Shadowfist Dark Future Expansion

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Home > Sets > Dark Future
[posted 23 Feb 2003; updated 28 Feb 2009; links checked 21 Feb 2009]

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 Dark Future?

Shadowfist Dark Future booster display boxDark Future is a booster-only expansion set released by Z-Man Games in April 2002. It was reprinted in its entirety in August 2007 along with Critical Shift. It's a 128-card set that contains 109 new cards, with rarities divided into Common, Uncommon, and Rare. The other 19 cards are reprints and/or errata of Daedalus-edition cards. All cards are black-bordered with three crystal-looking things Dark Future (actually Paradox Cubes) in the upper right corner. In this set, Z-Man started color-coding the set symbols to indicate rarity: white for rare, grey for uncommon, and black for common. Still not foil.

You can distinguish between the 2002 and 2007 printings by set symbol - the Paradox Cubes in the 2007 printing have one facet each colored black.

This set introduced the Purists as a stand-alone faction (Purists first appeared in Flashpoint as Architects cards), along with a foundation Character that allows you to play earlier Purist cards as if they required resources.

Shadowfist Dark Future booster packBooster packs contain 10 randomly assorted cards; each display box contains 24 boosters. Z-Man changed from foil to a waxy paper for the wrappers, and also added red ink. Because of the smaller size of the set and a revamp of the distribution scheme, you have a good chance of getting very close to a full set out of two boxes. There is no secret display box message on the Dark Future box.

Dark Future




















I didn't find any secret messages on the display box or the booster wrapper. If you did, please let me know where, and what it says. Thanks!

Here's the breakdown by faction and by card type. 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 Dark Future breakdown by faction and type, including errata and reprints   Shadowfist Dark Future 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.

  Shadowfist Dark Future breakdown by faction, including errata and reprintsShadowfist Dark Future breakdown by faction, ecxluding errata and reprints

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The Nitpicker's Guide: Dark Future

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Storyline Summary: Dark Future - Civil War in the Future

The Dark Future story comes in three parts, two main stories by David Eber plus a small story by Julian Lighton. All three are posted on the Shadowfist website [, 21 Feb 2009] in the game stories section (Julian's is the "Purist Debriefing" that's just above the Dark Future section).

In Julian's piece, Fo Shen has been captured by the CDCA. In his interrogation, we learn some of the history of the Purists, that the Purists have created a "localized critical shift" in the Pacific basin, and that the Buro and CDCA are in the midst of a civil war. Dr. Boatman has Fo Shen killed by a guard.

In the two parts of the Dark Future story, the main plot revolves around Homo Omega and his plan to take over the future. He lays a trap for the Dragons using the former Jason X, now brainwashed and calling himself Jack Seven. The Dragons launch an assault against Omega's "base," but are ambushed and soundly beaten. Omega unleashes the abominated Thing with a 1000 Tongues to crush the Dragons, but Dirk Wisely manages to deprogram Jason, who then takes out the Thing, at the cost of his own life.

The Dragons track down Dr. Ally Matthews and learn Omega's true plan - he wants to spread a nanovirus across the world that will kill or abomify the entire human race, and is about to do so. They borrow a nuclear weapon (!) from the Jammers, and talk them into helping launch an assault against Omega's true fortress. The Jammers create a distraction by attacking the base, and the Dragons sneak inside to plant the bomb. Once inside, Dr. Matthews reveals that this is also a trap, and Omega begins to cut them down. Dirk sets the bomb, and Kar Fai stays behind to hold Omega off during the countdown. The other Dragons escape just before the tower blows, but Kar Fai (presumably) dies in the blast along with Omega.

All this occurs against a backdrop of civil war - the Buro (led by Johann Bonengel) and the CDCA (Cross-Disciplinary Convergence Association, led by Dr. Curtis Boatman) have split the world between them. The story implies that Omega has been subtly nudging them toward this schism for some time.

We also learn that the Purists are advancing their own cause by building four Nexus towers at key points in the Pacific basin. They dupe Bonengel into funding the towers; when activated, they create a localized critical shift favoring pure magic over technology and arcanotechnology. The Purists have control of Hong Kong, Australia and a lot in between.

And Dunwa Saleem has been busy with his plans to create a new form of Ascended life that is not vulnerable to de-evolution when exposed to magic (hints for this plotline were dropped in the Daedalus Players' Guide). He also takes advantage of the civil war to complete the first three members of his new order.

This is a dangerous storyline; a lot of Dragons and other folks buy the farm. I don't have room in the summary to describe them all, but you can check the dead list if you're interested.

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Etc: Dark Future

Dark Future threw the Purists into the mix as a full-fledged faction, the first new faction since Limited Edition. These folks first appeared in Flashpoint as Architects and Lotus cards, with more Architects cropping up in Throne War and Netherworld 2. Story-wise they're a secret faction within the Architects cultivated by the Lotus, only now they're not so secret any more. To allow you to play the Architect and Lotus cards in your Purist deck, the Purist Initiate converts those resources to Purist resources for cards with the Purist designator. I'd have preferred to see the older cards reprinted in Purist borders with the correct resources, but given the reaction to reprints in the previous two sets, I can understand how Z-Man was gunshy about that :)

The set seemed to be generally well received, with a lot of solid, playable cards, although there was of course argument about whether a new faction was needed, whether it should have been another faction, blah blah blah. Personally I didn't see the Purists on the road to becoming a standalone faction, but I'm not against it either. As you might expect, they are starting with a rather small card pool, so there isn't much breadth to the faction yet. They seem to concentrate on manipulation of other cards more than anything else - enhanced hand size, card drawing, odd Power generation, things like that. I have heard folks complain that the Purists play more like solitaire, where you build up and defend without much interaction with the other players, until you're ready to drop a hitter and go for the win. I haven't played enough pure Purist (sorry :) decks to say whether that's bad for the game, but they definitely have their own flavor.

This set also saw the start of another story-driven element, Dunwa Saleem and the Reascended. Story-wise, Dunwa betrayed the Lodge back in Flashpoint, and now his plan to use Architects equipment to remake the transformed animals is reaching fruition. The first three Reascended Characters appear in this set. They're difficult to get into play, but Ursus at least can be a machine if you get him out. Their art is a bit on the "eh" side (not bad, just not exciting), and they lack the signature animal "shadow" in the background that marked all previous Lodge (transformed animal) cards.

There are a number of other sub-themes in the set, the strongest of which is the increased support for Vehicle States, and lots of new Vehicles to go with it. The Battle-matic opened up a new deck for the Jammers, and the various new Tanks made a Tank Warfare deck a bit more playable. This set also marks the first time a card requires resources from two different factions: Borrowed Nuke.

There were fewer complaints about reprints with this set (although there were some, of course, both reprints and complaints), since the total was down to 1/7, but again the main targets were the reprinted rares. "Did we really need to see Johann Bonengel in his original form again?" The numbers were low enough that it didn't bother me too much, although somehow the duplicate rares that I ended up with out of my boxes were all reprints, which makes it much harder to trade for new cards since very few people want the reprints.

The card that most disappointed me in this set was Fo Shen. For a central figure in the Purist/Lotus plotline, he sure stinks as a card. (I feel some connection to Fo Shen since he figured in the Throne War fiction; someday I'll get around to making an alternate version "the way it should have been done" :) Oh, and I must apologize to everyone for Gloating Laughter. That card was part of a thought experiment from 1999 about how to implement the Feng Shui RPG's concept of minor shifts (as opposed to critical shifts) — giving a bonus to a faction after they seize/burn a Feng Shui Site to represent the shift in influence, etc. Turns out that it's very difficult to balance that concept in the card game, so you don't give too much of a bonus to someone who just took a site, which is a pretty good bonus of itself. I thought we'd managed to dump those ideas because they just weren't working, but I guess this one must have stuck around in the database :)

Art in the set is a wee bit more interesting than the last one, although I couldn't point you to specifics for why I say that. It just feels that way. I was impressed by newcomer-to-Shadowfist Mark Pennington, and it was great to see Alec Keating do something other than the Dragonball-Z style he'd done previously. My least favorite piece is the new art for the upgraded Thing with a 1000 Tongues. At a minimum, there should be a lot more tongues in that art :) Zev Shlasinger also makes an appearance as the lucky guy in Close Call.

The set sold through quickly and became very hard to find, eclipsing Daedalus Netherworld boxes as the highest priced Shadowfist boxes on eBay for a few years. They dropped a bit after Red Wedding, and dropped back to retail in 2007 when the reprinted set became available (and is still available) from Shadowfist Games. The Red Wedding reprint sold out very quickly, not sure if that says something about demand for that set vs. Dark Future, or if there were just more Dark Future boxes reprinted.

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