Why You Should Be Playing Shadowfist
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[posted 2 Sep 2003; updated 10 Jun 2011]
Ask most CCG fans why you should play their game, and they'll say "because it's the best!" And for them, it is, but is it the best for you? Recommending a CCG is tough, because it requires a pretty significant money and time investment. So, why should you start playing Shadowfist?
Shadowfist is the most enjoyable multiplayer CCG I've tried. It was designed specifically to be playable with 3 or more people. And you're always in the game (until you run out of cards :), so even if you've been hammered badly, you can fight your way back to win. I thought about listing a few other multiplayer CCGs, and why Shadowfist is better, but that's just asking for flames :) You'll have to try it and judge for yourself, of course.
There isn't another card game with quite this spin on things. The Hong Kong aspect, diluted a bit in the Daedalus sets, has been diluted a bit more in recent years, but it's still strong. The mashing together of so many archetypes opens up a lot of possibilities (ironically, this keeps some people away from the game since the factions have such wildly differing themes, as compared to a game like Legend of the Five Rings, for example). Personally, this aspect of the game didn't influence me one way or the other. I was hooked with the multiplayer angle, and by the subtitle of Big Bruiser, "Kicker of Butts" :)
At the end of
the CCG bubble, Daedalus Shadowfist product was dirt-cheap (except for Netherworld).
That's no longer true, but you can still get started with a $10 investment.
The starter decks are all pre-constructed so they're ready to play out of the
box, and they're not half bad. You won't win tournaments with them, but they're
not filled with crap that the publisher needed to get rid of, either.
2008 update: I had to delete #3. These days it's not so easy to get started. The preconstructed starters are long out of print and hard to find. Many shops have stopped carrying boosters due to lack of demand or dislike of Shadowfist Games' distribution model. Your best hope now is to find a local play group that will set you up with a loaner deck or a pile of cards to get you started. That's still a cheap way to get in, but it's a bit more daunting than just buying a starter and throwing down with friends.
There's a lot more that could be said, but I'll stop at three reasons. Doubters are unlikely to be convinced by more rhetoric at this point :) Now, to be fair, you also need to think about the other side of this question: why shouldn't you play Shadowfist?
Shadowfist isn't particularly widespread. When Daedalus folded in 1997, players went on to other games (many went to Legend of the Five Rings, or Doomtown), and never came back. Since Z-Man revived the game in 2000, the number of players has been growing slowly, but you're not likely to see truly large numbers of people playing this game any time soon. You'll need to have your own playgroup handy—either an established group that you can join if you're lucky, or you and your friends will be the start of the group. This is offset a bit since you can play on-line too, but frankly that's not widespread either.
Two-player Shadowfist has had a rep for being unfun for a long time. It think that's unfair, because dueling is actually very interesting. The problem is that dueling is significantly different than multiplayer, and if you don't make the effort to change your strategy and build a deck specifically for dueling, you will mistakenly conclude that dueling sucks. Try it, it grows on you.
As you might expect in a game based on martial arts and action movies, there are violent themes and depictions. There is even a beheading on one card (yay. like we needed that :( In other words, it's not a game for immature folk, whatever their age may be.
And one last point, which applies to both sides:
For players, this is actually a good thing, but if you're looking to speculate, this isn't your game. There are no super-powerful cards that are also super-rare to drive up the prices. Cards that players want a lot of almost always get printed as Commons or Uncommons (the folks printing this game like to play it too), so their prices aren't inflated. The most expensive cards are the current exclusive promos for the latest set, generally running $5-$10. A few of the more popular older promos may run in that same range. Most other stuff is far below that, in the $1 to $3 range for the majority of rares with a few exceptions like LaGrange Four. But the flipside is that there aren't a lot of people selling single cards because there's no huge profit in it, so you may have trouble finding what you want.
If you decide to go for it, read the next article for some hints on how to get started.
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