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Subject: Simplistic? rss

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Edwin Karat
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I missed the preorder deal, but at least I get a chance to look at the rules and cards before deciding to buy.

The reviews seem to rave about the distribution model, which doesn't matter much to me if the gameplay isn't great.

However, from looking at the rules and cards, I'm not seeing a lot of variety in what cards do. The whole thing just seems a bit simplistic compared to the strategies I can have in other expandable card games (such as Mage Wars, Doomtown, or FFG's LCGs).

Is that the target audience -- people who want something less complex than the other games out there and a distribution model to match that?

I'm just not seeing a huge variety of deck strategies. For example, there sortof is a bit of choke in the spell that cancels dice 1-for-1, but it seems like something you throw in rather than build a deck around.
 
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Atnier Rodriguez
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Are you comparing based on just the very first releases of Mage Wars, Doomtown and FFG's LCGs?

It'd be unfair to compare it to games that have been out for quite a while with several expansions.
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Edwin Karat
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okami31 wrote:
Are you comparing based on just the very first releases of Mage Wars, Doomtown and FFG's LCGs?

It'd be unfair to compare it to games that have been out for quite a while with several expansions.


Yes, I am. The core boxes of those had a lot more in them and you could pursue different strategies out of the core box.

But that's not the whole point. There doesn't seem to be a lot of mechanisms that allow for variety, even with expansions.
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Atnier Rodriguez
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karat wrote:
okami31 wrote:
Are you comparing based on just the very first releases of Mage Wars, Doomtown and FFG's LCGs?

It'd be unfair to compare it to games that have been out for quite a while with several expansions.


Yes, I am. The core boxes of those had a lot more in them and you could pursue different strategies out of the core box.

But that's not the whole point. There doesn't seem to be a lot of mechanisms that allow for variety, even with expansions.


But isn't there more flexibility because you can use any card in your deck as long as you put the corresponding dice in your pool?

With Mage Wars and many LCG's, you do get more differing feels from the individual characters/factions but then, there's more restriction within those decks.

So, I think you want more locked-on differences, rather than the flexibility of making whatever deck you want (as long as you mind the resources a la MTG).

 
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Simon
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karat wrote:
Yes, I am. The core boxes of those had a lot more in them and you could pursue different strategies out of the core box.


You could, but outside of Mage Wars, I don't think you could have really done any of them particularly well. I didn't feel that Doomtown or any of FFG's LCGs had much variety at all in just their core sets, which is why I was mostly uninterested in them at the beginning: they needed a cycle or two to get fleshed out well (honestly, I feel they needed each faction's deluxe box to really shine at all).
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Chris Gordy
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karat wrote:
okami31 wrote:
Are you comparing based on just the very first releases of Mage Wars, Doomtown and FFG's LCGs?

It'd be unfair to compare it to games that have been out for quite a while with several expansions.


Yes, I am. The core boxes of those had a lot more in them and you could pursue different strategies out of the core box.

But that's not the whole point. There doesn't seem to be a lot of mechanisms that allow for variety, even with expansions.


I understand what you are saying, but I don't feel this way at all. The six pre-made decks each have distinct feels and different strategies toward winning, and that would be a result of the varying mechanics within the cards.

I am an owner of 3 FFG LCGs, Doomtown and Mage Wars. I am not sure I find the base set any less diverse than the others, with the possible exception of magewars.
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Edwin Karat
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I fear this thread is being hijacked by people who are responding to some other objection and projecting that on to me.

I am concerned with the ruleset. Can you honestly compare the rules here in complexity to Mage Wars or Doomtown or Warhammer 40K: Conquest? Take a look at the Mage Wars Codex from the first set. There are rules for line of sight, walls, flying, and all the status effects. Doomtown has hexes and gadgets, influence and control, and jobs to pull off. Conquest had a full rules reference guide for the design space.

Now, complexity for its own sake is not better, but *if done well* it can add to the possible design space and strategies for winning. Also, some people prefer a simpler ruleset and a simpler design space. That's perfectly valid.

However, please don't say this game is something it is not. If you believe that this game captures all the richness and decision making in a more streamlined framework, then say so. That's a perfectly valid selling point. (I don't actually know if that's true, but if someone had said that, I would give this game another look. Otherwise, why post at all? I'm not here just to pan the game -- I am looking for some selling points I might have missed.)

Also, the raw size of the card pool is not relevant. It is possible to have very different strategies with only a few cards. Talking about whether or not cards are faction-restricted is not relevant.

What I do want to hear more about is how the different phoenixborn play differently, since I'm not seeing that just by viewing the cards in the deckbuilder. Perhaps there is something I'm missing since I haven't had an opportunity to play it?
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Sacre Bleu
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You seem to be confused yourself. You laud the complexity of other game's rulesets, yet you are unhappy with the cardset of Ashes. What's the issue, the rules or the cards? More rules doesn't necessarily make a better game. The core rules of MTG are relatively simple, yet that game is quite rich, simply because it has grown so much. You don't need to add any rules to the game to make more interesting cards. Richness can easily be added to Ashes. This is a coreset, it's normal that it's kept relatively simple.

On top of being able to simply add new keywords or cardtypes, they can also play with the dice themselves. Who's to say they won't introduce hybrid dice, or dice that don't give mana but grant you special abilities? Or they could have Phoenixborns who use less than 10 dice but make up for it in other ways. Or introduce cards with powerful effects that force you to permanently get rid of dice. There's a lot of design space to explore.

The rulebook they have now is totally fine. They have just enough rules for the game to function properly, yet there is still a lot of design space open.
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C. E. Freeman
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The 6 Phoenixborn play differently. For example, Aradel focuses on a large battlefield of small creatures and is proactive, while Maeoni focuses on a small battlefield growing her snakes into large creatures and is fairly proactive herself. Noah is sneaky and reactive. Sariah tries to deck her opponent and Jessa tries to disrupt her opponents battle field and deal redirected damage. Coal focuses on allies and recurring them, while most of the others are stronger with conjurations. These are just basic descriptions of the preconstructes decks. It can change if you customize them.

The rules are simplistic but the game promotes interaction between the players, so turns are full of important decisions to make. Considering your misgivings I would suggest you try it first. It's in stores as of this week so that shouldn't be a problem now.
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Edwin Karat
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Tacullu64 wrote:
The 6 Phoenixborn play differently. For example, Aradel focuses on a large battlefield of small creatures and is proactive, while Maeoni focuses on a small battlefield growing her snakes into large creatures and is fairly proactive herself. Noah is sneaky and reactive. Sariah tries to deck her opponent and Jessa tries to disrupt her opponents battle field and deal redirected damage. Coal focuses on allies and recurring them, while most of the others are stronger with conjurations. These are just basic descriptions of the preconstructes decks. It can change if you customize them.

The rules are simplistic but the game promotes interaction between the players, so turns are full of important decisions to make. Considering your misgivings I would suggest you try it first. It's in stores as of this week so that shouldn't be a problem now.


Thank you for talking about the different deck styles. It's good to hear. I'd like to hear more about the decisions. The rules suggested that the main decision was whether to cast or attack.

One nice thing was that the defender could choose to exhaust and deal damage or not exhaust. Obviously, if you will die, you want to exhaust, but otherwise, it might be good not to exhaust and to attack later (but then you open yourself up to being attacked).

On the other hand, it looked like the main concern was figuring out when to attack, whom to attack, and with whom to attack (though, to be fair, that's part of what I *didn't* like about MtG). The cardplay, on the other hand, looked fairly straightforward with the limited card draw and limited spellboard.

Anyway, my problem is that I don't have the option of trying before I buy. I either have to buy or pass (and if I buy, I have to decide if I want to pay $16 less by placing an order where I have a discount, or getting the promos -- I suspect that the promos will eventually be available for less than $16 eventually).
 
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Nushura
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The OP seems to mention two things:

1-Rules are "too simple"

2-Card pool doesn't look as large as in other games

As for simplistic rules...they indeed fall in the simple side. Way more simple than Netrunner or Lord of the Rings, but closer to AGoT or CoC (I do not know the games that the OP mentions).

As for 2 I completely disagree. The new AGoT core is so limited that you cannot build a mono-faction deck. In Lord of the rings the rules suggest you to start with ILLEGAL decks! Sure, the number of different cards (60 vs roughly 200) is big, but the fact that you can deckbuild with almost all of them gives you way more consistency.

Remember we are comparing 1 core set versus 1 core set. Not 1 vs 3.



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Edwin Karat
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Skarjak wrote:
You seem to be confused yourself. You laud the complexity of other game's rulesets, yet you are unhappy with the cardset of Ashes. What's the issue, the rules or the cards? More rules doesn't necessarily make a better game. The core rules of MTG are relatively simple, yet that game is quite rich, simply because it has grown so much. You don't need to add any rules to the game to make more interesting cards. Richness can easily be added to Ashes. This is a coreset, it's normal that it's kept relatively simple.

On top of being able to simply add new keywords or cardtypes, they can also play with the dice themselves. Who's to say they won't introduce hybrid dice, or dice that don't give mana but grant you special abilities? Or they could have Phoenixborns who use less than 10 dice but make up for it in other ways. Or introduce cards with powerful effects that force you to permanently get rid of dice. There's a lot of design space to explore.

The rulebook they have now is totally fine. They have just enough rules for the game to function properly, yet there is still a lot of design space open.


I'm not confused. I brought up the rules to get people to stop thinking I'm talking about the number of cards in the card pool, but instead how similar the cards within that pool seem to each other. That is, more cards, if they are largely similar, won't change anything. Other than that, it's a false dichotomy -- the ruleset and cardset are intertwined.

karat wrote:
Now, complexity for its own sake is not better, but *if done well* it can add to the possible design space and strategies for winning. Also, some people prefer a simpler ruleset and a simpler design space. That's perfectly valid.


Given that I said this already, I don't see why you're bringing this up again as if I disagreed. Besides, I don't like the gameplay of MtG (though I do give it kudos for popularizing the concept of building your own deck), so that's not going to convince me, and I gave several examples of games whose core sets were not as simple.

I keep pointing out that this is a *preference* and that different people have different preferences. That's fine. Just represent the game accurately so that people can decide for themselves if it is for them or not. This game may not be for everyone, and that's okay.
 
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Edwin Karat
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Nushura wrote:

2-Card pool doesn't look as large as in other games


That is not my point. Everyone has been reacting as if that were, but it is not. Stop putting words in my mouth. Just stop.

Yes, 60 < 200 (which you seem to disagree with), but that's not my point. That's someone else's point you are pretending is mine.

Yes, you can also compare 3 sets of Ashes vs 3 sets of Game of Thrones, but that's not my point.

My point is that the gameplay looks simplistic.

 
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C. E. Freeman
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You only have a main action and a side action each turn. You must take a main action and you may take a side action. Passing is a main action, although if your opponent passes too the current round ends, so you have to be careful when passing.

Playing many of your cards will be a main action, summoning most conjurations is a main action, attacking is a main action. Each turn you have to weigh advancing your own agenda vs attempting to counter what your opponent did on his/her last turn since you only have one main action per turn and can't do every thing you may need or want to do.

Side actions are generally less powerful and are frequently skipped although a well timed side action might be crucial to your strategy.

You also have to manage your resources which are the 10 dice you start the game with. You roll them at the beginning of each round (not turn) and the faces you get will determine what resources you have to spend each round. If you don't like your dice you may change them on a 1 for 1 basis by discarding cards from your hand, spellboard, or deck. This is called Meditation and is another tough decision you will have to make in games. Meditation is a side action.

You choose any five cards from your deck to start the game. The only limitation is they all have to be different.

All of the above means the outcome of the game is really in your hands. There is no mana screw, no need for a mulligan. You control your own destiny, you just have to be smarter than your opponent, or at least make less mistakes than he does that game.

The size of your battlefield and spellboard is dependent on the Pheonixborn you choose and will help form your strategy.

Edit: Additionally, if your opponent attacks one of your units you may block the attack with your Phoenixborn, so you will have to weigh the loss of life against the advantage gained by saving your unit. The number of creature you can have in play is limited by your battlefield, so if you are rich in resources and low on life it may be better to let your unit die and bring a new one into play.
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Teage Watson
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Against my better judgement, I am going to jump in here. If I misunderstand something you said I apologize. I am going to try and answer your questions and nothing here is meant to sound flippant or "attacky".

As to the rules. They are "simpler" than the FFG LCG that I have played. (Netrunner, LotR, Star Wars, Game of Thrones 2E) However, I don't think that Ashes suffers for it. I think that it is quite elegant in its simplicity. I do like the other games listed above, but sometimes the complexity in the mechanics just doesn't add to the experience.

As to the variety of cards (when adjusted for card pool size) I don't feel like it is all that limiting. PHG just opened up their deck builder, I would encourage you to go take a look. You would be able to look through every card currently released and be able to see how different they really are. http://www.plaidhatgames.com/play/ashes/cards

A quick example would be a 3 Eyed Owl is a conjuration unit that can be exhausted to make your opponent discard a card instead of attacking.
vs
A Silver Snake who gets stronger every time an opponent's unit is destroyed.
vs
A Blood Puppet conjuration that you play on your opponents battle field to take up space on their side and does one damage to them each round until they waste actions and resources to get rid of it

This is a very small peak at some of the cards that are available in the core set and doesn't touch on the spells and abilities that are available.

Lastly, I think maybe you were talking about the variety in that there are 3 copies of each card in a box? If this is the case, then you are right. You will probably get fewer unique cards in a core set of Ashes than in something like a FFG LCG. I find that a positive, but can see that others may not. Each LCG I have purchased has felt at least a little incomplete. I still like all of them, but have just felt like I didn't quite get the whole game. Ashes does not give me that feeling. I have everything I need for a complete gaming experience in the one core and only want the expansions because I really enjoy the game and would like to see where PHG goes with it next.

I hope this helps.
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Edwin Karat
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the_knucklehead wrote:
Against my better judgement, I am going to jump in here. If I misunderstand something you said I apologize. I am going to try and answer your questions and nothing here is meant to sound flippant or "attacky".

As to the rules. They are "simpler" than the FFG LCG that I have played. (Netrunner, LotR, Star Wars, Game of Thrones 2E) However, I don't think that Ashes suffers for it. I think that it is quite elegant in its simplicity. I do like the other games listed above, but sometimes the complexity in the mechanics just doesn't add to the experience.

As to the variety of cards (when adjusted for card pool size) I don't feel like it is all that limiting. PHG just opened up their deck builder, I would encourage you to go take a look. You would be able to look through every card currently released and be able to see how different they really are. http://www.plaidhatgames.com/play/ashes/cards

A quick example would be a 3 Eyed Owl is a conjuration unit that can be exhausted to make your opponent discard a card instead of attacking.
vs
A Silver Snake who gets stronger every time an opponent's unit is destroyed.
vs
A Blood Puppet conjuration that you play on your opponents battle field to take up space on their side and does one damage to them each round until they waste actions and resources to get rid of it

This is a very small peak at some of the cards that are available in the core set and doesn't touch on the spells and abilities that are available.

Lastly, I think maybe you were talking about the variety in that there are 3 copies of each card in a box? If this is the case, then you are right. You will probably get fewer unique cards in a core set of Ashes than in something like a FFG LCG. I find that a positive, but can see that others may not. Each LCG I have purchased has felt at least a little incomplete. I still like all of them, but have just felt like I didn't quite get the whole game. Ashes does not give me that feeling. I have everything I need for a complete gaming experience in the one core and only want the expansions because I really enjoy the game and would like to see where PHG goes with it next.

I hope this helps.


Thank you. You are being perfectly respectful, and you deserve a respectful reply.

You're right that games can be elegant in their simplicity. Summoner Wars is a good example of this, and perhaps that is what Plaid Hat likes. (It looks like Ashes is doing to MtG what Summoner Wars did to miniature battle games, and that's a good thing). At the same time, if it's too streamlined, it won't grab me or excite me.

Let me give you an example. I like choke decks, and I like the Conquest LCG. In that game, units can be used in combat, but they can also be used in a "command struggle" over resources. So, I can focus on units that are good in the command struggle and deny the resources my opponent needs for the big units while getting resources for myself. However, I can't focus entirely on that, or my opponent will get the 3 combat victories needed to win before I can choke him. So, I need to think about that balance. In Ashes, the Illusion dice ability looks like it uses one die (a wolf) to cancel one die of the opponent. It's also a form of choke, distilled down to its purest form, but it just feels less exciting and less engaging.

With the cards, I'm not talking about the size of the card pool. It's just that when I did go through the deck builder, the cards looked pretty similar to me. Most of them are creatures who can alternatively be used to make the opponent discard a card or deal a point of direct damage or such. And maybe I'm not really seeing the differences, like you point out about the owl and snake and blood puppet. I guess I don't see why I would prefer to put in a snake to an owl or vice versa. I do think the snake would be more effective versus an opponent who uses lots are small wimpy creatures. And that's it -- the synergies are more subtle and harder to see than I would like.

I'm in the weird position of having wanted to like the game, but being disappointed after reading the rules and looking through the cards and having a hard time accepting that this game might not be for me, though I really hoped it would be.
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John David
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karat wrote:

The reviews seem to rave about the distribution model, which doesn't matter much to me if the gameplay isn't great.


I don't know if one of the reviews you are alluding to include this one, but if not, I strongly urge you to watch marnaudo's video review which was just posted on the 8th. Marco gives his usual thorough review that he does for all games that he covers and I think he'll have many of the answers you are looking for.

If you have seen it and still have these concerns, I don't know how much more info you can get that will help you short of trying the game out yourself, maybe at a local game store in your area where they might demo games that have been recently released.
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Teage Watson
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If you haven't seen it, I would also suggest watching Rodney's play through on Watch it Played. Instead of just a review, you can actually watch Rodney and his son play the game with plenty of explication as they go.
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Epimer
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karat wrote:
I'd like to hear more about the decisions. The rules suggested that the main decision was whether to cast or attack.

One nice thing was that the defender could choose to exhaust and deal damage or not exhaust. Obviously, if you will die, you want to exhaust, but otherwise, it might be good not to exhaust and to attack later (but then you open yourself up to being attacked).

On the other hand, it looked like the main concern was figuring out when to attack, whom to attack, and with whom to attack (though, to be fair, that's part of what I *didn't* like about MtG). The cardplay, on the other hand, looked fairly straightforward with the limited card draw and limited spellboard.


I think this is a fair assessment of the decision space in Ashes, with the addition of resource management (making do with what you've got vs. meditating to change dice faces). However, when to attack is pretty critical, as mistakes will leave you open to your opponent gaining board advantage or otherwise punishing you.

That said, in my opinion the decision space for any given turn (or sequence of few turns) isn't as complex as Netrunner or Doomtown: Reloaded, for example. I use those two examples as they're the two comparable games that I play a lot of.
 
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Teage Watson
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Based on everything that you said I would say hold off on buying it. It has not hit wide release yet so it can be difficult to find someone with a copy that you could play. I would suggest waiting until someone in your area has a copy and then ask them to show it to you. I have been showing a lot of people in my area and the response has been mostly positive.

If all else fails, just file it in your brain and see if you can catch PHG at a con and demo it then. This will give you a chance to get a better feel for the game before laying down the cash. If you are ever near Columbus, let me know and we can play a game
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I don't think it's fair to judge a game based on the breadth of the rules, or complexity of the rules. Look at Plaid Hat's original offering Summoner Wars and you'll find very few rules for an exceptional game that has real depth.

Comparing Ashes to AGoT or Mage Wars is unfair at best. Those games are not trying to be simple, or clean. They are intended to be complex affairs full of layers of strategy. After playing Ashes I'd liken it being more like MtG, not in play, but in that you're whipping out quick duels. Our learning game was only 45 minutes, so I'd expect 30 or less between experienced players. I see Ashes being brutal, short-timed games. As this system grows I cannot wait to see the crazy things you'll be able to do in such a short time period, and then be able to play again. You'll be able to play 2-3 games of Ashes (at least) in the time it takes to play AGoT or MW.

I'd also add that the drafting rules are brilliant. Perhaps that's been done in the past, but I've never seen it baked into the system.

I am curious to see how multiplayer works out, but it won't be the be-all end-all of this system for me.
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Donny Behne
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It doesn't help to use Mage Wars as a measuring stick when it's intentionally obtuse with a grossly unnecessary codex of overwrought keywords. I don't consider that complex but rather over developed.
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karat wrote:
However, please don't say this game is something it is not. If you believe that this game captures all the richness and decision making in a more streamlined framework, then say so. That's a perfectly valid selling point. (I don't actually know if that's true, but if someone had said that, I would give this game another look. Otherwise, why post at all? I'm not here just to pan the game -- I am looking for some selling points I might have missed.)


I understand why you're asking this question. At uninformed face value, this game does appear to be significantly less complex than the others you're trying to compare it to. I actually see this as a feature and not a problem, because I've had a much easier time introducing this to friends.

On the other hand, I think the depth of strategy in this game is far more than it looks at first blush. For example, you mentioned a choke deck - one key mechanism for accomplishing this in Ashes is actually built into the Illusion dice type and doesn't even need a corresponding card to use.

Timing in this game is everything: knowing when to spend your dice and when to save them, being aware of when your opponent might end the round early on you to their advantage (or vice versa), being aware of what preparatory actions need to come early in order to position you "ahead" in the turn order for some chain of events, being aware of what stalling actions you can take to drag the round out to force the opponent to do something he didn't want you being able to react to, being aware of the ramifications of exhausting a creature you need as a suppressive/dissuasive, zone-of-control sentry... All of these things are feel far more important in this game than they do in other games of their type.

These are analogies that will probably feel lost on a lot of the audience on BGG just because the cross-sections of the hobbies won't be 100%, but in case they apply:

If you're a martial artist and one of your treasured tactics is the footwork required to move your opponent to a corner of the ring or a particular open/closed stance to create specific vulnerabilities, you'll love this game.

If you are a League of Legends player and you appreciate how to effectively utilize the zone-of-control strengths of playing Leona as a support, you'll love this game.


But those are the kinds of things that aren't explicitly written in any rulebook. Those strategies are emergent from the gestalt of the rules as a whole. You won't be able to see them without trying the game. You should see if you've got a friend that's interested in it enough to get (or already have) a copy, since 1 copy will easily let up to 4 people play all at once.
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Andrew Barrett
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Geez Llu,

You're marketing this game to a razor-thin demographic.

"Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn: The Card game for martial artists who don't want to buy booster packs, but also like playing support leona"
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Daniel DeMars
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Chill84 wrote:
Geez Llu,

You're marketing this game to a razor-thin demographic.

"Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn: The Card game for martial artists who don't want to buy booster packs, but also like playing support leona"


I would love to read a review of Ashes (or any game, really) entirely composed of really obscure analogies.
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