Re-Constructed Deck - The Gorrenrock Reptiles
Fire and Water
Welcome back, Ashes players, to another installment of Re-Constructed. Grab a bathing suit and put on some sunscreen, it’s gonna get hot in here.
Hopefully, you’re already aware of the deck building restrictions we’re working with. If not, read the last Re-Con article (or any of the previous ones). For all the Time Phoenixborn, we’re also assuming you have the Breaker of Fate, as time dice will obviously be required to play them. Today, we’re messing around with Lulu and an expansive listing of reptiles who just enjoy hanging out in the sun…and burning your face off.
The Gorrenrock Reptiles (Re-Lulu)
5 x Time Dice, 5 x Nature Dice
2x Summon Emberoot Lizard
2x Summon Seafoam Snapper
1x Summon Omen Bringer
1x Canyon Shelter
2x Adept Duelist
1x Gorrenrock Brawler
2x Raptor Herder
2x Call Upon the Realms
3x Molten Gold
3x Phoenix Barrage
2x Survival of the Fittest
2x Hunting Weapons
3x Ocean’s Gift
1x Root Armor
Natural magic has carved a path throughout Ashes with boatloads of removal. The number of opportunities natural magic gives you to deal direct damage to units and occasionally Phoenixborn is frightening, and part of why natural magic remains a consistently effective magic type in every iteration of the game. Lulu’s precon dials the damage up harder than most of her natural contemporaries, blasting away with Emberoot Lizards, Phoenix Barrages, Hunting Weapons, and even her ability to create Sparks. And just when you thought the fun stopped at damage, we’ve got Survival of the Fittest, one of the meanest board destroyers in the game. Because of how much incidental damage Lulu’s deck fires off, mounting any kind of reliable defense against her is torturous, amplified even further through cards like Inflame and Gorrenrock Brawler punching your walls down. The remainder of her deck is designed more with support and pressure in mind. Fighting Spirit as showcased in Jericho’s Re-Con can help reassemble an effective offense out of nowhere, and so can the often annoying Canyon Shelter, tucking away vulnerable units until the perfect moment. Finally, Omen Bringers provide a semblance of control and ready spell shenanigans to help keep our pressure tools more accurate.
Going into this Re-Con, the main thing I wanted to retain was the sense of “overflowing” damage that Lulu specializes in. Between all the pre-combat damage tricks, awkward blocking, and continuous pressure, damage just kind of keeps slipping through the cracks and into your opponent’s precious life total. So, we’re going to push that aspect as far as possible…and maybe also go surfing. More on that later.
Some classic players will remember a time when Lulu was among the strongest contenders for a strong burn strategy. Between Phoenix Barrage, Final Cry, and Molten Gold, you could load 21 direct damage into your deck! That’s not including any damage you manage to sneak in with unit swings, so the ceiling is pretty high for unstoppable damage. Regrettably, we can’t run Final Cry in the re-con, but we’re still packing a mighty impressive 15 direct, so in theory we just need our units to get in for about 5-7 direct damage to defeat most opponents, a task that should prove pretty doable with the units and cards we’re packing.
While Fighting Spirit is alright in this deck, one issue the precon has is a slight lack of units, so we’ll be switching it out with a second reptile in the form of Seafoam Snapper. We won’t be looking to munch on our own units that often, opting instead to load status through Canyon Shelter, Ocean’s Gift and Bolster, all cards and effects that keep our Emberoot Lizards threatening as well. Raptor Herders are of course experts at mounting annoyingly wide offenses, and are one of the more accessible allies for holding Hunting Weapons for extra ping. Pulling a surprising amount of weight in this deck is Adept Duelist, a unit that often heavily disrupts opponents’ boards through his hasty attack, Stalk ability, and his ability to remove alterations which enable stronger surfing. Again, later.
You may have noticed that beyond a couple of these new additions, almost the entirety of Lulu’s precon is still floating here. That’s because almost every card in Lulu’s deck is already contributing nicely to this gameplan, and all we really needed was some number corrections. We really don’t need extra copies of most of our spellboard, and while Gorrenrock Brawler can be an absolute unit in some matchups, we probably never need three copies of the four cost fighter. Trimming all the fat leaves us with a lean, mean muscle machine, and opens up some brazen additions like triple Molten Gold, as well as enough Calls Upon the Realms and Ocean’s Gifts to ensure our dice can float in the wave pool.
Despite sounding like an aggro deck, the plan with Lulu is to play a lot steadier and consistent. For the first five, we’re looking to assert some board dominance through a 3-4 unit start, paired with two units’ worth of removal (Phoenix Barrage is pretty powerful in the opening hand). Factoring in the Emberoot Lizard, Spark, and Barrage, our opportunities for removal via spontaneous fire are numerous and flexible. That being said, there’s a lot of room to mess around with adjusted selections; only the summon books and Phoenix Barrage are truly necessary at the start. For a more aggressive opening, Raptor Herder can push a lot of extra damage through, while Root Armor can provide invaluable against an opponent’s damage-based removal. In some rare cases, starting with Gorrenrock Brawler can trounce through more defensive setups, especially if it sticks around for multiple rounds.
Can we please go surfing now?:
Sure thing, let’s talk general strategy. A lot of our play patterns will be built around the possibility of SurFing at the start of the next round…which of course stands for Survival of the Fittest. Duh. The goal is to build our units up with status tokens while creating as many clean kills as possible. We don’t like leaving lingering wounds for our opponents to hang ten with – only cool people like us are allowed to ride these waves. We’re looking to attack units with which we can get guaranteed kills (or force PB guards), alternatively we want to use our fire breathing lizards and Hunting Weapons to enable free kills before blocks can be declared. This mid-swing damage is an essential part of what makes this deck powerful, so we’re striving to focus that aspect whenever we can. By the end of the round, however, there’s a specific state we’re looking to leave the board in: all of our units either have status or wounds, and all our opponent’s units are clean. This way, if we manage to get a SurF in our next hand, we wash the board away in a wave of cleansing fire.
We’re also looking to sneak in Molten Golds whenever the opportunity arises; while having double power dice is tricky, we can more easily craft the results with Call Upon the Realms or Ocean’s Gift. Finally, while most of your units are largely expendable, you do want to protect your Emberoot Lizards whenever the option arises, as they’re the most setup-dependent, and having to do all the setup over and over again is a bit of a wipeout. The best ways to guarantee this safety is either with Phoenixborn guards, or tucking them underneath Canyon Shelter for usage at a critical time.
For this particular deck, Tristan’s deck is extremely helpful, contributing a whopping five cards to our list (besides, we need the ocean themed deck if we wanna properly SurF). However, we don’t absolutely need Dimona or Xander’s contributions, even if they are great. You do need more allies however, otherwise Hunting Weapons ends up a bit of a dead card. Within the smaller card pool, Swift Messenger and Anchornaut are both perfectly decent replacements for Raptor Herder that can also do well with Hunting Weapons (Anchornaut also supports all of our damage based removal). As for Adept Duelist, you can get most of the experience you want with another Tristan card: Darkwater Hunter. While she can’t be summoned at Side Action speed and her cost is a little time-intensive, having access to Stalk gives you some juicy board control and she can still be summoned at a faster speed, albeit with less surprise factor. Having 1 extra attack also means she can address overall larger threats.
Taking it further:
Lulu’s cards are already very well suited for her, and so you don’t usually need to dip far outside Time and Natural for her to be effective. There are some fun options within ceremonial and divine magic. We mentioned Final Cry before as part of a 21-direct damage build and Fester is brutally available thanks to all the incidental damage that gets thrown around. On the divine magic side, Meteor and Chained Creations go very well with our flexible damage removal plan, and Law of Sight can help keep our opponents out of trouble from nasty control players that would meddle a little harder than we’d like.
That being said, my favorite direction with Lulu involves a little sympathy and one of my favorite underrepresented units: Mirror Spirit. This peppery little ball of fur can do wonders with Lulu’s Bolster thanks to the status attack scaling, and also does quite well with Ocean’s Gift for the same reason. If you do start using the Focus 1 and emptying Mirror Spirit for exhaustion (great way to sneak more attackers through), Bolster gets it back to the 1-status minimum to do it again later, and Spark will at least jump him right back to 2 attack, keeping him dangerous at all times. Not to mention that sympathy magic already has some powerful cards that can rapidly push the power of a deck like this, including Explosive Growth and Crescendo. If you find that your deck is managing to generate enough status tokens, Tristan’s Wave Crash starts becoming a massive threat and works as a nice replacement for that Final Cry.
That’s all for this week. Next time, Orrick is looking to pull the wool over your eyes. It’s a sheep joke. There’s going to be a lot of sheep.
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.