October 26, 2013

While I’ve hardly been low on the gaming recently, even teaching some mahjong and getting caught up on HoR, I just haven’t been feeling a specific topic.  So, when I went to play Shadowfist last night and Miguel, the host, mentioned reading this blog and finding it interesting to see the game through the eyes of a newb, it seemed obvious to me to write about Shadowfist after those infrequent times I play it.

In particular, I bring an unusual perspective.  To a large degree, it’s that of the newb.  But, it’s also the perspective of someone who has done a significant amount of CCGing and who is probably approaching ramping up in knowledge in a “r1” way.  I mine Chimpshack for card knowledge even for cards that aren’t in Modern.  I have researched articles, which doesn’t sound that odd, but I’ve been looking for certain, specific information rather than general advice.

Anyway, we played three games last night.  I’m not going to include card texts, and I’m not sure where to link to individual cards, if such a site exists.

Game 1:

Miguel (Hand), Ian (Hand), Anna (Monarchs), Michael (Architects)

Started playing a three, but Michael showed up before Anna finished her first turn.  I chose one of the decks I was less interested in playing as it isn’t clear to me whether the three-player or the four-player is going to be the norm, so I was saving other decks for four-player games.

This was not an interesting game.  Miguel got a Proving Ground going with Virtuous Hoods and Exiled Monks and the rest of us had virtually no action.  This game brought up something I wasn’t expecting – multiple players not getting characters in play.  Sure, I focus on as many ways to generate power as possible so that I don’t get into the dreaded situation of not being able to do anything and still brought up little, but I wasn’t expecting both Anna and Michael to have no meaningful board positions.

Game 2:

Anna (as above), Michael (borrowed Ascended junk), Miguel (Eunuchs), Ian (Big Bruiser Parade)

While slow, newbieness slows things down for reading cards and making decisions, this was much more of a game.  Anna put out Summer Fire Palace and it was annoying.  Michael’s deck was full of annoyance plays, including The Fox Outfoxed on Imperial Boon to blunt Miguel’s game.

Meanwhile, Miguel got Eunuch action going with both Xin Ji Yang and Gao Zhang.  The former got to 20 Fighting but kept running across Big Bruisers and Anna’s Fire Cadets bravely exploded against Gao Zhang when he had eight damage, taking him and the shrunken Xin Ji Yang out.  This left me with the Fightiness as I got a couple Bruisers and could keep one in play through removal with “Is That All You Got?”.

Back for Seconds, Fortune Favors the Bold, and a fortunate Fighting Spirit to get back two events when I had one of one event and three of another in my smoked pile kept the pressure up with no one else having much of a board presence.  Michael did get some Tail [of the Lizard] action going.

Why mention that?  I’m not a fan of the Ascended in Modern and maybe never really all that much of a fan of them in pre-Modern days.  They generate power and Killdeer was how Michael put it, and I can’t recall anything else interesting that they do besides steal effects.  My view is that Shadowy Mentor is not a good card at 4 power.  It’s just hideously slow compared to 3 power.  Maybe that’s only building decks with Modern, maybe that’s my aversion to running Bull Market, or maybe I’m wrong.  But, the cost change seems mighty, where plenty of other power cards didn’t get any nerfing.  So, getting back to the question, Tail of the Lizard is one of the few Ascended characters I like in Modern.

To maintain the digression, somewhat because of Modern but also because of some personal choices, I actually find that the Ascended have a hard time generating enough power to play anything besides the midrange characters.  I really want to mix Ascended with somebody, but too many combinations either don’t use the same talent or require multiple resources of one type or another.

Anyway, Big Bruisers lead to victory.  While not a terribly interesting deck, especially I imagine for veterans, I do want to get another game in with this tight deck in before moving on to other Dragony or halfbreed strategies.

Game 3:

Ian (Lotus Snakes), Michael (Purists), Miguel (Purists)

Rather than describe action, I’m just going to list some funny things that happened.

I Death of 1,000 Cuts True Believer … Crisis.  Yes, I Crisis a card to smoke a 1 Fighting character.  It gets Delay the Inevitabled.  Temple of the Celestial Mercy had one left and we were both trying to get it, as I had an Imp in play.  Endless Corridor stops the True Believer.  True Believer goes for it again, and I’m reminded that I have Do1000C on Delay, so I smoke him the second time around.

There were many DtIs, of course.  One stopped my Underworld Coronation.  Who on?  Why, Evil Twin of Prudence Nightingale, of course.  I Evil Twinned her twice.  I also Die!!!-ed her twice, controlled by two different opponents.  At one point, I had Feng Kan, two Hungry Ghosts, two Exorcists, Evil Twin Prudence, and an Abysmal Wyrm in play and was in last place.  At the end of the game, everyone had two sites burned for victory.  I got Green Snake and White Snake in play and assassinated a Morse Code Poet (I think), but Michael Discerning Fired away my GSaWS and an Abysmal Wyrm.  I Discerning Fired away two of his state-pumped dudes on the same turn.

I tried to explain that the one copy of Feeding the Hungry in my deck was not so good for my specific deck as I lacked reliable Tortured Memories or character recursion tech in my build, but, because it allowed me to push through with the reTwinned Prudence for the win, nuking an Abysmal on the way to smokey land, it was considered strong.  I was surprised to find out it wasn’t a reprint as it seems like such an obvious Lotus card.  On the other hand, based on Michael’s comments about cards, I get the sense that there are more zero cost events with strong effects that have come with Modern.


The first deck never had a chance to do its thing and the other two are decks I have interest in, so I plan on playing them all again before going back to the blackboard … blackboards are a real thing, still, right?

I mentioned to Miguel that I could post decklists and thoughts on the builds and the card choices, but that seems to make more sense when I go to break them down.  The two decks I liked more both did what they were supposed to, so things seem to be working out fine on the deckbuilding front.  I have thoughts on what Modern could use, but that seems like a good post for another time.

In general, I was expecting more sites to see play – often people were on one Feng Shui Site – and more hitters/midrangers on the table.  Also, there was less removal than I expected.  I have no ability to play Imprisoned or Neutron Bomb or Nerve Gas, but it seemed like those sorts of things might show up, though only one deck had the right faction for them.


We also played Love Letter, a very light card game of logic.  I thought it was fine.  It certainly had more intrigue when played with four players rather than the five we mistakenly started out with.  It’s not the sort of game I care about as I could just as easily converse on games I do care about rather than play, but I’d have no problem playing it again and think there’s a solid dynamic in the game.