Secret HQ

art (c) Mike Trap

Sixguns and Shuriken
Four Monarchs
Seven Masters
Feng Shui
Purist Preview


Like all Shadowfist players, I have my own opinions on various cards.  They are based on my play experience, and so are completely subjective.  If I've somehow dumped on your favorite card, please send in your rebuttal (i.e. you win all your games with secret Sword of Biting tech). 

Click on the buttons to the left to to get to the reviews.

In the faction based reviews, characters are broken up in to three sections -- Foundation Characters, Utility Characters and Hitters.  Basically, if a character has 6+ printed Fighting and is able to attack, look for it in the hitters sections.

Rating the Card Sets!

Well, it had to happen.  I opened my mouth and just have to insert my foot into it.  Here is how I rate the Shadowfist publications.  I can't really compare the Daedalus and Z-Man sets -- they are different animals from different times.

Limited    Well, this was the original core set, and it feels very dated (the game design is very early CCG, and doesn't reflect what has been learned in the last 12 years of the genre).  Where there are moments of greatness, there is a tremendous amount of chafe and poor design decisions.  An anecdote I've heard over the years that sort of exemplifies this is Probability Manipulator.  The story goes that the the original playtest version of the card cost 1 power and was non-unique.  Then Jose built a deck that totally abused it, and as a result it got the double whammy of a cost increase on the unique restriction.  Since the card was no longer a problem after the change, it got mostly ignored for the remainder of design. 

Standard    I have to say that removing 8 hitters from the game was a terrible decision in this reprint of Limited (although a significant part of the print-run did contain the Killdeer'd characters without the foil stamp).

Netherworld    While this used to be the money expansion, the fact that most good cards have been reprinted has really cooled this game-defining expansion.  Netherworld really saved Shadowfist from the CCG bargain bin bin upping the good character count and adding the comeback events.  Netherworld also really introduced the Four Monarchs to the Secret War.  :

Flashpoint    Here we have Shadowfist reaching it's maturity.  Almost every card in Flashpoint was playable when it was released.  This set also finally made the Jammers viable as a winning strategy in the Secret War.  And it had the coolest story next to Red Wedding.  This is really the Golden Age of Shadowfist, where the game can really compete with MTG (which still going through growing pains like the Ice Age block).  Flashpoint also introduced the new game sub-concept of BattleGround Sites, which has led a fairly benign existence.

Year of the Dragon    From an individual deck deck design point of view, there is a lot of mediocrity here -- but then again, what can you do with a 50-card mono-faction deck?  Not a lot.  The handful of new cards in YotD kick ass.  Nine Dragon Temple is a favorite of mine -- it really completes what Pocket Demon started.  Of course, we all know Iron Monkey is the star of the show.  Also, YotD gave us solid cohesive rules for the first time along with a lot of game-changing errata.

Throne War    If Flashpoint was the Golden Age, Throne War was the Golden Comeback.  It has an usually small card pool (not without a few below-average cards) and a faction imbalance in card count favoring the Lotus.  Still, it was the right thing at the right time -- Throne War really revitalized a stagnant environment, and got people really excited about multi-player CCGs.

Netherworld 2    While not as full of chaff as Showdown, N2 does suffer some from it's size.  This set has a lot of reprints, and made an okay follow-up to Throne War for new players. 

Shaolin Showdown    Yeah, this set gets a lot of hate, but what keeps it from the bottom rung is shear size.  This is the last of the full-size expansions -- from here on out, they are a smaller, more manageable size -- this means that you don't have to spend as much to collect those cards you need, and there is (in theory) less filler as you can trim down to a tighter number.  And speaking of cruft, this is the set that defines it for Shadowfist.  Lots and lots of marginal cards, exemplified by over-costed/under-powered characters.  This set also gave us a new mechanic, the Faceoff, which has yet have any lasting effect on the game (other than some bad Faceoff cards in almost every expansion since).

Dark Future    I know this is the "valuable" expansion, sold-out and hard to find, but, it really wasn't a super set (I just found out that you can add Red Wedding to the hard-to-find list).  The main significance is that, if you want to play the Purists or ReAscended, you pretty much also have to get some Dark Future.  But, this really feels like an extension of Showdown.

Boom Chaka Laka    This set is very hit and miss.  Where there are some really good cards, there are some really bad cards.  BCL suffered from being a designator-heavy set, and a lot of the cards were two narrow.  Also, this is the first of the two sub-juncture themed sets, which aren't set in one of the standard four junctures for the World of Shadowfist, and I think it suffers somewhat for that.

10,000 Bullets   I'm really not a fan of this new round of theme decks.  They really aren't as good or interesting as YotD.  Really, on the Purist one is essential (for the Foundations) and there are a couple of okay new sites.

Red Wedding   Holy cow!  This is it.  Red Wedding is the expansion that totally shook up the game of Shadowfist.  While the rare cards in this set are a little weak, it's more than made up for by the commons and uncommons.  Just the foundations were revolutionary, and I dare you to try and trade for Mad Scientists!

Seven Masters vs. The Underworld    The Seven Masters at last!  Originally envisioned for Throne War, it took quite a few years for these guys to finally see the light.  While Dark Future is my favorite expansion story-wise, this is my favorite for theme (not to mention the kick-ass art).  Unlike the Purists who had a lot of weirdness to them and are still maturing as a faction, the Seven Masters were the total package -- they were designed with multi-faction in mind, and have low-resource requirements and a couple of copy cards that only work well when combined with other factions.  The only downside to the Seven Masters is that (as of now), they are a one-set wonder, and wont be appearing in any future expansions.

Two-Fisted Tales of the Secret War    This set has had mixed reviews from people, but out group has found this mostly disappointing.  Again you have the temporary juncture story (like BCL),. which is sort of hard to get in to.  This set has some okay rare cards, but really suffers as you get into the uncommons and commons, which you will have tons of if you crack a few boxes.

?? Critical Shift    We all have high-hopes for this new basic set =)

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