Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shadowrift - Another One the Wife is OK With

In the midst of the toy soldier painting frenzy this Spring I have tried to play some new games. A few weeks ago I stopped by Myriad Games and heard about a game called Shadowrift. The woman working that day described it as a cooperative, deckbuilding, dungeon adventure with lots of room for developing your own character. That hit pretty much all the right buttons and so I picked it up.

 I had heard the rules were pretty poor so the wife and I watched a video on Boardgamegeek in which a man and his loving and extremely patient wife played a few hands of the game while he explained the rules. The irony of the situation was lost on no-one and we launched in to a game.

It turned out that Shadowrift is quite a lot of fun and lives up to the sales pitch exactly. In the game your job is to defend a town against rampaging monsters. Each turn the monsters automatically act first and may attack, spawn more monsters, or somehow make your life harder. Then in the player's turn you can fight monsters, buy better equipment, or recruit villagers to help you. You have limited choices in each turn and so you have to make some tough decisions. Do you want to develop your attacking abilities, defeat a creature, or repair some element of the town. There are a lot of choices and the pressure from the attacking creatures is quite tangible.

Shadowrift is also a deckbuilding game. As the game goes on you add abilities, magical items, and resources to a deck of cards and then draw five cards from it each turn. One player might invest in healing spells, another might try and accumulate magical attacks or lots of resources. Each player isn't given a specific character class per se but the cards you choose will very much change how you function in the game. We definitely liked that aspect of the game.

The main downside to Shadowrift is the rulebook, which might be kindly referred to as not ideal. I think to play the game you'll need to watch the gameplay videos on Boardgamegeek.  After a few rounds the game philosophy becomes clear enough and things move pretty smoothly.

Rulebook aside Shadowrift is a great game and a nice surprise. I've played similar deckbuilding games which seemed either too divorced from theme or lacking in exciting and meaningful choices. Shadowrift delivers its theme very well and each turn is full of interesting and fun choices to make.

And the wife is OK with it.


  1. How do you compare this to Thunderstone?
    BTW, I really enjoy reding your blog, it's hard to find one that is being updated so consistently.

  2. I only played Thunderstone once. Shadowrift seemed more tense in that it really felt like the enemy was advancing from multiple directions. I also felt like there were more short term and long term choices to make in Shadowrift. Do you fight, buff your deck, defend the town, rescue civilians or help your partners? In one sense almost overwealming but in another very exciting.

  3. The new expansion for Thunderstone Advance:Roots of Corruption seems to promise the same kind of feel too, but I gotta try this first. Thanks for your thoughts.