Oh my! I can already see your nostrils flaring. Now before you start breathing heavily and proceed to punishing me via comments, I would like to ask that you please hear me out. It's easy to discern Shadowverse as a Hearthstone clone and with good reason. Most of its design choices are eerily familiar, and a chunk of its card mechanics are just renamed traits from Blizzard's card game giant. Throughout the years, lots of shameless developers have been copying successful games hoping to cash-in on its fame, and reviewers have been plagued by the many cringe-inducing sights brought about by the cheap knockoffs. At a glance, one can deduce this game to be nothing but an anime Hearthstone, perhaps made to attract fans of the art style, and that might be right in a way; however, the game offers more than flashy artwork, and I'm here to tell you why it's worth your time.I've always been very fond of Hearthstone, and my love for it stemmed early with World of Warcraft and the now discontinued WoW TCG. Believe it or not, most of the character portraits you see in the game are recycled art from their physical trading cards, which gave me a sense of familiarity upon starting the game. As someone who's played the game for more than three years, I've learned to both love and hate some of its aspects, mostly due the many changes the meta had undergone in its lifespan. I dove right into Shadowverse hoping to get a quick laugh as I joked continuously about the design choices that were similar to Hearthstone. This joke of a tour continued for awhile... until I realized that I had already been playing it for a month and it was no longer just a joke.
Shadowverse was apparently one of the most played mobile card games in Japan, now featuring cameos from the likes of Street Fighter and probably more in the future. While it does share a serious amount of similarities with Hearthstone, I admit that I was all too wrong to judge the game simply through aesthetics because it really did offer more than I had initially perceived. By no means am I saying that Shadowverse is a better game than Hearthstone, as I think that both games are great in their own right. However, just maybe I'll get you to try out Shadowverse by the end of this article.
So why did I pick Shadowverse over something as established as Hearthstone? Here's why:
RNGesus Has Left Us!
Please don't tell me you didn't see this coming. While it did not bother me at first, I have to admit that Hearthstone has turned into something that's a bit reliant on RNG. Yes, RNG is a big part of card games in general, but there was just something about Hearthstone that made its RNG aspect feel overused. Being able to summon creatures that weren't even in your deck was already a red flag for me. It wouldn't be as bothersome if it was a rare occurrence, but these things have been happening more often than not, with a lot of key cards relying on randomness and less on actual deck precision.
As the expansions rolled out, the essence of victory started to cheapen. I began to feel like my wins were wholly due to me 'out-lucking' my opponents instead of building a more concrete deck that doesn't brick. As a TCG player who participates in tournaments, the only RNG I am willing to really accept is the luck of the draw, which is often remedied by building a deck that consists of the right amount of each card to sate the curve of each turn. This was the first thing that got me hooked into Shadowverse's gameplay.
There was just so little RNG to worry about, and the times when it was used still felt right and intended. While one can argue that card games will eventually run out of ideas and start resorting to radical methods such as RNG, I would like to stress that Shadowverse is already on its third expansion, and most of the builds just feel less reliant on luck and more on tight deck building. Not to take a jab at Hearthstone, as I do love the game and still respect the amount of skill used to manipulate RNG to your advantage, but that's just simply not what I wanted in a card game. I want something with less randomness, and that's where Shadowverse comes in.
For those who have not played it, Shadowverse gives players two to three chances to evolve their followers depending on who goes first. This action raises said characters' stats while granting some cards extra properties that influence the tide of battle. Evolved characters are also given the 'Rush' property, which allows them to attack other followers immediately after being summoned. The Evolution mechanic was definitely a game-changer for me, as it gives players the choice to possibly reclaim the board after being swarmed or get rid of a character with Ward (Taunt) so their lesser creatures can push through. This adds to the game's strategic value while boosting the element of surprise. It's your choice whether to evolve early and gain a quick advantage or leave the option available for later. Eitherway, it's an added depth that I heavily enjoy.
New To The Game? Enjoy Your Deck
Getting into a game that's been out for a while may be troublesome for newbies, and in the case of CCGs, it's often due to being bullied hard while playing the constructed format. I can't stress enough how many of my friends were put off by this when starting out in various CCGs. This was not the case, however, when we all tried Shadowverse. Not only did we receive a gratuitous amount of packs upon starting, we were also able to 'dust' or dissolve the cards we did not need and realized that we had more than enough to start a powerful ladder-worthy deck of our own choosing.
I do admit to purchasing crystals after a while, but it was more due to me being too impatient in wanting to try other decks than being outmatched in the ladder by some wallet warrior. The developers are quite giving in terms of card packs, which is definitely a welcomed thing for the average free-to-play player. Shadowverse packs also yield more cards than Hearthstone ones, giving eight cards instead of the usual five. Furthermore, the chances of acquiring Legendaries is also higher in this game, making it much easier to assemble decks and build a decent card pool.
The Games Are Faster
Maybe it's just me, but I truly feel that Shadowverse is more suitable for mobile play than Hearthstone. Playing online games while traveling can be frustrating at times. You are often at the mercy of fluctuating signals, and that one match you were winning may be short-lived as you enter a tunnel and lose the game by disconnecting. Shadowverse's matches are very short; in fact, I even timed one of the long matches I had while using my Ramp Dragon deck, and the bout lasted 8 whole minutes.
This can be attributed to the evolve mechanic, which often makes the fourth to sixth turns go by faster. There's barely any turn that I would consider sluggish to say the least, as you and your opponent will be at each other's throats while flaunting your evolved followers and wiping boards one after another. Other than playing it on the road, faster matches also mean faster outcomes. No longer do I have to wait endlessly for that Paladin to place all his secrets, eventually having to pop each and every one of them on succeeding turns. For me, Shadowverse is about going all out as quickly as possible, even if you're playing a slow deck. Just pure adrenaline turn after turn, so always be on your guard.
On The Issue of Balance
While Midranged Shadowcraft and Ramp Dragoncraft are absolutely killing it in ranked, the tiers in the game are actually rather close, with leaders well represented across the field. It's also worth noting that the gap between tiers are not that highly emphasized unless they hit god-like draws while you play outside your curve for a number of turns. I'm currently using a Tier 3 deck in ranked, D-Shift Runecraft, to be precise, and I'm happy to say that I was even able to win nine matches in a row against some of the top decks. And when queuing as one of the supposed top tier decks, there were lots of instances where I found myself surprised by the many creative setups people use on their, allowing them to pull a quick win and leaving me in a tub of salt.
Out With The Bad Stuff
For me, Shadowverse keeps what I loved about Hearthstone while flushing out the things I've grown to hate about it. It has less randomness, objectively more value for money, and the Evolve mechanic provides an added sense of unpredictability that makes each game feel fresh. The fast gameplay also makes it easier to play on the go, as I seldom have to worry about a long heated match turning into a loss due to disconnecting. With that said, it's best to try it for yourself before making a concrete decision. Shadowverse can be download through Steam or your mobile device's marketplace, and It's free!