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Shadow Era TCG  »  Articles  »  Beginner's Guide to Shadow Era - Part Three
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The aim of this three-part guide is to help you get started with the game, become a decent player and have lots of fun in the process.

Part One focused on getting started and Part Two focused on getting better. If you've not read them already, I encourage you to do so before continuing.

NOTE: Since writing Part One and Two, v1.28 of Shadow Era has been released, and the minimum deck size for player vs player matches has been increased to 40 cards (including Hero).


By this point, you should have a decent idea of whether you like the game. You might even have had some competitive match-ups or epiphanies about new decks whilst in the bathroom. Whatever has happened in your short Shadow Era journey so far, you'll certainly know by now whether you want to get really good at the game. If so, read on!

1. Build Your Best Deck

Regardless of whether you have all the cards or not, it's time to come up with what you consider to be your best possible 40-card deck. If you don't already own a complete collection, you can then prioritise acquiring the cards needed to build this deck, before filling out the rest of your collection.

There are three main ways you can build a deck without actually owning the cards:

Unofficial Browser-based Deckbuilder

The advantage of the browser-based deckbuilder is that you can do it from anywhere with web browser access and you can see all the cards and easily make changes. (The initial loading is slow because images are being cached.)

Make Use of the Test Server

There is a Shadow Era Test Server that you can sign up for (independently of the main server), where each card costs 1 Gold and you start off with 500 Gold. You can therefore buy whatever cards you want to make your deck and even test the deck out if you can find someone else on the Test Server to play against.

The main downside to using the Test Server is that the available cards might not be the same as the ones in the current released version of the game. (This becomes an advantage if you are creating a deck for an impending release, of course!) Other reasons you might not want to use the Test Server is that it uses the Shadow Era browser client and you have to "Buy" the cards before you put them in a deck. (This can become tedious when buying a playset of cards on the Test Server.)

Write a List

You can view all the cards via the cardlist on the Shadow Era website. From there, you can just note down the cards you want to use. Simple!

The main downside with using the cardlist is that it's less fluid than using the deckbuilder and you might find the site to be out-of-date. (At the time of writing, it still has v1.27 card list.)

2. Get Some Feedback

In an ideal world, you've come up with a killer deck on your own and you can just go and get the cards you need for it and then play your way to 300 rating.

In the real world, however, there is a chance your deck has some major flaws, and you could end up buying cards that don't make it into the final version of your deck and you've wasted your Gold. (Remember that selling cards back to the Merchant only gets you half the Gold you bought them for!)

For this reason, getting some feedback on the forum or in the IRC chatroom is a good idea.

Of course, another way to get feedback would be to playtest your deck on the Test Server, but that relies on finding an opponent and not going pwned by someone using unreleased cards.

3. Get The Cards You Need

Assuming you now have a deck that you have some confidence, thanks to helpful peer review or playtesting, it's time to get whatever cards you don't yet own.

I've written a supplementary article about how to acquire new cards, so read that, if you've not already, and then return here.

4. Play the Deck

You now have your best deck ready and built in the Shadow Era deckbuilder. It's time to take on the world!

And, by "world", I mean the AI!

"Huh?", I hear you say. Well, if you can't beat the AI then your deck or your skills suck, so it's best to have a quick check before venturing out against real people. The AI is also a good way to see what kinds of opening hands you'll get and what the first four turns might be like.

5. Lose Some Matches

Once you've beaten the AI (and won some more Gold and EXP in the process), it's time to take on the real world on the CHALLENGE screen with Quick Match.

I recommend playing a continuous string of games until you lose one. (You will be starting at 0 rating, so you will be facing other newbies, so you should win a couple at first because you've been given loads of help by me!)

When you do lose a game, it's time to learn from your mistakes. (In fact, you will probably make mistakes in the games you win too.) Reflect on what worked and what didn't, and the cards that ended up being easy to Sacrifice. Maybe they weren't needed? What cards were you hoping to see, but they didn't make it into your hand? Maybe you can increase to 4 copies of that card or trim your deck down towards the minimum size, or add cards that let draw through your deck more quickly.

BUT DON'T MAKE ANY CHANGES YET!!! Even the best players lose from time-to-time, so don't judge your deck or yourself on the outcome of one game. Play some more first. (Raphael Majere plays at least 30 games before making any changes, but I would recommend 8 games as the absolute minimum.)

Note: If you want to conduct a more thorough evaluation of your deck and your gameplay, you can click on FINISHED next to a match in your Game History on the Challenge screen to watch replays of your finished matches. (To select from your last 30 games, instead of your last 3, use the Search button.)

Dependent on what you discovered in your review, you might just be able to revise your deck and carry on, or you might need to post on the forums and get some major help.

6. Change Your Hero?

Chances are, you've been somewhat inspired by the decks that others have been using against you, or you've read about some great ones on the forum. You'll also have a good idea as to whether your chosen Hero is strong enough. If not, you might want to switch Heroes and return to Step 1 to Build Your Best Deck again.

7. Aim for 175 Rating

Assuming you've now got a decent chance, thanks to using a strong Hero, your best way of improving is setting yourself a rating challenge. As you increase, you will meet stronger opponents.

You're on your own now (as far as this guide is concerned). Of course, you can find me and hundreds of other regulars on the forums if you need any more help. If you mention that you read this guide, then you'll get extra special help!

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