First Impressions – Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn

Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is an Expandable Card Game (ECG) designed by Isaac Vega, with artwork by Fernanda Suarez, and published by Plaid Hat Games.

When I heard about Ashes, I was excited because it seemed like the perfect thing to fill that void in my life that TCG’s and LCG’s used to fill. Android: Netrunner is probably the best expandable-style card game I’ve ever played, and I was hoping that Ashes would at least come close to giving me the feel that Netrunner did.

I finally had the chance to play over the past weekend and I thought I’d give my thoughts, but before I do, I’ll talk a little bit more about the game itself.

In Ashes, each player takes control of a Phoenixborn, an avatar of sorts that determines your Life value and how many cards you may have in play. Each Phoenixborn also has a unique ability, which often determines their playstyle.

Out of the box there are 6 recommended “starter decks” constructed using the pool of cards included. Each of these starter decks contains 30 cards and 10 dice (in addition to the Phoenixborn). The dice are used as a resource to pay costs to play cards and activate abilities, they also have special abilities depending on the type of dice that they are.

Game play takes place over a series of rounds and the game ends once the opposing player (or players) Phoenixborn has taken an amount of damage equal to or greater than their life value.

So I had the chance to play a few games using the recommended starter decks this past weekend and here are my thoughts:

I thought the game would be slower in pace than it was, and I’m happy to see that it has a nice back-and-forth aspect to it. At times I wish I could have done more on my turn, but this feeling wasn’t overwhelming. I enjoy this game, and I want to play more and try my hand at deck customization, but I can confidently say that it doesn’t fill the void that Netrunner once filled, and I don’t know if anything ever will.

After I’ve had a chance to play some more games, I’ll know for sure if this is a game for me or not. If not, I’ll just have to move on and find something else. Perhaps I’ll find a way to play Netrunner again.


All images taken without permission from


About The imperial Settler

I love board gaming! I would do it every day if I could.
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