Greetings dear reader! If you’re reading this article I’m assuming you are either one of two things:
- Interested in expanding your Ashes collection (or perhaps just starting it)
- Already an avid Ashes player who just reads Ashes articles for the sake of it.
If you’re the former, great! You’ve come to the right place. If you’re the latter… well… you’re in good company. Alright, let’s jump in.
Though Ashes has a slower release schedule than most competitive card games, there’s still a large selection of content available. Below is a break down of the different decks currently released. Each includes an explanation of the main strategies for the pre-constructed deck and what sort of strategies suit the included Phoenixborn in constructed. Also highlighted are stand out cards. There’s a link to each deck, so you can check out all the cards for yourself!
The Mist Guardian – 5x Natural, 5x Illusion
This deck is strongly focused on exhausting and destroying your opponent’s board and then swinging in with your superior number of units. Note: This deck is fairly good in pre-constructed and also fairly easy to pilot, good choice for teaching new players. Stand out Cards:
- Summon Butterfly Monk: One of the best defensive units in the game. Protect your own forces from attack while regaining health on your Phoenixborn.
- Shifting Mist: Excellent value dice fixing. Worried about mill decks, or meditating away your favourite cards? No worries, Shifting Mist has you covered.
Aradel Summergaard: Plays best in a swing deck, often with small units. Jaguars + Water blast help demolish any sort of board defense from your opponent. Fill up her large battlefield with cost efficient units and swing in for the win. Add a side of burn as extra damage/finisher.
The Iron Men – 5x Natural, 5x Ceremonial
This is a very aggressive swing deck. Pound your opponent into the dust with your huge units, finishing off any remaining targets with the blades of Coal. Stand out Cards:
- Hammer Knight: Fantastic value for an aggressive ally. Her Aftershock ability is perfect for board control.
- Chant of Revenge: The sheer value from this card is astounding. Play it at the beginning of the game, and then sit back and watch your investment grow.
- Anchornaut: An unassuming little fellow, but great for board control. Good option to recur with the ceremonial power as protection against mill.
Coal Roarkwin: You’re going to want to swing with Coal. Both his ability and unique card help chip away at an opponent’s board to give space for your units to attack in. Try pairing with sympathy cards like Squall Stallion and Changing Winds to gain extra Slash ammunition.
The Bloodwoods Queen – 5x Ceremonial, 5x Charm
A mainly defensive deck that slowly sucks the life away from your opponent, but provides some avenue of direct attack as well. Stand out Cards:
- Fear: Does anything more need to be said? Fear keeps your opponent’s biggest threats off the board, all while edging Jessa ever closer to victory.
- Final Cry: A great value burn spell, though somewhat telegraphed.
- Redirect: A perfect way to protect against the big hitters your opponent is packing. Doubles as a quick way to clear a battlefield slot by removing one of your exhausted units.
Jessa Na Ni: Fear is (arguably) the best card in the game. Use it to your advantage. Jessa excels at pushing through damage on the board during early rounds of the game (Frostback Bears, Holy Knights, and Hammer Knights are favourites), and then closing it out with Screams of the Departed and other burn spells. Pair with Power Through for extra fun.
The Snakes in Silver – 5x Nature, 5x Charm
This deck has few units, but it makes the ones it does have count. Grow massive creatures and then swing them past your opponent’s defenses for the win. Stand out Cards:
- Summon Gilder: Both board control and defense rolled into one, Gilder is a great include even in decks that don’t have a use for the status tokens.
- Molten Gold: The classic finishing card, bring your opponent to three life and then drop this to ensure no Redirect or Sympathy Pain will get in the way.
- Refresh: What’s funner than swinging with a huge unit once? Why swinging with it twice of course! Refresh allows this even if your opponent has tried to shut you down for multiple rounds with cards like Blood Chains.
- Hypnotize: What a fourth card? You can’t do that! I can too. Though more niche than the other cards, Hypnotize is a great way to dodge past your opponent’s wall of defense and close out the game with big hitters.
Maeoni Viper: 3 battlefield hurts a lot. Best way to go with Maeoni is with big hitters. Snakes are certainly one option, elephants another. One rather unique deck archetype often played in Maeoni is One-Punch-Man. This deck’s strategy is to pump a Holy Knight to huge attack levels by double stacking Amplifies and charm dice. Then swing with Hypnotize to take out the opponent in one hit.
The Shadows of Viros – 5x Ceremonial, 5x Illusion
A deck of tricks. Shut down opponent’s options, and pounce on openings with aggressive and fast options. Stand out Cards:
- Summon Sleeping Widows: Already fairly good value for the units, the ability to summon these guys on an unsuspecting opponent is not to be underestimated.
- Fade Away: Sacrifice tempo to gain board advantage next round with this inexpensive removal spell.
Noah: You’re going to want to go rush-down with Noah. Shadow Target is potent in the early game, and drops off drastically in value as the game goes on. As such you’ll need to try and get as much damage through in the early rounds, and then finish your opponent off quickly with burn damage. Most Noah decks don’t include Masked Wolves, because they are a tad over costed until focused.
The Cloudsea Siren – 5x Charm, 5x Illusion
This is a classic mill deck. Also includes some great shutdown cards to slow down aggressive decks. Stand out Cards:
- Hidden Power: The best, non-unique card in the game (not arguable). Powerful and flexible dice recursion at the cost of a single illusion class die.
- Sympathy Pain: A great card to make your opponent think twice about attacking you. A great finishing card, or to help get the opponent in range of a mill death.
- Summon Three-Eyed Owl: You don’t even need to have mill as a main strategy to run Owls. The pressure you put on your opponent’s hand, especially in the first round, is enough in and of itself.
Saria Guideman: Based on her pre-constructed deck and ability, you might think Saria is best suited for mill. While it is a good option, she has a couple more tricks up her sleeve. Ravens are a very strong unit, who’s biggest weakness has always been low life and therefore their weakness to Frog pings. We’ve had several cards come out that make Ravens much better. Magic Purity makes them cheaper, Devotion helps buff their life, and Power Through helps convert their Battle Advantage directly into damage.
The Children of Blackcloud – 10x Ceremonial
A burn deck with plenty of control to stop your opponent in their tracks. Stand out Cards:
- Blood Chains: This card just does so many things at once. Clears a battlefield slot, triggers any destruction effects, and shuts down your opponent.
- Fire Archer: A very all around solid card. Every little bit of damage counts.
- Regress: Stops many large unit decks in their tracks. The power to remove opponent’s alteration spells is bonus value.
- Choke: I know it’s #4, but I just didn’t think it was fair to skip Choke. Extremely versatile and useful against an array of different phoenixborn and units.
Brennen Blackcloud: Burn. Burn all day, every day. Just make sure you burn fast, because you won’t have a lot of board to keep out your opponent’s big punches. Try Regress to help slow them down, or Salamander Monks to help keep a board even when losing a unit.
The Frostdale Giants – 10x Nature
Heavy hitters galore in this deck. Stop your opponent’s defense in its tracks and then swing on through for big damage. Stand out Cards:
- Summon Frostback Bear: So many tools wrapped into one with this unit. Slow down their battlefield so that you can swing in for extra damage on your opponent’s phoenixborn.
- Ice Trap: A very inexpensive and tempo winning card. Great for helping to get a swing through during the early game.
- Rin’s Fury: The saddest part about running big units is that you generally have big dice costs to go with them. Keep up the pressure with this great dice recursion spell.
Rin Northfell: Swing deck all the way. Ice Buff gives your hitters that little bit of extra survivability, while Rin’s Fury is a fantastic way to afford all the expensive units you’ll want to put out.
The Roaring Rose – 10x Charm
A very defensive mill deck. Drain away your opponent’s dice and cards. Stand out Cards:
- Summon Orchid Dove: A dirt cheap unit that when focussed can turn into a terrifying machine gun to victory.
- Anguish: The anguish from the decisions you force on your opponent with this card are real. Good timing is key to get maximum possible value from this card.
- Mind Probe: A slightly more niche card than the others, but still notable. Use it to remove a key card from your opponent’s deck and force them to meditate away the others.
Leo: If you want to follow the intended strategy of Leo, you’ll want to go for mill/burn. Wall up with Owl/Turtles and use the Finch to protect them from everything. If you want to go for something a little more… unusual, a few folks have tried to abuse the somewhat broken nature of the Finch. Massive Growth and then put cheap alteration spells on the Finch to un-exhaust it with Magic Rejuvenation, viola “Grow Finch”.
The Duchess of Deception – 10x Illusion
A tricky deck to keep your opponent on their toes. Several cards to throw wrenches into their carefully laid plans. Stand out Cards:
- Illusionary Cycle: A flat out way to gain dice advantage on your opponent. Use the illusion die gained to immediately exhaust one of your opponent’s dice for extra “fun”.
- Particle Shield: Fantastic way to break up your opponent’s strategy. Damage is often tight in Ashes, so if you can keep alive a unit your opponent thought would be dead, it can make a world of difference.
- Shadow Spirit: Extremely efficient conjuration. Two attack is great value for single die summon. Additionally, though the life boost from focussing the spell may seem pointless at first glance, the protection it gives the Spirits from ping damage forces the opponent into a losing resource exchange to deal with them.
Victoria Glassfire: Ah Vicky. Vicky is the undisputed queen of the heavy exhaust archetype. Using her incredible ability to gain dice advantage, use your illusion dice to drain away all of your opponent’s dice, then laugh as you spend the many, many dice you have left to pummel them in the face. Usually with Shadow Spirits and Emperor Lions.
The Song of Soaksend – 10x Sympathy (included, along with a deck box)
This deck heavily emphasizes draw. Time your actions correctly to punch through your opponent’s defenses with buffed units. Stand out Cards:
- Crescendo: A very good card for aggressive decks. Fairly inexpensive and the ability to remove an defender and attack on the same turn is very powerful.
- Encore: A great way to ensure you always have the cards you need.
- River Skald: One Skald by itself seems manageable, but just get two out and things can turn very bad (or good, depending on your point of view) very quickly.
Namine Hymntide: This is a tricky one. Back when Namine first came out most people played her with Shadow Spirit/Butterfly Monk, which gained the most benefit from Encore. Her ability is also helpful in focusing the books quickly. I’d probably go with a fairly burn heavy deck with Namine, since the ability to return a Molten Gold to hand for that extra finishing power is pretty nice.
The Laws of Lions – 10x Divine (included, along with a deck box)
An extremely board based deck. Use your beefy units and action spells to control the board and force the game to go how you choose. Stand out Cards:
- Summon Winged Lioness: Stalk is a fantastic ability. With it you can assure that unit trades always happen on your terms, and in your favour.
- Holy Knight: Can slice it’s way through pretty much any defense, and if there’s no defense in the way… slice through an opponent’s life alarmingly quickly.
- Heal: Fast and cheap this a great way to pull yourself out of the danger zone in time to rally a response.
- Practically all the other cards in the deck. But for real. This has a lot of very excellent cards.
Odette Diamondcrest: Umm, well, you can play Odette if you like the power of Fear, but would rather have to play dice for it… In all honesty, there have been very few competitive Odette decks, so can’t really comment on what style fits her best. Her unique seems to indicate a swing strategy (as does her pre-constructed deck), but her ability is really more defensive.
(require the deluxe expansion dice)
The Masters of Gravity – 5x Divine, 5x Sympathy
Control the flow of the game by manipulating the exhaustion of your opponent’s units. Then swing in with your heavy hitters. Stand out Cards:
- Sonic Swordsman: A unit that often trades 2 for 1 (sometimes even 2 for 0) is always going to be good. Pair that with built in healing and you have a winner.
- Changing Winds: A great way to dig for those cards you really need early on and then keep up a steady stream of options and card draw triggers later on.
- Chaos Gravity: The amount of change this card can have on a board is mind blowing. It can change a losing state to a winning one, and a tied state to an overwhelming offensive position.
Echo Greystorm: Swing deck, with a side of control. Echo’s ability and unique are extremely valuable in exhausting out your opponent’s units to make sure you have the opportunity to swing in with yours. I tend to lean towards bigger units (like Emperor Lions or Elephants) for Echo.
The Path of Assassins – 10x?? Choose what dice you want! This deck only requires basics
An aggressive deck that leverages its dice advantage to out pace the opponent with big units, supplied by inexpensive draw. Stand out Cards:
- Elephant Rider: The ultimate in aggressive units, the Elephant Rider will quickly drain your dice if you aren’t prepared for its cost. But if you are… beware all opponents, damage is coming and they won’t be able to stop it.
- Summon Turtle Guard: Initially universally panned as mediocre, it took an observant player to realize that as long as the Turtle doesn’t counter, it isn’t in battle, and thus can stay around to block another day.
- Hand Tricks: This cards serves double value for extremely cheap. Draw into the cards you need as well as convert mana types so you can always cast the spells you need.
- Double Edge: I just have to mention four again. Double Edge is a versatile draw and burn card that you will never be sorry to see in your hand.
Jericho Kill: Jericho is very versatile which is one of her greatest strengths. Her unique, Double Edge, is one of the strongest burn cards in the game, while her huge battlefield makes her great for a swarm style deck. A combination of both is probably best.
The Goddess of Ishra – 5x Charm, 5x Divine
Stop your opponent dead in their tracks and then attack them with their own units. Stand out Cards:
- Mark of the Goddess: Steal one of your opponent’s units, the bigger, the better.
- Kneel: One of those “symmetrical” cards that with good timing can be played to devastating effect. Instant include in any deck that wants to slow down the pace of the game.
- Imperial Ninja: If you can correctly guess the opponent’s First Five, this ally can tear it apart. That it trades favourably with many large units is just icing on the cake.
Astrea: Very versatile phoenixborn. Her unique card and ability are extremely powerful tools that help control the board whether on offense or defense.
The Boy Among Wolves – 5x Nature, 5x Sympathy
Once the engine in this deck gets rolling, it’s nearly impossible to stop. Start with small creatures that rapidly turn into big threats. Stand out Cards:
- Summon Indiglow Creeper: The centerpiece of the deck. Requires careful timing and planning, but the rewards can be off the charts.
- Sleeping Bear: This card trades tempo for extremely good value for a unit. Just make sure you can keep it alive until the next round!
Koji Wolfcub: Pretty much only good for swarming with Creepers. In any other deck his ability/unique won’t be giving you that great value.
The Demons of Darmas – 5x Ceremonial, 5x Sympathy
This is a ground focused deck with some powerful new allies and cards to help gain more value from your units. Stand out Cards:
- Dark Reaping: Fantastic dice recursion card in Ceremonial. The cost of sacrificing a unit can often change into a benefit when clearing an exhausted unit from the battlefield and make way for fresh troops.
- Adrenaline Rush: Un-exhaustion at the cost of damage fits perfectly with the Ceremonial theme. Not an auto include, but definitely one to think about in any Ceremonial decks running large units.
Harold Westraven: His high life total makes Harold a powerhouse. GenCon results show Harold works best with a vast array of inexpensive units, though his ability and unique card will help in any ground based deck.
The Spirits of Memoria – 5x Illusion, 5x Divine
A deck heavily focused on conjuration removal, while also sporting some powerful defensive units. Stand out cards:
- Gates Thrown Open: Permanently sacrificing a spellboard slot is a high price to pay, but the great dice advantage and protection from this card make it well worth it.
- Summon Admonisher: A great new conjuration for wall-and-burn style decks.
- Shadow Guard: A sneaky Illusion ally that can disrupt your opponent’s plans in a major way. Just watch out for Anchornauts.
More coming soon™! With Rimea and Xander on the horizon, I’ll pop in to update this article when they’re available!
Dimona Odinstar: She’s a bit of a glass cannon. A low life and battlefield are the sacrifices for a high spellboard. Her ability is great with any big hitters to gain a second swing from them. Her unique, Rayward Knights, are somewhat mediocre.
Lulu Firststone: Good for a control or burn style deck. With only 4 battlefield, it’s hard to do a lot of swinging with Lulu. Phoenix Barrage helps deal with any of your opponents large threats and push you closer to victory, while Bolster has the possibility of making very devastating attacks when set up correctly.
Orrick Gilstream: For those who can’t decide what dice type to run, Orrick can run them all… at the same time. An extremely good Phoenxiborn that can reliably pressure the opponent with his dice advantage. Great for high power swing decks, but watch out for Choke. Gobi Sunshields are cool looking, but mostly outshone by Turtle Guards.