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art (c) Mike Trap

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Chi

"Ah Grasshopper, you must find your Chi if you wish to master the most powerful Kung Fu."  Through Throne War, only the Guiding Hand have quick access to Chi, though the Dragons have limited access through some of their bigger characters.  Luckily, the Hand's Golden Candle Society costs only 1 power, which makes playing the Hand and Chi cards very possible in multifaction decks.  Most of the Chi States aren't worth playing except in a highly specialized deck, but the Chi Events give a good amount of game control and see a fair amount of play, especially Violet Medition for power generation.

Events    States    Sites

 
 

 

EVENTS

Blade Palm
Blade Palm is only limited by the number of cards in play.  Not only does it bounce big characters, it denies wins by returning sites and makes attacks unsuccessful by removing their target from play.  Don't overlook the ability to get rid of turn and maintain effects like that of the Blanket of Darkness.  Always expect Blade Palm in a deck with Chi.  Ring of Gates is a standard counter to this card as well as Wind on the Mountain and Imprisoned.
  Buddha's Palm
This is a very specialized event.  It is 0-cost character take out, but it has another potentially hefty price of toasting cards from your deck.  I think this will be best in those decks where you are using Chi for support (such as Blade Palm) without heavy usage (such as Healing Earth).  The Seven Masters splashed with any faction but the Hand should achieve this, as will a light-Chi Hand deck.  I think this will do best in 80+ card decks, where you are only going to have a couple of for that added punch through.  Watch out for Hackers, who seem to know the counter-move for Buddha's Palm.  It's free, it shaves your deck, it's sorta cool.  A fun card only, but you do get to say "You may have countered by Tiger's Claw, but what about my Buddha's Palm!"
  Dark's Soft Whisper
On the surface, it looks like Dark's Soft Whisper is a reliable alternate power generation card -- but it's not.  The opportunity cost is too high -- you have to be behind in Sites, and you have to have an unsuccessful attack, which means even if you gain the 2 power, you can't use it to fuel follow up attacks.  Sometimes you can pull a trick of playing a Golden Candle Society first turn (before playing Feng Shui) and try to trigger Dark's Soft Whisper, but it is very unreliable and opponents will wise up and let your attack be successful.
  Dawn of the Righteous
You are almost always better off going with Beneficial Realignment or Healing Earth, but Dawn does have its place.  This card may be your best Event based healing option if you are not playing Hand, and are using Ancient Groves to fuel your Chi production.
Healing Earth
Perhaps the best of the healing Events, once you get a lot of Chi going.  Being 0 cost, it's not going to require that you hold back playing other cards -- it just takes up a slot in your hand until it comes in handy (still a penalty, but not as much of one).  Late game this will heal more damage than any other card, and can be Shi Ho Kauis best friend.
Invincible Chi
Invincible Chi is a very odd card -- it does a lot of quirky stuff, but is usually only worth playing when you are going for the win or absolutely have to take a Site.  The most reliable use of Invincible Chi is against those annoying Sites that muck with attacks like Fox Pass and City Square, but it does also let you bypass some other pitfalls if the target of your attack is a Fortress of Shadow, Temple of Angry Spirits or similar card.  Against States, it will cancel a Shadowy Mentor and maybe you cancel a weapon or tank.  Edges are the rarest choice, mainly against Blanket of Darkness.  This makes a good one-of in a moderate or larger sized deck.
  Return to the Center
Mostly this card is good for after-the-fact Shadowy Mentor protection, but occasionally their are a few really annoying States (like Repulsor Beams) that you just want to get rid of.  Confucian Stability is still the card of choice, backed up by Blade Palms.
  Robbing the Kong
I think this is going to be the darling of the set.  It's going to break a few late game logjams by actually letting someone win.  The big problem with the card will be king-making in tournaments.  I can foresee a lot of times where someone will be able to stop one player's attack, but not the other, giving that 3rd person the ultimate power of life and death as the balance of the universe hinges upon their decision.  If you haven't figured out how to use it, play a big character with superleap (or any other reasonable evasion ability), wait until an opponent declares an attack against another opponent, and sneak it.  Probably not the strongest card in dueling, but you can try it if you like.  Boo on such an important card being rare.  Well, another one I whiffed on -- we really tried and tried and tried to make this work.  Spending 2 power to deny another player a site is a little high, especially considering you have to hold back characters  (who didn't take that site for you on your turn) to do it.  I'm still playing it, but more out of a lost cause than 100% nutty goodness.
Violet Meditation
With the errata to Violet Mediation and Pocket Demon in Year of the Dragon, they've been de-powered a bit.  Still a good card, you may wind up playing 3 instead of 4 or 5 now.  See the strategy article on Alternate Power Generation.
  Shaking the Mountain
The verdict is still out on this card, and it's going to cause a lot of timing disputes.  The obvious use is in combination with Superleapers, but there are several other powerful uses for this card.  It also turns sites, that lets you get in a pre-emptive strike against those sites that can foil an attack when used during your turn.  Of course one of the most powerful uses is on your opponent's turn to shut down part of their offense -- if they don't attack as first action, you are turning a bunch of their characters, denying them attacks.  Watch out for decks that try to recycle Shaking the Mountain and get you into a semi-lock.
Wing of the Crane
Wing of the Crane is one of the most powerful Chi Events, and has multiple uses.  First, it gets rid of attackers, making it much easier to make an attack unsuccessful.  It's also great on offense as you can get rid of that interceptor and get damage through.  It's also a limited Confucian Stability when you use it on one of your own characters to avoid a Nerve Gas or similar Event.  Finally, it works like a Return to the Center to get rid of Shadowy Mentors after the fact.  I just aren't enough good things to say about Wing of the Crane.  The only reason not to play five of these is their three Chi resource requirement, but still I would run at least 1 or 2 in any deck with Chi.
 
 

STATES

  Armored in Life
Toughness:1 is a great bonus on a character, but is it worth 1 Power?  Generally no, because that 1 power would be getting you a bigger and better character.  As a general rule, Eagle Mountain is the way to give your (attacking) characters toughness, while House on the Hill isn't terrible for interceptors.  Drop this turkey in favor of Path of the Storm Turtle, which is almost as good, and costs no power.
Butterfly Swords
Hrm... this card kind of looks like Buro Godhammer, only worse.  Why do I say worse?  Godhammer kicks butt because the Architects have so many Ambushers.  While I was tuning a Swordsman deck, I eventually migrated out the Butterfly Swords for Tiger Hook Swords -- the speed was worth giving up 1 extra damage (only having 5 Golden Candle Societies and Chi foundations was too slow).
  Celestial Stance
I'm not sure if Superleap is worth 1 power -- I guess it is, but how often do you see Flying Kick?  Chi provides the Superleap, but a lot of the hitter in your Chi providing deck are already going to Superleap anyways (e.g. most of the Seven Masters).  Magic provides the blasting ability, but it's a tad expensive to use (2-4 power to smoke a character, plus the 1 power to play the state).  Of course, it's a big deterrent after a burn for power when you got the ammo to protect the location of the subject.  The resource requirement is light enough to play in any deck that can support the Seven Masters.  I've gotten it out a few times, and boy is it fun to blast a bunch of your opponents' characters to the Underworld.  Burning for Power is almost a must when you're playing this.
  Claw of the Tiger
Claw of the Tiger has the potential to wreck a horde of resource characters intercepting you in a chain.  Of course, they will never do it if Claw is already in play, so surprise is key.  This card plays very much like Armored in Life.  Like it's cousin Hosed, Claw of the Tiger can be fun as an occasional one-of in a deck, but don't expect it to do that much.
  Contract of the Fox
As a reusable Back For Seconds, this can be a very powerful card.  But, to get your two power investment back, you want your character to stick around for another turn to use it again.  Luckily, the Hand excels at protecting it characters.  One of the best uses I've ever seen is Bernie's Invincible Queen deck -- get out a Queen of the Ice Pagoda (old of course) with a Fortune of the Turtle and a Contract of the Fox and go to town.
  Death Touch
Death Touch turns any character into a Gnarled Horror (more or less).  So, you are looking at a minimum of 3 power to kill a character, providing they don't stop you in the process.  That is not a good deal.  Of course, there is the odd situation where you still get to kill a character even if yours had been Operation Killdeer'd, but that is a fluke.
  Dim Mak
This card weighs in as a slightly improved Training Sequence.  Of course, the only time you play Training Sequence is for free with Kar Fai's Crib.  Of course, this card does wreck Sam Mallory. 
  Drunken Stance
Drunken Stance is a great surprise card, and you should avoid playing it until it will pay for itself by returning some characters to an opponents hand.  Not only is this card great against weenie hordes, it also whups on the White Ninja and the Queen of the Ice Pagoda.  This is one of those cards that you can throw one-of into a deck and hope to get a little surprise factor advantage.
  Flying Sword Stance
Finally Throne War brings us a really good offensive State that is not a Tank or a Gun.  Flying Sword Stance far exceeds the similar States of Training Sequence and Dim Mak.  Don't overlook the restricted Superleap this card gives -- it can let a hitter get through to take a site against an army of foundation characters or the Queen of the Ice Pagoda.
  Flying Whirlwind Strike
While Flying Whirlwind Strike is great fun to play, it's usually not that efficient.  Since this card only doubles damage, it won't stop you from getting Smoked by interceptors.  Of course, you could play Flying Whirlwind Strike for free on the new Wong Fei Hong, but his Fighting of 11 is usually enough to take Sites and trying for 44 damage is just nutty, even if you are playing Gorilla Warfare.
Fortune of the Turtle
This card is a specialized version of Confucian Stability for Events that target characters, with the added bonus that it gets to stick around.  If its your turn, you can play this bad boy in response to an Event, canceling it just like it was a Confucian.  You need to be careful, playing this card is likely to draw all sorts of nastiness in response, but if you can get it through you have a character to be reckoned with.  Fortune only makes a character immune to your opponents events, so you cant pull of some great combos like an Hand/Arc Neutron Bomb deck.
  Fortuitous Chi
Fortuitous Chi is similar to the Dragon State Charmed Life, with the addition of effecting all characters you control that share a designator.  Of course, playing with lots of common designators is usually a recipe for disaster when you run into Discerning Fire or even a Gambling House.  I would recommend Fortune of the Turtle over Fortuitous Chi 95% of the time, as it stops more events (especially Operation Killdeer) and only costs one power.
  Hands Without Shadow
While this card is fast and cheap, it still if of limited use.  It has the potential to do a lot of damage, but then you have to make sure another character is around to finish the job.  While it does give you a defense bonus and something to do with those resource characters late game, odds are you will wish you drew something you could take sites with instead.
  Invincible Stance
This card can be very strong, if you have power to spare.  Not that you have to spend the power, but you have to have the power as a threat.  This card works great after a burn for power -- you have an invincible interceptor guarding at least one of your columns.  What really restricts this card is the resource requirement -- It's going to take a while to see what combination of factions really work for this resource requirement.  Yup, it's expensive, but boy is hard to get around -- almost as good as Shadowfist, and then some.
  King on the Water
This is one of those cards I always want to play with, but wind up cutting at the last minute to trim down a deck.  It's a fine card, and lets you blast through for some damage, often letting you sneak in a burn.  But, the Hand excels at Superleaping and the overlooked Blood of the Valiant which are also going to get your damage through. This could be tasty in the Fire-Chi deck with Spirit Pole to make sure you have it when you need it.
  Legacy of the Master
This one is right up there with Orange Meditation.  Sure, it lets you save your Swords from impending death, but only if you have another character.  And you had to draw your swords -- I always wound up drawing this card over States that actually did something useful.
  No Shadow Kick
This card plays almost identical to Shadowfist.  It's strong, but vulnerable.  The best use of this state is to play it on Wong Fei Hong for free, but I think that was kind of the point.  If you use it to attack characters, be prepared to have your attack fail as No Shadow Kick will smoke the target before you get to combat damage most of the time.  Goes in the Wong Fei Hong deck, but not much else. 
  Nunchucks
Thwak!  Finally a respectable rival to Fusion Rifle.  And it's going to be a lot of fun on Superleapers.  Like any weapon state, you usually don't want to many of them unless you are playing an Ex-Command or Ice Commando deck, so use it sparingly.  Doesn't really seem so hot with Kung Fu Prodigy -- too bad.
  Path of the Clever Fox
Stealing Power is good.  Paying a high cost for it is questionable. Clever Fox is half the price of Virtuous Hood and Iron Monkey, two cards that I am a huge fan of.  I think 9 times out of 10 you are going to be happier drawing them over this State.  Save this slot in your deck for The Fox Outfoxed, a card that has the potential to show you a long-lived benefit.
  Path of the Healthy Tiger
Another card that is awkward to use, Health Tiger is another State that I am not a fan of.  Sure, it will let your big hitter take a site if they've been beaten up, but why let them get beaten up in the first place?  Let me tell you a Shadowfist proverb, Grasshopper.   The road to victory is slick with the Blood of the Valiant...
  Path of the Lurking Rat
Well, we all know what a coaster Undercover is -- so what makes this card any better?  Well, actually, it is quite a bit better just because you can put a stop to crazy site madness with Lurking Rat -- and he can hit almost any site on the board.  Having played with Palm of Darkness, this is a really useful ability, and don't forget you can also play this State in response to someone using the site that is the target of the attack for extra style points.
  Path of the Praying Mantis
Eep -- here we have a Really Big Gun, but only useable against characters, and sort of a Toughness against 1 cost character.  Neither one of these adds up to 1 power though.  Now we know why Dunwa became a traitor -- being a mantis bites...
  Path of the Raging Bear
Hrm... for 2 power I can turn any character into Sam Mallory...  Not a great deal, as Sam is only okay at best.  We know that character + state is an inherently weaker combination that the character with the innate ability.  It does give you more flexibility, but the added cost usually offsets it to the point of being sub-standard, like in this case.  Sam would have to be a 3-cost 7 Fighting vanilla character to equal out with Path of the Raging Bear.  Still, this State is pretty if you can get it onto Sam, giving him uber toughness.
  Path of the Storm Turtle
This is the best of the Chi paths -- it comes out fairly fast and free, and works against a decent amount characters.  A few factions make this card pretty useless, but it only slows you down a turn since you can drop it at no cost if you have a character in play.  The trick is that it goes in the decks with Golden Candles and a few other low-cost Chi-providers like Noodle Lady and Gardener -- watch out for a lot of the new Shaolin Showdown cards that don't provide Chi.
  Phoenix Stance
While this card has an okay ability, the resource requirements are very high, making it difficult to fit into many decks.  Also, there are already a fair number of 0-cost states that seem a little better that I never seem to fit into decks (like King on the Water).  Another problem is that most of the characters that this would be played on probably will have a good evasion ability or immunity, and won't need the Regenerate.  Fun in the stance deck, but not over powered.
  Point Blockage
This is another difficult card to play, but it can have a huge annoyance factor.  It doesn't quite make the cut as a 1 point Fusion Rifle, especially since it cant damage sites.  So we have to look at the doesn't unturn ability.  About the only use for this is on a conditional superleaper -- you are looking to drop this on Impoverished Monk or Rig Dis Superleap on to its subject.  
  Rain of Fury
Rain of Fury seems to pretty much have been made for the poor Orange Monk.  While maybe you can hope to get a measly +1 or +2 out of this State for your character, most of the time characters just don't live that long.  Also, you can't get a bonus by playing this in response to an Event and opponents can also bypass the bonus by playing Events in response to Rain of Fury.  Stick to Flying Sword Stance if you want a 0-cost Chi State to increase fighting.
  Secret Wisdom of the Ancients
This is an hand size increasing card, that goes into the growing arsenal of the Guiding Hand.  This one is so-so, and you need to make a meta-game decision before playing it -- how much Edge removal is there, and will Secret Wisdom draw it?  For the potentially unlimited extra hand size, you have the penalty of revealing the cards, so a crafty player might hold a much needed card in hand over dropping in Secret Wisdom.  Before playing this card, you also need to count up the
events and states in your deck to make sure it's going to do something at all -- you're going to need a goodly amount (more than just 5 Violet Meditations) to really make use of this edge.  Also note the bummer that you can't discard to Billy Chow or Deadly Hand from Secret Wisdom.  It's looking like Calgon was the secret wisdom (which is why the Ancients are no longer around).
  Shadowfist
While is expensive and slow (a whopping 4 Chi required), Shadowfist is one bad mack daddy of a State, letting you slap other character all over the place.  With the additional 3 power investment in your character with the Shadowfist, protecting it becomes crucial.  Confucian Stability and Fortune of the Turtle are highly recommended as backup for this card.  If you didn't figure it out from the Hand YotD deck, Shadowfist goes pretty with with the new version of Wong Fei Hong.
The Fox Outfoxed
The usefulness of this card will depend on the play style of your group.  If you are in single column, zero-to-two sites in play max country, you won't get much out of The Fox Outfoxed.  But, if your group prefers larger site structures and non-Feng Shui sites, this card can turn a game in your favor after a few turns (especially if someone in your group just cant resist Trade Centers).  Don't overlook dropping a Fox Outfoxed on an Edge, State or Character (gotta love it on Paper Trail, and Shield of Pure Soul isn't too bad either).
  Twin Thunder Kick
Far superior to Whirlwind Strike, Twin Thunder Kick is both offensive and defensive.  When an opponent attacks, you can intercept their smallest character and still put the hurt on their main attacker.  On offense, you cut chains in half or can take out those utility characters that avoid combat.  The bonus to Superleapers is just icing on the cake, and don't be lulled into holding Twin Thunder Kick just for that purpose.  Still not a great card, but it can be a fun surprise every now and then.
  Ultimate Mastery
As with Chin Ken, you can have a debate over whether this is actually a useful ability.  Other than some strange surprise effect, you opponents are usually picking what ability you will gain with Ultimate Mastery by carefully choosing their interceptors.
  Walk of a Thousand Steps
Half a Shadowfist for 2 power?  Get this out of here.  This card often works out to be a measly Toughness:1, and you are wonder why you wasted your power on it when you could have played Path of the Storm Turtle.
  Whirlwind Strike
The card has been replaced by Twin Thunder Kick, which is worlds above it.
 
 

SITES

  Ancient Grove
Chi is the hardest of the 3 non-faction resources to get.  Only the Hand has access to resource characters that provide it, and the only other faction that has cards that give Chi is the Dragons, and most of their Chi is on high cost characters.  By popping a few Ancient Groves into a deck, even the Architects can get some Chi action going.
 

 

 

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