Elliot Reviews Ashes – Shatter Pulse, Guilt Link, String Mage

It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own weekly personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed throughout week. Where many people may give a grade system from A-F, or 1.0 – 5.0, I’m instead going to be summing up each review with a prediction of where I think the Ashes 500 costs will eventually land. This gives a meaningful metric for how good I think the card is now, as well as provides a personal retrospective grade down the line to see how close I was to how powerful the card truly was in the meta. You can read more about and see the current 500 prices here.

Please keep in mind that I am looking at things from a competitive meta perspective.

Shatter Pulseashes_3_pulse

Shatter Pulse is probably about half a dice too expensive.  People are happy to pay two dice to handle a unit – Regress let’s you answer a small subset, Molten Gold let’s you answer a subset… Shatter Pulse let’s you answer *them all*, and get a bonus on top of it.  Destroying that cleanly costs about 2 as a Phoenixborn Unique in Sword of Virtue, so it’s reasonable that outside of a unique it costs around 1 more.

However, that extra dice turns out to be a lot. There are very few things this even trades evenly with, and more often not than you’d like there will be nothing on the other side of the board worth paying the cost to Pulse.  Pulse may see some play, but I think it’s just too expensive to be consistent enough.  The double Sympathy in the cost does not help.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

1/1/1

Guilt Linkashes_3_guilt

The immediate comparison for Guilt Link is Chant of Revenge, a very powerful card that has seen play in all metas since it’s release.  The conditionality of Guilt Link will ensure that Link is never as powerful of a card as Chant, but I do think it has the ability to be powerful in it’s own right.

Effects that give your opponent a choice are historically, in card games, very often on the weaker side.  When you really need one option of a card, it’s killer to have your opponent be able to blockade the card and never allow that option to take effect.  Guilt Link is no different, but in terms of Ashes cards the options are closer on the spectrum to Anguish than to something like Memory theft.  Often, I think, you will be able to trigger Guilt Link in a way that provides your opponent with a lose-lose situation.

Early on, I think, you have to use Guilt Link to gain board control. Every single trigger of it must target an opposing unit.  In this way, you force the opponent to sacrifice board position no matter what they choose.  Combined with other unit damaging effects, and you can ensure the wound from the link alone is capable of eliminating units.  If your opponent hits you with a Shadow Spirit round one, it’s an awesome board gain to be able to kill that spirit dead no matter what option they take.  This is something Chant of Revenge can’t offer – in some way you have to sacrifice board positions in order to use it; chant of revenge let’s you trade life for control. In combination with cards like Heal, you may be able to make a lot of trades.

If you ever lose board control in a Guilt Link deck, the card is never going to help you go over the top.  Unlike Chant of Revenge, the opponent can always sacrifice the weakest part of their board to stay alive.  This reach that Chant of Revenge provides is a huge part of why it is so good; as a game comes to it’s end, Chant provides inevitability your opponent cannot escape. It’s this lack of reach that makes me question the link.  There are some unit compositions that your opponent will have that make Guilt Link just not worth the card.  In those matchups, Guilt Link is just too narrow.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

3/3/3

String Mageashes_3_string

Alright, some people may not agree with me – it’s a strong statement… but I think this is probably one of the two strongest Allies in the game.  String Mage has the ability to take over games when abused, and has extremely reasonable defensive stats to back it up in normal use. I’m very high on String Mage, and time will tell if it can show it’s strength.

A 1/3/2 unit for 2 is a great deal, and it blocks very well. Not only is it difficult to kill without spending equal resources, it can be brought back with a Ceremonial dice power for minimal pain.  Any blows that don’t kill it it doesn’t only shrug off, it throws back at your opponents side of the board. If your opponent isn’t prepared to deal with it, the String Mage can be both a brick wall and a typhoon.

It combos with Small Sacrifice to turn the card into a spellboard-based Water Blast.  It steals Iron Worker tokens and shrinks Snakes.  It heals your units on the brink of death.  It foils your opponents plans to kill off their beautiful Blood Puppets (why are they trying to kill them?!  They were a gift!). It gives your opponent very difficult choices in how to attack with their weenies against Odette.  It has so many flexible uses and ability to win an attrition war, and dice-wise it’s very well costed for all of them.

The only strike I have against the card is the double Sympathy.  Double-colored costs on units have proven to be a real hamstring on otherwise powerful units. With the Sympathy dice power being on the weaker side of dice powers (no board impact), this may be highlighted for String Mage.  He wants to be in a deck playing a reasonable amount of Sympathy dice, no less than 3 but probably at least 4.  The only thing keeping this card between a cost of 50 or higher is changing a class to a basic.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

33/33/33

1 Comment


  1. Very interesting I enjoy reading your reviews. Let’s some of us who don’t have a local player base really get a feel for the competitive side of the game. I got thinking… I wonder what the Ashes design space would have been like if they had used D8’s. Ignore the logistics of dice easily changing faces but it would have given them more room to cost cards like shatter pulse more closely.

    Reply

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