Secret HQ

art (c) Mike Trap


Dark Future

Homo Omega and Kar Fai have had battled it out in the final scene of Dark Future, Z-Man's latest expansion to Shadowfist.  The set isn't in stores yet (it should be around April 9th), but I was at a pre-release event and got to see most of the set.  Here are some of my impressions.

As always, these are only my opinions, and you are a chump if you don't play with the cards and form your own.  In fact, I like it best when people show me wrong and make a monkey out of me by pointing out a really good use for a card I've panned. 

Overall, the jury is still out on Dark Future.  It's a deceptive set, and may or may not be as good as it looks, especially when compared to the disappointing Shaolin Showdown.  This set does have less cards, which equates to less junk, which is a very positive turn for the game.  On to the cards!

Assault Drone
Aiiieee!  Triskellion makes an appearance in Shadowfist.  A 5-cost potential 11-damage Robot can be fun.  Look for this card mainly in conjunction with Fortress Omega.   Probably the second best Drone in the set, but is greatly hurt by its inability to intercept.  And I wouldn't worry too much about Return to the Center nuking your tokens, since this card just keeps on gaining them every turn -- sweet.
Beta Beast
Well, at least it provides Tech, which is something.  Actually, this card can dominate a duel if you are playing against the Dragons or the Ascended, but it's ability falls short against the most popular foundation characters for most factions (Golden Candle Society, Sinister Priest, DNA Mage, Darkness Priestess, et. al.).  Two in a deck probably is probably a good rule of thumb, unless it's a specialized dueling deck.  I don't even think you want more in the Abomination deck, as there are usually better things to replay with Reinvigoration Process.
BK97 Attack Chopper
The power level of States has seen a nice bump to counteract the influence of Waterfall Sanctuary.  I expect 2-power for 3-fighting to be the new bar, and this card fits it perfectly.  And along with the fighting, any little ability helps, and the Chopper gives a limited CHAR ability, which can be useful.  Note that you are still getting hosed by City Squares and Robust Feng Shui, but you can at least ignore Op Killdeer and put the beat down on Puzzle Gardens.  With Motor Pool, this card is gonna kick some ass.
Buro Blue Spear
Yawn, yet another Training Sequence, and this time with half a Fusion Rifle.  I recommend playing Fusion Rifle instead, as it is going to be better in most situations (and you will get in your full 2 damage before a Waterfall washes the state away).  The one situation where this card might be okay is in limited formats (booster draft), but that format hasn't really emerged. 
BuroMil "Savage"
I'm not a big fan of expensive states -- they are too easy to flush down the Waterfall.  But -- this might be a slight exception, just because of Motor Pool.  2 Power for +6 Fighting and a few other goodies just might be playable, but probably not tournament quality.  At least Mobility and Toughness:1 combine fairly well, which lets you take out the trash when garbage characters attack.
Combat Veteran
Is this card as bad as it looks?  Sure looks like it.  Not only is it another Training Sequence, but a really hard one to use at that.  The major problem is that the Battleground Sites you want to play are Bandit Hideout, Arcanoseed, and Killing Ground, only of which Killing Ground doesn't turn for a usually better ability than +1 until the end of the turn. Even two of the three new BGs in this set require turning.  And don't forget that +Fighting wears off, usually meaning your character is going to die and take the power you spend on Combat Veteran with it.  And don't forget you gotta be playing with some cruddy Soldiers/etc to drop this on to begin with.
Desdemona Deathangel vNEW
Is this one better than the old one?  Yes.  Is the new Desdemona worth playing with?  Probably not.  I guess you can try some abomination tricks with her, but generally there are better ways to go the ambush route.  I almost think it's easier to get 2 Godhammers on a Midnight Whisperer than it is to get Desdemona Out (note to self -- need to make the Whisperer Slow-Mo Vengeance deck with Final Brawl to counter Mentor).   On the plus side, she is like the old Thing in that she can eat herself in response to Mentor, which is a slight plus.
Destroyer Drone
So many drones, only one deck.  This drone  is far from the worst (N2's Conversion Drone has that honor), and it can do a little damage (say, 11).  All the drones have a drawback, and this one is it not being able to attack characters, which is livable.  Generally, you never want to pay 5 power for this, and it really only goes in the Fortress Omega deck, which has it's own set problems (like it's gonna hurt so good when they Discerning Fire choosing Drone)..
Fortress Omega
A very iffy site.  Sure, it's mandatory in the drone deck, but you are still hard pressed to get 2 power a turn from this card.  But then again, it's really hard to take down, so it offers some good defensive value (and seems much more playable than Flashpoints dodgy ArcanoTowers, even if it doesn't count for victory).  Your best best are Plasma Troopers and CHARs, and forget about the drones.  Note that Dangerous Experiment doesn't go so well with Fortress Omega.  Now that I think about it, Secret HQ is always going to generate an extra power a turn towards your drones, and is reasonably defensive at 10 body.
General Olivet
Hrm, General Code Red.  The rules timing for attacking on other players' turns is such a nightmare that it's really hard to use this card  -- in fact, if you are not a timing expert, it's best to box this card as to avoid the excessive arguments it can provoke.  The General's abilities work well with two game mechanics -- Burn for Power and out of turn power generation.  Unfortunately the best out of turn generation for the Architects, DE, is just going to get him toasted, so that's no good.  And, if you BFP'd, he's probably going to be turned already, so the card just never seems to work like you intended it to.
Jason X
Not terrible, but not outstanding, either.  Probably not as good as the original Jason X, but that is because you are more likely to encounter Architect spot takeout than Dragon.  Probably best to judge your meta-game -- if there are lots of Dragon decks or one player who always plays Dragons, then Jason X just might be worth playing.  Jason might be worth considering if you are playing some +damage effects to take advantage of his guts.
Spirit Shield Generator
In general, Toughness:1 isn't worth 1 power (how often do you play Armored in Life?).  I do occasionally play Path of the Storm Turtle, but that's 0-cost, and can get in some early beats.  Not being about to use Expendable Unit with this just makes SSG un-interesting and not very useful.  And of course, SSG does nothing against the Temple, and gets flushed by Waterfall.  It *might* be worth playing if there are *lots* of Final Brawls in your metagame, but I think there are other, better, cards to deal with Final Brawl (Shattering Fire is pretty rare in our metagame).  
Tank Commander
This guy looks to single handedly make the tank deck work, not to mention being fun to do stuff with.  I recommend ArcanoTank -- that makes him a 5-cost 8 Fighting Toughness:1 boomer.  Then again, if you want to mix in the Jammers, 1-cost Homemade Tanks are tasty.  The worst thing about Tank Commander will be getting a hold of 5 of him, since the average is about 1 and a half per display.  Have I mentioned playing lots of Whirlpools to stem the tide of Waterfalls?  Also, Newest Model is just made for this deck.
The Dogs of War
Dogs is right.  Just how good is a low resource requirement 3-for-5?  I would say not that good.  And on the off chance all your Battlegrounds go down the tubes, the Dogs get even worse.  There might be some possibilities with a turbo Cave Network or Proving Ground deck, but with 2 decent 1-cost foundations, I've never found the Architects lacking for the resources to get out the Reconstructed.  But wait, you can play Combat Veteran on the Dogs!
Thing with a 1000 Tongues vNEW
Make no mistake, the Architect Thing isn't the powerhouse that the old Lotus Thing is.  That said, you can play some stupid Abomination tricks with the new Thing, but cards like Final Brawl can just ruin your day.  Best case scenario is play the Thing, attack, vivisect it, replay with Reinvigoration Process, attack again, hope that your Vivisector lives. Remember that you can't sacrifice the recurring cards (Destroyer, Inauspicious Return zombies).  This is just a little too fragile to get in constant attacks in our metagame, but it can be quite powerful if you actually can pull it off.
Tunneler Drone
This is by far the best of the drones, and one could argue that it's worth paying 5 power for.  It's going to be able to take sites, with two strong abilities that often work in conjunction.  The drone is really good at picking off those back row Fox Passes and City Squares (not to mention those ubiquitous Whirlpools).  This guy is a really good deal at -1 cost from Fortress Omega, but you aren't going to want to pull all of the CHARs out of your deck just quite yet.
Vivisection Agenda
This is another combo-card that's near impossible to pull off to any great advantage with regularity.  Most of the time, you are gaining 1 additional power when you vivisect something, although you can try for more with Desdemona and a few other cards that allow multiple sacrifices.  Because of the timing rules, you can't gain power from the new Thing (although the old Thing eats 'em up!).  I highly recommend Helix Rethread over this -- it will get you your 1 power much earlier in the game, without clogging up your hand.  Not to mention Dangerous Experiment gets you a bigger boost than the Agenda, without having to combo (nut with the added drawback of not wanting to have expensive cards in play).

Other than the onerous resource requirements, Arachne isn't too bad.  While she does have assassinate, her best use is being turtly, and using her to intercept to make sure you have the best chance to regenerate (a damaged Arachne is going to be a high-priority target for your opponents).  There might be some possibilities with Bounty, but I'm not sure if adding Tech is the way to go for that type of deck.
Dunwa Saleem
Dunwa is okay, especially if you have a Secret Lab or Hacker (not to mention one of the reascended) in play.  I don't know if you see him much outside of that one deck, though.
Louie the Roach
I'm not a big roach fan -- the Ascended just have so many better cards to play than a weird 2-for-2 Toughness:2, that is going to do 2 damage to your Family Estates before to long.  I think I am probably thinking of Bad Colonel or Triumvirate Dealmaker in this range if I'm playing with Family Estates.  Perhaps the best use for Louie is in a janky showdown deck, where you are using him to Faceoff against resource characters with impunity.
Serket is kinda crazy, with all the weird wording.  Basically, if you have a little money to spend (and don't the Ascended always have that?) or your opponents are short on characters, she is going to hit a site for 7.  Of course, Operation Killdeer is pretty good at clearing out the way for Adrienne or Shinobu to take sites, so Serktet is kinda iffy.  By herself, I don't think Serket is worth building a reascended deck.
The bear is the reason to play the reascended.  He is going to rule the table, and your opponents will quake with fear if they have a damaged character in play.  Final Brawl makes for an unpleasant surprise to intercepting opponents, and I am personally fond of giving Ursus a Fusion Rifle since you have Tech available.  The Lotus has the best pingers (White Disciple, Purist Sorceror, Malachi), but I think it just may be too hard to pull of that deck since the Lotus have zero access to tech.  His worst enemy is Sacred Heart Hospital and it's Chinese Doctors.

Borrowed Nuke
This card can be incredibly powerful, but it generally bad (not fun) for the game (in multiplayer that is).  The usual result is taking one player completely out of the game by smoking two of their sites, and maybe some characters as well.  The obligatory combo is, of course, Scrappy Kid, and this card looks like it could become extremely gross with Kar Fai's Crib reducing the cost to 1.  At least you can't play it on your own front row sites and taunt people into attacking -- now that would be too insane.
Concourse Godard
Big, bald and gimpy -- that pretty much sums up this card. I'm just not a fan of Concourse's ability since it
's pretty specific and only triggered by opponent's playing Events.  And it's going to be a real drag when they still pick him off by doing 3 with a Nerve Gas.  About the only advantage he has over existing cards is surviving the bomb, which only means that people are going to throw characters at him when they see the bomb incoming.  I think Charmed Life might be a little better just because you can make the janky Bomb deck with it and laugh at your opponents whenever you draw the combo and have power to spare.  With cards like the Golden Gunman owning event defense, the big Dragon hitters need some ability that you can build a deck around, as opposed to a purely defensive ability that only interacts with opponents.  
Consumer on the Brink
Another metagame card -- if your environment has lots of unique and limited sites, this guy can get respectable.  Playing with a few of those sites so that opponents will think twice about seizing them isn't all that bad, either.  Inauspicious Return is another possible way to go.  Note that is almost exclusively a multiplayer card, and will not be nearly as useful in dueling.  In my decks, this is going to compete for the Chinese Doctor/Scrappy Kid slot -- I like a few resource boosting 1-cost utility characters -- I don't know how this guy is going to hold up over time against them. though.
Dirk Wiseley
Time to save the world again -- Dirk does indeed live up to his quote.  Most of the time you are going to want to play with stuff that increases his fighting/damage, whether it be a state like the lowly shotgun or a massive tank -- or an event, of which the Dragons have 3 gooders -- Can of Whupass, Fallen Heroes and Who's the Big Man Now?!?  Don't forget some event protection -- I like Festival Circle, but Ring of Gates and Victory for the Underdog are worth considering, but I'm not big on Got My Mojo Working (even though it allows Dirk 3 attacks).  Dirk breaks the mold of how good a 3-cost character can be, and in the right deck, is on power to T2 and G2.
Fake Out
This is a card that looks better than it actually is, just because it's so hard to pull off.  Scrappy Kid is an obvious combo, but throwing one is a deck to have a little fun is okay, but don't plan on this card winning you the game unless you are extremely lucky.  And it's probably not a card you want to get back with Fighting Spirit.
Fallen Heroes
This card is very comparable to Can of Whupass, a favorite of mine.  Can usually gets you more fighting, but Heroes gives you the element of surprise.  And turning those extra Hackers into +2 damage isn't that bad, especially after you've dropped a Dirk Wiseley's Gambit to fortify your resources.  Speaking of Hackers, watch out for Hacker wars, as this is an event that toasts.  Fallen Heroes is a nice substitute for all of you that didn't get a stack of Cans.
Got My Mojo Working
Very very iffy.  Since it doesn't stop Imprisoned, Mojo is not as good a card against the Architects as Victory for the Underdog (Imprisoned is so much better than Gas these days).  Yes, it's nifty when you get to stop a Final Brawl (you never stop Discerning Fire because Dragons never share designators and if you build your deck right), and it's super bonus when you get to unturn a character, but 99% of the time, this card is going to sit in your hand, doing nothing, causing you to shake your fists in frustration.
Kar Fai's Last Stand
This is the one new Faceoff in the set, and it's about on par with the rest of them -- that is it's nothing exceptional or worth playing in most decks.  The Dragons do have access to more characters with Toughness, which might make this a little more playable, but frankly, the reward just doesn't turn me on.  In my opinion, Faceoffs still don't have the support cards to make them good enough to play with any regularity.
Kar Fai's Legacy
This card is is double edged -- yes, it gains you power, but at the cost of getting a really good card in play via Golden Comeback.  The problem is that Legacy is a 3 card combo (the character who gets smoked, Legacy, and the character in your hand you want to play with the power you just gained), where as Comeback only requires two cards.  I'm thinking the best use for Legacy is on the low cost uniques, like Jenny Zheng, who aren't really good candidates for Comeback.  Note that this is the fourth Dragon power event that is going to sit in your hand, waiting for a good opportunity (along with DWG, Now You Made Us Mad and Ki-YAAAAH!).
Master Mechanic
Having to turn 4 Fighting to use an ability is often quite a drawback, which limited this card's usefulness somewhat.  I don't think he will hold up the way Tank Commander will once Vehicle decks start making the rounds.  Since odds are that you are going to have Tech, I'd strongly consider Tank Warfare over Master Mechanic, unless you really want to recycle your Sports Cars and Speed Boats.  Still, it gives you a way to recycle some of the vehicles you've been pumping out with Motor Pool.
Mobile HQ
If you got Motor Pool or Kar Fai's Crib in play, this card is a really good deal.  If you don't, it's sort of a wash.  I consider this to be mostly in the new Sword of the Master category for states.  I don't think I like some of the blanket cost reducers -- they virtually force you to overcost new cards to compensate for the possibility that they might be played at reduced cost.   Again, make sure you are packing plenty of Whirlpools, or Waterfall Sanctuary is just going to ruin your day.

This is a card to watch in the set, and has the potential to become a staple event for the Lotus.  It's a lot like Shaking the Mountain, but not quite as powerful.  To compensate, the resources are lighter, and it has the odd ability to sneak in a little damage.
Demon Tank
This tank is quite unspectacular, but this is partially due to Hell Charger -- two similar cards (in the same set) with one being standout better than the other.  Also, this card has a major drawback of not being able to be played on Demons, which is going to limit either your deck construction or play opporatunities.
Fearsome Foe
Sometimes you can pull a trick with this card, but a lot of the time, it just means a resource character gets in the way while the real interception happens elsewhere.  It only really becomes useful when opponents have only one possible interceptor, but that's pretty rare for good targets.
Fo Shen
Bleech -- it's a bummer to see such an important story character relegated to such a useless card.  Even in the Eunuch deck, White Disciple is way better.  Although I did once see an Identity Chopshop used to turn Fo Shen into a Useless Eunuch Sorcerer...
Gloating Laughter
This is a strong candidate for the worst version of Training Sequence yet award.  Limited states are just going to clog up your hand.  Sure,. you play one copy in a eunuch deck, but that's it.
Hell Charger
Whoa Nellie!  Keeping with the new standard of Sword of the Master, this state packs some punch for your power, and is a nice surprise in any deck.  In my experience, the heal 2 damage is almost as good as regenerate. and turning to change location makes sure that you are making the decisions when it comes to intercepting.
Legion of the Dammed
I've tried the Legion a couple of times, but they've never quite payed all the bills they could.  The Lotus have a lot of choices in the 3 cost range, and this falls short of a few others.  Still, if you're crazy, you can try Legion and Walking Corpses in a Dragon Throne deck, using the designator undead.

Blue Mandarin
I think this will be a sneaky go for the win card, and if your opponents are smart, they wont leave it in play for very long.  Blue Mandarin and a superleaper is pretty much going to get through any defense.  Of course, Blood of the Valiant will do almost the same thing, and as a surprise, so maybe this card wont see much play after all.
Defiant Bloom
This card has proven to be surprisingly useful every time I've gotten it into play.  Like Shield of Pure Soul, I think this edge is going to become a staple in every Hand deck, letting character heal a point mid-attack as well as keeping those Puzzle Gardens neat and tidy.
Fist of Freedom
A 3 cost 6 damage hitter is a real deal, but this version is a lot harder to pull off than it looks.  The Hand lacks in persistent character removal, but I can see the occasional Wing of the Crane to support the Fist.  I think this card is going to become more of a backup in the Black Flag Rebel deck, where it's fighting gets pumped, although I'd give serious consideration to playing Rebel Consumers first.
Master Gardener
Like Blue Mandarin, this card provides some utility, but it's very fragile.  One nice thing is that it prevents Whirlpool wars, but it's still an iffy choice to rely on unless you can protect him.  I much prefer Void Sorcerer, who has more tricks up his sleeve.
Master Hao
Master Hao can be a beating stick, especially if you can drop a tasty little damage state on him.  Be prepared to put up some defense, as he has a big target painted on his head.  Note that he has the hefty 4 resource requirement, making him much more balanced than the Broken Monkey.  His ability is a little like Ambush if you think about it.
Rebel Consumer
3-cost foundations have to meet the very high bar of being useful both early and late game, and these guys clear it.  Not only do they provide Chi, but they smack for a serious 6 damage if you are behind (and even more with Rigorous Discipline.  Unlike the Fist of Freedom, this rebel is good enough to see play both in and outside of the Black Flag deck.  It also works well with all of the Hands non-FS power generating sites to keep the ability active.  DF has only been available in limited quantities, and I've already ran into my first Rebel Consumer deck, and it was a good start for a deck archetype.
Shaolin Agent
Now I can definitely say this guy is a blast.  It's about the closest thing to Walking Corpses that I've seen in a while.  They really can get very big very fast (my record is +7 for a total of 9 Fighting the turn I played one).  And they work unreasonably well with Rigorous Discipline.  Maybe this guy will be the core of the amazing Swamp/Motorcycle/Agent deck -- who knows?
Superior Mastery
Gak -- compare this to Defiant Bloom, and scratch your head.  One power for an edge that does almost nothing.  I can think of two reasons to play this card -- you've run out of Confucian Stabilities, so you are having to play Fortune of the Turtle, or you are using it as a trick target to save your Shield of Pure Soul from their edge removal.
Yung Chang
Compared to all the sub-par Hand hitters we saw in Shaolin Showdown, this guy looks to be broken!  Seriously, this card has some potential if you can keep the site he targets in play (and under your control).  Since he can heal sites, you just might be able to do that.  And keeping him alive isn't all that hard for the Hand, who excel in defense.  It might be fun to save him from some nasty event (say a Neutron Bomb) by hitting him with Wing of the Crane -- not only does he come back, but he gets to pump another site's power generation.

Battlechimp Potempkin vNEW
I don't how playable the new Battlechimp is.  The old one was strictly for fun and bad combos, but I did play it from time to time.  I'll have to wait on a ruling, but if you can use his ability in conjunction with Genocide Lounge, he has some potential by allowing you to recycle your 1 cost events.
I expect to see a few Battle-Matic decks cropping up, as this card looks reasonably strong, and makes other cards like Motorcycle add up (especially with Jack of all Trades).  It's uncommon, so you are going to have to keep your eye out for them.  Costing 1, this vehicle isn't the best for a Motor Pool deck, but what the heck, you can't get everyting.
Big Macaque Attack
Well, a monkey resource character is going to make a lot of theme deck players happy, but I've found this guy a little on the weak side, preferring Portal Jockies, Just and Another Consumers and even Resistance Squads over it.  Note that he only pumps on Monkey characters, so a lot of your apes and simians are doing nothing.
Borrowed Nuke
See Dragons.
Close Call
If you didn't have a reason to play Genocide Lounge before, you sure have it now with two good 1-cost Jammer events in this set.  There isn't much to this one -- play it, and do some crazy damage redirecton.
Dump Scrounger
I've been generally disappointed by Junkyard Crawler in this cost spot, and this looks to be a decent card to give the Jammer a tech boost (not to mention some alternate power generation).  Mid game it's also going to improve your In Your Face Again chances, if you're going that route.
FAE Schwartz
I don't know about your environment, but this card is basically a 3-cost 3-point Napalm Sunrise, that you can only play targeting yourself.  You are hoping to pull off some sort of trick to increase his fighting, but that is just going to flush more power down the drain.  If you absolutely have to blow stuff up, take a look at Borrowed Nuke (or even Parting Gift, which does some nice damage)..
Free Fire Zone
Dunno about this card -- if you are smoking a bunch of sites, I guess it could be okay, but that is going to lead to a bogged down game.  And it's definitely not what I want in a 1-cost Battleground site.
Funky Monkey
pimp  (pmp)
One who finds customers for a prostitute; a procurer.
Jack of All Trades
Jack has some serious potential.  Not only are you going to be fishing out your Homemade Tanks, you are going to be getting a much needed Tech boost in your Jammer decks.   It's going to be a real drag when your opponent starts fishing out Shadowy Mentors, so kill this guy asap.  It will be interesting to see just how good a 1-c tech provide for the Jammers is.
Jury-Rigged Dynamo
With this card, you are trying to gain an advantage in the Battleground ping pong, but I've found in reality, this card never works.  Any smart opponent is either going to go straight for it and take it out, or is going to wise up and start doing your worst nightmare, smoke your Battleground sites.  Too bad this card doesn't go crazy with Bull Market, or it might have some serious potential (you only get to turn it or unturn it once, since the timing is too short).
King Kung
Here we have a big dumb ape, with a slight chance to take two sites in one attack.  I know it's hard to pull off, but this guy looks like he's just made to be played with Too Much Monkey Business.  Like the OrangoTank, I think this card will just wind up in monkey theme decks.  Watch out for leaving a vulnerable site -- it's very easy to take a front row with leaving the back row beaten up from the splash damage.  Also, since King enters combat, he is going to get munched on by a back row Temple -- how is that for a bummer?
Major Hottie
Here we have an okay utility character for the Jammers, if you can keep characters in play.  Sort of like the old Battlechimp, Major Hottie can help out your weenie horde. Works well with Portal Jockies first turn (ambush), and works okay with temporary characters from In Your Face Again.
Parting Gift
This card could become a major annoyance, especially if it's being played for 0 power with Genocide Lounge.  The idea use it to end a turn by making a feint attack in which case your attack is smoked by interceptors, only to do some boomage.  This is a great use for throwing away those resource characters mid-game.
SAM Simian
Another Walking Corpses wannabe, I've found SAM just to be a little too limited for my tastes.  You might want to think about a Dark Traveler deck with these guys to try and smoke a few extra sites, but these guys are just so fragile (they always get intercepted for 2 damage to smoke them at the end of the turn), that it never quite works as intended.
Simian Sneaker
This is the best new monkey card in the set, and looks to make the deck more viable.  Or, you could be going the Battleground route, in which case your opponents are just about forced to smoke any BG site they reduce to 0 (which you are planning on).  Turtle Island is another site you are going to infuriate opponents with in a Sneaker deck.  Don't forget this card's return to play ability -- I like to keep them on top of my Smoked pile so I don't forget about it.

Battle Cry
This is a nice alternative to Shattering/Discerning Fire, and can pack in a little bit of damage.  Still, it's somewhat limited in scope, and has to compete with the two new 0-cost Monarch events in this set.  This one will take a little time to sort out.  If you are playing mono-Monarchs, Shattering Fire just might be a little better, but if you are going Mon/Jam, this might work okay (for Mon/Arc, you have the better 1-c Architect events).
Dark Sacrifice
Yikes!  This card can be evil, especially if you have a little excess power to burn.  And if you haven't figured it out, this card is near obscene if you can get a couple of Darkness Priestesses in play.  Sounds like another deck to make with Inauspicious Return.  For added juice, play with cards that are going to make your opponent lose power -- Mole Network followed up by Dark Sacrifice is just plain nasty.
Ice Sorceress
In my opinion, this is a pretty junky card. You can do a few tricks with it, but small characters like this are too fragile to pull much off with.  The best you can hope for is to smoke a few sites by temporarily pumping their body -- not my favorite winning strategy.
This card is just gross.  Not because it's overpowered, but because it has the potential to slow the game to a crawl.  I've played the deck with 5 of them, and it pretty much guarantees that the game will drag on.  It's a natural in the darkness Battleground deck, and you can hose someone's turn when they go for an easy Battleground pickoff to generate power if they don't have independent characters.  Look to see this a lot.
Thunder Swordsman
Blah... a mediocre addition to the Thunder Knight deck at best.  Butterfly Knight is just way better, and Swords just suck in comparison to the good stuff you want to be playing like Shotguns.  And even if you are playing swords, you will probably want to put them on your B-Fly Knights over Thunder Swordsmen anyways.  And, you are going to mostly likely want to fetch B-Flies with your Thunder Squires too, since they don't need a state to hit for 6.

Arcane Scientist
While not exceptional, it beats out Eunuch Underling and Instrument of the Hand in the 2-cost Talent foundations.  In a pinch (say you are short on Feng Shui Sites) this can help out, and it's also a slight chance to draw some denial late game.  I don't think I'll be playing these much in multifaction decks that share 1-cost foundation that provide magic (i.e. Architects, Lotus and Monarchs).
Chi Reconfiguration
To make use of this card, you need some Feng Shui in your smoked pile, which either means you are playing a Dark Traveler deck, or someone's gotten a burn in on you (which is not the best).  Unfortunately, the site you want to get back the most is Temple of the Angry Spirits, which has a higher chance of being seized that most other sites.  You can also try and combo this with Entropy Sphere, but that's a lot of work to get your own FSS smoked if you aren't playing any other combo.
Deja Vu
While paying +1 power for an Event can be pricey, it does have it's uses.  Imprisoned and Operation Killdeer are two that jump right out, but there are others.  Note that the timing rules don't allow you to play cards like Entropy Tap with Deja Vu.  Another multifaction card to consider.  You also can't replay One-Shots.
Entropy Sphere
This is the Purists staple event take out.  While not exceptional, it can work with Dark Travelers and sometimes will foil attacks by removing the target.  You can also try tricks with toughness sites or face-down City Parks.  It's probably better than Shattering Fire, but I'll really have to remember to take notes as to how many magic resources I have in my pool every time I play Sphere just to be sure.
Entropy Tap
This is a difficult card to get a good feel for.  It's really good when it works, but more often than not, it just clogs up your hand.  Big sites are a must -- 6 Body power sites tend to fall in one swift attack, leaving you cursing your Taps in hand.  Think about some big 8+ body sites if you want this to work.  It doesn't replace Pocket Demon, but rather supplements it.  This will change the way games are played I think -- people will be a lot more hesitant to attack someone with resources for Entropy Tap in their pool.
Esteban Vicente
A solid card, expect to see Esteban in most Purist decks.  Remember that you can target yourself to fix up your Feng Shui Sites if you've been taking a beating.  He is great at moving those Whirlpools to an unprotected front rank, not to mention he moves those nasty Temples out of the way.
Hexagram Spirit
Since the Purists lack in hitters, Hexagram Spirit is going to see some play.  While you can combo with Covert Operations, if you know your opponents well, you should be able to generate power most of the time.  And if this guy lives to make a second attack, you are almost guaranteed a power.  Don't over look the rare situation where you can make the big score by pumping the power gain with Mutator.
Inoue Oram
Inoue is a lot of bother to generate a few extra points of power, and expect opponents to usually get her off the board fairly fast.  Not really sure how playable she really is.  Note that she does work with Pocket Demon, unlike Zen Logician.
Memory Palace
Very iffy -- this card sort of lets you draw 5 cards for 1 power, but you have to wait until your next turn.  It also gives up your element of surprise with any cards you put on the table.  This card might find its way into decks that have increased hand size, but otherwise is not very useful.  If you like to intimidate your opponents, you could play this card and plop down a hand full of death, but I usually find this gives away too much to your opponents, letting them play around the face up cards.
Memory Spirit
This is a trick card, and just not that good when you pull of the trick.  You are hoping to nail someone with <4 cards in their hand with a Curtain of Fullness, but even if you do, this card becomes a 3-for-5, which is still not the greatest.  I think you can get more mileage out of Void Sorcerer.  The obvious deck to make is one with Paper Trail, but for people who like to punish themselves, make the Six Bottles Hwang Memory Spirit deck, it's a sure winner.
Misery Totelben
Don't ask me, I have no clue what to do with this card...
You always have to be thinking when this card is in play, since there are so many things it can do.  To sum it up -- combat wise, it's a 4-for-7 non-unique, that often can generate a power in addition.  You will want to pack a few cards that let you use the ability on other players turns.  Monkey House is a good example, but there are a ton of them.  Purist Sorcerer (not to mention Hermes and Malachi) are also no-brainers.  In multiples, you can do some crazy stuff.
Nexus Tower
I'm not sure about the Tower yet, it's a little pricey, but does count towards victory, and does let you do some tricks.  The obvious one is Malachi and Hermes -- this gives you a second chance to keep them in play.  I need to play with this more to see if it's any better than the ArcanoTowers.
Paradox Divination
I'm not a fan of Paradox Divination -- early game it's a waste of power, and even late game, my decks are usually full of only good cards, so I like drawing all of them.  And don't forget that eventually you're going to have to draw into that pocket of cards you put on the bottom anyway.  I think if I need a little deck manipulation, I'm gonna try Far Seeing Rice Grains first.
Portal Nexus
Strong strong strong.  It keeps your Temple front row, with the added benefit of giving +3 Body to a potentially weak site. It also makes sure your Waterfall Sanctuary is where you need it.  Note that it's too lake to switch a Blessed Orchard front row and gain a power if the attack has already been declared.  I think this will be a staple in Purist decks that are trying to maximize site effectiveness.
While Primus may not be as versatile as the Mutator, he does have is place in most Purist decks.  His ability doesn't last long, but it can be quite powerful, completely shutting down one player's hand.  If you've seen a few hands with Hexagram Spirit, you might have a clue on target, but otherwise, use common sense -- who has power?  And who has resources to play that event that is going to hose you?  (usually Architect or Ascended).  Of course in dueling, the choice is obvious, and probably going to be good.

For those of you with promos, here is the final text:

Unique. When Primus enters play, target an opponent, who cannot respond with Events :: Target player cannot play cards this turn.

Purist Aspirant
While there are a few other sources you will see from time to time, this card's main stoppage will be Final Brawl.  Not always useful, but what do you expect on a 1-cost foundation?  You are always playing 5 Acolytes over Aspirants, but a few sprinkled in with the Arcane Scientists are a good round out for the Purists (remember these guys don't provide Magic).  
Purist Initiate
5 in every Purist deck.  Period.  See Purist Strategy for more details.
Quantum Sorcery
I love this card -- it really gives the Purists an edge in power generation (ow, bad pun).  While not quite a Family Estate, it does provide a similar role by letting you get a rebate on a character (and every turn, too!). Another reason to play Initiates over Acolytes.  
Rhys Engel
Rhys *is* the hitter for the Purists -- no ifs, ands or buts.  5-for-9 is an acceptable ratio, and his ability to cancel a Feng Shui site is going to counter a lot of popular denial.  Don't overlook that you can use his ability on every players' turn, giving you a chance to filter out some cards that might be clogging your hand.  
Temporal Realignment
This is another card that the jury is still out on -- mid/late game, it lets you fill your deck up with power cards, while reducing the percentage of Foundations.  Probably best in a two faction deck, where you have a stock of overpowered 0-cost events like Killdeer.  If you can pull this off with Paradox Divination, you might find yourself on easy street (unless your opponent is playing the Fo Shen Evil Twin deck, in which case you are doooooomed!)
Void Sorcerer
While not great, this card isn't the worst, either.  While the obvious use is to shut down an opponent's power site, don't overlook targeting your own sites.  Primeval Forest might actually be playable in a Purist deck.  If you're crazy, you can play Void Sorcerer targeting your face-down Proving Ground, reveal it (it doesn't turn), suicide your Sorcerer into an opponent's character, and then play another character with the Proving Ground.
Zen Logician
Another sort of iffy card, along the lines of Inoue Oram.  Most likely worse, since it doesn't combo with Pocket Demon.  Still, dropping one second turn with a Proving Ground could be a turbo start -- I need to try and make the deck.  In the Turbo deck, you are going to want Amulet of the Turtle to protect these guys, as they will be target number 1.

No new Chi cards in this set.

Chaos Spirit
This guy is just plain crazy, and don't expect him to last too long.  You can play with cards to minimize the damage he inflicts like Dragon Mountain or, believe it or not, Family Home, which does okay in the back row with a Chaos Spirit in play.  These guys get deadly in multiples.  A deck idea I've been toying with is a Hand/Purist deck with Chaos Spirit, Festival of Giants and Rig Dis just to go nuts.  I think these guys have several decks in them.
Energy Flail
Yeah yeah, it is crazy on the Duodenum, but that's about it.  Most of the time, this card is worse than a Pump-Action Shotgun, and way worse than a Fusion Rifle.  While it does pump up Dr. Celeste Carter, so does I Ching...  Best leave this one in the box unless you find a better use for this card than I did.
Spirit Guardian
If it's an edge, and it's title starts with Spirit, you know it has to be bad.  At best, you are spending 1 power to do 3 damage per cycle of turns, and that's after having spent 2 power to get this turkey in play.  If someone has a good use for this card, please set it to me!  (yeah, yeah, Twisted Gardens all the way).

IFF Missiles
This card can be surprisingly effective when used against and opponent who doesn't have a crazy theme deck.  The secret of this card is timing -- you are almost always going to want to play it during an attack, where you are going get a lot of favorable (for you) interceptions to finish off the damaged characters.  I think experimenting with one of these in a deck with Tech but no Architects is the way to go (Architects have better 1-cost events).  IFF is Identify Friend or Foe in case you were wondering.
Jet Pack
Woohoo -- Tech Training Sequence -- just what we needed.  This is the type of coin-flip card I really dislike -- it really can reduce the outcome of a game to a coin flip.  And the penalty if you loose is harsh.  You don't even want to play this in the Motor Pool deck since it only costs 1 power.
Marauder Gang
Here we have an example of a pretty un-stellar character.  While 2-for-3 is a deal, the Tech requirement of this card slows it down too much.  You're always picking Hacker and Portal Jockey for the 2-cost slot in the Dragons and Jammers, so it leaves the Architects as the last refuge of the Gang, and even there, it just doesn't seem like you want to play them.  Definitely not Walking Corpses, but might be okay in a janky Proving Ground deck.  You are pretty much always going have to use them in your first attack of the turn, so they are limiting in that manner as well.
Marauder Lord
Two Tech is slow for everyone but the Architects, who have CHAR to compete with in the same slot.  I'm thinking $10K Man is probably a notch above this guy, as he's gotta live 3 turns to start being something of note.  You could try him in a Back for Seconds deck, but at that point there are just better things you are wanting to unturn.
Mark IV Fusion Rifle
Yeah, it's a reason to be playing with Dump Warriors, but then you are playing with Dump Warriors.  I recommend sticking with plain old Fusion Rifles, as the early game speed makes them more versatile than the Mark IV with the extra point of damage.  Sure, you get the neat trick of pinging for 6 when you get Killdeered, but that's bordering on unlikely.
Newest Model
Definitely cool on a lot of vehicles and a few guns.  Homemade Tank becomes insane, and it's 0-cost Waterfall protection.  You need to watch the balance of your states, and I still haven't come up with the perfect ratio for Newest Model.  ArcanoTank is another benefactor of Newest Model.
Replacement Parts
This is probably the best version of Training Sequence, but it's still Training Sequence.  +4 Fighting is actually really good when you can pull it off, but it does have a high opportunity cost.  This is sort of a one-of in a deck as a surprise, and beware Discerning Fire if you wind up with multiple Cyborgs in play.  It might also be worth considering in those decks where you use +fighting until end of turn effects (and your opponents are savvy enough to make sure that character dies) -- an example might be a Bronze Sentinel deck, since they always get intercepted for 2 damage to smoke them at the end of the turn.
Spit and Bailing Wire
This card could prove to be one of the strongest in the set.  Returning an important state to play after interceptions (say it was smacked by a Waterfall) can get in some serious damage.  I see Buro Godhammers as a big target for this.  This card's biggest problem is that it is an anti-combo with Tank Warfare and the new Battle-Matic.  Note the goofy combo with Jack of All Trades -- you can keep recycling your Motorcycles to draw Homemade Tanks.  Note that this is stopped by Hacker, which is a real bummer.
Motor Pool
This is going to likely be one of the defining cards of Dark Future, enabling a bunch of new decks centered around Vehicles.  Homemade Tanks just might be getting out of control.  This card just might be strong enough to see an increase in Field of Tentacles.  As always, watch out for the Waterfalls.  You are going to get the most mileage out of 2+ cost Vehicles, so Battle-Mattic doesn't get a real boost from Motor Pool.
No Man's Land
This card is pretty much anti-Killdeer, and just not that great at even that.  Battleground sites are already too good, so I expect to see mostly see these 'one-ofs' for Battleground theme decks.  Note that it only works on opponents' effects, so no Scrappy Kid madness.
Training Camp
Yes, this is as bad as it looks.  You can try to make a Soldier Battleground deck, but it's not going to hold up in all but the worst of playgroups (Hopping Vampires with Swords of Biting bad).  

Cataract Gorge
This is a somewhat deceptive site, and it looks better than it actually is.  Not that it's bad, it just rarely turns out to be that useful.  It works best in a heavy denial environment where you can try to draw it out with a feint attack and follow up with an Independent hitter. Unfortunately, that same environment is likely to cancel the Gorge with a Whirlpool or Hot Springs.
Coral Reef
With 8 Body, this card is respectable enough to see some play.  It's good in decks that like card flow to keep going, and might be a key in some Battleground decks.  It also looks to be decent with Sunless Sea Ruins to avoid getting in a frozen hand.  Turtles beware -- you aren't going to like this card because it might actually encourage some attacks.  If you have lots of gimmicky combos, this could be the card for you, but I think generally, I am going to include City Parks over this in most decks.
Hot Springs
Da Bomb!  Probably the best card in Dark Future, expect to see it in creeping into decks.  Good thing it's common.  The wording on this site is a bit odd -- "not affected by effects generated by other sites" is not the same as "not affected by other sites."  What this means is that there is a small subset of sites that have continuous abilities that laugh at Hot Springs, most notably Puzzle Garden.  If you have a deck that doesn't have a lot of turning sites that you need to protect with Whirlpools, I recommend using Hot Springs instead.  I am experimenting with 1 Hotsprings + 1 Whirlpool in most decks until I really get a feel for this card.
Identity Chopshop
While you won't be removing designators that often, I expect to see this site pop up in Cop, Hood and other designator driven decks.  Since you can only use it on your own characters, you can't use the designator hosers.  Note that Chopshop will stop stuff like Assassins in Love (since it effects *all* which is determined at resolution), but won't stop Discerning Fire since the designators only had to match at generation.  Adding a designator to one of your own characters to fuel a Discerning Fire might be another use of Chopshop.  
Mount Makarakomburu
First off, you really want to be playing Secret Headquarters over Mt. Monkeybutt -- while this card looks similar, it's not in the same league.  If you have 2 Secret HQs in your deck already and don't want to run Trade Centers, then maybe this card will do okay.  An exception where you might want to play this over Secret HQ is in a deck that has a lot of triggers off of your opponents seizing your sites (classic example is Gorilla Fighter).  Dropping this second turn isn't the speed increase that Secret HQ is, mainly because you are going to still have to pay 2 for your next FSS.
The Pinnacles
If you can attack *a lot* this site can make a little extra power for you, but it's often hit or miss.  And it's a real bummer when your opponent seizes your Pinnacles with two counters on it, which lets them put a third counter, gaining them a quick power.  I suspect this will mostly be seen in Scrappy Kid/Student of the Dragon heavy decks.  Also note that The Pinnacles doesn't require turning to place counters or generate power, so it might be an alternative to Gambling House and Monkey House in a very Whirlpool heavy environment.



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