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Subject: Review of Shadowrift: Archfiends for the Solo Gamer rss

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Aaron Gannaway
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This is a review of the Shadowrift: Archfiends expansion for solo play. I have not played the 1st edition of Shadowrift. As of writing this review, I have played the 2nd Edition of Shadowrift 25 times, all solo and each game was played with 2 heroes. Of those 25 games: 8 were played with the base game only, 11 were played with Archfiends from the Archfiends expansion, and 6 were played with Archfiends and Hero Titles (both from the Archfiends expansion). This review is for the expansion only. My review of the base game can be found here: Review of Shadowrift for the Solo Gamer.

Since I tend to skip to the conclusion of most of the reviews I read, I will begin with my conclusion at the top and then go into separate categories.

Long Story Short...
I believe the Archfiends expansion brings quite a bit to the table. It fixes the abrupt ending problem in the base game (as you will see later in the review). It also adds two components, one that makes Shadowrift easier and the other that makes it harder. This allows for more customization of the difficulty of the game. All of this together creates an excellent expansion for Shadowrift.


Value Added to Shadowrift:
Updated ratings to Shadowrift when including this expansion:
Compared To Other Deck-building Games I Have Played Solo: EEE
Compared To Other 45-75 Minute Games I Have Played Solo: EEE


Setting the Table...
Shadowrift: Archfiends adds to the game in two ways. The primary addition is Archfiends, which are a boss deck and a boss battle for each Faction. Archfiends take the game and add a touch of finality to it. You are not just defeating the monsters, you are now closing the Shadowrifts so the monsters can no longer make their way to the town After the Shadowrifts are closed, you then attempt to defeat the evil Archfiend who is orchestrating the attack on the town. The other addition, Hero Titles, is smaller. Hero Titles grant rewards to the heroes for accomplishing different objectives.


Gaming Wallpaper, is the Theme Pasted On?...
Archfiends are a brilliant addition to the theme of Shadowrift. They take the monsters and add the missing piece. Instead of fighting a bunch of monsters, you are fighting the monsters while the boss is scheming against you. Then, when you finally close the last Shadowrift to keep the monsters away, you have to defeat the boss. It adds a feeling of an actual ending to the game. The Archfiends fix one of my problems with the base game. Endings in the base game often feel abrupt and anticlimactic. Removing the win condition of building all of the walls and adding the final boss fight fixes this problem. After adding the Archfiends, games no longer felt like they ended abruptly. This addition made even the easier wins feel like they had an ending.

The Hero Titles are a minor addition to the game. They don’t seem to add or take away from the theme. Hero Titles add a method for the heroes to gain a title, and with it, to gain a once a round benefit. They continue the problem of theme with the hero decks. Instead of truly playing themed heroes, you gain the titles for accomplishing specific objectives. Because of this, like the hero decks, you tend to claim the titles as soon as they are available in order to gain the effect rather than really working toward a hero’s theme.


Thematic Incorporation (0=No Theme, 5=Interwoven Theme):
Thematic Execution (0=Theme Missing in Components, 5=Look And Feel Matched Theme):
Thematic Interpretation (0=Did Not Feel Theme, 5=Felt Theme Vividly):


Water! I Need Some Water!...
The Archfiends portion of the expansion adds some decisions, but does not add a bunch of brain burn. It’s additional features are well done in this regards. During the game, just before the Heroes Act step, the top card is drawn from the boss deck and a simple decision is made to put it in play or add it to the boss. If it is put in play, it causes the heroes some pain right now via some sort of effect. If it is added to the boss, it increases the power of the boss during the final battle. This additional step is quick and easy and yet adds a nice little additional dimension to the game.

The Hero Titles add brain burn in a really odd and unfortunate way. The trigger for when you claim a title is written on the card. There are 7 different Hero Titles. It is too easy to forget what the actual trigger for each Hero Title is. This could have been solved fairly simply by adding a single card which included the name of each title and its trigger. Thankfully the Hero Titles are a minor addition to Shadowrift.

Edit: I created a file that can be used to create a summary card to help with the Hero Titles: Shadowrift Hero Titles Player Aid.


Updated ratings to game when including this expansion:
Scoville Scale of the Brain: Peperoncino EEE Peperoncino on the Scoville Scale (i.e., 5 EEE 5 out of 10 for think-i-ness).
Overall Enjoyment of Decision Making: EEE


Difficulty and Randomness...
The Archfiends expansion does a wonderful job of adjusting the difficulty. If you would like the game to be easier, add the Hero Titles. If you would like the game to be more difficult, add the Archfiends. If you want it more difficult, but not quite as difficult as it is with just the Archfiends, add the Archfiends and the Hero Titles.

Both additions have about the same amount of randomness as the base game.


Difficulty (with Hero Titles only): 2 EEE 1.5
Difficulty (with Hero Titles and Archfiends): 2 EEE 3.5
Difficulty (with Archfiends only): 2 EEE 4
Randomness: 4 EEE 4


You Need How Many Tables to Play Arkham Horror???...
I like to include tablespace information in my reviews since table space is limited for some solo gamers. Archfiends and Hero Titles add very little additional space to the game. It adds the Archfiend Deck and its discard pile, the Archfiend stack (i.e., the Archfiend and the cards that are placed underneath it) and the stack of Hero Titles.


When Space is Limited: EEE


A Quick Peek at the Rules...
Shadowrift: Archfiends adds two new components, Archfiends and Hero Titles, to Shadowrift. Each of these components can be added independently of each other to the game.

The first, and primary component are the Archfiends. Each Faction has its boss implemented as a full enemy with its own deck of cards. When playing with Archfiends, you can no longer win by building Walls. You have to close all of the Shadowrifts. During the game, before the Heroes Act step, the top card of the Archfiends Deck is drawn. That card can be played, avoided, or blocked. If it is played, it is placed face up in front of the heroes and its text, which is always neutral at best and usually detrimental, goes into effect. If it is avoided, it is placed underneath the Archfiend and the top card of the Archfiend Deck is played. If it is blocked, it is placed underneath the Archfiend along with the top card of the Archfiend Deck. Once all of the Shadowrifts are closed, you then must fight the Archfiend. During this fight, the Archfiend is stronger for each card that was placed beneath it. If you defeat the Archfiend, you win the game.

The Hero Titles are titles the heroes can claim for performing tasks such as playing 3 attacks in the same round or paying the maintenance cost for multiple Skills in the same round. When a Hero Title is claimed it is placed inactive in front of the hero who claimed it. That hero can active the Hero Title when a monster is killed. Once activated, it has an effect that can be used once each round, such as giving +1 Hit on your first attack in a round or paying for the maintenance cost of one Skill card.

Ease of following the rules for the expansion takes a huge hit because the rules for the Hero Titles are non-existent. I had to search the web to find out how to use the Hero Titles.


Length of Rules (1=Very Short, 5=Very Long): 1
Ease of Following the Rules:


Final Thoughts
Thank you for taking the time to read this review. I hope you have found it helpful in some way.

This review is a result of several people in the 1 player guild asking for my thoughts after I posted a few plays of it on a couple of GeekLists (Solitaire Game on Your Table - November 2016 and December 2016). I was going to do a quick couple of thumbs up and thumbs down in the GeekList, but changed my mind. After playing 20+ games, I decided to create this and a separate review for the base game: Review of Shadowrift for the Solo Gamer. Thanks go out to those people who asked questions (which caused this to be written).

Have a wonderful day!
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Greg
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This is interesting because in the newest Expansion Shadowrift: Eve of the Sickle Moon there are no Archfiends. I wonder if Jeremy plans to create them in the future. It does add 8 new Hero cards to add to your games and 2 new enemy types to fight.
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trevor

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I thought archfiends was for the first edition? Is there a second edition of it? I may be confused.......
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Aaron Gannaway
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Phate999 wrote:
This is interesting because in the newest Expansion Shadowrift: Eve of the Sickle Moon there are no Archfiends. I wonder if Jeremy plans to create them in the future. It does add 8 new Hero cards to add to your games and 2 new enemy types to fight.


I am disappointed to read that the new enemy factions do not have Archfiends created for them. I feel like the Archfiends expansion adds a dimension to the game that is exactly what is needed to make each game played feel complete.

bigGameGeek wrote:
I thought archfiends was for the first edition? Is there a second edition of it? I may be confused.......


You are correct that the Archfiends expansion was not upgraded to 2nd Edition. But, due to how the Archfiends and the Hero Titles work, there was not a need to upgrade it. It combines just fine with the 2nd Edition of Shadowrift. The only caveat that I found was a couple of wording differences between Archfiend cards and 2nd Edition cards. I did not find this to be a problem. In all cases that I came across, it was easy to know what the wording on the Archfiend card meant and play it appropriately.
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Thanks again for the review.
Starts to get interested in this game.
But I'm quite confused with the expansions listed so far... I wonder if all of them work well with 2nd edition or not...?
And yea, why there isn't any page here for 2nd edition?
 
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Aaron Gannaway
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jupiter999 wrote:
Thanks again for the review.
Starts to get interested in this game.
But I'm quite confused with the expansions listed so far... I wonder if all of them work well with 2nd edition or not...?
And yea, why there isn't any page here for 2nd edition?


I am not quite sure I understand your question, so please clarify if I answer incorrectly.

Currently there are 2 expansions for Shadowrift:

Shadowrift: Archfiends
This is a 1st edition expansion. Because of how Archfiends was designed, it can be played with 1st or 2nd Edition. When played with 2nd Edition there are a few terminology differences, but those are easy to know what was meant. The biggest downside to Archfiends is that the new factions in the 2nd Edition expansions do not come with Archfiends for those new factions. (Thank you Phate999 for that information.) I think this expansion is an excellent addition to the game, even with the missing Archfiends in the new expansions.

Shadowrift: Eve of the Sickle Moon
This expansion is for 2nd Edition only. I have not played it so I can't really comment on it at this time.
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jiistme wrote:
The biggest downside to Archfiends is that the new factions in the 2nd Edition expansions do not come with Archfiends for those new factions


Can you explain the specifics of this a little more?
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Jeremy Anderson
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Skrell wrote:
jiistme wrote:
The biggest downside to Archfiends is that the new factions in the 2nd Edition expansions do not come with Archfiends for those new factions


Can you explain the specifics of this a little more?


Archfiends has a 30-card deck for each of the six base monster factions, as well as a card with their stats and special abilities for the big final boss fight.
It also comes with Title cards that can help solidify a player's sense of being a specific class, if that's what you're into.

Because the decks are specific to the factions, they have limited function with other decks - for instance a card that strengthens Freezes won't do much if you're not playing against the Glacien in the first place.

At the same time, because they're 30+ cards and 10+ pieces of new art to commission, per faction, we can't affordably/reliably release new mini-Archfiends sets with each expansion. I'm hopeful that next year we'll have 3 expansions, and can do a second "full size" Archfiend pack for another 6 factions.

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Aaron Gannaway
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karishi wrote:
Skrell wrote:
jiistme wrote:
The biggest downside to Archfiends is that the new factions in the 2nd Edition expansions do not come with Archfiends for those new factions


Can you explain the specifics of this a little more?


Archfiends has a 30-card deck for each of the six base monster factions, as well as a card with their stats and special abilities for the big final boss fight.
It also comes with Title cards that can help solidify a player's sense of being a specific class, if that's what you're into.

Because the decks are specific to the factions, they have limited function with other decks - for instance a card that strengthens Freezes won't do much if you're not playing against the Glacien in the first place.

At the same time, because they're 30+ cards and 10+ pieces of new art to commission, per faction, we can't affordably/reliably release new mini-Archfiends sets with each expansion. I'm hopeful that next year we'll have 3 expansions, and can do a second "full size" Archfiend pack for another 6 factions.


The archfiends add quite a bit to each faction. I can understand why they would bump up the cost for each faction because of that. I am glad to read that Archfiends have not been dropped as an idea and there is a plan to attempt to continue the Archfiends idea.

Thank you for the info Jeremy.
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karishi wrote:
Skrell wrote:
jiistme wrote:
The biggest downside to Archfiends is that the new factions in the 2nd Edition expansions do not come with Archfiends for those new factions


Can you explain the specifics of this a little more?


Archfiends has a 30-card deck for each of the six base monster factions, as well as a card with their stats and special abilities for the big final boss fight.
It also comes with Title cards that can help solidify a player's sense of being a specific class, if that's what you're into.

Because the decks are specific to the factions, they have limited function with other decks - for instance a card that strengthens Freezes won't do much if you're not playing against the Glacien in the first place.

At the same time, because they're 30+ cards and 10+ pieces of new art to commission, per faction, we can't affordably/reliably release new mini-Archfiends sets with each expansion. I'm hopeful that next year we'll have 3 expansions, and can do a second "full size" Archfiend pack for another 6 factions.



Ok so then how does this "limit" use with the 2nd edition ?
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Jeremy Anderson
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Skrell wrote:
karishi wrote:
Skrell wrote:
jiistme wrote:
The biggest downside to Archfiends is that the new factions in the 2nd Edition expansions do not come with Archfiends for those new factions


Can you explain the specifics of this a little more?


Archfiends has a 30-card deck for each of the six base monster factions, as well as a card with their stats and special abilities for the big final boss fight.
It also comes with Title cards that can help solidify a player's sense of being a specific class, if that's what you're into.

Because the decks are specific to the factions, they have limited function with other decks - for instance a card that strengthens Freezes won't do much if you're not playing against the Glacien in the first place.

At the same time, because they're 30+ cards and 10+ pieces of new art to commission, per faction, we can't affordably/reliably release new mini-Archfiends sets with each expansion. I'm hopeful that next year we'll have 3 expansions, and can do a second "full size" Archfiend pack for another 6 factions.



Ok so then how does this "limit" use with the 2nd edition ?


Some players only consider it a "complete" experience if they're playing using Archfiends.
If you come at it from that perspective, all the new (non-base) factions feel "incomplete" or "limited," because they can't include that play style.

For players who feel that way, as a tide-over I offer the "Interloper" mod:
When playing with a faction that doesn't have an Archfiend, pick an Archfiend anyway.
Archfiend effects (for instance, "Heal all Freezes") that are invalid due to the archfiend's faction not being the active faction are added to the Archfiend if they aren't Fended Off. Effects that ARE valid with the current faction are treated normally, even if that means ignoring them ("Heal a monster 1" even if there are no damaged monsters, for instance).
This way, once you've sealed the last Shadowrift, you still have the hidden Final Boss who's been harassing you while you tried to deal with these werewolves or voracious plants.
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Aaron Gannaway
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karishi wrote:
Some players only consider it a "complete" experience if they're playing using Archfiends.
If you come at it from that perspective, all the new (non-base) factions feel "incomplete" or "limited," because they can't include that play style.

For players who feel that way, as a tide-over I offer the "Interloper" mod:
When playing with a faction that doesn't have an Archfiend, pick an Archfiend anyway.
Archfiend effects (for instance, "Heal all Freezes") that are invalid due to the archfiend's faction not being the active faction are added to the Archfiend if they aren't Fended Off. Effects that ARE valid with the current faction are treated normally, even if that means ignoring them ("Heal a monster 1" even if there are no damaged monsters, for instance).
This way, once you've sealed the last Shadowrift, you still have the hidden Final Boss who's been harassing you while you tried to deal with these werewolves or voracious plants.


Many thanks again for answering questions Jeremy. It is awesome having you come in and fill in the gaps as the designer.

I do think the base game of Shadowrift is an excellent game. That being said, I am definitely one of those who feels like Archfiends "complete" the experience. Your "Interloper" mod seems like a great way to include Archfiends for factions that do not have them (yet). If I pick up the expansion for Shadowrift, I will try it out.
 
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