Building Basics: Rise of the Phoenixborn
Jessa and Coal
Welcome back Ashes players!
Today marks the start of a new article series, where we will be featuring decklists made by members of the Ashes community! These deck lists are being made available to any Ashes player, new or old, who are interested in making custom constructed decks. This week, we have playtesters Lizzie Hart and Brian Broughman as guest writers to introduce us to deck building within just the Ashes Reborn Rise of the Phoenixborn Set. These decks aim to give you the tools and inspiration to make more fun, unique, and refined decks than just the preconstructed decklists.
Death by 100 Cuts and Hammer Knights
Deck designed by Lizzie Hart.
4x Ceremonial, 4x Natural, 2x Illusion
3x Chant of Revenge
1x Summon Butterfly Monk
1x Summon Mist Spirit
3x Hammer Knight
3x One Hundred Blades
3x Iron Worker
3x Summon Sleeping Widows
3x Mist Typhoon
3x Molten Gold
3x Hidden Power
The main strategy for this deck is to clear the opponent's board using One Hundred Blades and/or Mist Typhoon, then swing in for damage using Hammer Knight and your smaller units. If they destroy your Mist Spirits and Butterfly Monks, it’s no problem because you can summon Sleeping Widows, and the Butterflies have the added benefit of healing you!
You can also use Strengthen with small units to go for more big damage or to force bad trades. If they have beefy units, a strengthened Hammer Knight is hitting for 5 and can clear most units in the game, and if they choose to guard and take the damage on their Phoenixborn, even better!
Coal’s ability, Slash, is another great way to clear the board. However, it can be tricky to know which cards to discard! I recommend using allies like Anchornaut (or as I like to call him anchy-boy) since you can use the ceremonial dice power if you want to recur them and you are not getting rid of too much of your deck. It can seem strange at first but don’t be afraid to use Slash, especially if you find yourself not using a card in hand.
The deck is rounded out with cards like Iron Worker - a solid hitter who, if you can keep him around, helps you draw into more cards at the start of a round giving Coal more fodder for Slash. Hidden Power is a great tech card that allows you to fix your dice without having to meditate. It can be great against a mill deck or if you roll too many basics, but I have also found myself Slashing it. Molten Gold is another great tech card. Typically I would recommend putting the wounds onto your opponent’s Phoenixborn, but in some cases a pesky opposing unit can be worth playing a Molten Gold against. Lastly, Chant of Revenge is a nice ready spell that helps you put damage directly onto an opposing Phoenixborn. If you find that your opponent is not killing your allies to charge up your chants, I have even been known to Slash my own Anchornaut!
Typical First Five for this deck is Hammer Knight, Strengthen, Summon Mist Spirit, Summon Butterfly Monk and a flex card that depends on the match up. For most matchups I would First Five Chant of Revenge, however if you are sitting across the table from charm (as with the Jessa deck below) you have to be worried about Three-Eyed Owls creating hand pressure, so I recommend switching Chant of Revenge out for an Anchornaut. If you are facing an Owl make sure you have a natural dice power up and ready, so you can bring in the Anchornaut, hit the Owl for 1 damage with the Throw ability, then use your side action to ping the Owl away.
A few other tips for facing the Jessa deck below:
1) Be careful with Mist Typhoon and One Hundred Blades. As much as you want to clear the board, you also do not want to give your opponent wounds onto a Living Doll or too many opportunities to use Screams of the Departed. If possible, it’s best to play your board-clearing spells near the end of the round, especially if Jessa is out of dice and can’t use Screams.
2) Watch out for Blood Archers. They can easily clear your board of small units and can be a big threat to a Hammer Knight. Try to kill them as soon as you can.
Hope you found this article helpful and more importantly I hope if you try out this deck you find it fun!
The Puppet of My Puppet Must Be a Friend, Right?
Deck designed by Brian Broughman
Jessa Na Ni
5x Ceremonial, 3x Charm, 2x Natural
1x Summon Gilder
2x Summon Three-Eyed Owl
2x Summon Blood Puppet
3x Small Sacrifice
1x Golden Veil
2x Living Doll
3x Blood Archer
2x Enchanted Violinist
2x Blood Shaman
2x Final Cry
3x Call Upon the Realms
Puppets are fun, or at least Jessa thinks they are!
This deck relies on a variety of different forms of direct burn damage to place wound tokens onto your opponent’s Phoenixborn. First, any Blood Puppet that you place on your opponent’s battlefield and that survives until the end of the round, will cause your opponent to receive 1 Curse damage. Second, the Living Doll’s Pain Link ability can be used to transfer wound tokens to your opponent’s Phoenixborn. Living Doll is particularly efficient in combination with Small Sacrifice, since you can immediately use a side action to remove any damage placed on the Living Doll. This combo effectively lets you damage one of your opponent’s units and place a wound token on their Phoenixborn by spending a ceremonial class die. Finally, Jessa’s ability, Screams of the Departed, can be used after any unit is destroyed. Screams of the Departed is slightly changed from the original game. It is limited to one use per turn, but now applies when units on either side of the battlefield are destroyed.
While the deck provides a number of different avenues for burn damage, a big weakness is that the damage is all placed one token at a time. The deck does not provide any source of larger burst damage. To play this deck well, you need to be patient, avoid spending too many dice on Screams early in a round, and make sure Jessa retains sufficient blocking units to avoid receiving damage in big bursts. In a pinch, you can place a Blood Puppet on your own battlefield to serve as a blocker. Even if this causes you to receive curse damage that is much better than being unable to block a Hammer Knight charging at Jessa!! You can also use the Focus 1 ability on Small Sacrifice to exhaust a particularly problematic unit on your opponent’s side of the battlefield. For newer players probably the biggest challenge is managing your dice to know when to use Screams of the Departed, and to avoid the trap of Screaming too much early in the round. At the start of each round, I recommend trying to determine how many total dice and how many of each color you expect to spend during the round, and only screaming with any remaining dice.
As a conventional First Five, I recommend (i) Summon Gilder, (ii) Summon Three-Eyed Owl, (iii) Summon Blood Puppet, (iv) Small Sacrifice, and (v) either Living Doll or Blood Archer. The Blood Archer gives you an additional source of ping damage and it is a big unit that can threaten to attack. If you are particularly worried about your opponent starting off with a couple of big units, you might consider adding Jessa’s exclusive card, Fear, into your First Five (substituting Small Sacrifice).
The deck includes a variety of ways to do ping damage with side actions, such as the natural dice power, Enchanted Violinist, and Blood Archer. The fact that these are all side actions is particularly important if your opponent’s battlefield starts to fill up. You can potentially kill an opponent’s unit with a side action opening up a spot on their board, and then immediately summoning a Blood Puppet into that battlefield slot with your main action!
Finally, while this deck does include Three-Eyed Owl and Enchanted Violinist, I suspect in most matchups the Owl is better as a chump blocker that can trigger Screams than for Memory Drain. An exception is in the first round, where Memory Drain can cause a lot of disruption to your opponent’s First Five.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me on discord (Brian B#1734). Enjoy.
Brian Broughman learned to play Ashes in 2017 with some friends in Bloomington Indiana. He has played in a number of tournaments and was honored to select Jericho as the Phoenixborn to win the War of Ashes after he finished first in the Dallas farewell tournament in 2019. Brian began playtesting in 2020 and he currently lives in Nashville Tennessee.