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Ashes: Understanding Placement

Focused Spellboards and Full Battlefields

Ashes: Rise of the PhoenixbornWelcome to Ashes: Saria Week at PlaidHatGames! Each week, all week long, we’ll take a look at a different Phoenixborn and their suggested deck builds. The goal of these articles is to introduce you to the cards found in the base game, as well as the strategies of each of the pre-built decks. On Mondays we will cover the general dynamics of gameplay. Last week was Coal Week, and before that Maeoni was featured!

This article is part of our general overview of Ashes mechanics. Don't miss our attacking/defending overview or our phases of play overview.

Ashes is available for pre-order at the store. Pre-order today from our site and get $15 off the retail price! Order from and get a free Dimona Odinstar promo Phoenixborn, along with her exclusive Rayward Knight ally!

Hello All!

Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s day weekend. Today we will be going over placement and its importance to Ashes.


Every card in Ashes has a placement associated with it, whether that card is a spell or a unit. Most spells in the same category have the same placement. Ready spells will go on your spellboard, allies will go on your battlefield, alteration spells will go on a unit, and action/reaction spells typically go into your discard pile. But like any card game Plaid Hat Games makes, the card is king when it comes to rules. So don’t be surprised that some cards break from the norm. See the following for example:

Strange CopyThere is no limit to how many cards can be placed into your discard pile or onto a unit. But when it comes to your battlefield and spellboard you are limited by your Phoenixborn’s battlefield and spellboard values.

Aradel's battlefield and spellboard values

These values determine how many cards you can have on your spellboard and battlefield. When it comes to deckbuilding, this will be something to keep in mind. You may not want to include too many ready spells or units in your deck if your Phoenixborn is not going to have the space to place them.

Ready spells, however, have the advantage of being able to be focused. When a player puts a ready spell into play on a spellboard, if there are already 1 or more copies of that ready spell on that spellboard, then the spell becomes focused. The new copy of the spell is placed below the current copy. The new copy does not take up an additional spellboard slot.

This is great because many ready spells are exhausted as part of their cost to activate, meaning they can no longer be activated during that round. So having multiple copies of a spell in play allows a player to activate that spell more than once per round (exhausting a different copy of that ready spell each time).

Focused Cards example

Some of those cards have additional effects if they become focused. The image above shows us what a card will look like when it’s focused. But if you notice the text it also has a Focus 1 & Focus 2 ability. Because there are two copies of the Summon Silver Snake card, the Focus 1 effect on both cards is currently active and the additional bonus effect will take place when you activate the card.

Placement is an important part of understanding the value of cards throughout the game. Cards that get put on your spellboard may seem weak in comparison to cards that get placed in your discard pile, but spellboard cards can be used every round. Weighing those pros and cons will be key to determining your path to victory.

And that’s it for today everyone! Next week we will dive deeper into the different card types, what they have to offer, and how to utilize them.

Tune in tomorrow for the introduction of Saria Guideman, the Siren of Lighthouse Bay!

Thanks for reading!


Game Overview Previews: Phases of Play, Attacking/Defending, Placement, Card Types, Dice Powers, Multiplayer and Drafting
Maeoni Previews
: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Coal Previews: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Saria Previews: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Noah Previews: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Jessa Previews: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Aradel Previews: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Click here to pre-order Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn and get a $15 pre-order discount as well as the Dimona Odinstar Promo Pack.

Written by Isaac Vega, designer of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn and other Plaid Hat Games (Dead of Winter, BioShock, City of Remnants, and Video Game High School)

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