art (c) Mike Trap
While not as bad as the previous two sets (Sixguns & Shuriken and Two-Fisted
Tales), Critical Shift falls short of the goal of reinventing Shadowfist.
For those of you who don't know the history, CS was originally intended to be a
new base set comprised of a majority of reprints and as a new block. Well,
as the popularity of Shadowfist has been steadily declining this type of set has become
financially unfeasible, and the game has moved to more a fan-supported model
with sporadic expansions, and this is what CS has become.
While CS has a few interesting cards, it's nowhere near the high-water marks
of Dark Future, Red Wedding and Seven Masters vs. the Underworld, which had well-received new factions
(The Purists and Seven Masters). This set attempts to make the new faction
introduced in Sixguns (The Syndicate) playable, but at least in our neck of the
woods, the Syndicate has fallen flat -- they feel more like a gimmick to sell
packs (look kids, a new faction!) rather than integrated part of the game that
has been well thought-out and have something new to offer to the game. If
you were expecting another Seven Masters, don't hold your breath.
We also have a new boldface ability this set, Influence, which was
best described as 'meh' by a friend of mine. While it's probably better
than Tactics, it's fragile and poorly thought out for the Syndicate -- a lot of
their characters have combat abilities and Influence is basically Stealth, so
you are nullifying your own powers.
If a lot of the cards in Critical Shift feel familiar, it's because this set
is almost entirely composed of recycled cards and abilities (and even the new
Influence is really turn to give stealth). And when you add the large set
size along with the increased box price, this set becomes more of a luxury than
a must have (our group is down to 1/2 box per player, from the usual 3-6 boxes
in TW-7M era).
I'd like to end on at least a little bit of a positive note -- here are my
picks for top 5 Critical Shift cards:
#1. LaGrange Four
#2. Reprints (Sacred Heart Hospital, Bull Market, Shadowy Mentor)
#3. New Foundations (Rebel Without a Cause, Wailing Apparition, Bush Pilot,
ArcanoMoth, Kamakazi Cosmonauts)
#4. New Sites (Palace of Virtual Light, Hot Zone, Hydroponic Garden, Iron
Palace, Rainforest Ruins)
#5. Triumphant Heroes
Simon Johnston writes in:
Generally I agree, Critical Shift isn't a particularly good
set. Though all my comments should be taken with a pinch of salt - I've hardly
played since the release of 7M.
There seems to be a trend in CS of making events that cost
too much when compared to the classic staples of Killdeer, Brain Fire,
Confucian, Imprison, WTMN etc.
I don't see any reason while all of the following couldn't
cost zero (though I didn't playtest):Delay the Inevitable, Echo Distortion,
Howling for Blood, Temporal Anomaly and Catching Bulllets.
Wei Chen writes in:
Longtime reader here. I have always enjoyed reading your card reviews, even if
I don't always agree with your evaluations (and isn't that the nature of
opinions?). Since you're again inviting commentary with your batch of Critical
Shift reviews, I thought I'd bite
Matt Wooley writes in:
While I agree with a hell of a lot of your assessments � in
particular the accusation of retreads - I think that generally speaking you are
unjustly harsh. Compared to a lot of past expansions CS seems to deliver a
fairly consistent level of playable (albeit not outstanding) cards.
Holy Moths Batman! Here we have the 3rd generation 2-cost
Abomination foundation character, and it's not half-bad. It gives you
tech, which you are likely to want for those Neutron Bombs, and, late game,
you get an average hitter capable of taking a site when needed (or some
tenacious D with their toughness). I can
see dropping a couple in most any deck, although you still need to slot a
couple of Loyalty Officers just to be safe. And if you missed it, Arcanomoth is an Abomination, so you have all those tricks going for you
Here we have a rather poor variation on the old standby, Arcanowave
Reinforcer. Sure, it costs 1 power less and requires one less
resource, but it's really gimped. Notice that there's no surprise
factor -- the Engine has to be in play when you declare the attack.
This thing does combo with Hidden Tomb. It's not quite so bad for an
aggressive deck (one with recycling Benjis, perhaps?) to drop a free Engine
and attack with waves of more characters than could be blocked.
--Security also combos with Hidden Tomb, but that
doesn't make it good. Not working on defense just kills this card for
me other than as a one-shot -- it's going to make too easy of a target for
I feel kinda iffy about the General here. I like the ability, but I
don't think this was the right character for it. In a lot of end game
situations, Gog is effectively going to have no ability. The
Tactics/Unturn/Re-attack is going to be more useful mid-game when there are
more columns and targets available. Ideally, this is an ability you
want to somehow copy (as a surprise) to have fun with. Your best hope
to attack one site with overwhelming force (which usually prevents
interception), then unturn Gog and hold him back on defense. Would
this card have been too over powered if they just gave him Independent?
He's basically an Independent thug with CB Radio. Like everything
that's big and has Tactics, he does well when given Ambush (Neural
Stimulator, Blood Eagles, Arcanoseed -- Architects don't lack for ways of
making it happen). With Ambush, the guy can wipe out a very large stick and
take a site in the same turn, and in addition set off anything you've got
that triggers off successful attacks (Bandit Hideouts, The Pinnacles).
Conditionally, that's better than just having Independent.
--Remember they closed the Ambush+Tactics window in
the rules, so I don't think there any real combo there anymore. I
think of General Gog more as a Fox on the Run than CB Radio enthusiast.
His ability clearly operates in a very different way to Independent. Late
game when an opponent has a big character, or multiple small characters
capable of stopping him, Gog can bypass them by dummying an attack, and then
re-attacking at a different location. Is there a better 5 cost architects
--Maybe Assault Drone, but yeah, there's not a lot of
goodness in the Architects 5-cost slot (but you have to admit that all
factions have lot of sub-par 5-cost characters). Gog's best ability is
not a dummy attack, but that he is going to be mostly immune to the first
turning denial-site used during his attack -- City Square, KHouse, Fox Pass
can all be negated.
This looks to be somewhat of a utility character that might find some room
in certain decks. At 3 resources, don't expect to see him early, and
even with Smyte's good ratio, he's more of a defensive character.
While he's not going to replace Whirlpools, he can give you the edge in a
cancel battle. While this is a hybrid-Purist card, the high resources
make it unreliable in a heavy two-faction deck.
He's also a guy who can do something useful in a mono-Arch deck that
needs multiple Magic resources. Also combines with Commander Griffith to
create a 5-for-9 Tactics thug, for whatever that's worth.
--Isn't every character that is over-resourced a combo
with Commander Griffith? And Paradox Beast is a 4-9 one-card-combo...
Howling for Blood
This is another fine example of the Nerve Gas/Imprisoned problem -- does
this 1-cost event stack up to them? Well, uhm, not really. I'm
not sure that Howling is that interesting in even a limited format, as you
have to target an Abomination to get you money's worth out of this card.
While I'm not sure that this card is overly powerful, Jigsaw Beast is
mildly interesting. As you all know, in the early sets Ambush was
almost always over-costed (except for a few characters like Midnight
Whisperer). This abomination is always going to have more Fighting
than cost, albeit with a diminishing ratio -- he's most efficient at 1-cost.
You are probably still going to want +damage effects if you really want to
take objectives. The reload is also of some potential use -- not just
to get him back, but it also gives you another answer to someone stealing
CHAR if you don't have a Loyalty Officer in hand.
Melting Flesh Squad
Well, at least they improved over ArcanoRats in that the Squad doesn't
cease attacking if other attackers are removed, but still, this can be a
huge drawback. Yes, Guts is good, but you don't want to be saddled
with 100 Names when you really need a hitter. Probably the best way to
make MFS work is to play with Bouncing Benjiis, that way you are assured of
drawing a character you can play every turn, but it's going to hurt when you
have only 3 power and need to play this card when you have no other
characters in play.
I don't think these guys' drawback is all that bad. In an
Abomination deck, you'd be playing Revingoration Process, so even if you're
low on power, you could just recycle a Test Subjects and send it in with the
Squad. I agree that they're definitely much improved over the Arcanorat.
Also very amusing if you could copy their ability to someone else's big,
--By mid-game, I really don't want to be spending
power to replay Test Subjects with Reinvig -- you are just showing that MFS
is a 4-for-6 Guts with a drawback!!! I like my 4-for-6's to have an
advantage. As for the copy-can't-attack, there are much cooler
characters to copy (invariably a smoke effect).
Here we have a twist on Inexorable Corruption (and we all know how good
that card is). This time, it's only good for characters (and while
Inexorable could target characters, it seemed to hit sites the few times
I've seen it played). As straight character kill, it's got a little
use, especially early game if you can zap a 2-cost foundation, but playing
the wait-game for Nanovirus past the start is going to cost you tempo.
Once in a blue moon you are going to be able to virus a regenerator or
cancel a healing trick, but you can't count on that being an everyday
occurrence. I put Nanovirus in the chaff category -- you have room for
a few cards like this in your deck, but you don't want to overload.
This is something you can use to decent effect with Arctic Fortress
to really give a hitter a slow, agonizing death. Other than that, it's
really just a free 2 points of damage (if it sticks around longer than that,
something isn't right) that'll work better if your metagame has a ton of
--Last time I checked, the Architects excelled at
quick and timely deaths, not slow ones. There is just so many good
Architect anti-character cards, it's hard to justify playing the bad ones.
Here we have another card for the Soldier deck -- sure, they can always
affect just themselves, but then you will be losing 90% of their
effectiveness. Toughness stacks, you can get multiples of the same
designator if needed. This looks to be best for getting your small
Soldiers through your opponents foundation characters. A couple of
caveats -- the toughness is only against characters, so you can't do
something cool like choose the designator Brawl, and your General
characters don't gain the toughness, so you don't gain the punch-through on
Here we have a little more juice for all those Tanks decks out there --
right? The card to up and up compare it with is ArcanoTank, which is a
favorite of mine. Power-wise, I think it's just a tad-under -- I'm a
huge fan of the ArcanoTanks turn ability to "shell" characters at the
subjects location. Don't get me wrong, Panzer X's "shell" ability of
doing 2 damage to the target of the subjects attack is also quite good, but
it's purely offensive where ArcanoTank has defensive use as well. Of
course, Panzer X costs only 2 power to play, which is significant, but it
also costs Tech, which limits its splashability.
New and improved for the Cop deck. I've played the old one time and
time again as they are a 1-cost foundation for my Cop decks, and now they
are only better. Throw in a Police Station or two, and they can be
The card you're calling this a "new and improved" version of is the
PubOrd Officer, correct? I think these guys are basically Shamanistic Punk
to PubOrd Officer's Sinister Priest -- if you only need a few Architect Cop
foundations, you'll use the new guys 9 times out of 10. Of course, now you
can build a mono-Architect Cop deck (and only have to use a few of those
dreadful PubOrd Squads to round out your foundations), though the Cop
hitters for the Archies are a bit of a subpar mess.
--Yeah, they aren't anything broken or anything, but
consider this opening -- Turn 1: FSS -- Turn 2: 2xSecurity Officer + Police
Station -- I am a huge fan of Police Station and usually run 5 in a Cop
Squadron Leader Holtz
This is probably the best Architect card in Critical Shift, but it's been
a pretty weak batch. While you can do Soldier tricks with him. Holts
should be a nail against certain factions and decks. The ability is
pretty obvious -- scan the board for things that he immune to, and go to
town. This should include most big characters -- the ability actually
states "cards" but I don't think there are many non-character cards that do
damage and provide more than 1 resource. Add in a gun or a tank, and
Holtz could become unstoppable if the stars are right. This card is
good enough and priced such that it can be thrown into any Architect deck.
He's going to be pretty good against the hitters from any of the
factions that heavily utilize talents, certainly. There are a bunch of
Ascended, Dragons, and non-Monarch Four Monarchs hitters who only provide
one resource, though, and he's going to be less good against those. The one
significant non-character card he's going to excel against is Kunlun Clan
Ghao Zhang: I have a new mission for you - I wan't
White Ninja: Consider it done...
This is one of the worst of the ReAscended. He's pricy, and you need
to do some tricks to get up his fighting. Yes he can get really big,
but he starts out at 7, which is 1 shy of the magic number. And he's
also going to eat 1-fighting characters for lunch, but that's not going to
get you ahead if you don't have healing. The onerous resource
requirements just make Anubis unattractive in comparison to Raven Li, who is
a game winner all on her own, without requiring a lot of setup or having to
keep her around to benefit.
I agree with you about this card. This guy needs some Toughness in
the worst way. And since his Fighting is already close to the magic number,
his "growing" ability will cease to matter much once his Fighting passes 9
or so. Not having any defenses against denial means that this guy is just
about on par with Serket, who doesn't have the "growing" ability but is 1
precious power cheaper.
--I busted out a ReAscended deck the other weekend,
and this was definitely not one of the ones I ever wanted to see
He may start out as a 5 for 7 stealther, but you�d be surprised how quickly
he grows, especially in conjunction with his two accompanying factions
Architects and Dragons. In playtest he regularly became an unstoppable 15
+fighting monster, unless someone had an Imprisoned lying around carelessly.
He�s not quite Ursus, but then again � who is.
Black Helicopter Squad
A 3rd 1-cost Pledged character? What were they thinking? Oh
wait, it's bad.
As you can see, they tried really hard to balance BHS considering it comes
out for free with Family Estate. So, we wind up with a somewhat nasty
character on defense, and maybe some extra damage on offense. I think
the deciding factor for including these over The Pledged and Student of the
Bear is going to be your hitter make-up, but I think it's still iffy.
Simon Johnston writes in:
I remember Punks being quite annoying on defense,
don't see any reason for BHS to be different. It's worth paying 0 power for
3 damage I think.
-- No doubt that Punks can sting at times. I had
the Squad out just the other day and they weren't bad, but they weren't
stellar either. I am more offense oriented, so unless I had some real
tricks, I wouldn't go overboard on them.
I think these guys are pretty good. They're potentially 0-cost, 3
damage guys who will be good protection for your sites and utility
characters (Corrupt Land Agent, Swiss Banker, etc.) early on and become a
not inconsiderable threat on offense once you've dropped a Unique
character. I think that's a lot more function than you can get out of your
average Student of the Bear.
--Yes, they seem good, but only over the top with
Family Estates. They could be coming back into fashion, yet Hot Zone
might be the answer (that Field of Tentacles wasn't).
I think you�ve seriously underestimated these guys. Early game they are more
defensive then you would like, but can still stop you being overpowered by
larger resources, mid game they are fantastic, no one will attack you with
those pesky 3 for 4s, and late game they can pose a serious attacking
threat. Yep, they are targeted, but so are Chinese Docs. It�s a sign of a
--Everybody seems to love BHS. Yeah, they're
good, but we'll have to wait to see if they are stupid good.
Bull Market ERRATA
Now that this is uncommon, expect lots of people to be trying it out as
there will be plenty in circulation. The errata is the nice big
LIMITED restriction, which does neuter some of the crazy recursion decks,
but the card is strong in the right deck.
Everything Falls Apart
To steal from RoboCop -- I LIKE IT! If you've been reading my
thoughts over the years, you know I favor sharks over turtles, and this is
as sharky as you get. And the Ascended is the perfect faction for it
with lots of 1 (and 0-cost) characters, along with card drawing effects.
Yes, this is going to help your opponents generate power, but you were going
to steal the power/characters anyways, right? And since you know that
people are going to be attacking, you take extra advantage of it by playing
cards that trigger off of attacking (such as Blessed Orchard, which has a
few timing issues, but is still decent). Remember, this card will
accelerate the game, and make sure your deck takes the most advantage of it.
Since this thing favors people who can make multiple attacks (since
you get max power that way) regardless of denial, you've got to be careful
using this card with a Dragons player in the game. You do get first crack
at the extra power, so there is that. Also, like Matt Woolley noted on the
listserv, there's an amusing (if janky) combo with playing The Fox Outfoxed
on your Everything Falls Apart.
--I love Fox Outfoxed -- it's not always useful, but
amazing when it works. I wouldn't be too afraid of Dragon Independent
characters. Think of Everything Falls Apart as a meta-game changing
card -- how are you going to take advantage of more power in circulation and
it's various ramifications (such as fewer burn-for-powers)? (Hint,
this is similar to one way of playing Bull Market)
While not as bad as some of the cards that have been printed, this is
definitely on the junky card. Feral Regression is dual purpose -- it
gives you a 1-cost permanent Larcenous Mist (that doesn't cancel States),
and it could give some of your characters a Fighting boost. But, and there's
a big but here -- it's going to blank your own character too, which can be a
problem. You can build a deck with bad characters like Fist of the
Bear and Charge of the Rhino just so they don't lose much when you Regress
them, but then you are a loser anyways. Okay, you got me, I will give
out props whenever I see 13 Fighting Unpoken Name (old school of course).
It's not great, but it could serve as punch-through (at the cost of
further use of your guy's abilities) if you're attacking with a big Lodge
hitter and get into a massive melee. The fact that you can use this to
blank other people's guys IMO lifts it to "playable" status.
--Or you could just play Pump-Action-Shotgun and take
a vulnerable Site with either a hitter or a foundation...
Don�t forget Feral Regression and Shell of the Tortoise, or the fact that
you can play multiples one character. I�ve already seen a fighting 21
Unspoken Name (old school).
--Shell is old school indeed -- too bad it's not
really a combo (yes, you get a 4-cost-10-Fighting, but you loose the damage
redirection effect that always made the turtle cool.
More low-ish cost goons for your Pledged deck and Family Estates.
Not much to say, other than it's very playable. I am still a huge fan
of Gruff Lieutenants, which are cheaper, but Freelance Platoon does draw you
cards, which the type of deck that this goes in will burn through.
This card is too much of a trick horse for me to get excited about.
Its high cost and medium body make it a pricey toy that's going to be hard
to keep a hold of. And it requires 3 resources, so don't expect it
early. A must is ID Chopshop to make sure your extra foundations get
the bonus. The most efficient bonus will be on lower cost characters,
such as Sting of the Scorpion. not hitters like Senior Ocho who are over-costed
to begin with.
I'm not a fan of 3-cost non-Feng Shui sites either (well, except for
Secret Headquarters), but this thing *is* Feng Shui, which means you can
drop it with a Contingency Plans or Hydroponic Garden.
--There you go -- combo-RIFFIC!
Gangsters that are not Hoods --what's up with that? Here we have a
semi-improved version of the never-played Muckraking Journalist. It is
a ramp character, and it's lack of designator matching can be useful if you
are fearing a Discerning Fire. For this card you need to be on top of
the timing rules -- remember the active player has the first opportunity to
make a declaration on their turn, so you can't turn a character to prevent
it from attacking if it's already in play (assuming the active player did
not declare another effect). What you can do is turn a character in
response to it entering play, negating it for that turn. Of course,
Operation Killdeer pretty much negates a character for a turn at 0-cost...
This guy is essentially Official Harassment in weenie (instead of
state) form. It's semi-useful in a 200 Guys With Hatchets and Ladders deck
-- I have one of those, and now I can cut the Official Harassments from it
and save some deck space.
--Official Harassment is a card that generally looks
better when building a deck, but not as good as playing ii, but I think it's
better than Hit Squad. On the plus side, Hit Squad can be used against
multiple targets on different turns, while once the target of Official
Harassment is gone, it's gone. But, the lifespan of a 1-F utility
character is extremely short in our play group, whereas that hitter with
Harassment might stay around a few.
Reascention Agenda PROMO
This is a novelty card that really doesn't help much of anything.
It's Faked Death (with is decent when combined with Family Estates) and
protection against Discerning Fire, which I guess is sort of okay since the
Ascended have a lot of common Designators (cough Pledged, cough Lodge).
But, since this card requires Tech, it's really hard to play, and I don't
think it has enough bank for it's buck to be worth playing.
I think the #1 thing this card is trying to accomplish is to make
sure you can recur Dunwa in a Reascended deck and keep tutoring for your
nasty big sticks. It also stops people from casting a game-ruining
Discerning Fire on your Reascended, though good players won't ever let you
get out more than one Reascended at a time anyway.
--Faked Death is just as good at getting Dunwa back...
I guess they are giving this out to try and make up for the nerf to
Shadowy Mentor. Trust me, you still want Mentor. At a pitiful
1-Fighting, this guy is going to be too vulnerable to be used as more than a
1-shot. And it's not an unconditional take conrol effect like Tranquil
Persuader, who doubles as a Kinoshita House. I don't know how much
you've played Mr. X, but this is more along his power, which is quite
He does combo fairly well with Moon Base (and, to a lesser extent,
Nightclub/Pinball Arcade/Desolate Ridge/stuff of that ilk). To really use
it well, though, you need to be able to do a small, voluntary ping on the
largest hitter, play the Spy, and attack with the stolen character right
away (you just can't count on the Spy living very long). The first part
(the voluntary ping) is highly problematic for this faction.
--Did I mention that Shadowy Mentor is still better?
Secret Plans for World Domination
Here we have another interesting card that is trying to affect game play.
A long standing problem has been that burning sites is almost always
preferable to seizing them (which is being offset a miniscule amount by the
new return from attack rule, but our group has always played that way, so I
honestly don't think it will have much impact on the game). As for the
Secret Plans, they look to be reasonably playable. You are going to
want to drop them right before and attack that you are going to seize, so
you get their cost back and the search. Afterwards, it's gravy.
Of course, if you're a savvy Ascended player, people will be seizing your
sites fearing the bite. But I still there can be a little juice in
this card -- who knows, you might just search for Contingency Plans!
Shadowy Mentor ERRATA
If you missed the errata, all that changed in the cost, which is now 4.
I playtested this version to death, and it's still broken. All it does
is force you to play a tighter deck, saving your power for Mentor instead of
playing other cards. This is not the fix that was needed.
I agree with you. The too easy splashability of Mentor is a problem
that still hasn't been addressed.
--This card was in playtest for the original CS (which
was shelved for Sixguns) and I've played it to death -- it's still Shadowy
Soul of the Wolf
Here we have a ho-hum state that's going to let you take sites every now
and then. Surprise Stealth is good, and this card makes a nice 1-of as
a surprise, but if your opponents are wary, it's much harder to pull off to
effect (especially compared with the overly-amazing Op Killdeer).
The Unspoken Name NEW
While not Adrienne Hart, the new Unspoken Name does pack a little punch at
the potentially ridiculous ratio of 3-cost to 8 fighting. It's really
hard to control auctions, but doubling up on unique sites in your deck might
give you a chance to pull of some unturning, but under the new rules (you
can't play duplicate uniques you control), this is somewhat hard, and can
cause your deck to stall. If you really want to trigger his ability,
you are going to want to play a lot of unique sites, with doubles of a few
of the best sites, and wait on your opponent (which is hard to control).
There is also Master of Disguise from 2FT which triggers auctions, and seems
to be a reasonable combo, which should be more opportunistic (as long as you
have a spare foundation character AND 1 power to start the auction).
There are a couple of ways to make this guy's ability work. Method
#1 is to just play a lot of those really good Unique sites which everyone
loves (Kinoshita House, Fox Pass, Devil's Mountain, Temple of Angry Spirits,
LaGrange Four, etc.). Method #2, which is a bit janky, is to play it in
conjunction with Master of Disguise (add Hostile Takeover for extra laughs).
--I'll just play Adrienne thank you very much.
While not overly excited about this card, it's one that I can see sneaking
a 1-of into a variety of decks. Mobility generally slows down the
game, and if you can get this guy buffed up a little by a State, that might
do you a little good, but the real power in Bush Pilot is being able to
launch an attack against a back-row site. This is a great way to get
past some defensive monster like a Temple of Angry spirits to the softer
This guy's ability makes him a nice candidate for Triumphant Heroes,
especially if you've got a little Fighting/damage-pumping engine going.
--Combo points awarded!
You should have been able to tell at a glance that this card falls into
the "iffy" category. Yes, he's kind of hard to intercept, but that
just means he's going to draw Event fire and Site based denial. This
card is sort of like the Water Demon that no one plays. And as
for the extra card drawing ability, I'm not sure it's an advantage as much
as a disadvantage -- sure Homicide Detective is going to be harder to
intercept, but you've just spent 1 power (non-trivial) and you've probably
given your opponent's 9 cards to stop you with.
Yes, his ability does allow your opponents to draw denial, but you'll
also potentially be drawing anti-denial -- most of what your opponents can
draw can be neutered with Festival Circle, Got My Mojo Working, or Fortune
of the Turtle (Dragon hitters do generate enough Chi to make running a
couple of Fortunes feasible). He's also very good at forcing people to feed
your Pony Express. As Mr. Michael Stadermann noted in his article, you can
drop a Scramble Suit on the guy for extra interception/discard fun.
--Yeah, the card does look a little better if you
completely ignore the "draw 3 cards" ability -- you wind up with an even
worse version of Father of Chaos (his ability reduces damage to 0 and works
all the time). Trust me, I've played F of C to death and he's just not
Well, there are a ton of 4-cost 6-Fighting Toughness:1 Dragons that have
good gravy abilities. Julie's gravy ability is to gain additional
toughness for additional factions. So, you are going to want a solid
2-faction deck with some extra traitors in it like Jason X, Bei Tairong and
Wu Ming Yi. That way you will pretty much get to Toughness:2 mid-game,
and Toughness: 3+ late game, where this card will start to look above the
curve. Copying this ability is worth bonus points -- Rig Dis could
easily get Julie up to Toughness:6. Not a really outstanding card, but
very playable with some deck building around her.
Here we have another "bleh" card, with an ability that is worse than
toughness:1 90% of the time. The only time that it really matters is
when combating a character with exactly 5 Fighting -- in this case you will
trade. But honestly, this guy is so much worse than Tom Donovan (who
was a promo and was widely available) that I can't ever see putting him into
deck, save maybe as a 1-of in a Dragon Cop deck.
The other thing about this guy is that since he has two popular
designators, he's double the Discerning Fire bait.
--Anyone remember way back when the Dragons used to be
effectively "immune" to Discerning Fire because they never had matching
Well, here you have someone to lead all your Triumphant Heroes. A
nice little addition to Undead Kids, even if he is sort of boring. I
guess Li Han can also lead a horde of Students in the Iala Mane' (new) deck.
The tag leads one to wonder who the first and second greatest martial
I'm not really sure how useful malloc()'s second ability is going to be.
He is going to be able to nail maybe a couple of characters or a site, but
not reliably. malloc() gets better against mono-faction decks, and
when you happen to have multiple opponents sharing factions. Two items
of note -- you can pick any resource, including a Talent to cancel, and, you
can Dragon as your resource which does work as it's not a continuous effect
and resolves before it can cancel itself.
Here we have another entry in the cycle of 2-cost 3-Fighting States with a
gravy ability, and this one looks to be a gooder. Not only is it okay
on it's own in a pinch, but it has some useful designators and can be
combined with Tank Warfare and Chopshop for some cost reduction. I
just looked over the list of cards that interact with Vehicles and Tanks,
and Muscle Car makes a great compliment to them.
This card is a little goofy, and sort of a reverse Street Fighter (who's
pretty much a coaster in our area). I guess it all comes down to what
you are copying with Sidekick -- if you copy something bad, he's kinda bad,
but if you are copying say, Big Bruiser, then you may just have something.
This is strictly a fun card that you trying to build a goofy deck around,
and while Sidekicks can't copy each other, they can both copy the same
character. And while you're at it, try and include Wing of the Crane
in the deck so you can trigger Sidekicks as a surprise.
There are a lot of characters that can make Sidekick pretty
frightening, I think. It plays especially well with the Hand -- early to
mid-game it can copy a Buddhist Monk or Blue Monk, and later on it can be
the second coming of the Iron Monkey.
--Well, I don't think the copy works with Blue Monk,
and you might as well play a 2nd Buddhist Monk over Sidekick to copy the
ability, but sure, copying the ba-roken Monkey is stupid good.
Yet another ramp character for the Dragons, and I don't think I like this
one as much as the previous three. Chinese Doctor is amazing, and
Scrappy Kid and Consumer on the Brink have good offensive potential.
Smugglers just kind of sit around, waiting to be turned for a 1-power rebate
Since the Dragons recur their characters much better than the other
factions, I don't think the Smugglers will suffer very much from the
"sitting around waiting to turn" problem. In fact, they'll generate a few
power for you as long as they stay alive -- and that's their real problem:
staying alive themselves.
--There are already two sites with similar abilities
-- why not play them and save a character spot for something that will
advance you in the game?
This is sort of close to that Hand event who's name escapes me and no one
ever plays. Since this doesn't have as many restrictions, it's more
playable. And isn't there some over-costed Dragon Event or State that
gives Ambush that no one ever plays? Well, this is better than that
too. Mostly you are going to use this to take a site, but don't
overlook the techie play of using Stunt Driving on an opponents character
that is in combat with another opponent's character to create a situation
where both will be smoked.
Simon Johnston chirps in:
Fast as Lightning gives Ambush. Flying Kick
gives Superleap. Back for Seconds lets you turn to heal (as well as do 100
other things). All of these seem better than Guts, even with +2 fighting. Or
if you really want Guts, That Which Does Not Kill Me seems better, due to
costing 0 power.
-- I was being sarcastic above in purposely omitting
the names of several coasters. Liquored Up is probably better than
TWDNKM, but I think I almost like Stunt Driving better -- it let's you boost
up an unsuspecting character -- it's not great, but I don't think 1 or 2 in
a deck will be 100% dead weight.
The Hand event you're referring to is Breath of the Dragon, right?
The "over-costed Dragon event" should be Fast as Lightning (which I do play
occasionally), and the over-costed Dragon state should be Fastest Gun in the
West (which I do not play). Stunt Driving isn't great, but it is a decent
punch-through card against waxy character buildup.
--And don't forget the even worse Eight Pillars of
Heaven Array -- this card probably gets my vote for best are on a
Three Days to Retirement
Yeah, we get the joke and have seen this shtick in movies. This card
is just plain bad, especially given the timing rules. It can't be
played in response to an effect because all targets are chosen at
generation... AND... effects can still zap your characters in response
to Three Days entering play, as it hasn't resolved yet. And while this
State tries to consume all effects, remember they have to be legal, so
during an attack you may be out of luck if the subject isn't attacking (and
if it is attacking, it will probably just get removed by interception).
This is probably worse than even Final Sacrifice, except for maybe the
This card is just bad. It'd be less bad if you could somehow make it
work on a character that's not affected by events, but of course it doesn't
work that way -- those guys can't even be targeted in the first place.
--Discerning Fire on Cops...
Ugh, can you say even more broken Dragon recursion event? While
there are a few silver bullets, this card is stupid good. Yes, this
card does encourage you to play more expensive foundations, but recurring
them for free over and over again (and don't forget you are recurring
Triumphant Heroes with Fighting Spirit) is going to be a nightmare.
Zheng Yi Quan
Good thing they made this card as playable as Kar Fai, or we'd be having
all sorts of headaches trying to figure out what exactly happens with all
those Feng Shui sites. And for those of you who fail to see sarcasm,
Kar Fai isn't playable. While they tried to word it as best as they
can, we found that during playtesting there were just odd situations that
came up in trying to figure out who can do what with which site. Yes,
shutting down all opponents FSS sites is good, and yes, being able to use
opponents sites is also good, but it really isn't worth 7 Power in most
A rules nightmare, period.
--We playtested this card, and I suspect most groups
can muddle through the effect by playing in "the spirit" of the card, even
though I suspect they will rule either incorrectly or correct for the wrong
reasons far too often whenever a conflict comes up.
Box of Bones
This is sort of funky in how it plays -- it can effectively negate
healing, or if you're lucky, turn into a character smoking machine. In
a way this card is Underworld Presence, as opponents are unlikely to heal when
they are going to be hurt by it. To make up for this, you can make
sure you have a few ways to heal cards in your deck so as to pull out the
damage as a surprise. Box of Bones can make for some pain in a
Regeneration deck, but you may find that opponents are more unwilling than
normal to throw damage on your regenerators.
This is a lot better than Underworld Presence. You have to build
around the card, but it can do a lot of good for you -- provided you give it
the opportunity to "go off." One way to that, as you noted, is to feed off
Regeneration, but you can also use cards that move damage around, such as
--Well, there are a lot of cards bad cards better than
The flesh-eating horde doesn't thrill me as a foundation. As strange
as it seems, I kind of like my opponents playing sites -- it helps the game
progress along, and I like targets on the board. Not providing magic
is a big killer for the Cannibal Army. And if you want to get cute,
can you try to add the Demon designator to pump up your Bloody Hordes.
I don't think the existence of this card is going to discourage your
opponents from dropping sites -- more likely it'll simply goad them into
killing off your Cannibal Army. A couple of these can help a little bit in
a deck that runs Red Dragon Troupes.
--But it probably will make them mad, and I usually
prefer my opponents attacking my Sites early came over my characters.
They keep making more of these piddley Lotus power generating events, but
face it, it's going to be hard to ever find a card worthy to replace Pocket
Demon and Glimpse of the Abyss. What hurts this card is the round down
-- it's a deterrent to playing 1, 3 and 5 cost characters, and I don't like
boxing myself into that type of deck construction limitation. You can
try out the Banquet, but you might fight it's more like McDonalds than
While playable, Cloaca suffers from the problem that he doesn't do
anything very new or interesting. He does gain protection form all
Events, so you can combo him with your own Neutron Bomb if you have has the
power and surplus character. But, the protection doesn't extend to
States, so you are going to have to sacrifice Cloaca himself to avoid
Simon Johnston writes in:
Demons [like Cloaca and Sewer Demon] that can
sacrifice characters are always nice with Tortured Memories and Bribery.
-- Yeah, that's pretty old tech, but I think there are
better cards for that combo, mainly based on power cost.
The only comment I have on this card is that they chose an awful name
(and, apparently, didn't realize it until they finished designing the card).
--Yeah, the name is reminiscent of more Aztec badness.
This is the promo card for the next set, but this time with some rules
text (which is going to reduce the confusion of the past). Power wise,
it's pretty vanilla, but time has shown Regeneration to be useful.
This is sort of a multifaction card -- Regenerate is a signature ability of
the Lotus, and they have plenty of cards with the ability -- you don't need
Demonic Alliance unless you are running a second faction (mmm...
adding Regenerate to one of the Seven Masters would be tasty!).
"mmm, adding Regenerate to one of the Seven Masters would be tasty"
-- Ghost Wind, I presume?
Again this is a variation on cards we've seen before, but it seems
marginally playable. At least Haunted can target any type or card in
play (even Edges), which makes if more flexible. I guess that if
you're playing Haunted, you are going to want to Reload it every chance you
get, but be careful when dropping in on a site, as opponents can make use of
the extra damage. For cool points, try making a Haunted Haunted
They really loaded up this 3-cost foundation to try and make it playable.
It sort of feels like Sting of the Scorpion, but toned down. Since
you're playing the Lotus, you are most likely going to be loaded up on Magic
and should be getting the +1 Fighting bonus (but watch out for the Purists
and Monarchs). Assassinate is, well, assassinate. It's a good
ability, but not great, but is nice to include in a deck just in case you
have to take out a pesky utility character. Now it comes down to the
plink -- does it put the card over the edge of playability? Not quite.
The card has 3 useful designators, and I think Petal's Attendant will be
best used when you sprinkle a few in a deck that is going to take advantage
of the designators. You can also try the Attendants in the Cave
Network deck, but our group knows how to play around the card so well that
it stagnates (although Cave is still a great 1-of as a surprise factor).
This card is also very good for a foundation if you can recur it
(Triumphant Heroes, for example).
--So is Stuntman, but I suspect recurring Bloody
Hordes will be more popular than the Attendants.
Here we have a sort of baby Seven Evils, a card which sees occasional play
in our area, and garners a modicum of respect. As always, the
sacrifice ability is a deterrent to Mentor, and unturning is high on the
scale of useful abilities. Be sure to watch any opponents playing
Sewer Demon to make sure they don't try to sacrifice any characters brought
back to play with Inauspicious Return.
I think this guy is going to be pretty fierce in a dueling
environment, especially if you back it up with a little protection and maybe
a LaGrange Four.
The Hand of the Underworld
The Hand is heavily combo dependent, not something I am sure you want in
this early game spot. Since sacrificing your own guys is retarded (and
often unavailable in the Lotus with cards like Inauspicious Return), you are
resorting to the usual trick of Torturing an opponents character (which is
not bad, but not really a reason to play more than 1 or 2 Hands of the the
Underworld). You can also have some fun with Sites, with Ring of Gates
being the no-brainer, but Proving Ground also of some use.
As you noted, the best way to play him is with things like Proving
Ground and The Dragon Throne, but if you got the resources for it, it's also
worth a few giggles to Shaolin Hoedown your Hand of the Underworld to the
next guy. You can also RigDis his ability to other people's hitters when
they enter play and force them to make tough decisions (or essentially
getting an Imprison effect if they have no other characters).
--Combo points awarded
The Library of Souls
This is a fairly interesting card once you break it down -- it gives you
lots of choice in recycling characters at sort of an extra cost (think about
it this way -- the Library generates 1 power, which offsets the +1 cost on
replaying). The first thing to remember that they made sure you can
only bring back Lotus characters -- no recycling of Displaced or other bad
things. And since Library brings them back with no new restrictions,
you can use this card to fuel your sacrifice deck. And it can be used
every player turn, so if you can get a burn for power in, your opponents may
think twice about attacking you if they know you can bust something out.
The Library also gives you a way to keep your character-based combos going.
And on a final note, your opponents won't be getting much use out of it, as
they are unlikely to have Lotus characters to replay.
"Think about it this way -- the Library generates 1 power, which
offsets the +1 cost on replaying" -- I don't know if that interpretation
flies: would you play a 5-Body non-FSS that costs two faction resources,
generates no power, and allows you to play characters from your smoked pile
at no cost? I think the Library's ability is just too expensive to be worth
playing in most decks, with notable exceptions being decks that pump
characters with certain designators and decks that make heavy uses of
characters that are already big bargains at their current cost (Evil Twin
being the first thing that comes to mind).
--My point about spending power was that this could
have effectively been a 2-cost Edge. Also note that it's "once per
turn" letting you go nuts when you have surplus power. And of course
the Library is going to be bad when you recur bad cards -- you are using it
in a combo deck where you are getting back The Emperor and such.
Sadly, there were zero-zilch-nada in the two boxes our group opened, so I
probably wont be seeing it a lot (unless someone wants to trade, hint
Twelve Thousand Skulls
At 2 power, this Edge is pricey -- our game has a lot of Edge-hate, so you
have to weigh the pros and cons of any expensive Edge. For 12K Skulls
to break even, you need to get about +4 Fighting out of it. And you
need to have a character that makes a good recipient for the bonus.
There are some games where this is going to fizzle, and others where you
will be rolling in Skulls -- it's somewhat dependent on what everyone has
brought to the table. Since you don't have much control over your
opponents' decks, you should put a little extra emphasis on character
zapping in your when you're running a few 12Ks -- magic for Fires or pairing
with Architects /. Dragons should give you some extra chances to proc this
Simon Johnston adds:
The premier Lotus Zap is Die!!!!
-- True, but out of boredom I've gone more to
two-faction deck designs, where Die!!! doesn't work as well.
It is indeed expensive, but it can be very useful if you have some
Demonic Plagues, characters who Assassinate, and some healing to throw
around. Exiled Monk and Tong Hatchetman are a couple of thugs that work
well with the Skulls. This is also an edge that you can Paradox Cube for
This is a fairly useful foundation, that can even get a little boost from
Twisted Gardens (an oft overlooked site). It's up to you as to whether
you want to hold them back unturned as they can be turned in response to a
healing effect to cancel it before it resolves.
The main thing this card does is push Sinister Priests to
nigh-irrelevance. Except for heavy-Lotus designator decks, most decks are
going to want Shamanistic Punks and Wailing Apparitions to fill their need
for 1-cost Magic-providing Lotus foundations. I weep for the good old
--I think you'll still see plenty of Sinisters -- I
think I have maybe 4 Apparitions, and about 8 Lotus decks...
Xin Ji Yang
This princess is clearly quite bitchy. Xin has a potentially useful,
but that in itself probably wont win you the game -- you will need some
follow up to make sure you grab up the weakened sites, not an opponent.
This card looks like it was made for the Celeste Carter deck (which also
tries to keep lot of Magic cards in play). Poofing out 3 Sinister
Priests with an Auspicious Return will give you extra firepower, as well as
a little extra defense as Xin Ji Yang is weak when not attacking, and has a
high target priority due to her offensive ability.
Here is another mid-range hitter that I am just not too excited about.
It's playable, and pretty fierce in a limited environment (sealed or draft)
if you can get it out, but Accupressure Master is just crying out for copy
trix with Rigorous Discipline. Of course, the Hand have access to some
top-notch healing cards, so this second-rate-at-best healing ability will
probably fizzle out when you need it the most.
Definitely a card that needs outside help to really get going. With
The Inner Garden, though, there are some options that can help the Master
achieve maximum defensive prowess -- stuff like Elephant Style, Invincible
Stance (if you got Magic from somewhere), and even Armored in Life isn't bad
in that scenario.
--I think I'll stick to better hitters than a 4-for-6
Toughness:1 and pack a few Healing Earths.
Black Belt Rebels
These guys are deceptively bad. Unless you are playing cards that
improve on the designator Rebel these are a 3-for-4 that has no
ability when they are in play. Yes, at some point they are likely to
trigger, but it still costs you 1 power each time, which can add up.
Black Belt Rebels are in no way to be confused with Underworld Tracker who's
amazing and near-broken. This card will clearly do best in a Rebel
deck where they can protect your Black Flag Rebels On the plus side,
remember that you don't have to intercept with the Black Belts when you do
pop them back, potentially setting you up for an attack.
These guys aren't so hot when you first play them, true, but they're
a real bargain once they get themselves killed -- 1 power for 4 Fighting
that doesn't have to intercept or go back to the smoked pile is excellent
even if you don't have any Fighting-pump mechanisms in play. Since these
guys reduce their own cost, you can also combine with Proving Ground and the
like to return them from the smoked pile for free. What you'll see is that
people will just refuse to attack you if they're closer to victory than you
and you have a couple of Black Belt Rebels in the smoked pile (especially if
you can bluff having an Iron and Silk and/or Heat of Battle), which means
you can go crazy with a low-body, high-reward site structure. If you go can
get the resources, Potlatch does especially well in letting you pop out a
horde of surprise Black Belt Rebels.
--Cards like this are bad for the game -- they just
slow it down. They do have the Proving Ground combo over Rev. Payne,
but he's just flat out amazing. Also, at some point you are going to
run into Wigwans, Reburials and Rebels without a Cause and they will shut
Cheng Hu Bai
Even though he can be hosed up by your opponents, I kind of like Cheng.
He's got a great cost-to-Fighting ratio and a top-notch ability in Superleap.
Now you gotta figure in the back-row site wackiness. Attacking them is
good, and 7 damage is often enough, but, you are unlikely to get in any more
attackers because he does not share his ability, so States or a Rig Dis will
get you some extra gas. Speaking of Rig Dis, you can always try to
pull of the 100-Names trick if you only have front-row sites. Now your
opponents could try to neutralize Cheng Hu Bai, but then they are spreading
out weakening your defense -- while I don't suggested trying to make a deck
around this card, it's a fine inclusion as a utility/surprise in any deck
that can expect to field 3 Hand resources by mid-game.
In case it wasn't obvious at first glance,
this is about a 60% Operation Killdeer for the Guiding Hand. On your
turn it does almost everything Operation Killdeer does (but in reverse since
you play it on the target of the damage, not the source). Out of turn,
it's acts as a moderate deterrent if if you previously dropped it on a
character. And yes, there is always Superior Mastery for some ultimate
Simon Johnston points out:
It's definitely not Killdeer (for one thing it doesn't
stop stuff like Fakhir or Napalm Belcher that damage multiple targets at
once), but at least it's immune to Brain Fire.
As a free but limited version of Blood of the Valiant that also has
uses on defense, this isn't bad IMO.
--As I said, 60% Killdeer = 60% top-notch.
Iron Hands Ma
Not much to say about Iron Hands other than he's a mini-beat stick.
He's good against foundations, and is at least an annoyance for mid-sized
characters, taking a pretty good bite out of them. What keeps this
card from going into most decks as a no-brainer is his lack of a Chi
resource provision -- probably a good thing seeing the general power level
of this card.
Well, we all know how good Armored in Life is
(it's not, in case you didn't get the sarcasm), so this card needs to be a
serious bump to be worth consideration. This card has a built-in
drawback of working best on cards that provide a lot of resources, and the
majority of the time, they require a lot of resources. Yes, you can
probably get Toughness:3 out of this, but at what cost?
This is extra good on guys who already have Toughness (the
aforementioned Accupressure Master), and is a bargain if you can get The
Inner Garden out and play it for free. Note that this grants Toughness: 3
to guys like Flambards when you've got The Inner Fire in play.
--Combo points awarded.
Is anyone else getting tried of all the Toughness:1 that seems to be
thrown in this set? Master Yuen has Superleap most of the time, but at
the cost of denying you the turn-abilities of your site. He's not bad,
but he's not that interesting. Note that a Whirlpool of Blood can shut
him down, which is going to limit him somewhat.
I agree there is a surfeit of Toughness, which I
worry will lead to more stand-offs.
-- I suspect the offensive nature of this card will
avoid any major clogging.
This card is novel in that you finally don't have to worry about the
Hacker check. And it's not going to be thinning your deck by removing
cards (which has mixed blessings). Still, this gives you a chance to
get the best 2 cards out of half a dozen or so by mid game, assuming you are
running heavy Chi. For maximum effect, be sure to pack your deck with
trash cards, and remember, you have to wait a turn to get them, so this card
is effectively -1 hand size until your next turn when you draw it.
Woo! A new ramp character (ramp is what our group calls a 1-cost
1-resource-requiring character, as it can ramp you up in resources early
game). This one looks kinda nasty early game, as a way to pick off
opponents resource characters at no real cost to yourself. You drop
this guy, and hopefully turn him right away to to target another turned
character (preferably controlled by the player to your left), and let the
fun begin. Even if you can't get the next player, there is some chance
that your Saboteurs will stay alive as they have an interest in keeping
other players down. Note that there is also a small bit (but not an
incredible) amount of goofiness you can do with unturn effects (usually
control changing ones like Shadowy Mentor, Tortured Memories and even
So, if this card were a 2-cost event, would you play it? Being a
character means it's a little bit harder to cancel, and it does have the
advantage of being able to play when you need a small character, not to
mention you can Rig Dis it for extra tricks.
Yeah, you can try and do crazy Student tricks
with it, but I find it hard to find this more than a funky addition to deck
that you can't count on, but might just get you a win in a pinch.
This card obviously favors decks that can put on a weenie rush.
Should be fairly decent as an extra boost to decks that make use of
Inauspicious Return or Armies of the Monarchs. It's also another trick for
--You got me convinced -- I'm replacing every Eight
Pillars of Heaven Arrays that I currently have in decks with Taiko Drummer!
The Inner Garden
Not much to say about this site other than it's quite playable. It's
Uncommon and non-Unique, so getting multiples shouldn't be hard or hurtful.
It only goes in a couple of variants of the Chi-State deck, but it should
help out in them out a little. And it's got all the mojo of being a
2-cost 1-power generating Non-FSS that isn't of much use to opponents.
But don't make the mistake of thinking that this is going to make terrible
Chi States like the Paths playable -- you are playing cheap Fortunes of the
Turtle along with the other top-notch Chi States. Don't overlook
returning a State to your hand -- it's a great way for some card economy.
Besides boosting the playability of good Chi states like Butterfly
Swords, Contract of the Fox, Fortune of the Turtle, and The Fox Outfoxed, I
think a good Inner Garden deck will also make a few less good Chi states
viable. The Paths are probably still hopeless, but Armored in Life, in
particular, isn't bad at all if you can play it for free, especially if the
subject character already had Toughness (and the Hand now have quite a few
of those, as well as Shung Dai).
--Note that there is already a 0-cost Toughness:1
State -- Path of the Storm Turtle, so I can't ever see playing Armored in
Life. The trick is not to play "bad" Chi-States at -1, it's to play
Here we have another funky attempt at getting damage through --somewhat
like the Water Demon. Zhu makes interception potentially painful, but
it's not guaranteed, as opponents control triggering, and get get out of the
way in a pinch. The card is best end game when you have some waxy
character build up, but at 6 Fighting is likely to do more damage to
characters than to sites.
Ape Shall Kill Ape
I hope you all know how to play bushwhacks by now, and this one seems
okay-ish. Blanking sites is good, just hope it's not your site that
gets Aped. Also note that this card can target non-Feng Shui Sites.
And any 0-cost Faceoff gives you a chance for some out of turn Character
kill in a pinch.
Yet another variation on the giant Jammer monster -- pay a lot of power,
and attack attack attack. Designators are pretty off on this guy, so
don't expect matches, but at 4 Jammer + 1 Tech resource required, it's going
to be hard to get Botzilla into play.
Does having Guts make this better than King Kung, which is the
closest thing we have to it? I don't know that it does -- Botzilla's
ability simply discourages interception (in addition to the Guts, it'll also
inflict 2 damage on any non-Mobile interceptors who aren't already at the
target location). I think I'd play King Kung or over this in most decks
that call for a "giant Jammer monster", as you called it.
--I find that giant monsters generally bad, and
frankly, am always going to drop in an Ice Queen or White Ninja over any of
Bouncing the Rubble
This is a nice little card to throw in almost any Jammer deck. It's
free, and if it lasts, you can get a pretty good trick out of it -- from
softening a site for you to take to denying a win by blasting a site to the
Netherworld. It's not a card you can really count on, but it makes a
good potential threat. Also, it could draw some Edge hate away from a
Payback Time or Entropy is your friend.
This card is all about bad combos. For just straight up damage, you
can do a lot better for yourself then just 5 or maybe 7 Fighting Guts for 4
power. You are playing this card to plink (and possibly destroy) your
own sites. This type of deck can sometimes be fun to play (for
yourself) but will invariably lead to a long drawn-out game that bogs down.
Note that you don't want to be playing with Dragon Mountains and Diamond
Beaches -- sure they negate the plink, but you are wanting you sites to burn
when you play Cyborg Mermaid, right? Well, I guess you try Fortress
Omega too if you are going the crazy toughness route.
I don't know that I'd call them "bad combos." 4 power for 7 Fighting
with Guts is a good deal if the sites you're hitting are along the lines of
Thousand Sword Mountain or Mountain Fortress. You can also use it to fuel a
deck that runs heavy Dark Travelers -- won't hurt to have the Mermaid ping a
Roller Rink a little to help you recur those Travelers.
--Combo points awarded.
Not much to say about this new Jammer foundation -- it's one cost, and has
a potentially useful ability. Immediately means that it cant be turned
in response. And with their uncommon designators, the Cosmonauts are
unlikely to get you Discerning Fired. While I'm not a huge fan of Frag
the G! this is a foundation you are going to want 5 of when playing it (and
it probably any deck you are trying to get mileage out of Monkeywrenching
The Project adds yet another to the slowly growing list of alternate
victory conditions. This is not a casual card, you are playing
multiples of it in a deck designed to protect it. I say that because
if left unprotected, and opponent can seize it, creating a real problem.
Well, I take some of that back -- you could play this card as a diversion,
and while your opponents are bickering over it, try to mount some serious
FSS attacks, but then you've potentially flushed 3 power down the tubes for
Project Apocalypse. Note that this site is copyable for what it's
worth, and there might be some really goofy combo out there.
I think it's mostly a diversion card, though Safety Third! could help
a lot if you try to defend it. As for goofy combos, Julian has already
ruled that each card's counters somehow distinguish themselves, even if the
ability that generates/counts the counters get copied around, so you can't
copy Project Apocalypse to a Mahjongg Parlor and win out of nowhere (that
was the example that led to the ruling).
Rebel Without A Cause
This is the most interesting meta-game trends that we've seen in years --
when added to cards like Sacred Wigwam recursion is in danger of going from
broken to just amazingly good.
After much fiddling, they've got Rebel Without a Cause pretty balanced so that it's not a
complete no-brainer and splash-tastic. This card isn't going to shut
down decks the way Hacker can (since there is so much recursion), but it can
put the breaks on -- I view this card much like I do Loyalty Officer.
This is no Hacker more because it requires you to have a Jammer
resource before using its anti-recursion ability. Sacred Wigwam is probably
better than this card at shutting down recursion, simply because you can
play that in every deck (which is the basis of all Hacker analogies, as I
--As I said, the card is balanced, where Hacker and
Wigwam are definitely not.
This card is somewhat amusing but is more bad than anything else. On
the plus side, it has a moderate chance of grabbing a site for you, but on
the minus side, Reentry Squad is unlikely to stay around for more than 1
turn. This is really a take someone down card, not a get yourself
ahead card because if you do reduce a site's body to 0, you are most likely
burning for power just to recoup what you spend (and lost) on this card.
It's a Monkey, so it'll fuel anything that keys off that designator.
Its functionality as a 4-for-7 Guts thug with (sort of) Unstable Cellular
Reinvigoration is increased if you can pull off recursion tricks ("Is That
All You Got?", Reinvigoration Seed, etc.) or if you can copy his ability
around. These monkeys also make a fierce last-ditch interceptor.
--Hey, it's a 4-cost Blow Things Up!
First off, I'm assuming you're not playing Aztec Pyramid, because if you
are, you have a goofy coin flip deck anyways, and it's packed with all sorts
of sub-optimal cards. Safety Third! can be really good if you win/stop
a win with it, but it's too random to be as dependable as other stoppage.
Simon Johnston raves:
I quite like this, but I
play with Eagle Mountain a lot.
--And before I get flooded by emails, yes, it's a
combo with The Iron Palace.
I'm in the camp that believes this card is *too* good for the
Jammers: they get a card that potentially does for free what even the
Architects have to pay 1 power to accomplish. That's opening up a big can
of worms in terms of someone's faction-defining abilities not only being
transferred to, but being improved on by a different new faction. The
drawback can be played around fairly easily, and I can't see why any Jammer
deck wouldn't run this. Yeah, it's random, but the payoff is significant
and the drawbacks negligible with good planning. I expect to see (and be
annoyed by) lots of these.
--I can see how this can be problematic -- both by
being 0-cost takeout and by reducing the game to a coin flip. I think
a good analogy is War of Attrition -- you really want to play cards in this
category when you have no characters in play to avoid the drawback.
If you can keep this card in play, and if you can manage to still have
some power, Silverback can be somewhat of a beast. Your numero uno
task after plopping down 5 power for the Monkey Leader will be to burn a
site for power -- this is what is going to set up your defense (a little
like the Mouth of the Fire Righteous who likes to burn a site for power and
sit behind his 3 pt damage ability). Now of course there is somewhat
of a problem with this card -- what faction has no trouble generating power
and loves to take control of opponents character? The Ascended you
say? I know it's over-paranoid not to play cards because you are
afraid they will get Mentored, I just wanted to point out that it's going to
suck really really bad when Silverback falls victim...
Time has shown Cancelling to be a sold ability that often gets overlooked
when building a deck since it's so reactive to your opponents.
Unfortunately, the Gimp is a little gimped when it comes to his
cost-to-fighting ratio. As this card is a promo, I'm pretty sure it
wont see much play. His ability is purely offense, so he's also gimped
when you're on defense or don't have a good target to attack.
Again we have a pretty vanilla card -- free mobility and a little bit of
Damage boost -- not excited, and nowhere as cool as Death-O-Rama. It's
also a tech card, which is going to limit it's inclusion in decks somewhat.
Nowhere near the monster than Apes of Wrath are, Turing Machine fills that
niche where you'd kinda expect a card. Sure, you can build a deck
around it, or throw it in some existing decks, but it's not a lot to get
excited about. Yes, this a natural for a site destruction deck, but
over the years I've grown a dislike for them, as they slow the game more
often than win the game.
This sort of falls into the category that I consider "bad card design."
Why, you ask? The card is way over the curve if you just look at it
without the restriction -- 1 resource 4-cost 6+2 damage? That's a site
killing machine. For the restriction, there's one no-brainer that you
are going to want in your deck -- Secret Headquarters. And while there
are quite a few other Secret cards (including a couple of other sites and
some foundations), the designers are really trying to make you play the
Fire/Chi deck because of Golden Candle Society.
You don't need to go Mon/Hand Fire-Chi to make this guy (and
Harbinger) work. Flambards are an in-faction answer, and you can also
employ Ninja Six. You'd want to play Secret Headquarters, The Iron Palace
(which is a "Secret Feng Shui Site"), and Identity Chop Shop (personally my
preferred way of getting the "Secret" mojo going). For what it's worth, the
following is the list of non-event cards that have the magic designator:
Golden Candle Society
Jade Wheel Society
Lair of the Nemesis
Mask of the Nemesis
Order of the Wheel
Secret Plans for World Domination
Secret Wisdom of the Ancients
Silver Jet (both versions)
Swords of Heaven
The Iron Palace
--Chimpshack "Secret" for the win!
While not exciting, the Flambards are playable in almost any Monarch deck.
To be extra annoying, try out a Monarch/Jammer deck with cards that trigger
off of site damage or destruction. Perhaps the nicest thing about
Flambards is that they will hurt your opponents when they leave play, which
creates a disincentive to smoke them upon occasion.
These guys go beyond annoying if you utilize recursion for them
(especially Wing of the Crane, Mysterious Return, and Dr. Timbul).
Something else to note is that since they provide Chi, it's now feasible to
get a mono-Monarchs Fire-Chi deck rolling: between a bunch of Flambards,
Summer Fire Palace, and The Inner Fire, you shouldn't need any more Chi
generators outside of maybe 1 or 2 Ancient Groves.
--Remember you need to capitalize on all of these
"weakened" sites before your opponents do -- if you combo too much on the
pinging, everyone else is going to drink up the gravy.
Flambards having been pretty devastating in our group especially when
combined with Ice Blessings.
--Combo Point double in-set bonus awarded
Combo-jank time. There isn't much to say about Floating Teeth.
I can't really get excited, but to me, this is a card that really needed a
gravy ability (even something sub-par like Assassinate or Tactics) to be
really be playable.
Gathering the Fire
Not a fan. Mark of Fire is such a standard and it's well known for
all of the utility things it can do. Then you have Shattering Fire,
which only gets better and better as the game goes on. So what do you
do with Gathering the Fire? Well, I guess you hope to keep a lot of
Fire cards in play (not easy to do) and hope for the best (which is probably
weakening a site mid-attack).
Man, they are really trying to ramp up the Secret deck. If
you can get him in to play, it's a house and a half. It's mows through
interceptors, and will even take down the mighy Inner Sanctum. Not
that the 2 point zap isn't combat damage, so he's going to smoke any site he
enters combat with it it has 2 Body or less, but you shouldn't have to worry
about this too much. Notice the Tech resource, a first for the
Monarchs -- I guess it fits in well with Secret Laboratories?
Simon Johnston notes:
He�s largely immune to damage redirection (damage
redirection will always redirect his 2 points of ping, leaving his combat
-- Yes and No. They are getting better at
differentiating combat damage from other damage, but it does seem like
Harbinger can really make your head hurt when it comes to damage redirection
and combat timing rules.
Wowzers -- this card looks like it has some potential. Not to
mention some power gain. And double not to mention some stoppage.
This card would be playable just for the healing ability -- sure, healing
opponents is not your ultimate goal, but it can translate into 0-cost
stoppage, and if you time it right, Ice Blessing can leave a damaged site
for you to clean up.
Ramp-tastic. Not the best healing, but it can come in handy from
time to time.
I would have appreciated a solid, magic-providing ramp character for
any of the Monarch sub-factions BUT this one, actually. Ice already had the
useful Ice Courtier -- something along Ice Carvers' power level would have
been useful for any of the three other pagodas: Fire has nothing, Thunder
has nothing good, and Darkness has a character that, albeit solid, needs to
have a deck built around it (Priestess of Itzcoliuhqui).
--Don't get me started on the design team's brain-dead
approach to Thunder and Magic...
While this event can pack quite a whallop, it's cost makes it somewhat
undesirable. It looks to be best when your metagame has a lot of waxy
character buildup -- Lighning Strike can potentially soften a bunch of
characters, but has the potential to draw a lot of denial.
Ming I's Chosen
While this card can be powerful, I'm not sure it worth building a deck
around, and is more of a 1-of type surprise card. The Toast-It
restriction isn't that big a deal, as you are probably playing on an
attacking character, so it won't toast the subject right away. While
this looks like it will be good in a character stand-off, I'm not so sure
about it. Chosen has the ever-shrinking-State problem -- people may
just wind up throwing resources characters in the way of the Subject (as
each interceptor does effetely +1 damage, making 1F characters do double
damage). This is a card that needed another little oddball ability to
While people can indeed throw their weenies in front of the subject
as you noted, you can also take steps to make sure they're less keen to
making that happens -- for example, you could stay with the Darkness theme
and just drop this baby on your Blade of Darkness.
--Combo Points Awarded
Mistress of Blotted Moonlight
This card has an interesting cost mechanic, but with a hitch.
Mistress is a card that needs a lot of momentum -- if you are already
winning, it will almost seal the win, but if you are loosing, she is a
turkey. With less than 3 sites in play, I don't think it's worth
playing Mistress unless you have a glut of power (say someone has played
Bull Market). At 2 sites, Mistress of the Blotted Moonlight is going
to cost you a hefty 6 power, which is almost right for 9 Fighting with
the ability to cancel an event . But, without a punch through ability
(like Billy Chow's Superleap), you are really gunning for a cost reduction
on Mistress and getting her out for 5 power, which is something that is on
the difficult side in our metagame (keeping 2 columns in play until the start
of you next turn).
Here we have another mini-beatstick. Mobility is just a throw-on
ability (but a little extra defense for the Monarchs). Otherwise, this
is a much more playable Duodenum (and all the deck-tech of playing Duodenum
apples to Rogue Shaper). And since this bad boy doesn't have an
elemental designator, he can safely (and probably should) go any Monarch
I don't think this guy is very good. His ability depends too much on
your opponents controlling Netherworld Sites -- note that he loses his
"cannot be intercepted" ability as soon as you declare an attack on a
non-Netherworld site (because he moves to the location of his target as soon
as the declaration is made), and any character is free to intercept him
then. Yeah, you can play Netherworld Portal into your opponents' site
structures and then attack with him, but that's clearly in the realm of jank.
--no no no! I am not suggesting you play the
Duodenum jank, just that you can throw this into every Monarch deck and not
have to worry about Discerning Fire (a big threat in my part of town).
And yes, his ability requires attacking a location with a Netherworld Site,
but we're old fashioned here, and still play lots of Whirlpools (not to
mention other Netherworld Sites). I probably didn't make it clear, but
I think this is a very reasonable 1-of.
Summer Fire Palace
This one is not too hard to figure out -- attack and burn. The
obvious combo ability is Independent, letting you burn some extra heavy duty
damage, making this a pretty decent card in the right Dragon/Monarch deck.
In any kind of weenie deck, or if you get the
upper hand, this card makes you nigh unstoppable.
--Our group didn't get any of these, but I'd love to
make a deck with this card and Scrappy Kids + Students of the Dragon --
Shard of the Molten Heart
While this has some limited use on it's own in protecting your Armies of
the Monarchs et. al (not to mention the general usability of Edge
cancellation), this is also a gimmick card for the Netherworld era
Triumvirate deck. This card is probably too useful (because of the
cancellation) to deserve the Promo rarity.
While this card looks okay, it's not really that spectacular. You
need to be on the offense, and you need 1-cost characters to back her up.
And is Mrs. Winter isn't smoked, she's just a little annoyance damage-wise
(for a bunch of resources). If you want to recur some damage, Rev
Payne is a league above. (While 3 Fighting seems good for 2 power,
it's not really -- you need some extra ability that is more reliable to make
it worth playing).
Something you may have overlooked is that she's not Unique (the first
non-Unique named character that I can recall for 'Fist). As long as you can
play (or steal) characters to sacrifice to the slivers of Miss Winter, you
can keep her in play. Also does okay wielding a Lunar Sword.
--Per the Omni-FAQ, this card is supposed to be
non-Unique. It may just be the next Drop Trooper!
Delay the Inevitable
This card falls into the "not-good" category. Yes, it can sort of
get you (or deny) a win as a substitute Confucian, but Delay the Inevitable
is inevitably going to come back to cause you problems.
I see this as a card you play when you're pushing for the win or
stopping a guy from getting into an unassailable position when the board is
weak. It's pretty decent in that capacity, and it also screws over Wind on
the Mountain: when you play X-cost cards at no cost, X is the minimum value
possible; the other X-cost events have a minimum value, Wind on the Mountain
does not, so its X defaults to zero when Delayed and recurs nothing.
--In the case of this card, the Inevitable you are
Delaying is losing the game. And yes, this card could be "Cancel
target Event/Edge/State with X in the cost" (Discerning Fire,
Eight Pillars of Heaven Array, Slo Mo Vengeance, Uprising, and Wind on the
This is quite useful, but expensive. While you can try to copy your
opponent's sites, it's more often going to be useful to put good sites into
your own deck to copy. A must is going to be Temple of Angry Spirits
-- not only can you copy its ability to make a killer site, since Temple
doesn't turn, it makes a great target for Echo Distortion when copyng a
turn-ability. Note that the timing rules won't let you turn the site
to use an ability before this event resolves, so copying a Whirlpool isn't
useful in response to it being used.
I don't think this is too expensive for its ability. Sites do so
many useful things that there's always something worth copying, and this
allows you to copy to and from any site in play. It might be kind of
amusing to see how many times you can attack with a Probability Soldiers
with a LaGrange Four and an Echo Distortion. This card also provides a
Purist resource, so it can help you ramp up to Primus and the like.
--Compare with Rigorous Discipline -- This card should
have cost 0 (and then it would finally give the Purists something to really
Keeper of Echoes
While the theoretical maximum starting Fighting for the Keeper is 17, you
are realistically looking at around 6-8, which is actually quite decent for
a 3-cost character with no abilities. While discarding hitters can
turn into a problem late game, packing an extra 2-3 in your deck should
offset this. Keeper of Echoes benefits from an increased hand size, so
combining with the Guiding Hand (who have a surplus of expensive hitters) or
even an Art of War and a Temple of Celestial Mercy will give you some
additional options. Unfortunately, this is not a combo with Memory
Palace or University Library.
This is sort of a big brother to the Cognitive Spirit -- they play
similarly, but each has its ups and downs. Impossible men shines in
shutting down sites -- notice that the ability says 'immediately' -- that
means that it generates and resolves as one action -- there is not response
window. Coggy does well attacking a defended site, since it can
nullify a defender -- with Impossible Men, you are looking for someone with
a larger number of columns so you can turn characters as well to prevent
interception. Not a top-notch card, but it proves once again that
Purist decks without Magic don't work.
Provided you attack an undefended or lightly-defended location, this
card is actually better at avoiding interception than the Cognitive Spirit.
You simply turn the one character each opponent controls that you'd least
like to see come over to intercept you -- because Impossible Men's
card-turning ability is immediate, your opponents won't be able to turn
those characters in response to move over to the location you're attacking.
--Unfortunately, my opponents like to defend their
Mmm mmm mmm... badness in so many ways. Remember that all players
benefit from seeing players hands, not just you. And this bad boy is
going make its way back to you too. This card makes it easier for
everyone to go for the win, which I feel is bad -- it can also slow the game
to a crawl when it reveals some surprise cards (like Bite of the Jellyfish),
which is also not high on my list of card effects.
Goes with Hexagram Spirits. But nobody plays Hexagram
--you know, I play Hexagram Spirits -- they are
definitely not coasters. Their problem is the resources requirements.
Yes, this card could help, but I think the drawbacks still make it
undesirable. Also, there are better cards that combo with Hexxy.
I think this card is a lot better than you credit it for. Being
free, you can use it to scoop out an opponent's plans as early as your first
turn (you only need one Mathemagician to play it, after all). If you play
it on the opponent to your left, it'll be at least two turns (and usually
longer) before it makes its way to you in a 3-player game. Before it does,
you can simply get rid of it via Symphonic Disciples, and you can always
recur it later via Temporal Anomaly. Besides allowing you to know exactly
what your opponents are up to (an underrated benefit), Mystical Cosine aids
Hexagram Spirits (as you noted) and, particularly, Twisted Horrors. If you
have some Chi, having a Cosine on the board is also an extra power for
Violet Med. You can do a lot of very Purist things with your Mystical
Cosines, and I really think people are going to hate seeing them.
--Mileage may vary, but this has been a gas guzzle for
me with no fuel economy
OK its Janky as hell, but this combos very well with Twisted Horrors.
--Half-point -- You are still relying on Material
Transcendence, but sure, throw a Cosine in this deck just to see how bad it
This card can be great if you get lucky, or pretty junky if you're not
lucky. Yes, you can play Aztec Pyramid to improve your luck, but I
personally hate when games get reduced to a coin flip. Note that
Probability Soldiers are not effect by the unturn rule -- they are unturning
themselves, so if you get lucky, you can theoretically have unbounded
This foundation is almost good -- it suffers from the Purist problem -- it
doesn't provide magic, so it's mostly useless. Yes, it has a great
ability, and it's probably worth playing 1 or 2 in a deck, but you never
want to draw it early game. Add in all the Purist Edge-hate already in
the game, and you will find Symphonic Disciples lacking.
You've really underestimated the impact of this card -- *this* is the
Critical Shift equivalent of Hacker. The Purists might not need this card
very much, but many of the other factions did. I expect this to pop up in
all sorts of decks that don't run any other Purist cards whatsoever. Prior
to this hitting the environment, edge-based decks used to have relative
security compared to character- and state-based decks; not anymore.
--This is really only over the top in dueling (which
is unfixably broken). So every faction gets half of a Realpolitik --
so what? In multiplayer, you want your opponents spending power
against each other -- you don't want to be the chump. The same goes
for Corporate Warfare. Now, there are soime top-notch anti-Edge cards
that are worth playing, with Fist of Shadow and Eater of Fortune leading the
pack, but those cards are good outside of having to smoke and Edge.
This Event is pretty low on the power scale because it's too reactive to
be very useful. For the first ability, you are almost better off
playing an extra copy of any Edge you would be recurring. And for the
second ability, you are better off stealing the Edge with Paradigm Recording
than spending power to destroy the Edge first, then playing Temporal Anomaly
to replay it.
This does make you pay +1 power to recur an edge, but it combos very
well with Symphonic Disciples. Just suicide the Disciples, smoke whatever
edge you're gunning for, and get it via Temporal Anomaly. It requires less
faction resources than Paradigm Recoding and is superior to Recording
because it's immune to Stone Dolmens.
--No Combo Points Awarded
This assassin is pretty reasonable -- you are almost always going to get 5
Fighting, and sometimes more. The Blind more goes into a trick deck
where you are playing cards like Art of War or Temple of Celestial Mercy so
that you can pump up The Blind if someone happens to steal them from you.
Another card that combos with this (assuming you can manage the
onerous resource conditions) is Dragon Boat Festival. If you've got power,
you can also do some cute things with Homicide Detective.
Once you (and your opponents) figure out the trick, this card is
essentially a 4-cost 7-Fighting thug with no ability (and some hefty
resource requirements). In this spot, I would honestly have to
recommend Primus over The Gray.
Actually, you might get more power than that, considering each
opponent will have to pay you for each turn that they want their characters
unblanked (and being paid 1 power is actually a 2-power swing). I've
noticed that most players hate having their characters blanked, and most
players hate giving you power, meaning that The Gray's biggest problem is
attracting hate as soon as she hits the table.
--And you nailed the problem right there -- The Gray
doesn't win the game, it just draws hate, and when someone is giving you
power, it's more than likely to be a situation that is more painful for you
While I don�t think its top tier. Its certainly more than a 4 for 7. For
starters if you are assuming that opponents will pay to blank him, they also
lose a power, and they�ll also need to do this every turn (unless of course
they kill him immediately).
--If an opponent is giving you power, it's because
they are gaining more power through some action (yes, you might net more in
the sum total of all players, but the odds are that whoever gave you a power
is going to get the best of it. Also, in the land of 5-cost characters
with no abilities, the highest fighting wins, and for 5 power, I really
really really want 8 Fighting.
A playable foundation -- it provides Magic, and has a fairly
inconsequential ability that stops a point of damage when you are throwing
away True Believers to intercept. Not as good at Mathemagicians, but
better than the rest unless you need the Acolyte for the resource
I think the main purpose of this card is to give you a viable
alternative to Mathemagician when building a mono-Purist deck and stop the
run on Purist Initiates that's been going on for a few years (though those
have recently become much more available due to the reprint of Dark Future).
--Yup, they are just a replacement for a Purist core
ability (1-cost-Magic-foundation) that has been unreasonably in short
While this card may look appealing at first glance, it's actually pretty
bad. It plays like a watered down Who's the Monkey Now? that's only
good against a few cards (most notably Operation Killdeer, Imprisoned and
Nerve Gas). Yes, it's really good against those if you have power to
spare, but most of the time it will way too reactive, and just sit in your
hand instead of getting you somewhere. WTMN? is a better card for two
reasons -- it triggers on *any* card you own being targeted (not just a
character), and you get an immediate zap at no additional cost.
While I agree that Who's the Monkey Now? is a better card, this one
only requires one resource and will often provide a "chilling" effect that
lasts until your next turn: if you've Caught something like an Imprisoned or
a Nerve Gas, opponents will be reluctant to play hitters until your next
turn, which will keep people from trying to get ahead for an entire turn
'round the table. It's also in-faction defense for a lot of the characters
the Syndicate have (even if you only cancel the hate and don't play it
later), such as Hirake Kazuko and Xu Mei, the Dragon.
--Well, costing only 1 resource isn't that much of a
deal, since the Syndicate isn't splashable in any useful manor. Yes,
it's good when you catch an amazing event, but it's not something you can
Here we have a faction defining card -- and it's a pretty bad definition.
I suspect that everyone will slowly come to realize that Influence is way
down at the bottom of the useful boldface ability lists, along with Tactics.
Yes, it helps a little, but it's not worth the power. The second half
of Corporate Warfare is okay -- nuking an Edge for 1 power is acceptable,
but in multiplayer, you'd rather have other players spending their power to
get rid of Edges.
Very playable as a non-FSS, but with a questionable ability. First
off, you think wow, this card can protect my FSS, so it's great! The
problem with that is that Non-FSS are almost more valuable in the long term
because of their fixed cost. Often it's going to cost you less than 2
power to replace a FSS (and sometimes you are gaining power), so losing one
doesn't hurt as bad. Where this does step up to the plate is when
protecting a hoser site that has been exposed, but even then, how long is
Cybermod's 6 Body going to last? You may very well wind up spending 2
power to get 2 sites ripped off of you, whereas if you had played this back
row, it wouldn't be a target.
Simon Johnston adds:
It has six body, which is nice (I bet
some people won't notice, assuming it has 5)
--Yes, the +1 Body over the usual foundation sites
does make a difference. We were playing the other day, and the
Infernal Temples and Abominable Labs were bouncing much more than the
This is the card you want to play instead of Secret Labs in decks
that don't need more than one or two Tech. It's sturdier and provides the
benefit of shuffling one of your FSS (usually your first one) to a more
protected location. I'd personally use these instead of Secret Labs if I'm
running a Reascended deck (between this and Dunwa, I've got enough Tech for
any Reascended), and it has the benefit of giving me access to some extra
protection for my Reascended hitters (in the form of Catch Bullets).
--The only reason to run Secret Labs is because you
don't have a faction that provides Tech on it's foundations already -- and I
still think Secret Lab is better. Now maybe you can try a Syndicate/ReAscended
deck, but I don't think it gets you a lot of juice.
Playable, but pretty bland. Devendra's going to ignore foundation
characters, but will trade with any 7+ Fighting character. Yes, it's
going to take sites for 5 power, but Devendra is vulnerable to stoppage,
which is all too common these days.
The Syndicate badness continues with this card. If case you haven't
figured it out, 1-for-1s with no ability are bad. Spending 2 power and
turning 2 Fighting to do it is even worse. Yes, it does give you
something to sacrifice, but if you are playing a sacrifice deck, you are
already playing jank, so why play even more?
I disagree with you about this card -- it can do a bunch of things
for different deck types. Note that you can play as many cards out of your
smoked pile as the amount of power you have plus one (the "plus one" is for
turning Dimitri): this is a bad ratio compared to things like Inauspicious
Return, but Dimitri's ability has a few things going for it. First, it
allows you to prune your smoked pile, making it more likely for you to use
things like Netherworld Return or In Your Face Again to maximum effect.
Second, it allows you to turn "dead weight" cards in your smoked pile ( i.e.
states, events, sites in decks where you can't recur them) into fighting
(this is especially good if you already recur your characters from the
smoked pile), and you don't put yourself at risk of toasting your resources
if you recur non-character cards this way. Third, cards you return this way
are extra good if you've got Armies of the Monarchs, Arcanowave Reinforcer,
Stand Together ("Drone") or something of that ilk in play. You can also use
this effect to discourage a player springing a Che Gorilla or trying to
unleash a Red Bat on you. Dimitri's ability is legit -- his problem is that
he's definitely on the fragile side, though he can protect himself from
attacks as long as you have 1 power and an Iron and Silk/Expendable Unit
ready to play.
--We'll have to agree to disagree
Four Syndicate resources? What where they thinking? Hirake is
a card that you don't want to play until you are ready to use to steal a
character (ignore his Influence, it's generally worthless). Once he's
out, your opponent's wont play non-uniques until he is smoked. #
fighting helps a little, but if you have any experience with Mr. X, you know
that in the long run, your results aren't worth the cost. As an added
bonus, you can combo with LaGrange 4, to steal a character, run it into
something, then steal another (that if if your opponents are generous that
This has been bandied about as the "new" Shadowy Mentor, but I think
that the onerous resource conditions and susceptibility to character hate
pretty much nixes that notion. Also, I think Kazuko is a "she", not a "he."
--Definitely not the next Mentor -- he/she/it is more
of a annoyance to the player foolish enough to try and be creative and combo
This guy is badness on steroids (and I mean bad bad). He has a
terrible ratio to start off with. Except for Corporate Warfare, you
are turning Fighting (on fragile characters) to give Inside Man fighting,
And, his Fighting wears off at the end of the turn, so he has the risk of
being smoked even if he survives combat.
Well, he does turn your Junior Executives into Military
--I tried to make Military Commandants
work again recently, and you know what? They still aren't very good...
Yawn, Influence, boring. And while I usually like ramp characters,
the Syndicate is so resource hosed you are better off playing another of the
1-cost Talent foundations (Triad Punks or Mars Colonist) than the Junior
Turkey here (who only provides faction resources).
Half of your required talents, which is just going to be bad since
Syndicate wants both Tech and Chi.
I'm not sure what your comment indicates -- did you want the
Syndicate to get a 1-cost foundation that provides both Tech and Chi? That
would be bad news, because a lot of light- to no-Syndicate decks will splash
the foundations for access to both talents, especially if they're trying to
run Xiaoyang Yun or Solar Flares.
--Yes, I think the Syndicate should have gotten their
own version of the DNA Mage. As for XYY, you already have Chi so it's
just a 1-cost tech foundation, and for Solar Flares, Magic is the most
useful resource. And when was the last time you saw a deck that just
ran 5 DNA Mages (and no other Arc cards) just for Tech and Magic?
Since she's uncommon, Rei is going to be one of your bread and butter
characters -- unfortunately, it's stale bread and spoiled butter. If
you can keep her in play, it's a 2-cost re-usable Brain Fire or Stealth --
but that 2 cost keep in play is killer on a character. Rei has Final
Brawl written all over her. Compare her with two of my favorite
Uncommon Uniques, Jenny Zheng and Monsoon, and you will find that Rei's on
the losing team.
I'm not sure why you think Rei fails so badly in comparison to Jenny
Zheng -- both would get killed by the theoretical brawl, and Rei is a lot
less onerous in terms of resources required. Jenny Superleaps while Rei can
offer similar interceptor removal (only for other characters, not herself),
and Rei can at least survive targeted removal where Jenny ends up roadkill.
In terms of pure offense, Rei is certainly no Monsoon (she does cost one
less power than the Flying Swordsman), but she fills a different niche --
with a little defense, she's really going to discourage people from
unleashing their targeted removal on you, and that's worth something.
--Jenny is a favorite in our group -- it could just be
a metagame thing. Sure, Rei's not as bad as I vented, but she's just
not that good either. You are playing this card not because you want
to, but because you have no other options (which reminds me of the Purist
decks in the Dark Future era).
Brain fire on tap, gives �stealth� to any character than wants it, provides
a talent. Rei is a character I would willingly play in any deck.
--Remember the Brain Fire and Stealth are an exclusive
or. Yes, this card isn't all that bad -- what makes it look
deceptively good is how bad the other Syndicate cards are.
This is a somewhat fun dilemma card, if not very reliable. 0-cost
makes it playable, and cancelling characters is good -- but since your
opponent controls the effect, they are going to pick the one that does the
least harm. Think of this much as you would Larcenous Mist -- it's a
card that can be really good situationally, but invariability gets cut from
the deck to make room for something more useful.
This is twice as bad as Mars Colonist, which makes it pretty bad. !
Influence is garbage, making this more useless than Noodle Lady since the
Syndicate needs two Talents.
Xu Mei, The Dragon
Yes, good if you can ever get her into play, but Xu Mei's whopping cost
and onerous resources would make Chuck Norris cry. If this is the best
the Syndicate have to offer, they got not hope...
She's not as good as The Seven, certainly, and she isn't a hitter you
ever want to count on, but I fail to see how she's worse than, say, Sky
Dragon (yeah, she requires more resources, but she's got better abilities
exceed those of the Master of the Invulnerable Stance).
--Hey, don't be cappin' on Sky Dragon. Yeah,
he's bad, but he's fun. And while you may pooh-pooh the resource
requirement, that's what makes huge guys like this work -- you absolutely
have to be able to copy or recur them, which means playing two factions,
which means that Xu Mei is holding my drink.
The Sumo is pretty iffy -- he's too dependent on your opponents having
Limited and Unique sites. Also, he requires Tech, which has the
potential of slowing him down early game.
This guy can be a bit of a "punishment" card if you play
Limited/Unique sites yourself and get them seized away from you. The Tech
requirement is indeed an impediment, but hey, it's also a gas mask.
--Go to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not
Northern Long Fist
This card plays very similar to Four Mountains Fist, including the
infamous combination with CHAR. I'm not a fan of Northern Long Fist --
if you're trying to play it straight, it comes off as either Assassinate or
a site smoker (as the cost of your character) which more than likely is
going to benefit the opponents not involved in the combat ahead more than
you. Otherwise, you are playing the CHAR combo deck, in which case
it's not as good on 4MF.
I got to give this one a 'meh' -- It's someone useful (and can stack), but
is it as good as Crane Stance? Probably not. In general, I don't
like 'about to enter combat' effects as they cause timing confusion.
Also, one of the most undervalued cards is Festival of Giants, which is
amazing, and you should be playing it.
Just as an extra thought, you can play Willow Step and Festival of
Giants together on your Accupressure Master to make one really Tough (and
mass healing) dude
--Bad .Combo Points Awarded (minus the deduction for
playing Accupressure Master in the first place)
Here we yet another improved Really Big Gun. This one has a flunky
toughness:1 attached to it (but mostly not as good). Buzzsaw Arm wont
stop Events, plinks or killer Sites, which makes the -1 Fighting ability
effectively equal to Tougness:1 against combat damage from characters --
it's better in two situations -- when going up against CHAR, going up
against character that the subject is smaller than -- in this case Buzzsaw
Arm is a Shotgun doing 3 damage (one of which can't be healed).
Overall, I still like the Shotgun better, but this is playable for giggles
in a heavy tech deck.
For some fun kicks, you can play and/or recur this with Single-Action
--Uh, that's just too bad to even think of...
The Razor Girl is not much to write home about. She's got double
ambush, but really needs a non-Site damage boost to be of much good.
The old-school 4-for-4 Ambush is not good, as time has proven, and I don't
see a lot of reason to play this over the generally better faction-based
cards in whatever factions you are getting tech from in
I don't think her ratio is all that bad compared to other Ambushers
like Desdemona Deathangel v2 and the White Ninja. Her bonus damage to sites
means you'll be able to hit (and potentially take) sites with impunity as
long as your opponents only have foundations and 3-for-4s (not an unlikely
scenario if you get ahead on power generation somehow). Thanks to double
Ambush, she'll almost always be able to survive encounters with hitters up
to 7 fighting (the exception is when she's the target of the attack).
--First off, the White Ninja is a game winner, and
better than most hitters in every faction. And playing a card that's
only good when my opponents have played bad cards doesn't to float my boat.
Remember you are also sacrificing playing a resource to get her our, which
will set you back a turn or two once the big guys come out.
This card falls into the same category as Blood of the Valiant or Flying
Kick -- for 1 power, Scramble Suit is going to get you through to a site
once, and possibly more than once. If if wasn't obvious to you, you
play this card after declaring an attack, so your opponents can't
discard to intercept. Any second use is gravy -- yes, you might get
intercepted, but you are going to hose your opponents' hands, which is
usually good. You can get a minor combo with Paper Trail, which would
fit with Scramble Suit in a ReAscended deck.
This card also combos okay with the Dragons, who can generate the
requisite Tech with some Hackers and Dirk Wisely's Gambits. Beyond the
initial usage, you can combine it with Pony Express to force some tough
--1 Combo Point Awarded
While expensive for a State, this one is a game winner. While it can
get through waxy-character build-up, it's also good to take out just one
beefy interceptor. The Hegemeister is going to draw a lot of
State-hate, and it doesn't shut down the hoser sites or events, so you will
still need answers to these in most situations.
While 4 Body is extremely low, Hot Zone is Whirlpool of Blood with 2 bonus
features -- it can cancel non-FSS (like those pesky Family Estates) and it
cannot be cancelled by the aforementioned Whirlpool (giving you a leg up in
the Whirlpool duel). But, as a 2-cost non-FSS, Hot Zone has all the
benefits and drawbacks of being such. I wouldn't throw this into a
casual deck -- it has too much risk of being taken from you and costing you
the game (your opponents will be gaining the power and shutting you down) --
save Hot Zone for fairly serious decks where you have some site defense and
are able to protect it.
Here we have an improved Really Big Gun, and it's really not improved by
all that much, and realistically, how often do you play the RBG? I am
still a big fan of Pump-action Shotgun which I think is generally still a
I think the intent of this card was to give you something that
exceeds the utility of the Shotgun if you drop it as a surprise when your
character is intercepted in a chain (especially if you combine it with some
Toughness). Like you, I don't think the intent ended up making a very good
card, and I see myself going with the Shotgun most of the time as well.
--Did you just say this card was good when
intercepting in a chain with characters with toughness? 'nuff said...
This has to be one of the more intriguing cards in the set - I like
Talents and this lets you do some mostly underpowered effects based on your
resources. None of the three abilities is worth 1 power on its own,
but when you get 2 or 3 of them going, it's worth the cost. The best
has to be the 4 point character zap, so you are probably going to want to
have magic as one of your talents (which makes this more of a Seven Masters
card than the intended Syndicate).
I think the one ability that's worth it if it's a separate card by
itself is the [Mag][Mag]1 to inflict 4 damage on a character. I think we'll
be seeing Solar Flares a bit, especially in decks that run Kunlun Clan
Assaults -- 1power for 8 damage worth in total zap and heal is pretty
--Like I said, this is a better Seven Masters card
This plays pretty close to the old and rarely played Marsh, but with an
added kick. While you can build a deck around it (playing 0-cost
states like Motorcycle on your opponents' characters), Arctic Fortress does
have one intrinsic feature that makes it suitable for any deck -- Mentor
protection. Albeit, it's not very good at stopping Shadowy Mentor, but
it can put a speed bump in the way (not to mention being a major obstacle to
the occasional State-based deck like Guns/Tanks/Fu).
There's been a lot of talk on the potential power of this card,
especially in dueling. People have already made decks that play stuff like
Helix Chewer and Chi Detachment on opponent's hitters and then sit behind
Fortresses all day. This certainly has the potential to be a major headache
in the right deck (and with the right matchup -- anyone running Stone
Dolmens will wreck it easily).
--Dueling is pretty borked to begin with...
Here we have another take on the potential 2-Power generating site,
somewhat similar to the Bird Sanctuary (which is okay, and I play it
occasionally). Forgotten Temple has more triggers, but is limited to
only 1 power per set of player turns (unless you can unturn it) -- This site
is playable as a 1-of in a power generating site slot, but I don't think
it's your best option -- as I hinted, I like sites that can trigger more
than once per cycle (Phlogiston Mine/Mobeus Gardens) or sites that have an
extra ability as well (Monkey House/Blessed Orchard).
I wouldn�t overlook that you get this power at the end of the turn, which
frustratingly stops you from hurling an interceptor in the way and playing
an imprisoned or something along those lines.
--Good point -- this came up in a game the other day.
You are probably going to want to consider another alt-power-site if you
have a lot of reactive Events in your deck. It also requires that you
are either the target of an attack (bad) or are fiddling in other players'
attacks and losing a card (also usually bad).
This comes across as another general utility site, much like City Park.
It's part Nine Dragon Temple, giving you a power when burned or seized (and
you don't have to be behind) as well as a replacement site (which can be
worth 1-4 power in itself once you add the power it generates and the cost
to replay a site. Savvy opponents will wind up smoking this if it's
going to set you too far ahead (much like smoking a Fortress), but even more
savvy opponents will avoid attacking Hydroponic Garden in this situation.
This thing is definitely a top-tier comeback site (now that we've
cleared up the confusion over who it works for with the errata, anyway). In
certain respects, it's better than both Nine Dragon Temple (don't have to be
behind) and City Park (don't have to have your site burned), though there's
no reason you can't play all of them. People do tend to not want to attack
your Hydroponic Garden, and you can take advantage of that by hiding a
low-body, high-reward site behind it.
Here ya go -- this seems pretty crazy, with combos up the wazoo. The
most obvious is attacking with a character twice -- you just waint until
after combat to unturn. This is good both early and late game, but is
going to work real well with those usually junky 3-for-4s -- you can pop one
out 3rd turn and smack for up to 8 damage. I'll have to
meditate on all the nasty permutations. With 4 Body, I am hoping this
will be more in the league of Kinoshita House instead of Lily Pond.
This mighty site is particularly good with characters that already
can attack multiple times a turn (Butterfly Knight, Probability Soldiers)
and characters that gain extra fighting when they turn to attack (Shaolin
Agent, Fire Martyr). It's also one of my favorite sites (along with
Mah-Jongg Parlor) for Dog Soldiers tricks -- with a Butterfly Knight in
addition to your Dog Soldiers, that's up to five attacks you can make in a
single turn. Even if you don't use LaGrange Four for extra attacks, you can
get extra mileage out of it by unturning utility characters such as Swiss
Banker, Gunslinger, and (for extra attack foiling) Tranquil Persuader.
--You had me at "This mighty site is particularly good
This looks kinda mean and annoying. It's a hybrid of Hartwell Iron
Works and Nightclub. Play it, zap things, make yourself a
target. Overall, I don't think this has the power (or annoyance
threat) of the aforementioned sites.
It has an in-set combo with Reascension Spy, but that's kinda
fragile. You can combine it with Nightclub to really help your Red Dragon
Troupes get going, though.
Palace of Virtual Light
This card is moderately interesting in that for a bonus power-gen site, it
let's you burn through your deck. It's terribly is a small, tight
deck, but could be advantageous in a tower-of-power. I don't think
it's super-comobo-riffic, since you can't keep combo cards in your hand --
of course you can keep cards with Memory Palace and the Library, so they are
minor combos. Notice that the discard is a cost, so your hand is going
to be flushed (not always a bad thing).
The other thing people are talking about is that this card redefines
the power:body curve for FSS (it has 9 body and a minor drawback::benefit
ability; compare with Sacred Ground). I don't think that's necessarily true
(the Palace is Unique, after all), but it's something to think about.
--Sacred Ground is obsolete outside of Daedalus-era
I kinda like this card for the Hall of Mirrors effect -- it encourages the
playing of sites, which is ultimately good for the game. While
generally not as good as City Park, Rainforest Ruins falls into the same
slot of utility mid-game site. The + Body is just gravy, but shouldn't
be overlooked -- if you are low-man in a 4-player game, you will have a
whopping 14 Body, which will give you some breathing space. But
Rainforest Ruin's meat is in its cost reduction. It wont help you at
all if you have no sites in play, as the cost to play it is already 0 (you
still only gain 1 power), but it gives you free second site in most
situations, including on your second turn if you're not the first in turn
order (and possibly a free 3rd site if you're at the tail end of the turn
Sacred Heart Hospital
Well, this is definitely one of the top cards in CS -- too bad it's a
reprint. The art isn't great, but neither is the original. At
least this makes a much better promo than Military Commandant.
The Iron Palace
The first thing to note about this site is it's designator -- Secret.
This makes it a must if you trying to make a Secret-Fire deck.
Otherwise, it's a nice toughness set, but not as powerful as Eagle Mountain
in the long run -- of course you can put it back row and get double the
You can use this on opponent's characters, as well, and it makes for
a good play if you can use it during an attack that doesn't involve you to
set up a scenario where you can easily swoop in and take a heavily damaged
site on your next turn.