Shadowfist Netherworld 2 Expansion

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Home > Sets > Netherworld 2
[posted 23 Feb 2003; updated 15 Nov 2004; links checked 19 Feb 2008]

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 Netherworld 2: Back Through The Portals?

Shadowfist Netherworld 2 booster display boxNetherworld 2: Back Through The Portals is a booster-only expansion set released by Z-Man Games in April 2001. It's a 145-card set that contains 97 new cards, with rarities divided into Common, Uncommon, and Rare. The other 48 cards are reprints of Daedalus-edition cards like The Golden Gunman, plus two errata cards. All cards are black-bordered with a white (not foil) spirally circle thing Netherworld 2 in the upper right corner (it's intended to represent a Netherworld gate, I think).

Shadowfist Netherworld 2 booster packBooster packs contain 10 randomly assorted cards; each display box contains 24 boosters. Wrappers are silver foil but printed in shades of grey this time, so they're a bit more attractive than Throne War packs. Distribution was a bit skewed, so even though it's possible to get a set out of two boxes, it didn't happen very often. A fair number of players complained about the high percentage of reprints, so Z-Man started the "power for reprints" program [, 19 Feb 2008], a mail-in offer to swap reprints for promo cards among other things.

Netherworld 2




















The secret display box message appears on the outside bottom of the box: "There's nothing to see here... These aren't the droids you're looking for... You can go about your business... Move along" I didn't find a secret booster wrapper message.

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 Netherworld 2 breakdown by faction and type including errata and reprints   Shadowfist Netherworld 2 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 Netherwordl 2 breakdown by faction, including reprints and errata Shadowfist Netherwordl 2 breakdown by card type, including reprints and errata

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The Nitpicker's Guide: Netherworld 2

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Storyline Summary: Netherworld 2 - The Architects Make Their Move, Again

The Netherworld 2 story was written by David Eber, and published on the Shadowfist website [, 19 Feb 2008] in 2001. This is a big story of cross and double-cross, with subplots thrown in. Even this summary is kind of long to try to cover it all :) A lot of characters and stuff show up here from the Feng Shui roleplaying game, and it makes even more sense if you've read the background material in those books.

The Architects launch a plan to take over the Netherworld, led by Dr. Curtis Boatman, the head of the CDCA (Cross Disciplinary Convergence Association for those of you without Feng Shui rulebooks). They set up the Thunder King to attack his siblings with their help, and also set up the Darkness Queen and the Lotus to attack the Jammers. They plan to betray all sides at an opportune moment. Meanwhile, their Conversion Drones will begin capturing and converting the population of the Netherworld into abominations.

The Purists warn the Lotus about the impending treachery, and ask for help in their scheme to kill Dr. Boatman. The Ascended intercept the Purist's message, and instead set them up to lower the defenses of the Biomass Reprocessing Center while the rest of the Architect forces are busy with the Jammers and Monarchs. Then the Ascended arrange to have the Hand and the Dragons attack the weakened Biomass Center.

The Baron discovers the Architect's plot with the Thunder King, and warns the Prof. The Dragons and Jammers plan to break into the Biomass Center. Then Lusignan the Fool tells the Dragons that they must rescue a man with no name from the Thunder King's dungeon.

During the rescue attempt, the Baron kills Lucius Centares but is badly wounded, and Lusignan apparently falls to his death (later we learn that it was not Lusignan, but his Automaton). The Man With No Name is brought safely back to Lusignan's tower.

When the fighting begins, the Thunder assault against the Fire Pagoda initially goes well, but is stalled by the forces of the Ice Queen. The fight between the Jammers, Darkness, and Lotus devolves into a three-way mess when all the various treacheries take place. In the battle, Furious George kills The Silent Scream but is badly hurt himself. When the Darkness Queen arrives, the battle rages across the Netherworld and reaches the Fire Pagoda and becomes a five-way mess.

Meanwhile, Lusignan changes the Man With No Name into the Once and Future Champion, and the other Dragons take the Champion to the battlefront.

The Lotus summon a huge demon, the Burning King, but lose control of him. He kills both Je Pai and Chui Fa, then is killed by the Champion. Lusignan convinces the Monarchs that they were duped, so they set off to attack the Biomass Center.

With the help of Hung Hei Kwon, the Dragons make it inside the Biomass Center. The Purists unleash the Paradox Beast to kill Dr. Boatman. The Dragons and Hand attempt to stop it; finally Wu Ming Yi pushes the Beast and himself into the Center's reactor core. The Dragons capture Dr. Boatman and with his codes they deactivate the Conversion Drones. Then the Ascended arrive to take Dr. Boatman.

The Monarchs assault the Center. Dr. Boatman escapes in the confusion, and activates the self-destruct device. The Champion funnels the Four Monarch's power to contain the explosion, but is destroyed in the process.

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Etc: Netherworld 2

Netherworld 2 marked the transition from the Shlasinger-Nickoloff-Vincent design team to the Shlasinger-Lighton-Eber design team. The teams changed a couple of months after playtest started, as Mike went on to found Third World Games, and I went on to raise kids :) For me, it's most interesting to see how some of the cards turned out, knowing where they started, or to see how the initial ideas were changed or dropped entirely. The story concept, for example, was completely different, and it appears to me that the incoming design team placed a bit more emphasis on the story (which in turn influenced the card design and chrome) than the outgoing team, but I can't say that was the intent.

Overall I'd say the set is successful, since a number of cards have withstood the test of time to become deck staples (Avenging Fire, Waterfall Sanctuary, Fist of Shadow, etc.) and another batch of cards that cried out to have decks made around them were interesting enough for lots of folks to make those decks (Monkey Boy, Sunless Sea Ruins, Ice Commandos, Fanaticism, etc.). The main complaint I heard about this set was the large number of reprints. One-third of the set is reprints, which didn't make the veteran players (still by far the majority of purchasers) happy. It didn't bother me so much because the cards that were chosen as reprints were by and large deck staples like Back For Seconds, Imprisoned, In Your Face Again and Bite of the Jellyfish, so having more was ok with me (but I didn't exactly have the world's largest collection to begin with, so that will be influencing my opinion :).

This set started to introduce sub-factions within the Monarchs based around Ice, Thunder, Fire, and Darkness so that decks could be designed using only one of the four. I'm still torn on that decision, since story-wise I think the individual Monarchs should not be able to make major waves on their own, but game-wise it's fine and opens up new deck designs. The less-appealing-to-me move was to give the Fire sub-faction the Chi talent. I understand it's presented that way in the Feng Shui RPG, but I still don't buy it, or rather I don't like the fact that Fire gets access but other groups also portrayed in the RPG as users don't. I do like the addition of more folks that provide so those cards aren't de facto Guiding Hand cards, but I'd have preferred an entirely new faction. I guess that'll have to wait until the Taoists (Seven Masters) finally appear :)

The mechanic that least appeals to me in the set is Mr. Red. I really dislike the ability to win a game on a coin flip. Yes, there are other edge cases where this could happen, like an attack that depends on a Stolen Police Car or Flying Windmill Kick working in order to win, but they don't feel as blatant as Mr. Red. I was most afraid of Red Don from a rules perspective, since a Fork in any form is still a Fork, but in practice he hasn't seen much play because he's restricted to copying opponents' effects. That means you can't build a deck to abuse him, and he's hit or miss depending on what your opponents bring to the table, so his deck slot is better occupied by a more consistent card. And on the bright side, he still hasn't topped Soul Maze for rules headaches :)

A large number of cards and ideas are drawn from the Feng Shui RPG, like The Baron, Lucius Centares, Lusignan and his Automaton, The Strangled Stream, and The Bound. Most of those work for me, but the standout difference is The Hub. In the RPG, it's very difficult for anyone to figure out exactly where The Hub is, but in the game it's more or less a Not-So-Secret Headquarters for the Ascended. Granted, it would have been nigh impossible to balance a Site card that represented an unfindable fortress (I thought it would make a better Edge :) but I'd rather have seen the card cut (or renamed) before tarnishing The Hub's RPG chrome.

Art in this set is reasonable overall; I especially liked April Lee's take on The Baron. I was most disappointed in Violet Senshi Chamber, because that open, animé-cartoony style just doesn't fit with the rest of the set. The art on the new play-as-printed Monarchs (Fire, Ice, Thunder) didn't appeal to me much either, although they aren't bad, just not stunning enough to eclipse the originals. Like Throne War, cards are printed on the dark-ish side, but at least their corners are cut the same as the other Z-Man cards.

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