Re-Constructed Decks - There and Back Again
Welcome back, Ashes players, to another installment of Re-Constructed. Well, sort of. This is more of a housecleaning segment.
For the last (for real this time) article, I wanted to revisit the last set of Re-constructed decks we made, and see where they could be improved, either as a result of playing them more or with the advent of new cards. Re-constructed has been well received it seems, so I wanted to see if we could spruce it up just a little while keeping all the same rules and restrictions as before. Only one thing changes: we’re going to assume you have the entire Ashes collection up till now.
It should also be noted that if you enjoy playing the decks as they already exist, you can certainly keep having a good time with the old lists, but I promise none of the changes we’re adding are that extreme. We’re “taking it further” to the extreme this time, giving you an alternative and asking you what you prefer to play with.
The Snakes in Verglas (Re-Maeoni)
-1 Massive Growth
+1 Root Armor
Maeoni's deck tends to slay without any assistance, but while Massive Growth is a powerful card in combination with Command Strike, I think having a single Root Armor can provide you with more stability. I thought about Inflame and Rile the Meek for the while, but ultimately found them a little lacking with this particular package.
The Frostdale Survivors (Re-Rin)
-1 Frozen Crown
+1 Crystal Shield
As mentioned before, Rin's deck has it a little rough with mono-natural, but we don't need to make it harder by also making it unnecessarily expensive. While I think Frozen Crown can be a solid card in a few situations, I don't think it accomplishes enough in a deck whose primary theme is "survival". Crystal Shield is a bit cheaper, helps our units survive, and gives us more control of combat situations. Sadly, none of Lulu’s mono-natural inclusions are that strong here, though some may find some success with Inflame on Frost Golems (4/4/0 with Threaten is pretty serious)
The Secrets of Viros (Re-Noah)
-1 Shadow Strike
Noah’s version of aggro is rather vicious, but it does stumble a little against similarly wide reaching boards. While Noah’s re-con is really good at steadily closing out a game with lots of burn and unblockable attacks, Rapture can create alternative openings against other swarm decks. Shadow Strike is great for creating openings reactively, but Rapture should help us be a little more proactive.
The Sacrifices of Blackcloud (Re-Brennen)
Yup, Brennen’s fine. A solid aggro to burn package with good threat management and a reliable gameplan. That’s not to say that Rowan doesn’t have some enticing offers with Ritualist and Rapture, but I don’t feel that Brennen needs them badly enough.
The Haze Guardian (Re-Aradel)
-1 Reflections in the Water
Despite all the mist Aradel surrounds herself with, her re-con is astoundingly solid; the only change I found especially worthwhile was Reflections in the Water out for Inflame, one of the new Lulu cards. While Reflections provides answers to some rather unusual problems, I think her deck is already answering the bulk of those questions well. Inflame opens a couple of big swings to push through a little harder, and has great synergy with Blue Jaguar.
The Bloodwoods Preserver (Re-Jessa)
+2 Crimson Bomber
Jessa's deck was definitely underperforming a bit, and the culprit seemed to be twofold: Not enough board presence, and not enough answers to aggro. Crimson Bomber is a great way to address both of those problems, answering threats both big and small. Funnily enough, it’s also a swap that keeps us in the same decks as the previous re-con. Honestly, I’m a little ashamed I missed this one the first time, Fester is cool with Blood Archer but we need our board states far less fragile for Jessa to work her magic.
The Duchess of Exuberance (Re-Victoria)
-3 Hidden Power, -1 Shadow Guard, -1 Copycat
+2 Keepsake, +1 Body Inversion, +1 Figures in the Fog, +1 Flash Archer
Oh my goodness, where has this card been? Victoria was a slight bit wobbly before, and I suspect she will continue to be so in the future, but Keepsake is such a fun and powerful inclusion for this character. With Keepsake, Secret Door is something you’re planning to save for the very end of the game to close out the last attack or two. There are even cases where starting with a Keepsake in the First Five isn’t a terrible idea, as it creates a constant pressure point once it’s full (I would swap out Gates Thrown Open). Finally, the reimplementation of Body Inversion is to help improve our matchups against a couple decks in particular, including Saria, Leo, Orrick, and surprisingly Tristan.
The Cloudsea Avians (Re-Saria)
No Changes, however…
Saria’s deck is fantastic, but as of the current chained list, Three-Eyed-Owl cannot be summoned in the first round anymore. So, the only change I have is to the first five: replace Summon Three-Eyed-Owl with either Enchanted Violinist or Beast Tamer. If I were to make a change, it would be -1 Beast Tamer and +1 Summon Ruby Cobra. Having a first five replacement for Owl that fills much the same role is nice, and there are some matchups where having an extra summon book is better than Body Inversion. I thought about Generosity for a little while, but ultimately decided that the deck didn’t need it.
The Blooming Rose (Re-Leo)
-1 Memory Theft, -1 Imperial Ninja, -1 Golden Veil
+1 Flock Shepherd, +2 Rile the Meek
Mono-charm was extra rough when we made Leo’s deck the first time, but the addition of Orrick’s card pool brought some incredible new tools to play with, crucially some that interact with our opponent’s better. Glow Finch into Rile the Meek is a pretty solid play with other Doves on the board, and the single Flock Shepherd also has powerful synergy with Glow Finch.
The Song of Soaksend EP (Re-Namine)
1. Hard Scratch Mix
Final Decklist - Namine A side
2. Chillwave Mix
Final Decklist - Namine B side
-1 Call Upon the Realms, -1 River Skald, -1 Iron Worker
+1 Shatter Pulse, +2 Jungle Warrior
No need to change the Hard Scratch Mix; the deck is trying really hard to do basically one thing excellently, and I think it succeeds at that. Since the Chillwave Mix needs to play a more steady, consistent game, the changes reflect that. CUtR is a little redundant with Magic Syphon in the deck (we’re saving late game Augury for Encore exclusively now), and Shatter Pulse removal helps cover the lack of Guilt Link. Because of the draw from Augury, we can do without as much River Skald and Iron Worker this time around, while Jungle Warrior is just a massive ball of synergy with Squall Stallions.
Additionally, River Skald being moved to the Chained List means that it can’t be First Five’d in either version of the deck, but both decks can navigate around this chain with little pain. Hard Scratch focuses more on the 1 and 3 cost fetches from Augury, and almost any 2-cost ally does well enough for Chillwave.
The Iron Shapers (Re-Coal)
-1 Chant of Worship
+1 Hunting Weapons
Coal’s deck is overall strong, so it doesn’t really need changes. That being said, we’re adding one more card for the toolbox since it does a lot of work with your wide arsenal of allies. Rapture was definitely tempting, but we’re already rocking 3 copies of One Hundred Blades, so I think we can do without.
The Decrees of Lions (Re-Odette)
-1 Shepherd of Lost Souls
+1 Sun Sister
Odette’s deck has a solid game plan and powerful units to boot. Mono-divine is still an especially rigid arrangement however, so improvements are welcome. I believe the number of situations where Shepherd is of substantial quality are more limited than they should be, making Sun Sister an overall stronger pick. Though we’re still keeping a single Shepherd as a bit of insurance for useful utility allies like Shield Mage and Sun Sister.
The Masters of Chaos (Re-Echo)
The Master of Gravity is still just as powerful as when we left him, with his heavy manipulation tempo playstyle continuing to powerhouse through games in a fantastical way. I had considered Crystal Armor and Blessing of Lightning for a hot second, but ultimately with how well the deck is already functioning they seem unnecessary.
The Boy Among Stallions (Re-Koji)
-1 New Ideas, -1 Sleeping Bear
+2 Wave Crash
Koji’s Re-con has a lot of power and stability…on its own side. One place it’s still lacking a little in directly interacting with the opponent’s board. Guilt Link is very strong, but there’s a lack of directness to it that can make dealing with specific threats challenging before you start chaining Brilliant Thorns. Wave Crash almost feels like a card designed specifically for Koji, and it’s convenient that it fills notable gaps in the re-con as well.
The Messiah of Ishra (Re-Astrea)
-1 Chained Creations, -1 Sun Sister, -1 Holy Relics, -1 Holy Knight
+2 Safeguard, +1 Flock Shepherd, +1 Devotion
+1 Charm Die, -1 Divine Die (Now a 5/5 Split)
Wow, that looks like a ton of changes, but half of them are actually changes I suggested in the original article, opting out due to the number of expansions needed. Here, we’re not operating under that framework, which is also why we’re bringing in Flock Shepherd from another expansion. Flock Shepherd is a fantastic inclusion with Admonishers, providing protection and further disincentivizing attacks from the opponent. Given our adjusted spread of dice and the fact that we actually didn’t have enough cards to meet the 15 card re-con requirement with these changes (oops), Devotion is back to work its uniquely defensive magic with cards like Flock Shepherd and Sun Sister (and occasionally Imperial Ninja when desperate), as well as the divine dice power. For control decks like these, large scale adjustments aren’t as uncommon as you think, it’s arguably one of the hardest archetypes to refine.
The Triads of Darmas (Re-Harold)
Despite how savage and occasionally ghoulish this deck appears, Harold’s re-con is just a ton of fun to play and offers a wealth of interesting decision points. No new cards from the recent expansions add much to this deck’s overall plan with one minor exception: Summon Prism Tetra. I debated this one for a long time, but ultimately while Prism Tetra is basically a guaranteed Group Tactics trigger by itself, the attack that follows just isn’t impactful enough for my taste. Still, if you want to throw in some fearsome fish, I’d go -1 Dark Reaping and +1 Summon Prism Tetra.
The Quintessence of Memoria (Re-Sembali)
No Changes to the main core, or Gates of the Conqueror, Solipsist, or Reckoner.
Gate of the Patron: -1 Shield Mage; +1 Chained Creations (3 total)
Sembali’s re-con was vastly experimental, but ultimately worthwhile. The system of interchangeable parts has probably made this deck nightmarish for digital archiving (sorry fellow TTS players), but I stand by the Gates system as a cool way to represent the communal history of this Phoenixborn. I also like how all the gates play for the most part, making only a slight change to Gate of the Patron. Still, we’ve gotten a lot of new cards, so I’m going to give you 1 last gate to mess around with:
Gate of the Opportunist
“The tongue is the only tool that sharpens with use.”
2x Summon Fox Spirit
2x Summon Light Bringer
2x Crystal Armor
2x Rose Fire Dancer
The Gate of the Opportunist focuses on Sembali’s ability to punish units that overcommit and exhaust too early, either by their choice or ours. Fox Spirit and Light Bringer offer a devastating two-pronged attack when working in unison, while Ensnare allows us to make our opponent’s precious Phoeixborn guards extra punishing. Crystal Armor is also a wonderful new tool for expanding the power level of Gift of Wings for very little dice. +1 in all stats is surprisingly strong with Celestial Knight’s Armored 1. Rose Fire Dancer makes a return from Gate of the Solipsist to employ her rather dirty tricks with Purity once again, but her exhaustion is being used mostly to empower Fox Spirit’s attacks now.
First five is usually Fox Spirit, Light Bringer, Light Swordsman, Celestial Knight, and Crystal Armor. I will present the threat of Light Bringer early, but wait until after summoning one to drop Fox Spirit so as to lull my opponent into a false sense of security. Crystal Armor is a flexible pick designed to be attached to whomever it would be most threatening (I prefer Celestial Knight).
The Keeper of Titans (Re-Xander)
Dinosaurs are big, removal is big, everything is big. Why would I change any of that? Granted, Inflame wouldn’t be the worst inclusion and works well with the Polarity Mage, but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to swap out for it. Since you’re going to be attacking the opponent’s units directly most of the time, it’s less necessary to have it.
The Apocalypse Guardian (Re-Rimea)
This is definitely one of the most intricate re-cons of the bunch, and all of its elements are working in perfect unison. I do think there’s a decent call to replace Dark Presence with Dream Fracture, but unfortunately that breaks the 15 card minimum on re-cons and weirdly I don’t see a much stronger future in that direction.
The Pagemaster of Argaia (Re-Fiona)
+2 Call to Action
Fiona definitely produced the strangest overall precon of the bunch, and while I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t produce a more unique deck with her arrangement, I do think it’s functionally where it needs to be. There’s a good transitional flow from the midrange board brawl into the one-hit combo finisher. There’s only one swap here: Redirect is a solid defensive option, but our units are honestly strong enough to mount a sizable defense and retaliation, so I feel they'll get more value through Call to Action. I do think if I were to take another stab at this deck, I’d like to revisit the Nightsong Cricket/Weeping Spirit version that sought to win through fixed discard loops. That version might be easier to pull off now thanks to cards like Captivate, Ruby Cobra, and possibly Wave Crash.
The Grave Digger (Re-James)
-1 Blood Shaman, -1 Iron Worker
+1 Chant of Hostility, +1 Ritualist
James is vicious and brutally effective, and realistically doesn’t need any changes. However, I do think that if there was ever a good home for Chant of Hostility, it would be here. Additionally, our first five is receiving an adjustment: Chant of Sacrifice is being replaced with Ritualist, who will find whichever Chant is more useful in the matchup we’re playing. While the +1 Attack from Chant of Hostility may not seem like much, it does vastly improve our ability to perform narrow, single-unit attacks, especially with 1-attack units (also goes great with Fallen’s “Infectious” ability).
My goodness, was that really worth all the effort?
Yeah, I’d say so. Ashes is a constantly evolving game. Occasionally, new cards release that simply work better with an existing archetype, or at least help patch holes in one. Plus, some of these changes were made simply to make a few Re-cons more “functional” which is to say not all of them were. Jessa’s re-con is a great example of a deck that was remarkably close to working, but just didn’t quite have the board presence to stabilize against her aggressors. Ultimately, the purpose is to provide a more fun and exciting experience across the board, regardless of who you want to play.
I’ve mentioned before that the purpose of the Re-constructed series is to provide a midpoint between precons and fully constructed decks, but I never could’ve imagined players would treat it like its own format. So, if I can make this format a little better, and definitely more exciting, than yes it’s absolutely worth the effort.
I hope you continue to enjoy Ashes, however you choose to play it. Speaking of which, expect to see more ways to play coming in the near future…
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.