Ashes 500 Cost Adjustments – April 2017

Ashes 500 is a format to play Ashes, you can read more about the format here.

The Adjustments

* This card is also subject to a new penalty

Card Name Old Value New Value
Summon Gilder 75/12/12 80/25/25
Summon Three-Eyed Owl 75/12/12 80/12/12
Rin’s Fury 33/33/50 33/33/33
Lulu Firststone 25 12
Coal 25 12
Blood Chains * 33/33/33 25/25/25
Redirect 12/12/12 9/9/9
Summon Shadow Hound * 8/8/8 2/2/2
Abundance * 6/6/6 2/2/2
Sleight of Hand 6/6/6 12/6/6
Frost Bite 3/3/3 3/6/6
Bound Soul 1/1/1 2/2/2
Summon Mist Spirit 1/1/1 2/2/2
Figures In The Fog 1/1/1 0/0/0
Blood Transfer 1/1/1 0/0/0
Bring Forth 1/1/1 0/0/0
Memory Theft 1/1/1 0/0/0
To Shadows 1/1/1 0/0/0
Summon Iron Rhino 1/1/1 1/0/0
Summon Nightshade Swallow 1/1/1 1/0/0

 

In addition to the above changes, there are the following new penalties:

  • 8 Points: Each copy of Blood Chains in decks with Leo Sunshadow
  • 25 Points: Decks with both Victoria and Summon Shadow Hound
  • 25 Points: Decks with both Abundance and Illusionary Cycle

Explanation of Changes

Gilder and Owl

Gilder and Owl were the two most popular conjurations. In Gilder’s case, the card performed far above expectations, and part of that is because the 2nd and 3rd copies were so cheap to include once you had the first. Even the first copy felt underpriced. In the Owl’s case, despite being popular, it performed only right about at expectations (but not enough to be statistically significant). A very modest price increase is included to encourage diversity and temper what is felt to be a slightly undercosted card.

Rin’s Fury

While Rin was popular, he was not successful. Graduated costs are not something I want arbitrarily, and in this case the cost increase felt unnecessary. Rin’s Fury is a great card, but the third copy doesn’t give you an increased level of consistency to the level of something like Illusionary Cycle. I want people to be able to play Rin for one of the reasons they want to – his unique; and many people felt they had to skimp out.

Lulu and Coal

Both of these Phoenixborn were costed at a level that was not fair with their base stats and abilities. While both of these have powerful uniques, those uniques are well-costed and their Phoenixborn card alone was not on the same tier as other 25-point PBs.

Blood Chains

Blood Chains was overcosted, and part of that was it’s synergy with the Glow Finch. Because of this, the card was widely avoided. I want chains to be an option for players, and moving it to 25 with the penalty should make it viable for both non-Leo and Leo players alike. Leo’s will continue to pay the same cost that they used too.

Redirect

Redirect was very popular, but despite being in one top-4 deck, significantly underperformed. The lower frequency of burn decks, combined with a general weakness of Charm to be able to hold up reactions raised the perceived value of the card. I’m making the card slightly cheaper but hopefully not so cheap that every charm deck tries to include it. It’s not as good in the format as it looks.

Summon Shadow Hound and Abundance

Both of these cards were very often seen only in Victoria decks. While people sometimes tried to experiment with the cards outside of Victoria, the cards are significantly more lackluster. Shadow Hounds with Victoria’s ability to maintain a dice advantage (including class/power) were slightly undercosted. Abundance, in combination with Illusionary Cycle, is a significantly more powerful card than without – the late-game consistency and advantage that it gives you is too great. Overall, Hounds and Abundance will now be available to other strategies at a more reasonable price, and Vicky will have to pay 4/18 more than she used to (respectively) for playsets of the cards.

Sleight of Hand

The first copy of Sleight of Hand is much more powerful than the second and third, and it’s common use as a first five card warranted a slightly higher cost for that copy.

Frost Bite

Frost Bite was a very powerful card that also slightly overperformed. This cost increase is, again, moderate – but hopefully helps to keep it consistent with other options. People were shoehorning it in too often simply because the cost was too great value.

Bound Soul and Mist Spirit

I want to help distinguish some of the previous 1-costing cards into more layers. Many cards went down in price, but Bound Soul and Mist Spirit were a popular cards that were also performing well.

Figures, Blood Transfer, Bring Forth, Memory Theft, To Shadows, Rhino, and Swallow

Again, in an effort to distinguish more layers of cards, I am now introducing some cards that are free to play. These cards are overcosted Ashes cards. While some of these cards have seen serious attempts of use (Memory Theft, Blood Transfer), the data overwhelmingly shows that player’s are much more likely to be harming themselves than helping themselves by including these cards. Because Memory Theft and Blood Transfer rely on taking a Spellboard slot, I feel more comfortable slotting them here despite the aforementioned attempts by serious players to play them. You can’t just cast a Memory Theft – you are going to have to allocate the board slot for it as well.

Iron Rhino and Swallows notably still have an upfront cost of 1. I don’t want adding to your conjuration pile to be free.

The Philosophy of Penalties

Originally, there was just a single penalty in the 500 list: Shifting Mist when combined with either Summon Butterfly Monk or Summon Shadow Spirit. In this release, however, a few more or being added. It is very clear to me that penalties are not something that should be added lightly:

  • They inherently increase the complexity of the price list
  • They make it harder to figure out prices in your head
  • They scare away new players to the format

Still, however, I find them an immensely useful tool, and the following benefits outweigh the cons enough that I think they should remain and continue to be used when necessary.

They allow things to be costed things cheaper

A common misconception is that if we didn’t have penalties, that Shifting Mist or the Focus conjurations would remain at the same price. This is not true, and the costing of cards is separate from the use of penalties. If the appropriate price for running 1 Shifting Mist with 3 Summon Butterfly Monks is 182, then the costs are either going to have something like Shifting Mist at 82, or there is going to be a penalty. I’d rather Shifting be cheaper for most users.

Penalties aren’t just something added in arbitrarily. They are shifting the cost of powerful combos into just those powerful combos, instead of making the cards individually more expensive.

They allow for more unconventional strategies

Abundance and Shadow Hounds are both cards (especially the latter) that are played (and even more so, succeed) predominantly in Victoria. Inside of Victoria decks, they are clearly good cards that have shown success. Outside of Victoria, there are interesting strategies that could be tried given a lower price point. However, without penalties, the cards have to be costed for how good they are inside of Victoria – which makes them overpriced for everybody else. Cheaper costs mean more decks can experiment with cards they wouldn’t otherwise be able to play.

If “penalties” are included into the costs of cards, instead of applied to the combos, then the only playable use of the cards becomes the combos. Everything else is defacto overpriced – even if people play it, it’s inherently inefficient. A lack of penalties means a lack of deck diversity, and a goal of 500 is for as many unique decks being viable as possible.

Controls on penalties

Despite all of that, I still agree that penalties should be used sparingly. Because of this, I’m never going to include a penalty that is less than a reasonable threshold (right now, I’m thinking less than 20 – but this is subject to change. Please be patient). This means that you are not going to see a penalty on Rin + Ice Golem for 5 points, or Body Inversion + Shadow Hound for 8 points. If those “combos” need price increases, they will be priced into the cards themselves. Yes, this does mean that some of those cards (e.g. Ice Golem) may be slightly more expensive than they should be in new decks, but I believe this is necessary to maintain control on complexity creep of the format.

A Final Note

Please note that while top performing decks did tend to get hit more by adjustments, I do not have it out for anyone or any particular decks. My own deck that I played at the Slam Jam is seeing the highest price increase of any deck. Some cards did well and I believe they need an adjustment; my hope is that people find these prices fair and reasonable.

In the future, I do not expect quite as many adjustments as this without an expansion release. However, because we got to see so many games and hear so many thoughts since the original price list, it seemed appropriate to correct as many things as possible. Ashes 500 is definitely a deckbuilder’s format, so while I expect that most players will be looking to play new decks regardless of changes, I don’t want to force changes by having changes too frequent or too cumbersome.

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