to the Secret War! The Shadowfist Secret HQ is the home to the San
Francisco Shadowfist players. It's also home to the imaginary 10th Anniversary
of Shadowfist release Revenge of the 7Masters
Well, it's been a few years since my last update -- my copy of Front Page bit the dust, and that makes it hard to work on this site. I wasn't very involved in Empire of Evil, but have had a chance to play some of the cards and mull them over, and the Secret HQ is going to continue its tradition by presenting the Empire of Evil review.
I got some great feedback from Wei Chen and Matt Wooley -- you can find it
in the Critical Shift section.
Some Syndicate updates -- First off I broke theSyndicate into their own review section (all
27 cards of them) for easy perusal. To that we add a first draft ofSyndicate Strategy.
I integrated the SSG reviews into the master lists. I also received my
first batch of comments on Critical Shift from
Simon Johnston. I am also working on an article about the latest faction
to enter the Secret War -- The Syndicate: Do the Suck or do the Blow? that
should be done in a week or two.
My unabashed review of Critical Shift is posted
-- it's rough around the edges, and is not for the faint of heart. Read at
your own risk! Comments, corrections, Flames and A-men's are welcome via
email. Speaking of user feedback, Expendable Unit wrote in with some ideas
on making Dog Soldiers work -- you can find it in theSixguns review in the Monarch's section.
I'll also be working on integrating the reviews on Two-Fisted Tales and Sixguns
into the full listings.
Critical Shift has been printed, and should be shipping next week.
I've already started on my unabashed card reviews -- you wont get to see them
for a little while, but the first batch has been sent out for editing -- my goal
is by the end of the month. Also, I've fallen behind a little in
updates and correspondence -- be patient grasshopper, the willow bends but it
does not break.
Yeah, it's been a while. Critical Shift is due out sometime this
summer, after many delays (it was originally scheduled for release in May at
KublaCon). There are some
preview cards floating around, that are worth checking out. Boxes are
available for pre-order through Shadowfist
Games and Potomac Distribution.
SSG has shipped to both individuals and distributors -- if you pre-ordered,
you should have yours now. I cracked 3 boxes with okay distribution, but
it's clear that just 1 box isn't really enough of even commons (you can get as
few as 1-2 of any single common to really make a deck around a card).
Speaking of making decks, I'm really struggling with this set -- I really want
to like it, but the mediocrity of the art and cards (especially the Syndicate
which are as bland as bland can be) is interfering.
I added a couple of promos to the Siguns Review section. Also, Siguns
is supposed to be shipping today, so expect to start seeing it around in a few
Check out The Seven (from Six-Guns
and Shurikens)-- is this the coolest Shadowfist art ever?
The Seven are (left-to-right):
Eric Lui, Eric Berg, Joe Ganis, Jan Malina, Steve Valladolid, John Castellucci,
The SSG FAQ is available. It's got a
couple of entries for promo cards we haven't seen yet.
Hey! Thanks for all the great feedback and discussion of Sixguns and
Shuriken. You can find excerpts in the
review section under the individual card entries.
RANT: Sacred Wigwam: This is perhaps my least liked card in the set --
this shows how the design team can be off-base with the Shadowfist playing
public. I am a huge fan of foundation sites -- I was a big advocate for Bomb
Factory and Paradox Garden reprinted in Red Wedding. Foundation sites are
just generally good when played right, and I think they are a necessary
component of the game. So, why don't I like this card? First, the
name is, frankly, retarded. On such an important card as this, why go over
the top with theme? Second, I think it's a big mistake to have the Thunder
designator on this card -- why make a card that all the designator fans can't
play? Are we going to have to wait another 3 years to see each sub-faction
get one? Thirdly, where's the? The
Four Monarchs are a magic using faction, and Thunder is especially weak?
Yes, providing a talent has been hit or miss on the foundation sites, but why
not make this a really good card? Finally, Sacred Wigwam has an important
ability. For the last two years at least, Shadowfist has been dominated by
recursion (playing or retrieving cards from the smoked pile). Sacred
Wigwam gives a new (almost) faction-defining ability -- why is this disparately
needed ability relegated to the weakest Monarch? So many bad choices went
in to this card, and I find it a great disappointment.
Sixguns is shaping up to be a decent set.
I don't think it's at the top, but Red Wedding set a high mark for Shadowfist.
I don't think it'll be as good as Seven Masters vs. The Underworld either -- as
a new faction, the Seven Masters will never be equaled again. It's sort of
feeling like a cross between Throne War and Dark Future -- that's not a bad
place to be, but some of us were hoping for better. Sixguns does have its
share of over-the-top cards, though.
I have made a progressive spoiler for Sixguns
and Shuriken that is hopefully a bit easier to read than the mailing list.
The SG Architect spoiler has been released to the Yahoo Shadowfist group.
After you've familiarized yourself with the cards, check out myunabashed review if you dare!
The first preview is up on eBay -- it's mediocre, but it's a start.
Sixguns and Shurikens is getting close. The new marketing team is
trying to generate some hype by previewing/selling cards directly on eBay.
I have mixed feelings about this -- it's sort of artificial hype. Also,
there is a new promo policy -- for every box in a case you order, you get a
progressive promo card, with a total of 6 promos. This means you gotta
drop $415 for 6 exclusive cards... sounding kinda bogus to me.
KublaCon Report: KublaCon seems to be continuing its
downward trend -- The Shadowfist turnout was decent, but not as big as in past
years (but the attendance for the entire Con seemed down). I spent about
1/3rd of my time playing Shadowfist, and the other 2/3rds playing a mix of board
games, card games and MTG.
Pickup friendly games of Shadowfist were also kind of
scarce (especially compared to 2-3 years ago when there were 1-2 pickup games
going at any given time for the entire con). CCGs were moved from the main
room off into a side room, and that's never good for visibility. I did get
in a lot of pickup games with the usual Shadowfist players, but we mainly played
games other than Shadowfist, including MTG, For Sale, No Thanks, Lost Cities,
Villa Palazzo, Fairy Tale and perhaps the high-point of the con, a crazy
seven-man BANG! game that the con staff had to tell us to be quiet because we
were laughing so hard. The game ended with our Sherriff Eric L. playing
Lucky Dick (the guy who draws twice for things like Barrels and Dynamite)
blowing himself up with his own Dynamite!
Friday afternoon was pretty dead, so I played in the
MTG grab bag -- this is a strictly fun format where you reach into a box of
commons/uncommons and pull out as many cards as you can with one-hand and build
your deck from that. My deck was un-stellar, but Tim had 7 Holy Strengths
for beat down, and Quyen had 6 Rays of Command for ultimate trix. Of
course, non of us did so well when we ran into the guy who pulled out a fistful
Friday night was the Shadowfist dueling tournament, but
I passed on it. I think they only had 4-6 players. Instead I got is
a game of Caylus with Eric L. and a few others. This game I got to be a
playa h8r on Eric, and my mean and spiteful move of denying him the Joust (even
though I could not use it) let me squeak in second place over him by only 2
points (the winner p'wnd us with his l337 skillz and expert timing of play order
and going to the castle). Caylus is definitely a game to try out if you
like hardcore Euro-style games.
Saturday was the old rules Shadowfist event, but I'm
not sure if it went off. Instead I tried to get into the Caylus tourney
(but it was limited to 25 and they had way over that) so instead I did the
Elasund and Power Grid events. This was the first time I played on the
Italy map and it's harsh. Limited resources and tight groupings make for
lots of pain.
Saturday night was the Shadowfist draft, and we got 15
players in it. I drafted a reasonably strong deck, given what I opened
(mostly junk) and crafted a decent deck that was mainly Ascended with a Dragon
splash for Back for Seconds, Golden Comeback and Final Brawl. The Ascended
part had an Op Killdeer, Cutting Lose Ends (a-mazing) and a Cry of the Forgotten
Ancestor, and the rest characters. I had 2 Proving Grounds and a fair
amount of 3 cost foundations, with my beef being Serena Chase, 2 Fists of the
Bear, a Blue Cardinals Guards and Raven Li. I went 2-2, but was penalized
by the tournament and missed the finals. The current rules award 4 points
for a win, and 1 point for a loss, unless the game timed out, in which case the
leading player gets 3 points and everyone else gets 0. My two losses were
in timeout. This was still a very fun event, especially since people don't
take it as seriously as constructed.
Sunday was the big 4-person constructed event, which
drew 16 players, which I didn't play in. I played a few friendly games of
Shadowfist with the rest of us not in the tourney, and as people dropped out, we
played a bunch of other random card/board games. The finals were
especially grueling -- I think all players had at least 3 BfV at one point, with
at least having 4 BfV. The eventual winner, Robert S. was the player at 4
BfV, and was able to get out of it thanks to a Book of Wrath and many many turns
of tight play.
Sunday night was the Comrades in Arms tournament, but
after three days, I was beat, so I headed home.
So, in summary, KublaCon 2006 was "just okay." I
think it was characterized most by a couple of conspicuous non-attendees -- in
addition to a few of the locals, Jan, Paul, Zev and Steverino all didn't make
it, and they have become pillars of KublaCon. Also not having a new
expansion in a year and a half also meant there wasn't a lot of fresh decks.
The Old West expansion is scheduled to come out later this summer, but there
wasn't much enthusiasm about it -- if one set a year is going to come out, it
should probably come out at the start of the Con season instead of the end.
Janky play of Con Award: Eric L. revealing his
face-down Proving Ground to use a Discerning Fire to zap my Proving Ground to
deny a win... IN DRAFT!!! And the next card I drew was Cry of the
Forgotten Ancestor -- oh, sweet irony! Honorable Mention: Sung Hi
turning to smoke a Brain Tap Rifle being toted by Void -- how's that for jank?
Thanks to Earl, Pete and Eric L. for running events.
Here's looking forward to next year!
The pricing info for Six Guns and Shrunken has been announced. A
single box will be $75 shipped, and a case (6 boxes) will be $420. No set
size has been released, but if it's the same size as 2FT, you won't quite get a
playset of the rares (4.3 each), about 9.6 of each uncommon, and around 17 of
each common in a case. Six Guns will be available through a new entity,
Shadowfist Games -- more info to follow.
Rumor Mill: GenCon is the target date for Sixguns and
Shurikens. I've also had to debunk the previous rumor.
Rumor Mill: There is a new promo for high-ranking members
of the SWS -- alternate art Blade Palm. That's not the rumor -- but, to
have a new card, that means a new sheet was printed. It's possible that
this is left-over from 2FT from way back in 2004, but it's also possible that a
new sheet was printed. Zev was talking about moving printing to China as a
cost-saver, and it's possible that this is from a new test sheet. And if
there's a new sheet, there may be other new/alternate cards. Update:
Thanks to Stefan for the following correction:
The truth behind the rumor mill on your
site (3/20/2006) is that the alt. art Blade Palm was published on the promo
sheet for Red Wedding. Zev mentioned it in late 2004 in the Forum.
Doesn't mean that a super-secret test sheet hasn't been printed, just not
with that card :)
The deadline for pre-registering for
KublaCon is over -- we got our tickets, and a room to boot. While
we'll be playing other games this year, you should still see us around.
here. Well, it's really close and in a final draft form. Click on
the logo to see the full set, or just take a sneak peak below.
Name: Brain Eater
Text: Ambush. Join. Any Character Joined with Brain
Eater and at the same location gains Ambush.
Name: Dirk McGirk
Subtitle: Rebel General
Text: Unique. Tactics. While Dirk McGirk is attacking,
all other attacking characters gain Tactics. When Dirk McGirk uses
Tactics, all other attacking characters gain Stealth until the end of the
Flavor: Trust me, I got a plan.
Text: Limited. May not be played during
an attack. Return a random card from your smoked pile to your hand.
Flavor: Quiet contemplation before battle ensures victory.
Subtitle: Netherworld Horror
Text: Sacrifice to change the target of an Event played by the player to
your right to a target controlled by the player to your left.
Flavor: Seven year bad luck coming our way!
Name: So You
Think You're Tough?
Text: Shtick. Not Cumulative. Subject Character gains
Toughness: 1 and +1 Fighting. Once per turn, you may discard a card at
random to give subject an additional Toughness: 1.
Flavor: That? That was nothing. Now the fight in Portal Square.
That was a fight.
Name: The Vortex
Subtitle: Talent Edge
Text: Unique. You may only play this card if you have 4 Talent
resources in your pool (any combination of, or). Discard
X cards :: Cancel target character, state or edge until end of turn. X =
target�s cost, with a minimum of 1. If you ever have 0 cards in your hand, the
player to your left gains control of The Vortex.
Flavor: Not even Lo Chang could fully control it � at best he could
temporarily bend it to his will.
Name: The Demon Horde
Subtitle: Big Trouble
Text: Unique. Whenever Demon Horde would take damage, it takes 1
damage instead. Cannot be healed.
Name: Caboom's Commandos
Subtitle: Netherworld Mercenaries
Text: Whenever Caboom's Commandoes deal damage to a character, draw a number of
cards equal to that damage. Whenever Caboom's Commandoes deal damage to a site,
that site�s controller must discard 1 card at random.
Flavor: As crazy as their commander, they planted the explosives around Wudang
Subtitle: Temporary Alliance State
Text: Subject Character gains Stealth, Assassinate and +2 Fighting.
Flavor: Too... much... magic...
Subtitle: Transformed Master
Text: Unique. Toughness: 2 Choose a face up Feng Shui site when
Sky Dragon enters play. X = the chosen site�s body at the time Sky Dragon
entered play. Sky Dragon may not be cancelled.
Flavor: Instead of killing him,
being buried under Wudang Mountain transformed him.
Well, if you've been following the news, you will know that Shadowfist is
once again in transition. Basically, the new base set Critical Shift has been
postponed, and while Z-Man games will still continue to publish Shadowfist, a
new group will be taking over development. You can
read Zev's full letter here.
I put up a short strategy article on something I like to refer to asramp-up characters.
I got a little feedback on my review of a certainBuro Scientist -- As always,
I enjoy feedback!
Bonus feature -- Thanks to Alan Hege for suggesting aRing of Gates list -- keep your tech up
to date and stop all the listed cards from returning to hand!
I have my reviews updated and
integrated. As a bonus feature, I've added an icon to indicate the cards
that I think are the best of the best. If you disagree with anything you
find here at the Secret HQ, let me know! I've also updated the strategy
article Beat the Ascended to take
into account cards from the most recent expansions, as well as adding an entire
new article Beat the Dragons.
I'm working on integrating my reviews for the last three sets (RW, 7MvU and
2FT) into my master card review list.
I'm revising my comments to take in the seasoning of the sets. I've
already completed the Architects, and
expect it to take a week or two for me to finish.
This is a
pretty cool list of designators by frequency from netherworld.chimpshack.org.
I also updated the Hacker andUnderworld Tracker lists.
5/1/05 Kublacon Report
We had a great turnout (maybe the best ever) for the Shadowfist events this
year. I think we had 21 for the Final Brawl and 27 for the Whirlpool of
Blood. Zev and Paul were out from Z-Man and it was great to see them
again. Steve V and Eric L. (thanks for the pizza pies) and Erik B. were up
from SoCal. And the Long-distance award goes to Allan Hege and friends
for coming all the way out from Chi-town. I played in 3 tournaments, as
well as a plenty of KublaCon's signature friendly play pickup games.
Array of Stunts: For those of you
who don't know this format, it's pretty wacky -- you start with 8 FSS in play,
and the win condition is 16 FSS. I think almost everyone had mixed
feelings about the Event, and generally, the format still needs a lot of work.
First off, Sunless Sea Ruins needs to be banned (as a starting site) -- it's
just so good that you cripple yourself by not starting it. Also, the
format is very slow -- with so many cards in play, it takes extra time to figure
out your plays. And, after 90 minutes, you tended to find that everyone
was no closer to victory than they were at the start of the game. Erik B.
had a pretty good suggestion of moving down to 6 starting sites and 12 for
victory. I did okay, winning one game on a time-out with 15 sites. I was
playing a mostly mono-faction Ascended deck, with a few extra goodies (some
Buddhist Monks and Confucians). Just in case you're keeping score, Jan
crushed all on-comers with his Da Boys/Tranquil Persuader deck.
Final Brawl: The big event was
3-player games this year, instead of the normal 4. That makes a fair
amount of difference as in 3-player, you don't have as much time to develop --
it favors tighter decks, and it also favors mono-faction as you are less likely
to lose a fast game to a resource hose. I just grabbed a moderate sized
deck (which wound up being my Netherworld Ally deck built for the Comrades in
Arms format) and tried my luck. This deck is as much bad than good, trying
for crazy Ice Falcon damage (with Stand Together and Armies of the Monarchs!)
The good part of the deck was Big Bruisers and Is That All You Gots?!? (more on
First round I was up against Mono-Dragon and Dragon/Jammer
Netherflitter (Pete). The Dragon deck stalled, and I was able to get out
an early Big Bruiser, which was hard for them to deal with. I got lucky on
my bid for the win, in that I was able to avoid a Golden Comeback on a Righteous
Round two saw my facing a fast Architect deck (Erik B)
and a Bloody Horde/Evil Twin deck (Quyen). Quyen and I both stalled, and
Erik got a near perfect start, dropping a Test Subject, followed by CHAR for a
very early win (and some timely Architect zaps).
The next round again had be paired with Quyen and another
mono-Architect deck but this time played by Robert S. This Architect deck
was very different, and was based more around playing characters out of turn
that pure beats and zaps. Robert started out strong, with an early Secret
HQ and was really able to work the out of turn characters. Quyen and
I had to team up to beat the Architects down, and we had a pretty good drawn-out
game, with the lead changing several times. After various beats, I was
able to get in a win when both players were out of juice with a Big Bruiser
(although I had a Ring of Gates, Whirlpool of Blood and a Brain Fire in hand, so
I was in a good position to beat denial).
Round four had me up against Jan's Evil Queen deck
(Evil Twins and Queens) and a mono-Monarch Legacy deck played by Michael L. This was the only
game that really ended in a Kingmaker situation.. Jan was pretty much
steamrolling, so the game was mostly a 2 on 1. My Stand Together naming
Netherworld helped the Monarch player more than me. We were getting very
close to the time limit, so Jan decided to go for the win -- I used up my
stoppage, denying the win, but allowing the Monarch player to cruise in for the
win next turn. Since he had ripped the winning site off of Jan, I was able
to squeak into the finals on my tiebreak (all three of us had scrambled to get
three sites burned-for-victory late game because of the possibility of a
The final table had me, the Michael's Monarch deck from the last
game and Allen Hege playing a Dragon/Seven Masters "Is Red Bat All You Got?!?"
deck (I almost played mine for this tournament). This was an excellent
game, with lots of lead changes, and lots of table politics. Allen tried
some early bullying, but his strong board belied his talk, and we would have non
of that =) This game was all about teaming up to take down the
leader, and I think all of us got beat down a couple times. But, Alan had
the late game juice with the double free Red Bat action, and was able to
power his way to victory. I would say the Big Bruiser/ITAYG combo was the
MVP of the event (both Alan and I got lots of mileage out of it).
Whirlpool of Blood: The draft was a
little unusual this year, as we drafted a ton of cards -- I think it was 7 packs
added to a Standard starter. With this many cards, you could get a pretty
trim deck. I played mostly hand, with only 5 Ascended cards (for Bite of
the Jellyfish) and 3 unaligned characters (Ninja Six, Big Daddy Voodoo and
Reverend Payne). The first game I got in some good beats with Shaolin
Master and Kwan Lung-Wei, but Miguel's deck had both the King and Queen, and
that was too much beats for anyone. In round two, I came out strong again,
and was able to use a Bite to my advantage to get out just too many characters
to be stopped for the win. At that point, it was getting late, and I
dropped and said my goodbyes.
News and Rumor Central: This is the
part you've all been waiting for. Remember, these are just rumors, and
their level of veracity is uncertain.
1. Zev has dabbled into the book publishing venue with
Babies First Mythos -- I can personally vouch for this excellent book, and my
son will be learning his Mythos ABCs.
2. Z-Man games has struck a deal to publish
English-language versions of some German board games. Primordial Soup is
already out (I didn't get a chance to play, but a lot of people really liked the
3. The next Shadowfist publication will be Critical
Shift -- a 400+ card starter/booster set, and it's targeted for November release
for GenCon SoCal (but may slip).
4. Critical Shift will be mostly reprints, but they are
shooting for about 20% new cards
5. Critical Shift will be balanced for sealed/draft
play, although players/tournament organizes will have to provide extra
foundation characters (think of it is land in MTG draft).
5. Critical Shift may have a new faction, although it's
not set in stone -- I think it comes down to how playable the set is in limited
(the new faction will probably be near unplayable in limited because of so few cards) vs.
using the new faction as a selling point.
6. Speaking of reprints, Critical Shift will contain
some of the most sought after Promo cards (such as Open a Can of Whupass and
White Ninja) as regular cards
7. The Standard edition Queen of the Ice Pagoda is
marked for death. Expect Critical Shift to contain the Z-Man Ice Queen
with the addition of an Errata symbol, allowing you to play your old Queens, but
as MRP (most recent printing).
8. There is going to be a new constructed Critical
Shift format. Look for both Old School events and Critical Shift events at
next year's GenCon.
KublaCon is coming at the end of the
month -- this is the premiere Northern California Shadowfist event -- be there!
Also, towards the end of summer, look for Critical Shift, a Shadowfist
starter/booster set designed to be compatible with limited (draft and sealed)
View Old News...