Shadow Era, from Kyle Poole of Wulven Games (of Battle for Wesnoth iOS fame) is a solid collectible card game (CCG) with an emphasis on strategy and tactics, for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
The recent release of version 1.25 of Shadow Era has helped further solidify this game’s reputation as a top CCG for the iOS. Bug fixes, balance changes (Freeze now only costs 3 resources), and game play improvements (Hero weapon and armor info added to help section) were included with this latest fix. A complete list of the changes from 1.25 may be viewed at the Shadow Era forums here.
For those not familiar with CCGs, the basic premise involves starting with a deck of cards containing a hero, soldiers, special powers and abilities, then playing that deck against opponents, both real and computer-controlled online. Players can then use in-game currency to purchase more cards or sell their own cards, or choose to spend real money on buying booster packs of cards to further supplement their deck. No deck of cards is the same, as players can choose how to best organize their set to come up with the best strategy possible. There’s a lot of room for innovation as gamers will constantly try different “builds” of decks to come up with powerful attacks. Overall, the gameplay is fairly similar to many other CCGs on the market today, with some noteworthy differences.
I found Shadow Era fairly welcoming for new players like myself. There’s a nice intro battle tutorial that takes you through the basics of the game, without holding your hand too much. Battles don’t seem to take too long, maybe 15 minutes or so, making Shadow Era an excellent CCG to play on the go. You will need an active network connection to play Shadow Era, something worth noting if you are using an iPod Touch or iPad without any network data plan.
Shadow Era boasts over 100 cards with unique artwork, with more being added through game updates. While this number of cards isn’t huge compared to some of the older, more well-established CCG’s, Shadow Era still offers an awesome selection to keep games interesting. What’s even better is the fantastic artwork on the cards. The artwork will certainly draw comparisons with Magic: The Gathering, but I don’t find that as downside to Shadow Era. Furthermore, the 3D playing field of the games looks excellent, with different camera viewing modes available. I didn’t notice any lag while playing, even when my network connection was swamped, and matches seemed to proceed at a reasonable rate. I did accidentally purchase two of the same cards, thanks to a little tapping frenzy on my part (a “confirm purchase” tab would be appreciated) but that is my only complaint about the layout of Shadow Era.
The soundtrack of Shadow Era is absolutely epic. It brings to mind the Lord of the Rings trilogy soundtrack and other thrilling fantasy/medieval pieces of music. There’s a decent enough variation in it to keep players from muting it during games as well. Finally, the sounds during battle, while not overbearing, are present and nicely fit into Shadow Era.
Fans of CGG like Magic: The Gather and the Eye of Judgement will feel right at home with Shadow Era. Even relative newcomers to the CGG scene shouldn’t have a problem jumping into the fray and making powerful decks while playing Shadow Era. I really enjoyed the game play, artwork, layout and overall setup of Shadow Era and would definitely recommend it to other gamers. Being a “freemium” game (available for free but with the option of purchasing further upgrades), Shadow Era still manages to balance a great gameplay experience with a revenue generating in-game store. The release of 1.25 further strengthens this awesome CCG and gamers should definitely give this hot iOS game a shot today!
Shadow Era iPhone app [ iTunes Link ] requires iOS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.
The iPhone app reviews rating: