Much of the PC gaming scene is made up of games made by American companies. Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games, and Bethesda to name a few popular companies are all based in America. With games like League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Counter-strike dominating the live-streaming spotlight, it is a pleasure to discover hidden gems developed by companies overseas. Shadowverse is an online CCG that began as a mobile Japanese app for Android and iOS but was released on Steam for PC. Within weeks of release, Shadowverse was the number one mobile card game in Japan. Although the game is still very young, my experience with the game is very positive
Simlilar to many other recent card games, Shadowverse uses a play point-based system in which players receive a pool of play points that is increased and refreshed every turn. Players take turns playing cards in an attempt to reduce the opponent’s twenty life to zero. Unlike many other card games, though, Shadowverse introduces a feature called Evolution. After the first player’s fourth turn, Evolution is unlocked and the player can use an Evolution point to empower a follower (the term for creatures or minions in this game). Depending on the follower, many different effects occur possibly including increased stats, attacking the turn it is played, and abilities that only trigger when the follower evolves. The key to winning Shadowverse games often hinges on strategic use of valuable but limited Evolution points to either comeback from behind or pull ahead of the opponent.
Another interesting aspect of the game is its arena mode and story mode. The story mode acts as a very nice tutorial to the game and adds a nice story and character personality that other card games don’t tend to focus on. Hopefully, they will continue the story in later expansions of the game. You are also rewarded pretty handsomely for completing it. The arena drafting format is very unique in that you are presented two pairs of cards rather than multiple single cards. This forces the player to think about taking the most powerful card when it could be paired with a terrible card. The arena rewards are a little bit lacking, but good players can reap great profit by playing the arena, and the layout suggests that they may include multiple arena formats in the future. Players are sometimes rewarded with arena coupons as well which encourages the occasional attempt.
Another unique property of the game is its data link. Players can link their pc accounts to their phone and share progress between the devices.
The Classes and Cards
There exist seven classes to play as each with their own unique style of play. Forestcraft uses numerous small cards to empower cards that activate when numerous other cards are played first. Swordcraft relies on strength in numbers boasting numerous followers that support each other. Runecraft rely on preparing future spells with earth runes and spellboost, an ability that strengthens the card as long as spells are played while it is in the hand. Shadowcraft utilizes cards that benefit from death. Dragoncraft relies on producing large dragons to overwhelm the opponent. Bloodcraft strategically manipulates their own life total to gain strong effects while avoiding death. Havencraft utilizes special countdown amulets that are cheap to play and usually produce great value but must wait with healing for the countdown to finish.
Each class feels very powerful and viable as a new player with few cards. Swordcraft can feel a little powerful at low-ranked play, but every class feels somewhat balanced and every win I earn feels amazing. The strategy that goes into building a good deck and pulling off that strategy in game is very satisfying and the cards given to beginners do a good job of emphasizing what that class is good at. At the same time, there is a decent amount of deck variety that can be explored when more cards are obtained.
Cards are also very easy to obtain. By rewarding players for the numerous and various achievements, it is fairly simple to grow your own initial card pool after starting the game. With three daily quests and eight cards per pack, it is relatively easy to obtain many rare cards and obtain a vast collection.
Decks are 40 cards large with a maximum of three copies per card including the legendaries. This distribution can make starting hands inconsistent since players only draw three cards at the start of the turn but having three copies of the same card will make it very likely to be drawn some time during the game. Legendary cards are often powerful, but not necessarily overpowered where three copies or even one copy is always best. This helps beginning players who do not own that many legendary cards and makes the game less pay-to-win.Overall, every card feels strong given the right circumstances and in the right deck.
Potential Flaws and Differences
The major turn on or off about this game for some people will likely be the art. As it is a Japanese game, the art style is more animated and a large percentage of cards depict young anime-style girls in various clothing and breeds. The game does host various creatures and male characters but the many potential waifus in this game may be a turn off to players unfamiliar with the culture.
Ranked points don’t reset every month and as a result, players have expressed that it is easier to win and complete quests after purposefully losing a couple games. This is a negative point of view in my opinion that has negative consequences for weaker players who get matched against opponents of a higher rating but since many of the quests require winning with a certain class to complete, players may feel forced to utilize this practice if a weaker class is chosen for their quest.
As with all card games, the design can feel drastically different if attempts are made to compare the strength of cards between very different game metas. Spells are less abundant in Shadowverse which makes the existing spells more valuable. Many spells cannot target the enemy hero which is a great discouragement to aggressive decks and makes the spells that can very valuable and flexible. The board is also very small allowing players to have only five followers or amulets on the field at once. This can feel limiting at times but also helps the design choice of having few powerful board clears.
In conclusion, Shadowverse is a fantastic card game that requires a little luck but a lot of skill. The game has a ton of potential as a competitive game despite its currently low recognition. If you’re a fan of complex card games or anime girls, this game is definitely worth checking out.