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Summoner Wars» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Like Manoevure, but uglier and not very good rss

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Aaron Lewicki
United States
Milford
New Hampshire
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I picked this game up due to good reviews on the Geek, and we finally got to give it a spin last weekend. Maybe it was the inevitable hangover following our first foray into the superlative Wars of the Roses, but we really, really did not like this game.

I won't go over the rules, because they are posted elsewhere, and will limit this review to the things that stuck out in my mind.

Cost: The contents feel over-priced. A pack of cards, some dice, a rulebook, and an artless playmat...$25?

Artwork: Ugly. I'd like to be more positive, but...I can't. It's ugly. The detail on the images is lacking, as is any sort of interesting color palette, and the artist seems unable to draw anything other than lifeless poses of scowling characters. My opponent was unable to, at first glance, actually determine that the side he was playing were Orcs, and some of the females are indistinguishable from males.

Graphic design: Poor. With so much space available on the cards, the information contained on them isn't intuitive at all. Instead of little colored circles, couldn't the card just have said "HP: 5"? The cards for the World of Warcraft miniatures game are a better example of how a game like this should be laid out. Next we have the game mat, which is so bland and uninspired that it feels like a last-minute insert rather than an integral part of gameplay..

Interface: Awkward. We couldn't get over how much we didn't like using the cards as counters on the map. The game play is a bit reminiscent of Manoeuvre, but Manoeuvre's maps and counters feel like they fit the theme (of 18th century combat) much better. Cards work just fine as units in most other games, but it felt like counters and a real map would have been the way to go. The counters provided with Pocket Battles, along with a much smaller printed map, would be a huge upgrade. Card games really shouldn't use up that much table space.

Theme: Unconvincing. The game doesn't really feel like a fight between armies or a skirmish between individuals. The presence of random walls all over the battlefield, and the odd decision to require units to be summoned next to walls, feels awkward and looks goofy.

Tactics: The game does pretty well here. The concept is simple, and contains many chess-like decisions about when and how to bring your big guns into play (and the risk of losing them). The dice odds don't rely on buckets of dice for attacks to be successful. There are also some interesting decisions to make about accelerating your card drawing at the expense of decreasing your chance to win a longer game.

Strategy: Almost non-existent. There aren't really enough unit types out of the starter box to do much deck customization, and what you do have feels remarkably similar in terms of special abilities. Maybe with a few more sets there will be variety, but for now. The actual games include few strategic decisions, other than when to move your warlord and other troops forward without taking too many losses.

Potential: There is some good news here, as I think this game could improve with more cards offering more strategic opportunities to customize your force. But given the cost, that's an expensive proposition. It's not a "gateway" game for spouses, but I also give it credit for being the kind of game you could easily play with a kid who is interested in getting into wargaming. And it is short enough that it does work nicely as a "filler" game between sessions.

Overall: Not recommended. It's expensive, and there are better options out there (Manoeuvre, World of Warcraft minis, and Pocket Battles are ones that come to mind) for quick skirmish games.
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James Webb
United Kingdom
Canterbury
Kent
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Henrik Lantz
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Uppsala
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While I think Revgiblet above has a good idea about what will happen to this thread , let me before the flaming starts say that this was a good review. You obviously have tried several other skirmish-type games which you compare with, and you state clearly why you did not like the game. Good stuff. And I still think I would like the game.
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Mark Chaplin
United Kingdom
Nottingham
Ice-choked tower, Mondavia, Nanglangka.
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There aren't enough contrary reviews on the Geek.



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Luc VC
Belgium
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Maximillion wrote:
Overall: Not recommended. It's expensive, and there are better options out there (Manoeuvre, World of Warcraft minis, and Pocket Battles are ones that come to mind) for quick skirmish games.


Thanks for the review! It's always interesting to read how a game felt to other gamers. I recently got this in a trade so I can't complain on the price. I quite like the Dwarves and Goblin decks, I didn't like how the orcs played, but that might be just me. Personnally gameplay reminded me much more of Dreamblade than Manoeuvre. I haven't played World of Warcraft minis or Pocket Battles so I can't compare it with those. While I would rather go for Dreamblade if I had the opportunity, but seeing how portable Summoner Wars is I will be keeping it in my collection.
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Mark Chaplin
United Kingdom
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You know, especially when using the upcoming deluxe board, fortresses might have been a better choice than walls.



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David Ausloos
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Personaly I was pleasantly suprised by this game.
At first it seemd totaly unbalanced and than we realised it was actually breathtakingly balanced for an assymetrical game.
The elves that seemed to stomp all over the orcs at first with their ranged attacks soon were surrounded by the orcs with their brutal ploys.
Every move counts in this game and the card-management system that gives you alot of tough dillema's is one of the best I have seen in a while.
For a game with such short rules this game has depth and high replayability, which can't be said of alot of games.
Being a graphic fetishist I can see were the comments of the illustrations of the units are coming from...they are indeed a bit "static". But for a smaller company they are very well done (this is no FFG, remember)
and they have alot of charm.
For me this is alot of game in a small package and that alone makes it a worthwile purchase. Just my two cents.

Small sidenote: looking at the collection of the original poster I see the profile of a heavyweight wargamer: Here I stand...Advanced Squad Leader. Approached from this angle Summoner Wars might seem very limited. This is by far a wargame and doesn't pretend to have such depth or degree of detail. SW is a light fun and tactical game that offers an accesible experience to people who will never play wargames and with that mindset it perfectly delivers.
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David Stahler Jr.
United States
Wheelock
Vermont
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I love this game and find it pretty damn brilliant for so many reasons, but I'm not crazy about the art or some of the design elements either.

I realize it's meant to be at least somewhat stylized, but it's stylized in a blocky, clumsy sort of way that puts me off a little, especially when compared to much of the incredible art in so many other card games these days.

I realize from a couple other threads that I'm in the minority here, but at the end of the day, I love this game in spite of its appearance.
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Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
United States
Summerville
South Carolina
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I appreciate this kind of review, its level headed, presented from the get go that 'Hey this is MY opinion of the game.'

Ive not played/own it yet but one thing I felt was going for it was its cost. You can get the 2 starters for $50, what you would pay for maybe one regular board game. Then the expansion decks are only $10. I think thats cheap as its the same price you can get the Wings of War (WWII) squadron packs.
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Lee Fisher
United States
Downingtown
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Did you really decide all that after a single play?
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Mike
United States
Olathe
Kansas
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This is one of those games that really gets better with each play.ninja
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Pascal Lefebvre
Canada
Calgary
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While reading the review, I had similar thoughts about the writer's profile as Ausloosd had. This reviewer clearly had his share of wargaming and minis. However, I think the game does not aim to be either of them. I can't classify the game at all.

Which leads to mentioning: is the game really a wargame, and is the game's page adequate in saying so? I know there aren't that many choices, but the game doesn't have tons of rules, tons of chips, and no historic background, like most wargames have nowadays. It really has this Neo-Euro feeling, with some light conflicts and resource management at the same time.

I like this game because it is light, fairly balanced, has this CCG feel while not being one, has this Wargame feel while not being one, and might seem expensive but compared to most other card games (especially CCG) it is rather cheap. And there is the possibility to customize it with a deluxe board.

At least, we for now know that this game won't please hardcore wargamers, though they should not expect a heavy wargame either
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Eric Ruhland
Canada
Ottawa
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A very well written review. Without the counter balance of honest, well thought out, negative reviews the positive reviews are of little use.
lfisher wrote:
Did you really decide all that after a single play?
Nowhere does he say that he only played one time...
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Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Good review. I've read all the positive reviews and yet the game doesn't look fun to me. It's nice to hear a dissenting opinion to give me a handle on potential drawbacks.
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Anthony DuLac
United States
Blaine
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I found myself agreeing about the art after taking some time to really look at the cards. It's not as good as I'd like but I'm a presentation hound myself. Still, it's a first attempt from a new designer so I'm inclined to cut him some slack in the art department.

I don't (and never have) thought it was terribly innovative or the next "hottest game" but it IS a fun game with some neat ideas.
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Yiorgos Golfinopoulos
Greece
Patras
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Good review. I totally disagree with it.
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James Cartwright
United Kingdom
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Well constructed negative review even if I don't agree with it.

I can see that it might well open a can of worms and cause flameing but as the saying goes 'not everyone likes everything'

I really enjoy the game as it fills all the criteria I bought it for. These are that it was cheap (under £20) easy to learn and teach to my kids and doesn't take to long to play.
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James Sitz
United States
Illinois
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Maximillion wrote:
and some of the females are indistinguishable from males.


That's because they're elves, man.
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Ian McCarthy
United States
Milwaukee
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Wow, I think this negative review has made me more interested in the game than any of the positive reviews.
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Contemptus Mundi
United States
Phoenix
Arizona
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This game can cost as little as $16.99 online. I've spilled martinis that cost more and didn't complain this much.
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hiruko the goblin
United States
Los Angeles
California
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LoweringTheBar wrote:
This game can cost as little as $16.99 online. I've spilled martinis that cost more and didn't complain this much.
I would cry over a spilled martini....
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E G
United States
Woodinville
Washington
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Jexik wrote:
Maximillion wrote:
and some of the females are indistinguishable from males.


That's because they're elves, man.


That's because they're orcs, man.

That's because they're dwarves, man.

That's because they're goblins, man.



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E G
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I think the main problem with the art is the lack of contrast. The characters on different cards look very similar to one another, until you're very familiar with them. I agree that the artist does not display much versatility, and the color palette is bad.

And yes, the paper map board sucks. The deluxe board is really cute, though, illustrated like a hand-drawn map. I like it.

Anyway, as for the rest of the review, I think it would help if you did not think of it so much as a card game. For my part, I F-ING HATE tiny counters with tiny numbers, so you can stuff your war-gaming tendencies

It annoyed me a little bit that a great deal of the game was just trying to keep your troops from getting in each others' ways, but you know, other games I like do the same thing . . . eg chess.

Anyway, I like the game, but I CAN definitely see how/why you feel the way you do!
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Fede Miguez
Argentina
Capital Federal
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Eirikr wrote:
A very well written review. Without the counter balance of honest, well thought out, negative reviews the positive reviews are of little use.
lfisher wrote:
Did you really decide all that after a single play?
Nowhere does he say that he only played one time...

Even though, most of the stuff he points out are things you find in your first play: presentation, art, graphics, buck for bang, etc. To see if you would agree with the reviewer you can check where he comes from.
Most of the people that i have shown the game and didn't like pointed out presentation and components, pretty similar what was said here ("i would like this game if it had been done by FFG").
I do think that the art needs an upgrade, those guys need a dynamic stance, not be posing for the photograph.

Edit: just in case, i think this is a good review and pretty much spot on, good to tell people if they will like this game or not.
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James Sitz
United States
Illinois
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anticipatient wrote:
Jexik wrote:
Maximillion wrote:
and some of the females are indistinguishable from males.


That's because they're elves, man.


That's because they're orcs, man.

That's because they're dwarves, man.

That's because they're goblins, man.





Those factions don't have any females in the game.
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