Though I’ve never been that enamored with it, one thing that’s been very good for MTG and its community has been the huge number of players who also spend time and effort in studying the game. I’ve actually been more fascinated with this aspect more than anything else the game offers.
One of the most interesting concepts to have come out of this was the "mana curve" aka "the optimal mix of mana and spells in your deck such that you are able to optimize your every turn". Though this concept may not be directly translatable to Summoner Wars, the concept of resource optimization still exists. Rather, Summoner Wars has what I’d like to call a "summoning curve" aka "the average amount of magic a deck requires in order to operate optimally".
Maybe this concept can be better illustrated through the actual numbers. Here’s how I came up with the numbers for the summoning curve.
1. Take out all the units that are in the initial set-up of the faction.
2. Take out all walls and events.
3. Average out the magic requirement of the remaining cards.
Here’s what the numbers look like from lowest to highest.
Cave Goblins - 1.06
No surprise here. The CG are the least magic dependent of the existing factions. Though the makeup of the deck encourages aggressive balls to the wall play, the CG is a faction that can afford to hold back as it saves up for its champions and waits for its events. Magic deprivation is rarely an issue.
Cloaks - 1.56
The yet to be released faction has clocked in to be the one of the easiest factions to summon. It pays for it with relatively low attack units with nobody going above 2 dice. From the preview cards it seems like this is a faction that will try to offset this with mobility (extra movement) and plenty of magic steal/disruption, though where it’s going to spend it, I’m not too sure.
Guild Dwarves - 1.87
The heady dwarves represent the steady rise of the summoning curve. Not too expensive and not too cheap. In many ways, they may be as cheap as the goblins if the right events roll up to your favor (reinforcements and magic drains) allowing you to pour the field with units. Not much to say here other than their relatively average summoning curve allows their unorthodox strategy, destroying walls, to receive some focus, as the phasing player is never encumbered on how to get units into the field.
Phoenix Elves - 2.11
I don’t have a lot to say here, since I always seem to be at the receiving end of a Phoenix Elf smackdown. I will say this though, the summoning curve holds very true as many times, the PE player seems to always have less units on the field (setting up perfect magic drains by the way). With less units on the field, it needs inventive ways to ensure damage is dealt to its opponent. Thus, a steady diet of precise and burns assure the PE player that despite being behind in unit count, they will never have to contend with the unpredictability of the dice.
Tundra Orcs - 2.17
In many ways, they are the exact opposite of the PE. With almost the same summoning curve, the TO rely on making sure that despite being behind in the unit count, their units stay long enough to deal damage (thus the huge lives).Their events also allow plenty of opportunities to slow down opposing players (walls and freezes) that can give the TO player the chance to deal damage -- especially given that this is one of the factions that need to rely on the dice the most.
Fallen Kingdom - 2.41
The FK represent a huge rise in the summoning curve at more than double the requirements of the CG. However, PHD was very inventive in the faction’s abilities such that you rarely feel this constraint. The FK is one efficient summoning machine as it has plenty of ways to utilize the resources at its disposal. You name it, unit sacrifice, discard pile recycling, life point utilization, etc they got it.
Jungle Elves - 2.43
At the other end of the new faction spectrum comes one of the most expensive factions to date. This time, there are no magic drains and reinforcements to save them. I guess PHD foresees that the sheer power generated by their overwhelming attacks is enough to generate the magic in order to keep the engine going. Only time will tell if this is true.
Vanguards - 2.5
Last but not the least, the Vanguards clock in as the faction with the highest summoning curve. I’ve had my hand with a couple of Vanguard games and I must say, magic is very hard to come by. And I simply cannot stress this enough “Do not throw those summoning surges!” They’re the only way you’ll be able to generate enough momentum to mount some form of offensive. A steady diet of Knights and Archers properly placed should be enough to keep enemies at bay till then. Priests are this factions MVP as well. Not only do they keep your units alive long enough (ala TO) but they provide overpowering offense at critical junctures of the game.
That’s it! I just typed this up real quick and these were the thoughts that were at the top of my head upon seeing the numbers. Comments are very much welcome!
1. Events - Events will obviously manipulate the standard summoning curve in some form allowing for better summoning flexibility. That’s why I took time to explain how the different factions were structured such that their summoning curves do not become a deterrent.
2. Base Deck Only - The cards used in the computation, are the ones used from the base faction pack. No reinforcements. Obviously their addition/subtraction will affect the curve. (Which is my goal as well -- to provide players with a tool to assess the optimization of their deck as they fiddle with it).
3. No Mercs - Same as #2. Given the lack of Reinforcement Packs as stated.
*this was a writeup I also posted at the SW forums
Very interesting analysis. And your conclusions also agree with my experience with playing the factions (well, except the Jungle Elves and Cloaks, of course).