Secret HQ

art (c) Mike Trap



Magic is the most widely available of the non-faction resources, with three factions having multiple resource characters that provide Magic resources.  While Pocket Demon is worth playing Magic alone, there are many other cards that can subtlety to you deck.  Shattering Fire and Discerning Fire can provide some crucial Event based takeout, while Larcenous Mist and Year of the Rat can have highly unpredictable results.

Characters    Events    States    Edges    Sites



  Anomaly Spirit
You need to gain 2 Fighting to make Anomaly Spirit really worth it, and that's hard to do.  You can try out cards like Illusionary Bridge and Molten Heart to force your opponent into playing more columns, but they aren't optimal cards.  Perhaps the best way is to play Battleground Sites and hope your opponents seize them, which again, isn't optimal.
Big Daddy Voodoo
Who's your daddy?  This guy sure is.  He has a cool new mechanic that allows you to spend damage on him as if it was power for Hood cards -- this includes the sites and Rackets, not just characters.  He has a lot of possibilities in almost any Hood deck  This guy is going to need some play time to fully evaluate, but I think he will be one of the stars of BCL.  The strategy for BDV is to attack every turn, get some damage on him, and spend away.
  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.  You can also try a Monarch deck with Ice Shields -- you don't have to pay power to keep the Shields in play if you don't attack or intercept with the Chaos Spirit.
  Duodenum of Yang Luo
Could Quai Li secretly be a transformed Demon stomach?  Well, probably not, but the Duodenum has the same effect of revealing every site in response to it hitting the table.  Still, there are an awful lot of Netherworld sites, and this guy can attack more often than not.  The trick is to make sure your deck is 100% Netherworld sites, and let opponents take a few if they have to.  Also Netherworld Portal (and the coaster-ish Netherworld Passage) can be used to make sure your opponents have a Netherworld site in a pinch). Having some ability that can reveal back row sites will help this guy out.
  Eugene Fo
He's big.  He's a Hood.  He's a Magic foundation character -- what more could you want?  Well, I can think of a lot more that I'd want for 5 power.  Eugene heals at least one point every turn, and usually 2 to 3 since you will probably have more Hoods, so you can take advantage of this by beating up on resource characters.  Of course, I usually want to take sites for that much power, so this card rarely heals.  This is one of those cards that affects how an opponent will play -- they probably won't intercept with their characters if they know the damage will heal unless it saves a site.
  Mirror Dancer
While a 2 cost character that can seize a site seems decent, Mirror Dancer is very limited.  You can help this card out by playing 5 of each Feng Shui Site in you deck, that way you can quickly seize one back from an opponent (especially Turtle Island since you know it won't be burned)..  You also need to think about the meta-game in your area, and chose Sites based on that.  Since you can only seize, Mirror Dancer cant give you that power rush you often need to make a comeback.  This card is also decent in the Lotus Year of the Dragon deck if you are playing against other modified YotD decks, as they share a fair amount of Sites.
  Lusignan's Automaton
This guy is kind of a random thug, and if it weren't for the storyline, probably wouldn't justify being Unique.  Neither of the abilities really turns me on, especially given that he probably won't live that long.  Both the Tower and the Fool himself are more interesting cards, and punish your opponents more. 
  Lusignan the Fool
This guy has a chance to bring about a few new deck types -- combined with Alchemist's Lair, Lusignan gives more access to Magic to the traditionally non-Magic factions.  3-cost resource characters are usually not the best deal, but this card does have 4 fighting and a couple of goofy abilities.  Too bad he doesn't combo with Darkness Priestess, otherwise you could get some mileage out of his (and his Tower).  Hrm...  he probably combo's with your opponent's Darkness Priestesses to give them 1 power when they play events -- D'oh!


  Cloud Walking
As yet another 0-cost victory denial card, I like to squeeze one into most decks with magic.  It can be nice early game to get a character advantage, but it depends on your opponents attacking.  End game, it's the everyone intercepts and stops the win so the next player wins card.

Curse of Discord
This is a surprisingly hard card to pull off.  Just how often are your attack getting intercepted by multiple characters, and then just how much damage is this really going to do?  Any faction that has access to is going to have better takeout available to them.  Yes, Discerning Fire might not clear those interceptors, but it can also take out attackers, which makes up for any versatility loss and then some.  And, as for straight damage, only the smaller of the two characters targeted by Curse is going to be outright smoked, leaving the bigger character wounded, but still intercepting (this could be really stinky if one of the intercepting characters is say, a Friend of the Dragon, and the other is... say, Mad Dog...   Shattering Fire is going to give you reliable and versatile damage when you need it.

  Curtain of Fullness
While not the strongest of cards, Curtain of Fullness does have several uses that can help you out.  It can knock some denial out of an opponent's hand the turn you want to go for the win.  When dueling you can try to deck an opponent, but that is really subject to the size of their deck.  You can combine this card with Paper Trail to turn it into a power generator.  The last use is to help you discard by targeting yourself!
Discerning Fire
Expect to play (and see) at least one Discerning Fire in every deck with decent Magic resources.  It's like a double Nerve Gas with a different play restriction.  On top of that, it can take out States and Edges for added utility (I once got a Homo Omega because my opponent played a Buro Godhammer on him).  Since this card is somewhat slow (two power and you need two or more targets), I usually run two in a deck, relying on other Events like Nerve Gas and Tortured Memories.
  Farseeing Rice Grains
Far Seeing Rice Grains is a hard card to figure out.  While it doesn't help you directly, it can let you draw into some needed cards.  Of course, drawing cards in Shadowfist isn't a huge problem as you fill you hand every turn.  Perhaps the best use for this card is in a large, Tower of Power, type of deck, where you have to get to your resource characters early, and to you hitters later.  Try to avoid the alternate cost when a Darkness Priestess is in play, as your opponent will score 5 power and also be aware that your opponents will be able to get free Hackers out of Far Seeing Rice Grains.  Max refuses to play this card because the picture is too creepy.
Killing Rain
An all around good card, Killing Rain serves both an offensive and defensive role.  Defensively, you can smoke sites targeted by attacks, causing unsuccessful attacks.  You can also deny someone the win by smoking a site of theirs.   On offense, you can use Killing Rain to weaken a site just enough to take it (after interceptors have been declared of course) -- think of this card as a mini Orbital Laser Strike.
Larcenous Mist
Since this card costs no power to play, once you've gotten up to two Magic resources, you can cycle it through your hand if you need to draw into a specific card.  Otherwise, it's a remarkably useful card.  Since almost all Shadowfist characters do something interesting (which is why Rigorous Discipline is so good), canceling them is also is quite useful.  Don't overlook that this card cancels states as well, so you can mess up that Shadowy Mentor.
  Memory Reprocessing
An overlooked card, you should try to squeeze Memory Reprocessing into every deck with reliable Magic resources.  For a premium of 1 power, you get to play the best Event in an opponents' Smoked Pile, whether it is Final Brawl, Operation Killdeer or one of any other amazing Event.  But, since this card needs a lot of timing and luck to get off, don't be afraid to toss it if you aren't going to play in in the next turn or two.  And sometimes giving an opponent power can be useful for stopping a win.
Pocket Demon
No expansion card has changed the game more than Pocket Demon.  When Netherworld came out, it provided that extra boost that allowed someone to come back from early losses that sealed games under the Standard edition card set.  But, deck strategy evolved into playing few (if any) sites and relying on Pocket Demons as your main source of power.  With the errata, Pocket Demon has returned more towards it's original intent of a comeback card -- you can't burn for victory like a madman anymore and expect this card to generate you boatloads of power.  See the strategy article on alternate power generation for more details.
  Scroll of Incantation
Playing this card requires a bit of knowledge about your deck.  You should be using it to fetch a specific card to serve the purpose you need right then and there.  It's no good looking for a Nerve Gas when they are all gone.  That said. how can you not like a card that always fetches the best Event in your deck for almost any situation?  The timing on this card is a replacement effect -- it resolves on generation and the card you fetch takes its place in the scene -- so you can't Confucian a Scroll, but you can Confucian whatever event they fetch.
Shattering Fire
A powerful Event that is usually capable of Smoking a character, Shattering Fire is great if you are making a heavy commitment to Magic and don't have access to the straight up Architect removal.  Usually you can keep pace with your Magic resources as the game progresses, but if someone busts out fast, you might find yourself a few damage short of an outright Smoke.  Of course if you are going next, you just may want to damage a character just enough to leave a site with low body just ripe for the picking.
  Year of the Rat
If you think about it, Year of the Rat almost let you take two turns in a row, and it gets to delay another players turn.  This card is good enough to warrant its One-Shot restriction, but should only be played in four-player games.


  Alabaster Javelin
A little utility zap, the Javelin is always getting you 3 damage in.  What makes this card more versatile is that unlike Shattering Fire, the Alabaster Javelin can hit sites.  Often throwing this on an attacker that has already been intercepted will allow you to take the site with the extra damage, but I wouldn't over stock Javelins, as they will only get you so far.
Amulet of the Turtle vErrata
Year of the Dragon has brought major errata to this card.  Now it no longer completely stops all damage, it just stops what it can soak up.  To compensate, it's cost has been reduced to 0.  While this makes Amulet of the Turtle worse when used in conjunction with Spirit Pole, it does get an early game boost that can get you ahead in the character race while everyone is building sites.  When playing against Amulet, you really want to get them off the board asap -- they will only grow and get harder to deal with.  Intercepting with (or attacking) with a character wearing an Amulet will always result in that character being unsuccessful since the damage is redirected and the Amulet becomes the new source.

Boundless Heaven Sword
Utter dreck.  Way too expensive and fragile.  This is a Floating Fortress when it should be a MegaTank. 
Coaster-rific -- see my rant.

  Celestial Stance
See Chi
  Chi Detachment
Oooh... a State I can play during an opponents' turn?  It must be good, right?  Wrong!  Chi Detachment is marginal at best.  For what you get, more often then not, you would have done just as well with Larcenous Mist (which costs 0).  Once a characters abilities are gone, usually taking it down isn't a problem.  And having to save 1 power for Chi Detachment because you're worried about someone dropping Ba-Boom is not where it's at, hipster.  I don't get removing the resources ability, but I guess that's just extra gravy... wait.. I got it...  you can make the Chi Detachment / Exile Village deck... sweet!  I've seen this played a few times, but never really better than Mist -- a lot more than you think, you are whacking an X character, and so the 1 extra power for a permanent blank is wasted.  Also, a third of the time you have the resources to play this, you also have the resources to play the Obsidian Eye (cause you got that 3 magic from the Monarchs).
  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.
  Invincible Earth Sword
Dreck.  See Boundless Heaven Sword.  Or don't. 
  Invincible Stance
See Chi
  Lunar Sword
On a medium sized character, this is likely to get you +2-3 Fighting, and +3-5 Fighting on a serious hitter.  Without a gravy ability (like that on Sword of the Dragon King), I don't think Six Dragon Sword pulls its weight.  I think it would work best some sort of Can of Whupass deck that you've worked Magic into.  Sure, the Seven Masters get nice big bonuses from this weapon, but they don't need it, and you're always going to want another Fortune of the Turtle for any of this card when building your deck.  With so many swords, this 2-cost one hasn't made the cut.
  Phoenix Stance
See Chi
  Solar Sword
Here we have an improved Really Big Gun, but with a few tricks.  I expect to see the occasional Solar Sword deck, but I'm not sure how well it will work.  You need a Magic resource for the this weapon, and most of the Swords characters are in Chi factions.  It might actually make the old Swordsman resource character playable in limited situations.  This is a kick-ass sword, that keeps going and going.  An ID Chopshop will make sure you can keep getting these back without having to resort to playing exclusively Swords characters (some of which are real stinkers).  What's double super kick-ass is mixing in The Swords Unite -- now you have 10 ways to get them out in multiples, which is of course what you're doing with this card.
  Sword of the Dragon King
While Sword of the Dragon King is a cousin of the HAVOC Suit, it is a much better card.  First off, there are a ton of Magic providing resource characters, most of which are only 1 cost.  Next you have the added ability that Chi and Tech characters are unable to intercept the subject of the Sword of the Dragon King, which is just enough to make this card playable in most situations.  Note that this a long game card -- it is going to benefit the most from a buildup of resources, both by being a larger Fighting increase and by making the evasion ability more useful.
  The Celestial Eye
If you can wait a few turns, this card can be devastating, blasting entire columns.  But, if your opponents give you the time that the Eye needs to get going, they are chumps.  The Eye has a reasonably high resource requirement, and it's fragile nature means you are going to want to play it on a character that is going to stick around.  In a weird way, Amulet of the Turtle is very comparable (and possibly better) at dealing out some damage and punching through.  I only have a couple of these, but I love squeezing it in decks.  It's a reasonable threat if it lives (which it usually doesn't).  "The Celestial Eye cries napalm at sunrise"
  The Ivory Goddess
Like Mount Erebus, this card can get you from "Play and Take" to just "Take" for only 1 Power.  It's okay, but just in a fun sort of way.  As always, expect the subject to draw a lot of attention from your opponents.  I think the Goddess makes a good choice for a "one-of" in a Spirit Pole deck, where you can just play annoying your opponents with it.  There's been a lot of talk about this card, but it's yet to make a real difference.  I hasn't made a world of difference in my 2FT theme deck.  Still, it's a potential threat if you can start with no sites in play, 2 sites in your BfV pile, and to to 'take' at the start of your main shot by playing a site and Ivory Goddess.


The Hungry
You mean I get to burn for victory and gain power?  I can even continue attacking?  What a deal!  Besides the obvious combo with Kun Kan, this is a great all around card and is almost a must in every deck that packs Magic.  This card can often let you explode for a win, and you should keep a close eye on any opponent who has one (or more!) in play.  The card unfortunately doesn't work with Pocket Demon any more, since your power gain is now reduced by the number of cards in your Burn For Victory pile.
  I, Ching
Since most of the time players will be drawing 3 cards, the rearrangement ability of I, Ching won't get you very far.  If you have a good memory, you can use this card to keep track of what's in your opponent's hand, but that's really not worth the 1 power.
  Soul Maze
Since this ability isn't mandatory, you don't get hosed by it like you can with Chin Ken or Ultimate Mastery.  Sometimes you can pull off some neat tricks, but opponent's will usually avoid combat that can turn disadvantageous.  Of course, it's really cool to Nerve Gas the Golden Gunman after he's swapped abilities with your DNA Mage.
  Spirit Frenzy
About the only use for this card is to turn your DNA Mages into pokers.  Since this card requires turning, you usually don't want to turn your specialty characters, and anything with a Fighting over 2 you want to be attacking with in the first place.
  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).
  The Ruby Eye
This is a go-for-the-win card, and is very much a metagame decision.  Are you expecting the Fox Passes and Turtle Beaches to come out when you make a bid?  Someone who always plays 5 Operation Killdeers?  This card might win you the odd-game, but it might just be a way to shake up the environment a little.  Remember to play it before you attack, as, unlike states and events, you can't play edges during an attack.  At 0-cost, it's not a risk to play it, and keeping it around is a nice option, especially if you know it's working.  I have it in my 2FT deck, and I've always been able to dump it, but never to any gain.  I've always let it go by not paying the power.


  Alchemist's Lair
When playing Architects, Lotus or Monarchs, this card is really doing anything for you -- you already have some decent access to Magic.  For the other factions, Alchemist's Lair can give you that Magic base to build on.  Often you would include a card like this for access to Pocket Demon, or some tricky combo like Paper Trail + Curtain of Fullness in an otherwise pure Ascended deck.
  Illusory Bridge
What kills this card is that it costs you your one site per turn.  If you drop a Bridge on you opponent, you can't play a Feng Shui to build your own structure.  You can try to get some mileage with this card by using Spawn of the New Flesh, Anomaly Spirit and Dr. Celeste Carter.


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