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will the phoenix rise from the ashes once more?

I know this isnt a "normal" post for me recently, but big news

https://www.dicebreaker.com/categories/board-game/news/plaid-hat-announces-summoner-wars-second-edition?fbclid=IwAR0AUMeA1FCOGe05z6xJDxpj-06pWAogIXMPkD5um49S6Kp2BmeyzF3qdD0

ashes might be brought back again?!


Comments

  • I really hope ashes will rise again cause i love this game so much

  • I'm really curious what they're planning as "ideas that, if successful, could lead to the revival of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn". Arguably the most pertinent part of the article about Ashes, and a direct quote from Colby Dauch:

    "Ashes has fans that are just rabid for it, but it runs into smallest viable audience issues. I have some ideas about how to solve some of those issues so that we can continue to reach a passionate, but not necessarily large, player base and I've got ideas about how to grow and support the player base for these kinds of games."

    Ashes had four weaknesses that I believe ultimately lead to it getting sidelined by the broader gaming community:

    • Rules are complex for the wrong reasons: Ashes is incredibly easy to get into (very simple, easy-to-teach ruleset particularly compared to LCG competitors at Fantasy Flight Games)...but the ruleset fails to address very low-level mechanics to the point that most of the playerbase still can't make accurate rulings per RAW (and for some edge cases, there is no official ruling using PHG's ruleset). This is a big disincentive for casual players to try and get into higher level play.
    • Organized play: awesome OP kits...but far too few of them printed, and no consistency to their release (and they were never available directly to consumers, so you couldn't run an OP event for your local meta unless you had a store willing to foot the bill; particularly a problem for international fans). It is a crime that so few people got a chance to win the translucent dice in the final OP kit, and War Within was hands down my favorite OP event of any from and LCG that I've ever played.
    • Distribution woes: PHG failed to follow through on promises of expansion release timing until very late in the product's life cycle, and distribution problems plagued the game at key points in its history (for instance: right when the FFG LCG Warhammer 40k: Conquest was canceled and those players were looking for their next game, it was nearly impossible to get anything but the Ashes core set, despite the expansions having been out for months, and PHG was months behind on its promises of deluxe expansions). This led to missing critical opportunities, and losing a lot of potential player's trust before they'd even tried the game.
    • Limited community building: the first-party deck builder was frankly awful, and there was never an easy way to find players outside of Slack (which is an invite-only system with no persistent history). This exacerbated an already small playerbase because it was so hard to find players in your area. Additionally, the silent majority of preconstructed players never had any incentives to try and get into the community, making the playerbase seem even smaller than it actually was.

    I don't know if PHG pays any attention to this site, but if they're going to address those issues here's some things that I think would help:

    • Find a rules lawyer, and get them on payroll or into the playtesting group. If PHG wants to publish card games that are actually board games for playing at home, that's fine. But a complete and exhaustive ruleset is an absolute must if they want to get people playing in their FLGS or support organized play.
    • Keep doing what they were already doing for OP, but make it possible for consumers to purchase the kits and host tournaments. Especially key? Find a way to distribute kits internationally without breaking the bank on shipping!
    • Build tools for the community before releasing the game. Frankly, pretty much no one in the board gaming community does this right. Everyone seems to think they can just rely on third party efforts and BGG, and that only works if you've got a crazy hit on your hands.
    • And unrelated to my downsides above: provide players with a sense of ownership over the game as a whole. They started experimenting with this with the War Within OP events, but ultimately flubbed it. The there's games like the original Legend of the Five Rings that persisted for 20 years because their small player base was so invested in the game (to hear the local players tell it, characters literally lived and died based on player actions).

    In any case, I'll definitely be watching Summoner Wars v2 with interest now that I know it's their proving ground for further Ashes!

  • I think there are some key economical reasons that speak (sadly) against ashes :
    Clearly the Core set was not sold with great profit in mind. The Dice are expansive and the main portion of profit came from the small expansions that only required cards to be printed with color.

    While this is not a problem for people who already own the game, but it is a limiter on who gets interested in the game later in its life cycle.
    You might chose not to get into Ashes once additional dice come out because you as an outside do not know what stuff to by to play the game meaningfully.
    There are posts on this site that demonstrate this and those are only a vocal minority. Most people only read and never post or make an account.

    Say you sell 20.000 Core Games. While those 20.000 buyers might be very interested in the probably very lucrative small box expansions, you wont sell 20.000 of your first expansion wave. In Fact there is a downwards trend.
    Of the first 20.000 players only maybe 18.000 stay for the first expansion and not all of those stay for the second, third or fourth expansion.
    This is why Magic the Gathering, Keyforge and similar Games print Starter Boxes under production value.
    Those Games also avoided as much material as possible other than the cards, so that players feel like they have everything they need from one purchase.
    Plaidhat has to consider this and they have little money to spare.

    To adress what Skaak said :

    Rules are complex for the wrong reasons

    Complexity in this genre mostly comes from reactions outside your turn and those are fairly limited in Ashes. I think a Beginner will not notice most of the problems with the games rules until they engage with the game online.
    You can play with very little understanding of the rules without terribly degenerate gameplay. This is very different to other games in the genre.
    If you missread how reaction timing works in this game, you are mostly fine.
    Try that in MtG and get dunked on.

    Organized play

    I played the game in europe where we had no organized play at all and while it would have very likely helped the game, people bought it anyway - enough to make a profit and enough for sellers to still order the last expansions.

    Limited community building

    The First Party Deck Builder was quite good in my eyes. Why would they make something even more involved ? I did what it needed to do until it stopped being developed. Beginners actually need simplicity. As a marketing measure it only aims at beginners. Advanced players usually can make their fine tune calculations themselfs.

    Distribution woes: Agree.You cant make this kind of Game and then fail to keep up the stream of excitement. The name will forever be remembered as 'might just die at any moment' material.

    Find a rules lawyer, and get them on payroll or into the playtesting group [...]

    In terms of Boardgame rule book qualities they already did an amazing job.
    But they did leave out some branches of the possibility tree. If you want to avoid that hire a mathematician or someone who was a rules lawyer for mtg professionally.
    I think they did not aim for that though. A lot about the games was more in the board game style of things.

    provide players with a sense of ownership over the game as a whole

    This was actually what made me stay with the game after it first pause. The idea that the creators actually listened to the community.

    For me Ashes has 3 core strengths in contrast to similar mage duel games :

    • I get a very solid starting point through the preconstructed decks, which also makes the game easy to teach.
    • The flow of Gameplay : I get 1 Mainaction that actually feels like my main thing on that turn. The opponent gets to do stuff on my turn, but not more that me. It is a very 'fair' i play a card, you play a card kind of style, but allows for some exceptions.
    • The Previews with all the great text and explanation on what you could do and who it was intended to be used.

    My 3 core negatives are :

    • Sparse Release Schedule.Most things were said. It especially sucked not getting something new on Christmas. Maybe that was an EU thing, but is like the golden Rule on toy design. Bring out something new close to Christmas.
    • No Deckboxes, no playmats, no card sleeves, no bling at all. The Boxes the Sympathy and Divine Dice were in do not count. Those are Cardboard filled with cheap plastic. I want something in the style of Ultimate Guard or similar.
    • No way to get Alternate Art or Errata Cards in the EU and the Translation was a bit lacking. Just give me the English Cards.

    I would have bought the Violinist when i bought all the promo phoenixborn from their shop but they did not sell it. (Yeah, i own Orrick and he never gets played :P)

  • Last Post is from me. Friend used my laptop to look up his Deck and did not log out.

  • Complexity in this genre mostly comes from reactions outside your turn and those are fairly limited in Ashes. I think a Beginner will not notice most of the problems with the games rules until they engage with the game online. You can play with very little understanding of the rules without terribly degenerate gameplay. This is very different to other games in the genre. If you missread how reaction timing works in this game, you are mostly fine. Try that in MtG and get dunked on.

    I feel Illusion dice might be the exception to this, if you're new and come up against a meteor Vicky or some other dice hoarding deck, you're going to have a bad time as a newbie.

    I also tend to agree with Skaak about the rules being needlessly complex and with a few gaps. It is easy to pick and learn to play but as you reach higher tiers of competitions some of the interactions are surprising and may not work the way you think they do.

  • I keep going back and forth on the rules. On the one hand, they did a lot of things really well, like making the difference between damage and wounds explicit in the core rules. Many many lesser rules writers of games I have played would have had to put that into their 2nd or 3rd FAQ. They also did a really good job outlining the steps for the basic attack resolutions, and for the round phases outside player turns, which, again, in lesser games can be much much murkier.

    On the other hand, I am slowly starting to appreciate some of the nuances in Raven Rules. Still playing only preconstructed, but the other day my opponent triggered Abundance, drew her cards, and then I played Vanish, cancelling all the effects, which meant my opponent had to put those cards back. Sort of weird. This would not have been a problem if we had declared targets first, paused for the reaction opportunity, and then resumed, but it just doesn’t feel intuitive sometimes, and to do it flawlessly you’d have to have the card pool memorized and pause at every possible reaction opportunity, which maybe is what top players do. This has not been a big deal for me until very recently though. I’m sure players who jump into constructed right away would feel the bumps sooner.

  • It is easy to pick and learn to play but as you reach higher tiers of competitions some of the interactions are surprising and may not work the way you think they do.

    Yes, exactly. The base rulebook is glorious; 10 pages long and it's easy to teach the basics in 5-10 minutes, which is absolutely unheard of for this genre.

    However, the moment you perform your first attack, you start to run into things that simply aren't defined in the core rules (cough DDRP cough). This isn't a big deal if you're playing casually at home (assuming your crowd is easy-going about defining house rules on the fly), but it's a huge problem for organized play because it's very possible to have two equally legitimate interpretations of how to resolve something, with no way to resolve using the rules as written (sadly, if you're playing the PHG rules, this is still the case). Fantasy Flight rules reference books are scary and offputting, but they're comprehensive in a way that Plaid Hat was never able to achieve, thanks in large part to PHG's early approach of "let's define what happens when individual cards interact without generalizing that out into basic mechanics".

    If OP is a big part of your strategy for maintaining a minimum viable player base, then that's a huge problem because it simultaneously discourages the types of people who might buy all-in later in the game as converts from other games and makes it very difficult to convert people from "casual at home" to "more competitive at the FLGS".

    Granted, OP is not the only way that PHG could try to maintain their minimum viable base; it's just the most common, because it kills a lot of birds with one stone if you're able to pull it off (plus lots of prior art). However, the conversion from casual newbie to the game to veteran player who has the ruleset down pat is a very important thing they have to address no matter what, and the ruleset as it stood at the game's cancellation was a pain point that actively worked against people putting in the effort to jump that gap.

    I think they did not aim for that though. A lot about the games was more in the board game style of things.

    This is a big part of the reason it was such a flop for organized play (the other reason being lack of availability and store support--particularly since regular players couldn't obtain OP kits outside of store distribution channels). Why bother playing for prizes for a game where you can't get a consistent ruling? May as well try out whatever the new FFG hotness is...

    The First Party Deck Builder was quite good in my eyes. Why would they make something even more involved ?

    It didn't need fancy features; it needed a basic user experience that didn't suck. You could view a single card at a time. If you wanted to view conjurations for a particular card, it would reset all your filters. You had to name your deck before you had added the first card. You could not save decks unless they were a perfect 30 card legal deck.

    It was pretty simple to use if you knew exactly what you wanted in your deck and just wanted to share it with the world. For virtually any other usecase, it was a train wreck, though.

    When I say they need better community building tools, I mainly mean that they should make it easier to connect players. Tools to find players in your area, or event listings that could be populated by players (instead of requiring a store to write directly to them and notify of an upcoming tournament), integrated discussions of decks, strategy, etc. so that the community doesn't immediately fracture into first party forums, BGG, Slack, Reddit, Discord, Facebook, etc.

    The Dice are expansive and the main portion of profit came from the small expansions that only required cards to be printed with color.

    Yeah, this sums up Ashe's core problem, I suspect. PHG's challenge is how to get people buying consistently without making it prohibitively expensive for new players to get into the game, which is a tricky issue that no one has really solved yet (MtG notwithstanding, but straight imitation of that rarely leads anywhere).

    I'm super curious what direction Plaid Hat will go. One of the reasons I like them a lot is that they've always had a handle on the casual market (which despite all my yammering on about OP and strict rulesets is where I usually fall), are generally good at making games that are fun (even if they have trouble continuing development on them past a normal board game's life cycle), and have a player-first mentality that's incredibly refreshing after FFG's "buy three cores and like it" approach to card games.

    I'm not sure if all of that is conducive to supporting a game like Ashes long-term, but they clearly love the two player tactical card gaming space so I hope they find an equation that works for them!

  • Still playing only preconstructed, but the other day my opponent triggered Abundance, drew her cards, and then I played Vanish, cancelling all the effects, which meant my opponent had to put those cards back. Sort of weird. This would not have been a problem if we had declared targets first, paused for the reaction opportunity, and then resumed, but it just doesn’t feel intuitive sometimes, and to do it flawlessly you’d have to have the card pool memorized and pause at every possible reaction opportunity, which maybe is what top players do.

    This sort of thing happens to everybody (it was super prevalent under PHG's rules for a few cards, too, because the targeting instructions would be embedded deep in the card text, and people's natural inclination is to resolve things as they say them).

    Typically speaking, you don't need to memorize every possible reaction trigger. Instead, just try to make a habit of stating your intent for an action as a whole, pausing to take a look at your opponent to see if they want to screw with you, and then actually changing the state of the game components on the table.

    Generally you only need to get more granular if you're dealing damage to multiple units. Receiving damage is far and away the most common trigger for shenanigans.

    Also, you can't play Vanish in response to Abundance because Abundance doesn't target. ;-)

  • Also, you can't play Vanish in response to Abundance because Abundance doesn't target. ;-)

    Oh boy. My fan creation contribution will be a new dice type called ”embarrassment magic”.

  • Skaak#1st! [...] I'm not sure if all of that is conducive to supporting a game like Ashes long-term, but they clearly love the two player tactical card gaming space so I hope they find an equation that works for them!

    Here Plaidhat wrote that in 2015 the game sold 18.000 copies.
    Lets for simplicities sake assume that each core set correspondes to a Person because you only need 1 core box per player.
    Of those 18.000 People that started with the Game not even 200 have more than 10 posts or so on this site. I don't know how many are active on slack or in the tournaments on Table Top Sim but i would be very suprised to hear that there are more than 200 People.
    That would be a rate of less than 1 in 90. Of course other Games have low rates of conversion too, but not that low.

    I think it fair to say that most players of the game only engaged casually with the Game, never trying more than the Pre Constructed Decks or only getting mildly into deckbuilding.
    I cant get any numbers on the online Deck Browser from Plaidhat, but i looked it up in the past once and it had below 2000 total Decks. I usually read this as 'Ashes is a casual Game'.

    From that Perspective the Rule Book and the FAQ were mostly sufficient.
    Just for Comparission :
    The Rules for Fantasy Flights Legend of the Five Rings are 26 Pages for Basic Rules and 34 Pages in what is called the 'Rules Reference', which covers Rules a Beginner would not need. And that is still not all of the Rules the Game has.

    That is not just a lot of Text, it is a Mountain of Work to make.

    And Ultimately MTG somehow manages to lure people into the game while giving them less then 1 Page of Rules written in Big Letters with Artwork in between.

    So Both Angles can work,those games are successfull ,and i think Ashes struck a good middle ground.
    But i think they tried too much with the Organized Play. That stuff needs a real PR machinery behind it.