Card Abilities

Image: Crystal Heart by Matteo Ascente

In Shadowfist, most cards have rules text. The sole exception being a few Foundation characters whose sole purpose is to provide resources. This text is important as it provides you advantages during the game.

The sections explain the text you may find on the cards.

Image: Jennifer by Lorraine Schleter

Some cards have abilities that provide them with some continuous benefit or drawback. These abilities are active as soon as the card text is active. These abilities do not generate or resolve, and they stay in effect until the card leaves play.

Some continuous abilities are conditional; they are only active while a certain condition is fulfilled. These abilities usually use the word “while” to indicate the condition. Once the condition is fulfilled, the ability is in effect, even if the condition is fulfilled during the resolution of another effect. The ability does not generate or resolve. The reverse is also true: as soon as the condition is no longer fulfilled, the ability becomes inactive, again without generating or resolving.

Image: .44 Kincaid Magnum by Dion Harris

Certain effects will change the damage a card either deals, or receives. This distinction is important. In Shadowfist, a card can:

  • Do extra damage to other cards. This is usually written as "+X damage", "+X combat damage", or "+X damage to (certain cards)".
  • Do less damage to other cards. Usually you'll see "does -X damage", "does half-damage (rounded up/down)", or even "gains -2 damage".
  • Takes extra damage from other cards, "Damage inflicted by X cards is increased by 2" for example. This is different from other cards doing extra damage, as it's the ability on this card increasing the damage.
  • Takes no damage from other cards. The two major ways this is written is "Damage inflicted on this card by X is reduced to 0" and "takes no damage from X cards".
  • Takes less damage from other cards. Toughness is an ability which reduces each source of damage being inflicted on a card. You will also see, "takes -X damage from (certain cards)."

image: Exo-Skeleton by ClickArt Studios

Designators determine how cards are related to each other for purposes of other card effects. A designator is any word that appears in the title or subtitle of a card, except for card types, punctuation, articles and prepositions (or, but, at, for, in, into, of, with, within, etc.).

For designator purposes, a “word” is defined as any contiguous string of letters, numerals and/or symbols, separated by a space from any other “words.” For example, “1,000 Corpses” has the designators 1,000 and Corpses. The plural form of a word matches its singular form (Student matches Students), but singular and plural forms of personal pronouns do not match (I/we, me/us, he/she/it/they). The possessive form of a word matches the normal form (Wisely’s matches Wisely). Parts of speech do not match (Hero does not match Heroic). Single words are split into two designators if the word uses a hyphen (-), two or more capital letters (except acronyms).

Image: Aleut Herbalist by Jessica Cox

Any effect or action that removes damage is considered healing for the purposes of other game effects.

All Characters have the innate ability: Turn during your Main Shot :: Remove all damage counters from this card.

Image: Shattering Fire by Ron Spencer

Some cards use an X instead of a number for their cost, Fighting or effects and abilities.

X is defined in the text. If X has a minimum value, it will be given in the text, otherwise it is zero. If X is canceled or blanked, the X value becomes 0. If a Character with an X Fighting copies the abilities of another one with X Fighting, the most recent definition of X is applied when calculating X. A card with a cost of X is considered to have a cost equal to the amount of Power spent when it is played until it leaves play.

Restrictions refer to specific phrases that limit the way a card can be played, or how it interacts with other cards. Canceled Cards retain their restrictions.

Limited: You can’t voluntarily play or return to play a Limited card if you already control a copy of that card (even if the other copy is a face-down Feng Shui Site). You may take control of or seize another Limited card with the same title as a Limited card you have in play. Limited Events may be played once per turn.

No Max: You may build your deck with any number of No Max Cards.

Not Cumulative: Additional copies of a card with this restriction provide no additional benefit if they’re affecting the same card, regardless of who controls the effect. The additional copies are not canceled or smoked; if one ceases to operate or leaves play, the next serves as backup.

One-Shot: A One-Shot card may only be played once per game by each player. You can’t play another copy of that card by any means, even if it was canceled.

Schtick: The controller of the subject of a Schtick State controls the Schtick State.

Toast It: A Toast It card is always placed in the toasted pile, never the smoked pile. Toast It Events are played directly into the toasted pile. This is not considered toasting for purposes of other effects.

Uncopyable: The text of an Uncopyable card can’t be copied by any means, even if the card is in the smoked pile.

Unique: Only one copy of a face-up Unique card may be in play at any moment. If a Unique card enters play or is revealed with the same title as a Unique card already in play, a uniqueness auction starts. You can’t voluntarily play or return to play a Unique card if you already control a copy of that card (including face-down Feng Shui Sites).

Vehicle: A Vehicle State must be played on a Character and is always controlled by the controller of the Character it is played on. You may not play, return, or move a second Vehicle onto a Character that is already the subject of a Vehicle.Weapon: A Weapon State is always controlled by the controller of the card it is played on. Any number of Weapons may be played on a single card

All bold-faced abilities and only bold-faced abilities are Special Abilities.

Ambush: When an attacker with Ambush enters combat with a Character while attacking, the attacker may inflict combat damage first.

Assassinate: An attacker with Assassinate cannot be intercepted while the target of its attack is a Character.

Corrupted: Damage inflicted by cards with Corrupted cannot be removed by any means (unless the damaged card leaves play).

Crisis: Cards with the ability Crisis will have a cost after them (like Crisis:s3). These cards may be played at that cost instead of their printed cost. You may play only one Crisis card per turn. If played at its Crisis cost, the card gains Toast It and you do not generate Power during your next Establishing Shot.

Guts: A Character with Guts inflicts its full combat damage as if it were not damaged. Its Fighting is reduced as usual, and the Character is still smoked when its Fighting is reduced to zero.

Immunity: Cards with Immunity cannot be affected by certain types of cards. For the purposes of those card types, the immune card is not in play. Those cards cannot damage, remove from play, cancel, choose, target, count, or reduce damage inflicted by the immune card.

Influence: A card with Influence gains the following ability: "Turn one or more cards with total Influence greater than or equal to an interceptor's cost :: That Character ceases intercepting." Influence is also used on some cards to pay for effects. You cannot divide up the Influence generated by a single card to remove several interceptors or pay for multiple effects. Influence is cumulative.

Independent: You may declare attacks with Independent Characters after an unsuccessful attack. If a failed attack is followed by a successful attack by Independent Characters, only other Independent Characters may declare further attacks.

Lethal: A card with Lethal inflicts Lethal damage. If Lethal damage is inflicted on a Character, smoked that Character even if its Fighting isn't reduced to 0.

Loyalty: Opponents may not take control of your cards with Loyalty.

Mobility: A Character with Mobility may change Locations without turning.

Regenerate: A card with Regenerate has the following triggered ability: “At the start of your turn, heal this card.”

Reload: A card with Reload: X in your smoked pile has the following effect: “Pay X :: Place this card on the top of your deck,” where X is the cost in Power and/or resource conditions. To Reload a card is to place it from your smoked pile onto the top of your deck.

Stealth: A Character with Stealth has the ability: “Once per attack, while card is attacking, choose one Character intercepting this card :: The chosen Character ceases intercepting.” (This ability is Not Cumulative.)

Superleap: Turned Characters cannot intercept an attacker with Superleap.

Tactics: A Character with Tactics may cease attacking at any time during an attack. This ability may be used in the closed Scene between Ambush damage and normal combat damage.

Toughness: A card with Toughness reduces any damage inflicted on it by the amount specified after the colon. Each separate source of damage is reduced by Toughness. Toughness is cumulative.

Unstoppable: Unstoppable damage cannot be reduced or redirected. Cards with Unstoppable cannot have their damage reduced or redirected.

Card Related Game Mechanics

Image: Monster Truck Ambulance by Diego Candia

The concepts below affect cards in play. These aren't necessarily abilities, but abilities on cards can cause these to occur.

Image: Iron Fist by Freddy Lopez, Jr

An auction represents two or more opposing sides vying for the loyalty or use of a particular card. An auction is neither an effect nor a declaration, and can occur during the generation of a scene. In movie terms, think of an auction as a freeze-frame. The game suspends to complete the auction, then resumes where it left off. When an auction starts, the game enters a closed Scene in which players may only generate effects that specifically say “play during an auction” or that respond to those effects. If the auction interrupts an ongoing scene, players may not add effects to that scene until the auction is over. An auction begins when a player reveals or plays a Unique card with the same title as a card in play.

The player who starts the auction must make a mandatory opening bid of at least 1 Power. If the player has no Power, the auction does not begin and the new Unique card is toasted immediately. After the opening bid, the option to bid passes clockwise. Each player may either pass, or bid at least one more Power than the previous high bid. You may not bid more Power than you have. The bid continues until all players have passed in succession, at which time the bidding ends and player with the highest bid wins the auction, spends the Power he or she bid and chooses which card remains in play. If the new card remains, the original card is smoked. If the original card remains in play, toast the new card.

image: Sulphurous Cenote by Jereme Peabody

When a card is canceled, it is considered to have no rules text for the duration of the effect. If no timeframe for the cancelation is given, the cancelation is permanent.

Canceling does not remove restrictions, nor does it affect abilities granted by other cards or rules text copied onto the card. Canceling will also remove unresolved effects from the Scene that the canceled card already generated.

image: The Blackboard by Rodolpho Langhi

For purposes of other card effects, choosing and targeting are two distinct game mechanics and do not trigger cards affected by the other keyword.

Where both of these make a choice, cards that say to choose a card aren't affected by cards which allow you to re-target an effect.

image: Christopher Colobus by ClickArt Studios

In Damage Modification above, we describe the many ways you can change the damage a card takes. Here is the proper order to calculate the damage modifications:

  • Start with the original damage.
  • Add any bonuses (+X Damage).
  • Subtract any penalties (-X damage).
  • Perform any divisions (takes half damage).
  • Add any damage from the receiving side (Something does +1 damage to this card).
  • Perform any subtractions (e.g., Toughness).

image: Auramancer by Ikaan Studios

There are three ways to play or move cards other than playing them from your hand: playing from your smoked pile, returning to play, and placing them (States only). All three have different mechanics and are distinct from each other for the purpose of triggering effects.

Cards played from the smoked pile act as if they were played from your hand: their cost must be paid, but may be reduced, and they obey all normal play restrictions. They also trigger any effect that triggers off of “playing” a card.

Cards that are returned to play ignore timing and play restrictions. No additional cost is paid beyond the cost of the effect that returned the card to play. The return to play will trigger any effect that triggers off of “entering play”, but not effects that trigger off of “playing.” States may only be returned to play on a subject that fulfills all subject constraints at the time the subject is chosen. Some cards will allow you to place or move a State that is in play onto a different subject. The new subject of the State must fulfill all of the State’s subject constraints, but the timing.

image: Sonic Boomer by Wes Jones

Some cards will require you or an opponent to sacrifice a card, either as cost or effect. To sacrifice a card, choose a card you control and place it into its owner's smoked pile. This is not considered smoking for purposes of other effects. A player may only sacrifice cards they control.

image: City Center by Peter Trudell Jr

Your Sites throughout your Locations are collectively called your Site Structure.

Your Site Structure includes two rows (front and back rows) and as many columns as you like. Each column is a Location. When playing Sites, you must play into the front row before playing into the back row. You do not need to play a back-row site of your first column before playing the front-row site of your second column. You may play either Feng Shui Sites or non-Feng Shui Sites into any available spot in your Site Structure. For purposes of card effects, the word Site refers to both Feng Shui Sites and non-Feng Shui Sites.

If you lose a Site for any reason, your Site Structure automatically adjusts by moving back-row Sites to the front row or, if the last Site of a column is removed, shifting any columns to the right of the vacant column to the left. If there were any Characters at the last Site of a lost column, they are relocated to an adjacent column when the Site Structure adjusts.

General Game Mechanics

image: Great Wastes by Peter Trudell Jr

These are important concepts within the game that are useful to know.

image: Winter's Laugh by Diego Candia

A card that is removed from play and later returned to play has no memory of its old state. They are effectively new cards.

Cards are unaware of anything that happened before they entered play.

Shadowfist is the action movie card game with deep roots in Hong Kong cinema. As such, it pays homage to its source material by referring to its collection of effects being played as a Scene. Scenes are stacks, or sequences, of effects. Scenes can be either closed or open.

Closed scenes involve triggered effects that require a specific condition in the game to be played. For example, the Ascended card, Bite of the Jellyfish, steals all the Power of a player who just burned a Site. This is a Closed scene because it specifically responds to a trigger and only effects that respond to actions in the scene (burning a Site or the event Bite of the Jellyfish) can be activated.

Open scenes involve voluntary effects that players generate on their own. For example, playing Final Brawl toinflict 2 points of non-combat damage on all Characters will start an open Scene to which other players can respond.

Every card played has two steps: generation and resolution. During the generation step, targets are assigned, conditions are checked for the card’s effect and the physical card is placed in play or the smoked pile if it is an Event. During the resolution step, the printed effect activates and all affected cards are appropriately modified (damaged, smoked, etc).

Because effects don’t resolve immediately when they are activated, Scenes offer players an opportunity to respond and create a chain of effects that will resolve in reverse order (this is sometimes called Last In, First Out timing). Any player may respond with an effect (such as playing an Event or activating a card in play), which is added to the Scene.

When all players have passed on adding new effects to the scene, the most recent effect will resolve first, and then all other effects will resolve in reverse order. After each effect’s resolution, any player may interrupt the Scene with a new effect that is added to the top.

Effects will continue to resolve in reverse order, with the most recently added effects always resolving first.

image: Big Brother Fo by Ikaan Studios

Declarations cover all non-effect game actions a player can take. Attacks, joining attackers, interceptors, and the end of your Main Shot are all things that are declared.

Declarations cannot be made during a Scene, and thus can never be made in response to other declarations or effects. Declarations cannot be interrupted by any effect. When a declaration is made, the declaring player completes all steps of the declaration before any effects may be played in response.

Effects that are triggered by a declaration, such as “When an attack on this Site is declared,…” must be used in the first Scene after the declaration is made. They can only be used in the first Scene, not in any of the clean-up Scenes that follow the first Scene.

image: Cat Stance by Dion Harris

“Effect” is the game term for actions a player takes that are not continuous abilities, revealing a Feng Shui Site or declarations.

Playing a card from your hand or activating printed text on a card are considered effects.

All effects are generated and resolved. The common template for effects is “Do X :: Y Happens,” where X is the cost and Y is the effect. If no “::” appears on the card, then the effect has no cost beyond the printed power cost.

The only way to stop an effect from resolving is to cancel it, which removes the effect from the scene. Smoking the card from which the effect was generated will not stop the effect from resolving.

image: Conspicuous Surveillance by David Still

Effects that change the target of another effect can do so after the modified effect has been generated, but before resolution.

Changing the target does not affect any other part of the effect; all numbers set on generation remain the same.

For example, Violet Meditation calculates the power it will produce on generation. If the target of the Violet Meditation is changed with Brain Fire, the Violet Meditation will still generate the same amount of power.

image: Incendiary Blast by Diego Candia

You are eliminated from the game at the end of any turn in which you have no cards remaining in your deck.

If you are removed this way, all cards you control are removed from the game. This is not considered smoking or toasting for purposes of other effects. Cards you did not own but controlled are placed in their owner’s toasted pile. Any card you own but did not control remains in play and under the control of its current controller.

image: Wiliam Franklin by Larry Wilson

Some cards allow you to take control of other cards, either temporarily or permanently.

When a card changes controller, it unturns upon resolution of the control effect and may be placed in any legal location by the new controller.

When you take control of a card, you receive everything on that card as well, including tokens, damage, States and any modifications.

Seizing a Site is a form of taking control of a card, but in this case, the Site heals when it changes controller. When an effect that takes control of a card ends, the card’s previous controller gains control again. This is considered a change of controller, so the card will unturn, but it is not considered “taking control” of a card.