I’ve been playing Shadowverse since the Starforged Legends Set (Around September 2017). Sure, that’s about a year after the game released, but I’m not exactly new at the game and I’ve seen many sets and metas come and go. I’ve interacted with tons of fans, from the most casual to the wildly zealous. I’ve chatted with many who have contemplated giving up the game because of how toxic some metas have been lately. In fact, almost every meta since Brigade of the Sky has been rather problematic. Still, despite the wildly powerful decks and the lack of balancing in the Unlimited Format, I still log in every day and enjoy my favorite card game.
Fixing The Meta
Verdant Conflict marked a change in the right direction for Shadowverse. For awhile, aggro and control decks were dying. Midrange was king, and even worse, midrange decks were fast (Strange, right?). While Verdant Conflict still featured blistering fast games, aggro started to reappear with decks like Forestcraft’s Amataz leading the way. More and more techs started coming into play in an effort to slow the game down. Still, things were a bit too fast. Some games in Rotation ended as early as turn 5.
Ultimate Colosseum finally changed the game in December 2019 for the better. The new set not only led to the big three playstyles coexisting in Rotation again, but it also led to some of the most diverse decks we have seen in at least a year or two. Just about every craft has at least one deck that it can use in the latter and not be considered a meme.
A Slower Tempo And More Variety
The Princess Connect crossover introduced the Union Burst mechanic into the game. These effects give followers enhanced abilities if enough evolves were used while the card was in your hand. There were doubts that the cards’ Union Bursts would even be relevant since the game was too fast to get them out. Fortunately, the rights cards rotated out and even better cards came in, leading to the game slowing down. The slow pace has allowed for Union Burst to absolutely shine and add new strategic elements to the game. Union Burst also allows for Shadowverse to place more value on the evolve mechanic, which is what sets the game apart from its competitors. Union Burst is one of the best new mechanics added to the game since launch, and it would be a shame if it is limited to Princess Connect characters and isn’t utilized in future sets.
Each class has experienced quite a few shifts in playstyle and identity with this expansion. The biggest winner is Forestcraft, which has a ridiculous amount of archetypes to choose from now. Control, Amataz, and Greenwood Guardian are all viable decks to choose from. Even more importantly, there are multiple approaches to each deck, especially the control deck, which has multiple engines and variants. None of those decks are quite Tier 1 in Rotation, but they all feel good to play and have a few solid matchups in the meta. Runecraft and Shadowcraft both have top tier decks, and then another deck or two that can still hang with the other meta decks. Swordcraft has a ridiculous amount of options that are all so close to being top tier. The rest of the classes (Yes, even Portalcraft) all have at least one deck that can win games as well in the right hands. Really there isn’t a single bad class this expansion, which is impressive.
This balanced game is mostly due to the return of control decks. Both Forest and Swordcraft lead the way with tons of evolutions that can wear out the opponent’s resources. Stalling out a game without a solid win condition is completely possible with Forestcraft, something that we haven’t seen in forever. The existence of a few meta decks in Dragoncraft, Swordcraft, and Bloodcraft helps to keep the Control Decks (And Shikigami Rune) on their toes.
Where Can Things Improve?
Shadowverse is currently in a great place, but can still get better. For starters, while Rotation is as enjoyable as it has ever been, Unlimited leaves a lot to be desired. The suffering format is dominated by just a couple of overpowered decks, leading to an unenjoyable meta for those who don’t use them. Unlimited has struggled to be enjoyable for almost a year now, with games ending before a few evolution points are spent and tons of cards that need to be limited. What is more frustrating is Cygames can simply buff cards that are no longer in Rotation to make old packs more relevant and weaker decks standup to decks like Amataz Forest. If Cygames doesn’t want to nerf some of its prized cards, it needs to strengthen others to get the meta back in a good place. A massive patch could be just the medicine that Rotation needs. Maybe we will finally get something for the next anniversary event.
But Still, Things Are Good
Despite this meta’s shortcomings, many players are rediscovering their love for Shadowverse. It’s in a fantastic place, and a few changes can make this one of the best card games on the market once more. While there isn’t a crazy event that gives tons of rewards going on right now, this is one of the best times to try out Shadowverse.