Stats however seem useful on paper. But in reality i have never really found 'Strengthen' or 'Protect' to be Cards that give my opponent a though time.
Small Sacrifice can be good but mostly with String Mage, where it is even better then Drain Vitality which should be better effect wise (at least on average).

What would need to change for these spells to actually see play ?
Is it that we have too few Ready Spell slots ? (Would you play Strengthen if it also had the effect of protect or a summon on the same card ?)
Are the numbers too small or the costs to expansive ? (would you play a mono colored version of Strengthen, or at the normal costs but when it gives even more attack or maybe even healing ?)
Is the kind of effect just never really good ?

Here is the list :

++Direct Damage++

  • Chant of Revenge
  • Dark Presence
  • Frost Bite

++Bypassing++

  • Hypnotize
  • Chant of Sacrifice (could also be viewed as saving ressources, depending on usage)
  • Law of Fear (only in special situations)
  • Confusion Spores (only in special situations)

++Life++

  • Chant of Protection
  • Law of Repentance (damage part is often avoidable)

++Ressource Gain++
+Dice+

  • Expand Energy
  • Gates Thrown Open
  • Magic Purity
  • Chant of the Dead

+Card Draw and Meditation reduction+

  • Abudance
  • Chainging Winds
  • Law of Assurance
  • Magic Syphon
  • Secret Door
  • Shifting Mists
  • Law of Sight
  • Prepare
  • Augury

++Unit only Stats/Statuses++
(What would need to change for these spells to see (more) play ? )

  • Chained Creations
  • Drain Vitality
  • Empower
  • Gravity Training
  • Guilt Link (damage is preventable)
  • Join the Hunt
  • Protect
  • Royal Charm
  • Sacred Ground
  • Small Sacrifice
  • Strengthen
  • To Shadows (can be viewed as bypassing, but it never forces lethal attacks)
  • Law of Domination (the permanent effect could count as bypassing against Chant of Protection, but you almost never end up killing someone while they have Chant still up)

++Silver Bullets/very slow effects++

  • Blood Transfer (can be viewed as expansive life gain)
  • Cut the Strings
  • Hex Bane (damage part is avoidable)
  • Law of Banishment (the exhaustion part does not fit other categories)
  • Purge
  • Memory Theft (damage is often preventable)

Summons
All the Spells with 'summon' in their name.


Comments

  • Welcome! Sorry I didn't reply sooner - I didn't spot this post. Of your last two categories, there are quite a few cards I think are useful and playable, if a little niche: Chained Creations - powerful effect against high value conjurations
    Empower - good combo with stallions and river skald though still niche
    Gravity Training - good card, defence vs exhaustion decks, useful tricks with Skald
    Guilt Link (damage is preventable) - seems weak, but can also be a sac outlet for certain decks, and might be interesting with Sembali and law of banishment
    Protect - good with some koji builds, vs Aradel, and generally maintaining board presence
    Royal Charm - some interesting play in one-punch decks e.g. hypno+royal charm+amplify+swing, or even Maeoni triggering divine/charm placement with her ability just before damage.
    Sacred Ground - very good vs vicky meteor and other blanket damage decks, plus effective with string mage and deters opponents from big swings into your wall of soacking damage.
    Small Sacrifice - good with string mage, as removal for own units, and exhaust focus is very nice in echo builds

    Strengthen, To Shadows, Join the Hunt are still work in progress for me.

    Of the silver bullets:
    Hex Bane - I play this in brennen, as it is often not too hard to trigger it if people use fire archer, majestic titan, aradel and mirror match brennen abilities etc. and it's helpful to give some longevity against illy decks. 3 chant revenge and 3 hex bane soon adds up.
    Law of Banishment in Noah means two ready spells will be shut down )or one double exhausted) in round 1.
    Purge isn't bad - mill suffered from wasting resources on mill not quite being able to kill fast enough before the opponent won. I think there are other mill tools around now that can supplement or replace purge, making mill faster... we'll see. I've used purge successfully in Orrick and Vicky (extra dice per round)
    Cut the Strings - alteration removal that may see more play with the coming alteration boosts in the time stuff.

    Blood Transfer, Memory Theft do seem quite weak

  • As an avid mill/control deck fan I've wanted purge to be good for so long. Its just not fast enough as Ben mentioned. A slight tweak or two and its very viable but for its cost/speed its more a hindrance than a help.

    Chained creations is an interesting case. Against the right deck it can win you the game...otherwise its far too resource hungry to use regularly.

    I personally think Gravity Training is brilliant, not the flashiest card out there so it goes unnoticed a lot, if you manage to stack two of its buffs though things are getting serious.

    Basically all of that second last category are good in the right circumstance, a few stand outs that aren't. I feel a lot of them belong in the silver bullet category which helps a lot with the mind games of ashes, doubly so given how small local metas can be.

  • I know that most of the cards above have a use case.
    But that alone is not a reason to put a card into a deck.

    During Deck Buidling Players know nothing about the deck of their opponent other than what the encounter on average. And if they want to win, they need to put cards into the deck that are good on average and work without too much support.
    This is why Chant of Sacrifice is a high ranking Card. It is good alone and It is good against most decks.
    Strengthen however is more expensive, needs small Units for which the buff matters.(For example it does mostly not matter if you block a 4 attack Hammer Knight or a 6 attack Hammer Knight - result is the same).

    Sure some Cards like Chained Creations sometimes have good a effects, but the sometimes often evaluates to far less than 50% of all matches.
    And the replacement often could in theory be used to a similar effect making the comparision even worse. (For example against Orchid Dove Chant would probably work better than Chained Creations as it is cheaper. For 2 Life Conjurations Chant is often still just as good as it is easier to activate. The only real pay off are the big targets).

    There is no denying that Damage and Ressource Spells are powerfull. Before Leo, Expand Energy was pretty much obligatory because the extra Mana meant more actions and there was a lack of better options.

    The Question i have is a design one :
    Does Ashes encourage Decks that primarly run 2 Summons, and some damage or Ressource Spell ?
    If so, how would the Numbers or Mechanics have to change to encourage more of the other ready spells.

    Lets assume the average Number of Spell Board Slots is 1 higher than it currently is, then players probably would rather use more summons or damage spells. So how do you encourage the usage of the other spell types through mechanics ?

  • The Question i have is a design one :
    Does Ashes encourage Decks that primarly run 2 Summons, and some damage or Ressource Spell ?
    If so, how would the Numbers or Mechanics have to change to encourage more of the other ready spells.

    Lets assume the average Number of Spell Board Slots is 1 higher than it currently is, then players probably would rather use more summons or damage spells. So how do you encourage the usage of the other spell types through mechanics ?

    Summons are long term efficiency, but allies should have better short term efficiency so there's a tipping point based on the game length. Damage spells are useful as a pivot to finish off an opponent when the board state clogs up, but cards like hypnotise, units with evasion abilities... these are all alternatives that can fulfill that role. Effects like meteor can also reset the board for lethal swings, so there are multiple avenues to pursue. Resource spells are more useful in the long game, as direct damage would be better in the short game, so the ability to control the length of the game seems relevant.

    I see some ready spells getting less use because they seem to be weaker in the meta, but could be stronger. Strengthen, for example, is potentially quite powerful if you can get the damage through to the opponent. The reason a +2 attack buff side action has not competed with chant of revenge +1 direct damage is because of how hard it can be to make sure a unit can swing through, as ready spell conjurations are perfect to clog up the board. Hypno was the common historical option, and 2 side actions (hypno plus strengthen) would rarely work (iron worker?). As we are seeing units with evasion, like majestic titan, exotic gorilla, beast mage, strengthen could become more useful, but given it has Cere/Nature dice types there's a challenge fitting it in.

    In some cases, cards are simply miscosted and will hardly ever be worthwhile at that cost, even taking in account the range of game lengths and meta variations...

    So I'm not really sure how to answer your q. A rebalancing through meta synergy with underused cards can/does happen, as with empower/battle seer/squall stallion/skald. A rebalancing as with project Rebirth could make weaker cards more playable too, but sadly resorts to errata or reprintings. There are niche deck builds that can make good use of underplayed/undervalued cards in the right PB shell.

    A more specific q could be something like listing particular cards and asking about their utility. I already answered you OP, questioning your assessments of some of them. Specific ones could be cited as candidates for project rebirth if they were such a big issue.

    But I'm not sure I'm fully hearing you here. I try to imagine what would encourage less direct damage effects - and usually the answer is units as they attack every round for greater efficiency, then when the board clogs up, that efficiency drops to very little. To sustain the value of units over direct damage, you need to play effects that pressure the board state, remove potential blockers and keep your units attacking through for damage. It seems that there are a lot of potential value changes in Ashes, with context and time and support cards having an impact. I imagine you have an idea about how this could change, but I have yet to understand why that needs to happen as my sense is there isn't a narrow 'best deck' solution, and actually we have a much broader range of potential builds right now. I'm open to Project Phoenix being mindful of some of the weaker/underused cards in their design process, which I think they have been (Jill and alterations for instance), so I anticipate more of that in future?

  • The one thing we probably agree on is that what you call evasion is needed for some effects to be good.
    At that is just bad design in most cases.

    Im currently working on a spin off game to Ashes i want to avoid Cards that nobody is excited about. So Project Phoenix intruducing new Cards is not really an argument for me that helps.
    Also introducing new cards is not always helping.
    Cut the Strings is a hate Card. You can not just keep printing things that it would be good again until it becomes viable, that would need like 20 Cards just for that purpose.
    Body Inversion will probably always be underwhelming because there are not many illusions and printed Unit attacks and printed Unit Life differ only by 1 in most cases. It would already deal 4 damage against a turtle guard and that card was really used a lot but still nobody would use Body Inversion as a counter.
    Strange Copy was also not used when elephant Rider and Astrea were at their peak.

    There are some standard ways to fix a Card if it is too bad. Make it Cheaper, give it more text or make it draw a Card.
    Cards in the Core set usually have short text because they need to be easy to understand.
    Given that as a constraint, what would you change about lets say strengten or any other Card that you think is underpreforming ?
    Bonus Points if you follow the mostly implicite design rules of the game.

  • Given that as a constraint, what would you change about lets say strengten or any other Card that you think is underpreforming ?

    You could give it overkill 1 or overkill 2 on focus 2 effect instead of bonus attack. Or the ability to be blocked by at least two units. Or using focus ability would cost main action and take off one exhasion token from unit you control. I think i like this the most (not sure about it`s ballance though). It is the least complicated of all three and offers effect that you always would want to use ( who doesnt want to attack two times with one creature? ) while giving you sometimes usable ( or even win threatening ) alternative