Advanced Ashes is a weekly series covering advanced Ashes strategies. Each week, a different Ashes player will showcase two cards, exploring their strengths and synergies. Visit the PlaidHatGames.com Ashes store, as well as the online Ashes deckbuilder.
Perhaps no Phoenixborn is as divisive as Coal Roarkwin. (Physically, I mean, with all those swords.)
Coal is old. Like, really old. Coal is buff. Coal thinks you're out of your depth. Coal has an excellent battlefield and spellboard. Coal is FEARLESS.
And Coal has just 15 life.
Yes, Coal is the lowest-life Phoenixborn in the game. He's just 5 Molten Golds+Sympathy Pains away from defeat right from turn 1. For this reason, many a new player has gotten frustrated trying to win with Coal. For a long time Coal was thought of as the Phoenixborn who needs to make a comeback some day. Low and behold, at the 2016 Gen Con Ashes tournaments, with the newest cards, Coal had multiple, highly skilled players showing him off.
One reason Coal became popular recently is his custom card, One Hundred Blades. It does 1 damage to your opponent's Phoenixborn, 1 to each of their units, and it lets you draw a card, all for 2 basic. Many found this underwhelming at first because it's only a little better than Mist Typhoon, which everyone has access to, but what has been discovered is that not only are One Hundred Blades' advantages important, but best of all, you can include BOTH cards in your deck, essentially having 6 cards that do damage to everything instead of 3.
But that's not actually why I love Coal. I love Coal because of his cool and unique ability, Slash. Slash lets you spend a side action and discard a card from hand in order to do 1 damage to an opponent's unit. If that opponent has no unit, you can damage their Phoenixborn instead. This ability does not exhaust Coal, and it costs no dice. I REPEAT: IT DOES NOT EXHAUST COAL, AND IT COSTS NO DICE! That makes it REALLY different than other Phoenixborn abilities.
As long as you've got a spare card, you've got a quick damage ready to go. Coal has a healthy battlefield; he is good at filling it up, slowly clearing your board with those units and with timely Slashes, and running you over on the first turn of the following round.
How to make the most possible use of Slash? Here's my best Slashified deck, The Second Roarkwin Alliance. It's doing two things at once to make Slash work:
First, it's got card draw. A First Five Slight of Hand and some Abundance allows Coal to get cards in hand for Slashing, well after he and his opponent are both out of dice. Secret Door could be used for this purpose too. It means that if you go full-speed Slash (and you should) you'll be out of cards and taking draw damage by round 2. But that's ok, because you only have 15 life so you wanted this game to go fast anyway. Meanwhile, any cards left in your draw pile at the end of the game are essentially wasted slashing opportunities, so what were you waiting for??
Second, it's got a TON of Allies. My deck has 12, and I have an old 13-ally Slash deck lying around somewhere as well. Allies are great for Slashing because you can get them back with a Ceremonial die. So now you're trading a die (and perhaps a life or 2) for more slashing! Once again, Coal has low life, but if you're doing damage to your opponent faster than they're doing damage to you, you don't care. Just do it quickly! The Anchornaut is, of course, key here, since it does no damage when it comes back into your hand. I generally put one in my first five and discard it before the first hand draw of the game.
Besides the ole' Anchornaut, which allies should you include? Allow me to suggest another Coal staple, the trusty Iron Worker.
Iron Worker's 2-basic cost plays into Coal's efficient, solid card preferences. In addition, without needing to meditate for class or power dice, you've got more cards for Slashing! The Iron Worker is just a solid unit all around, and that Recover 1 really comes in handy. It can be a pain for your opponent to put 2 damage on this guy in 1 round.
And man on man do I love Overtime. Extra Side Actions are a valuable and underrated commodity. Especially when you have access to - you guessed it - Slash!! Slash twice (or use a Frog die and a Slash) to kill your opponent's last unit and then do 1 damage to their Phoenixborn. No Frog dice available? Use a Ceremonial die to bring an anchornaut into hand from discard, then Slash it and possibly do a Phoenixborn damage. So many unit and spell abilities that cost a side action themselves can now be augmented with a pre- or post-Slash, and that's all without even using your Main Action. With Slashing and Iron Workers, you can do a ton of work in one turn.
Fast, aggressive, and fearless. This is how the Slashing Coal player plays.
See you all again next week!
Next week: ???
Previous Advanced Ashes Articles
Week 1: Blood Chains and Butterfly Monk
Week 2: Frost Bite and Ice Trap
Week 3: Anchornaut and Summon Sleeping Widows
Week 4: To Shadows and Body Inversion
Week 5: Regress and Poison
Week 6: Abundance and Summon Orchid Dove
Week 7: Jessa and Chant of Revenge
Week 8: Amplify and Blood Archer
Week 9: Dread Wraith and Three-Eyed Owl