Shadow Cities New Player’s Guide

Shadow Cities New Player’s Guide by Scorpienne

Welcome to the world, Mage. Here’s what you need to know right now.

The point of the game is to gather as much energy as you can for your team, which is also called an Academy (Orange= compass = Architects, Green = tree = Animators).

You gather energy in several ways. 1) You create dominators (towers) which slowly fill with energy over about 30 minutes, and then you harvest them. 2) You kill spirits. 3) You destroy the structures (like dominators) of the other team and banish (kill) mages from the other team. 4) You complete missions.

You earn experience which gives you Advancement Points (APs) which you use to increase your stats (Vitality, Will, Endurance, and Intelligence). These make you tougher, make you hit harder, give you resistance to damage, and give you more mana (the ability to cast more spells) – which makes you better at energy-gathering tasks.

The game is organized by time and physical location. Every week or so, the staff at Grey Area (GA, the makers of the game) add a new twist to the game such as a new spirit, or by awarding energy to the academies for maintaining control over certain locations. (More info on campaigns here – They see which academy can gather the most energy over that week, called a campaign, and that academy wins. The first 1,000 mages in a local area to log in after a new campaign starts are grouped together into a battlegroup (BG). They have 500 mages from each academy in the battlegroup. These are the people you see in team chat and cross team chat – they probably are in your same state or country (with a fair number of exceptions – see these maps for the BG areas – If the mages from your Academy in your BG gather more energy than the opposing Academy, your team wins that round. Usually, the campaigns run in three one-week rounds, and mages from the team that wins 2 out of 3 (or 3 out of 3) get a shiny color graphic on their “character sheets” (tap the yellow person icon in the upper left corner of your own screen, or tap on another mage and tap ?, then scroll down to medals).

For instance, these are the medals from a player whom I call “The Evil Queen of Atlanta” since she pretty much effortlessly kicks our Architect bottoms from Valdosta to Toccoa. She’s a friend and I have much resepct for her. The star-points behind the medal indicates that she was as top-10 scorer in the campaign.

When you put down dominators (doms), you will earn more energy for your team if you spread them out over as many nearby gateways as possible. Ideally, one dom per gateway. The more doms at a gateway, the less energy you get per dom. You get the ability to put down more doms as you level up. Word of warning, if you harvest too many doms too rapidly, the game sends out a call to the other team so they can move to your location and attack you and your doms (lots of research on what it takes to make one appear – and You will see a beacon in the opposing teams color. A green beacon that calls Animators is a Animator High Command (AHC). An orange beacon that calls Architects is a Architect Battle Control (ABC). These beacons are visible to all opposing mages in your battlegroup.

Also, ONLY put down doms where you can harvest them. Don’t leave them set up willy-nilly all over because the other team will find them and destroy them and get 10 energy each for them. If you are going to put them at a gateway at or near where another mage has doms, then please ask that mage first! If you put doms at their gateway, your dom will reduce the other mage’s energy harvest. Adding doms to a gateway is actually harmful, not helpful. Plus, too many GW in one color might call down an AHC/ABC.

Additionally, if you go to a beacon, don’t put a dom up at the beacon. Doms are visible to the other team in Cloudview, but beacons are not. Your dom might be giving away the location of a secret beacon your team is using for raids.

Most of the spirits are red (fire), green (earth), or blue (water). There are a few rarely-seen white (air) spirits. The spirit itself looks like a glowy ball with a halo – the different houses of spirits have different appearances (Drioma have a cloudy halo, Tiermes have a spiky halo). If you look in the “footprint” of the spirit, you’ll see a circle with a symbol for the spirit house (or type). There are four houses or types of spirits (Inrik = horns, Tiermes = torches, Dannan = trees, Drioma = stars).

If it has a double circle around the house symbol, that means it is a type of rare spirit. You’ll see a star in the circle around the house symbol, or perhaps three stars. More stars = rarer spirit. This is important because some missions will want you to capture spirits with a certain number of stars. The more stars and more health a spirit has, the more energy and XP it’s worth.

In this screenshot, you’ll see two green Drioma spirits. The spririt is the glowy ball, and it has a star in a circle beneath it. Note that the one on the right has a double circle around the star emblem, and a small star in the double circle indicating it’s rarity.

List of spirits – Shadow Cities Spirits List

Movement and position are a bit confusing at first – don’t worry! When you log into the game, your avatar appears wherever you are in the Real World. So if you’re at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Main Street, you should be approximately right there in the game. It coordinates with your GPS to put you in that map location, and you should see streets around you that you recognize as nearby. It’s not exact, but it’s close.

There are four ways to move in the game 1) move in the real world, and then log into the game at your new location 2) tap on a friendly local icon in the game, and then warp to it 3) use a beacon (portal) to go from place to place 3) leapfrog.

Moving in the real world is easy. Go for a walk. Get a friend to drive. Go to work or the gym. Then log in – tah-dah, you’re someplace new. Sometimes if you’re the passenger, you can attack enemy structures as you pass by in traffic – sometimes this is called “wardriving”, “going a’ viking”, or “a drive by”.

Moving by local warp is easy. Tap on a friendly or neutral gateway, and cast the warp rune (not enemy gateways). Alternately, tap on a friendly mage, dom, or other structure and warp to it. You can move to pretty much any friendly target you can see.

Moving through beacons is also pretty easy, you just have to go to cloudview first. If you go to cloudview (pinch your screen) you’ll see a local map of your area. Grey circles are neutral energy gateways (bonfires). Orange ones are Architect controlled, green ones are Animator controlled. In cloudview, look for any big purple streaks and tap on the purple circle at the base. You’ll see a black and white arrow jump icon to move to that beacon. You can move to any beacon from your academy that you can see in cloudview – though cloudview has a limited view, perhaps a mile or so. You can tap the list icon in the upper right corner of cloudview to see a list of all of your friends beacons. That gives you the ability to teleport anywhere in the world. You can be skulking through the alleyways of NYC one minute, and waging a desperate battle at the University of Singapore the next. It’s pretty cool! Of course, you have to make some friends first – more on that later. Note that these beacons are arranged in order of when they were created.

Moving by leapfrog is best with at least two other friends. When you warp to a friendly mage, you’ll notice you appear a bit off to the side. If you want to go south, you warp to your leapfrog buddy. If you ended up south of him, then you wait. If you ended up not-south of him (which is likely), then you warp and warp again until you’re south of him, and then you wait. Then the other guy warps to you until he ends up south of you. This is easier with a larger group of folks, because if a bunch of mages all warp to one guy, one of them (by sheer dumb luck) will end up being somewhat south. Then everyone warps to the southernmost mage. It’s not a fast process, but you can go anywhere and everywhere that way. Do this as long as you like, and you could even make it to the south pole! This is the primary way of sneaking up to a gateway that is occupied by the opposing mages.

Note that moving through beacons requires you to either see the beacon in cloud view, or for the owner of the beacon to be on your friends list. Also, if you’re attacked, your friends can see your status messages and your emergency beacons and will come to help you out. The most important thing you can do as a new mage is make friends. If you see a friendly mage, tap your yellow person icon in the upper left, then tap friends in the bottom center, then scroll down to the bottom where it says “teammates around you” and send out friend requests to anyone nearby.

Go to team chat (white triangle on right side) and friend folks who post in your team chat. Go to the white knot icon in the lower right, then tap campaign in the lower middle, then scroll down to “show top players” and friend your top teammates in your battle group. Introduce yourself on team chat and most likely people will send friend requests. Go to your friends beacons and hang out. If you see someone that’s injured, then put a heal on them and send them a friend request (yellow person icon, friends, teammates around you). Both the Architects and the Animators have “secret headquarters” where a bunch of mages leave beacons – go to these places and send out more friend requests. When you get a message saying “[some mage] has summoned an emergency beacon”, go to the fight, and don’t cast offensive spells (you’re super useful though – check this post Shadow Cities Low Level PvP Raid Role Guide). Also, send out a bunch of friend requests. When you log into these forums, you can click on a mage’s name and send out friend requests (click on my name to the left of this post, and then that brings up my forum activity, then click the “add friend” button).

Be sure and ask for help with big spirits and attacks from enemy mages. When you ask for help at a beacon, give the NAME of the beacon and the AGE of the beacon. That’s the only way other players can find where you are – otherwise they will have to sort through hundreds of beacons on their list and will be waaay to late to offer meaningful assistance.

Note that the energy and XP from killing a spirit are shared between everyone who hit it at least once. Make friends with higher level mages and talk to them about helping them kill spirits. That will get you a lot of energy and XP. Also check the forums for a list of people who openly invite teammates to come to their beacons to share killing spirits. (Architects – here’s a list

SPIDERS! You’ll see lots of things about spiders. Definitely go help out – but know the rules first. There might be a lot of stuff on the screen – don’t freak out. When you get to the beacon, look at where you landed. If there is red and yellow “glitter” there, then leapfrog out of the glitter. The glitter harms you and heals the big spider spirit. If the spider is close to the ground and it’s legs are “swirly” don’t hit it – that will hurt you and heal the spider. Be sure and only cast War Chant at it when it’s tall and walking around. Also send out friend requests and War Chant a bunch of the smaller spirits there. (Architects – read this first

Also, a moment about manners… Nice players get invited on raids, they are well respected within and beyond their battlegroups, and they are the ones that the new folks will look up to. (Conversely, if you’re a chump, a bully, or foulmouthed you’re going to get defriended, shunned, and avoided.)

First thing about manners, what’s your username? Your username is your digital “face”. It’s how you present yourself to people and how you want them to react to you. So, usernames like DrShagNasty, JewKilla, SuMadre, and SuckItNow (all real usernames) are going to instantaneously alienate people. Some people will ruthlessly pick on you in chat and if they’re on the opposing team, raid you just based on an inflammatory username. Would you introduce yourself that way in real life? Then you shouldn’t do it here. Please go make a new account with a real username and start over. Have some class!

Kieri has written an excellent post about the roots of civil play behavior in Shadow Cities. This is a guide on how to be a nice player.

Shadow Cities Etiquette and Behavior Guide

To summarize some of the high points of that post (you should go read the whole thing for explanations)

1. Wheaton’s Law applies: Don’t be a dick.

2. Remember your magic words. Please and thank you go a long way.

3. Don’t troll, spam, spoof, or cheat. Hint – if you’re posting more than once every five minutes, you’re spamming. If you are talking about something other than Shadow Cities in 50% of your posts, you’re spamming.

13. Be the bigger person. If you screw up unintentionally, apologize via PM or chat or status as appropriate.

Where to go for help?

It’s not polite to force other mages in your battlegroup to spend time typing out the same answers again and again when it’s all available for you in the forums. I’ve had a player say “I don’t want to read it – I’m lazy!” my response is “well I don’t want to type it for you because I’m lazy!” :-D In all good humor, be kind and take a little effort to look up some things first.

If you don’t want to look helpless, then go to Gabriel’s Guide and read up. It really is 90% of everything you will ever want to know about the game. Shadow Cities Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide

Also, please read the help sections in the game. Tap your yellow person icon in the upper left, and then tap the life ring help in the bottom right for general help. Tap the knot in the lower right and then tap the life ring help in the bottom right for more help.


aka Scorpienne
scorpienne at gmail dot com
Atlanta Area Architects

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