Friday, November 30, 2012


It's great to see good games can evolve and stay relevant even as the general trend of gaming changes.
With the launch of Magic: The Gathering back in 1993 a new genre of gaming was born; collectable card games (CCGs). 
The idea of CCGs caught on in a major way thanks to Magic. The idea of buying a pack of cards with a random selection inside -- much like hockey and other sport cards have been distributed for decades -- was new for gamers. Many of us loved the idea of cracking a pack and finding an especially powerful card for our decks, and for more than a decade CCGs prospered with literally hundreds of titles being created.
Most are little more than vague memories for even the most devout CCG player, the art, mechanics and distribution of many signaling a rather quick death.
The idea of CCGs was also one many gamers did not like. They saw the collectability as simply a way of draining money from their gaming budgets as they ripped packs looking for the key cards to tweak their decks.
For the most part CCGs faded away, although Magic remains vibrant with new cards coming out at least a couple of times a year.
Among the myriad of CCGs which arrived on the scene in the hay day of the genre, a few were actually excellent games, ones which prospered for a time with a number of expansions to the core game being created.
Shadowfist was one such CCG.
The game was one which was based on a combination of kung fu, sci-fi and action movies elements which simply put, was fun.
The premise of the game had players competing against each other to control the world's feng shui sites across time.
It was the sort of open-ended story line which gave its creators Jose Garcia and Robin D. Laws the ability to incorporate a wide range of elements which were compelling to gamers who are already generally interested in the world of sci-fi and its relatives.
Shadowfist went through expansions, and publisher changes, carrying with it a significant gaming fan base which kept the game active when most CCGs failed.
But alas Shadowfist stopped producing new cards, and for a CCG that is the death knell as generally the genre feeds on new cards keeping players interested.
But as I stated to start this review, good games find a way to survive.
The new trend is toward 'Living Card Games'. New cards are offered on a regular basis to keep aspects of deck building and game play fresh, but instead of being randomly distributed, the new cards are offered as a one-purchase set.
Raising money through Kickstarter to pre-fund the relaunch, supporters pledged 250 per cent of what those behind Shadowfist today were looking for. The $50,000 raised should ensure a strong rebirth of the game.
The new set and the planned expansions will be fixed sets of cards, which is good news for many since you will not have to purchase packs in the hopes of cracking the cards you really desire.
So what do you get with Shadowfist?
"Shadowfist is the mile-a-minute, sword-clashing, butt-kicking, Uzi-spraying, boat-exploding, car-chasing, monster-crunching, Hong Kong cinematic action card game that is so epic it would take fourteen John Woos to film and a cast the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. And that's just in the first five minutes," related the games Kickstarter page.
Remember what I mentioned earlier about fun.
Shadowfist can be played one-on-one although a strength has been that it is one of the better multi-player games to come out of the CCG era.
The relaunch of Shadowfist will include four pre-constructed starter decks, one each for the Dragons, the Guiding Hand, the Ascended and the Eaters of the Lotus.
At the same time, Inner Kingdom Games is releasing the first expansion to Combat in Kowloon, titled Back for Seconds. This expansion will feature two additional pre-constructed starter decks, one each for the Jammers and the Monarchs.
"Future expansions will be released as non-randomized packs of 50 cards featuring all six factions delving into new themes and conflicts within the game story line. Existing cards for Shadowfist will always be welcome in open formats, and players are free to engage the new environment in the non-collectable model at their leisure," noted the Kickstarter page.
The fact the relaunch will support using cards from the game's CCG past is a huge bonus, and will have old Shadowfist fans digging out their stashes.
For those new to the game, well heads up, Shadowfist is a blast as a game, one which has stood the test of time, and is well-worthy of being supported by a new generation.
Check it out at
If anyone is interested in this game, or other board games feel free to contact
 -- Appeared in Yorkton This Week Newspaper Nov 14, 2012

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