Tactics: Iron & Silk
by Dave Van Domelen
Home > Strategy > Shadowfist Tactics: Iron & Silk
[posted 8 Mar 2004; updated 1 Apr 2005]
Copyright 1995 by Dave Van Domelen. This article originally appeared in The Shadowfist Players' Guide, Vol.1. Reprinted here with Dave's permission. Thanks!
"Flow like silk, strike like iron. Bend without breaking, anticipate setbacks and in all actions be smooth like silk. Yet when it comes time to press the advantage, be all hardness and ferocity, do not waver in your assault... be as iron."
--the Old Master
Early, Attack Often"
Shadowfist gives you the option of launching more than one assault per turn, provided you donít fail in your first attempt. You can probe an opponent's defenses, find a weakness, and then launch a follow-up attack to exploit the weakness before your opponent has a chance to put reinforcements into play and unturn valuable defensive feng shui sites.
"The Guy Who's Gonna Kick Your Butt!"
he same turn a character enters play it can use any of its abilities and be declared as an attacker. You can add a potent warrior to your forces and use it to attack immediately, without having to wait for your foe to shore up defenses. If you're going to strike like iron, strike while the iron's HOT.
All A Blur"
Anything that can make you get cards out of your hand faster is almost always a good thing, especially if you're getting the cards into play. Since you always draw to a full hand at the start of your turn, there's no real problem with emptying your hand quickly. The more cards you've played, the more you've done to win the game. Sometimes playing just one big card is better than a lot of smaller cards, but in general you want to be drawing at least two cards a turn. Lots of cheap cards in your deck can help with this.
Think about it. In the same time it takes to generate the power to play a King of the Thunder Pagoda, you can play three Thunder Knights, some of which can be attacking before the King would have been out. Big characters are nice, big characters will help you win... but little characters will keep you from losing in the meantime. Little characters backed up by 0 cost Events and cheap States may overwhelm your opponents with a flurry of cards.
Abilities that require turning of cards and Events with a zero power cost have one major thing in common: if you have waited until the end of the player's turn before yours and haven't used them, USE them if you can. A Chinese Doctor on your side had better not start the turn unturned if you have any damaged characters.
In most cases, there's no reason not to take advantage of cards that turn to generate their effects, cards like Stone Garden, Vivisector, and Arcanotechnician. Unless you're saving a face-down feng shui site as a surprise, you're always better off exploiting all the resources at your command.
Just-Use-It advice also applies to the cheap Events discussed in the previous point. You want to cycle through your deck as fast as possible, especially early in the game. For every card you use before your turn begins, you get to draw one. If you're drawing more than three cards a turn, odds are you're kicking some serious butt.
Or Lose It"
The worst thing you can do in Shadowfist is hold onto a really good card you drew early in the game, hoping to scrape together the Power and resources to use it. While you're holding the unplayable card, your effective hand size has just been reduced by one, giving your opponent a major advantage. If you can't reasonably expect to use a card in your hand within the next turn or two, discard it. Better to replace it with a card you can use NOW than die with Fong Sai Yuk in your hand. Flexibility, the willingness to abandon an early attractive option, is a key to winning.
Not For Him, For His Spirit Fights Alongside Us"
Dead characters aren't lost characters. Sure, they can't fight anymore or use special abilities, but as long as they are in your smoked pile they contribute in one VERY important respect: resources. A suicide attack early in the game may be just the thing you need, socking the resources away nice and safe while hurting your opponent. Effects that let you smoke your own characters in exchange for Power (such as Vivisector) are great for this, letting you kill off a character, gain resources and power, and then play another character with those new assets. This helps you cycle through your deck faster, plus it lets you get to those high-resource-condition characters all the sooner.
Willingness to lose your characters in order to maintain or improve your position in the game shows silken resilience.
It Wasn't Just A Flesh Wound"
A big part of being flexible is knowing when to not attack, when to hold back and bind your wounds. Remember that damage usually doesn't go away automatically, and a seriously hurt character is effectively out of action for the next turn. When the iron is too hot, you must be willing to give it time to cool.
It's best to plan for these lulls and have Events or other tricks ready to keep you safe while your characters hold back and turn to heal.
Of course, when all else fails, remember the previous point. Don't be afraid to lose a heavily wounded big guy if it'll keep you from losing a site. That's what cards like Golden Comeback are for.
You can't stop them all. Sometimes the silk must simply part and let the sword pass through. Every so often your opponent will launch an attack so devastating that even if you intercept with everyone, you'll still lose a site. Even the cool Event you have in your hand would only mean you'd lose all your characters and have a heavily damaged site.
In these desperate times, remember that the most your opponent can manage, in most cases, is to take one site with one attack. If your opponent has arrayed 25 Fighting worth of attackers to take a site with 7 Body, the other 18 points of damage are wasted. So don't intercept at all. Your opponent gets the site but your characters are fresh to attack her most weakly-defended location next turn.
An even better option is to snipe at your opponent's forces as they march on your site. Think about it, when you declare interception it's as if every character you control has the ability Assassinate. You can pick and choose which attacking characters to kill. Unless you have special reasons to kill certain attacking characters, your best bet will be to smoke all the attackers from a particular location, leaving that location undefended against your upcoming attack.
Dave Van Domelen, 1995.
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