Without a doubt one of the most striking releases at GenCon this year was Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. That first glance of the box immediately caused eyes to widen, and it seemed the game could be quite special. We were fortunate enough to have a chat with Isaac, the game’s lead designer, and Fernanda, the mastermind behind all of the unbelievable art, after which we bagged a few Master Sets. Once back in Tulsa, we sat down to find out if Ashes could hold up to our admittedly high expectations.
After much playtesting and discussion, we are thrilled to announce that we will be selling and supporting Ashes products both locally and online, and adding Ashes to Covenant Subscriptions!
Ashes is a head to head game that pits Phoenixborn (think awesome wizards who can use various schools of magic) against each other in contests of conjuration. Your Phoenixborn summons creatures onto the battlefield and utilizes various spells and effects in order to deal lethal damage to any opposing Phoenixborn (yes, it can handle more than two players!). While this idea is not particularly new, the system that Ashes utilizes definitely is. This is not just another “play cards and turn them sideways” game. The system of rules that governs Ashes perfectly reflects the theme of the game, and, exceptionally, still allows for a huge amount of player agency.
Why We Like It
Plaid Hat is a great company. We have been interacting with them on and off since Summoner Wars, and on every level we have engaged them, they have impressed. Professional, talented, innovative, and in this space for all the right reasons.
The theme of Ashes is nothing new, but it has never been so beautifully achieved. From the art, to the “schools of magic” dice, to spellbook construction, to the conjurations themselves – every game throws you into one of the coolest, wildest wizard battles imaginable, where your success depends on outwitting and outplaying your opponent.
The ruleset is minimal and clean. Each player simply takes a single Main Action and optional Side Action during their turn, which makes it easy for new players to dive in and digest the basics. But as turns pass back and forth, the depth of the game springs forth. Through multiple turns, you must set up complex attack vectors and threaten attack windows before the action even starts. While it is an overused analogy, the comparison to Chess is apt – by threatening lines of play and forcing your opponent out of position, you can steal the advantage before any attacks are made. It feels a lot like Netrunner, too, because there is a ton of freedom in the action system.
It’s an EGS, which means it is non-collectible and has a release schedule like the Living Card Game / Expandable Card Game offerings that we support. This model is definitely the way of the future, and it makes it easy for us to slide it into our preexisting systems.
You choose your starting hand.
You can draft it. Like, in a real way.
If you’re around Tulsa, come into our store and get a demo!
Our Journey Continues
We love sharing new games with our customers and fans, and still fully believe that a curated tabletop experience is the best way to expand and improve the industry. A huge thank you goes out to everyone across the world who purchases our products and subscribes through Covenant Subscriptions. We could not do this without you. If anyone has experiences with Ashes that they’d like to share, leave a comment or hit us up on social!