Category Archives: Ashes

Ashes

How do you kill off an lcg?

Well if you are Plaid Hat Games, recently absorbed into the Asmodee Borg collective, you do the following for starters:

  • Make sure that your product is very hard to get hold of at LGS.
  • Make sure that if the public buy direct from you, that you charge extortionate prices for shipping abroad.

Then you go and do the following:

Rumours on bgg  and I have had it from another source as well, is that instead of having this nice deluxe box coming out that was planned, they are going to split out the two new Phoenixborn and their respective new dice into two separate packs. With the fate of the deluxe box in limbo.

What’s the issue with that you ask? Initially not a lot. I’m cool with that. What I’m not cool with is the price these two new expansions will be sold for. The plan from Plaid Hat is for these to be sold for $25 each! $50 for both! That’s more than the cost of the base game which has six Phoenixborn and four sets of dice. Plus if you pre-order being in the UK we get totally robbed with the shipping as well. Plaid Hat are not the most friendly company for international buyers.

But why would you buy from Plaid Hat then, and not just buy the expansion from your FLGS? May I direct you to point one of their plan to kill off the game. Plaid Hat are not able to get product out to stores in enough numbers for people to buy it. It’s very very rare, in fact it’s easier to find an honest Tory MP than to be able to walk into a FLGS and buy an Ashes expansion or even the base game.

So you are kind of forced to buy from Plaid Hat to make sure you get the expansion. They try and sweeten the deal by adding a promo Phoenixborn that is exclusive to them. But that really doesn’t make up for the daylight robbery that occurs when they add shipping.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Ashes. I love the art work, the release schedule was ideal for it to be my second LCG/CCG of choice (although it could be a little bit more frequent), I love the dice as resources, it’s a really nice game. Plus in some ways Plaid Hat are also a really great company. They obviously care about the community, and the likes of Isaac Vega (the designer) are regularly interacting with the community, and giving updates when they can.

Not many companies out there actually make their OP kits available for groups to arrange their own OP events (there were some conditions for being able to do this, that were totally reasonable). That was a great touch, and showed they were listening.

But the community is screaming for product. Not just expansions to increase the card pool. But also accessories such as playmats, deck boxes and OP kits. Yes you can get the plastic tokens that Team Covenant do, but for those of us outside the US of A that’s an expensive option once again, because they also like to take the piss on postage.

My fear is that Ashes is dead already. That the combination of these failures, and this latest news about the upcoming expansion will be enough for people to say “I’m out”, and pack away their cards. I know for some this expansion news was the straw that broke the camels back.

It’s hard enough as it is to find people to play the game with. No point demoing the game, as people can’t buy it! No app, no physical product. The situation is bad. Oh and on the app side don’t give me Table Top Simulator as an option. It’s not. If the app isn’t multi platform ie runs on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android then it’s useless. Plus Table Top Simulator is clumsy and horrible. I want a dedicated app that runs on my tablet or phone (my main computing devices when at home), not some cludge.

For a bit of context, White Wizard Games released Epic around the same time iirc, in the past year we have seen OP kits, playmats, one expansion, card sleeves, deck boxes, and the second expansion is hitting any day now. And like Plaid Hat a World Championship. Oh and we will be seeing a Kickstarter for an Epic app (already in development) as well next year.

If White Wizard Games can do all this, plus all their Star Realms, Hero Realms stuff, whilst being a smaller company. Why can’t Plaid Hat, who have more resources behind them?

I hope Plaid Hat are listening. The window for saving this game is closing extremely fast.

 

This Is Saturday…

Saturday mornings growing up meant watching Swap Shop and/or Tiswas. 


I have to admit along with almost every teenage boy and adult male Sally James was the fantasy woman to dream about.

Adult me know spends his Saturdays now and again playing board games. 

This Saturday was one of this occasions.

My FLGS The Hobbit Hole was running an Imperial Assault Summer 2016 game kit.

I haven’t played Imperial Assault for a year and a half, and then it was a learning skirmish game!

So as you can see I was in great shape for a tourney. I’d thrown together a Jedi team to play with, could hardly remember how to play. The omens were good.

I was up against two regular players who “toured” the local game shops playing these tournaments. So yeah they were experienced. Whilst the third was the brother of one of them and had been playing for two days. Two days of intense training I think.

As you can imagine out of three games I won precisely zero. In my first two games I did score some points by eliminating a unit or two. 

But the cursed reinforcements command card stopped me scoring any points in my last game. 

It was evident especially in the last game being familiar with the scenarios, their objectives and tactics, was a big advantage.

So the most predictable result happened I was fourth, or last as it’s officially known in a four player tourney.

It was then onto Cambridge and meeting up with Scott to collect the two latest Phoenixborn, and play a game or two of Ashes.

I’d been lazy about what deck to play and build against Scott when I hit on the genius idea mid week of using one of the new Phoenixborn and the deck that comes with them.

Victoria Glassfire was the one I chose. Boy did I enjoy playing her. I loved some of the new cards. The art as usual is out of this world.

Scott won our first game whilst I was getting to grips on how to play Victoria.

But our second game was a different story, especially after I tweaked the starting five by swapping out one card. 

I’m still sure there was a more optimal way to play Victoria but I’ll take the win.

I think despite no Sally James teenage me would have enjoyed spending his Saturday this way.

The Streak

That's what I'm naming Tom's run of eleven back to back wins at Ashes against me.

Oh let me back up a little so you have a clue to what I'm talking about.

Last Thursday Tom and I met up at The Angel to play some pre-tournament Ashes. While Tom played a couple of decks, I played mainly a Dimona deck I had built and then “tweaked” between our games.

I like to at least play a couple of games with a deck I've built to get a feel for what works and what doesn't before making changes. It's how I roll in Netrunner. And I don't see a reason to change that with Ashes or even Epic (if I was constructing a deck in that also).

I got my butt handed to me that evening. My attempt at creating big creatures to swing in and do lots of damage didn't really work.

I have to admit my relative inexperience at the game does come through. I haven't nearly played enough games or know the cards well enough. Luckily this is an easier task to achieve than it is in Netrunner. But now I have a regular playing partner this will improve. Sadly, spoiler alert for the rest of the post, not quick enough for the tournament.

Tom and I both had friends that had planned to come to today's Ashes tournament. But due to illness and such were not going to be able to make it. That left just Tom and myself playing in the tournament. A replay of Thursday evening then, at least we were guaranteed one of the prizes!

So I was playing Brennen. I'd created two deck lists before hand. Both around the same idea but with different implementations. I had created these lists on the official PlaidHat Ashes deckbuilder. Which was a pleasant experience. I liked that once you have built your deck it will suggest the dice to use with it. Tom had said he found that it wasn't perfect and for him just off. Which very well may be the case, but it makes a starting point to work from.


I started off with the following deck:

Ready Spells

x2 Chant of Revenge

x3 Chant of the Dead

x2 Hypnotize

x2 Summon Blood Puppet

Blood Puppet

x1 Summon Butterfly Monk

Butterfly Monk

Other Spells

x2 Final Cry

x2 Hidden Power

x2 Poison

x2 Redirect

Allies

x3 Blackcloud Ninja

x2 Blood Archer

x1 Crimson Bomber

x2 Fire Archer

x1 Hammer Knight

x2 Leech Warrior

Dice

x6 Ceremonial

x2 Charm

x1 Illusion

x1 Natural

I found the Hypnotise wasn't used, and was swapped out. Can't remember what with. Yes this was a very casual tournament. Just an extension of last Thursday's match up really.

After four loses I declared Tom the worthy winner of our “tournament” and let him choose between the prizes. As the photo above shows, he chose the beautiful looking playmat. A wise choice. So my second place prize was the alt art Phoenixborn cards for Brennen and Rin. Then we split the alt art mist spirits between the two of us.

My other Brennen deck I played with for the remainder of the event was the following:

Ready Spells

x2 Chant of Revenge

x1 Chant of the Dead

x1 Hypnotize

x1 Summon Butterfly Monk

Butterfly Monk

x1 Summon Gilder

Gilder

x1 Summon Mist Spirit

Mist Spirit

Other Spells

x2 Deep Freeze

x2 Final Cry

x2 Hidden Power

x3 Ice Trap

x2 Massive Growth

x2 Molten Gold

x1 Sympathy Pain

Allies

x1 Anchornaut

x2 Blackcloud Ninja

x1 Crimson Bomber

x2 Fire Archer

x2 Leech Warrior

Dice

x4 Ceremonial

x1 Charm

x1 Illusion

x4 Natural

Oh boy did we laugh when I went to play the Hidden Power card and I realised there was only one charm die! Which was fine playing the summon gilder card. But useless for Hidden Power. How could the Ashes deck builder suggest only one die, when two were needed? Oops think there is a bug there. It was so funny it bought tears to my eyes. Obviously the first tweak between games was to replace the Hidden Power card. Can't remember what I went with instead.

At best I think Tom found these decks annoying, and delayed the inevitable. In the first deck the blood puppets were being used to try and keep his battlefield clogged up, which can be irksome. That worked to some extent. It was cool when I got a combo to work such as when an ally died and triggered two or three things, or/and allowed me to play Final Cry. I love Brennen's ability but his three slot Spellboard was a bit of a handicap. I'd love it to be five. But then that might make him a bit overpowered.

So that's eleven and oh for Tom at the moment. I think that sort of record in a CCG/LCG game deserves to be given the same awe and respect as The Undertakers winning streak at Wrestlemania. So hence why I'm just calling it The Streak.

It's great to have found someone localish to play against. I'm learning a lot from playing against Tom. It really shows that this is his main CCG/LCG, while this is my secondary one. But it's about having fun for me. When the game stops being fun then I'm out. So yes Tom currently has his Streak, which I'm sure I will break sooner than later (I hope). I just hope in the meantime Tom doesn't get bored with winning.

We also need to grow our local meta, ie find/attract more players. I thought having a tournament might do that. However I can honestly say that failed this time. I promoted the event on the major online Ashes communities (Facebook,Reddit, and BGG), plus the event was listed on the PlaidHat events system. Before I crack open the second OP kit I have for a tournament, I need to have grown the local Ashes community first. I'm open to ideas. I have plenty of the promo Dimona and Lulu Phoenixborn to give away to new players! Maybe I should use these as part of some sort of “learn Ashes” event.

Finally unrelated to Ashes, Chris has finished assembling, painting and adding decals (something I don't have the skill set to do) my tanks in the base set of Tanks.

Chris has done an amazing job on the models.


I'm looking forward to getting some games in now.

 

All Change – Again!

Last week seemed the week that FFG and PlaidHat decided they would release errata to their LCG/miniature games.

First up PlaidHat have released an errata for one of the cards from Ashes. Not much of an inconvience for me as I'm not deckbuilding yet (although I need to start pdq). But what I like about this announcement is that although people are going to have to print out the correction, and use sleeves, PlaidHat are looking at ways to make replacement cards available. My suggestion would be to make the updated card available from Drive Thru Cards, it takes the production costs away from PlaidHat. I wish FFG would use something like this, or make the errata'd cards they announce available to buy somehow.

Above: original card on left, errata version middle & right, right OP kit alt art errata version

Naturally the errata'd version of Enhanted Violinist will be the only version allows at the OP event I'm organising in a months time.

PlaidHat have also released “improved” draft rules for Ashes too. I've not played the game in draft format, but they do seem better than the ones in the included rule book.

Oh oh oh, just thought please please PlaidHat could we have another alt art Enchanted Violinist but this time using Lindsey Stirling as the art? It would be soooo uber cool if you did that.

Right FFG have released a LOT of errata and updates. For me this means I have to look at the Imperial Assault (IA) and Netrunner ones. I've not looked at the changes for IA, but would expect to see new tournament legal skirmish maps to include the wave 6 skirmish maps. Plus more cards being “tweaked” so they are not breaking the game any more.

The one I have looked at naturally is the Netrunner updates. I play anarch and NBN and it seems these updates are specifically aimed at nerfing them. On the most wanted list, Faust and David have been added along with Wyldside. Which hits my Noise deck big time. I've got some decisions to make now if I want to keep playing them. I'd just been looking at Mumba Temple for my NEH deck, but hey guess what is now on the list? Things are even tighter on my NEH deck, not sure I can get rid of anything to give me the two influence I'd need. Plus Breaking News has been added to the list. And that really screws me. I may have to review the use of this agenda. But what to replace it with?

Plus we have errata for some cards, these don't hit me, well I'm pretty sure they don't. But the fast advance NEH has had the breaks put on it with the Astroscript Pilot Program being limited to one per deck now.

I do like this approach by FFG and PlaidHat, I wouldn't like a card to be banned. At least this way I can still play the cards. It's just I have to make decisions about how much I really want to play them, and how I can fit them in, whilst working out what has to go to make way for them.

Here is the Ashes ERRATA

Here is the FFG ERRATA

 

A Short Post About Tuesday

Tuesday at the Warlords Chatteris club night saw some games being played by others.

However I did get to introduce John (owner of my FLGS The Hobbit Hole) to Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn.

After “quickly” constructing two decks from the suggested ones in the rule book (which is a nice touch) it was time for…

I was playing Saria while John played Aradel. Coming from a Magic background John picked up the game quickly.

It was cool forcing John to mill cards from his deck. But I just wasn't doing it quick enough to have an impact on Aradels health. Although it was reducing his ability to do stuff like focusing ready spells.

However John ended up the victor. He enjoyed the game. But enough to start promoting it in store? Not yet. I'm going to have to arrange with him a demo day.

We did open up one of the OP kits I've got in for the tournament at the end of August. Oh boy the first place prize play mat is beautiful. It's nice that they included a full colour glossy copy of the organising an OP event booklet (also available as a PDF on their website). It's miles better than the FFG one that goes in the FFG OP kits.

I also have a load of these dice pool position cards from DriveThrough Cards done by an Ashes fan (can't remember who) to use at either a demo event or the OP in August. There might be enough for both actually.

So watch out for a demo day for Ashes at The Hobbit Hole either July or early August.

 

New Phoenixborn Born Announced

Plaid Hat have just announced two new Phoenixborn for the rather excellent lcg like game of theirs Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn.


They have opened up the pre-orders on their site, which also gives the opportunity to get a new promo Phoenixborn with the pre-order. Or if you want just the promo Phoenixborn you can just pre-order that, and get the new Phoenixborn from your FLGS. 

You can find out all the info you need here , oh and they’ll also let you order from there too.

Upcoming OP Events

That I'm taking part in (well planning to) or actually organising.

First up…

A second Spring kit 2016 is being cracked open on the 2/7/16 at The Hobbit Hole. So another chance to get those lovely brain damage tokens. Sadly their is no Worlds of Android book up for grabs this time.

At the end of July, 23/7/16 to be exact, there will be a store kit (not sure which one) being opened and battled over for Imperial Assault. I just need to get some practice games in now.

Finally for this post is an event I've organised…

20/8/16 sees Ashes getting the spot light. I've got two OP kits hopefully on their way over from the US.

You can visit the event page on the Plaid Hat website here that I've set up for this.

So now you know where I will be and what I'll be playing. Hopefully I'll see some of you at these events.

I'd love to get a Star Realms/Epic events organised, but White Wizard and Esdevium have decided to collaborate to make this extremely hard to do if you want to use an official OP kit. Esdevium aren't listing them for my FLGS to order them, and White Wizard are sounding like a broken record direct you to your FLGS and their distributor. And frankly I think this sucks. We have more than enough interest here to run events to both games. Sadly just can't get the support.

 

For the giggles

A lovely sunny spring day, having a life and commitments, whatever the reason it was a small turn out for last nights meetup to play games at the Chatteris Warlords.
As usual a variety of games were being played. March Jamie was constructing a Magic commander deck. A game of Bolt Action once more pitted allied forces against axis forces. Whilst Cthulhu had infiltrated the Fluxx universe in Cthulhu Fluxx. In a far corner four player Star Realms was taking place, followed by a just for the giggles game of Warhammer 40k Conquest by a couple of players.
My gaming for the evening saw me playing Robert at Ashes once a group discussion about Wizkids and how horrid their release schedule was with their games.

I was playing the constructed deck for Maeoni, while Robert played the constructed deck for Nessa. Instead of selecting our starting five cards we just dealt the top five of the deck to make up our first five. Well it made sense since we didn't know the decks or what cards would be good to start with.

I like that Ashes has suggested decks for all of the six Phoenixborn in the base box. It does allow noobs to the game to get up and running straight away, and then allow them to move onto deck building.

Despite loosing, I was only able to get gilders out, and the silver snake didn't make it until it was too late, I enjoyed playing.

Maybe we were playing slower than experienced players but we were noobs to the game after all.

The dice as a resource you have to manage is a great idea that works well. It'd be great to play this more often. Hopefully it will catch on. Then I can delve into the deck building side. Deck building is fun.

My second game of the evening and last was a couple of games of Cthulhu Fluxx. I broke even here with a win and a loss. My win was even sweeter than normal because it was given to me. March Jamie played an action that involved collecting up all the keepers and creepers out in front of people, shuffle them, then deal them back out to everyone. We had a few of both. Guess what got dealt to me? Yep the keeper and creeper that were needed to meet the active goal. I instantly won. Sweet.

Some great gaming again, well worth the thirty min drive.

 

Custom Game Cards

So yesterday I remembered that some dude over on the Ashes Facebook group had created a card that was double sided to be used in keeping track which pile of dice was which. And I thought that this would be a handy thing to get printed. I should track the file down and find a place to custom print the card for me.

Luckily bgg is the place to go to find files related to a game like the rules, faq, translations of rules etc. It was on the Ashes bgg files section that I found the Ashes Dice Pool Cards file I was after.

Even luckier the creator of the file had approached Plaid Hat Games, gotten permission to link to the designs on a custom card printing site so that folks could just click, order and get the cards.

The site the guy was using was DriveThruCards.

site-logo-redesignd

At $0.09 a card these were incredibly cheap. So I ordered twenty to make the order worth while and to hand out to other players of the game when I come across them. Or to use as prizes in a store event if I can get one going. You can get the Ashes Card Pool card HERE.

Roll on this morning, and an email about Boss Monster hits my inbox, reminding me of the Create Your Own Card app they had developed. Guess where this app is being hosted? Yep DriveThruCards, so you can design your own card for Boss Monster and then get it printed!

It gets even better!!!! There is a Lost Levels expansion you can buy, plus copies of some errata’d cards that are as far as I can tell officially produced.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 11.36.57

And look at those prices! so yes they are also on the way to me.

But this got me thinking. If the people behind Boss Monster can produce errata’d cards like this, why can’t the likes of FFG also offer this service? I mean we have cards in Imperial Assault that over Christmas got errata’d to balance out the game. We also got the same with some cards in Netrunner in the form of the Most Wanted List and Wireless Pavilion.

Surely FFG could put up the images for people to get printed off if they wanted the corrected card? I see very little overhead here for them on this. They must have corrected cards ready to go in future printings.

At the moment there is no work around that doesn’t rely on carrying lots of bits of extra paper around, writing on the cards themselves with a Sharpie, or stickers.

Would either of the last two then make the cards altered illegal to use in tournaments? They would have been altered.

Maybe one day all companies will be enlightened as the Boss Monster folks on this sort of thing.

Ashes First Play

Yesterday I finally got round to playing a couple of games of Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn. Jonathan founding member of Fenland Gamers (if you live in the Wisbech area and love board games you really should be giving it serious thought about joining, they are a really friendly bunch of gamers.) kindly said he would play the game with me.
Before we met up I had already built two of the suggested pre-built decks for two of the Phoenixborn (well over a week before actually). The basis for deciding which two to play was “oh they look cool”.

Our first game was a learning game, with constant referencing to the rules as we both embarked on a steep learning curve. In the first game I played Aradel, while Jonathan played Noah.

Neither of us knew the cards in each deck, didn't know the combos, or how we should be playing them. What should our five starting cards have been?

Wow what a mismatch. Noah was all about reacting to the actions of the opposing Phoenixborn with the odd bit of direct damage from his allie character. While Aradel was all about the offensive building up her forces, clearing the opponents battlefield and swinging in for her damage.

It wasn't long before I had six mist spirits out on the battlefield, doing six points of damage in total to Noah each time they attacked. With Aradels spells, every time Jonathan got a unit on to his battlefield I was sending them straight back. I was starting to feel bad about doing this.

Aradel was certainly the much stronger Phoenixborn to be playing. It was easier and quicker to get units out on the battlefield, and much easier to control the opposing Phoenixborns battlefield.

It also seemed that Jonathan was getting through his thirty card deck a lot faster than I was.

Our second game saw Jonathan and I swap Phoenixborn. Jonathan was playing Aradel, while I was playing Noah.
We both looked through our new decks, working out which five cards to use as our starting hand. I spotted a combination that bought on two spider units when a unit of mine was destroyed. I also loaded up two of the same spell that would allow me to focus the spell and summon a wolf unit cheaply.
I got a wolf and a couple of spiders out early. I also noted a combination between a smoke type demon that with a spell I had could become real and be even more harder to get rid of.
Sadly I had a hard time keeping forces out on the battlefield, I did a reasonable job of slowing down the mist spirits engine. But the inevitable happened and my Phoenixborn was knocked out.
Afterwards Jonathan commented how he found Aradel a lot easier to play, and he had also paid attention to how I had played her.

Reflecting on Noah and the pre-constructed deck, I think the decks they suggest in the manual are there to teach/illustrate different playing styles/techniques. Noah's I believe is to teach about reaction and counter spells. But in doing so I believe the Noah pre-constructed deck is under powered. It will be interesting to see how he does against some of the other Phoenixborn.

I have to say that I owe Jonathan a really big thank you. This living card game/collectable card game format is not one of his favourite style of games. So I really appreciate the fact he tried the game.

Finally New Arrivals

First up the latest expansion for Machi Koro arrived Millionaires Row

The latest Love Letter, Love Letter Adventure Time also arrived but no photo, because that has gone straight out as a present for a friends daughter who seems to be a big fan of the show.

The Lego Star Wars Advent Calander also arrived and has gone straight into safe keeping until the start of December. Otherwise I would have opened it all up already. Yes for some things I have no self control.