Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is a card game for 2 to 4 players. Each player controls a powerful character called a Phoenixborn and commands a deck full of spells and creatures with the goal of defeating their opponent(s). Ashes comes with six playable preconstructed decks, that can be played right out of the box. The special part of the game though comes from its ability to be customized by players after they’ve gotten a hang of how the game plays. Unlike collectable card games like Magic: The Gathering, by having a complete set of cards available to them players aren’t restricted with what decks they can construct by what they can afford.
Isaac Vega, the designer of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, specifically cited this problem as one he’d wanted to solve when designing Ashes: “I could only craft certain things, and no matter how well I made a deck, there were certain cards I couldn’t compete with just because I didn’t have the capital.”
The game comes with the aforementioned preconstructed decks, 40 custom dice, as well as several tokens used for tracking health and the abilities of cards as the game progresses. The quality of the cards and components is top notch and the illustrations throughout (by Thander Lin, David Richards, and Fernanda Suárez) are absolutely gorgeous. I really can’t stress enough how beautiful the artwork is; there are dozens of unique illustrations for the cards, box art and rules manual.
The game took about 5 minutes to set up, and about 15 minutes to learn. The rules themselves are simple, but like the best of these games the strategy of the game emerges with subsequent play as the combinations of cards and Phoenixborn abilities become apparent. Expansions are available (for about $10 each) and come in the form of additional preconstructed decks and new Phoenixborn cards. These expansions are entirely compatible with the base set and can be used create customized decks.
There’s a lot of game in this box, and absolutely worth looking at if you were thinking of learning a game like Magic: the Gathering but didn’t want to buy into random booster packs and constantly cycling sets of cards.
Designed by: Isaac Vega
Player Count: 2-4
Playtime: 30-120 minutes
Time to Learn: 15 minutes
Am I happy I bought it?: Definitely. There’s a ton of variability in this game after playing through the starter decks.
Written by Brendan Quinn; President of Tri-City Area Gaming. Learn more about the 200+ annual gaming events we host by visiting http://www.tricityareagaming.com.