Re-Constructed Decks - Rin
Playing It Cool
Welcome back, Ashes players, to another installment of Re-Constructed. Last article, we showcased Maeoni, who’s snake-centric pre-con was easily enhanced with minor number tweaks and a full set of Frost Bites. Today, we’re following the Frost Bites to the source with Rin Northfell’s re-con.
To those who missed the last article or need a refresher, re-constructed is a deckbuilding restriction which uses the pre-constructed decks as a base and amplifies them with overall minimal changes. The goal is to provide a nice middle ground between playing with pre-con decks and full on deck construction. These are the restrictions I used:
- Each deck must contain at least half of the original pre-con (15 cards)
- Each deck must contain at least 1 copy of the Phoenixborn unique card.
- Each deck may swap up to 1 die, but must only use the original dice types.
That last point isn’t going to matter much today since we’re looking at Rin Northfell who, like most organic fruits, is all natural:
The Frostdale Survivors (Re-Rin)
Re-constructed by Andrew DiLullo
1x Summon Ice Golem
2x Summon Frostback Bear
3x Summon Iron Rhino
3x Frost Bite
3x Close Combat
1x Freezing Blast
2x Nature’s Wrath
2x Frost Fang
1x Pain Shaman
2x Sleeping Bear
1x Crystal Shield
1x Deep Freeze
1x Frozen Crown
3x Root Armor
2x Rin’s Fury
2x Ice Trap
Mono-natural has a tendency to be a bit ”unga bunga”. You’re not here to be especially clever, you’re here to drop a baseball bat on the battlefield and flail it around your opponent’s board. At face value, mono-natural excels at mounting tremendous pressure on your opponent and forcing a solution. However, in practice it tends to be more nuanced, with Rin’s pre-con being a great example.
In the previous version of Ashes, Rin’s Fury expanded your dice pool for the round, which helped offset the deck’s high costs. With Ashes Reborn, the dice expansion is gone but the high costs remain. Most of the deck’s original tools are still here and remain rather effective: Frostback Bear and Ice Golem fill up your battlefield, Frost Bite applies pressure over time, Rin’s Fury and Ice Trap give you board control, and alterations improve the livelihood of your units. However, without the old Rin’s Fury, this goes from being a straightforward “big units” game plan to one that asks a myriad of questions every round. Which units will you choose to play, when will you choose to play them, how tough do you need them to be (via Ice Buff or other alterations), and when can you afford to attack? This deck is an exercise in timing and patience, in which optimizing the value of your units is paramount. Ideally, we want every single unit we play to be used at least twice before dying, if possible, either by attacking, countering, or forcing an opponent’s spell/ability. So, many of the new inclusions revolve around this ‘use it twice’ mentality.
Root Armor is cheap and incredibly effective at keeping units alive through multiple hits, and Close Combat effectively gives one of our units an extra attack in the current round. Pain Shaman and Nature’s Wrath provide us with a way to slow our opponent’s game plan down without suffering much on our end (our units have high life values, and some get Armored 1). This re-con generally benefits from taking things slow and playing defensive, so Sleeping Bear gives us a way to healthily round out our battlefield while keeping our costs down. With all this talk of keeping costs down, you may be wondering why we include Iron Rhinos, and the main reason is that we need a hard closer when games go too long.
Most of this deck hinges on figuring out how much survival you need to pack onto your units. You can often extend a unit’s livelihood with just an Ice Buff (especially Ice Golem), but sometimes it takes harder alterations, Rin’s Fury, or even your Phoenixborn guard to keep your units alive. The toughest challenge is not overcommitting; you only want to push survival if it will actually extend a unit’s lifespan. All of this advice also applies to Iron Rhino, a unit you shouldn’t expect to summon on the regular due to its cost, but like all of our units its value is based on longevity; the more times a rhino or golem or bear can take an action, the better off you’ll be.
Definitely start with your two main summon books: Ice Golem and Frostback Bear. They will be the backbone of your entire game, even if you don’t always summon both each round. Against faster decks, you should consider Pain Shaman and/or Nature’s Wrath. Against control and mill opponents, Ice Trap can usually knock out an annoying utility unit (often an Owl) and cards like Frost Fang and Sleeping Bear can force a lot of pressure for cheap. Though I wouldn’t recommend it, you can play for high risk/reward with Frozen Crown on a Frostback Bear, which could be backbreaking against opponents lacking an answer. You’re more than welcome to start with Frost Bite or Summon Iron Rhino (in some matchups an early rhino can go a long way), but we’re generally looking to draw into these cards later in the game. I personally wouldn’t summon a rhino until it’s been focused at least once.
Do I really need another 2 expansions?
It really does help. Nature’s Wrath is such a game changer against decks that would otherwise overwhelm you, and Sleeping Bear is probably the highest value-to-cost unit in the game that you can run. Pain Shaman is a pretty solid defensive unit as well. That being said, there are a couple usable alternatives: Pain Shaman and Nature’s Wrath can potentially be replaced with Anchornauts, and Sleeping Bear can be subbed with Iron Worker, though far less effectively. You may also consider cards like Cover and Molten Gold, each of which can serve quite a bit of value in this deck. I avoided them only because I was generally favoring more class and basic symbols in this deck.
Taking it further:
I’m functioning on a deck building restriction, but you are free to build and play however you want. While natural magic is definitely one of the strongest magics in the game, a bit of diversity goes a long way. Learning some lessons from Maeoni, a bit of charm magic can provide tons of helpful options. Gilder with Empower can expand your board control, Transfer and Call to Action make it easier to double/triple up on unit actions (Fun fact: You can move an exhaustion token from a unit onto an Ice Buff with no repercussions), and Golden Veil stops a lot of shenanigans. I’m also a big fan of splashing divine magic since it tends to offer many tools for larger units like Heal, Mass Heal, Enlightenment, Power Through, and Law of Domination. If you run both charm and divine, you get access to Steadfast Guardian, arguably one of the best new conjurations in the game with Rin since it has such great synergy with both Ice Buff and Rin’s Fury.
That being said, if you want to stay mono-natural, there’s still quite a bit of experimentation available to you. Natural features several impressive unit guards that I didn’t include here: Biter is powerful and benefits especially well from your safety tools, and Butterfly Monk provides crucial healing for either Rin or your other units. If you want to take this deck in a more unique combo direction, you can include a full playset of Massive Growth and Dispel: Dispel handles a few unique problems on your opponent’s board, but can also be used on Massive Growth to shuffle it back into your deck. The primary growth target in this deck is Frostback Bear since it has Terrifying 1, making it more likely to slip through blockers.
That’s all for this article. Next time, we’ll be taking a step back to re-examine another master set Phoenixborn, Noah Redmoon, and similar to Maeoni, we’ll be making one crucial spellboard adjustment that drastically opens up his schemes…
Andrew DiLullo is an animator, a game designer, and luckily also a writer. Having first discovered Ashes at the tail end of the first round of expansions in 2016, he’s been playing ever since and currently heads the Bay Area Ashes group in California. He was especially active in several community projects after Ashes was canceled the first time, and now puts his attention to Reborn as the game starts anew. He’s currently designing a board game in his spare time, and occasionally writes on his online journal: The Lighthouse Library.