I made the mistake of playing Shadow Hand. I wasn’t a fan of Regency Solitaire’s design, where you could easily fail due to bad luck, but Shadow Hand is so much worse.
Shadow Hand adds competitive duels to the mix. In a duel, instead of trying to clear the board, you are trying to kill your opponent. Removing cards from the board will gradually charge your attacks, while removing longer chains of cards in a single turn will increasingly boost the damage of your next attack. However, your opponent is doing the same thing, as the two of you pass control of the board at the end of each turn.
I resoundingly lost my first duel, the tutorial duel, by sheer bad blind luck. I only had a meaningful card reveal chance on my first turn, and that was an equal chance blind selection. I never hand the opportunity to chain more than three cards. Meanwhile, the AI opponent made a 13 chain one turn which was immediately followed by a 10 chain the next turn.
This becomes doubly frustrating if you are playing for “Three Star” clears, as you have to defeat the opponent within a turn limit, which can again be impossible through sheer bad luck.
It is triply frustrating when you realize just how little control you have, outside of board manipulating powers (with abilities that can take multiple hands to charge) and the jokers you acquire randomly through continued play.
However, the final insult may be the Retry option, which kind of renders the entire game meaningless. Presumably because the game is so luck-based, there is no real penalty for death other than to have to replay the hand you lost. So even if you fail, you just hit Retry until you luck your way into a successful hand. Eventually, you’ll get a layout where the chains pop up in your favor.