A CCG by the now defunct Daedalus Games. Based on wild Hong Kong action movies, such as those featuring Jackie Chan, John Woo, or Chow Yun-Fat. The storyline relates to a secret war between a number of time-travelling factions for control of sites around the world with good feng shui. This sounds like a strange plotline, and it is, but the idea is that one cannot change history without changing control of feng shui sites; if you can wrest control of such sites away from someone else, history will alter in your favor.

No matter how strange the premise, it's fun in that it allows you to have, for example, vat-grown Abominations with Really Big Guns waging war against Hopping Vampires on Motorcycles. The game mechanics are similar to Magic: The Gathering in many ways, with your "creatures" (in Shadowfist, "characters") attacking your opponent's territory, but there is also an added strategic location aspect where characters can only defend nearby locations. Sadly, it is among the many dead CCG's, and may be difficult to find.

Card sets are Limited, Standard, Netherworld, and Flashpoint.

I have to write a more glowing commentary on Shadowfist. I must admit, I've seen relatively few of the movies of the Hong Kong action genre on which the game is based. However, this game is the most fun I've ever had with a card game, and I've played Magic, Jyhad (now Vampire: The Eternal Struggle), Heresy (another really good dead CCG), and a few others. There are two things which distinguish this game: subject matter and play mechanics, which work well together to create an excellent overall flavor.

In the subject matter category, I just need to point out that things can get even weirder than SabreCat described. Sure, it's a war throughout time fought over control of points with massive feng shui in order to control all of history, but that's not THAT strange on its own. Things get sort of bizarre when you take the Ascended, former animals in human shape who are secretly conspiring with the military-industrial complex to rule the world, ally them with the Four Monarchs of the Netherworld, and pit the alliance against the Architects of the Flesh, technological magicians from a future fascist state who went back in time to harvest demons, and then brought them forward in time so that they could mutate them and cybernetically enhance them into abominations--a rather unpleasant fighting force. If you have more players, you might find the Shaolin of the Guiding Hand dropping by to kick some ass (their chi is strong). Add to that the crazy items (SabreCat mentioned the Really Big Gun, which I think is dwarfed in sheer coolness by the Bag Full of Guns or the Probability Manipulator) and wonderfully chaotic events (Who's the Big Man Now? and Tick...Tick...Tick... come to mind), and you've got some serious coolness going on. All of this is just magnified by frequently hilarious flavor text on the cards (for example, "You have the subtle powers of chi manipulation. I have an entire battalion of slavering, bioengineered ogres, howling for blood. Wonder which of us is going to win, hmmm?" on Abominable Wave, or, "Grenades are much more effective in the movies than in real life. This ain't real life," on Grenade Launcher, or even, "Don't ask us; even we don't know," on Mysterious Stranger).

The play mechanics work very well with the theme. Just as the ideas behind the game are completely over-the-top, involving more bizarre premises than you can shake a stick at, so too is the play. The game is littered with crazily overpowered cards, such that the balance of power can change radically in a moment. So many of the events allow players to keep their power hidden until things look as though one of their opponents is about to win, that one never knows what will happen, because the game is pretty good at filling up each person's hand every round. This is very different from many games, and it can cause people to be a little paranoid, but it's an absolute blast if you're in the right mood.

Not a game for everyone or all times, by any means, but if you aren't looking for finely-tuned play balance, but are instead interested in doing lots of cool, fun stuff, it's a fabulous choice.

UPDATE: I wanted to add a link to mcguffins: the big fat lie--it starts out with a pretty good description of what is at stake if you lose the game. :-)
Shadowfist has made a Golden Comeback! Z-Man Games, Inc. acquired ShadowFist and has already released new products based upon this classic! Check them out at http://www.shadowfist.com

Shadowfist followed the grand success of Magic: The Gathering. It easily outdid M:TG in style, and they had a unique approach to the inevitable problems. When the first edition came out they soon realized that the Ascended's ability to steal power from other players was imbalancing, especially in the early stages of one-on-one games. The M:TG response would be to use rule changes to limit the number of Mole Network cards allowed in a deck. But Daedalus fixed the problem with the Netherworlds expansion by introducing Hacker. This scrappy fighter pops out of your hand and into play for free if an opponent tries to steal any of your power. No new rules, no errata, and fun new strategies!


Medium: Card Game
Publisher: Daedalus Entertainment Inc.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not a card game fan. When I play card games, I tend to play a conservative game, building my own power base and not attacking much. The rest of my gaming group is the same. This approach, however, is simply inappropriate for Shadowfist, the card-based companion game to Feng Shui. Shadowfist was fun, even in our rather low-key playtest, but I can sense that it would be a lot more fun in the butt-kicking style it was written for.

As card games go, Shadowfist is pretty good. The artwork is attractive and well-rendered, and many of the characters found on the cards also appear in the Feng Shui rulebook. The rules were fairly easy to learn -- unless we were doing something drastically wrong -- and there is a nice range of groups and abilities to work with.

The backstory of Shadowfist is identical to that of Feng Shui: players must compete with various other powers from a variety of time periods who are trying to gain control of the world's mystical power sites. Each player's goal is to accumulate a certain number of feng shui sites (very important -- stack your deck with them), and whoever gets enough first wins.

Each site under your control nets you a certain amount of power each round (make sure you have tokens available to represent this power) which is spent to bring new characters into play, to activate certain events and powers, and to bring more feng shui sites into play. Each feng shui site costs one more point than the last one you brought in. There are also normal sites, which are useful for protecting your feng shui sites, since (as you accumulate them) other people will be trying to destroy them or take them away from you.

In play, the game is fast and fun. Play consists mainly of trying to kick ass on your opponents' characters and feng shui sites while defending your own.

One feature of the cards which definitely deserves imitation is the use of a distinctive mark (a golden imprint of the flying kick logo) on all the expansion-set cards, making it possible to tell them apart from the original cards without having to squint at tiny numbers on the bottom of the card.

First printed in Serendipity's Circle. This work cannot by reprinted without the Author's permission.

Shadowfist CCG, "Synergy" Deck Construction Approach 


Shadowfist, is a multiplayer or duel based collectible card game where one player has to beat every opponent at once to win.

One such deck I have utilized in a tournament settings to a high level of success involves the Architects of the Flesh faction. Through dissecting my tournament winning design strategy, I will attempt to show the level of intricacy within strong deck construction.

This is the build I won Origins and Smackdown Championships of 2006 with,

Training Experimentation(Origins 2006 build) 
by Jim Przytulski (58 cards) 
5x Buromil Grunt 
5x Assault Squad 
2x Loyalty Officers 
4x Colonel Wilhelm Reigner 
4x Rapid Response Team

5x Imprisoned 
5x Dangerous Experiment 
2x Neutron Bomb

2x Art of War

Feng Shui Sites 
4x Diamond Beach 
2x Roller Rink 
2x Fox Pass 
2x City Square 
2x Mountain Fortress

5x Killing Ground 
5x Bandit Hideout 
2x Training Camp


The Defense 

The goal of Shadowfist is to take your last Feng Shui Site for victory. This deck relies on using meat shield battleground sites placed in front of Feng Shui Sites. This inherent site structure makes defending my FSS easier. In addition, I utilize defensive feng shui sites. These include Fox Pass and City Square. With these two FSS, my defense is further bolstered. However, I also play defensive characters, capable of being played for free or on opponent's turns to deter enemy attacks. If I get behind, I play Dangerous Experiments as immense power generation to comeback. And, two of the strongest removal events in the game are at my disposal in Imprisoned and Neutron Bomb.

The Offense

The offense is bolstered by my strong defense. In effect, I flood the board with battleground sites as I illuminated earlier. This flood can be utilized to increase any number of my soldier characters to immense fighting with Colonel Wilhelm Reigner.



What I really want to elaborate upon is the deck synergy. This deck can be looked at as an engine, where every part relies on every other part. I will show this through a synergy chain using arrows. The arrows signify something is synergistic with something else.

BuroMil Grunt and Assault Squad --> Colonel Wilhelm Reigner ---> Battleground Sites --> Fox Pass + City Square --> Dangerous Experiment --> Imprisoned/Neutron Bomb

These cards are the basic "synergy" this deck is composed of.

Let me explain each card arrow's synergy in words. BuroMil Grunt and Assault Squad are foundations. These are required and integral to every Shadowfist deck. However, these soldiers have affinity with the Colonel Wilhelm Reigner. Colonel Wilhelm Reigner has synergy with all my battleground sites (because they allow him to boost soldiers). The soldiers have affinity with my battleground sites because they can be played defensively as meat shields or offensively as bandit hideout power generation.

Fox Pass and City Square have affinity with everything included in this chain. Basically, they augment my defensive position. This in turn allows me to play Dangerous Experiment as offensively or defensively. Often, I would flood a board with characters, taking two or three sites after an offensively played Dangerous Experiment. The defensive aspect is amplified by Imprisoned/Neutron Bomb removal.

The rest of the cards are interchangeable. However, this is the "core" of the deck.


Synergy for Other Decks

One question one may ask, is how can this synergy chain be applied to general deck construction? Basically, I start through looking at single cards which have quirky, specific dynamics. After this, I look at what card magnifies or strengthens this inherent dynamic.

For example, one key combo I used within the Jackson Smackdown multiplayer tournament followed this protocol.

The card I looked at was Casbah. I noticed this card has a powerful effect. However, it has a narrow effect that could be self defeating. What I decided to do was design a deck that played very or no zero cost events. I would channel and direct my offense through free edges. Synergistic with Chinese Connections was Red Master. Not only did I have repeated healing effects contingent on my power pool, I had game winning tricks as well.



As I illuminated in this article, strong Shadowfist decks often rely on synergy. I hope current players or future players can gain something from this "synergy" design process. Good luck with deck construction.


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