Empire of Evil Review

If I have to sum up EofE, I would say it s the  recycled set  while there are a few new ideas, most of what is here is a slight retread on stuff we ve seen over the years. The biggest disappointment of the set is the Syndicate  what few playable cards they do get are mostly variations on existing cards, and are going to languish in the seldom played Syndicate  they would have been much better off in one of other factions.  Also, this is perhaps the worst set for playable promo cards that just aren t going to be available to the player base without a hastle.

I don t think there are any game changing cards in EofE, but there are plenty of cards that will see, as it s a very average set (not strong, not weak). It s a little light on cards that going to spawn new decks, too. I do think the art is best we ve seen in a while, so that s something going for it. Coalition is superb  out of a box and a half I got a complete set.

Sorry about the lousy formatting  my Front Page computer died.  If I find my 15 year old disks I might have a shot of getting it editable again, but I m not holding my breath.

The Architects of the Flesh

Abomination Serum
Here we have something mildly interesting; mainly because of the different ways it can be purposed. Sure, they want you to make it a juiced-up Shadowy Mentor in the BSD (Bad Scientist Deck) along with your DNA Mages et. al. but it can also be a little bit of punch-thru in a pinch if you need that extra Fighting (no, it s not Sword of the Master good). You can mix in the Purists for even more Scientists, or, if you want the ultimate jank, mix with Dragons and the Shamanistic Lt. for some toasty-toasty action. And don t forget to cry a Waterfall of tears when this gets washed away.

Alpine Squad
We ve come a long way from the Brain Eater, and this guy is about on the curve where you d expect it. I scratch myself at the no bonus from duplicate States clause, but I guess there could be a problem with some of the 0-cost ones (though most of them in this set are non-cumlative).At least they didn t make this Unique.While I guess the Squad is okay with Tanks, you don t want that deck because of the costs and no discounts.Godhammer is probably the Alpine Squads best friend, but Shuriken are bad, and Fingertip Razors look decent if you have the Tech. While not a stand-out card, I guess this can be a card build a deck around  Raptor Squad s drawback was too painful to make use of without Vivisectors, which nullifies playing States.. Maybe it s time to dust of Col. Richtmeyer and a Guard Tower or two.

Arcanowave Feedback
More sinister science for your DNA Mage with some mid-game game 0-cost damage. While it s not going to replace Imprisoned or Nerve Gas completely, I can see myself building a deck with 5 of these just to annoy the heck out of people. Your mileage is going to depend on your opponents  some decks just seem to be resource heavy so you are slapping your characters around. On another day you going to be made into Sushi by the White Ninja while holding a handful of Feedbacks. Don t overlook the mini-Green Strike possibility as AF can also target sites.

CDCA Spies
Generally when returning a card to your hand, you will either want an event with a low cost (as not to hose yourself of resources or preventing a Comeback). It just so happens that the Architects specialize in this. This is not a hugely fast or ramp character, but it just gives you a little bit of  psych advantage  maybe someone wont intercept it fearing what you ll return. Okay yeah, it s not very good, but maybe it can help out in some bad combo deck where you really need copies of cards you don t have as some insurance.

Combat Engineer
Rrrramp time.The restriction on this card is sort of on the lame side. I guess he has too much work to hang out with other characters. To be really cool, it would have to be a Probability Manipulator effect for all Tech cards, but I guess the wording on that would have been funky (for it to handle events, and cause potential problems with things that alter victory conditions). You know, if you re going the Tech route for your damage (OLS or Napalm Belcher), maybe a pair to give you some options is okay, but this is card that you won t always be happy to draw.

Commandant Barkhorn
While the card art has the Commandant in a Tank, he s more likely to be riding a motorcycle  think Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Time has shown that 4-for-7 Tactics just quite isn t good enough, so you have to do his trick to make worth the power. This is sort of an all or nothing card  when it works, it s cool, but when it doesn t, it s frownsville, population Barkhorn.

Dao Biotech Headquarters
I m kinda mixed on this site. It makes your resources a little beefier, adding to the threat potential. While rulings get fuzzy over the years, I m pretty sure that Arcano is a magic designator that splits words, so you get about 20 cards that you can get a discount on, some of which are fairly good (Researcher anyone?), though there aren t really any in EofE (Arcanowave Feedback is 0 cost). And with 3 resource conditions required, it makes it all that much harder to go out of faction to get some Scientists from the Jammers (or even Purists).

Desperate Measures
I like the idea of this card  not only will it give you a power boost, it can enable you to play some of the questionable 2 and 3 cost character and get a rebate in the case of an emergency.The best use of course to smack a site with a 3-coster, toast it, then play another copy and finish it off (so with your generic 3-for-4, this lets you get in 8 damage for 3 power).This generally works with the bold-faced abilities too, as they will let the character you plan to toast get through to their target when attacking so you can follow up. Best use ever for this is of course toasting your only character for the 3 power to drop a Neutron Bomb. Definitely a playable card, though you will have to make sure your deck enables it. Note that the Toast is a cost, which means your character will be bye bye when that Hacker shows up to stop you gaining power&

Dr. Hans Wulfjaeger
I m not wild about Hans, as the song would go if it existed. You are not playing him for the resources, so there s no early game for him. He s free if you get a rebate (which is not always guaranteed  sort of like buying something at Fry s Electronics with a rebate, you ll never know if you get it or not). Yes, he can pay off if he lives two turns and you are able to smoke something on both of those turns, but that s not always easy, and you may wind up spending all your efforts smoking questionable characters just to gain the power over trying to win the game or take down a real threat. You can go for unturning tricks, of which there are a couple in faction such as Buro Scientist or Dr. Ngubane, but outside of really trying to get mileage from the Scientist designator, are mostly hard to make work. Add a frowny because I m pretty sure Hans won t work with La Bamba (Neutron Bomb for all you noobs)  he s smoked at the same time, and once you get to resolution, you can t turn him for 2 power.

Evil Brain in a Jar PROMO
This card irks me because of its promo-scarcity. No, I don t think the Jar is a totally awesome card, but, the great thing about Shadowfist in comparison to other games is the RigDis factor  copying abilities onto other cards for the craziness that ensues. There are just way too many possibilities for executing jank with this card that, but if you just look in-faction in-set, this card would work with about half the Architect Characters, with Dr. Hans especially. Going out of faction and set gives you hundreds of potential interesting plays. Boo Promo on what should have been an Uncommon.

Gnarled Annihilator
While this doesn t jump out for much beyond Reinvigoration Process or possibly Rigorous Discipline, it s still a fine card. There seems to be one of the all-around-playable Architect characters in ever set like Holz from Critical Shift and Agent Tanaka from Sixguns.

NeoBuro Field Medic
The second Architect ramp this set is much more of a general purpose card than Combat Engineer. The Field Medic is pretty self explanatory  go gettem CHAR!New and improved with Guts. This is probably good enough to squeeze into any deck that doesn t rely on Gutsy hitters (of which the faction has quite a few now). Did I say CHAR with Guts yet? Hey, you can even make him a Combat Veteran.


Overzealous Assassins
Holy mini-Neutron-Bomb Boatman! This card redefines harsh. The first thing I need to remind everyone is of one of the golden rules of Shadowfist (as taught to me by Jose)  if it doesn t say Target, it doesn t Target. Gunman giving you problems? Time for some Overzealous Assassins. You will want to play this card much like La Bomba, which is to say, in a way where it hurts your opponent more than it hurts you. Where it s going to fall short is when your opponent is attacking with two big thugs (or has an independent hero is reserve) and is going to opt for a cease-fire before maximum carnage. But, even in that case, you ve got a 1-cost Nerve Gas with no masks or Target restrictions. If you re going for some oldschool jank factor, this will work like a charm in the Charmed Life deck  now you ll have more power to make your combo work. I don t think you can combo this with Buffalo Soldiers or The Seven  even though opponents are choosing characters, you still control the Event.



The Ascended

Compromised Security
Clearly whoever designed this card must think it s powerful for a 0-cost state, as it requires 3 resources, the same cost as Bull Market. Compromised Security seems generally reasonable if you want to gain power from your opponents ripping a site (cough Jellyfish). This will probably fairly well with a Pledged engine where you are cranking out characters  have them attack in waves and reap the power. While not as fun as some of the Ascended s power gain(Playing Both Ends anyone? Or how about the always tricky Ulterior Motives?), Compromised security seems pretty strong for gaining power. It also has a Grove of Willows jumpstart effect if you re willing to risk your own site (which is always going to trigger the extra damage  go go Dragon Mountain!).

Delaying Tactics
You all know I m a fan of Shaking the Mountain, and this card is sort of a StM, but it just doesn t quite grab me. It s not so much the loss of surprise on opponents turns as it is not being able to turn sites and the lack of the built in combo with Superleap for the Chi factions. Killdeer is probably going to serve you just as good for both denial and win potential.

Embrace of the Snake
It s hard to judge how useful this card will be, as it is going to depend on what your opponents are playing and how much they rely on boldface abilities. Is it going to be Raise the Roof when you take Tactics away from The General, or d oh? I think this card is way too delayed to be of great benefit  first you have to wait for a target to appear, then take a thumping from them, then Embrace the Snake, and then wait and see what happens on the target s controller s next turn.Remember that things like Unique and Uncopyable are restrictions, not abilities. And what s with the card title? It sounds like a bad Jim Morrison poem&

It seems vogue to put one new ReAscended in every set, and EoE is no exception. When paying 6 for a character, the bar has been set by the likes of the White Ninja or Ice Queen (just plain good) and Draco (good in a deck built for him).I am pretty sure this plays the same as Roar of the Beast on your turn outside of an attack  you should be able to play in response to an Event to cancel it (not that this is ever going to come up). So, how good is it? Smoking a card is worth 1-2 power depending on your target, so Horus does seem a reasonable deal, but you still have to have all that power up front. And the darn resource conditions restrict the decks you re going to play him in  I don t know, just probably more ReAscended jank for the janky ReAscended deck that is going to live and die by the staple Ascended Cards (Killdeer, Mentor, et. al.) and not the ReAscended themselves.

Hunger of the Jackal
This seems to be an all-around playable card at the cutting edge of the curve. I d say it probably close to Blue Cardinals Guards, which is very playable  it doesn t give you the extra damage potential, but you also don t have to invest extra power. And it will give you power for doing its tricks  don t overlook using Jackal to smoke Non-FSS to clear up the board. Now it s official, Tooth of the Snake is a coaster (okay, it was official about 10 years ago, but& ). And while he s not Pledged, the Jackal does have the interesting combination of Lodge and Hood designators, but isn t just plain sucky like Vincent "The Jackal" Benilli.

Red Tape Assault
This is some low-end punch-through, especially as a surprise. While this card has some funky working, I am assuming that  Cannot intercept until the end of the turn also means ceases intercepting, in which case this card isn t very good (knowing who can and can t intercept before declaring gives you less chance to sneak through). Red Tape looks to fit in with the Pledged engine, which will be providing you with the characters to turn to make sure this gets through.Combined with Stealth, you are pretty much assured of hitting your target.


Spy Network
This dirty trick is pure Evil (with a capital E!). How can you not love this card? The worst case scenario is that you get to spy out two cards (well, the worst-worst case is a Dragon Graveyard or Resistance Squad, but you can avoid them hopefully). Best case is that you nuke a pair of good cards and get some power.Tactically, you probably want to nail someone who you think it packing denial right before you go for a win. While it also combos with Paper Trail, it s already built in!

Tentacles of the Squid
While not totally squid-tastic, the Tentacles are okay and give you a rough core for a deck to build. Load up on a variety of cheap events (of which the Ascended have a ton) and go to town.

The Petrified Man
The Mercenaries have always been the red-haired step-child of the Ascended. Rocky is probably the best of the bunch, but still not enough to float my boat.There are a lot of good Netherworld sites, but if you turn them for the Petrified Man, you won t be turning them for their own abilities (yes, there are Netherworld sites that don t turn themselves, but you don t want to be playing them just to get around Petrified Man s limitation  you want to be playing them to make your entire deck better). Unlike the other abilities, Toughness is cumulative, so you can spend up to get crazy tough, but there may be better uses for that power than PM.

The She-Wolf
While I don t think is card is exceptional, I do find it quite interesting in that The She-Wolf has an ability that we haven t quite seen before. Of course you are going to want a couple of extra characters of note around (The Pledge aren t cutting it here) to join in on the attack.At 5-for-8, The She-Wolf is a threat to sites by herself, so you may wind up having lots of overkill. But then again, your overkill didn t turn, so what did it hurt you? And we all know the goodness of unturned characters in an attack  it s like a free trip to Sacred Heart. Also, you can go for extra jank points for throwing in characters with turning abilities.

I think we all know that Transformed Animals were pretty much DOA as a deck concept  they were all just too bad (not the mention The Pledged too good) to make the Darwinian standard. If your dense, The Whelps are pretty much meant to copy Stealth, or possibly Superleap if you build the deck right. I guess you can try and make all those terrible states work, but& no& just don t. These guys are probably worse than Rat Clan Spies, and how often do you play them?

Wisdom of the Owl
I can live with the Owl  she s a non-Pledged ramp that has a minor ability if you can keep her around for a turn. And, unless I m mistaken, this it the first 1-cost Lodge member, which gives a little more speed to a Draco deck, or possible to fuel Gray Mountain or one of the other cards that triggers off of Lodge.


The Dragons

Alexandre Chen
3-for-5 Independent with only 2 resource conditions? Top of the curve, but not anything really new. I don t know about the joining in for a power  it s gravy for sure, but I am thinking Alexadre is good bait for Rig Dis (preferably your own). There is also the gravy ambush, which might come in useful (or detrimental if you are playing Demons, Spirits and Ghosts and he gets taken away). Also an obvious combo with Is That All You Got?!?But I get you knew that.


Brave Villagers
Yeesh, what were they thinking? I guess they were thinking all of the existing Dragon foundations are so good, why not add another at the top. At least they stopped the Inauspicious Return madness, but still. About the only drawback to Brave Villagers is having to play them when your opponents have no characters in play (such as if you are going first in a game), but that is a pretty small price to pay for the relative power of getting a potentially free foundation. And clearing out stuff early game makes other people better targets than you, which is almost always good.

Equal Opportunity Butt-Kicking
This is a fine card that I would expect to see a reasonable amount of play  think of it as The Big Brawl. I think EOBK is more defined by what it doesn t do than what it does. It s not splashable, stackable or recursable. It s not a replacement for Final Brawl either, but an augmentation. Like Brawl, Toughness and Guts help you get around the damage to some degree.

It took me a while to figure out this card  as far as I can tell, it s a mini-Death-O-Rama between two characters.It s going to let an interceptor take out someone twice its size. I think the best use may be between two different opponents characters entering combat, but even then, since this is a mainly defensive card, it s kinda iffy. If you re using it for takeout with a character you control, you ve pretty much spent all the power of that character plus two card draws, which is likely to put you on the short side of the deal.

Heroic Converts
The potential goodness of this card is not is not its printed ability, but the fact that it provides Chi. At 2 cost, you are going to have to commit yourself to generating a little extra power and not brawling away your hard played talent-resource characters. So, just how good is Chi for the Dragons  okayish, but not the be all and end all. Now that I think about it, Kunlun Clan is probably a better option for splashing Chi than the Heroic Converts  how s that for a bummer?


Iron Jim Colson
Time for the Dragon thug checklist:

Mentor Protection? Yes
Site Protection? Yes
Temple of Angry Spirits Protection?Yes
Event Protection? No
Guts? Yes
Independent? Yes
Reasonable Resource Requirements? Yes

Iron Jim scores high enough to fit as a generic stick in any deck. Not too much to say beyond that. I guess that even makes him a top card, even if incredibly boring.

Nomad Army
Since you are generally only playing these when you are planning an attack (you do attack, don t you?), we ll just consider these to be a bargain resource basement 4-6 Toughness:1. Again, we are pushing the top of the curve, but not any new territory. Back For Seconds seems a natural threat with Nomad Army.

Preserving Chi
This seems out of place for the Dragons  sort of like Flying Kick, it seems like it should belong to the Hand.Well, that doesn t bother me, but having the Chi resource requirement does. Is it really needed? I think it s going to keep this potentially powerful card from seeing much play.Since redirection is always tricky, you have to be on top of when and how you play Preserving Chi. Sure, you can jank it up with Dragon Mountain or Bamboo Forest, but figure you are going to be smoking your own sites  this is not always bad -- again it requires some planning and timing (think of Entropy Sphere).

Secret Warrior Training Base
I m not so sure this card has a lot of goodness in it (but I could be wrong). It does stand out as power generating Battlegound Site, which is nice to see. And it works in the back row and doesn t give power for being seized. Not too many tricks for the SWTB  play a card, attack. Works well with Inauspicious Return (but doesn t everything?).

Shang Bojing PROMO
Here s another playable promo to cheese everyone off. Well, sort of. It s a reasonable hitter that is truly multi-faction, which make Shang very versatile, especially to new players who don t have a backlog of cards. While there have been a few cards to try and do stuff with the Rebel designator, Shang doesn t really add anything. And he s a poor target for Rig Dis to boot.

The Blood of Heroes
Everyone likes a little extra power, but I don t think Blood quite makes the cut, as you are likely to have to take out a better card to fit it in (such as Violet Meditation or DWG). On the Dragon site, they have traditionally been light on Edges, which goes well with the amazing hoser Thunder on Thunder. And while the Hand is a bit more Edge friendly, they just have better cards.And did I mention that this card may do you nothing at all if an opponent comes out with more characters biting the dust? And Limited is the final nail.

The Spirit of Kongxiangshi
While technically a very playable card, again we are seeing nothing new with Kongxiangshi  he s just a bigger Rev. Paine. I wish I had more to say, but it s all been said before.


Eaters of the Lotus 

Abysmal Behemoth
Here we see the next bump in the power of States  this is part of what I call the Waterfall Effect. Shadowy Mentor was too good, so they printed Waterfall Sanctuary, which hosed pretty much all States. So they printed better States (this was the 2-cost 3 Fighting + ability generation such as Sword of the Master) to offset how often they got washed away. The latest round in EofE changes the formula a bit  now we get 2-cost 4 Fighting with a drawback. The Behemoth is a generally playable card, should work pretty well with the Vehicle Sites  Chop Shop, Motor Pool, and even the Junkyard. I think there is an interesting variation of the Walking Corpses + Proving Grounds deck here  add in Behemoths and Motor Pools, and churn out those Pocket Demons to get your 0-cost 8 Fighting thugs.

Drowning in Blood
Here we have an interesting variation on some 0-cost takeout, that is going to take a lot of help to make it work. I think Drowning in Blood falls more in the category of a denial card than a go for the win card  you will want to have players pile on with their foundations during interception to stop a win if you go that route. If you want to be more pro-active, then make sure you are running some Inauspicious Returns (which are already doing, correct?). Hrm&  Now we have a 2-card 1-cost takeout engine (for 9 damage)  that seems like 1 card to many. Another route to go with be mixing Drowning in Blood with the Dragons  now you have Final Brawl to pump up your damage, or if you want to be crazy, you can throw in Carnival of Carnage for ultimate carnage.

Hell Hound
There have been a couple of different attempts at  guard characters, and like the previous ones, Hell Hound falls flat too. In general I don t like the persistent choice mechanic  while you can generally track which character was chosen, it requires extra marking and bookkeeping, especially if you get multiple Hell Hounds or multiple copies of the target.If had my way, this card would read  Mobility. Choose a character when this card enters play. The chosen character is not affected by opponents Events Now that would be something possibly useful enough to play. As it is, I don t think Hell Hound is really worth the 2 power.

Imperial Sycophants
Here we have another fine 1-cost foundation that seems like you can get some fun out of. Text: No Max. When you pay 3 or more Power to play a Unique Character, First off, if it didn t jump right out at you, this is the first (and only) 1-cost Eunuch foundation. This should do a reasonable job motivating you to dust off all those old Eunuch combo cards to play with the Sycophants. Another thing to try with them is playing hand-size increasing cards, so that when you meet their trigger condition, you have a better chance of having a few in hand. And while Imperial Boon is always risky, Inauspicious Return on Imperial Sycophants will net you +2 power, so add that to the jank score.

Infernal Army
It s big. It s mean. It s a site-taking machine. I am pretty sure Infernal Army plays almost the same as Anastasia, but it always has to heal itself, so the Army is a little less versatile. For some Jank factor, you can play Box of Bones since the Army is likely to heal. If you give the Infernal Army Mobility, you are stopping up a lot of the board, and are sure to draw the ire (and not to mention zappage) from your opponents.

Prefect's Guard
The Lotus has flirted with Cops before (mostly the ba-roken Underworld Tracker), and now with a decent foundation, it s time to dust off your Police Stations and other cop combos.The sacrifice ability is reasonable  it gives you a reason to drop Prefect s Guard late game and punch through to a site. And before you start salivating, remember that Inauspicious Return has that  can t be sacrificed clause on it.

The Alabaster King
I am the Alabaster King  I can do anything!Well, not really (that was another Jim Morrison reference if you didn t get it), The Alabaster King isn t a bad card, and can thrown into most decks that have an assortment of Lotus Unique characters. Think of the King as another Silver Jet. And unlike Her Majesties Secret Warrior, you don t have to build the deck around him.

The Alabaster Palace
Here the Lotus gets an in-faction Secret HQ that s also a FSS, with a non-hoser version of the Monkey King. I guess you are playing this as a counter to Mentor and other take control effects as a latch ditch effort. The old Monkey King deck bounced Walking Corpses, so you can do tricks like that with the Alabaster Palace  you can also get back some of your better States and replay them in a pinch. The in-set combo is with the Alabaster King  unfortunately you can t do a sneaky unturn trick by returning the King in response to a zap on another unique getting zapped  there is no window to response once the scene starts resolving.

The Withering of Souls
Hrm& a really conditional three character mini-zap. I m not sure about this one. I suspect this is the card for those groups that have a lot of waxy character buildup, so it has its place. This card should play a lot like Chain Lighting from a few sets ago  hard to pull off sometimes, but it has the potential to put the hurt on one of your opponents. Note that you can stack The Withering of Souls to get around the restriction  you play the second in response, and you can choose the same characters, even if the 3 damage from the first Withering would smoke it.

Under the Knife
I guess this card has to have an onerous resource condition to make it not be early game 0-cost 1 Fighting resource character takeout. I guess it keeps you from ripping an early site with a 2-cost foundation, too.And unless you have Guts, remember that this is only net +3 damage, not +4. Another way to look at this is as a Lotus Godhammer  Godhammer is a great card, and I think someone is going to find a way to make Under the Knife work out, especially at 0 cost.


Underworld Coronation
Boom. Did we really need another Bomb? With 4 Lotus resources required, it s a late game card, and generally it s going to be better than Neutron Bomb when you pull it off, as you can save one of your own characters. The case in which it s bad is of course if someone else Bombs, then drops a character for the win, but that s just life. At least with Underworld Coronation being a One-Shot, you won t see too much cheese around it, but it does make a good surprise addition to any mono-Lotus deck.

Unholy Legionnaires
Here we see another recursion card for the Lotus. First off, I don t think the Legionnaires are a great deal if don t have a reasonable chance of getting the bonus from a Sorcerer  they are not BuroMil Grunts (which sets the standard for 1-cost 2-Fighting goodness). The  exactly one clause keeps you from getting them all back at once, but the return clause is pretty liberal (end of an attack when an opponents character was smoked). One thing this card does have going for it is that Unholy Legionnaires can be sacrificed (something that most recursion characters cannot), so you may be able to get some tricks going there. Also, the resource requirement is low enough that you can try for a turbo start (using the  from hand part of the ability)  if your aggressive, play a 1-cost Foundation and take out another  then you can drop a 2-Fighting Legionnaire and follow up. Or, if you re more a pacifist, wait for two opponents to duke it out before dropping these guys, and hopefully you will have 4 Fighting + offense available on your second turn (the 1-cost you played was a Sorcerer, right? I ve always been a fan of Feast of Souls, and it seems that it would be a good way to power up the Unholy ones. While I was kinda unimpressed by this card at first, maybe it has just enough combo-juice going for it to make its way into a few different decks. And remember, giving the goofy designator rules, Sorceress matches Sorcerer.

Xin Ji Yang
The would be Queen is a resource heavy thug with a built in Hosed! Of all the bold-faced abilities, I have found Regenerate to be one of the weakest  sometimes it s even a disadvantage. If there is a heavily damaged character that is about to regenerate at the start of your turn, you will often find that it has made allies of your opponents, and they will work together to take that character out before it regenerates. As for the Hosed!, it s fairly conditional on Xin Ji Yang, requiring you (and your opponents) to have Demon and Undead Cards in play (it is nice that it counts all). And the trigger is cards, not characters, so you can possibly try out the Demon Sites and States (though none of them are spectacular). Recursion is probably your best bet if you want to trigger the Underworld Queen, with some standouts being Underworld Tracker (DisFire warning!), The Destroyer, and of course Inauspicious Return (which adds the Undead designator). Hrm&  a triple Hosed! for 1 power sounds kinda fun& .

Xin Ji Yang PROMO
The promo version of the Underworld Queen falls in to the Chin Ken/Prototype X category of thugs  big with no real ability. And while Xin Ji can get bigger, she can also get smaller really really fast, and probably suffers the worst in a Final Brawl. Why does it seem that I always have to mention Inauspicious Return with what seems to be every other card? Well, IR gives her +6 Fighting when you get back your Sycophants, giving you the way thuggish deal of a (fragile) 5-cost 12-Fighting hitter.


The Guiding Hand

Blue Master
We got a snooze fest here. There are just a bazillion more cards to play over this (over-resources) Master. Yes, he s going to be getting through against those heavy designator decks, but you are likely to be falling asleep. Don t get me wrong, I love the Blue principal (attack attack attack!), but it just seems to work a bit better on the lesser version, the Blue Monk. About all this card has going for it is that it s better than Shaolin Master, and the fact that it s uncommon so it does give new players some extra thugs if they re playing Hand.

The Blood of Heroes
See Dragons

Blue Meditation
This seems to be fairly formulaic as to what you d expect from the Blue principle (and it s not too bad either).What I think makes good design about this card is that it s offensive without a defensive counterpart  compare it to Operation Killdeer: It removes an interceptor (but doesn t give you the opportunity to smoke it with damage), but it s not going to save your bacon at all when someone is going for the win  Blue Med is much more in balance on the power scale.

Difficulty at the End of Things
This card seems kind of grim  good thing there are already two excellent cards (Confucian Stability and Secrets of Shaolin) it has to complete against for a place in your deck. Difficulty is classic Hand control, that lets you play power games with your opponents (they will never be sure if you re holding one, and may just keep a power in reserve at all times, slowing them down). One subtle advantage of Difficulty over Secrets is that you can drop the hammer on Pocket Demon and Violet Meditation, as this card can be played in the Establishing Shot. My biggest grip is the card title, as it s riffing beyond the original I Ching (or even movie quote from Big Trouble in Little China).


Liu Jian Lang
The Hand Eunuch almost seems too good to be true as an evil, evil hoser for recursion.To start with, he s got a good cost and resource condition for a mid-sized Superleaper  that right there is enough to play Lui.Add in the gravy toast, and you have a card you should play in every Hand deck  sure, you re not always going to be facing recursion, but you may be able to bump someone down to two resources if they haven t invested in a lot of foundation characters and have been relying on ramps. Also don t overlook toasting Events or States if you expect some of the less common recursion (the common being character recursion like Golden Comeback). For added evil, pair Lui Jian Ling with Mad Monk and make a schizophrenic deck!

Meditative Flight
It looks like the Hand finally got their Flying Kick back with a few perks and a small drawback. The big addition is a strong defensive component with Mobility (which can be thought of as a counter to Superleap), and a gravy bonus to damage (this is nice in a way as Meditative Flight could be used in a pinch to take a site or smoke a character). The Mobility and damage even sticks around for a bit, so you could get double or triple use from this card. The drawback is of course that you can t fly near a Waterfall. Oh, there is also another subtle drawback to Meditative Flight  it s designator. As far as I can tell, there is no card that would interact with a Shaolin State other than Discerning Fire, but even with that, this looks to be a versatile trick card that packing 1 or 2 of in a deck that doesn t already have Superleap built in to its characters should be a solid plan.


Mountain Monastery
It looks like the Monk deck (an idea that has been around since Limited) has gotten a little more juice. You can read elsewhere on the Secret HQ about my feelings on foundation Sites (summary: good stuff, Maynard), and this is one of the top. Even without the Monk junk, Mountain Monastery would be playable  not only does it provide a faction resource, but it gives a talent resource too! And there are plenty of Monks that fall into the  good stuff category that you don t have to fill up your deck with cruft if you want benefit. Shaolin Student, already a fine foundation, almost becomes a Grunt, and the Monastery also pumps up the staples of Buddhist Monk, Shung Dai, Wandering Monk, Shaolin Agent and Fist of Shadow.

Resistance in Numbers
Here s one for you turtles that like to hide in your shells. I think Resistance in Numbers is probably too narrow for us sharks to worry about.Taking the abilities in reverse order, you have a 0-cost Confucian for a very narrow set of cards  Disco Inferno, Orbital Laser Strike, Torch This Place, Artillery Strike, Blow Things Up, Booby Trap, Robust Feng Shui, Big Red Button, Discerning Fire on Battleground, Entropy Sphere, Killing Rain, Kunlun Clan Attack, Napalm Sunrise, Kick  em When They re Down, Mark of Fire, Life in the Fast Lane, Nuked, Operation Green Strike, Parting Gift and Revenge of the Patent Office.The most interesting combo there is with Entropy Sphere, but a lot of the time, removing that front row FSS can work in your favor. The second ability of Resistance in Numbers, giving a Site Toughness, is super turtly, requiring you to keep characters unturned. Yes, this can be used as denial to leave an extremely low body site on the board for you to take, but that is highly positional  it needs the player to your right to go for the win not against the player to their left (you).Who knows, maybe it s okay, but I think there are better shells for the turtle.

I think the Ghost Martial Artist has the best cost-to-fighting ratio in the game, but, is that good? I think it s just okay, as I think he has a hidden cost of 6 as you want to be holding a Confucian when you dropShihong.And, given the dual drawbacks, I think you are mostly going to want to play Shihong when you are making a bid for the win. While not great, I can see throwing one in a deck as a really big stick that can be good situationally.This card has the oddity of being the only Hand card to produce the Magic talent  in a way, this almost seems like a watered-down Seven Masters card.

Stoic Wanderer
Generally, you would never want to play this Monk over LuiJian Lang  at the same cost and resource conditions, the Honorable Eunuch always has Superleap and can hose certain decks right out of the box, while Stoic Wanderer is going to depend on your opponents not being versatile (sort of the anti-Orange Principal).To really take advantage of this card, you want to dust off your old Orange Senshei Chambers as Stoic Wanderer has the magic Orange designator. So now you have a Walking Corpses with conditional Superleap and Toughness  I m still not sold on the Wanderer, as it s opponent specific for the abilities, and that may be too limiting on your choices.

Strength of the Land
This Edge feels just about right  powerful, but you have to support it with a larger Site structure to make it work.This one is going straight into my questionable Hand/Purist Father of Chaos deck  it has Hand cards for control and extra Hand-size, and Purists for some goofy characters that interact with the increased size. Strength of the Land isn t for those really tight decks, but should help out those of us who like slightly more options and run decks in the 75 cards range.


Willow Warriors
Here is another card that s so good it cheeses me off. But, I guess at this point, there are enough 1-cost resource + talent providing foundations for the Hand that Willow Warriors won t make much of a difference. And they have a good ability that is usable all game long to spy out sites and divert attention away from your cards. Is this card so good you shouldn t be able to Rig Dis it? Probably not, but the Warriors are still pretty solid.

Yuan Chonguan
Alright! Another Mastermind for your Power of the Great Deck! Just kiddng&  Yuan seems very playable as he essentially has a built-in Blue Meditation when he s attacking (possible a double BM). You can also almost think of this ability as giving Superleap to all the attacking characters. Yuan requires 3 resources, so you probably won t be seeing him early, but I still like him for the majorly offensive ability (which is also good for Rigorous Discipline).


The Jammers


Andy Di
While the Rabble Rouser doesn t show us anything new, he should be a new mainstay for the Jammer horde deck.Not a lot of strategy here  play Andy with all of those cards that pump up your damage (like Entropy is Your Friend) and go to town (or burn it down). If you want to go for some cross-faction action, take a look at Black Flag Rebels and the cards that generally get thrown in that deck  I think you ll find some synergy with Andy Di  but even without that, I think he s going to fire up the Jammers. It s nice to see a unique character that can fit into a variety of decks as an Uncommon.

Auspicious Thermite
If you can get over the bad title of this card (get it? it's a riff on Auspicious Termites), you might want to think about this card. It s a less than original variation on Disco Inferno with a little bit of Mark of Fire thrown in. I guess the real question is: Does Auspicious Thermitereplace the sold Disco Inferno? It s one less damage, but one less resource, and you have more granularity  you have more wiggle room to tenderize Sites. But, you don t have the brute force of the denial of 4 damage. It s a hard call either way (of course, you could play 5 of each). I think the alternate ability of smoking States isn t really a consideration when playing this card, as it s not going to come up reliably.

Back in Black
Well, I gotta give props to Patrick McEvoy for nailing the chimp art once again  this is one of my favorite pieces in the set. As for Back in Black the card, it fits strongly in with Empire of Evils theme of regurgitating existing cards with a small modification. Yes, this card is probably a little better than In Your Face Again if you re doing tricks to clean out your Smoked pile (you only have to get down to 3 cards), but I find it really hard to get excited about a card we ve seen before.

Cocktail Waiters
I find this Rabble to fit into the generally okay category. They are a ramp, but untalented, and their ability is useful for the duration of the game. Cocktail Waiters will probably do best with Inauspicious Return (have him team up with Mad Bombers for totally annoying recursion), or possibly when trying to make a Rebel/Rabble deck.

Explosive Motorcycle
Here we have a pretty extreme take on the old Explosives card  people won t see it coming, but you will see it going (along with your character). I think it s okay, but&  It just seems that disco Inferno is just more versatile  while it s one less damage, it s also denial, and doesn t get stuck in a Waterfall. And boo on making it Toast after doing damage  yes, you can recur it in that case, but you would have to be pretty lame to make a Vehicle recursion deck that depends on your opponents playing Waterfall Sanctuary. Since it s also Smoking its subject, you are most likely going to want to make a character that s only returning for the turn (IYFA or Back in Black) subject of Explosive Motorcycle to get around that drawback. You also can use this as takeout, but it s gonna hurt, bad.

Jayne Insane
I don t quite get the factioning on this card  I guess it fits in both Jammers and Monarchs thematically (although you may have trouble getting the High Tech in a Monarch deck). That said, Jayne looks almost insane, especially in a four player game where there are more sites to potentially pump up her fighting.In the wacky Monarch version, you have Killing Rain and Mark of Fire for that extra damage, and if you re looking for a combo in faction, Auspicious Thermite might just pay the bills for Jayne.

Johnny Amok
I just don t know about this card. Yeah, it s a great deal, and is likely to take a site, but, once Johnny s on the board, he s going to be rough on everyone.With Guts, he is going to dissuade interceptors, and may just prove hard to kill (and why would you, if you re turn is next, and you can easily pay for him and rip a site?). Since I think this is ultimately going to benefit your opponents as much as you (if not more), Johnny probably doesn t make the cut, much beyond going for the win. His best use would have been with Rig Dis, but they nipped that in the bud with Uncopyable.


Machine Warrior PROMO
Grumble grumble promo grumble. What?Sarge for the Jammers and he s a fricken promo? It s big, it s a thug, and, it s got a great combo with Rigorous Discipline. I have none and now I must go cry&

Out of the Barrel
Again we have another variation card with this Event, letting you play characters at a reduced cost. Out of the Barrel seems kinda meh, and it s probably best early game for getting out those extra foundations at a reduced cost. For straight up power generation as the game goes on, you are going to want Scrounging, IKTV Special Report and Potlach to give you a real boost.

Potemkin's Brigade
Here is a character with a pair of abilities that are completely dependent on your opponents, usually something I don t like, but as they are anti-denial, I think they are worth looking at. The first ability effectively cancels turning sites at the location of Potemkin s Brigade s attack. Most of the annoying sites (KHouse, Turtle Beach, Fox Pass, et. al.) require turning, so if you re willing to go after their column, you can temporarily shut them down. The second ability is one you never want to see come into play as it s just harsh. I guess it s okay for a Tortured Memories to be a 2-cost Nerve Gas, but you are still a power behind, and I hate to think about Shadowy Mentor at 4-cost.

Suicide Squad
The foundations in EofE just keep on giving and giving. What keeps this from getting Top Card is that it doesn t work with Inauspicious Return (and a few of the other return cards). Probably the foundation of choice for your Jayne Insane deck, along with probably most others. Remember that revealing opponents sites is going to put targets on them, and potentially draw attacks away from you. This card is also going to be good for late-game recon, where you are worried about running into Site denial and possibly setting up the next player for the win.

The Wrath of Kong
Kooooong!Sorry, couldn t resist that (hey, I love Star Trek II). The Big Monkey is another card I really like, and he s definitely offensive (not to mention rude). He s got half of CHAR s top-notch ability (and remember the CHAR ruling  it s not Guts, and when Kong s fighting goes down, so does his damage). The second ability is to die for  any damage lets you seize or burn. Just wow.I don t know if Rig Dis is your friend or your Enemy. This cards higher cost and resource conditions keep it just out of the top card range, but you have a really good chance of getting a winning site with Kong, or at least burning to get a rebate on the power you invested in him.

This is a pretty goofy weapon as it gets played on a Site, not a character, which is going to make it not interact with any of the existing weapon cards (unless there is some serious errata). That s right, no Slo-Mo Vengeance for you&  (or Inauspicious Return for that matter).Still, you have a smallish Booby Trap for a Site you control  at least you can turn and sacrifice Thingshot to itself for a one-time use.

Tunnel King
This is another one of those utility characters like Portal Rat that is nice to squeeze into a deck. Attacking back-row sites is always fun (and annoying to your opponents). And cancelling a Site (for the time being at least) is always good, and if your opponent coughs up the 2 power, it s cost both of you the same. About the only bummer is running into a Temple, but hey, Temple just sucks.Oh, and speaking of Temple, I believe some of the brain-dead Temple rulings are finally being reversed, such as Marisol taking damage. For details, you re going to have to search the list. Oh, and Tunnel King gives you a Tech to boot.


The Four Monarchs

Baron Volund
I m iffy on this card  by himself, he s just a vanilla 4-for-7 thug (okay, he has Tactics, but that s not much).To get this Baron working, you re going to need an additional power AND a non-unique character that you re going to want to attack with a second time, heal or turn for a special ability.What I really wish they had done was to change the ability to  non-Unique character can attack once this turn without turning (the Butterfly Knight ability)  that would make him work with the dreaded Thunder Sword. I guess technically it wouldn t be as good, and right now you can use Volund every turn to potentially unturn some cheese if you got the power, but it would have been cooler!


Consuming Darkness
This Darkness State seems to be pretty evil (not to mention strong). And I think it s playable throughout the entire game. While you don t necessarily want to drop it on a 1-cost foundation, if you have the first turn draw for it, I d go for it and attack  you are still going to net a power swing of 1.And this is going to work great on your mid-ranged characters  it s going to take 5 attacks to overcome your typical 3-for-4. And one to think about is Butterfly Knight  drop Consuming Darkness and he s gone from a 6 damage a turn to 9 damage a turn (not bad for 3 power and two cards).And, even if Consuming Darkness gets washed away, you ve still got a +1 fighting bonus. Heck, wash it away with your own Waterfall when it the fighting gets dangerously close to smoking its subject  and draw a card to boot!

Darkness Golem
Das Golem is der pretty much a below-average punch-through character. He s pretty much guaranteed to do about 6 damage to a site at a minimum, but, any savvy opponents will find a way to twist his ability against you by intercepting in such a matter where a target site will be smoked prior to the Darkness Golem entering combat with it. That leaves it to being an assassin, and I m not fond of that type of role for such a costly character. Also, that s some pretty weird Toughness he has, which is not quite as good as Marisol s, but you can do similar tricks with Booby Trap-like cards. Also, you can use the Golem defensively, smoking characters to hopefully do enough damage to smoke weak sites, but if not strictly a winning-style, it s definitely the type of play that prolongs games.

Fire Engineers
More Fire/Chi jank, this time in the form of a resource character. I m not sure about the Tech  are they trying to rebuild the Molten Heart? I guess this is better than Fire Warriors, but that s not saying much. I guess it does give you an excess of Magic foundations  now we only need one for Thunder&

Fire Falx
This set has a couple of reworks of Really Big Gun, but in a faction, of which the Falx is one. So, it s RBG on a foundation  while not the best, it can take a weak site. Old school Monarch cards didn t have hefty resource requirements, so this won t be any better than Pump Action Shotgun (which is a good card in the right decks), but it can only get better with the Z-Man era of cards on. Ice Commandos seems to be the no-brainer (don t believe in the whole Fire/Ice/Thunder/Darkness schism) with a +4 damage. Ex-Commando is another way to go if your thinking of going with some of the extra Gun enhancers. Also Spirit Pole seems reasonable, giving you a chance to keep the Fire Falx in play.

Netherworld Librarian
Ramptastic is the best work to describe this sexy bookworm. Not only is she a 1-cost resource + talent ramp, but the Netherworld Librarian has an ability that is going to be useful for the duration of the game. Early, you are making sure you get the right draw of Sites and resources, mid-game you are getting your engine working or maybe some alt-power generation cards, and late game you are getting that punch through, denial, or maybe even the site you need to drop and go for the win when you are at play and take.

Shadow Seductress
Evil, evil, evil  a veritable empire of it.The Shadow Seductress is effectively a 3-cost Nerve Gas for the Monarchs that can stick around and maybe do a little damage. Unfortunately, this card is severely nerfed in that you can t use Golden Comeback or Back for Seconds to do any tricks with it. I think this card is a little bit of a timing nightmare, as it will interrupt the scene when the Seductress enters play as part of resolution. The best examples of this are Proving Ground and Cave Network  two cards that look to work well with this card. If they somehow rule that the ability won t work because there s no window to turn this card when playing from a Site, Shadow Seductress definitely goes down a notch.

Skin and Darkness Hunter
This card is pretty relentless indeed!It looks to be almost a perfect storm of abilities, where even Assassinate isn t a total waste. Send the Hunter out to the target of your choice (either a weak site or a character where you are going to get smoked) and return this bad boy to your hand. Then replay and repeat. Attack unsuccessful? No worries, the S&D Hunter is Independent! This looks to be a solid card with Proving Grounds  there is nothing worse than having a PG ready to use and not having a character.

Spartan Warriors
I am a bit non-plussed by this card. I don t know where in the world they pulled out the  Warrior only designator restriction. While there are 30 some-odd Warrior characters, they are a pretty mixed bunch, but you can probably scrounge out a couple of deck ideas. But, you are still going to want to a few of the top cards so you don t get steamrolled. ID Chopshop is made for decks like this, but before you get too excited, at their best, Spartan Warriors are a 3-for-5 with Toughness:1  I don t think that s as good as a plain old Butterfly Knight, especially if you have a few tricks.

Stolen Thunder
Whoever stole the thunder from this card, please give it back! I guess it s supposed to be really good  enough to justify being Limited, but I just don t quite see it. One thing in Stolen Thunder s favor is that X is fixed on generation, so your opponents can t spend power in response to lower the bonus. Early game, I m not sure if you ll get much out of this, since there isn t going to be a lot of power floating around. By end game, maybe you ll get a little, but it s still iffy. Sure, make the Bull Market / Stolen Thunder deck  I dare ya!And remember, the Fighting wears off at the end of the turn, so even if you did pump someone up (especially a foundation early), they are likely to be intercepted anyways, just to smoke them. And another and  this card has no denial potential as you can only play Stolen Thunder during your Main Shot. You are going to be better of with a plethora of other Monarch cards over this& Hey, what other classic Event is also Limited + Play only during your Main Shot? Operation Green Strike!

Swordbreaker Rao
I think whoever s coming up with all these promos is just mean. Here we have a reasonable 4-for-6 Tougness:2 thug  imo, that s generally good enough to play right by itself, and of course there are a variety of combos with Toughness. In addition, they give Rao a pretty bad gravy ability for Faceoffs  we all know Faceoffs suck, but why make a Faceoff promo? Just to annoy people that really want to make it work? And the Swordbreaker is going to be one of the best cards in your Faceoff deck because he actually has use outside of one. Notice that this guy isn t aligned to one of the Four Monarchs, giving you a little designator protection from Discerning Fire. Grrr!

The Keeper of Hearts
Here s another character I just can t get excited about  by itself, the Keeper is just a 4-for-6 with Assassinate, something that is of questionable worth. Once you add in the sacrifice ability, you don t really get above the curve  a 1-cost Foundation turns the Keeper into a 5-for-8, and any higher cost character gives you a poorer ratio. On the plus side, The Keeper of Hearts does give all your characters Mentor protection of a sorts as you can sacrifice them in response (including this card to make it go bye-bye before Mentor resolves).There are a couple of cards (from Two-Fisted Tales) that trigger off sacrifices, but there are enough cards to trigger a sacrifice not to let Keeper enable them at a new level. And lastly, no Inauspicious Return 4 U!


Wriggling Skin Suit
Mmmm tasty!While not a true Rig Dis, in some ways it s almost better as you have a lot of control over it. Think of it as a super-charged Occult Kung Fu (which is playable) that is immune to Waterfall (it s an effect generated by the State, not the State itself that does the copying). And it can be used multiple times in a turn for a crazy mishmash of abilities and some serious Fighting bonus (which is yet one more reason why Stolen Thunder be bad). And I think this is going to be a great card to mix in with the Jammer random character recursion  Wriggling Skin Suit looks to be perhaps the best card to thin your Smoked Pile of unwanted characters.


The Purists

36-Legged Horror!
Oh the horror! This is your typical blank overly defensive character that you should really never be playing. Even though they try to hammer the D, it does have a slightly offensive potential in that it can take out a 6 Fighting interceptor, but it s not going to come into play that often, and you are still only going to hit a site for 4.

Bending Chi
I find this to be a perfectly reasonable card for those of you who are trying to put together some form of advanced deck that relies on turning sites. You might be able to try it for extra power generation, but that takes at least two sites to net one power, and will be hard to pull off. A much better use is going to be with Proving Ground, although you are probably going to need some increased hand-size if you are trying to play 4 characters a turn (2 PGs). It s also a way to get around those pesky Whirlpools  they only cancel the effect, not the site itself. This card also requires you to pay attention to the timing rules  if you reverse the second situation and you are trying to get multiple uses out of your own Whirlpool, it work. Example:your opponent turns Sacred Heart, you turn your only Whirlpool in response, and they Whirlpool your Whirlpool. The Bending Chi sitting in your hand will do nothing  even if you add it to the scene, the site doesn t unturn until the scene starts resolving, and then it s too late to return your Whirlpool to stop your opponent s.

Damon Winter
Years of Resistance Squads have shown that hand protection is really a huge ability  sure, it s occasionally nice, but not something you usually have to worry about. As for Damon s main ability, I m not sure how good drawing 7-10 cards on average will be. I don t think it s good enough to warrant being on a Unique character (the ability isn t very cumulative, but I guess being Unique will keep you from playing too many copies of this card). The question is, just how much do you value drawing those extra cards? I don t think it s worth Damon Winter s 4 cost, since he s got pretty much no ability in play. Sure, you can try to double your pleasure by playing hand-size increasers, but if your hand-size is already 8 or 9, you shouldn t need all the extra cards. I think Memory Palace is going to accomplish most of the card draw, and not reduce your power pool so much that you can t use them.

Echo Spirit
Continuing with the theme of unoriginality, here we have the mini-Destroyer for the Purists. Since Echo Spirit is non-Unique, you can 1 up the Destroyer and get 5 Fighting. While I can live with this card not being sacraficeable, the no States restriction is pretty aggravating. I guess they don t want you to make a total recursion deck getting your Characters and States back, but it doesn t leave you with much (was Origami Handguns the problem?). Echo Spirit does pack much offense, and attacking with them alone has too much risk of being unsuccessful to really allow for tricks, so I think that more than half the time, these guys are just going to be a speed bump during opponents turns that slows the entire game down.

Kisa Serkov
I may be over rating this card slightly, but I like the surprise factor and trick win capabilities of the Ivory Goddess (she has the same ability as that card from 2FT). In my play group, we keep track of who s at play and take, and we measure how far they can get with the power they ll have on their turn.Say someone has 5 power, and will need 2 of that to play a Site  that only leaves them with 3 power to go for a win with. Sure, some factions will have more tools than others, but not necessarily the Purists (I was thinking of Golden Comeback as a classic). Now with Kisa Serkov, your 5 power is a 9 Fighting stick to take a site for the win. And, if you get stopped, you are not going to have a second column that will be undefended. This is not a card to build a deck around, but one or two for versatility could win you a game unexpectedly (but be sure to have some other ways to win, as you ll be throwing this card away if you draw Kisa early).

Origami Handguns
YARBG (Yet Another Really Big Gun).Yeah, this one is kinda cool (note that you can return it to any character, not just your own if you want to make sure it stays in play). It s sort of the anti-combo with Slo-Mo Vengeance, and you are going to need two weapon characters if you want to do tricks. I and I have two very good reasons never to play this card, Underworld and Tracker.That one card alone is just going to ruin your day.

Paradox Archives
This is a pretty average non-FSS, which makes it generally playable. You have to weigh how many of them you want to run in your deck, and the Archives are competing with the Paradox Gardens for a spot in this slot. It s got okay body, a modest ability, and does give you a magic. Not much to add here, except it has a dreadful tag.

Probability Shift
I think this is some very two-faced denial in disguise. It s just not a way to speed up your draw. Well, it is early game when you are fishing for Sites and Foundations (and it gives you a Magic talent), but it s also doing the same for your opponents.I can t see going for the win with this, it s going to just increase the Event denial, so you are pretty much relegated to using it to (hopefully) have one opponent stop another (or drawing your own denial in a pinch). I do like Probability Shift s filter for the controller  I m not sure how much value there is to potentially clogging up opponents hands, but I don t see how it can hurt.

The Stasis Engine PROMO
Did anyone notice that Lame-O rhymes with promo? While there is nothing overly thrilling about this card, it s a reasonable card that could go in any Purist deck. The Engine s 5-for-9 (that only requires 2 faction resources) should be enough to be a threat, even without a defensive or offensive ability on it.If you can keep him around (always a noble goal), you can really mess with your opponents, shutting down their best hitter or possibly even a denial Site. Someone at must hate players (not to mention collectors) with all these promos.


Uncertainty Spirit
Just wow. I don t know if you ve fathomed the depth of this card, but I have.At first it looks like a very limited Stealth  you have to declare an attack against the character you want to bypass (remember the target of an attack can t intercept), and then switch to a Site at that location. That means unless all other characters are turned, you re going to be a little bit limited in choices. But the real beauty in Uncertainty Spirit is the ability to take multiple sites when attacking with more than one character  if the target location has two sites, switch the Spirit to the back row site, while the rest of the attackers keep going to the front.And if you get out two Uncertainty Spirits (or use a copy card on the ability), you can do the Stealthy trick AND grab two sites.


Vitality Shunt
Yeesh, 0-cost takeout without a target restriction, and a requirement that is as much an advantage as it is a drawback. You are most likely going to want to be running some non-FSS to set up a wall, and be toasting your back row sites (maybe even down to none so you can gain a power when you replace it). You lose Entropy Sphere s combo with Dark Traveler (not a big loss), and you have to be careful around Darkness Priestesses and Hackers, but using the Shunt to straight out smoke a character for no power is still good enough to fear it.

Zen Ritualist
2-cost foundations generally don t make the cut, as early game they don t get you enough resources, and late game they are a waste of power. The Ritualist is barely okay (because of the Magic resource).Switching up sites is a nice way to break up that player who is behind a wall of non-FSS (or get a Temple out of way), so Zen Ritualist does have a potential use mid-to-late game.I m pretty sure his designators are not very interactive.


The Seven Masters


Jade Willow
Hey, it s Red Bat s little sister, and she s all grown up and ready to beat the ^@#$! out of you! While I ve never been a fan of Reload, I can make an exception for Jade Willow.If you re slow, you use the Reload to put her back on top of your deck so you can draw her next turn to be ready to play for free again. I don t think you can quite build a deck around the Master of Unyielding Dragon Kung Fu like you can Red Bat because your opponents will clue in and not burn sites (well, they re probably greedy bastards and are going to burn sites anyways, but just not quite as frequently as they would have if they know you have this card) I might have a beef with this card if I didn t love the Seven Masters so much (or have to wait so long between them getting any new cards). The only *slight* drawback to Jade Willow is that you don t want to play here with one of my favorite sites, Turtle Island, but that s a small sacrifice I am willing to make. If I have a negative about this card, it sort of promotes the lose to win style of play  you almost want people to burn your sites (ala Bite of the Jellyfish), so the game can sometimes take a degenerate path.

Mountain Hermit
This card sort of fits into the Righteous Protector category  yes, it's technically a foundation, but you don't want to rely on it for getting your resources. Given the broad nature of the Hermit s ability, you can easily mix with any faction that also contains Chi or Magic. While not super, it s always good to see more 7 Masters cards enter the mix. For you new players, I m pretty sure the Seven Masters vs. the Underworld set (where this factions cards are mainly found) is almost impossible to find, so Mountain Hermit and Jade Willow are going to be trade bait for you  hint, trade Jade for a bunch of good rares, especially from harder to find older sets.


The Syndicate

Akamatsu Mitsusuke
Okay, CHAR on steroids. I got it. Note that the first ability is purely defensive  you get to ignore those boldface abilities, but that only matter when Akamatsu is the target of an attack or intercepting. The super CHAR (along with Fox Pass protection) makes this samurai good enough to play, and rip some sites and potentially win a game, if you re desperate enough to play the Syndicate&

Data Mining
Here we have a variation on IKTV Special Report  probably not as good, as it may take until mid-game to get enough resources and come up with trigger condition. And not nearly as good as Pocket Demon/Violet Meditation/Scrounging.The second half of the tag should be the motto for the Syndicate.

Hiroshi Kata
Here we have the world s biggest Butterfly Knight, that s secretly Iala Mane in disguise.What makes Iala a threat is Golden Comeback, which you could splash here, but why go for the imitation when you can have the real thing? Butterfly Knight works because of its low-cost, and extra trick potential, which you can easily lose with Hiroshi because of his higher cost. Yes, he can be a site taking machine who s almost always going to hit for 8 (assuming a turn for Heal), and with some potential to take two sites. Yes, this card is playably good, just unoriginal.

Mars Program Executive
This is a pretty funky (and probably not too optimal) way to net a power advantage. First off, you re gonna have a bad day if you run into some heavy Brawlage (of the Final sort), so you may not even want to play the Exec in that case. Next, to get your pay off, you are going to have to effectively pretend the Mars Program Executive is not in the game until your next turn if you want your power rebate  he is very likely to get smoked if he gets too close to combat. Even if you only wait until the next player s turn to get the minimum back, you ve just paid 1 power (and a card) to put 2 damage somewhere  not a good return!

Platinum Upgrade
Holy unfortunate rare, Batman! This totally jumps over the bar for what we ve seen in the past for States. It s almost like a character itself at 3-cost-4 Fighting Toughness:3  think of it like a Twisted Horror that is always triggered.Yeah, this is a big target for State denial, but it s pretty good when it gets through, almost guaranteeing you a site on any medium or larger character, and maybe even with a foundation.This would almost be a faction defining card if were Uncommon.

Smoke and Mirrors
Urgh&  he we have a Influence based (so you know it s bad) Flying Sleeves. For denial, just play the Fox Pass, not this cheap knock-off. Not only will you not get frisked in customs, you ll actually have a card that does something. If you want to turtle out with more than 2 influence, you can possibly shut down an entire attack, but at the cost of a card from your hand, and most likely a card from your board. I think there is just too much prep to make this combo work, and it s all defensive.You should be using that Influence to bypass interceptors, right?

Street Doc
Chinese Doctor is good all around  he lets you heal when you need to. I m not so sure about Street Doc. Obviously you are going to want to eschew non-Tech character to make this card more than a no-text ramp. Around half of the Syndicate characters qualify as healable (and less are worth healing, let alone playing)  I guess you can be multi-factioning with the Jammers or the Architects, but once again, why use the imitation when you can drop the Syndicate for Dragons and have the real thing?

Street Racers
These hoods are pretty run-of-the-mill for a 2-cost foundation. They are better than the original run by having a gravy ability on top of a talent. How good is the ability? Just so-so. I don t see a lot of reasons not to play 5 Triad Punks before even 1 Street Racer.

Synchronic Beam Emitter
I guess this is what you are supposed to play on your Street Racers, but it s not speedy without a Chi, which means missing a Site drop if you want to be fast with it (usually missing a Site drop is Bad with a capital B). Single use Stealth is reasonable, but playing the Syndicate for it is not.

Tattooed Man
It looks like they are giving us the no-brainer combo with Street Doc with this mystery man. It seems pretty solid offensively, and crumbles on defense.In an optimal situation, Tattooed Man can dish out the 11 damage needed to take down even a Inner Sanctum (I bet you didn t know that I have the original art for this card looking down at me as I type  thanks J!) by pumping himself up by inflicting damage. This does not come without risk, which makes the Tattooed Man not totally ridiculous for 4 power.

The Price of Progress
Here s another new card that would playable in any other faction (sounds mostly like it should have been an Ascended card). Price of Progress is pretty much self explanatory. They can spend all their power (or generate some) in response, to their advantage. Also this card was just made to be Hacked.

The Wireless
I would almost be excited about this 2-cost Secret HQ except for one thing  TheWireless s drawback totally negates the Syndicate s defining ability, Influence. I guess it s worth playing, as you should never really be playing Influence anyways (but imo, you should never be playing the Syndicate, either).

Underworld Contacts
I guess one Shaking the Mountain ripoff is not enough (see Delaying Tactics). Yeah, it s 0-cost, but the timing is hard to pull off as denial against sharp players (remember they get to make the first declaration on their turn). You can also use it to pre-empt an interceptor, but there are plenty of cards in other factions (especially in this set!) that remove interceptors.The reload is pure jank.



Awesome Presence
Will the bad cards never stop coming?Here we have a half-cost Walk of 1000 Steps (coaster) that isn t going to work when you really need it to. I guess you can combine Awesome Presence and Walk to get a super-Shadowfist, but you are just going to cry Waterfalls.



Bonebow Army
These guys are pretty mediocre for Demons, and about costed right for a mid-range card. The card is pretty self-explanatory, about all I can add is that if you have him do his damage to a site and it reduces it to 0, it will be smoked (as the damage is non-combat).

The Becoming
Or should it be called the Be-going?This is another one of those annoying timing cards, but it should be all covered under Dr. Timbal. So, did we need his ability on a One Shot? Probably not. It s not really a Confucian for Events as it removes the character from attacking.It does save your character, but will probably end your turn. The Becoming lacks offense, or even the trickery of Lateral Reincarnation.

Withering Touch
I think that the wording on Withering Touch indicates that the end-of-turn ability is generated when the subject deals damage in combat, so it will float around even if the Touch is gone.0-cost +1 Fighting on a State isn t terrific  the problem is that it costs you a card that could have been something better. As for the end of turn, maybe Withering touch with smoke a character or maybe a site, but inflicting damage on a site that you ve seized with Withering Touch is bad news.


High Tech

Fingertip Razors
And yet another 0-cost +1 Fighting State.At least this one is better than Withering Touch. For this card it s time to dust off all those old Gnarled Attuner rulings.Not to much to say about it, other than you won t be seizing many Sites with them.



Bandolier of Throwing Knives
This card is tricky because it s unaligned takeout, something that risks throwing the whole game out of balance.As a result, it can t be as good at the top tier, so you are only going to want to play it when you just don t have access to better character denial, or if you re trying to get some mileage out of the Weapon designator. It s okay, and I guess it can help you take a site by removing an interceptor, but it can also be a somewhat defensive card, keeping the attackers at the subject s location at bay.

Superior Tactics
I m not sure what to make of this card, but I think it s way below Stand Together, or even Armies of the Monarchs (which does cost 2 power in Superior Tactics defense). I can definitely say you won t be playing this for the sacrifice ability  what little use Tactics ever has been nerfed by the closing of the Ambush/Tactics window and Temple of the Angry Spirits rulings madness. So, how good is +1 Fighting until the end of turn, when attacking with two or more characters?Probably not. I think if you are trying to play Superior Tactics, you are going to be running 5 of them, and hope for a cumulative effect, and even then, it won t be much better than some of the pump up horde cards that Jammers already have for a deck like this.


Feng Shui

Ancient Stone Arch
This site has one less body than Moebius Gardens, so it should be better, right? I m not sure it is, but it s more of a meta-game decision if you re are going to play one of the two over the other. A problem I find with Ancient Stone Arch is that aren t you almost better off just playing a site that that can gain you a power directly? And you are going to want to be ripping or burning those extra power generating sites from your opponents anyways, so this card becomes counter intuitive.

Bamboo Forest
Super-duper Family Restaurant  maybe it s for Panda bears? I m saying that it s not going to be as good as City Park, but then again few sites are. Sure, you can go Security, but maybe a better combo is Entropy Sphere.Although, I find Regenerate to be pretty weak, as you may have to protect Bamboo Forest through multiple opponent turns  it may just be too big of a target to let it get away with healing at the start of your turn.

Endless Corridor
Yeah, it s pretty good. And the copy-cat ability pretty much invalidates a bunch of existing cards, especially for the Purists. Is this a power site? Probably not, but it s going put a big dent to someone who is hiding behind a wall of defensive sites or non-FSS. Depending on your metagame, this a card that could be a singleton in a lot of decks. And don t overlook that you can rearrange your own Sites to maintain your defense.

Hanging Gardens
Time to double your hosing site or Proving Ground. Most of the time there is enough time to have Hanging Gardens counteract a Whirlpool, but you will need to be exact in your timing to make sure. I don t know how often you are really going to find room for this in a deck, I guess it will really depend on how tight your site mix is going to be. But even then, I don t think you add more than a single Hanging Gardens (go go Gardens deck! Where s my Shaolin Defender  not!).

Martyr's Tomb
This seems be a pretty utilitarian site, that can go in any deck where are dependent on your trick characters (like Ice Commandos). It also gives you a smidgeon of protection against a total Reburial, letting put at least 1 foundation where you can draw it. Basically, Martyr s Tomb is for all of those decks that don t run recursion (Comeback, et. al.) and are either doing designator tricks, or are trying to purposely be character light, and plan on playing the same few ones over and over if they get smoked.

Mirrored Lake
I think this site can get a little squirrely because of the redirection rules, which change combat damage into non-combat damage. I ll avoid all the really weird ones and go to one of the most common  Robust Feng Shui. Basically, when one of your opponents Robusts your attack back at your site, you are going to smack them right back. Ditto for another commonly played redirector, Expendable Unit. This can get kind of ugly if it goes off and you have multiple Lakes. Still, this is more of a metagame card to make your opponents think twice about going crazy for redirection. It also means that you are going to have to be careful about running redirection  if Mirrored Lake gets seized, it will be a pain.

Mountain Sanctuary
Yeah, it s pretty big, and unlike some of the other big sites, Mountain Sanctuary gets bigger as your board crumbles.I guess they feel that getting bigger than 14 body is just going to be a game slower, I can agree with that position. And no, this site doesn t make Leopard Clan Warriors any better, nor Hidden Sanctuary for that matter.

The Great Wall
Seems reasonable a defensive site. I guess you could run a deck with only Great Walls, but I think you will be worked over by your opponents. And while it wants to trick you into horizontal site structure, don t believe it. The Great Wall can fall like a wall of dominoes if you re not careful. The best use for this card is as a metagame answer to power stealing when you don t want to field Hackers or The Iron Monkey sees play every game.

The Shangshu Mansion
It doesn t get much more straight-forward than this. Have a Unique character, gain power. Having to wait until mid-game keeps this out of the top card bracket.

Weeping Willows
Okay, first we ll agree to agree that Primeval Forest is unplayable. Here we have another take at trying to boost a regular FSS to 2 power generation.While Weeping Willows doesn t have the killer drawback of potentially generating no power, it s hard than it looks to make it work. It only effects Feng Shui, so you don t really want a lot of non-FSS in your structure.And since Willows affect the card to the left, you won t be playing it before the 3rd turn, and getting payback before the 4th. And it s going to work right away most likely when seized. I just think there are better ways of getting an extra power from a site.