Deep Freeze is a card that was added in the Ashes:The Frostdale Giants expansion for Ashes: Rise of the Pheonixborn, and it forms part of Rin’s pre-constructed deck. Let’s take a look at what it does, how it can be played and its purpose in a deck.
No errata applies to this card.
Unpacking the card
Deep Freeze is an attachment (alteration spell with a unit target in Ashes), that goes onto a unit and that unit is effectively considered exhausted. To unexhaust the unit requires a side action for each status token and it starts off with three status tokens.
In essence, the card:
- Exhausts a unit removing its ability to attack, block and use most abilities
- The unit continues taking up a battlefield spot
- Consumes three side actions to become usable
- As they aren’t exhaustion tokens they aren’t removed at the end of the round, or by exhaustion removal effects
- As a minimum the card is a tempo hit to the opponent, forcing them to get back to parity rather than advancing their position
So, for a card and a middling resource you can remove your opponent’s largest attack or defending threat; lock down the unit’s non-inexhaustible abilities; force them to choose between dice power / meditate actions and getting that unit back; and avoid any ‘move exhaustion token’ shenanigans.
It’s a very strong control effect that chokes the opponents board presence as well as forcing them to use their turn resources in a way that doesn’t advance their board state in their desired manner.
What makes this better?
This is best played as the end-turn is approaching as it is more likely that the opponent won’t be in a position to take an action and a side to clear the tokens. This also stops them from simply refilling their board with other creatures.
In particular, a Pheonixborn with a small battlefield such as Maeoni can be locked down for longer, creating a natural attacking window for you. If the lock crosses an end-turn and you become first player you may also find that you have two attacking windows rather than just one. This can be very damaging where the opponent is relying upon big hitters as you can lock them down just before they would’ve swung.
It also creates an additional option your opponent needs to evaluate for their side action. This might stop them pinging your 1-health unit with a natural dice, or taking your single remaining power die with their illusion dice. You get more actions that turn and they have to think harder about their plans as you disrupt them.
What makes this card worse?
Any token removal will hinder it, and any attachment-hate will make it go away. However, these also take up an action and resources from your opponent so the tempo hit is preserved.
Playing this early in a turn can be a tempo hit for yourself as the opponent ignores their exhausted creature until the back-end of the turn, and if they have dice generating shenanigans and enough main actions they are likely to simply use side actions that would otherwise not be taken up to clear it down. Against the high battlefield, low strength units it can become an effectively dead card.
Deep Freeze has a place in a control deck, and is most devastating when played against a low battlefield Pheonixborn utilising large units. The placement of tokens rather than direct exhaustion means that the opponent has to consume actions rather than take time for their unit to become free again, and the freezing over burning eats up their precious battlefield slot.
It is best timed towards the end of the round when it is hardest to play around and care should be taken that it doesn’t become a tempo hit for the player themselves.
As ever, any thoughts on good combos or power plays featuring this card are welcomed here in the comments or over at the usual places!