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.
Law of Sight
Law of Sight is the first card of its kind and its kind is very cool. For 2 dice, a side action, and a spellboard slot, this gives you two cards and protection from Reaction spells for the rest of the round (though you also can’t play your own reaction spells) For the decks that want this, this is well-costed and going to do irreplaceable things for you.
In order to get full use out of the card, you are going to want to have a high chance of making use of the cards you draw. This means either having lots of dice, lots of cheap focusable spellboard cards, or just cheap draws in general (e.g. Call Upon The Realms). Without making use of the draw, two dice is kind of expensive for the effect of just stopping reactions. Take Orrick, for example – with this card protecting you from Choke and bounty, you have 10 dice left – the same as if you had just not activated bounty. However, if you draw into two usable cards, you can come out a good deal ahead. One way to think about this is that Law of Sight is a Sleight of Hand, but one card you draw is guaranteed to be a Law of Sight put directly on your spellboard. In matches where your opponent can’t have the reactions you care about, it’s vital that playing LoS is still a reasonable option.
The best uses of this card are going to be protecting units from Ice Trap (Owls, Iron Worker, etc.), ensuring your PB ability resolves (Water Blast, Bounty, etc.), ensuring your damage/removal spells aren’t stopped by a Particle Shield/Golden veil (Fear, Gilder, Water Blast again), or ensuring a hypnotized attack gets through (no Choke or Redirect). I do think, however, there will be some decks that play this largely for the draw hoping to just randomly screw their opponents – if you like drawing cards and are not playing reactions, this card is an option. Basically, to want this card in your deck you want:
- Flexible spellboard room, which likely means at least 4 slots.
- Divine dice
- Some strong use-case (defined above)
- A desire and use for the two cards drawn
There will definitely be decks that meet this criteria, and you should expect many of them to be throwing in a LoS or two. For players playing reaction spells, there are going to be opponents meeting *some* of this criteria… are they playing the Law of Sight? The first five mind games are going to be real.
Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
Oh man, healing is in the game and is finally giving an avenue besides butterflies or Chant of Protection to protect your life total. Heal is going to be a decent card; it’s good enough to play but i don’t think it’s good enough to be an auto-include in every divine deck. It will likely want similar criteria to Chant of Protection, while being a little more flexible due to the lack of a spellboard slot needed and the ability to heal units. Healing yourself is only good if you have board control or otherwise can find a way to present lethal. If your opponent has board control anyway, face-heals aren’t going to help you take back the game.
The option to heal units should not be ignored; popping off a particle shield when your opponent tries to Water Blast + Gilder your 3-toughness dude is going to be a haymaker when you follow it up with a Heal. Swinging your bear into theirs, having them counter without freezing expecting to ping yours dead next round is also going to be devastating if you follow it up with a Heal. Unit heal is going to provide occasional ways to maintain board control against an opponent desperately trying to claw it back. This option probably becomes even stronger in combination with things like Ice Buff or Shield Mage, where you will often have units who take an extra turn or action to kill, making it easier to interrupt their moves with a Heal. It should be noted that these opportunities aren’t always available though, I’ve played many games where everything trades cleanly and there is never a living unit with more than 1 damage on it. Sometimes you even want your units dying.
The Phoenixborn healing portion is also very useful. It’s not as large of a swing as the Chant of Protection, but it’s much easier to cast. Often decks rely on meditating part of their spellboard in order to go into chanting mode – Heal will never ask that of you. You can continue threatening with your full force and still regain a few health; because it’s a side action you don’t even need to lose tempo. If you were going to start taking draw damage, Heal saves you just as much health as a Chant of Protection, as the discarded card is equitable to a point of life. Finally, this also protects you from wounds – if your opponent is threatening Molten Gold and you are at 3 life, you will feel much better with Heal instead of Chant. Overall, one of the big plusses for this card is that it presents two modes that are both fairly priced, giving it flexibility to more often do something useful.
The extra point of life from Chant is not insignificant however. Many of the matches where extra life matters, every point counts. I don’t think it will be a given that divine decks play Heal over Chant, and some of them may even play both. The amount of resiliency against bursty decks you get by playing both is huge and if your game plan vs slow decks is solid you can hedge your bets with little risk.
Predicted Ashes 500 cost:
Let’s take a look at what the Shield Mage can provide. Right now, in many situations, I’m comparing this card to Golden Veil. If your opponent wants to Ice Trap or Water Blast one of your other units, they are probably going to have to do it to this girl first or pay a long-term tax. You don’t get the tempo benefits in those situations, but one dice for a deal like that is much more affordable. With high priority units like an Owl, requiring an extra point of damage for them to be dealt with can be backbreaking, these are units that you just want to survive until the next turn so you can at least get a use out of them; afterwards if your opponent kills them you are still up in value.
Many other units gain extreme benefit by having an extra toughness, painting a target on the Shield Mages back lest she taxes your opponent too much. Orchid Doves become painfully efficient taxing machines. Iron Worker becomes just a hair harder to get rid of giving him a lot more potential to give you repeated advantage. Sometimes, an Ice Buff in stats is all that’s needed to gain an edge. And if your opponent kills the Mage, she’s extremely cheap to get back with a Ceremonial dice if you are playing them.
On the other hand, let’s look at some of the difficulties in using her. She takes a battlefield slot; something that’s not always easy to come by. When you play the shield mage you are turning BF 5 Phoenixborn into Lulu, who we all know has a very constraining battlefield. She takes a main and side action to activate, which will be a tempo hit for whatever you are trying to do. She presents what I refer to as the Anchornaut blocking problem: outside of Odette, she presents a constant consequence free attack target that you have to let die or take on the chin. Finally, for the targets she buffs, she does not help with their recovery. If you have a bunch of Sleeping Widows and Masked Wolves with one damage on them, those units are going to die at the beginning of the next round. It may be worth the initial tempo gain for them to survive the first ping, but units with Recover will see the most game-long gain from the Mage.
All in all, the Shield Mage can definitely prevent the value for her cost. The tempo costs and battlefield restriction however will make you think twice before throwing her down – you need units that want to be protected. She can thrive with a huge amount of existing known Phoenixborn, including Leo, Rin, Aradel, and Namine, and provides some great benefit to even more units, some of which are Owls, Anchornaut, Iron Worker, and Butterfly Monk.
Oh, and if she ever starts getting too popular, just start playing Blood Puppets.
Predicted Ashes 500 Cost: