Table management is an essential skill to heightened V:TES success.  It’s easy to exaggerate, but, to make a point, I try aphorisms like “Don’t play the cards, play the people.” and “Ignore your deck, it will only confuse you.” on folks.  … I’m lying.  I don’t think I’ve ever used either of those lines.  I have used lines like “Your deck doesn’t matter.” and “Oust the best player first.”, which Brandon seemed to get more grief for than I ever did.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that table management is just as much of a thing in Shadowfist.  Nor should it be surprising that many of the same things to look for are important.

Such as?

Player features.  Player skill is obviously one feature.  Player personality and player style could be grouped together, but I kind of think of two different things with these terms.  Personality would cover such things as “You attacked my Katie Kincaid.  I will make you lose forever.” or “You Sensory Depped my Jake Washington with Tasha Morgan.  I will make you lose forever.”  Aggression can be a personality trait, but it’s personal aggression.  Meanwhile, style would cover how aggressive someone is at trying to win.  Reckless player?  Style.  Flirty player?  Personality.  I know, this doesn’t help a lot.

Anyway, it’s not just that some player may be more of a threat because the player is better.  Some player may be more of a threat because the game is playing well to suit the player’s style.  I’m extremely non-aggressive these days with V:TES and I can already sense that I’m becoming more passive/patient/inoffensive the more I play Shadowfist.  When people are playing hyperaggressively and shortening a game, this sort of style can easily see getting run over.  Meanwhile, a game of “hand attrition” (a limited form of resource attrition based on cards from hand) may suit my style.

Of course, style gets reflected two ways – in deck construction and in play.  Though, I’ve borrowed aggressive decks and played them passively.

I’m still in the phase of Shadowfist of playing stuff to play stuff and recklessly trying to improve my position, hoping I won’t get messed with.  That’s very likely to change, to where I get tired of the massive amount of stoppage that goes towards the player who tries to win and I just do nothing until my inevitable victory, as per V:TES.

Not to say beating down the best player isn’t a good idea.  The number of important mistakes I make in Shadowfist are vast, even such idiotic things as not taking power for Gambling House until after I steal/remove a character … that prevents me from turning Gambling House.  If I’ve increasingly argued that a small number of mistakes are the ones that really matter in V:TES games, I’m not seeing how it’s hugely different with Shadowfist.  Though, I’m inclined to believe that Shadowfist mistakes tend to be more unforgiven.  After all, typically have one less player in Shadowfist to table balance things.  The number of times I’ve lost out on a power has been way too high, as one power is often huge, potentially large.  Or, to stop people from misusing enormity, we use the more better word:  enormical.

Shadowfist is a game almost entirely of lunges, except when you play some bad game where someone just blows everyone else away.  Better players have better lunge flexibility, getting in that much deeper for the kill.

Jumping around, one can see personality and style in deck construction and not just in play.  As an aside, much like V:TES, I don’t see that deck strength is all that important in Shadowfist.  My personality comes through with such things as playing Syndicate (my most common thinking about Shadowfist is what to do next with Syndicate) as I like their shade of green and their faction layout for other reasons than color.  My style comes through with moving towards more event-heavy decks, as I’m fond of transient effects.  That and such things as being more defensive in builds by running punishment FSS, Avenging _, etc.

A “I play this cool combo” deck is never to be concerned about as much as “I play Underworld Trackers” deck or “I guess it’s time to stop playing Govern at superior” deck.  The “I kill everything in play but have no fighting/ousting power” deck is something to play differently against.

Card knowledge is enormical.  My Shadowfist Modern knowledge is probably not bad, but, as so many cards are reprints, even those who eschew the format (veterans, I’m looking at you), still probably know more.  My Classic knowledge is weak, potentially mild.

A factor of player skill is card knowledge.  I walk into all sorts of “my characters die” plays because I don’t know how to play around stuff, also because I just expect all of my characters to die, anyway, so might as well get it over with and claim the mantle of weakness.  That whole messing with the better player thing mitigates how the better player will take advantage of knowledge discrepancies.

Not to say that it’s cut and dried on how to attack anyone in Shadowfist.  The sheer number of possibilities for what to do overwhelms my tiny mind.  There must be some sort of way to categorize strategy/tactics better that will come with experience.  Do you jump some 1 Fighting dude or not?  Does it matter if it has a special or is it a threat to be part of some combo involving cards you don’t know?

In particular, I haven’t figured out when not to attack.  I still don’t have the feel down for setting up lunges turns in advance or for when jumping in someone else’s way with a character rather than an event is called for.

So, cards.  They sometimes do things.  Knowing what they can do is … something I’ve already started talking about, but I want to get to how it produces wins.  I have been thinking of a separate post on the power of helpful effects – point being that cards with less powerful effects can be more important to winning because they provide what’s needed situationally.

In V:TES, Dodge is often no worse than S:CE and sometimes better, whether because getting an untap at the cost of a blood is worse than not paying any blood or because you can play Dodge with an ally or all sorts of specific scenarios.  Monkey Wrench may get a kill Conditioning doesn’t because your anarch with no Dominate is your last, best hope for victory.

A free +2 Fighting event might be the possum that dropping another CHAR isn’t.  So, it behooves to know what sort of lunge plays someone might be able to pull off given resources, power, designators, and whatnot.  Sure, knowing that 8 power is the difference between one hitter of 12F versus two hitters of 6F is also a thing to be conscious of and knowing the precise mechanics and uses of every FSS ability that might get revealed during a bid for victory is some yum.

But, my tiny mind can only hold so much card knowledge.  So, forget the minor stuff, like characters and sites, imprint upon my brain cells the tricks (because characters and sites never have tricks, nope, never).

I’m just polluting my post with stuff that isn’t multiplayer specific.  Where was I?

Multiplayer.  Multiplayer is not just about kingmaking and manipulating people into doing your work for you.  It’s about reading how the other players are going to play a game where every play is not a “Good for me, bad for you” play.  Will they hold on to stoppage even if it lets someone win just to force other people to use resources?  Will they make a mess of a bid for victory, so you can pretty much expect them to stop themselves?  Will they cripple you only to hand the game to someone else because they fear you, your deck, and/or your cards in play?

Right now, Shadowfist is playing differently for me than V:TES for a variety of reasons:  game knowledge in terms of cards and rules knowledge; strategic understanding; my personal style of play varying between the two.  But, I’m getting the sense that I may move towards playing the game more akin to my V:TES play as I learn more and I decide that I do care if Final Brawl is six for one card advantage against my Ascended deck.

On the other hand, you lose in Shadowfist when someone else wins, not just when you decide to let your predator oust you.  So, maybe it won’t be the same.


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