Advanced Ashes is a weekly series covering advanced Ashes strategies. Each week, a different Ashes player will showcase two cards, exploring their strengths and synergies. Visit the PlaidHatGames.com Ashes store, as well as the online Ashes deckbuilder.
I like to think of my Ashes deck as a toolbox. Every time a new problem comes up on the Battlefield, my Phoenixborn can reach in and find the right tool for the job. Deckbuilding with this concept in mind lets you look at cards in a different light. Potential negatives become tools for you to use.
I’m excited to kick off our new Ashes strategy series, Advanced Ashes, where we’ll be taking two cards at a time and exploring their uses and interactions. I hope this leads to new and veteran players alike gleaning some new insight on combos that might have a spot in their deck. These articles are designed to advise players in constructed and competitive play, but the strategies here certainly have their place in draft play and the pre-made decks as well.
Today I’ll be looking at one of the most popular summon spells in the game, but before that let’s take a look at a very versatile and powerful action spell, Blood Chains.
When Blood Chains was first previewed in the lead-up to the release of The Children of Blackcloud, many players were a little put off by the need to destroy one of their own units to gain the benefits of the spell. Players quickly learned that Blood Chains could not only eliminate a threat on the enemy’s Battlefield, but also cull a unit that was occupying space you needed on your own.
In decks with low Battlefield values like Lulu, cards like Blue Jaguar, Steady Gaze, or Rose Fire Dancer can really throw a wrench in your plans. This is actually where I find Blood Chains to be the most valuable. Once a unit has been exhausted from attacking or countering, or through the effect of an enemy card, Blood Chains gives you that Battlefield slot back for a minimal dice cost. Additionally, Blood Chains can trigger abilities that rely on unit destruction to activate (more on that later).
This means that Blood Chains does double duty, eliminating units you need to get rid of and buying time against heavy enemy threats. The key here is to make sure you are capitalizing on the removal of that unit as much as possible. Cards like Chant of Revenge, Summon Sleeping Widows and Final Cry can all combo with Blood Chains to sway the tide of battle in your favor.
The Butterfly Monk might be one of the greatest defensive units in Ashes. The ability to boost their life value means they start to develop a resistance to cheap removal as the game progresses, and their Last Blessing ability can remove wounds from your Phoenixborn and keep your damage total under control. With the Unit Guard ability, you can also use the Butterfly Monk to guard for your more crucial units. The cost of 1 is high at first, but when you factor in that the die you’re spending could potentially equate to an additional life for your Phoenixborn, it makes it a little easier to spend.
One of the toughest choices players will face with Butterfly Monk is how many times the spell should be focused. Obviously, the higher life value makes your Monks more durable, but it also leads to Last Blessing triggering less often, along with other spells that trigger off unit destruction. In the end it comes down to a situation-by-situation basis. Also, don’t be afraid to meditate away your on copies of the spell in the late game to kill the Butterfly Monks yourself.
It’s clear to see how these cards can work together to tie up your enemy’s Battlefield. After you’ve boosted your Butterfly Monks' life value, you can use them to slow the advance of enemy forces. A Butterfly Monk with a Life Value of three can potentially tie up an enemy unit for the rest of the game when you sacrifice it to Blood Chains. This could also combo with copies of Chant of Revenge and a Final Cry to hit your opponent for as much as 5 Damage and 3 exhaustion on an enemy unit, plus 1 wound removed from your Phoenixborn.
Well, that’s all for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed our very first Advanced Ashes. This series has much more ahead! We’ve contacted some of the most talented players in the world to share their top level strategies, tips and tricks to help players of all skill levels take their game to the next level.
Next week: Winter is coming.