Elliot Reviews Ashes – Echo Greystorm (Part 2)

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 perspect

Light Swordsman

This is the first non-unique unit of any type that can come out as a side action and attack.  Unfortunately, two class dice and a side action for a 1-time surprise hit for 1 isn’t super great.

 There are a few ways to make that better; but most of them are mediocre at best because of how clunky they are (e.g. Empower, Secret Door).  The most likely to be worth playing, in my view, is Polarity Mage in combination with offensive alterations (like Power Through).


I have serious doubts, though, about the viability of a 2-class dice ½ battle advantage, despite its ability to grow its attack value.  Opportunist 1 means that it will rarely be greater than a ½, and almost always the unit will be exceptionally weak on defense.  Requiring other clunky cards to make it useful is never a good thing; which makes me have to think that this card is just bad.  The flexibility of a side or main just doesn’t have that much benefit when it’s attached to a base ½.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

1/1/1

Sonic Swordsman

Now this is what I’m talking about. Three drop allies immediately draw comparison to Hammer Knight; and this is the first one that really can shine in a similar spot. On a raw power level, I think Hammer Knight is the better card; but they are different colors and will fit in different decks.  Sonic Swordsman has a very strong case for inclusion in any divine & sympathy deck.

Compared to the Hammer Knight, the Swordsman is a better unit against armies of X/2s.  When attacking with the swordsman, you can always walk-away with at least one killed unit on any attack.  Against X/3’s, when combo’d with nature or anchornauts, you can ping pre-combat and force an awkward particle shield less their unit face certain death.  

Sonic is a superior unit when it comes to battlefield control; especially combined with its increased survivability.  With Rhythmic Healing, Knuckles is *better* than a 2-recover unit; it will almost always heal 2 before the beginning of the next round, and in cases where you need to force a heal early you can do so through a variety of means (Hand Tricks, Sympathy Dice, Changing Winds, etc.)

Where Sonic fails in comparison to the Hammer Knight is the Hammer Knights ability to throw raw pressure on the opposing Phoenixborn itself.  Hammer Knights win games by hitting Phoenixborn; each connect is a massive blow to their total health.  With Sonic Swordsman, people can feel much more comfortable taking a hit to the face.  That being said, you almost never will be faced with the decision of playing one of these allies over the other. Unless you are playing four or more colors, the two units can’t be in the same deck.  If you are doing that, you still might just want to play both. Alas, Hammer Knight’s threat to the life total makes it a first-five drop that people *have* to worry about.  Without that, Sonic Swordsman is a little easier to avoid as a threat.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

33/33/33

Polarity Mage

I absolutely adore this card; it’s a really cool design fit into about an aggressive cost as you could place on it.  This is how I want to see synergistic cards; they require a lot of work to make work, and If you are able to do that it should be viable.

There are a lot of cool tricks the Polarity Mage can pull off, and I’ve got a lot of pro’s in my list:

  • She fits in either Sympathy or Divine decks; if you are in both then she is extremely flexible to cast.
  • With Massive Growth, Polarity Mage can not only turn all of your new durdles into deathbringers, but he can save your Massive Growth for subsequent rounds.
  • With Body Inversion, Polarity Mage can reduce the cost of all your illusion units by 1; even turning one of your basic dice into a wolf as a result.  Free Shadow Spirits?  I’ll take 1.
  • With Power Through, Polarity Mage can slot into an already existing deck and provide a new vector of threat for an already good Power Through.
  • Versus Regress, Polarity Mage offers another counter besides Dispel that can affordably handle multiple negative alterations.
  • Polarity Mage can be returned with ceremonial dice for 0 damge.
  • 1 dice for 2 toughness means that it will never trade evenly for a dice power; your opponent will either need to use a card or exhaust a reasonable unit in order to try to remove the Polarity Mage.  

The only real con I have for the card is that a lot of the effective uses are fragile or require playing with otherwise bad cards (or both, really).  I think the Polarity Mage is cheap enough, though, to find a useful spot in decks – and I’ll be very happy if it does.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

6/6/6

Enlightenment

Removing exhaustion has been a historically overcosted ability – every flexible version of the effect costs 2 dice, has some other uses, and is entirely unplayed.  Enlightenment adds a new bonus, but I’m not sure that it’s the best variant we’ve seen yet.

A lot of people will immediately jump to Enlightenments ability to remove an exhaust off of a Phoenixborn. I don’t think this will ever be good, however – I feel confident that it will never be good being your plan A.  All of the best Phoenixborn effects are just not cost-effective to use again for 2 dice and a card.  Dealing an additional 2 dice to a unit in Aradel with 3 dice and a card is bad. 2 more to a Phoenixborn in Brennen for 3 dice a card and a unit is worse.  It’s just not an effective option.  On top of unexhausting units being shown to be a weak effect, this portion of the card just is not really a selling point for me.

The most likely place where we will see Enlightenment is in it’s ability to remove exhaustion from a spellboard card.  However, I don’t think anything exists right now that makes this portion worth it.  In particular, Open Memories often seems like a better choice; or spending 2 dice to use again just seems bad.  We may in the future, however, see some ready spells that can make this card shine.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

1/1/1

Holy Relics

The Holy Relics aren’t very exciting. They are the first alteration we’ve seen like this – a straightforward cost for a straightforward bonus; but despite being a first the effect is quite plain.

Because of that, I don’t have a ton to say about the card.  Alterations will lead to you being 2-for-1’d, and ones that don’t have respark will do so even more.  As a result, alterations that can only be used once should be quite powerful in order to be worth playing.  This one, however, is not.  For 2 divine dice, I’d rather just have Power Through.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

1/1/1

Law of Fear

Law of Fear has so far been a surprisingly untalked about card since its spoiling.  It’s effect is very powerful; and it fits into some existing deck archetypes very well. I’ll say it right out of the bat – I think this card pushes Meteor Victoria into outright broken.

When combined with an effective offensive deck that can strip you of dice, Law of Fear can result in an absurd amount of guaranteed damage.  Imagine having out 4 Shadow Spirits and an Orchid Dove after stripping your opponent of dice; regardless of what your opponent has out, when you play Law of Fear you are guaranteeing 10 damage by the end of the round.  Attack one at a time, and they take 2 regardless – the only choice they have is if they are going to try to trade a unit while doing so.

Outside of Victoria, Law of Fear makes a very effective tool for offensive decks. It’s the Orchid Dove of beating face.  Like Victoria, I think it will *usually* find it’s most effective situations in separating your attacks into separate rounds.  The card tricks you into wanting to attack with groups do to it’s “enter play” effect, but that is often times the wrong decision.  Law of Fear will be a constant threat to worry about in the upcoming meta; and not to be punny but it is a card that should always be feared against divine decks.

Predicted Ashes 500 Cost:

25/25/25 (50/50/50 in Victoria)

That’s all for today, I’ll try to have the wrap-up for Jericho before Thanksgiving (but don’t hold me to that).

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