Shadow Era, An In-Depth Review

Gameplay: 8/10
Sounds: 6/10
Graphics: 7/10

Balanced Game Play | Beautiful Artwork | In-depth Strategy

Poor Interface | Sluggish Updates

PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Browser, and Tabletop.

Free to Play, varies for physical game - View on Amazon

February 24,2011


Shadow Era is a collectible card game that plays somewhat similarly to Magic: the Gathering. Shadow Era is available across several platforms including PC, iOS, and Android. Build a strong deck to fight your way through the world of Balor or challenge other players across the world while trying to earn a spot on top of the rankings or ratings leader boards. Either way, Shadow Era is full of strategy and fun game play.

Boris Skullcrusher playing against Moonstalker

Boris Skullcrusher playing against Moonstalker

When you first log in to Shadow Era, you must choose which hero you would like to start with. Each of them has a unique ability and belongs to one of seven classes (Warrior, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Wulven, and Elemental). Check out Hero Profiles for a nice breakdown of each of the heroes. After you have decided on your hero, you can begin playing with your deck.

The cards available to a specific hero are based on which faction (human or shadow) and which class it belongs to. No one hero can use all cards, they are restricted to faction and class. A hero’s shadow ability often influences the choices of cards in a deck. One example is, Amber Rain’s ability increases the attack of your weapon by two; therefore you would want to have several weapons in your deck. A hero like Gravebone on the other hand, specializes in bringing allies back from the graveyard. Certain cards synergize well with certain heroes making each hero unique.

This is what you will see when first choosing your Hero

At the beginning of a match, each player is dealt six cards. In order to gain resources to cast your cards, you must sacrifice one of the cards in your hand. If you are going first you do not draw a card, but if you go second you draw a card and gain one shadow energy. Shadow energy is used to activate a hero’s ability or certain cards have abilities activated with shadow energy. The number in the upper left hand corner of a card represents the amount of resources that card costs to cast. The higher the card cost, the more powerful the card is likely to be. Each turn a player has a chance to sacrifice a card to gain an additional resource. The game is over when one of the hero’s health points reaches zero.

It is also worth mentioning that the game is free to play. There are no cards that cannot be collected by a player playing for free. In most other “free to play” games, you can only play at a certain level for free then you must pay to continue or to get better cards. After each match you play you gain experience and gold. When you have gained enough experience you gain a level and receive 25 Shadow Crystals. Shadow crystals can also be earned by winning an event held by the community at the forums. Gold and Shadow Crystals can be used in the merchant (shown below) to buy booster packs, starter decks, and individual cards. Gold can only be used to purchase individual cards. There are no cards that cannot be purchased in the merchant, though he may run out of stock once in a while. Shadow Crystals are much more difficult to come across, with them you can purchase booster packs, decks, sleeves, and playmats. The merchant can also be used to sell cards for more gold. A starter deck is a good place to begin, but eventually new cards are necessary to be competitive.

Here is the Merchant Screen. This is where you can buy and sell cards.

One of my favorite things about Shadow Era is the dedication to keep the game balanced among decks. There is not one super deck that beats all others. The impressive part of the game being balanced is how different the heroes, builds, and play styles actually are. Whether you prefer to play rush, control, or mid-game there are still many competitive options for your style. The game feel a lot less like Rock, Paper, Scissors and more like Chess where each game both players have a chance.

The meta game is constantly changing. Players are continually building decks to try to counter the major decks that they are noticing in tournaments and quick matches. This keeps the game more fresh than always seeing the same deck every time you try to play. One week a discarding Zaladar is on top, the next week it may be a rush Mage or a mid-game Rogue. With more cards continuing to be designed, the decks players see will never be stagnant.

Another thing Shadow Era is known for is its embracing community. If you have played the game, be sure to check out the forums on their website. On the forums you can find organized play (tournaments and events), guilds, announcements, in depth strategy, and much more. If improving your game play is a goal, the forums are a must.

Shadow Era is finishing up its 2nd expansion and continuing to grow. Create an account today and join in on the excitement. I would recommend Shadow Era to any fan of collectible card games.

For more screenshots, click here.

Editor’s Note:

We have had to revise the original rating for this game from its original total score of 9.4 down to 7.9 to be more in alignment with our global ratings. Whilst we respect the opinion of our reviewer, we do not feel that Shadow Era deserved to be the highest rated game on our site, above other world-popular card games such as Hearthstone and Magic: the Gathering. With that said, we feel a justification is also in order to explain why the rating has been dropped for this game.

Shadow Era is a mobile game app designed particularly for that market, which means a limited play-time over a much larger and longer strategic card game. Given the time-frame that it takes to play Shadow Era, the game does a good job at what it sets out to do – provide a fast, fun fantasy combat card game. Yet it does have some problems with its user interface and overall player experience, particularly in the graphic and sound design areas. It has also been pointed out elsewhere that development for the game is slow with long delays between updates and releases, frustrating the player fan base especially since a high budget Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign raised over $78,000 for the game’s future development.

These points (and indeed, this very review article) were discussed on the Shadow Era forums where many of these issues were pointed out by Shadow Era fans themselves, who also disagreed with such a high overall rating for the game. This discussion can be read at this forum link.

Shadow Era was one of the first large card games to be popularized on mobile phones, therefore it can be forgiven some of its shortcomings in terms of not being more like recent releases with higher budgets and more polished presentation. However Shadow Era did not deserve the original 9.4 score which is why we’ve altered it to bring it more into alignment with our other games. We hope this explanation will be satisfactory for all parties concerned.

Did you enjoy this review? Like!  

Samuel J
Author: Samuel J View all posts by
SamuelJ, also known by some as Samdroid, is an avid gamer and a champion of justice. Half man, half machine, all player.

We Recommend

Bonus Featured Games