Shadowfist Seven Masters vs. The Underworld Expansion

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Home > Sets > Seven Masters vs. The Underworld
[posted 27 Apr 2004; updated 3 Mar 2013; links checked 21 Jan 2012]

What's in the set? - rarity, distribution by faction, and obligatory statistics
Nitpicker's Guide - errors big, small, and ludicrously small
Storyline summary - the story behind this set, summarized in a couple of paragraphs
Card list - opens in new window
Etc - whatever's left, random thoughts and comments, sometimes my opinions on this set or cards in it, and/or the State of Shadowfist at the time of this expansion

What's in Seven Masters vs. The Underworld?

Shadowfist Seven Masters vs The Underworld booster display boxSeven Masters (we'll call it that for short) is a booster-only expansion set released by Z-Man Games in April 2004. It's a 128-card set that contains 114 new cards, with rarities divided into Common, Uncommon, and Rare. Two cards are errata of Daedalus cards (Fighting Spirit and Wing of the Crane); the other 12 cards are reprints of Daedalus-edition cards. All cards are black-bordered with a scroll Seven Masters in the upper right corner. (yes, there are four tiny Chinese characters written on the scroll. Thanks to Nick Rossum, who tells me that the top two say "Seven Master(s)" and the bottom two say "Underworld"). The set symbols are color-coded to indicate rarity: white for rare, grey for uncommon, and black for common. Still not foil.

The entire set was reprinted by Inner Kingdom Games in December 2011. Eleven cards were swapped out for different reprints from various sets. IKG took community input on the Shadowfist Forum to finalize the list, so that was nice.

Removed: Curtain of Fullness, Killing Rain, Monkeywrenching, Netherflitter, Wall of aThousand Eyes, Baptism of Fire, Cry of the Forgotten Ancestor, Wandering Monk, Tranquil Persuader, Feast of Souls and Blanket of Darkness.

Added: Mad Scientist, IKTV Special Report, Mathemagician, Chi Sucker, "Is That All You Got?", Stand Together, Secret Pact, Never Surrender, Street Riot, Temple of Celestial Mercy and Plains of Ash.

This set won the Origins Award in 2005 for the Best Collectible Card Game. [was reported at, but that site has died, and the Origins Awards site only lists the previous 3 years now] Congratulations, Z-Man!

This set introduced the Seven Masters as a stand-alone faction (Ho Chen, the first of the Seven Masters appeared as a promo printed with Red Wedding), including a number of oddities like Kunlun Clan Assault, the first "foundation" Event (an Event that requires no resources, but does provide them, like a foundation Character). The set adds a true alternate victory condition, Underworld Gateway, which looks to be more playable than Seal of the Wheel or Power of the Great, but is still a "gimmick" card.

Shadowfist Seven Masters vs The Underworld booster packBooster packs contain 10 randomly assorted cards; each display box contains 24 boosters. The wrappers use the same waxy paper as the recent sets, and are in full color like Red Wedding's wrappers. This box has a fabulous full-color illustration done by Michael Komarck specifically as a box cover, and it is the most true-to-source illustration in Shadowfist, ever :) Two boxes will give you enough rares to finish the set (after a couple of trades) unless you are very unlucky with duplicates.

Seven Masters




















The bottom of the box features a full-color advertisement for Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island [, 21 Jan 2012]; the secret box message snakes around the outside edge of the bottom. It says "Coming soon: Snow White and the Seven Masters Starring: Happy - The Laughing Master, Dopey - Master of Stone Head Technique, Doc - Master of the Healing Touch, Sleepy - Master of Tripping Log Style, Bashful - The Hidden Master, Grumpy - Master of the Defiant Stance, Sneezy - Master of the Flying Mucous Strike, And Jerry Mathers as the Beaver...c'mon, you didn't think I'd just put an ad down here, did you. That was just a dodge."

The secret booster message (under the flap on the back of the booster) says ' There used to be an 8th Master but they felt they no longer needed a "Master of the Very Tasty Dumpling" '

Here's the breakdown by faction and by card type for the original printing. The table on the left shows the overall breakdown (for new players), the table on the right shows the breakdown of the new cards only (for not new players). Apologies for the formatting of the table, but it's much smaller to plop an image in than write a table in HTML. Eventually I'll try out the CSS thing and redo all my tables...

Shadowfist Seven Masters breakdown by faction and type, including errata and reprints   Shadowfist Seven Masters breakdown by faction and type, excluding errata and reprints

Looking at this graphically may or may not help you, but I like it. Click either graph to see a larger version in a new window. These plots include errata and reprints. These graphs are for the original printing.

  Shadowfist Seven Masters breakdown by faction, including errata and reprintsShadowfist Seven Masters breakdown by faction, ecxluding errata and reprints

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The Nitpicker's Guide: Seven Masters

The reprinted set in Dec.2011 introduced new errors:

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Storyline Summary: Seven Masters

The Seven Masters story was written by David Eber, and posted on the Shadowfist website [, 21 Jan 2012] on 19 Apr 2004. It's written in the style of a Wuxia [, 21 Jan 2012] movie as befits the setting for this expansion, and seems to capture the feel of that genre quite well (not that I'm an expert :) It's a long story (~30 pages), so even the summary is long too.

Li Mao, a young peasant villager, finds a dying man amongst a group of dead men. Ho Chen, one of the Seven Masters, has been ambushed and cut with poisoned blades. He charges Li Mao with delivering a warning to the other Masters on Wudang Mountain. Ho Chen transfers his chi energy and martial arts skills to Li Mao, and gives him his sword (the Lunar Sword), then expires.

Trying to decide how to find Wudang Mountain, Li Mao blunders into the camp of the Poison Clan assassins. He discovers that he knows how to use the sword and fights well, but is cornered. Wu Bin happens by and helps him to finish off the assassins, hears the story of Ho Chen's demise, and decides to help and train Li Mao.

Seeking shelter from the rain, Wu Bin and Li Mao go into a cave which turns out to be the lair of Ting Ting and her bandit gang. Wu Bin challenges Ting Ting for Li Mao, then talks Li Mao through the fight. The chi energy he received from Ho Chen allows him to learn incredibly quickly, and Li Mao defeats Ting Ting. After hearing their story, Ting Ting joins the quest.

The next day, as they travel through a dark and twisted forest, Wu Bin departs, citing only "urgent business to attend to," leaving Li Mao and Ting Ting to make their way to Wudang Mountain. That night, they take shelter in an abandoned temple. Li Mao is awakened by what he thinks is Ting Ting coming to seduce him, but the real Ting Ting slays the ghost [presumably this is Jiang Fei, but the ghost isn't named in the story]. They rush outside but are attacked by a horde of gyonshi (vampires), and a demonic tree [this is a reference to Chinese Ghost Story]. They are getting the worst of it when Monsoon appears, a student of the Seven Masters. He takes care of the vampires and the tree. They tell Monsoon what happened to Ho Chen, and he agrees to guide them to Wudang Mountain.

When they reach the mountain, they discover a huge encampment of Poison Clan warriors hidden nearby, blocking their path. They steal guard's clothing in the usual way that guard's clothing is stolen, then sneak through the camp. On the way through the camp, they overhear a conversation between Xiang Kai, leader of the Poison Clan, and an unknown overlord. They learn that this person has plotted to take down the Seven Masters by inflaming hatred between the transformed animals and the Shao-Lin, and setting up the Masters to take the fall. The three armies are set to clash in the morning, and the Poison Clan army is to go in that night to clean up anyone left alive.

The three heroes reach Wudang Mountain just as the armies start to fight. They try to find the Seven Masters but are swept up into the melee. Suddenly, a beam of light cuts a huge gouge in the field. It is Wu Bin, using the Celestial Eye to get everyone's attention. Wu Bin convinces the leaders of the three armies to meet and talk. They learn that Kong Jun She, one of the Seven Masters, has betrayed them and is working with the attackers. After a bit of talking the leaders are convinced and plan a ruse to deceive the Poison Clan. That night, when the Poison Clan moves to mop up, they see a battlefield littered with bodies as expected. But as they go partway across the field, the warriors of all three armies leap up and fight, destroying their army. Li Mao meets Xiang Kai in single combat, and defeats him.

After the battle, we learn in brief about Wu Bin's many adventures since he left Li Mao and Ting Ting, about how he discovered that the source of the plot against the Seven Masters is the Emperor Xin Kai Sheng. Ghost Wind and Sky Dragon, two more of the Seven Masters, arrive and add that they have discovered Kai Sheng plotting to open a the Underworld Gateway, and release the demon lord Desolation. The Gateway has been guarded by the Seven Masters for centuries, hence the need to remove them first. Kai Sheng has been weakening the gateway while the Masters were distracted by the conflight. The Masters are not strong enough to defeat Desolation, but set Li Mao and Ting Ting the task of retrieving two legendary swords, which, when combined, might be able to do so. Monsoon and Wu Bin go with them.

Wu Bin leads them to the edge of the world so they can travel quickly. Kai Sheng has anticipated this, and sends four assassins to dispatch them. Li Mao kills Long Axe and knocks Short Axe off a cliff. Monsoon kills Cenotaph. Wu Bin destroys Miasma, but not before it seriously injures Monsoon. They are forced to split up to reach the swords in time: Li Mao heads for Thousand Sword Mountain, Ting Ting for the Jade Palace of the Dragon King, and Wu Bin takes Monsoon to a sorceress for help.

Li Mao confronts Shung Dai, the guardian of the swords, at Thousand Sword Mountain. Shung Dai is impervious to metal or wooden weapons, so Li Mao tricks him into revealing which of the swords is the Invincible Earth Sword. Li Mao steals the weapon, but is forced to leave the Lunar Sword behind in the process.

Wu Bin convinces the Moon Sorceress, Lin, to help Monsoon. Apparently there was a relationship gone bad between Lin and Wu Bin, but she agrees to help anyway.

Ting Ting navigates past a trap and confronts a demonic guardian [presumably Ang Dao the Corrupt, but he is not named in the story]. She manages to turn the trap against the demon, and retrieves the Boundless Heaved Sword.

Li Mao arrives at the Underworld Gateway just as Xin Kai Sheng is about to release Desolation. He is attacked by Kong Jun She, the renegade Master, but saved by the timely arrival of Wu Bin. Li Mao uses the Invincible Earth Sword to annoy Desolation, a demon as large as an island. Meanwhile Wu Bin is severely beaten by Kong Jun She and Xin Kai Sheng, but saved by the timely arrival of Monsoon and Lin. She traps Xin Kai Sheng temporarily, long enough to heal Wu Bin.

Wu Bin and Lin fight Xin Kai Sheng. The two of them together manage to defeat him; he is last seen being consumed by a blue fireball from Wu Bin, presumed dead.

Monsoon fights his former master, Kong Jun She. He is beaten, but Jun She is distracted by the blinding flash of light when Ting Ting and Li Mao unite the swords. Monsoon kicks him, knocking him into the crater that contains the Underworld Gateway.

Ting Ting arrives with the Boundless Heaven Sword; she and Li Mao unite the two swords and plunge into Desolation's mouth to reach his heart. Desolation is destroyed, and the sword disappears.

In the aftermath, Li Mao takes Ho Chen's place as the Seventh Master.

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Etc: Seven Masters

This set goes right to the root of Shadowfist - classic Hong Kong cinema. As the follow-up to Red Wedding, this set had some high expectations. The power level of the cards is generally below Red Wedding, but on par with previous Z-Man sets. You won't find a lot of game-changing cards in this set, but it is solid and well done. The Seven Masters are in general worthy of play and are truly fearsome in the right decks. As you would expect from the limited card pool, it's tough to make a Masters-only deck, but they combo well with other factions. Red Bat gets the nod as the most popular, but the other masters are no slouches. The Unexpected Return combo deck with characters that then would not go back into the deck made the rounds for a while too. Zev took some heat for his stance that no more Seven Masters cards would be printed in future sets (Shadowfist Games reversed this, and has printed one more in Shurikens and Six Guns and Inner Kingdom Games printed a couple in Empire of Evil, and also reprinted the set).

For the other factions, the Purists arguably got the most interesting mix of cards (a little surprising, given the theme of the set) - Material Transcendence and Incarnate Abstraction are the first cards that change the type of a card, and Glimpse of Brief Eternity is a must-have for any Comrades in Arms decks. The Jammers got a new staple card in Netherflitter, but the combination of Mobility and "takes no damage" turned out to be a real game staller on defense. It was errata-ed in Shurikens and Six Guns so the no damage bit only works on offense. Nobody made any great headway with alternate victory decks focusing on Underworld Gateway, but the big Lotus characters like Desolation get a fair amount of play. Dragon fans will not be disappointed in Wu Bin, among others,

This set had become the hardest to find, passing Netherworld in collectible appeal. Inner Kingdom Games reprinted the set in December 2011, although as noted above they swapped some of the cards for others so it's not a 1-for-1 reprint. No new cards are included in the reprint.

The art is in general very good, with Michael Komarck's work setting a new bar for Shadowfist art - my only complaint about his work is that he didn't do the entire set :) Christian Saksida again seemed to be the whipping boy, although I don't have a problem with his style (reminds me of the Drew Tucker arguments from Flashpoint days). The art for Invincible Earth Sword and Boundless Heaven Sword are cropped from the larger The Swords Unite piece, which is appropriate but still feels a little like cheating.

Unfortunately, print quality wasn't consistent. It's very disappointing to see spotty (literally) printing. A significant fraction of the cards in my two boxes are noticeably affected, and many cards have a few spots. Other folks reported issues with miscuts/crimps and with cards sticking together in the packs.

Reprints are at about the 1/10 ratio like Red Wedding. The reprints were pretty much in the theme of the set, so there weren't a lot of complaints (or maybe the most vocal complainers had simply moved on in the year since the last set :) Most disappointing reprint for me was Cry of the Forgotten Ancestor. Not because it's a bad card, but because it wasn't fixed in the reprint -- it's the only "cancel and smoke" card that specifies "target", which makes it useless on the Golden Gunman. Blanket of Darkness was a close second though: effects that reduce your opponent's ability to play just aren't fun.

Check out David Eber's article about this set, "The Magnificent Seven", courtesy of Scrye magazine.

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