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Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Does anyone feel a draft? rss

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Charlotte Malone
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I am a big fan of Ashes. A BIG fan. I won't go into the whys right now; if you care, you can go here for some details: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1456696/dear-plaid-hat-games

Right now, I want to talk about drafting.

See, crafting a deck is fun. Crafting a really good deck is really fun. Playing it, changing it, playing it again, changing it back, tweaking it just a bit.....and then finally landing the exact deck you were after......this is good stuff. This is why people play card games.

Drafting is kind of the opposite of this. And yet, also really fun.

I play Ashes with a group of four at my office. Workman rarely plays constructed and is kind enough to keep his copy of the game both at his desk and draft-ready. (I highly recommend having your game draft-ready. It saves a lot of time.) We've drafted five times now, over lunch (usually takes two lunches to draft and play all the games) and after work. (Small disclaimer: after five drafts, I am in sole possession of last place. By a lot. Feel free to judge anything I say accordingly.)

The first time we drafted, we followed the plan outlined in the Ashes rule book, with one exception: we did not draft dice. Everyone brought their own dice pool and selected any of their choosing after the decks were built. But we did take turns drafting a Phoenixborn, then each player took packs of nine randomly dealt cards and passed them left until we had nine cards plus one Phoenixborn special to form a ten card deck. We added seconds and thirds of each card and we were ready to play.

In subsequent drafts, we have moved to a system where we each take two packs of six cards, pass the first pack left and the second pack right (not simultaneously), to end up with twelve cards total. You discard three cards when you're done, which adds a little more forgiveness for making bonehead picks, and allows you to hate-draft if the urge strikes. Then you add in the seconds and thirds and specials as usual. (And someone always forgets to get their conjurations.) We still don't draft dice.

After drafting, we randomly pair up. After the first game, winners move to the winner bracket and losers move to the turtle wax bracket, so we each play two games. (In one draft, we played a 4-player game. Two of us liked it, two of us didn't. We haven't done it since, although two of us still want to.)

So what's so great about drafting?

I think it's the fact that is really is kind of the opposite of crafting a good deck. It's crafting a passable deck on the fly with limited knowledge of the available card pool.
• "Oh look! It's Maeoni and her cool snake. I could take her. But what if there's no Gilder in the pool? Or no Hypnotize? How cool is her snake then?" (Just FYI, the snakes and the owls are not nearly as synergistic as the snakes and the gilders. And they really need hypnotize. In case you were pondering.)
• "Oh look! Summon False Demon! What are the odds the Illusion spell is in here anywhere?" (Just FYI, the Hubz pulled off the False Demon/Illusion combo in a draft. It was pretty baller. Very next draft, I hate-drafted Summon False Demon. Just because that can't be allowed to happen again.)

The draft happens pretty fast. And there's a lot of things to consider: spellboard, battlefield, dice, Phoenixborn ability, combos. You don't have time to think about everything you need to think about until it's over. And you will most likely botch something. The immediate post-draft chatter is usually hilarious.
• "Three spellboard? Wtf? I have five ready spells!"
• "Oh man. I need four dice types. Can I run four dice types? I can't run four dice types. I'm going to. I'm going to run four. I can't run four. Can I? Dammit!"
• "I have an entire deck of reaction spells. Not sure what you guys are going to do, but when you do, I will react.”

There is an immense satisfaction in drafting a total crap deck and then winning with it. Or so I've heard. As I said earlier, I don't win much. Just two games total. Yes, I'm 2-7. Laugh it up. I know I do. I laugh way more during an Ashes draft then I do during regular play. Maybe because there's no real expectation of competitive decks. Or maybe I don't expect to win and therefore I just have fun. Or maybe I just play with fun people.

Whatever the reason, drafting is a fun way to play. It's a break from the norm and a very clever alternative to standard constructed play. And you just might fall bass-ackwards into a card combo you never thought of before.

The expanded card pool has made drafting that much more fun. Checking our game log (yes, I’m keeping track of all of my losses), we drafted just twice from December to May, and have drafted three times in May and June (since the expansions were released). More cards means more eclectic decks. (And less chance of anyone getting all of Saria’s mill cards along with Saria. And yes, Leon did this in our second draft.)

Another thing I’ve noticed from our game log: Aradel is a boss. (Shocked faces on three, two…….) It might be a stretch to say this is a good way to rate how good the specials are, but if you consider that in a draft, you are only guaranteed your Phoenixborn’s special cards and not any of the their other pre-con cards, it definitely isn’t a bad way to rate them. Aradel’s jags are cheap and they do good work. Check out the PB stats:

• Aradel: 6-0
• Brennan: 4-2
• Lulu: 2-2
• Maeoni: 2-2
• Jessa: 1-0
• Saria: 1-2
• Dimona: 1-7
• Noah: 0-1
• Rin: 0-2

Since all Phoenixborn are not played in all the drafts, it’s clearly not an entirely fair comparison, but this is the data I’m working with.

Dimona is very popular (she is the only Phoenixborn to carry the distinction of being taken in every draft) but she doesn’t win much. And three different people have taken her, so it’s not just that I’m a bad player (I’ve taken her twice). Maybe the Knights just aren’t all that?

Or maybe it’s the Phoenixborn ability that matters most and I'm way off about the specials.

Also worth noting, Workman is the only one of us to play Aradel, and the only one to play Rin. So while he’s a very good player, your Phoenixborn does matter, whether it’s the specials or the ability or both.

And poor Coal. NBD. (Never been drafted.)

Maybe this is just a reflection of our meta and not a reflection of the game as a whole. But either way, it’s fun to play random decks and see what you can learn from them. I think it makes you a better constructed player in the long run.

I suppose that’s all I have to say about drafting. I really just wanted to recommend it as an alternate way to enjoy Ashes and to highlight some of the perks. But no matter how you play Ashes, it really just matters that you play Ashes. If you don’t, get on it.
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Michael Pittman
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Great article and I love your writing style.

I haven't played much draft. I'd like to play more (play more Ashes generally).
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Charlotte Malone
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DreadFool wrote:
Great article and I love your writing style.


Thank you so much!
 
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Marc Bennett
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Definitely a good read. Drafting should get more exciting as more sets come out
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Charlotte Malone
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Klaxas wrote:
Definitely a good read.


Thank you!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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Ok. So now I want Ashes! I can't stand making decks any more, but drafting....

Great job! heart
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Charlotte Malone
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milenaguberinic wrote:
Ok. So now I want Ashes! I can't stand making decks any more, but drafting....

Great job! heart


Thank you! Play it!
 
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Olaf Theviking
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What my group does is we draft a pack of 9 and then a pack of 8 and have them all in our pool, it adds more of a deck building element and the fact you get a sideboard is also fun.
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Ben Rubinstein

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You know... I'd feel bad for Coal... if his artwork didn't literally make me mad. I hate it so much. All the rest of them? Amazing. But I hate him. I will never play him.

HOWEVER, Leo Sunshadow? That's one charming hunk of man I'm eager to play.
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Charlotte Malone
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epilepticemu wrote:
You know... I'd feel bad for Coal... if his artwork didn't literally make me mad. I hate it so much. All the rest of them? Amazing. But I hate him. I will never play him.

HOWEVER, Leo Sunshadow? That's one charming hunk of man I'm eager to play.


This made me lol. Leo is shredded. He needs a reaction spell called "flex my eight-pack" or some such.
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