Considering I had just received my ginormous order of physical cards for Shadow Era, I felt this was the most appropriate choice for my first Game You Probably Haven’t Tried (GYPHT). Receiving those hundreds upon hundreds of cards (don’t ask how much I spent) really revitalized my enjoyment of the entire game. Yes, there is a physical card portion of this game, but it is entirely optional and deciding to pass on this aspect of the game won’t get in the way of your enjoyment in the slightest.
I’m one of the lucky few who has got their hands on the game ahead of being released to the public; the cards I received were for crowd funding the game. Apart from receiving loads of cards and other physical goodies, I also acquired more online game currency than I will ever conceivably use, which is another reason I’m doing this game first. Luckily for the great and good of the BRB community, I’ll be giving away some of my considerable virtual fortune (in the form of the in-gane currency of shadow crystals) to some of you to get you started in this game.
This is actually the best point to start at. This game is entirely free to play. When you sign up for your account, you get to choose one of the starter decks and funded with a few hundred shadow crystals in order to purchase a few booster packs or another starter deck if you so choose. If you don’t feel like spending any money at all, there’s two ways to achieve more cards. There are free offers to complete to award more crystals, but those can only be achieved once; the more common way is to actually play the game (which, let’s face it, shouldn’t be that revolutionary a concept to many of you).
Each game that you play provides XP and gold; gold can be used to purchase cards directly, whilst gaining levels through XP will net more crystals. While this is an incredibly slow process, the option is there to provide people who don’t want to spend any money a fair chance at competing in this game. If you do decide to drop some cash on cards, you can only purchase the crystals, as there’s no way of purchasing gold directly. Gold can be gained by selling off unwanted cards to the in-game vendor, allowing you to sculpt the deck that you want whilst getting rid of cards you have no desire to use. Although you’d think that those with the most money will always be the best, a decent deck can be made on the cheap if you are wise with how you spend your gold. As with any CCG, players who are able to spend more will have more cards at their disposal – but money can’t buy you skill, meaning that a cunning player with a cheap deck could certainly best a rich dumbass.
Now onto what you’re probably most curious about – the game itself. Although I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, I’ve read that this game is quite similar to the World of Warcraft card game; so if you’re familiar with that, then you should be familiar with Shadow Era. Every playable deck has a common general structure, consisting of a main hero accompanied by allies, spells, items, weapons, and armor. Each hero is split between the Human or Shadow side, with each side having a subset class for each one. This is where the meat of the deck building strategy comes into play, as most of the cards have restrictions on which characters can use them. A deck must consist of at least 40 cards, with one of them being the hero and no more than four copies of any specific card. Each hero has its share of strengths and weaknesses, so it’s a good idea to become knowledgeable about each hero if you want to become more competitive.
The goal of the actual game is to deplete the enemy hero’s health to zero before the same happens to yours. In order to play a card in the game, you need to accrue the requisite amount of resources; the main way to do this is to sacrifice a card at the beginning of the turn. This makes strategy all the more important as, once the card is sacrificed, it can no longer be used and permanently converted to a resource. The current pool of resources replenishes each turn, much like a mana pool does in Magic: The Gathering.
Allies are the main source of dealing damage to the enemy hero and can be used as a glorified human shield to protect your hero from your opponent’s attacks. I’m sure many of you may be familiar with Magic’s method of attacking and defending – Shadow Era is the complete opposite. You can never defend with an ally, only attack with one. That means it’s vital to take out the enemy allies before they take out yours or your hero. Damage to allies is cumulative over turns, meaning that no creature, no matter how resilient, is safe. Heroes can attack too, but only if they are equipped with a weapon.
Armor, as you can figure out, protects the hero from damage. But, there’s a bit of a catch here as all armor items can only be used a finite number of times before they are destroyed. One final twist to the game is the accumulation of shadow energy, one point of which your hero accrues each turn. Once you’ve attained a sufficient amount of shadow energy, it can be used to unleash powerful, unique abilities that each hero possesses. Some allies and items will have shadow energy requirements to activate their abilities as well, providing yet another layer of strategy on this game.
This game is available to play on the PC, Mac, iOS and Android market, allowing you to pretty much play anywhere. As I mentioned earlier, to commemorate my first GYPHT, I will be giving out codes that will be redeemable for 100-200 Shadow Crystals each. I have no control over the amount you get, but 100 is enough for 1 booster, to give you an estimate on how much they’re worth.
In order to qualify, you must do three things. First, make sure you’re a registered member of Big Red Barrel (and if you’re not, you can do so here). Second, post a comment here. Thirdly, tweet the following: “Check out @BigRedBarrel’s first GYPHT – Shadow Era! http://www.bigredbarrel.com/2012/07/gypht-shadow-era/”
I have at least 10 codes to give away, with more on reserve if the word gets spread around. Chop Chop, the game is awaiting!