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Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn» Forums » General

Subject: So who here has tried deckbuilding? rss

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Scott C
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Alright, so I've played the game a few times, now, mostly teaching to new people, and just have Jessa and Maeoni left to play myself, but I've read through their decks and thought about how I'd try to play them.

And the game's good, don't get me wrong! I'm quite sold on the way the micro-turns play, I like the dice as resources mechanic, the cards have better interaction than I initially feared after distractedly spectating a few mid-game demos at GenCon (which isn't the best environment to read the text closely on cards while other people play).

But I'm a little wary of the deckbuilding aspect -- that is, I'm not sure there's really much to do. The card pool is pretty small (68 cards counting Dimona if you consider summons and their conjurations as one deckbuilding unit printed on two cards, or as a card and an associated token) and the pre-built decks are really tight and well-focused.

It's that very tight focus that makes me dubious as to whether there's much point in deck-building. All of the pre-built decks function very smoothly and feature very clear and necessary synergies. I don't feel like I can identify any substitutions I would leap to make that would clearly make the deck better.

However, I've learned my lesson with questioning the card interactions, so before I leap to condemn the deckbuilding format, I'll ask for other peoples' experiences.

* Have you felt that building your own deck lead you to a stronger deck, or that you were able to tailor a deck to a playstyle that none of the others fit as well without it being a weaker deck?
* What kind of changes did you make to tweak one of the pre-builts, or how did you construct a new one wholesale, and how does its combination of cards interact to produce a cohesive whole?

I'm less concerned for drafting, because the pool to draft from will be variable, so it's not like you can reasonably aim to just create one of the seemingly tight pre-builts out of the draft.
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Matt Watkins
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I have a bunch of games under my belt and I can honestly say that the deck building aspect is kinda not gonna happen in my group. First off thematically the cards are tailor made for their phoenix borne, and even the art is. Most of Saria's stuff has her all over it, as well as the other PB's. Also there just seems to be such a great harmony with the premades I have no desire to try other combos, they really are perfect the way they are.
 
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Skaak
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I find deckbuilding in Ashes quite rewarding, personally. The preconstructed decks are focused, but each one is very much focused on a single theme (often to their detriment; if they aren't able to pull off the single thing that they're focused on then they just fizzle out).

There's some really fun synergy once you start grabbing cards across decks, too. One of my favorites currently is Chant of Revenge paired with Small Sacrifice. Coal has a bunch of stuff, actually, that works well with Noah or Jessa.

Additionally, you just flat out don't need three copies of a lot of cards, particularly things like Open Memories where you're pretty much guaranteed to have them in your First Five if you're using them. Dropping a few cards down to 1x or 2x copies opens up a lot more flexibility in your decks to deal with unexpected strategies or Phoenixborn who otherwise would just shut you down. Splashing one or two of a particular dice in order to play a surprise card can also be fun.
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Scott C
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Skaak wrote:
Splashing one or two of a particular dice in order to play a surprise card can also be fun.

Ah, right. I forgot to make this point/query:

The other reason I'm hesitant to trust deckbuilding will be a successful aspect of the game is that a LOT of cards naturally require two dice types already, so there are some combinations that seem like they're playing with fire as far as resource availability is concerned if they force you into a third or, heaven forbid, fourth color. Now, I'll make a caveat, here, too -- so far, I haven't done a whole lot of intensive meditating, as I'm still feeling out what cards I feel like I can dispose of in different matchups and situations. Obviously, if you feel comfortable meditating aggressively, this is a much less serious issue.

So I'll expand the scope to include: what dice distributions have you tried (and include what card(s) you were trying to support by deviating from 50/50), and have they worked? Not worked?
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Marc Bennett
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i have heard this questioned before and i originally had the same concerns. having had the game for a while and tried my hand at deckbuilding i can say there is little cause for concern.

for example, spiked armor is great on a silver snake, or even the guilders. jessa almost begs for chant of revenge.

the only deck i wouldn't make minor tweeks to currently is Saria. her deck is very focused and does what it does well.

however that didn't stop me building a custom saria deck. i made a saria battlefield advantage deck, using the ravens and blood archer, along with empower and strengthen as well as charm dice to boost attack. i did post it but i don't have time to find the link right now, the idea was get an archer first turn then kill any units that get brought out ASAP.

i don't mind mixing 3 or 4 dice together as long as i have shifting mist in my first 5. i feel that gives me a lot of flexibility to rotate dice to the sides i need.
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Donny Behne
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Kaffis wrote:
Skaak wrote:
Splashing one or two of a particular dice in order to play a surprise card can also be fun.

Ah, right. I forgot to make this point/query:

The other reason I'm hesitant to trust deckbuilding will be a successful aspect of the game is that a LOT of cards naturally require two dice types already, so there are some combinations that seem like they're playing with fire as far as resource availability is concerned if they force you into a third or, heaven forbid, fourth color. Now, I'll make a caveat, here, too -- so far, I haven't done a whole lot of intensive meditating, as I'm still feeling out what cards I feel like I can dispose of in different matchups and situations. Obviously, if you feel comfortable meditating aggressively, this is a much less serious issue.

So I'll expand the scope to include: what dice distributions have you tried (and include what card(s) you were trying to support by deviating from 50/50), and have they worked? Not worked?


Going multicolor in Ashes is far less of an issue than it is in Magic. Through meditation, you can guarantee that you'll have the die face you need when you use one Nature die. Not to mention there are a number of cards that allow you to adjust dice as you wish.

There's plenty of deckbuilding here and I've often found myself thinking of cards in one deck being better in another. Or unique, all new combos. It's an exercise you must attempt before you start to see how successful it can be.
 
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Marc Bennett
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kelann08 wrote:
Kaffis wrote:
Skaak wrote:
Splashing one or two of a particular dice in order to play a surprise card can also be fun.

Ah, right. I forgot to make this point/query:

The other reason I'm hesitant to trust deckbuilding will be a successful aspect of the game is that a LOT of cards naturally require two dice types already, so there are some combinations that seem like they're playing with fire as far as resource availability is concerned if they force you into a third or, heaven forbid, fourth color. Now, I'll make a caveat, here, too -- so far, I haven't done a whole lot of intensive meditating, as I'm still feeling out what cards I feel like I can dispose of in different matchups and situations. Obviously, if you feel comfortable meditating aggressively, this is a much less serious issue.

So I'll expand the scope to include: what dice distributions have you tried (and include what card(s) you were trying to support by deviating from 50/50), and have they worked? Not worked?


Going multicolor in Ashes is far less of an issue than it is in Magic. Through meditation, you can guarantee that you'll have the die face you need when you use one Nature die. Not to mention there are a number of cards that allow you to adjust dice as you wish.

There's plenty of deckbuilding here and I've often found myself thinking of cards in one deck being better in another. Or unique, all new combos. It's an exercise you must attempt before you start to see how successful it can be.


agree with everything here. the system is far less restrictive than say magic is.
 
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Lluluien
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Kaffis wrote:
...seemingly tight pre-builts...


I haven't actually started switching any cards yet, but my sneaking suspicion after playing with all of the pre-built decks is that they might not be as tight as they seem at first glance, which is actually good news for deckbuilding.

For instance, Open Memories seems to be enormously expensive in terms of resource cost to me. You aren't drawing a card; you're just replacing it, and it costs two dice to do it? It seems to me that the purpose for this card to exist is to pay 2 dice to circumvent the rule that your First 5 contains unique cards. If that's the case, do you need 3?

And why in the world would you not run Root Armor for your Snakes anyway? Recover 3 on a unit with 6 life? Holy hell. Seems like an amazing replacement for those other two Open Memories.

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Yannick Carriere
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The deck building is the part of the game that is exciting me the most. I built a Jessa deck that I tried and am making adjustments to it. I have no problem with thematic weirdness with cards in deck with images of different PB. Not an issue for me.

Yes, the card pool is small, but I already find it challenging to build a strong deck and balance the number of dice you need. I am confident the game will have enough initial success to convince Plaidhat to publish more cards. Then deckbuiding will get even more fun. The drafting method will get more cumbersome has the card pool grows though.

I actually find that I will grow tired of the suggested pre-built decks quickly and find myself already making tweaks in my head to fit my play style.
 
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Lluluien
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Kaffis wrote:
Now, I'll make a caveat, here, too -- so far, I haven't done a whole lot of intensive meditating, as I'm still feeling out what cards I feel like I can dispose of in different matchups and situations.


Something about the way this is worded makes me wonder - do you know that you can Meditate cards off the top of your draw deck?

You might end up tossing cards you'd like to have drawn, but <insert Millstone Fallacy ramblings here>. If you typically end the game with cards in your draw deck, then you had more opportunity to Meditate than you took advantage of.

I feel like I meditate pretty aggressively already and I'm starting to think I should be doing more of it instead of less. For one thing, it's a hedge against needing the dice powers later in the round when I don't have the side action available. One could easily repurpose some planned aggressive meditation for running 3-4 dice types, as you mentioned.
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Shaun Fuller
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While I agree the pre-made decks are great, I have had too much fun deck building with this game.

I think, as some have said, it can make some characters stronger. I like it because you can make a deck play how you want to play. For me it seems like you can really power up the characters by simply swapping in and out just a few cards. Want an easy sample? Put Rhinos in Aradel's deck in place of the Butterfly Monks.

I also was concerned about too many types of magic in the dice pool but I've had decks that use all four types and I seem to roll BETTER when I have more types of magic. And a word on building due to magic types: I start with my PB and their special card and see what type of magic, if any, they need. Some are very specific but some have no real requirements. Then I start looking at what integrates well with what I'm trying to play within those magic types and/or abilities. But it was when I started letting go of the "5/5" ratio for the dice it blew open the game. I want to put Gilders in Coal's deck? I get ride one of each of his usual types of magic to add two Charm dice. oooh, now I can add Refresh. oh oh, and Redirect. And Three-Eyed Owls. And he already has Ceremonial dice for Blood Puppets....it works much better than you may think at first glance.

I still play often with the ready decks but once I started moving cards around it really opened the true potential of the game for me. The cards work together very well which also makes drafting very rewarding. In my opinion, deck building shows just how much care and concern went into making cards that worked well in the system not just in their ready decks but also when moved around.

I also disagree a bit with the idea that the some feel many cards are too "locked in" to certain characters. I think that is the only flaw of the awesome graphic design- there is such a visual connection in each card within each deck I think it intrinsically connects then. But once I got past those visual locks it made even this small card pool a little world of possibilities.
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Jean-Philippe Thériault
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I think there are actually quite few cards that use two types of magic. They do tend to be amongst the most powerful, to be fair.
 
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Scott C
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lluluien wrote:
Kaffis wrote:
Now, I'll make a caveat, here, too -- so far, I haven't done a whole lot of intensive meditating, as I'm still feeling out what cards I feel like I can dispose of in different matchups and situations.


Something about the way this is worded makes me wonder - do you know that you can Meditate cards off the top of your draw deck?

You might end up tossing cards you'd like to have drawn, but <insert Millstone Fallacy ramblings here>. If you typically end the game with cards in your draw deck, then you had more opportunity to Meditate than you took advantage of.

I feel like I meditate pretty aggressively already and I'm starting to think I should be doing more of it instead of less. For one thing, it's a hedge against needing the dice powers later in the round when I don't have the side action available. One could easily repurpose some planned aggressive meditation for running 3-4 dice types, as you mentioned.

Yes, I'm aware. However, if, for example, I haven't seen a second copy of <insert ready spell I'd desperately like to focus here>, blind milling is even less appealing than trying to decide what I can afford to mill from my hand.

At least, to me, so far. As you say, I feel like I probably ought to be meditating more, but I'm not yet comfortable enough with my read on the cards to bring myself to get there.
 
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Donny Behne
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Kaffis wrote:

At least, to me, so far. As you say, I feel like I probably ought to be meditating more, but I'm not yet comfortable enough with my read on the cards to bring myself to get there.


Just keep in mind it's all about match up evaluation. Some cards in your deck are going to be dead draws in certain match ups. The key is to figure out what cards are central to your strategy and start with them in your first five. This makes it far more palatable to meditate off your deck because you know you have most of what you need. If the card you want to play is crucial in the match up but you don't have the dice to play it, you know it's probably worth a meditate off the deck to get it into play. If it's a dead draw or a side element, it's a more situational choice. Dead draws in hand (or on board) are obvious choices for meditate rather than off your deck.
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James Sitz
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I haven't done it much yet, but I see a number of reasons to deckbuild. Right now my usual playing partner is my girlfriend, and she's new to this kind of game so I probably won't for a little while.

Splash Illusion for a first turn Sleight of Hand.

Try a Charm/Nature/Ceremonial aggro deck that has Molten Gold, Sympathy Pain, Chant of Revenge, Last Breath (is that the name of the spell?), etc. Hypnotize seems worth playing in a deck like this too, and I think Hammer Knights are solid enough to run in a number of decks. I could see Jessa or Maeoni trying this, although Coal probably can too.

Spiders seem like they'd be fun in Aradel.

As someone else said, Small Sacrifice seems like a natural fit for Jessa.

Coal and Dimona don't use any specific dice in their PB ability or personal spell. So they can really be built any way you please.
 
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Marc Bennett
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Jexik wrote:
I haven't done it much yet, but I see a number of reasons to deckbuild. Right now my usual playing partner is my girlfriend, and she's new to this kind of game so I probably won't for a little while.

Splash Illusion for a first turn Sleight of Hand.

Try a Charm/Nature/Ceremonial aggro deck that has Molten Gold, Sympathy Pain, Chant of Revenge, Last Breath (is that the name of the spell?), etc. Hypnotize seems worth playing in a deck like this too, and I think Hammer Knights are solid enough to run in a number of decks. I could see Jessa or Maeoni trying this, although Coal probably can too.

Spiders seem like they'd be fun in Aradel.

As someone else said, Small Sacrifice seems like a natural fit for Jessa.

Coal and Dimona don't use any specific dice in their PB ability or personal spell. So they can really be built any way you please.

shifting mist is another good reason to splash illusion, love that card.

also jessa also doesn't use a specific die type.
 
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Lluluien
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Jexik wrote:
Splash Illusion for a first turn Sleight of Hand.


Have you tried this and found it to work in practice? I dislike the card enough that I've been tempted to post a thread about that card to see if someone could convince me it wasn't objectively bad because of its cost.

I feel that way about most of Noah's deck though (that the cards/abilities cost slightly too much in terms of dice number and/or faces), so maybe it's just the interaction with the rest of his base deck that makes it feel that way to me.

I see Sleight of Hand doing just 1 of 2 things though. First, if it gets you cards that you want to play now, then you're in great shape, right? But you spent 2 of your dice to get those cards and presumably had 4 others in your hand to begin with, so you're now playing 7 cards with 8 dice instead of 5 cards with 10 dice. This gets worse as you go on too, because you have more ready spells on the board that want your dice.

Second, what if it doesn't get the cards you want now? Presumably based on the first point, the reason you're doing this is to get more copies of your ready spells to focus, since those spells typically only cost actions to install and no or minimal dice. If you don't get the ready spells you wanted to see, are you willing to throw out the cards in your hand to dig your deck faster? People seem to me to show remarkable unwillingness to meditate the top of their deck because they might "lose" something, and I question whether or not someone feels that way should play Sleight of Hand for focus opportunities (since may times, you're not going to find what you wanted).

I feel like Open Memories is a much better way of circumventing the First 5 uniqueness rule for focusing than Sleight of Hand is for similar cost for everyone except possibly Coal, who has something really great to do with cards you might end up throwing out anyway.

Not only that, but I wonder too that even if you were playing a deck with a mountain of cheap cards so that you could still play your whole hand after spending two dice to net +2 cards, would you be better off (if you're going to have Illusion dice anyway) using your extra dice denying the other guy (with Illusion power dice) and then getting the round over faster to draw 5 more cards?

Willing to be shown another way of thinking w/ that card, but right now... ugh. Might be my least favorite card.
 
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Scott C
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lluluien wrote:
Willing to be shown another way of thinking w/ that card, but right now... ugh. Might be my least favorite card.

See, I view Sleight of Hand as a way to fuel an accelerated Coal direct damage Slash strategy. Clear the board, then pump as many cards as you can draw straight into damage. The limit to the burst damage you can do, then, is Coal's hand size and draw rate. Sleight of Hand eases the constraints on the latter.
 
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Marc Bennett
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lluluien wrote:
Jexik wrote:
Splash Illusion for a first turn Sleight of Hand.


Have you tried this and found it to work in practice? I dislike the card enough that I've been tempted to post a thread about that card to see if someone could convince me it wasn't objectively bad because of its cost.

I feel that way about most of Noah's deck though (that the cards/abilities cost slightly too much in terms of dice number and/or faces), so maybe it's just the interaction with the rest of his base deck that makes it feel that way to me.

I see Sleight of Hand doing just 1 of 2 things though. First, if it gets you cards that you want to play now, then you're in great shape, right? But you spent 2 of your dice to get those cards and presumably had 4 others in your hand to begin with, so you're now playing 7 cards with 8 dice instead of 5 cards with 10 dice. This gets worse as you go on too, because you have more ready spells on the board that want your dice.

Second, what if it doesn't get the cards you want now? Presumably based on the first point, the reason you're doing this is to get more copies of your ready spells to focus, since those spells typically only cost actions to install and no or minimal dice. If you don't get the ready spells you wanted to see, are you willing to throw out the cards in your hand to dig your deck faster? People seem to me to show remarkable unwillingness to meditate the top of their deck because they might "lose" something, and I question whether or not someone feels that way should play Sleight of Hand for focus opportunities (since may times, you're not going to find what you wanted).

I feel like Open Memories is a much better way of circumventing the First 5 uniqueness rule for focusing than Sleight of Hand is for similar cost for everyone except possibly Coal, who has something really great to do with cards you might end up throwing out anyway.

Not only that, but I wonder too that even if you were playing a deck with a mountain of cheap cards so that you could still play your whole hand after spending two dice to net +2 cards, would you be better off (if you're going to have Illusion dice anyway) using your extra dice denying the other guy (with Illusion power dice) and then getting the round over faster to draw 5 more cards?

Willing to be shown another way of thinking w/ that card, but right now... ugh. Might be my least favorite card.


I wouldn't splash illusion just for this card. but if I had certain deck builds it could be a very useful part of your strategy. if you had a mostly direct damage reactionary deck, card draw might be crucial and you might not be able to wait for the end of the round.
 
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