The Commander is an unusual card in that you pay his power over
time. If you have 4 sites when you play him, he winds up being a
6-for-6, not such a good deal. But -- if you have no sites in play,
he is a rocking 6 Fighting for 2 power, and gives you a chance at
comeback. He combos well with sites that generate power in other
ways with Proving Ground being the most obvious, but others like Monkey
House and Gambling House working okay. While Corliss is a little
slow at three resources, expect to see him in turbo-CHAR type decks as a
backup hitter and it decks with Dangerous Experiment that like to explode.
It seems the Architects have finally applied their superior
technology. This card is a lot like N2's Blood and Thunder, but with
less deck construction restrictions. Late game, paying 1 power just
to reveal a site can actually give you the information you need to win a
game. All your characters doing +2 damage against a site can also
lead to taking a site anytime during the game. All-in-all, this is a
versatile card that throwing one in a deck is always a nice trick. A
speed weenie deck built around Geoscan I think will have problems because
of Final Brawl. The dream combo is Inauspicious Return for 3 BuroMil
Grunts with a Geoscan Report -- that's 12 damage for 2 power!
Well, I was a little wrong about Hermes, he's okay in the Architect/Lotus
deck with Malachi -- he's nothing much on his own, but can get you into a
soft lock with Malachi out. He goes okay with Dr. Celeste
(Architects don't have many pure-Magic cards) as well, and lets you draw a
card if you are in a Paradox Beast bind). And he's just going to get
better in Dark Future (see Malachi).
Since you are never playing the Troopers in a non-Battleground deck, they
are effectively always a 6 Fighting-for-4 power thug with Mobility.
Not the greatest, but not the worst. This is a pretty bland card,
but can give you a little extra defense. Of course the Architects
usually don't have to worry about defending sites with all their Events,
and CHAR is usually a better choice since he is such a beating
of the Rhino
Kind of like Atourina Baktiari, the Charge tends not to get intercepted
when he attacks a site unless he is going to smoked by a larger
character. You can try some tricky stuff like using him in a Faceoff
to trigger his ability, but that is sub-optimal. The Charge is a
pretty bland Thug, equal in caliber to the old Fist of the Bear.
of the Snake
Drawing cards, especially as the Ascended is always good. A good
comparison to the Coil are Just a Rat and Phillipe Benoit, since all of
them usually cost 3 power. I think the Coil beats out the Rat just
because the Rat never gets intercepted and 90% of the time it might as
well just have vanilla stealth. Phillipe is solid, and probably a
better choice if you are going heavy Family Estate.
Play City Parks, they won't clog up your hand like this card will since it
takes two spaces (itself, and the Feng Shui Site). This card was
ruled to get around the 'one site per turn' rule, so you could try and
tech someone out by playing Contingency Plans and a City Park to get out
of the Bear vPAP
Thug. Better than the standard edition Fist, but still a thug.
I prefer the Might of the Elephant in this cost range for Lodge thugs.
He's an okay 7 Fighting-for-4 power hitter, comparable to Vladimir Kovalov
-- Tactics is a nice bonus if you don't need the Lodge designator.
As for the goofy sacrifice ability, that usually means you are playing
with sub-par Ascended cards to get the designators, so it's iffy at
best. You will get your most mileage combining with another faction
-- the Monarchs and the Architects have some matching designators.
About the only decks these guys go in are a Peacock deck or a Sunless Sea Ruins, where
you are worried about locking your hand. Paying 1 power to discard 3
cards (counting itself) is harsh.
"El Tigre" Velasquez
Yes, with Stealth and Superleap, he is always going to get to his site if
he isn't taken out with an Event. The problem is his poor ratio
-- for 5 power there are a bazillion other better characters to play.
The Strike Force has been reborn, but this time you don't need a Family
Estate to play 5 power for it. Assassinate is pretty worthless on a
character this big -- for Kinoshita's cost you want to be taking
sites. The ability to turn characters for power during your turn has
possibilities, but overall, the Unspoken Name kicks ass on this doofus as
a Lodge Chairperson. He goes in the Bounty deck, but I think I am
more likely to go for Rachel or Raven as a 5-cost Lodge hitter.
I find with this guy, you almost always want another copy of the Edge you
are concerned about over him. Cabinet Minister is a superior choice
if you are playing Family Estate, and Manchu Soldiers give you enough
cards to unturn the Manchu Officer (especially since the ability is only
once per turn).
Pretty much useless outside the Manchu deck. At least you can do the
Lodge Politics trick to get it back after it being seized. Notice
that it's way worse than Police Station (other than it generates power),
and the bonus wears off at the end of the turn.
Another character that really only goes in one deck -- a Manchu
deck. It's often hard to get him to do his trick because you will
need to play the trigger card before the Officer turns to attack. Still,
he can do a little damage, and don't forget to unturn him when an opponent
plays a Soldier.
While you are hoping to get a 2 Fghting-for-1 Power resource character,
these guys are way too slow to be of any use. Fu Student and BuroMil
Grunt can hit for 2 on the first turn, which makes them so much better.
I can't see how this card's ability is that much superior to
stealth. This is one of those oddball storyline characters that
doesn't serve much use. Note the weird Chi resource provided.
Since you are playing Ascended and are probably loaded up on Operation
Killdeers, Stealth is a better way to go.
Well, for 6 power you can expect to take a site unless an opponent has Fox
Pass, Operation Killdeer, Nerve Gas... The fact that this guy can't
be Sacred Hearted just puts him into the quirky pile. He makes a
great interceptor in that he will never be overcome, but I'd rather spend
1 more power on the Eastern King, or 3 less power for Adrienne.
Just say no to drugs, unless you are the one peddling them. The Dope
Den can ruin someone's game. It allows you to blast through
defenders like nobody's business and can find a home in any Ascended
deck. This card works really well in conjunction with the new
Faceoff cards, but there is a big caveat -- if they seize your Opium Den,
all your Faceoffs are completely hosed, so use with care and stock up on
Lodge Politics (one-per-den minimum).
of the Wheel
Pay 2 power to draw 1 card? I think whoever came up with this card
spent too much time at the Opium Den... Is this card better than
Thorns of the Lotus? Well, yes, but that's about all that it's
She makes the cut for a 8 Fighting-for-5 Power because she has a useful
ability. The most obvious effects that Rachel is immune to are the
super-annoying Unique Sites that require turning -- you know the ones...
Kinoshita House, Fox Pass, etc. She is also immune to a few of those
annoying turn effects that come up from time-to-time like White Disciple,
Muckraking Journalist and Die!!!
Here we have another fairly limited card that goes mainly into one deck --
the Bounty deck. Spending 5 power to kill an opponent's Unique
character is a big risk -- and notice that Senior Ocho only has Ambush
when his target is a Unique character -- he has no effect on
interceptors. Operation Killdeer pretty much turns any character
into Senior Ocho for a turn...
This is the weakest effect of all the Faceoffs, and is really only useful
in dueling. See the strategy section on Faceoffs.
Ever wonder what would happen if the Golden Gunman betrayed the Dragons
and went to work for the Ascended? Forget about Leonardo DiCaprio --
this card is the true King of the World. This is one of the few
cards in Shaolin Showdown that is going to have a game changing
effect. Expect to see a lot of him, as he was given out as a promo
with Netherworld 2, and those promos play as the final released
version. For those of you who don't have access to Shaolin Showdown
and only have Promo Eastern Kings, here is the final text:
Unique. Uncopyable. Not a legal target for
Events. When you play him, and at the start of each turn, he gains the
rules text of target Lodge Character until the target leaves
play or the end of the turn.
This is one of the more useful Faceoffs, and the best when used as a
bushwack. See the strategy section on Faceoffs.
of the Spider vPAP
Generally, I want my characters to do something -- the Web doesn't do much
of anything. Since players rarely want to give you free power, this
guy is going to have a big bull's-eye painted on him if they have cards
that play for reduced cost. If you want a 2 cost Lodge character,
Rat Fink at least gets some damage in.
of the Snake
This is a really nasty card for trying to sneak a win. Remember that
characters can only incept at the location they are at. Say you are
in a three player game, and attack player 2's first column for the
win. Then player 3 turns a couple of characters to intercept.
You can YotS to any other column and invalidate that first round of
interception since they are no longer at your location and can't get to
where they need to be.
Song is pretty bland, but he makes a decent hitter. He usually costs
one more power than the Frenchman, but also has one more Fighting, so they
both fit into a Stealth deck. His second ability means that he can
intercept Superleapers even when turned -- it's not much, but it can
rarely come in useful. He also has a designator that has no other
matches in the Ascended (unless you count Yen Fan).
Keep on Truckin' Big Mack is a Site taking machine if he can survive
the swarm of events that will be coming his way. This guy is as
thug-like as you can get, and just loves to fight. He probably rates
at the number three 4-cost Dragon hitter behind T2 and Dr. John.
I hate to say it, but any 5 cost Dragon who doesn't do something damn
nifty (like the old Iala) is a near coaster. You can blame the
Golden Gunman for that. If your feelin' the need for a doctor in
your deck, Dr. John Haynes and Chinese Doctor are both better choices.
Dragons love to visit Sacred Heart Hospital, and surprisingly often you
want your Dragons to die so the can make a Golden Comeback in the next
While this card is a main-stay of a Student deck, there are enough
Foundation characters to trigger it fairly often in a other decks without
having to rely on the more specific Master and Teacher cards. How
good is drawing one card? Well, iffy at best in my opinion unless
you are playing some trick deck like Dra/Asc Student + Bull Market.
Five Body hurts, and House on the Hill is often more useful.
The Blind Master still kicks ass. While he loses a lot of the Golden
Comeback kick ass on someone else's turn potential, he still can be a
solid threat. While he is designed to pump up the Dragon weenie
deck, he can be surprisingly useful if you have a hitter in play.
Don't overlook that he gives all your Dragons Independent -- that can be
Will Avenge You!"
Pay a power to get character after a character you control has been Smoked
by an opponent's attacker or Event? Yikes! This makes Array of
Stunts look good...
At three resources, Jenny is way slow, and 2 Fighting isn't a great
combination with Superleap. She might have potential as a random
hitter in a Gun deck, and should actually be fairly effective in the Can
of Whupass deck since she becomes a whopping 7 Fighting. You also
want her in the Student deck, where with a Sifu or two she becomes a
Superleaping Walking Corpses.
Another card that really only fits in one deck -- a Dragon Gun deck.
Without a gun on her, she's a vanilla thug. But with a Gun, she has
a 50% chance to mob up when attacking. I put her in the Tricia Kwok
range -- nice to have one of in the deck, but Ex-Commando is where your
bread and butter lie. I hate games that come down to winning a coin
flip as well.
This is a card that you are hoping that will pay itself back over time,
giving you a power advantage. In multiplayer it's hard to pull off
since everyone will want these guys to die, but works better in a duel
where you can snipe at their foundation characters. Even though you
are hoping for a 4 Fighting for 2 Power, don't mistake these guys for
Walking Corpses, who are a beating stick and a half.
The Uncle is an okay mid-range character -- his ability doesn't net you
anything directly on the board, but if your deck is stacked with lots of
low-cost cards that you can dump, you can get some benefit out of
him. You really want to avoid filling up your hand with cards you
can't play, and not drawing cards next turn. His ability
doesn't combo with Dirk Wiseley's Gambit though -- by the time you've
drawn the cards, it's too late to play a Gambit if you just drew it.
If this card can do it's trick, then you have a pretty decent 4 Fighting
Superleaper for 3 cost. Getting out two Troupes is fragile, but your
opponents will be taking (or at least trying) and controlling your
sites. You can also do some tricky stuff like playing cards into
your opponents' structure (like Illusory Bridge and Netherworld Portal) to
trigger the Troupe, or even trickier are the 0-cost vehicles (Motorcycle
and Stolen Police Car). Of course, if you want to keep it simple,
Turtle Island works just fine.
Another disappointing card that only goes into one deck, and it's probably
the worst card in the deck. 99% of the time, you will want to wait
for 1 more power to play Iala.
Hwang is a fun card -- and he will aggravate your opponents to no
end. People just hate discarding random cards, and if they have less
than 3 cards in hand, they can't intercept. For added fun splash
Magic resources to zap your opponents with the Curtain of Fullness.
An added bonus is that Hwang only requires two Dragon resources -- he
should be model of what cost/resource requirements should be (yes, T2 is
of the Dragon
These guys are actually pretty cool, and may
find their way into lots of Dragon decks as foundation characters.
Independent is just that cool. They also make a nice combo with
Inauspicious Return, giving you that chance of 3 Independent damage out of
nowhere (but they aren't as good as Scrappy Kids for this). Watch
for their drawback, especially when someone with Toughness is on the
to Kick Ass!"
This card can be marginally useful if you have a larger site structure,
characters that defend well (say with Toughness) or characters that you
want to unturn for a particular reason (Iala Mane, Purist Sorceror).
Unfortunately, most of the time this card is going to clog up your hand.
Yi Quan vPAP
A cost of 6 is what really kills Zheng -- that is just so much to spend on
a character that doesn't have any built in protection from Shadowy Mentor
or Events. Zheng is a can of whupass at 10 Fighting with Guts, but
he's just too close to Kar Fai to be terribly interesting. Playing
one in a Golden Comeback heavy deck might just work out.
Update: Zheng is proving to be really good with Student of the Bear
and Student of the Shark -- that makes him all that much better when you
Mentor him away from the poor sap that actually paid the power to
In a way the Wind Demon is a comeback card. You are really hoping to
get that 1 cost 5 Fighting character in a 4 player game, but more realistically
he's 2 cost, but that's still respectable. I wouldn't load up, but 1
or 2 of these along with a couple of Underworld Trackers makes a nice
mid-rage demon threat. Since he reduces his own cost, you can use
Dragon Throne and other cost reduces to get extra mileage. Argh.. I
only got one Feng Kan to play with out of too many boxes, still, he seems decent the few
times I manage to draw him.
This card may be a little bit better in dueling than I rate it just
because it isn't vulnerable to Hacker like Reburial and Conspiracy.
It really can hose one player really bad -- which is why I don't like it
in multiplayer. Taking one player out of game destabilizes it too
much, and doesn't benefit you nearly as much as the cost. In a duel
where you can Glimpse for quick power, you can hope to completely slow
someone down by hosing all their resources, buying a time advantage.
If you build your deck correctly, most of the time Lai Kuang is a 2 cost 8
Fighting madman. You do need to stock up on demons, but there are
several 3 cost demons that are worth playing, not to mention several good
4 cost. If you want to have some evil fun, try a Dra/Lot deck with
Lai Kuang, 3 cost demons, Wu Ming Yi and Golden Comeback -- non-stop demon
Spend two power to nullify an opponent's site? Ick. This goes
along with all those other incredibly bad 2-cost Lotus states like Veiling
of the Light and and Sphere of Defilement. Definitely not the answer
to the Temple of Angry Spirits.
The Fire Demon is somewhat interesting, and needs more play time to see
how good he really is. He's immune to a couple of cards you really
hate to see (Brawl, Killdeer, Avenging Thunder, Nerve Gas), which makes
him pretty tough. With Dragon Throne, Li Yu could become a second
tier CHAR, but that is still yet to be seen.
Malachi is another card I blew it on with my original assessment. A
1- cost pinger is useful card -- too bad he's rare and so hard to come
by. Providing a magic resource is also a nice bonus.. He
becomes truly dangerous if you are mixing Architects and get his
counterpart Hermes into play. Sigh... you can't use
Inauspicious Return on Malachi or Hermes, so you won't be able to go crazy
with the combo. What is going to become truly frightening is the
Dark Future -- The Purists are going to be introduced as a new faction,
and rumor has it that you will be able to play the Architect and Lotus
Purists by substituting Purist resources -- all of a sudden, Malachi and
Hermes are looking bad-ass.
Well, they're giant Butterfly Knights that only get the free attack
against characters, which really takes them down a notch. What you
want are two site a turn machines, but in reality what you get is a thug
that takes out a character, and then turns to heals. There are much
more fun characters for the Lotus like Seven Evils or The Burning King.
If you are lucky, you can get a dueling soft-lock on your opponent by
smoking everything they put out and turning to heal, but that is very
fragile to Gas/Mentor.
While this card looks okay at first glance, it's hard to pull
off. It gets even harder once your opponents expect it. There
is a reasonable opportunity
cost of having a character with damage counters on it and an opponent
having a character at the same location. Since the Lotus also have
the benefit of Regenerating characters and characters that return to play
when Smoked, Rend Chi is sort of an anti-combo. You are often better off
playing Shattering Fire to get some damage in. Note that removing
damage is Healing, so you can't use this with cards that can't be healed.
He we have as Demon thug -- 6 Fighting-for-4 Power with a so-so
ability. The Water Demon does punish people for playing mono-faction
decks, but since they get to choose how they will intercept, his ability
prevents him from ever being intercepted by two characters of the same
faction, and will always be intercepted by the most advantageous for your
opponent. The best use of Shui Yu is to Rig Dis his ability on the
unwary -- in that way it's almost a drawback if you are going up against
This card doesn't seem to fit in Shaolin Showdown -- a set with very few
Tech cards and set in 1865 China. The Metal Demon seems more like
he'd be unleashed in the dark future... Ti Kan is a specialty card
-- the other 3 cost Demons are more versatile, but if your play group has
lots of Tech players (Architects, Jammers), he can slow them down a little
bit. It's a nice mix up, he kills CHAR, and that +1 damage even hits
sites from time to time.
This is a trick card -- it looks a lot better than it really is. At
3 Lotus resources, it's very slow, and doesn't give you that early game
boost when you need it. That said, it's still okay to throw into a
Demon deck and hope to generate a couple power over a longer game, and
maybe a little more if you overload on stuff to make attacks
unsuccessful. Of course in multiplayer this becomes more a deterrent
to attack than a power generating trick, but not being attack isn't that
bad if your deck has room for a little offense with all the defense.
If this were Magic the Gathering, this card would be Crusade. While
not all Hand characters gain the bonus, enough do to make this card worth
while. You have to protect your front-row site where you've played
this, but that's what the Hand excels at. Be sure to always factor
in 18 Bronze Men -- with all the new modifying cards in Shaolin Showdown,
you can often sneak in some wins by your opponent's miscalculating your
actual Fighting scores.
This is the best of the Faceoffs, potentially gaining you the most
advantage. You really want this when playing against the Architects,
as that Nerve Gas or Neutron Bomb is gonna be a package of smackage.
See the strategy section on Faceoffs.
Make no mistake, this guy is Not-so-Gooda(tm). On his own, he's 7
Fighting-for-5 power. That's only marginally better than a Hopping
Vampire considering he requires 4 resources. If he stays alive, he
has two abilities that are hard to set up. Having lots of Swordsmen
for him to pump up is always difficult, and that means you have to be
playing with Swordsman who are incredibly bad. Playing with Sword
states to trigger his second ability isn't bad in itself, but giving up
2-3 damage and paying 1 power to essential Op Killdeer is harsh.
Flying Sword Stance is your best bet to trigger him, but of course you
never have the 2 Chi because you are playing crappy Swordsmen...
Increased hand size for you is good. Increased hand size for
everyone else is bad. In a 4 player game, that's six more chances
for everyone to have a Nerve Gas or Op Killdeer or Final Brawl or Neutron
Bomb... You might be able to get away with the Dragon Boat Festival
in a few highly specialized decks revolving around Xaoyan Yun, but it's
risky. Because of the establishing shot order (generate, unturn,
discard, draw), you can try to manipulate the Dragon Boat so that only you
get the benefit of the extra cards by using Cabinet Minister (or a card
that would turn an edge), but this is often too fragile.
This is one the most general of the Faceoffs -- it works decently for
Bushwhacks and for trying to generate a little offense on your turn.
See the strategy section on Faceoffs.
Sai Yuk vPAP
We pretty much have the same old Sai Yuk, with the addition of a gravy
ability. He's still real good, and a nice extra addition to a Hand
deck, but still ranks behind Sun Chen and the Iron Monkey.
Outside the Bandit deck, Gong Wei is a useless thug. Inside the
deck, he's letting you get a soft-lock. You are hoping to sacrifice
your 1-cost Rebel trash to get back all your Confucians, Robusts, Iron and
Silks, etc. Probably the best is to get back your Rig Dis so you can
go turbo. This card will need to see some play to time see if he
just winds up being worth playing, or if you find that you'd rather draw
Wind of the Mountain over him.
A very interesting character indeed -- if you take the vow of poverty, the
Impoverished Monk can reap you rewards, but without it, he's nothing more
than another noodle peddler with a shaved head. Requiring two
resources, he's a little slow to give the early game beat down that you'd
really like to achieve with him. To work around that, cards that
work in conjunction with the Impoverished Monk to pump up his damage and
Fighting are the way to go. 18 Bronze Men and Temple of the Shaolin
Dragon give him some size, and Try My Kung Fu makes a poor monk near
invulnerable with Toughness:2. Point Blockage is an obvious combo
since he can use it in conjunction with Superleap.
Well, for 5 power you really want Sun Chen or Hung Hei Kwon, but this guy
ain't the worst kid on the block. He lets you stock up on
situational cards or cards that you don't want multiples of and lets you
burn through them -- drew your second Shield of Pure Soul? Not a
problem for Li Sen-Hao. His respectable 8 Fighting puts him on the
cusp of being playable, but only in a deck where you expect to draw at
least some Chi cards.
Every time I've tried playing this guy, I've always wished he were
something else -- anything else! Yes, he does let you play your
Butterfly Swords more reliably (and the Swordsman deck can stall on Chi
sometimes) or a surprise Thunder Sword, but he's way too fragile, and
loading up on cards that you can only play while the Blacksmith is in play
is going to lead you to death by clogged hand. Into the Light (and
Spirit Pole) are going to get your swords back into your hand faster and
2 Power for +1 Fighting and an evasion ability? That's weak.
And my opponent gets to use it against me? That's crazy.
Flying Sword Stance is about 90% as good as Master Killer, and wont bite
you in the ass.
Another highly combo-dependant card, Master Swordsman can be worth playing
if you do so with care have your deck tuned well. Without a weapon,
he's a vanilla 4 Fighting-for-3 cost -- that's not what you want, but can
take a site worse case scenario. If you can drop a Tiger Hook on
him, he becomes a respectable 5 Fighting, 7 Damage ginsu killer with CHARs
no-damage reduction ability -- not bad for 4 power.
Fong's mom isn't a character to build a deck around, but is a support
character instead. She goes okay with larger characters that tend to
soak up damage -- but if she is your only character in play you have a
glorified Shaolin Monk Shih Ho Kuai is about the best to go
with her, as he has the same relatively low cost, and can get big enough
to soak up some damage. Mom can also go as your offense in a Faceoff
deck -- not for the actual Faceoffs, but as a clean up hitter afterwards.
The jury is still out on Wu, who is really master of the Yellow
principal. Yellow Senshei chamber rocks, but Yellow Monk is hard to
use. I think Wu will be somewhere in the middle. Notice that
his ability triggers every time (the other are only single use) and he can
redirect any type of damage. This is not the card for those who can't work
out complex damage in their head before attacks, or who are not wizards at
the complex redirection rules. Still, at 5-cost you are almost
always going to want Sun Chen or Hung Hei Kwon.
out of Chaos
Can anyone say free Hacker? Especially against the Hand, where you
are not expecting the nasty Toast or Power stealing events. This
falls into the realm of Cyclone of Knives and maybe Far-seeing Rice Grains
-- a fun card, but risky. This card also has odd resource
requirements -- you can meet them anywhere from early game with two Golden
Candles, or get stuck with it until mid-game if you are playing only
.Bleah -- a conditional 2-Fighting-for-1 Power with no other abilities
isn't worth the cardboard it's printed on if it's not a resource
character. Notice that these guys aren't cumulative -- +1 Fighting
is all they get regardless of how many peasants in play.
This guy is highly annoying -- don't expect him to live long in
multiplayer. Throwing one or two in a deck can clear up a little
garbage and offer a little bit of fun. Always tasty if you are
playing with a card that lets you sacrifice -- say a Ravenous Devourer.
I expect to see him every now and then -- too bad he doesn't provide Chi,
or he'd be top-notch.
This is a card I recommend for lucky people -- if you're lucky, you've
just got yourself a hack 6 damage for only 3 power. If you're
unlucky (like me), you got a cruddy 2 damage.
The verdict is still out on this card, and it's going to cause a lot of
timing disputes. The obvious use is in combination with
Superleapers, but there are several other powerful uses for this
card. It also turns sites, that lets you get in a pre-emptive strike
against those sites that can foil an attack when used during your
turn. Of course one of the most powerful uses is on your opponent's
turn to shut down part of their offense -- if they don't attack as first
action, you are turning a bunch of their characters, denying them
attacks. Watch out for decks that try to recycle Shaking the
Mountain and get you into a semi-lock.
In theory, this guy can net you 2 power under the right conditions -- but
if those conditions never come up, you pretty much have a bland 1 cost
resource character. I expect to see him the most in a Dragon Dojo
deck where you are drawing cards -- but honestly, the Fu Student is much
better, and if you want to play Chi with any reliability, you are probably
going to have to ditch most of your Shaolin Students for Golden Candle
This is an interesting Event is that it's both offensive and
defensive. The most common use with be with a resource character as
an interceptor to stick an extra 2 damage on an attacker (and hopefully
Smoke it in the process). The most tech use of Superior Kung Fu is
when attacking -- say you are attacking with an Impoverished Monk who
winds up being intercepted by a 3 Fighting character -- with Superior Kung
Fu your monk will overcome the defender and damage the target of the
attack, causing it to be successful, even if he is going to be Smoked at
the end of the turn.
Ick. Gack. Superior Technology for swordsmen with
swords. And you can move them around. Not so good. What
you are hoping to do is attack with a thug with a sword, then pay 1 power
to move the sword to someone else and attack with them again. Remind
you of anyone? Gunrunner maybe? So, do Gunrunner + limited
Superior Technology add up? Get out the drinks, it's coaster time.
of the Shaolin Dragon
Another mid-late game pumping card, the Temple is nice in that it's an 8
Body Feng Shui site with the added defense ability. With all the +
Fighting cards the Hand has now, it's almost impossible to keep track of
everything without slowing the game down with ponderous recounts. I
like this card over Temple of Boundless Meditation, but both can go in the
same deck and are good for turtling as well as offense.
In the right deck, you can gain a little bit of spending change with this
Event -- notice that it's the first rare non-unique we've had in a
while. While you can use it in a Faceoff deck, generally Unique
characters are doing battle all the time -- now you just have to make sure
it's the other guys character getting smoked, not yours. Remember
the unusually high four resource cost on this card.
The Guiding Hand got a number of relatively high Fighting thugs this
set -- Tong Su fits right in with the rest of them. You have to have
at least 4 cards in your hands to get him the equivalent of a Shaolin
Master -- and generally an 8 Fighting-for-5 Power isn't good enough of a
deal to make it a game winner. To really make this guy worth
playing, you want around a reliable 10 Fighting -- which means you will
have to keep 6 cards in hand most of the time, which means playing with
cards that increase hand size. The Guiding Hand have Temple of
Boundless Meditation, Dragon
Boat Festival and Orange Senshei. I am a big fan of the Orange
Chamber -- I often play it even in mono-hand decks for the +1 hand size
and as a power generating site. The Temple can get you a few cards,
but you are playing it for itself -- Tong is more a combo with it than it
is a combo with Tong. Dragon Boat is a bit more iffy since
it gives the same bonus to your opponents (unless you are doing something
goofy like turning it or canceling it during your main shot). The
same goes for Art of War. Sunless Sea Ruins is very hard to play
with, but their may be something interesting that someone figures out that
fits right into the Hand's ultimate goals.
Remember at some point fighting doesn't matter. I
would guess it's about 11-14 depending on the board situation. A 12
Fighting Tong is mostly likely as good as a 24 Fighting Tong, so don't go
overboard. The bottom line -- if you
have a control-based deck that wants a large hand size (or are playing a
Peacock Deck), Tong Su Yi makes a nice backup hitter, but he's not going
to replace Sun Chen or Hung Hei Kwon.
My Kung Fu!"
In the right deck, this card is a nice speed bump. By the right
deck, I mean one where you are likely to have the correct designator in
play, and hopefully with a resource character. Unfortunately, that's
often hard to do, but Impoverished Monk is a favorite target for this
Another thug the Hand doesn't need. He's a below average 7
Fighting-for-5 power if you don't have a State on him, and when you do
have a State, he pretty much is the equivalent of a character with
Stealth. Sun Chen blows this guy out of the water. And you
know this guy is going to be the victim of a Shadowy Mentor, so you
opponent will have Jin doing his trick while you cry over your lost
The Master of the Fox Style is another mediocre addition to the Hand's
arsenal. He's got a respectable Fighting for his cost, but his
ability only works against specialty decks. He's basically Kan Li's older and
better brother. The Hand has been spoiled by Leung Mui, Iron Monkey
and Virtuous Hood in the 4-cost range/
The Hand has been missing a 6 Fighting-for-4 cost Superleaper for a long
time. Too bad this guy had to come out after the Iron Monkey, who
has raised the bar insanely high. Mixing in Ascended or just ganking
a Family Estate makes Yen Fan even sweeter -- you can reduce his cost to
an insanely low 3. The ability to block Stealth attacker wont come
into play much, but it's still nothing to knock.
Strictly a fun card, especially if you like jumping up and down shouting
ook ook ook at the table. On their own, the Squad does not stick out
as exceptional, but they shine if you can combine them with a State or two
for some extra damage. Flying Monkey Homemade Tank Squad is a 5 cost
7 Fighting Superleaping Independent ape of doom with Toughness:1. Is
that crazy or what?
Now that I've played with the Grenade few times, it's not at bad as I
While the butt-monkey doesn't live up to the Iron Monkey, Koko does have
some potential. Gorilla Fighters have a bit more juice in the
Independent realm, but Koko has a few tricks. If you are playing
with non-Feng Shui sites to generate power or cards that put you farther
from victory, you can actually get some action out of the butt-monkey --
non-Feng Shui sites make great targets, and she is a must for a Jammer
Monkeys, Mo' Problems
Maybe you are squeezing one of these into a deck -- but what do you take
out? I think I always want Payback Time (or a second one to replace
the first one that is going to get zapped). Since the trigger cards
are mostly semi-expensive cards, you can't go crazy with this card.
Note that you also don't get to draw from Monkey House or Temple of the
Monkey King since they have to be played face down. Too bad this
card doesn't trigger off of opponents cards -- that way you could scoff
when your opponent plays Iron Monkey... well, maybe not...
The Rats are probably a one-of in a lot of Jammer decks. Sometimes you
really want to get rid of those Edges, and almost every faction has a way
now. In the worse case scenario, you have a vanilla mid-range
character, and we all know they can take sites in a pinch.
What hurts this card is that you can't play it in response -- you are
going to get nailed by the pesky site the first time, and that is often
when they hurt the most. You can try blind Sabotage, but that may
not get you very far. Probably the best use for this card is with
Proving Ground to stop your opponents Whirlpools. Honestly, if you are really worried about
turning sites, start packing some Monkey Wrenchings, and really turn up
the annoyance factor.
He's coasteriffic! You always want Fire Warriors over this
guy. Not only will Warriors help you out of a resource screw, they
have the potential to get even bigger than 3 Fighting.
While this guy pretty much only goes into a Fire deck, what makes this guy
potentially strong is Feeding the Fires -- he is right in that
range where you can really bust out with only two fire counters. His
ability triggers every now and then, and you can pack some extra Chi-cards
in your deck to try and take advantage of it. I don't know how good
the Fire-Chi deck is, and maybe just a straight Fire deck will do better.
of the Fire Righteous
The Mouth be really nasty. Sure he has some juice in a Fire deck,
pumping up attacking characters and getting a cost break from Feeding the
Fires, but his real power is in his damage ability. That extra 3
points really can shake up a defense and let you burn that needed site,
and then use the burn power to roast anyone who comes your way with the
Mouths ability. The Mouth's lack of a gas mask just might be enough
to keep him in check (and maybe a little Listerine if he gets bad breath).
of the Fire Righteous
Yet another card for only one deck -- the Fire-Chi deck. This Path is a
souped up Training sequence, with a few goodies. You can play it
early game on a resource Fire character to get you some Chi (although
there are very few Chi cards to play early game since you already have
access to Magic for Pocket Demon), but I think the best use is late game
where you can respond to Operation Killdeer or a Puzzle Garden with some
sneaky CHAR-like tech.
While this card is going to be a mainstay of the Fire-Chi deck, it's still
okay in a Monarch deck with a couple of Fire hitters because of it's negligible
cost. Sure, Chi resources, whatever -- play your goofy Chi
cards. What makes the card good is the Mentor protection. I
can't count how many times the Fire King has betrayed me to work for the
Ascended. Now with the Inner Fire, it's time for some payback.
Hrm... this card kind of looks like Buro Godhammer, only worse. Why
do I say worse? Godhammer
kicks butt because the Architects have so many Ambushers. While I
was tuning a Swordsman deck, I eventually migrated out the Butterfly
Swords for Tiger Hook Swords -- the speed was worth giving up 1 extra
on the Water
This is one of those cards I always want to play with, but wind up cutting
at the last minute to trim down a deck. It's a fine card, and lets
you blast through for some damage, often letting you sneak in a
burn. This could be tasty in the Fire-Chi deck with Spirit Pole to
make sure you have it when you need it.
of the Master
This one is right up there with Orange Meditation. Sure, it lets you
save your Swords from impending death, but only if you have another
character. And you had to draw your swords -- I always wound up
drawing this card over States that actually did something useful.
of the Clever Fox
Stealing Power is good. Paying a high cost for it is questionable.
Clever Fox is half the price of Virtuous Hood and Iron Monkey, two cards
that I am a huge fan of. I think 9 times out of 10 you are going to
be happier drawing them over this State. Save this slot in your deck
for The Fox Outfoxed, a card that has the potential to show you a
of the Healthy Tiger
Another card that is awkward to use, Health Tiger is another State that I
am not a fan of. Sure, it will let your big hitter take a site if
they've been beaten up, but why let them get beaten up in the first
place? Let me tell you a Shadowfist proverb,
Grasshopper. The road to victory is slick with the Blood of
of the Lurking Rat
Well, we all know what a coaster Undercover is -- so what makes this card
any better? Well, actually, it is quite a bit better just because
you can put a stop to crazy site madness with Lurking Rat -- and he can
hit almost any site on the board. Having played with Palm of
Darkness, this is a really useful ability, and don't forget you can also
play this State in response to someone using the site that is the target
of the attack for extra style points.
of the Praying Mantis
Eep -- here we have a Really Big Gun, but only useable against characters,
and sort of a Toughness against 1 cost character. Neither one of
these adds up to 1 power though. Now we know why Dunwa became a
traitor -- being a mantis bites...
of the Raging Bear
Hrm... for 2 power I can turn any character into Sam Mallory... Not
a great deal, as Sam is only marginal at best. We know that
character + state is an inherently weaker combination that the character
with the innate ability. It does give you more flexibility, but the
added cost usually offsets it to the point of being sub-standard, like in
this case. Sam would have to be a 3-cost 7 Fighting vanilla
character to equal out with Path of the Raging Bear. Still, this
State is pretty if you can get it onto Sam, giving him uber toughness.
of the Storm Turtle
This is the best of the Chi paths -- it comes out fairly fast and free,
and works against a decent amount characters. A few factions make
this card pretty useless, but it only slows you down a turn since you can
drop it at no cost if you have a character in play. The trick
is that it goes in the decks with Golden Candles and a few other low-cost
Chi-providers like Noodle Lady and Gardener -- watch out for a lot of the
new Shaolin Showdown cards that don't provide Chi.
This is another difficult card to play, but it can have a huge annoyance
factor. It doesn't quite make the cut as a 1 point Fusion Rifle,
especially since it cant damage sites. So we have to look at the
doesn't unturn ability. About the only use for this is on a
conditional superleaper -- you are looking to drop this on Impoverished
Monk or Rig Dis Superleap on to its subject.
of a Thousand Steps
Half a Shadowfist for 2 power? Get this out of here. This card
often works out to be a measly Toughness:1, and you are wonder why you
wasted your power on it when you could have played Path of the Storm
|None this set.
|None this set.
Ker-BLAM! Damn that's a lot of extra damage. This is a nice
card to sneak in for effect, and is even better if you are playing Johnny
Tso or Ice Commandos and can get it out for free. If your especially
gutsy, you can try for a second turn burn with the Elephant Gun, but this
only works if your opponent stalls -- First turn: FSS, 1 cost char
-- Second turn: Attack, Gun -- this is the same deal as Explosives,
but only more costly.
This site is a departure from the Battlegrounds of the past -- it's effect
isn't character based, and there is no power involved in seizing it (in
fact it can't even be seized unless it's text is cancelled by say Palm of
Darkness). I think this card will become a staple of Battleground
site decks just because of its throw away nature -- it only costs you
playing a site for the turn, and doesn't give your opponents any
advantage. The site could also see some play in highly tuned
defensive decks, but the fact that it isn't going to trigger Shield of
Pure Soul makes it less desirable.
of the Master
This sword is big, and definitely a useful card. It's in that range
where it gives a vehicle-like Fighting bonus, but if fails because it
doesn't interact with
weapon designator cards (like Johnny Tso and Ice Commandos). The
damage-negating ability comes up surprisingly often -- not only does Sword
of the Master negate other States (guns and vehicles), there are numerous
characters that get whittled down when confronted with this sword (like
Ting Ting and Fu Students). A decent card, but not being a Weapon
keeps it from greatness.
Yeesh -- here we have yet another Really Big Gun, but this time only if
you play it on a Martial Artist. I think Flying Windmill Kick as
taught us that coin-flipping for extra damage just can't be counted on to
win games. Every time I'd go for a pump-action of this just for the
Just when you thought you had seen all the Really Big Guns, here comes
another. Actually, I like Tiger Hook Swords for one reason -- their
designator. In a weapon deck, I would recommend these over RBGs if
you don't lose much interaction just to save you from Discerning
Fire. About the only swordsman worth playing is the Master
Swordsman, so don't load up your deck with coasters just to trigger the
draw a card part of Tiger Hook Swords.
This card I just don't know about. I like offense and dislike
Turtles, so I think I will find some uses for this card. Scrappy
Kids and characters with Stealth would seem to combo with it since you can
declare low risk attacks. Shaking the Mountain seems like another
card to force your opponents hand. This also seems like it could
have cool interaction with a few of the more annoying sites like Temple of
Angry Spirits, Cave Network, Blessed Orchard and Market Square. I
don't think the Inn is strong enough in itself (they can just spend all
their power every turn and ignore it) to build a deck around, but it can
augment the right type of offense.
About the only thing this site is good for is replacing those aging Sacred
Grounds in your deck. Yes, it's big, but it gets small surprisingly
fast, especially if it gets revealed early or you can't defend it.
The basic trick you are hoping for is to get it down to 1 body, so any
attack against it will smoke the Ancient Monument and cause an
This Shrine's relatively weak ability doesn't quite warrant the low body
of 6, even if it does trigger Hidden Shrine. Remember that this
can't be done in response to a site turning, so some of the time you will
have to reveal this early and target an unrevealed site and hope to get
lucky. Most of the time you are going to with this was a Whirlpool
This site is harsh -- it gets damage through unless it's Whirlpooled.
Remember to hold off using this until the current round of interceptions
has been declared, since it will invalidate intercepting characters --
only a fool would use this as a pre-emptive strike unless you wanted to
Smoke itself. Don't overlook those highly damage but well-defended
sites -- often a foundation character can attack with the aid of Four
Sorrows Island and get in a burn.
Hey look everyone! It's the baby Temple of Angry Spirits! This
sucker is rare, so it least you wont see one (or two) in every deck like
you do with Temple. This one is a no brainer -- play it, kill your
opponent's characters, win. This is just going to add to the pain
and slow the game down even more, which it just didn't need.
With a respectable 8 Body, Heaven's Peak can fit into any deck.
While it may be hard to find room in some of the more tightly tuned decks,
the average fun deck can benefit. This doesn't trigger off of
turning to attack, but it does trigger off of turning to intercept.
It also triggers off of cards that are turned as part of a cost -- so
White Disciple turning to do damage will trigger the Peak, as will turning
a bunch of characters to play the cost for Die!!!
This site I really love, and I think it's the strongest non-unique site in
the set. It almost always gets you a power back, and often many
more. There are several strong combos with Market Square: It
triggers a first turn 2 Fighting Fu Student. It goes well with
sites/cards that slow up attacks like Kinoshita House and Fox
Pass. And it goes great with the Architects 1-cost Events --
you can fake out your opponent by having no power, only to zap their
attack with the power you gained.
This is a tough card to get a real feel for. I guess it could become
a respectable size in a deck that burns through a lot of cards and uses
them to grow to epic proportions. But, I think you are usually
better off with some of the inherently big sites like Tangram Alley if you
want to go that way. So that leaves us with using Plains of Ash in a
deck where you are randomly returning cards from your Smoked Pile to play
with Netherworld Return, In Your Face Again or Fighting Spirit -- I think
you might be able to get some synergy here with the Plains, but remember
they are unique, so it's going to be somewhat unreliable if you play just
a couple in your deck, or is going to clog your hand if you overload.
Generating 2 Power a turn is the shiznat. Generating 0 ain't.
To use this card reliably, you need some healing effects in your deck --
that means playing Hand (not necessarily that bad) and/or playing lots of
Stone Gardens (usually not the best as you want more versatility).
What kills this site is the Limited restriction -- that makes it almost
impossible to build a deck around, so you are loading up on combo cards
that you will never get to use. I have seen many a game where the
controller of Primeval Forrest has begged for someone to come over and
take a damaged one just so they can start generating power again.
of the Monkey King
While this card can have some nice synergy in a lot of surprising
situations, it has it's true home in 2061 under the Architects
control. This is the site that is going to allow you to zap the
Golden Gunman and the Eastern King with your Nerve Gasses and
Imprisoned. Unfortunately you can't blank your own characters (the
target has to be attacking) and set up some crazy Demon Queen madness, but
since this Temple is non-unique, you don't have to worry about drawing
multiples or auctions, not to mention a respectable 8 Body.
This fool is currently unplayable without some crazy stunts like Comrades
in Arms -- we'll just have to wait and see...