Shadowfist: Farewell to Arms

Tue, 2011-04-19 16:27
hooliganj's picture

The template is released, so it's time to move another step with the next set. Strike while the iron is hot, they say.

The theme this time is World War II. One of the time-travel portals currently connects to 1942, and it would be a waste to not take advantage of that opportunity. However, this is not about WW2 as it actually happened, but how it has been remembered. Historical references are fine, but more important is the legacy of the War to End All Wars, as preserved in popular culture - film, TV and song.

Mechanically, this set has another goal to accomplish - eliminating factions from the overly crowded battlefield. I've had the opportunity to discuss with people from IKG the negative impact of having 9 active factions in a CCG, specifically the limitations it places on storytelling and design space, and the problems created in drafting. Generally it's acknowledged that while there are some critical issues, a happy solution is not forthcoming.

So this is my solution.

For my early outlines for this set, I'm planning the complete elimination of two factions (both of whom are at an all-time low in the story anyway), and a critical wounding of a third, to be finished off in a later story.

On one hand, this means I need to analyze the doomed factions for any play mechanics that need to be preserved, and give them a new home. The transition doesn't have to be sudden or massive, but hints and groundwork should begin with this set.

On the other hand, this also means that for those two factions, this set can afford to be pretty liberal. If fact, those two factions will need quite a few power cards to maintain parity for a while, with no more new cards coming.

So before I begin posting story or cards, I'm looking for two kinds of feedback:

- If you know the game, then the first two factions on the chopping block are the Architects and the Purists. What mechanics, themes and playstyles from those groups would be worth preserving, and where should they go?

- If you are unfamiliar with Shadowfist, but like the idea of a WW2 themed CCG set, I'm always looking for references and ideas. Please feel free to post your favorite story, movie scene, TV show, song, historical figure or obscure fact, and I'll see what I can do to fit it in. Anything dealing with WW2 is welcome.

De Chelonian Mobile.
My Shadowfist sets.
The Usagi Yojimbo CCG.

Tue, 2011-04-19 22:12
Disposable Hero
Disposable Hero's picture

I think, while I don't play Shadowfist, that based on the (incredibly cool) sci-fi/supernatural story, you could delve into occult Nazi stuff or crazy Nazi scinetific experiments - see the Indiana Jones series, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola, and the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger for ideas.

Out of curiosity, as I think the backstory is really cool, which factions will get knocked out of the race?

Tue, 2011-04-19 22:22
jrzman's picture

I am only vaguely familiar with Shadowfist, it was big in Sarnia in the mid 90s when I started playing Magic. I'd have to get caught up on the storyline. If you could PM me the important details, it would help.

jrzman set hub
“The path to knowledge is locked. To get in you either have the right key, or be lucky enough to be able to pick the lock.”

Fri, 2011-05-13 18:36
hooliganj's picture

@Disposable Hero: The Architects are already allied with Nazi Germany in the official storyline, so unless I wanted to change the outcome of the war in my story (not likely), they're pretty much doomed to failure. All the crazy Nazi mysticism seems like a good opportunity for the Purists to get involved, being so desperate for one last chance at power that they would even work for Bonengel again.

So those two will get to have lots of fun supporting the Axis forces in Europe, but it will be the end of them.

The faction that gets to be wounded now and knocked out later is the Ascended. This decision has less to do with WW2 and more with the aforementioned conversations with IKG. Not that they're actually doing this - we were just talking ideas - but I'm taking the ball and running with it.

Lest I be accused of picking favorites and giving the boot to my hated enemies - the Ascended have always been my favorite faction, since I started playing in Limited Edition, 16 years ago. It will be sad to write them out, but after a cold analysis of who gets to stay when cutting the field down to 5-6 factions, they just don't make the cut.

@jrzman: Here you go. Since it took more work than I expected, I posted it in a thread rather than a PM. Hope it helps.

---------- Update:

I have a cycle of foundations mostly done. There's no foundation for the Monarchs (yet), so I included an idea I had for a common Character. I know not every faction needs a foundation in every set, but I like to include them if possible, to help with drafting.

Note: "Foundation" refers to a card that does not require a resource to play, but provides one so that you can play other cards from the same faction. Almost always a low-cost/low-Fighting Character, but there are exceptions.

Glory Squad Common
Confident Soldiers [1]
Whenever this card deals damage to the target of an attack, it gains +1 Fighting until it leaves play.
1 / Arc

OSS Recruit Common
Pledged Agent [1]
Stealth. May not be declared as an interceptor. Whenever you take control of a card from an opponent, you may Reload this card.
1 / Asc

Band of Brothers Common
Brave Soldiers [1]
Turn :: Change the target of an Event targeting a [Dra] Character that you control to this card.
1 / Dra

Collaborators Common
Treacherous Pawns [1]
When you seize a Site, or a Site you control is seized, you may return this card from the smoked pile to your hand.
1 / Lot

Wind Talker Common
Thunder Shaman [2]
Tactics. When this card turns to attack, you may choose one other Character participating in the attack to gain your choice of Stealth or +3 damage until the end of the attack.
Mon Mon 2 / Mon Mag

Revolutionaries Common
Dedicated Rebels [1]
When an opponent gains power outside of their Establishing Shot, unturn this card.
1 / Han

Innocent Looking Bystanders Common
Potential Mob [1]
If this card is smoked due to any cause other than combat damage, you may immediately play a Character with a printed cost of 2 or less at no cost.
1 / Jam

Song of the Runes Common
Turn X Sites :: Deal X+1 damage to target Character or Site.
1 / Pur

Paparazzi Common
Media Hood [1]
When this card is smoked, you may Reload one Event from your smoked pile.
1 / Syn

This should help identify the sides each faction will fall on. The Dragons and Ascended are the western allies, the Hand is the Chinese resistance, the Architects and Purists are the Axis powers, and the Lotus are the Japanese imperialists and Chinese collaborators. The Monarchs, as always, are split, the Jammers will help any resistance group who wants to blow things up, and the Syndicate hold themselves neutral - although they will interfere if they feel history might be derailed to avoid their timeline being altered.

---------- Update:
Now that its contest is over, I want to include Vision of the Sunless Sea in this set.

Vision of the Sunless Sea
Vision of the Sunless Sea Common
Toast X [Mag] cards in your smoked pile :: Smoke target Character
with a printed cost of X or less. X must be greater than 0.
Only a fool would brave a glimpse at what lies in those dark waters -
but many a man would become a fool to harvest such power.

Lot Mag 0

When I posted it in the contest, I thought about making it a Purist card, since the [hurt self to hurt the opponent more] is a big part of their style. In the end, I decided that leaving it neutral would keep it simple. It's a good example of a card that transitions a faction's mechanic/style - Purists in this set can still use it, but it's also available to the other Magic-using factions (Lotus, Architects, 7 Masters, some Dragons), now and in the future.

Here are some other ideas for cards the migrate a theme to another faction, or improve what was a minor mechanic now that the major user is leaving.

migration cards
Shadow Strike Common (Ambush, Architects -> Neutral Chi)
Target Character gains Ambush until the end of combat.
Chi 0

Mountain-Top Garden Uncommon (Hand/deck manipulation, Purists -> Hand)
Site <1> (6)
When an attack is declared against you, turn :: Draw X cards,
then place 1 card from your hand on the botom of your deck.
X = the number of Characters participating in the attack.
Han 2 / Han Chi

Swallowing Storm Common (Character elimination, Architects/Purists -> Monarchs)
Thunder and Darkness Event
Smoke target Character that is the subject of a Vehicle State.
Mon Mag 1

Awakening Inferno Uncommon (Site damage, Purists -> Monarchs)
Fire Event
Inflict 1 damage on each Site.
Mon Mon 1

Cyberware Supplies Uncommon (Fast States, Architects -> Syndicate)
Turn :: Play a State from your hand at -1 cost. Turn and toast a State
in your smoked pile :: Gain 1 Power.
Syn Tec 2

Night of the Rats Common (Power theft, Ascended -> Lotus)
Steal 1 power from target player. If you do not, turn a Character
that player controls and unturn a Character you control.
Lot 0

---------- Update:
So, I've been thinking about the set breakdown.

standard Shadowfist set stats
Total number of cards: 128 + promos

Commons: 50
Uncommons: 45
Rares: 33
Promos: 4-8

Average cards per major faction: 12

Average commons per major faction: 5
Average uncommons per major faction: 4
Average rares per major faction: 3

Neutral Feng Shui Sites: 6-10
Average cards remaining (neutral or minor faction): 10-14

Given the overall theme for this set, I would like to design at least one deck type into each faction's new cards. It doesn't have to be anything revolutionary or new, but it should represent the general strategy employed by that faction while fighting WW2. The foundation Characters give some ideas, and could certainly be included in the cards set aside for these decks.

Each new deck type would only have to take up 5 or 6 of the faction's cards, leaving plenty of space for card designs that migrate mechanics or just represent the plot.

deck ideas
Architects of the Flesh: Pilots and Flying States
This would be a mostly new idea, so there's a lot of design space, but it may be too similar to the already popular Tank deck. Would have to be careful to make the Flying States provide a unique type of bonus.

Architects of the Flesh: Soldier/Tank Symmetry
Tank decks are already popular, and Soldier is a useful designator, albeit with expensive and tricky-to-play buffs. Maybe a handful of cards that exploit a joint deployment of the two types would work.

Ascended: Stealth
Stealth decks exist, but are not very popular, due mostly to a lack of supporting cards - Stealth tends to be employed as a back-up ability in a deck. Going this route could fix that.

Dragons: Soldiers
Players always like a designator with synnergy. Adding Soldiers to the Dragons would play up the heroic stories of WW2 troops, and opens up interesting multi-faction deck options. Drawback: they already have Cop, Hero, Rebel, Martial Artist and Student - another major designator might be overload, although Dragon sets are always Character heavy, so this may just be an unavoidable side-effect of the faction's playstyle.

Dragons: Heroic Sacrifice
This would migrate the sacrificial mechanics of both the Architects and the Purists to the Dragons, changing the context from fascist slaughter and mad science to noble heroism. Would be new and useful to the Dragons, who could use a mechanical trick besides resurrecting Characters over and over.

Eaters of the Lotus: No Smoked Pile is Safe
The Lotus have a couple of cards that allow them to attack their opponent's smoked pile and/or their resource pools directly. It would be interesting to expand this into a more viable concept for an entire deck.

Eaters of the Lotus: Control
A simpler idea is to improve the Lotus' control-stealing abilities. Tortured Memories finds its way into almost every Lotus deck - it may be time to give them some more options.

Four Monarchs: Ice Damage
Ice has long been the unassuming cleric of the four siblings. This would be a good chance to let Pi Tui and her troops have a moment in the spotlight (especially since Fire will feature in my next set). How to make Ice threatening is the trick...

Guiding Hand: Resistance
Recent expansions have sought to give the Hand a more aggresive stance, but of old their main strength lay in their ability to slow down their opponent's efforts. This would theme nicely with the Chinese Resistance troops of the WW2 era.

Guiding Hand: Political Strife
Another theme that could be explored is the Nationalist vs Communist conflict that was occuring in China at the time. Politics can be represented with power manipulation and attacks that effect an opponent's hand or cards rather than focusing on damage. There would need to be some way to translate this into a victory.

Jammers: Retalliation
Already a theme for the Jammers, the focus is on punishing anyone who chooses to attack or otherwise target the player. Fits the rebel theme in a Jammer style, but may be hard to come up with fresh designs.

Jammers: Down but not Out
Play-from-behind is viable in any faction, but this would be a Jammers Rebel/Consumer deck that is completely focused on being the loser up until the final moment. Decks like this are risky and often work through sudden, short bursts of power, so overall they're not that popular - but they are effective.

Purists: The Science of Pure Magic
In the story, there aren't many of these guys around anymore - I can play off of the foundation Event already proposed and create options for a completely Character-free deck. This would work with the story theme and also matches with the most important theme of the faction - weirdness.

Purists: Souls for Sale, Bargain Price
The other option is to exploit the story of the Purists making a last bid for power by allying with a great evil. This deck would focus on black magic as a Character buff, and would also play into and out of the smoked pile.

Syndicate: Media Blitz
Speed attacking deck focusing on the Media designator and creative uses of the Influence special ability. I always wanted to see this deck in Ascended, based around cards like Muckracking Journalist, but this would work for the Cyberpunk-themed Syndicate even better.

Feedback is appreciated. As always, I'm also taking suggestions for reference materials related to WW2.

---------- Update:
I've been thinking about the deck ideas - refining the concepts and considering how they accomplish my goals for this set. With Architects and Purists on the way out, this isn't a good time to launch a completely new deck for them, so I'll stick with the ideas that play up their interesting but under-utilized traits. I also realized that the two ideas for the Dragons and Jammers weren't really seperate decks - they can be combined. I want to push the Lotus Control and Hand Politics themes into my next set, Cloak and Dagger, where they will fit in better - this set should focus on aggressive tactics and fighting. Ascended, as well, are going to be playing up Stealth in CaD, so I had to come up with a new idea for this set.

Here's what I want to run with:

  • Architects: Super Science Soldiers - Normal troops that can be augmented with magic and tech.
  • Ascended: Sabotage - Disabling opponent's cards and tricks.
  • Dragons: Soldier's Sacrifice - Soldier characters that can be sacrificed or trigger from sacrifices.
  • Lotus: Necromantic Army - Summoning Demonic troops to bolster the invasion army.
  • Monarchs: Ice Combat - Snow and winter themed hitters.
  • Hand: Resistance - Tactics to recover from setbacks or slow down a dominating opponent.
  • Jammers: Trappers - Punishing an opponent for attacking, and making you look weaker than you really are.
  • Purists: Black Magic - Magic-based character buffing and sacrifice/resurrection.
  • Syndicate: Media Blitz - Introducing a media themed attack style, aimed at debuffing and misdirection.

Any good/fun ideas I may have missed?

De Chelonian Mobile.
My Shadowfist sets.
The Usagi Yojimbo CCG.

Fri, 2011-05-13 18:55
Disposable Hero
Disposable Hero's picture

The Syndicate deck sounds really cool, as does the Hand deck.

Fri, 2011-07-01 22:25
hooliganj's picture

@Disposable Hero: Thanks, I'm still working on those ideas.

Thought I'd post up some of the Dragon's Soldier cards, as a token of appreciation for those who serve on Memorial Day. I know it's late, but I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. (Unless you don't celebrate anything today, in which case I hope you had a nice regular day.)

Dragon Soldiers
Band of Brothers Common
Brave Soldiers [1]
Turn :: Change the target of an Event targeting a Character you control to this card.
1 / Dra

Brothers in Arms Common
Play when a Character you control is smoked due to combat damage. All other Characters you control gain +1 Fighting until the end of the turn.
Dra 0

Front Liners Common
Infantry Soldiers [4]
When this card is smoked due to combat damage, you may play a Character from your smoked pile at -1 cost.
“First in, last out.”
Dra 3 / Dra

Last Full Measure Rare
One Shot. The player to your left may choose a Character you control or from your smoked pile. Place that Character in your burned for victory pile. You may not play this card if you are one Feng Shui Site away from victory.
Dra Dra Dra 1

M3 Half-Track Personnel Carrier Uncommon
Vehicle. Subject Character gains +1 Fighting and Independent. When Subject turns to attack, you may turn one other Character to attack as if that Character had Independent.
Dra Dra 2

Mechanized Infantry Uncommon
Mobile Troops [2]
Guts and +2 Fighting while the subject of a Vehicle State. When this card is smoked due to combat damage, any States on this card return to your hand.
Dra Dra 2 / Dra

Sergeant John Stryker Rare
Career Soldier [6]
Unique. All Characters you control at the same location gain Toughness: 1.
“Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”
Dra Dra 4 / Dra

The Tarnished Twelve Rare
Dirty Soldiers [12]
Unique. Independent. Cannot be healed. Damage inflicted by this card may not be reduced or redirected.
Dra Dra Dra 5 / Dra

The “Hump” Common
Site <1> (5)
Once per turn, you may turn a Character you control that is the subject of a Vehicle State :: Unturn a different Character you control.
Dra 2 / Dra

When Johnny Comes Marching Home Common
Toast It. Return target attacking Character you own to your hand, and gain 1 Power. Gain an additional Power for each of the following designators on the target: <Soldier>, <Army>, <Military>, <Troop> or <Trooper>.
Dra Dra 1

---------- Update 7/1: Hope this doesn't count as a necro...

Wanted to post some ideas for the Syndicate Media deck. If you see anything you like, or don't see something you might like, let me know. A happy smile

Media cards
Front Line Reporter Colorless mana symbol
Embedded Media [4]
When this card turns to attack, you may target another Character in play :: Cancel that Character's rules text until the end of the attack.
Syn 3 / Syn

John Joseph Archer Red mana symbol
Corporate Media Mogul [4]
Unique. While ~ is unturned, <Media> Characters you control may not be the target of opponent's Events. Turn and maintain :: Reduce the damage dealt by target Character to 0.
Syn Syn Syn Syn 3 / Syn

Crucified in the Press Blue mana symbol
Media State
Whenever any player declares an attack against subject Character, that player gains 1 power. No player may gain more than 2 power this way per turn.
Syn Syn 0

Yellow Journalism Colorless mana symbol
Media Event
Influence: 2.
Syn 0 / Syn

Meanwhile, in Other News... Colorless mana symbol
Media Event
Until the end of the turn, target Character may attack as if it had Independent.
Syn 1

Featured Coverage Blue mana symbol
Media Event
Characters attacking target Site cannot use Ambush, Stealth, Superleap or Tactics.
Syn Syn 1

De Chelonian Mobile.
My Shadowfist sets.
The Usagi Yojimbo CCG.

Thu, 2012-09-27 00:49
Ophidian Lord
Ophidian Lord's picture

Hi hooliganj, any news on this set? I'm interest in knowing more.

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