Shadowfist and CCG Glossary

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Home > Shadowfist Newbie Help > Glossary
[posted 18 Apr 2003; updated 21 Feb 2005]

Here's a bunch of terms that aren't defined in the rulebook, that you may or may not hear as you get more into Shadowfist. If you've played other CCGs or TCGs, you might be familiar with them already. I'll format this page better, eventually...

Alternate power generation

Cards/effects that make power for you, other than the usual 1-per-Feng Shui Site. For example, Pocket Demon, Heat of Battle, True Son of Heaven, etc. Some people also consider cost-reduction effects (like Proving Ground) to be alternate power generation.

Card Flow

Roughly speaking, the number of cards you are drawing each turn. The "fill your hand" mechanic in Shadowfist works to your best advantage when you are playing/discarding at least 2-3 cards per turn.

Cheese, Cheesy

Cards that are overly powerful, or decks that use multiple copies of only the highest-powered cards. For example, Shadowy Mentor, Operation Killdeer, Covert Operation, Nerve Gas, etc. Most commonly used to refer to Ascended decks/cards.


The "look and feel" of a card, and the story behind it - what makes a card more than just the mechanics. Chrome includes the title, subtitle, art and the tag line.


A card that is so bad it's not worth playing, even in fun decks. This card would be more useful as a coaster under your drink than in your deck. Or you can think of it as the person on the back seat of a two-seater bicycle who isn't pedaling, just taking up space...

Comeback, Comeback Potential

Cards or deck styles that allow you to recover from a bad position. For example, Pocket Demon is a comeback card, since it lets you generate Power when you have few/no Feng Shui Sites in play. Some cards can be both general offense/defense and Comeback, especially the powerful 0-cost Events like Final Brawl, since you can use them to get rolling again too.

Control, Control Deck

A style of play/deck that concentrates on taking control of opponents' Characters rather than providing your own. For example, Shadowy Mentor, Tortured Memories, etc.

Critical Shift

In story terms, what happens when one faction accumulates enough Feng Shui Sites to arrange history to their liking. The sudden tilt that popped the Monarchs out and put the Ascended on top, for example. There is no in-game equivalent, it's just flavor.


In general, a card or effect that prevents an opponent from achieving whatever result they were going for (like removing a Character from play so an attack fails, or canceling an Event). Cards like Nerve Gas (Character denial) and Confucian Stability (Event denial) are good examples. Some people think of denial exclusively as stopping a winning attack (denying the win) and talk about cards with other effects as "permission", "removal" or "stoppers" instead. It's all denial to me. The precise definition of these terms seems to be most important to current and ex-Magic players :)

Display, Display Box

A full box of boosters or starters. This is the industry term for the box that has a flip-up lid that can be folded back to serve as a "sign" above the box itself. Sometimes called a POP Display. (POP = point of purchase, meaning it usually sits very close to the cash register, so you might be tempted to pick one up as you check out).


A term from Magic: The Gathering that refers to actions that aren't legal when it's time for them to do something, so they "fizzle" (don't do anything). Things don't fizzle in Shadowfist; every effect will resolve as much as possible, even if it's no longer legal at the time of resolution (that's a big generalization, but will get you through in most cases).


Cards intended to counter other cards/effects, but applied usually to a broad group of counters rather than a single counter (see Silver Bullet). For example, "Mentor hate" refers to all the cards that could be used to counter Shadowy Mentor, and "Temple hate" refers to all the cards that could be used to counter Temple of the Angry Spirits.


A Character (or, much less often, a State) whose primary purpose is to take Feng Shui Sites for you. Usually, but not always, has a high enough Fighting to take a Site by itself.


Cards the affect only one type of card or faction, usually putting a penalty on your opponents for using those cards. Chains of Bone, Thunder on the Mountain, etc.


Term that has increased in popularity in 2000+. Refers to playing a deck that uses cards most people think of as coasters.

Metagame, Metagaming

The style of play in a group or area. Metagames in Shadowfist vary dramatically from place to place-some groups favor large decks with lots of denial, others play small, fast, aggressive decks. "Metagaming" means you are trying to account for the play style of other players when you build your deck. If everyone else always plays Ascended, and you come to the next game with a deck specifically designed to beat Ascended decks, then you are metagaming.

Most Recent Printing (MRP)

The most recently printed version of a card overrides all earlier versions. This term sometimes creeps in from other CCGs (like Legend of the Five Rings) and it's mentioned in the Year of the Dragon rulebook for that reason, but it's not generally used in Shadowfist. The Shadowfist term for this is simply errata, and is indicated with a small circled number on right side of the card.


In CCGs, a mulligan rule lets you redraw your opening hand if it doesn't meet some preset criteria, such as "you do not draw at least 1 card of type X." Sometimes there is a penalty associated with the redraw. Shadowfist has no mulligan rule: on your first turn, you aren't generating any Power, so you can discard as many cards as you like, and then refill your hand as usual. There's your mulligan for you.

Nerf, Nerfed

Toning down a card, usually by errata (e.g., Dangerous Experiment), although sometimes playtesters will mentioned that a card was "nerfed" during playtest.

Opportunity Cost

Anything else that needs to happen before you can play a card or pull off a combo. For example, the opportunity cost of a State is that you must have a Character (or whatever) already in play to put the State on. And the opportunity cost of Bite of the Jellyfish is that you must wait until an opponent burns a Site before you can play it. When building a deck, it's important to consider the opportunity cost on top of the power and resources required to play a card. Typically, "high opportunity cost" means that a lot of things must be true before you can play the card (you won't be able to play it very often). [Note that this is not the definition of "Opportunity Cost" from an economics textbook - what you give up in order to do something else - but it seems to be how most CCG players think of it]

Peacock, Peacock Deck

A deck designed to use many factions, normally but not always based around Peacock Summit. The Hand usually play a big role in these decks, to get access to Orange Senshi Chamber and Xiaoyang Yun, as well as newer cards like Orange Master or Orange Sage.

Play as Printed (PAP)

A card that is reprinted with a different ability, but the same title and no errata marking. Both versions of the card are legal for play, and you may mix/match the different versions up to 5 total. (e.g., Limited edition Sting of the Scorpion, and the new version in Year of the Dragon)

Proxy, Proxies

Anything used as a "stand in" for a true card, most commonly needed during playtest although some folks use them as placeholders in decks for cards they don't have yet. Usually this is a simple slip of paper or a sticker inside a card sleeve, but can be as fancy as color copies.


Cards that allow you to push an attack through a determined defense. Characters with Ambush or Superleap (to get past interceptors), Events that smoke/damage interceptors, damage redirection, cards that can stop your opponents' defensive Events/Sites, etc. (it's a big bucket). Usually used in terms of "the decks lacks punch-through".

Recycle, Recycling

Pretty much what you expected it to mean: using effects that play cards from your smoked pile, or return cards from your smoked pile to your deck or hand. Ex. Golden Comeback, Into The Light, Wind on the Mountain, etc.


Cards/effects that can remove a card from play (smoke, toast, or return to hand). Mostly used in reference to Characters (as in "Character removal").


Jose Garcia's term for what is generally called Comeback these days. Jose expanded on the theory that you need cards to help you recover from a losing position, in that he built decks using cards that were good when you were winning as well as losing (ex., Final Brawl, Neutron Bomb).

Sealed Deck (Tournament)

Each player gets only a sealed starter deck, or sometimes a sealed starter deck plus a few booster packs. Typically played at conventions as a tournament.

Silver Bullet

A card or effect introduced specifically to counter another card(s) introduced in an earlier set (generally this is done in an attempt to control or tone down a perceived abusive effect or combo). Some silver bullets are very specific, others are more broad-spectrum (like Whirlpool of Blood).

Sold Through

All copies of a particular print run have been sold and delivered to distributors. Not quite the same as "sold out" since the cards are still available from the distributors, you just can't get them from direct from the publisher any more.


To add a few cards from a different faction to a predominantly mono-faction deck. A splash is usually a few foundations plus some powerful Events or States that require only 1 resource. For example, an Ascended splash might be 5 The Pledged, 3 Shadowy Mentor, and 3 Operation Killdeer.


Making obvious moves that tell your opponent exactly what your plans are, like playing a Gun State on a Character before you attack. Telegraphing is unintentional; if you're doing it intentionally, you're bluffing or threatening :)

Tempo, Control the Tempo

The pace of the game, obviously, but to "control the tempo" means that you are playing the game your way, and your opponent isn't -- for example, when a turtlish deck uses Events and Sites to force a fast aggressive deck to slow down (preventing it from taking a Site, etc.), the turtle deck has swung the tempo in its favor.

Turtle, Turtling

Playing heavy defense, exclusively, until you build up to a winning position, and then you make one attack for the win. It's a viable strategy in Shadowfist, especially with Guiding Hand or Purist decks, but many people take a dim view of turtling in a game based on action movies :)

Tutor, Tutoring

An effect that lets you look through your deck and select a card. Comes from the Magic: The Gathering card called Demonic Tutor (among others, but that was the first that I know of) but has gained widespread acceptance as slang in many CCGs.

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