Hello Ashes Players! Lucas here with a long overdue report from the March 4th pre-constructed tournament in Toronto. First off, I want to give a big shout-out to Scott Baker for organizing the event (and putting a $50.00 gift card up for the prize)! It was a ton of fun for everyone, and after not playing any Ashes as of late, it was a great reminder as to how awesome this game and community is.
Now you’re probably saying, ‘Lucas, enough of the mushy stuff. I want to know what happened!’ Okay, okay, eager reader, let’s get started.
The tournament had 6 players total, and 4 rounds of play. Phoenixborn’s could not be repeated which led to some interesting strategizing as each player tried to predict what their opponent might bring to the table. Here’s the stats for the Phoenixborn’s played that day:
A pretty good spread! The Bird-Man himself didn’t see any play, and neither did any of the non-expansion Phoenixborn. C’est la vie.
So now, if you will indulge me, let’s talk though some of my matches. They were intense: gold stayed molten, spirits were summoned, workers worked iron, and bears roamed with frosted backs. It was quite the day. But first, spooky, spooky dread wraiths. OOoooOOoOOoOoo.
Match 1: Brennan (Lucas) vs. Coal (Scott)
I was admittedly nervous facing Scott first round. Not only had I not played in a while, but Scott also has a long history of kicking my butt in constructed play. I knew this was going to be a bit of a battle. With Brennan’s over-the-top damage and Coal’s 15 life, I felt like I would have to play fast if I was to have a chance. I first fived a Fire Archer, a Chant of the Dead, Summon Dread Wraith, Choke and Regress in case that Hammer Knight came out swinging.
And it did. Scott admitted that this was not the best play (he forgot about the regress) and the game began with my Summon Dread Wraith spell facing off against a non-threatening HK. With the 4-attack held at bay, and a Dread Wraith to soak/block slash damage, it was time for the fire archer to make his appearance.
This match was pretty much the game of Fire Archer poke/spirit burn. Continuously pinging and recurring the archer allowed me to slowly whittle away at Coal’s small health pool. Coupled with chant of the dead, and no Illusion dice in Coal’s pool, I had enough goat-heads to spare. But it got a little hairy near the middle of the match. Scott never used rhino’s and went straight for allies. With Anchornaut ping, Iron Worker and double strengthen, a surprising amount of damage was coming my way. Coupled with protect and chant of revenge, Coal was threatening to bring the hurt. Luckily the wraith could act as a giant sponge, and with the occasional Crimson Bomber and 20 life, I could tank a few more blows than the old man. In the end, my damage was just a little faster and Coal finally fell, but not without taking 16 blood points for himself.
Match 2: Noah (Lucas) vs. Saria (Katie)
This was an interesting match. Without nature dice, I was happy that I wouldn’t have to worry about constantly having my one life units pinged. But the mill was a bit of an issue. I first fived Masked Wolves, Stormwind Sniper (for the Ravens), Sleeping Widows, Summon False Demon and Bring Forth. Probably not the best in hind-sight, but live and learn.
I went first and immediately put out my Summon Masked wolves spell. As Katie put out her Owl Book I took the next turn to summon and ping a quick 2-damage. An owl came out and retaliated taking Bring Forth out of my hand. Slowly we both built our boards. Katie brought out an EV; I brought out a False Demon. Then came the purge, and the abundance, and the hearts pull. The Mill had begun.
While the Mill was annoying, I think the game was still more frustrating for Katie. Even before the match started we talked about what would happen if a raven came out. Summoning a raven meant I summon a sniper and kill said raven. It was a twisted circle of life that happened far too often this game.
As the game progressed, my Stormwinds and wolves and spiders tried to chip away. But Saria had a surprisingly defensive board, especially with the Heart’s Pull and EV combo. It was tough to attack into. Eventually the ravens could come out un-ambushed, and the mill was really starting to pick up.
The definitive turn came just before the final one. After our units had exhausted themselves fighting, Katie was into passing. I luckily had a bound soul and enough dice to summon a sniper after using it. This led to 4 damage going straight into Saria. The next turn, while I took draw damage that put me to 16 wounds, I drew into my final sniper and the ambush came in for the kill. Snipers, you da real MVP.
Match 3: Rin (Lucas) vs. Saria (Bill)
Initially we both picked Aradel, but neither of us really wanted the mirror-match so we decided to just repick. I had never played Rin and he seemed fun. And knowing that I wasn’t picking Aradel, Bill felt more confident going in with Saria. It was another good match.
With Rin’s Fury, Ice Trap, Summon Bears, Summon Golem’s and Frostbite as my FF, I felt pretty good about this. I had bears! What could go wrong? Ravens. That’s what could go wrong. Those silly birds and their battle advantage proved tough for my frosty bears. But with golems, ice buff and the oft-forgotten skin morph, I was able to maintain a pretty imposing board.
The game was back and forth for a while, but inevitably, my golems got out of hand. With 3 buffed golems on the board (and ice-traps, freezing blasts and deep freezes to help control Bill’s board), I was able to swing-in for good damage on more than one occasion. The mill wasn’t as much of a threat this game and the constant ping from my nature dice added another dimension of trouble for the 2-health units on Bill’s side.
In the end, Rin’s icy brawn ended up winning out against the Belle of the Ball. Bill and I were talking post-game and there was a moment where a sympathy pain went on Rin instead of a bear. Had this played out differently, perhaps Bill could have killed one of my units, swung in, and put me into lethal range. Since the match did end with Bill playing a final sympathy (and Bill with the first player token) this could have changed the outcome! Definitely a close one.
Match 4: Maeoni (Lucas) vs. Aradel (Scott)
The final match! I was surprised at my 3-0 day, but excited for the chance to maybe take this thing home! This was the grudge match: the perfect bookend to the first match we played. And just to make things more intense, we were tied for blood points! This meant whoever one this match got to take home the sweet sweet gift card.
You know, I was saving Aradel’s strong pre-con deck for just this moment. But anyone who has played me knows that Maeoni is my go-to girl and she was going to bring it home for me. Hopefully. After seeing that Scott picked Aradel, I was pretty concerned about my chances. Scott plays a mean Aradel.
I thought I was doomed: 3 battlefield vs. 8 meant that I could easily get overwhelmed. But as I first fived my golden veil, snakes, gilders, hypnotize and refresh I got to thinking: there isn’t any choke in Aradel’s deck. I could strike/hypno swing pretty liberally, as long as my dice didn’t get too exhausted.
I luckily went first and was able to plop down my guilder spell hoping to quickly ping the jaguar when it came out. Naturally, Scott responded with his Jaguar book. And perhaps too hastily, I summoned my gilder and the ping went unused. The jaguar came out next and then my snake book. My snake managed to make it onto the board unexhausted as Scott conserved his dice for the cards in his hand.
With the snake on the board, I needed to start feeding it. Luckily, the spirits were around to do just that. Scott summoning 2 spirits allowed me to ping them away and start collecting status tokens for the snake, eventually letting me swing in with Meoni for some initial damage. Scott swung back with his slowly building board (now complete with Monks!), but I tanked with Meoni as much as I could to avoid having my units cleared away.
Originally I was hoping for some Molten Gold to help me along, but unlucky medidation (damn Meoni and her power symbols) meant that I didn’t get any all game. Hypnosis was really the only answer. My strategy wasn’t all that elegant: just build the snake up and swing away. Without access to charm and ceremony, this was pretty effective against Aradel’s huge battlefield.
Scott was in a bit of a bind: killing the guilders meant beefier snakes, and waterblasting the snakes wouldn’t quite work as I was taking most of the damage to Meoni anyways. The snakes were persistent. A deciding moment came when I took an attack on Meoni to block my snake, only to have Scott use Out of the Mist on my big ol’ boa. Luckily, I had the golden veil to keep my beefy snake alive and swing in for another good chunk of damage.
While Scott’s board was on its way to being full, he was in lethal range on my next turn as I managed to roll 3 charm hearts. Forced to mediate away his butterfly monks, Scott healed himself to 11 life. But despite having the extra life, Scott was forced to sacrifice majority of Aradel’s big beautiful conjuration army (5 monks died, may they rest in peace). With Spirits being food for my serpents, and Jaguars not having quite enough damage to kills snakes, things started to turn more in my favor. A steady gaze was refreshed, damage was tanked, and eventually the snakes were able to overwhelm the Lady of the Mists with their hypnotic stare. Good game!
And that concluded my very first tourney win! It was a great day, with great people and really fun matches. If you stuck with me this long, thank you – I tend to be a little longwinded.
A huge shout out to Scott for arranging the tournament with 401games, reaching out to everyone, and putting forward the awesome prize. And thanks to Luke, Bill, Katie and Harrison for coming out and helping make the event happen. The tourney was a great reminder as to why I play this game: an awesome game and an equally awesome community to support it here in Toronto.
Until next time,