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art (c) Mike Trap

The new set, Shaolin Showdown, has been out for a few weeks, and we are starting to get a feel for how the cards play.  Here are some of our top picks -- we don't always agree on everything, but this list can maybe reveal a few insights on what cards will become prominent in play.  We also have a full review of Shaolin Showdown if you want to get further opinions on the cards.

Trading for these cards is going to be hard -- Shaolin Showdown just has too many durn cards in it.   This makes it impossible to trade for anything but crap.  All the good cards are in such demand that no one wants to trade them away.  It's even difficult to get some commons and uncommons.  Again, the reprints are highly annoying -- I think about 15% of the rares are reprints, and that means throwing away 3-4 packs for box, which really hurts.

Well, one card we all agree about is the Eastern King.  When I asked people to come up with Top 5 lists, I really should have asked for Top 4.  If you don't know why the EK is so good, play him a bit.  There is a really good EK dueling deck over in the decks section.

Hartwell Iron Works is another card that makes it to the top lists.  While it's not as brutal as the Temple of Angry Spirits, it's another no-brainer for inclusion in most decks.  What's extra annoying is that the Iron Works is a major-hoser for the new themes of Students, Swordsmen and Manchus in Shaolin Surprise.

Tim and Jan are both fans of Rachel McShane.  I haven't had a chance to play her yet, and she just doesn't jump out at me.  She is sort of in the category of Raven Li -- she looks good, but it's just so hard to find a place for her in a deck (not to mention being overshadowed by the EK).  I'm going to slip the 1 Rachel I have to play with in a Draco deck and see how she plays -- I would probably be more enthusiastic about this card if I had at least 2 to play with.

Opium Den looks to be another possible top card in the set.  While it really stinks if an opponent seizes it and tries to use the Dope Den against you, you may have noticed the fortuitous inclusion of Lodge Politics in Shaolin Showdown -- there is a hint if I've ever seen one.

Other cards that are in contention for some of the top spots are Shaking the Mountain, Mouth of Fire Righteous, Iala Mane, Yen Fan, Temple of the Shaolin Dragon and several others.  

Ryan Angell sent us in his picks for Shaolin Showdown:

Bear Vs Fox : I rank this number one over the Eastern King because it introduces a new gameplay mechanic.  Though we have noticed that the Faceoffs do not cycle very fast and they often just sit in your hand waiting for the right conditions. 

Eastern King : This one is obvious so he slides down a rank. Not much thought required, play and take sites. The temple of the monkey king has been squeaked into decks round here to deal w/ the EK and GG. 

Peasant Leader : the peasant leader is great and is the cheapest character stealing character dethroning the purist sorcerer. With out any boosts he takes a Vivisector, a scrappy kid, an Arcanotech, the Emperor, or that Golden Gunman that is sitting on your opponents side with one fighting left. He gets really fun conjunction with your own Vivi's and goes well in a storm of the just deck.

Swords : No sword in particular. just a nice variation to the BGB decks. BSB...

Tong Su Yin : So I have seen far the supercomputer Tong Su Yin deck/State of Emergency deck and the Shi Zui Hi/TSY deck -- not tournament stuff but fun. 

Oops -- I forgot 18 Bronze Men - this might be tournament worthy if it included the Golden Candle Society too...

Honorable mention goes to Hartwell Iron Works' built in deathtrap, Commander Corliss' interesting ability, and the rules cards blatant waste of cardboard -- we had a contest to see how many rules cards you could pull from one box and our record was five...

The Worst...

We can't mention the best cards in the set without mentioning a few of the worst.  These are cards that are going to get you laughed at for playing.  If you're playing Forgotten Shrine (or maybe even Ancient Monument), you should consider swapping them for Sacred Grounds.  Larcenous Fog isn't a magic bullet for the Temple.  Tsung Jin (who should have been the Orange Master) is just screaming out "Mentor me!"  I Will Avenge You!  Not!  Order of the Wheel might be playable if Family Estate didn't exist, but it does, so it isn't.  Even the movie can't save Master Killer, which is truly worthy of living up to the Unique State precedent started by Fist of Legend.  Don't forget Sword Dance... shudder...


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