Author: Jan Malina
When you first construct a deck for Shadowfist you must ask yourself how you want to go about the path to victory. As the victory conditions are clear in Shadowfist it is then only a question of how your deck is going to fulfill those conditions. If for example you want a board control deck that slowly establishes itself or a quick deck whose goal is to weaken your opponent early. There are certain strategies which are better preformed by some factions than others so, your strategy for winning should determine which faction(s) the deck should consist of. Now that you have determined which factions you are playing you want to consider what play environment you want the deck for. If you wish to create a good dueling deck the cards you select will be very different from the cards chosen for a multiplayer deck.
Card selection is the second most important part of Shadowfist besides play skill. It is important to have the cards you want at the time you need them. To have this happen you must carefully balance the cards that you select for a deck. The first cards that you select should be the cards that go toward the theme of the deck, the cards you chose the faction for. If for example you are making an ascended stealth deck this is when you put in those gruff lieutenants. Next you should look for cards that complement the cards you have already selected. In the case above Explosives would be good because it allows you to deal more damage to their site after you bypass their characters with stealth. These cards can also be staple cards for the faction that you are playing such as Nerve Gas for the Architects or Tortured Memories for the Eaters of the Lotus.
After your core you should put in cards that are good regardless of what your opponent may be playing. This is not the time to add Lodge Politics but it is a good time to add big characters. You want characters which are able to take sites away from your opponent and which are not vulnerable to cards that can get them off the board such as Nerve Gas. Characters without special abilities should be avoided. CHAR makes a great example of a character you want to play. He is immune to a large variety of effects and at six fighting for four power he is easily affordable early in the game. As a general guide unless the character has a very good ability, six fighting for four power or eight fighting for five power is the least you should get out of your characters. No matter what an opponent is playing character removal is good. Any card that lets you remove a character from the play area is worth considering. High cost states should be played with care as they can easily be removed by killing the character.
Now is the time to add cards to mess with your opponent. This can be specific to a certain deck if you know that deck type will give your deck problems or is popular in your area.
After you have the core of the deck it is good to decide which sites you want to play. The sites determine a decks success or failure perhaps more so than any other factor. You probably want to include a mix of high, seven and above, and low, six and below, sites for the deck. Your initial selections should be based on what works well with your deck; Turtle Beach in the stealth ascended deck. Then what sites work against your opponents possible strategies. Any site that has the possibility of generating more than one power a turn is good. Never overlook the Family Home just because of the low body. Remember that when it is in the back row the body of the site is of minimal importance. Sites that have no or very limited abilities should be avoided unless they directly relate to the point of your deck.
Next resource characters should be selected. This is probably the easiest part of deck construction. As a basic guide the higher the ratio of resources a character provides to the cost of the character the better it is. In less you are playing Cave Networks for example three cost resource characters should generally be avoided as should two cost characters with minimal or no abilities. If you are playing Dragon then Hacker would be a better selection than Ring Fighter.
At this point you must examine the cards you have selected. I like to have a quarter of the cards in the deck be Feng Shui sites of sites. That way you will be able to play a second site on turn two the vast majority of the time. For resource characters I like a quarter resource characters for a two or more faction deck and a fifth for a single faction deck. The rest of the cards should be cards that fit the theme and strategy of the deck. It is always good to have cards you can play early to cycle through the deck. Also it is good to include cards that can stop your opponent(s) from winning should they make a winning bid. If you find your deck to be imbalanced then you are led to the next segment.
The hardest part of deck making is knowing what to cut. You want your deck to be as tight as possible so the fewer cards the more better. This is the time to remove cards that you just threw in or cards that have limited usefulness such as Operation Greenstrike. If you can�t cut down your deck anymore then you know that you have the best deck you are capable of having.
The last step to deck building is kicking butt. Go out there find an opponent and beat them senseless. If this does not work then you should reevaluate some of your card choices and rebuild or tweak the deck. This can be as simple as changing around a few sites or as hard as totally reworking the basic deck concept. Above all remember that this is Shadowfist so have fun.
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