Shadowverse starter guide: Card basics, classes, & how to build a deck
Shadowverse starter guide: how to get started with card basics essentials, classes, and deck building cygames

Shadowverse starter guide: Card basics, classes, & how to build a deck

Shadowverse is an incredible and complex online card game. However, this same complexity may make it discouraging for newer players to get into the game. To remedy this, we have put together a guide for how to get started and learn the basics. I will try to avoid the main subjects touched upon by the tutorial and cover what the game doesn’t tell you up front. Without further ado, let’s get started!

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Making a Shadowverse account

You can play Shadowverse on either your phone or on Steam. Both function identically, and if you want to play on both platforms, you can link your accounts together. I do recommend making an account on mobile first. Simply download the Shadowverse app and open it. You will be guided through a tutorial of the game. This tutorial teaches you some of the basics of the game, which I’ll go over in the next section. Afterwards, the game will reward you with packs of the five newest sets of cards. Go ahead and open them up from the store screen.

From those packs, you’ll want to open at least three legendary cards (denoted by their shiny, rainbow metallic border). I recommend deleting the app and starting again if you fail to do so. If you made your account on Steam, you won’t be able to do this. Otherwise, if there’s a specific class you’d like to play, you can re-roll to get legendaries from that class.

Card Basics

There are three main types of cards in Shadowverse: followers, amulets, and spells. The card below, Dawn’s Splendor, is a follower.

Shadowverse starter guide: how to get started with card basics essentials, classes, and deck building Dawn's Splendor

The number in the upper left in green is the amount the card costs to play. In this case, it costs 2. In blue is this follower’s attack or power. When it clashes with another follower or attacks the enemy leader, this is how much damage it deals. Finally, the number in red is its health. Any damage this follower receives is subtracted from this number. If this number reaches 0, the follower is destroyed.

Sentry Gate cygames Shadowverse starter guide: how to get started with card basics essentials, classes, and deck building

Amulets appear like this, with their cost in the upper left. They remain on the field and can’t be attacked or interacted with. They generally have a static effect, or they may do something when they are destroyed, like summon a follower. Most have Countdown, where they last a set amount of turns before destroying themselves.

Travelers' Respite Shadowverse starter guide: how to get started with card basics essentials, classes, and deck building

Lastly, spells also have their cost in the upper left. They typically have a one-time effect, such as dealing damage or drawing a card. They are usually very simple and to the point.

There are some common keywords you might see on cards. Here is a brief explanation for each, but if you need a refresher, clicking on the keyword in-game will provide reminder text for you.

  1. Ambush: can’t be targeted or attacked by the enemy
  2. Bane: any time this follower clashes with another follower, kill the other follower
  3. Fanfare: when you play this card, get an effect
  4. Last Words: when this card is destroyed, get an effect
  5. Rush: can attack a follower right away
  6. Storm: can attack a follower or leader right away
  7. Ward: this follower has to be attacked first
  8. Banish: remove a card from the game
  9. Clash: a follower is attacking another follower
  10. Strike: attack
  11. Enhance: play this card for a higher cost but get an extra effect
  12. Accelerate: play this card for a lower cost and a lesser effect
  13. Evolve: give this follower better stats and rush
  14. Reanimate: randomly bring back your highest-cost follower that has been destroyed
  15. Burial Rite: destroy a follower in your hand
  16. Drain: attack gains back life

Building a Shadowverse deck and your collection

It’s difficult to build a deck when you first get started. You don’t have a lot of cards and it’s tough to know what you like. Right away, you should begin playing through the Story Mode. Story Mode will reward you with basic cards and resources you can use to get more card packs. It will also give you a general introduction to each class and help lay out the basics for each. It is also recommended to turn solo missions on when you first start. Multiplayer matches may be daunting at first, and doing solo missions can help you earn extra rupees.

As for building a deck, you should build around a theme. All crafts have certain themes (which will be discussed later), and focusing on them is important to make sure your deck works. The game will tell you to build a Rotation deck right away as it is a more “beginner-friendly format.” The format does have a lower learning curve but is generally very expensive to get into. Many Rotation decks require multiple legendaries.

On the other hand, Unlimited has a high power level, but decks tend to be cheaper. Spellboost Runecraft in Unlimited, for example, only requires three legendary cards. Rotation uses the five newest sets in Rotation, while Unlimited uses all sets ever printed. If you don’t want to brew a deck from scratch and would rather try out a successful deck someone else made, I recommend these sites as a resource:

These Shadowverse sites post win streaks of successful players and share them with the public. They’re an excellent indicator of what decks are useful and help give you a basis for your own decks. These sites aren’t in English though, so keep that in mind! If your browser has a translate feature, this can remove the issue. Otherwise, the deck images themselves are universal no matter the language.

Crafting cards

You can craft cards one of two ways: gems or vials. Gems are a resource you can only get from doing missions. To spend your gems, just go to the Trade Temporary Cards tab in the shop. There, you can trade gems for any legendary card in Rotation. This card is considered “temporary.” How long will it last? No one really knows, honestly: Cygames has yet to explain when they will go away. They function just like a regular card though, so be sure to use this to get legendaries for your deck.

trade temporary

For the rest of your deck, you’ll need vials to craft them. You can get vials from missions or from liquifying cards. The higher the rarity of the card, the more vials you get from liquifying it and the more vials it takes to craft. You always get fewer vials from liquifying than what it costs to craft the card, so if you decide to get rid of a card, make sure you don’t need it! The only cards you don’t need to craft are basic cards. These cards are always available in every format no matter what.


Once you have a deck together, feel free to jump into some matches! Try the deck out in unranked first, and then head to ranked once you think it’s ready.


All classes are very different in how they function, so here is a top-level explanation of their main mechanics and how each works. You don’t have to pick a class to main, but it helps to focus on one or two when you first start out. All cards belong to a class, except for Neutral cards. Neutral cards can be used in any deck. When you build a deck, you must pick one of the following crafts and then only use cards from that craft and Neutral cards to build it.


Bloodcraft’s main gimmick is Vengeance. When their life total becomes 10 or less, Vengeance becomes active for them. This tends to unlock extra effects on cards and makes your followers more powerful. However, being at 10 life does leave you vulnerable, so be careful. Many of your cards will hurt your own life total but provide powerful effects in exchange.


Dragoncraft focuses on playing, well, dragons. These are huge, powerful creatures, so playing them takes a lot of play points. Thankfully, many of Dragoncraft’s cards cause you to gain play points. In addition, their main mechanic is called Overflow. Overflow becomes active when you have 7 play points or more and gives your cards extra effects.


Swordcraft is all about playing followers efficiently and using them to take on any threat. Most of their followers are either Commanders or Officers. Like a general leading an army, Commanders tend to provide effects to help boost their Officers. This class often has the best and most versatile followers in the game but doesn’t have as many gimmicks as the other classes.


“Spellboost” is the central goal of Runecraft. The craft boasts many powerful spells, but they usually cost a lot or don’t do a lot at first. By playing a spell, you “spellboost” the other cards in your hand once. This may reduce the cost of a card or make it more powerful. Do it enough and your spells start costing nothing! This is a very powerful mechanic, but it leaves you vulnerable in the early game. The craft also has a mechanic called Earth Rite, involving cards that get rid of Earth Sigil amulets you play for added effects.


Forestcraft is all about playing lots of cards at once. Most of their main effects want you to play multiple cards a turn. Thankfully, most of their cards only cost 1 or 2 pp, which makes this a breeze. The craft is also very good at making lots of little followers, especially Fairies. Out of all the classes, it is also the best at returning your own cards to hand to reuse later. It takes a bit of practice but can be a lot of fun!


Havencraft focuses on playing amulets the most out of the classes. Most amulets they play have Countdown and summon powerful followers when the countdown runs out. They also have ways to hasten the countdown, such as a spell that subtracts 1 from the countdown of all amulets.


Shadowcraft focuses on making shadows. Every time you play a card or a follower is destroyed, it makes a shadow. You can then spend these shadows to perform Necromancy. Necromancy effects often do powerful things the card normally would not do and require a bit of setup. This craft is also the best at Reanimating dead followers you destroyed using Burial Rite.


This craft was the last one added to Shadowverse and is a bit all over the place. Its main mechanic, Resonance, only activates when you have an even number of cards in deck. Having Resonance active makes your cards more powerful. The craft features a host of ways to change the number of cards in deck, such as adding or taking one from it. Artifacts are Portalcraft’s signature card type. They are powerful followers that cost low amounts of pp but can only be obtained by placing them into your deck or hand with a card effect. There are also Puppets, 0 pp 1/1 followers with Rush that some cards in the craft create readily or use as an archetypal mechanic.


There was a lot to cover, but I hope this guide gives you a good introduction to the game. Getting started in Shadowverse can be daunting, but I hope this guide is a useful resource for you. If you have any questions, or if this guide helped you, let me know down in the comments below!