Shadowverse Steps Out of Hearthstone's Shadow

 “Shadowverse” is Cygames latest international mobile hit; a collectible card game in the vein of “Hearthstone” and “Magic: The Gathering”. It is gaining popularity among streamers outside of Japan and is becoming a common topic of conversation among competitive gaming enthusiasts.  Cygames recently announced that the game had passed 8 million downloads and have rewarded players with free content. As a longtime Hearthstone player, this intrigued me and I decided to check the game out. How does it stack up? Read on and find out!

 It’s very hard to talk about mobile f2p CCGs (collectible card games) without talking about Hearthstone, the massive hit from Blizzard, so I’ll start off by mentioning some of the surface similarities and differences between the two games.  Shadowverse, like its competitors, is a game in which you play a “hand” of cards and try to defeat your opponent by exhausting their life before they can do the same to you. Cards have various functions that help you control the play board, clear your opponent’s cards from the board, or do damage. While Hearthstone has a healthy amount of random dice rolling in some of its game mechanics, Cygames has lessened the influence of luck in Shadowverse, so fans that don’t like random outcomes should take notice.  Apparently, this was intentional on the part of the developers.

 In addition, Shadowverse adds a game mechanic called “Evolve”, which gives players the ability to strengthen their cards to a more powerful level when playing them.  This makes the card do and/or take more damage, allows it to attack immediately, or even adds a powerful function to that card that can swing the game. The Evolve ability is common across all heroes and adds an extra layer of strategy as it does not cost the same resource as cards to use.  You must not only take into account which cards your opponent can play each turn, but how they might evolve them and use that knowledge when planning your turn.

 Cards in Shadowverse are separated by the “Craft” that they belong to. You can think of this as the card’s suit or playing style.  Each craft emphasizes different aspects of the game and there are also “neutral” cards that any craft can use.  Rather than pick a hero with its own power, you pick a craft that dictates your gameplay, much like in Magic:The Gathering. Then, you use your evolve ability in battle to power up your cards.

 Shadowverse has a Japanese anime-influenced art style, which is similar to Rage of Bahamut, an earlier game by Cygames. Each card features gorgeous art and has a character voice associated with it. There are lots of effects when playing cards and battling with opponents, which adds a great sense of excitement to the game.

 Where Shadowverse excels is in its lack of random variables on cards. Where its main competitor might have a card that picks a target at random and may have a lesser impact on your turn because of its random nature, Shadowverse cards minimize random elements and give the player more control and feeling of impact in the game.  If you decide you don’t want to play against other people, Shadowverse also has a completely free and expanding single-player story mode in which you play against the AI and follow a character’s journey.

 The game is a lot of fun and does a great job of being distinctive from its competitors. Check it out if you are into mobile games that have a bit more strategy than your typical fare.