How I Learned to Have Fun Again: RNG Edition

I recently had a long conversation with some friends about Hearthstone’s random nature and how much they loathe it. I haven’t played much Hearthstone, but I’ve seen how soul-crushing the RNG can be, such as this clip at the recent BlizzCon 2016 Hearthstone World Championship. It’s hard to take Hearthstone seriously as an eSport with so many random factors, and I’m not alone with this thought. Hafu, a famous Hearthstone streamer, tweeted her thoughts after Pavel’s game:

RNG sucks when it makes me lose

I remember a time when World of Warcraft was a booming eSport next to games like Quake and Counter Strike. It was during a phase when competitive balance in WoW was young, and players had to live with mechanics like low% random stuns and dodge chance.

One of the most popular Rogue talent specs in TBC was HARP: Hemorrhage, Adrenaline Rush, Preparation. Assuming the Rogue had cooldowns ready, they could hammer a single button to do insane damage and randomly stun the target for 3 seconds. I still have my old Logitech G15 gaming keyboard with a caved-in space bar—the result of an arena game that went sour because of RNG.

Kill all RNG

Frustrated with RNG in WoW, the arena community looked for other games to compete in. Luckily, a replacement was already in the works: Bloodline Champions. It was popular among WoW arena enthusiasts because of its no-nonsense approach to competitive play. There was no levelling, no gearing up, and most importantly, no RNG.

Playing BLC was an experience that shaped my gaming tastes over the next couple of years. I adored it, and wholly recommended it to my friends whether they played WoW or not. If there was randomness in a game, I avoided it with all my willpower. BLC was a successful game, but didn’t replace WoW like all the doomsayers predicted. There is however, an updated version called Battlerite that’s playable today. Round two maybe?

Okay maybe not all RNG

Sadly, games without any randomness at all can get boring. Sure, skill should affect the outcome of a match, I’m not going to argue against that, but there has to be at least something random to keep it interesting.

When I couldn’t scrape together the money for a 60-day time card for WoW, I played another Blizzard title: Diablo 2. Dungeons changed each time I loaded the game, no piece of loot was the same, and strong monsters would have a bunch of random effects. It was the polar opposite of what I considered to be a good game at the time (such as BLC) but for some reason I just couldn’t stop playing it.

RNG is magical. It can lose me matches of Shadowverse because my opponent top-decks a board clear, but it can also perform a miracle and lead me to an impossible win with a series of lucky card draws. It can roll me the worst possible stats on a piece of gear in Diablo, but it can also grant me a best-in-slot item that I’ll never replace. You can’t tame the divine being that is RNG, but you can guarantee that for as many bad situations you get into, you’ll get equal amounts of good fortune to balance it out.

Embracing RNG made me truly enjoy video games once again. I was once a salty teenager that scoffed at the idea of a coin flip ruining my fun, but now I welcome the possibility of my best laid plans going to hell. Instead of crying about it and breaking a perfectly good keyboard again, I’ll bellow a hearty laugh and share my stories of misfortune to lighten up someone’s day.

Unless I’m at a tournament with $250,000 on the line.

Then I’ll break a keyboard.

Maybe two.


Git Gud #2: Ranking up in Shadowverse


I hate losing

During my teenage years, my parents and I would take a trip every summer down to Kent to visit our relatives. It was an exciting time for me. My cousins had a soft-modded Playstation and a huge collection of pirated games stashed inside a thick CD wallet. We’d compete in games like Crash Team Racing, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Track and Field. It was fun and games for my cousins, but for me, it was a chance to show off my video gaming skills.

I wanted to win at every game and crush my cousins at any challenge they threw at me. I thought I had what it took because of the countless hours I spent at home playing video games, but it was apparent to me that, as much as I hated it, I would eventually lose to them. I got extremely salty every time I lost, and it made me feel even worse when they started trash talking me. It was a traumatic experience that made me fear losing. I didn’t want to be embarrassed or mocked by my opponent, and it got so bad that, even a decade later, I would make up excuses to avoid playing against my friends.

“Hey Colin! I see you bought Starcraft 2, wanna practise together?” Sorry, I’m just learning the game…

“You got into the Hearthstone beta? Wanna play?” Sorry, I don’t have any cards, I’d probably lose…

“Wow you have an arcade stick! Wanna play me at Street Fighter 4?” Sorry, I’m just learning to use the stick right now, maybe next time…

It was only after I spent hours and hours practising a game on my own that I was mentally prepared to take on my friends. After all, isn’t it normal to get good at a game before challenging others? It made sense at the time, but it disconnected me from the process of learning together with my friends. It took a long time for me to realise that my friends weren’t challenging me to a serious match, nor did they have some sinister agenda—they just wanted to have fun playing video games with me.

Shadowverse is probably the first game I’ve played where I’m more than happy to take on friendly challenges. It’s a game where I can play against my friends and be completely immune to the effects of losing that I used to experience with my cousins. Ranked play against randoms, however, is a different story. It awakens a competitive spirit inside of me, a drive to succeed and progress in both the ranks and as a player.

Climbing Shadowverse’s ranked mode started off as a struggle. I was losing to combos that I had never seen, and I continuously drew cards that had absolutely no effect on the state of the game and didn’t synergize with the rest of my hand. My deck was a complete mess, and my lack of knowledge showed every time I played right into a board clear or spell that destroyed any chance I had of winning. Frustrated with the slow learning process and losing streaks, I decided to turn to the internet for help


I felt no shame in netdecking

Netdecking, the act of copying an established and successful deck from the internet, gets a lot of flak in most card game communities. While it’s true there’s no creativity in copying a deck list, I found netdecking to be a quick way to learn the cards that each class has, and also to understand the current state of the metagame and which decks were popular.

One of the most frustrating hurdles to overcome when playing CCGs is the lack of card choice in the beginning. Shadowverse lavishes you with dozens of card packs and rewards to get you started thanks to the missions and achievements to complete. For the best start, you can even re-roll your account to open all the starting packs again and hope to pull legendary cards. While it’s a valid strategy to get a good start, I was far too lazy to restart over and over again.

I wanted to pick up the game as quickly as I could, so instead of spending time on crafting my own deck and testing it against other players, I decided to look for ideas on the internet. I discovered that Swordcraft was one of the cheapest classes to build a decent deck for, so I experimented with the cards and managed to build a low-cost and effective aggro deck to play in ranked. I couldn’t copy the entire card lists that I found on the internet—even the “budget” ones required some expensive cards, but it formed a solid foundation for me to build my deck and playstyle around.

There’s a lot of satisfaction in creating your own deck and slowly evolving it to adapt to the metagame, but it’s a lengthy trial and error process that’s made even longer because of time it takes to obtain certain cards. It’s expensive to gamble on card packs, and it’s risky to craft cards that may or may not be useful. There’s no shame in looking online for resources like successful decks, useful cards to keep, and which cards to get rid of for more vials. If someone’s already made that information available, it’s not lazy or uncreative to use that advice—it’s being resourceful. As long as you try to understand why each card is being put into a deck and how to use them effectively, netdecking is a quick way to become competitive.


Living with RNG

Watching my opponent top-deck a board clear to crush my chances of winning is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever experienced in a video game. But on the contrary, top-decking lethal makes me giddy with joy, and I can’t help but laugh at my opponent’s misfortune. I don’t usually gloat, but it’s impossible not to crack a smile and throw in a “I’m sorry” emote knowing that I lucked my way to a win. Perhaps that’s the kind of euphoric feeling that gamblers get at the casino.

It took me a long time to accept that RNG was an untameable beast. It didn’t matter if I had 3 copies of a card in my deck—sometimes I’d never draw it, and it didn’t care for the amount of low-PP cards I had—RNG would always find a way to make my opening hand unplayable 4 turns in. The ridiculous losses I had were few and far between, but they echoed the loudest in my memories and clouded the occasional win-streaks and good luck I had.

I decided to create a simple spreadsheet to track my wins and losses for each deck that I played. I understood that RNG was a big part of the game and that I would eventually get an equal amount of good and bad luck, but I wanted to visualise how much my skill was actually affecting the outcome of my games. I got off to a great start—4 losses in a row due to a combination of bad plays on my part and luck favouring my opponent. Despite the terrible start, I continued to play and went on an 8 game win-streak and ended at 13-7—a respectable 65% win rate. I even rose a division and was now bordering on the next rank.

While 20 games at a low rank isn’t a large sample size, it felt great knowing that my win-rate was well above 50%. It felt like my decision making was pretty decent, and I was well on my way to improving my CCG knowledge and skills. Coping with RNG was difficult, but fighting the fear of losing that was instilled in me at a young age and accepting the fact I couldn’t win all the time was key to helping me grow my skills.


Gitting gud feels great

I recently wrote a post about rhythm games titled 10 Reasons Why You Should Give Rhythm Games a Try, and I mentioned that feeling and seeing progression is extremely satisfying. Shadowverse is no different. While there’s no high scores to beat or a need for twitch-reflexes, I can feel my brain browsing through all the different possibilities on my turn, and the cards that my opponent might have, at a much faster rate than I did a few days ago.

I used to pay no attention to the amount of PP my opponent had, and there were plenty of times where I played new followers straight into a board clear and completely drained my hand of anything useful to play the next turn. Now I make sure to keep constant watch of my opponent’s PP to make sure I can at least play around their board clears. Several of my recent games have been won by holding onto cards before those turns. My opponent wipes my followers, but I quickly replace them with more to continue my assault and win the game.

I’ve also started to recognise patterns within my opponent’s plays, and make educated guesses as to what style of deck they’re playing. When a Havencraft opponent plays a follower with a self-healing fanfare, I know they’re likely playing an Elana’s Prayer deck which focuses on buffing followers through self-healing. Knowing this, I immediately go aggressive and force my opponent to use their heals early on so that they can’t buff their followers on later turns.

The knowledge and experience I picked up over the hundred or so ranked games I’ve played so far has really helped on my journey to B rank. Although B is a mid-point between the lowest and highest ranks, I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a CCG player over the past couple of days, and knowing that there’s plenty of potential left in me is a great feeling that motivates me to continue playing—maybe I’ll even shoot for Master rank!


Am I gud yet?

I’ve made more progress than most of my friends, but I attribute that to my motivation and drive to improve at Shadowverse. Most of my friends haven’t turned to online resources for help—and there’s no reason they should. They enjoy the game for what it is, and their experimental nature helps to increase their enjoyment of the game.

My personal long-term goal is to master new games, or at least become proficient at them, in a short time frame. I’m not satisfied with a mid-level rank, and I feel like there’s a lot more to explore at the higher levels. I’ll definitely be continuing this adventure in Shadowverse, but it’s getting to a point where my budget decks are no longer cutting it, and I’ll have to invest more time (or money) into building stronger cards before I can advance to A rank.

Am I gud yet?

Not gud, but I’m gitting better.



10 Reasons Why You Should Give Rhythm Games a Try


While most gamers are busy shooting zombies, slaying dragons, or blaming RNG card draws, you’ll usually find me relaxing with some music and hitting buttons. Rhythm games have a reputation for being extremely difficult and intimidating thanks to videos circulating on the internet, such as Staiain’s Stepmania showcase at AGDQ 2016. Either that, or they’re called samey and boring because all you do is hit buttons.

But rhythm games are more popular, accessible, and enjoyable than you might think. Do you remember the last time you went to an arcade and saw Dance Dance Revolution? Konami released another sequel this year with music from artists like Pharrell Williams and Ariana Grande, and Osu has a whopping 9 million registered users and several thousand beatmaps available to play.

Here are my top 10 reasons for why you should give rhythm games a try today.


1. You’ll discover new music, games, and even shows

Rhythm games have a plethora of different musical genres and artists. If you’re feeling adventurous, download some beatmap packs for Osu and you might end up finding a new genre or artist that you enjoy listening to.

One of my favourite songs for Stepmania is Emerald Sword by Rhapsody. I wasn’t too fond of metal music when I was a teenager, but it was a challenging song that was great for practice. Playing Emerald Sword all the time piqued my interest in metal music, and I started listening to bands like Metallica and DragonForce.

Stepmania also introduced me to the classic Playstation RPG, Chrono Cross. I had Time’s Scar, the opening theme, in my collection and the song amazed me so much that I had to search for more music from the game, which eventually lead to me playing it. I’ve also been introduced to many television shows, movies, and anime series from playing rhythm games and looking up where my favourite songs came from.


2. There’s an endless amount of content that will never get old

Every rhythm game comes loaded with a huge list of songs for you to play. Additional songs are usually added at a later date, and the frequent updates can help to extend the replay value. Arcade titles, such as Konami’s lineup of Bemani games, receive monthly updates that add new songs and events for players to participate in.

Some rhythm games, like Osu and Stepmania, come with built-in editors so you can create your own content for the game and share it with the world. Osu is updated with new ranked beatmaps every day, and Stepmania has a long history of player-created content that spans over 15 years—that’s a lot of extra songs to play! Some dedicated players will even produce art and music to be used specifically in rhythm games.

The endless amount of content is also free from things like power-creep and outdated information. There’s no levelling or gearing required in rhythm games—if you take a break, you’ll come back to loads of new songs that are just waiting to be played. In contrast, taking a break from an MMORPG usually means you’re going to fall behind because of gear or levels, and when you return you could’ve missed some dungeons that are no longer relevant. The mechanics of a rhythm game will also never change (or at least, rarely) so it’s not like a MOBA where an extended break means re-learning the abilities of every hero that was changed, or realising that a crucial card in your Hearthstone deck was nerfed in to the ground.


3. They’re accessible to anyone

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or an absolute beginner, there’s a difficulty designed for you. Most arcade rhythm games have beginner settings that won’t kick you off the machine if you fail, but they also reward skillful play with extra songs or hidden bonus stages. Rhythm games usually have multiple difficulties per song, so if you find a song that you like but can’t complete, there’s probably an easier difficulty for it somewhere.

A lot of rhythm games have zero cost attached to them. In addition to Osu and Stepmania, Rayark’s lineup of mobile rhythm games are completely free (at least for Android, sorry iOS users!) so there’s no investment required to try them. There’s also simulators for a lot of popular rhythm games that are either paid or hard to find, such as K-Shoot Mania for Sound Voltex, Frets on Fire for Guitar Hero, and Lunatic Rave 2 for Beatmania IIDX.


4. They’re entirely skill based

If you’ve ever solo queued in ranked League of Legends or drawn a bad hand in Hearthstone, you’ll understand the frustration of being unable to win because of bad luck, or other factors that are out of your control.

There’s no luck or randomness involved with rhythm games—it’s just you vs the machine. Did you miss a circle on Osu? Work on your aim. Do you feel like you’re too slow? Work on your finger speed. Are you getting tired stomping on arrows in DDR? Improve your fitness and stamina. You’re completely in control of the outcome, which brings me to the next point…


5. You’ll always see and feel improvement

Raiding for 4 hours straight in World of Warcraft and not getting a single piece of loot is extremely disheartening. Likewise, opening 10 packs on Hearthstone and not getting a single useful card is frustrating and discourages me from spending more time to grind gold.

In rhythm games, progress is entirely down to how much you play and what kind of goals you set. If you’re struggling on a song, you can lower the difficulty, practice, and you’ll get further each time. As long as you keep playing, you’ll see your scores improve and your rank increase. Scoring a new personal best or passing a song that you previously couldn’t gives a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, and with the incredible amount of songs available it’s a feeling you’ll get all the time.


6. The skills you learn can be applied to other things

The main skills you pick up while playing rhythm games are: improved hand-eye coordination, enhanced finger dexterity, and the ability to maintain a rhythm. Improving these three skills makes it easy to learn other rhythm games, but there are also some real-world applications too.

I won’t say that playing Guitar Hero will improve your actual guitar playing (Rocksmith might, however), but any amount of rhythm training will assist you in learning to play an instrument or produce music. Dance Dance Revolution is sometimes used as a weight-loss and stamina-building tool, making it a fun alternative to traditional exercise.

Rhythm games can also train your skills in other video games. Your reaction speed will increase, you’ll be able to process information on the screen faster, and your finger dexterity will assist your twitch reflexes. Playing Osu with a mouse will also help improve your cursor control in genres like MOBAs and FPS.


7. They’re convenient to play

Whether you’re on the train with your phone, lounging in bed with a tablet, or waiting for a dungeon queue to pop in an MMO, there’s a rhythm game that will suit your device and the amount of time you have. You don’t have to dedicate lots of time to each session either—songs can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, and you can always pause the game or quit whenever you want—it’s the perfect genre for a quick dose of fun. The lack of investment required (in both time and money) also means you can freely try out other rhythm games, and their relatively small size means you won’t be waiting to download.


 8. There are friendly communities

You don’t have to play rhythm games on your own. Osu has a bunch of social features such as a spectator mode, multiplayer vs, multiplayer co-op, an integrated chat client, and even annual world cups that are streamed live on You can keep up with (and stalk) your friends, meet new people to play with, and form rivalries that’ll motivate you to improve.

Outside of Osu, there are other helpful and friendly rhythm game communities, such as /r/rhythmgames, VSRG, and FlashFlashRevolution. No matter what rhythm game you play, there’s bound to be an active community that shares the same interest.


9. They can be fused with other genres

Rhythm games can be more than just hitting buttons to music. For example, Crypt of the Necrodancer is a clever fusion of dance game and rogue-like RPG. You tap the arrow keys (or stomp on your dance pad) in time with music to explore dungeons, defeat enemies, and collect loot. With over half a million owners on Steam, it’s an extremely popular title that boasts addictive gameplay and an awesome soundtrack.

Rez Infinite, a remake of the 2001 rail shooter/rhythm game hybrid Rez, recently launched for Playstation 4 as a VR-supported title. The game’s creator, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, uses the theme of synesthesia to create hypnotic rhythm game hybrids like Child of Eden and Lumines that are well-received in the gaming industry.

There’s also indie runner games such as Melody’s Escape, which uses your music to create abstract obstacle courses to navigate, and Geometry Dash, a popular action-platformer with a unique soundtrack and level editor.


10. It’s unadulterated fun

Having fun is underrated. There’s far too many games that persuade you to play with mechanics like daily quests, gear treadmills, and unlock systems where the “fun” is hidden behind a wall of grinding. While it might be fun in the beginning to slave away for gear upgrades or the chance to pull a legendary card, it eventually gets boring to work hard for a small chance of something useful. Being lured by a shiny gem on a stick isn’t fun—that’s coaxing.

Though the gameplay is simple, it’s satisfying to watch arrows fly from one side of the screen to another, then explode in a bright light as you hit the correct key and rack up your score and combo. There’s immediate feedback as you press keys or stomp on arrows, so you’ll know right away if you missed or hit it—there’s no waiting around for a response from the game. If you fail a song, you can jump right back in to try again with no penalty, or take a break and choose another song to play from the thousands available.


Personal Recommendations

If you’ve come this far, you might be wondering what kind of rhythm games you should try out.

If you enjoy Asian music (I’m talking anime music and Japanese/Korean pop), I recommend giving Osu and its four different modes a try. There’s an active community, thousands of playable songs, leaderboards, and plenty of social features. If you’d prefer a DDR-like experience with more song variety, then Stepmania will be the perfect match for you.

For mobile and tablet games, I recommend Deemo, a relaxing piano-themed game; Cytus, a circle-tapping game with a huge variety of music genres, VOEZ, a stylish anime-themed game with a unique swipe mechanic, and O2Jam U, a straight forward note-tapping rhythm game with a huge selection of music.

If you’d prefer a full-blown arcade experience, then check out Zenius-I-Vanisher‘s arcade locating tool to help you find local spots to play rhythm games, or to plan future trips to other countries.

Go on—give one a try today.

Git Gud #1: I suck at card games feat. Shadowverse

Hi there! I don’t usually update this blog, but hopefully that’ll change starting today. I’ll be trying to write some fun and interesting content on a regular basis for everyone to read.

To kick off my blog, I’m starting a series called Git Gud. It’ll be a collection of adventures and stories during my struggle to, well, Git Gud at video games and perhaps other things too. With so many games out nowadays I always try to set some kind of goal to reach before moving on to the next. With single player games it’s pretty straightforward—you just beat the game, but for multiplayer games and in particular MMOs it’s harder to gauge when to move on. For me, I’m satisfied when I feel I’ve reached a certain level of competency within the game. It might be an achievement that I’m shooting for, or perhaps just an inner feeling of mastery. Either way, I hope my stories of Gitting Gud will be an entertaining read, thanks for stopping by!


Card Games? I only collect Pokemon cards

Do you remember Pokemon cards? Almost everyone in my school had a pile of cards they carried around with them at all times. Be it starter decks they bought from the local toy store with pocket money, or a collection of shiny cards they kept in faux-leather card holders, they were popular collectables that became the source of many student conflicts and parent arguments. The kids with the most rare cards were the popular ones. They’d sling their cartoon character backpacks onto the classroom tables before class started, whip out an A4 binder of neatly arranged Pokemon cards, and cackle as the less fortunate students, such as myself, fawned over the glistening foils.

As silly as it sounds, I was one of the few kids in school that realised they weren’t just collectables. After all, what else would those numbers and words on the card be used for? It wasn’t like the football stickers that we used to trade and collect—they were actually meant to be played with. My family wasn’t very well-off, so the small amount of pocket money I got was pooled together for a starter deck instead of individual packs. A lot of kids would throw away the box, manual, and sometimes even all the energy cards—they were only interested in the pictures and shiny rares. Being the little nerd I was, I decided to actually read the manual to try and understand the game.

I couldn’t persuade anyone to play with me. Almost everyone was convinced that the cards were solely for collecting (or they didn’t want to soil their rares by bringing them out of their sleeves) and the few kids that were interested didn’t have enough cards to make a complete deck. It wasn’t until I got my hands on the Pokemon TCG for Game Boy that I actually got to play a match, and it quickly became one of my favourite games for the handheld, surpassing even the core Pokemon games.


Too poor for Hearthstone

I’ve played various video game incarnations of TCGs since then. Yu-Gi-Oh was extremely popular in my secondary school and I participated in some matches with friends during lunch breaks, but the majority of my duelling was done on PC versions of the game. The beta release of Hearthstone also prompted me to give card games another go, but I spent very little time on it in favour of the MMOs I was playing at the time.

Hearthstone was different to the other video game TCGs I played because there was no way to grind for cards. The only options were to gamble gold on arena runs, slowly completing daily quests, or paying money. At the beginning, everyone played basic decks and it was an innocent and fun experience. I spent a little bit of money to buy packs, but I never got interesting cards (5-card packs suck) and as the meta evolved, I fell behind due to a lack of decent cards.

It was disheartening and a far cry from the feature-rich video game TCGs I played in the past. Even now when I go back to Hearthstone, watching my opponents at rank 20 churn out legendaries and cards loaded with several lines of text makes it difficult to enjoy. Thanks to the sophisticated drafting assistants available now, arena is still enjoyable and a great way to grind for cards to play in constructed. However, I longed for something new to sink my teeth into and rekindle my interest in card games.

My prayer was answered with the release of Shadowverse, a mobile CCG that plays similarly to Hearthstone (and has awesome art to boot!). I tinkered around for some time on the android version, but with the impending Steam release I contained my excitement and patiently waited for the PC version. Glorious high-res art, 1080p, 60 FPS—take that, mobile peasants!


Using my brain for the first time

Despite not actively playing Hearthstone, I love watching content from entertaining personalities such as AmazHS and Kripparrian. I find it extremely helpful to immerse myself in a game or genre that I want to learn, much like how it’s recommended to absorb a country’s culture if you want to study the language. I picked up concepts like tempo and aggro from watching their streams, and their informative videos helped to form a solid foundation for my CCG journey.

Unfortunately, no amount of research and planning could have prepared me for the embarrassment that was my first few games. After every bad play I made, I kicked myself for not slowing down and actually taking time to think before I made a move. I consider myself a “fast” gamer: I enjoy speed-running things in MMORPGs, I’m an avid rhythm game enthusiast, and I love fast-paced shooters. I seldom play games that require more thought than “hit a button at the right time”, and the various strategy games I did play either weren’t competitive or had a pause button.

Slamming on the brakes was key to overcoming many of the silly mistakes I made. I was accustomed to Kripparrian’s “Curvestone” rants, and it made sense to play a 1 PP card, followed by 2 PP, then 3 PP, and so on. However, there were occasions where I had multiple low-PP cards to play, or it was beneficial to not play anything at all. Sometimes there’s only a single option within your hand, but getting into the habit of thinking before every action was one of the biggest boons to my (limited) success in Shadowverse.

The most obvious example I can think of is preparing for combos. Runecraft’s Spellboost mechanic promotes holding onto cards to boost their effectiveness, and it can be beneficial to wait for big Spellboost cards such as Dimension Shift until you start playing all your low-PP spells. Another example is Forestcraft: on turn 3, I sometimes play a 1 PP Nature’s Guidance to return a 2 PP Fairy Whisperer that I played on my previous turn, and then play it again to gain another 2 Fairy cards to prepare for upcoming combos, as opposed to playing a 3 PP card like Archer and risk losing it before making use of the effect. These are obvious plays to most CCG players, but it was a revelation that really helped boost my win rate.


Going for the face… a bit too much

Shadowverse has a unique mechanic known as Evolution. Each follower in the game has an evolved state that typically grants +2/+2, allows it to attack enemy followers on the same turn it was played, and might even grant addition effects such as Floral Fencer which summons two additional followers. Evolutions grant huge tempo swings and can be used in both an aggressive and defensive manner, and using them efficiently is key to winning a game of Shadowverse.

I played my first few ranked games with a cheap Swordcraft deck that almost always went for face damage. The speed and aggressive nature of the deck matched the play-style I was looking for, and it was a quick way to earn some wins to complete my daily missions. Aggressively evolving followers for more face damage is a completely valid strategy for this style of deck. However, that aggressive play-style didn’t translate well to my first few attempts at a Control Runecraft deck.

My evolutions were almost always used on the first few followers I could play to kill enemy followers that were already on the board. The fast play-style of Swordcraft ingrained the use of early and aggressive evolutions into me. Loss after loss, I blamed almost everything: my cards, my draws, my opponent’s cards, my mouse—everything but myself.

When I’m not frothing at the mouth from a salt overdose I can be quite analytical about my plays. It didn’t take long for me to realise that evolving aggressively didn’t work in control-oriented decks, and with a few adjustments I began to see the wonders of a slow-paced and well thought out game of Shadowverse. Not only has it increased my enjoyment of the game, it’s also opened up possibilities for me to play decks that don’t aim for the face 95% of the time.


I still suck

I still have a lot to learn about Shadowverse and CCGs in general. I used to consider myself a fast learner, but that self-praise has been crushed with my horrible performance so far in Shadowverse. It’s a fun journey that continues to open my eyes about the intricacies of card games, and I hope to continue improving, one mistake at a time.

To quote my editor at

it is important to push yourself in new directions. Always challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone. That’s how you grow and get better and whatever you want to do.

For me, card games are out of my comfort zone and then some. Using my brain is hard.

Ooga booga

i hit face





You’ve most likely come here from a link on my twitter info @cng55 or on my bio.

I’m spending most of my time writing for so the majority of my work can be found here. However, if there’s a thought or rant I want to get off my chest and it’s too unprofessional for the site I’ll probably write it up here.

Either way, thanks for checking out this terrible website! As I pick up some traction in the world of video game journalism I’ll be sure to update this blog more often. In the meantime, head over to for your daily dose of MMO content.