Elliot Reviews Ashes – Jericho Kill (Part 1)

It’s spoiler season! As part of the celebration, I’m going to be posting my own personal thoughts and reviews of all the cards officially previewed. 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.

Jericho Kill

Stats!  Jericho comes in as a 9/15/4, which immediately brings comparison to Coal.  This will not be the first comparison we will see to the defender of Rustwatch.

I’m of the mind that 15 health is much more defensible than people make it out to be; especially if you’re able to put out a lot of pressure yourself.  In combination with Jericho’s ability, I think we will find she is very survivable.

9 Battlefield is the largest that we’ve seen yet; and if Aradel is any indication it’s practically infinite.  Jericho has the room to ignore most effects that would otherwise be concerning for ‘clogging battlefields’ and the power to overwhelm those with smaller battlefields. It’s a very real strength, and an extremely large battlefield is one of the reasons Aradel has herself remained relevant today.

Build Magic & Re-tool Magic

Let’s talk in plain terms about how Jericho works, roughly. At her base, she can ‘discard’ up to 1 card per round to deal 1 to a unit or heal herself for 1 at some point during the round. She can do this with 1 additional card for each copy of Prepare on her spellboard.  In general, this model usually means less explosive turns than what Coal would see – if you want to deal 3-4 damage a round, you’re going to have to prepare ahead for it (which is tough). It’s also worth pointing out that you can’t ever hit Phoenixborn with this; which could occasionally spell a few extra points of damage when playing Coal.

On the flipside, her ability to heal with the card means that she can stay out of reach of burn much easier than Coal did.  With prepare, she can likely gain tons of health over time. I’m not sure how great this is, though.  Coal, for instance, could run Chant of Protection – and with his 5 spellboard do so at little opportunity cost.  Jericho can’t as easily do so; as she not only has a smaller Spellboard but an additional slot locked up due to her reliance on Prepare. Chant would give Coal 3 health for 2 cards, and my gut tells me it’s probably about as easy to protect Coal as it is Jericho.  Jericho doesn’t need to draw Chant; but Coal doesn’t need to draw Prepare.

There’s one last little bonus to Jerico’s ability.  A popular trick for some players is to discard a First Five Anchornaut (or other ally) in order to draw another card and have a chance to focus some books. Jericho is able to do so and still use that card to deal damage.  I’m not a huge fan of the original strategy; but Jericho can essentially FF a card that costs 0 and says “Deal 1 damage to a unit, draw a card.”  That’s a pretty good card, and one I’d be happy to play in many circumstances.

Double Edge

This is the largest difference between Jericho and Coal so far.  Double Edge is a totally different card than One-Hundred Blades, and given the importance of One Hundred Blades to Coal’s play style, this is important.

To start, Double Edge is the best card draw spell in the game, by far. The largest problem with most card draw spells is that they cost dice.  Changing Winds, Sleight of Hand, even Abundance – they all cost precious dice.  Dice that you really need to make use of all the cards you are drawing. Double Edge can help you focus your books, and when you draw non-book spells (like perhaps Hammer Knight), you can still have the dice left-over to afford them.

But that’s not it; Double Edge is also flexible – it’s also one of the best burn spells in the game.  Capable of dealing 2 unblockable wounds for an astonishing 0 dice to either units or Phoenixborn, the card that can help you set up your board can also help you end your opponent. With Double Edge, you can afford more reach than almost any Phoenixborn on a lethal turn.

Overall

Jericho compares directly to Coal, and unlike any pair of Phoenixborn we’ve seen in the past they should often be compared as such.  

Coal’s biggest strength, though, is his ability to devastate an entire board with One Hundred Blades + Mist Typhoon and swing in big as a result. Jericho isn’t going to be able to do that.  On the other hand, she will be able to get a little more reach with double edge.  She’ll also never succumb to a clogged board; one of the reasons I lost at Gencon 2016 with Coal was because Regress and Blood Chains made it too hard to build a substantial enough board to threaten Leo.  Jericho can almost always fit in more beef.

I like Coal more.  But they are close, and they have different strengths where the other has weaknesses.  I think Coal will perform slightly better than Jericho at the moment but that doesn’t mean Jericho isn’t a force to be reckoned with.  Being comparable to Coal is a huge compliment; Coal is the only Phoenixborn to top 4 both Gencon 2016 and Gencon 2017.

Predicted Ashes 500 cost:

Jericho – 12

Double Edge – 25/25/25

Prepare

Prepare is nearly unplayable outside of Jericho.  I don’t think it’s the absolute worst card in the game outside of her; it draws half a card a turn and it can hide cards from Three-Eyed Owl… but it’s pretty bad. You almost certainly shouldn’t play it outside of Jericho.

Inside of Jericho, though, it’s almost a necessity.  If you aren’t playing Prepare, I just don’t know that Jericho has enough advantages to be worth playing instead of Coal.  Prepare offers something that Coal cannot do – Slash from the top of your deck.  This is a huge advantage over Coal, and one that Jericho needs to use in order to succeed.

Prepare also allows for a couple of neat tricks. I don’t think these will be used every game, but they are options that are available to you, and flexibility is good:

  • You can store a First Five card and pull it out later with Prepare.
  • You can store bad early-game draws for later
  • You can pitch an extra card from hand with Prepare to make sure you draw a full hand next round.
  • You can draw the cards ‘slashed’ from the top of your deck.

Predicted Ashes 500 cost:

0/0/0 (12/12/12 in Jericho – It’s an auto-include, but it’s also part of her identity.)

Summon Turtle Guard

Let’s get one thing out of the way.  “Battle”, as is currently defined by the rules, requires countering.  “If the blocking unit counters, both units are now considered to be in battle.” So if Turtle Guard doesn’t counter, it doesn’t get an extra exhaust. This means the card is a little better than it appears on first glance. Being able to block multiple durdles is significant, and for the time being the Turtle Guard can do that.

Another thing – I don’t think this guys a turtle.  He doesn’t actually have his own shell. He’s just a lumpy green dude who probably killed a turtle. This is Summon Lumpy Green Dude.

Because this unit can guard without blocking indefinitely, it actually makes for a pretty strong wall.  It can continue to block weenies from your opponent, and then save its counter for a strike that would kill it.  This thing is probably better at guarding than Dread Wraith.

People will tell you it’s a good Blood Chains target.  But 4 dice is a lot of dice to spend to remove a unit from the battlefield, no matter what color you are.  Occasionally this will be the right move, but I wouldn’t want this to be my plan A.

Overall, I think Turtle Guards are worth trying out.

Predicted Ashes 500 cost:

6/6/6

Summon Lucky Rabbit

I really want to like this card.  It’s cute as hell, when focused it’s got a great cost.  It’s one of the few cards in the game that can actually allow you to get back multiple dice per round.  A lot of people advertise cards like Expand Energy or Magic Purity as being magical wonder-cards that make your Rayward Knights cost 2 and your Iron Rhinos 1 cheaper as well.  These people are liars!  A Rayward Knight that costs 2 the first time a round and 3 the second is not a discounted Knight at all.  It’s an extra dice, simple as that.

Lucky Rabbits, however, can discount your cards.  It’s possible for every Lion, every Hammer Knight, every 3+ cost card you make in a round to be discounted.  That’s some real advantage that we haven’t really seen before.  The problem, though, lies in three places.

First – the math.  With one Rabbit, you’re getting back 0.42 dice per 3-drop.  With two, you’re making back .67 dice.  If you’re keeping the Rabbits alive, that’s a fifth more than a single dice if you’re able to cast two 3-drops a round. That’s fairly good; but with the variance included – I’m just not sure if it’s good enough to warrant the battlefield slots, spellboard slots, and overall deck design.

Second – the non-focus cost.  These little buns are nothing but trash rabbits until they are focused.  At 2 dice, you are paying an exorbitant cost for a ½ that *might* discount your future cards. You simply have to get the book focused.

Finally, the battlefield slots.  In order for these Rabbits to pull your crops, they’ve got to have a place to sit.  These things don’t work on any battlefield size, and that has to be considered.

But when focused, the Rabbits are great.  Not only do they effectively cost 1, but they also color-shift for you, letting you make use of more dice of a color than you’d otherwise be able to (though you’ll have to meditate them, guaranteed). Overall, though, these things are probably just too much of a gimmick to make work in a real environment right now.  They are close though, so I hope I’m wrong.

Predicted Ashes 500 cost:

3/3/3

 

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