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Subject: Trying to understand the deal with Summoner Wars, is it for me? rss

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David Boeren
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There are a ton of posts here and in the Master Set page, but I haven't been able to find something that just says plain and simple how things are and what you can do.

btw - I am only concerned with 2p at the moment, which seems to be the way the game plays best anyway.


1. Buying stuff. Apparently there was a first set containing 6 factions, which is now out of print. The Master Set has 8 new factions, and there are 2-faction sets that you can get with the original 6, but those seem to be sold out too? How do you get all of them? Where do you find the original 6 factions? The two starters appear to only cover 4 out of 6.

2. How about deck building? OK, I see each faction has just a few cards in it, so can you really do much? Then there are reinforcements with some more, and there are neutral/mercenary cards. So how much deck building can you really do and how much difference does it make? Can you mix factions, or you can only have 1 faction + mercs?

3. Scenarios. It looks like the normal game is on a fixed board and the objective is to kill the enemy Summoner. Are there any other 2p game types, objectives, alternate maps, etc..? Just wondering how the longevity is affected if the game parameters are always identical.


Let me step back a bit and tell you where I'm coming from. In the past 7 years or so I've been doing a lot of minis wargames. Warmachine mainly, but also Infinity, Uncharted Seas, etc... Quite a few. I've also recently gotten into the Call of Cthulhu LCG. Both of these games scratch a similar itch for me. I get to do a lot of deep strategy both in the game and before the game in designing my army/deck and what I intend to do with them. There's a high degree of player skill vs. randomness, and there's a high amount of variety in play and in what I can do in the game.

I like to get deep into these sort of games, I read and write strategy articles on the forums, get into army/deck design discussions, stuff like that.

What I'm wondering is whether Summoner Wars would be something I'd like too, but from what I've read so far I wonder if there's enough depth and variety to it and I'm not sure how much you can customize your deck and strategy. If I'm playing a faction and someone else is playing the same faction, is it going to feel about the same playing against either of us for instance?

Anyway, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Also, the iOS app is supposed to come out this month - yes? Maybe the best route for me would be to buy that when it comes out and play it on my iPhone to see how much I like it.
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Mr G
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Hi David,

You might like to try Poxnora on line on your PC. It has a lot of similarity to Summoner Wars and there is a very active community discussing all sorts of strategies and so on. Think of it as a blend of Summoner Wars, Magic and Heroscape.

VERY DEEP deck building if you are up for it. You can play for free using basic decks before deciding it is for you.

Regards,

Fentum
 
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James 3
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there were 8 factions before the Master Set. 4 of them were in the 2 starters, 2 in each one, and the other 4 were sold individually. I think the 4 individual ones are still available, and the 2 starter sets with the other 4 will be reprinted soon.

There is no deck building without reinforcements. the game is designed to be played out of the box, using all cards it comes with. reinforcements provide additional units to switch things up some, but customization is pretty limited compared to other ccgs. all decks have 18 commons and 3 champions. you can change what champs you use, and can swap commons with up to 10 of a single common, but the events and summoner must stay. you can use up to 5 mercs in any deck, but otherwise all units must be from that faction. so decks are only tweaked a bit, not radically altered, but there is enough to give slightly different feels, but i suspect even tweaked factions will feel pretty similar to play against, but i dont have much experience there.

there is alot of strategy and tactics to uncover with all the different matchups, and the matchups themselves are where the real variety of the game comes in, with many factions playing differently based on who they are facing. unlike some games where you pick one faction and try and ram it against everyon else, i think SW shines if you switch it up alot and try differing factions. with 14 (soon 16) factions and some customization via reinformancents, there are ALOT of unique matchups to explore.

no scenario or alternate maps, but that sounds like a good idea for some sort of future tweak to the game. variety is mainly in the large number of factions and the reinforcements, and its a small expense to own EVERYTHING compared to most expandable games.

i was into high level magic for years and read tons of strategy articles. i think summoner wars is deep enough to have similar content and it scratches a similar itch for me without being so hard to keep up with. I look forward to more inddepth articles and analysis about the game as it grows. check out the plaidhat forums for more detailed thoughts on strategy. If you like writing strategy card game articles, you could add alot to the community of the game! based on what you say you like, i have a hard time thinking you wouldnt enjoy Summoner Wars alot. its streamlined in many ways, but has alot to think about. very glad i dug into it personally.
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David Boeren
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I'll put PoxNora on my list to check out sometime, but I'm primarily interested in games I can play face to face with an opponent.

Sorry, my mistake on 6 vs. 8 factions there. Good to know the starters will be reprinted soon. I hadn't realized they were an older product, I thought there was an original multi-faction box or something like that.

OK, so deckbuilding is pretty slim, you can trade out a few cards. Maybe comparable to Blue Moon or something like that? But not enough to make your deck have a totally different feel. Maybe someday, but not anytime soon. So if that's the case, is there much reason to seek out the reinforcements, or are you better off just buying more factions first?

So it sounds like the biggest source of variety comes from switching factions every game to play a ton of different matchups. I can deal with that, as long as the gameplay is sufficiently tactical/deep/whatever.

Thanks for pointing out the Plaidhat forums, I think that will be a better place then BGG to get a feel for how deep this particular rabbit-hole goes No offense to the BGG crowd, but many of them prefer hopping to many new games over playing one game over and over for years. Both ways of course have their merits.

Hopefully by the time I dig through the Plaidhat forums and am getting ready for another order that iOS version will be out as well.. Have they said whether it will have an AI or only PvP?

Thanks guys!
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Seth Trammell
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Here goes...
Regarding buying stuff:
There were two starter sets, each containing two factions, which are now out of print (however these are coming back into print with some nifty new boxes in the not so distant future). The Expansions (reinforcements) for these four are also out of print.

There have been four single decks released in pairs since then (Vanguard and Fallen Kingdom, and then Cloaks and Jungle Elves). These, and their respective reinforcements, are still available.
The master set contains 6 new factions, not 8.

The two final factions are going to be released this year (we think) with the reprint of the starter sets and reinforcements for four of the Master Set Factions.


The deck building is mainly for variety and finding what works best for you, it's not to find the "optimal deck". You will find, however, that certain units work well against certain factions which is why I like having the option of deckbuilding. That and it makes the game even MORE replayable, which is not an issue anyway.

There are no official variants to the board to my knowledge, I have never really considered changing, however if you are creative, you could probably think of some cool map variants.

Regarding the faction/player variance, I would say that the strategy can be very different when you play against two separate players using the same factions, depending on their play style and unit choices.

I say go for it, it is one of my favorites!

EDIT: Wow, in the time it took me to type this, two more posts popped up!
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Jeremy Yoder
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Sounds like you'd like it. You'll want to buy more factions first, but then including reinforcements will add a lot. What's great, is every faction has a different feel, and they feel pretty balanced, which is impressive.

The base rules are deceptively simple, but when you add all the unique units and events (sort of like spells), you find the game is anything but simple. Now add dice-rolling, the unknown order of your cards, and whether or not to get certain cards in play, or flush them to enable you to bring in different units later, and you have a winner.
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James 3
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i definitely suggest getting all the factions first, then reinforcements. new factions change up the game alot more than tweaking old ones do.

I recommend Goodwin's Blade reinforcement pack first for the vanguards and Fallen Kingdom, as the additional commons add alot to those factions in particular. Im still exploring the factions frankly and havent gotten sick of them yet, and so havent messed with reinforcements much yet outside Fallen Kingdom. Some can get way more aggressive than the defensive nature of the base configuration though, or get units that move in very different ways. and the phoenix elves have a champion that can spit out copies of one of the new common units, giving it a very different feel when they are included. so there is variety in reinforcements for seriosu metagamers.

there are plans for 2nd summoners to be released with new event cards eventually, which will make deck building options open up more.

i think PvP is planned for SW iOS. I sure hope so! it will only cover some (first 8?) factions initially.

i definitely suggest starting with the master set first for sure. plenty of game and matchups all in one box, and the best way to get a real board (original starters have paper mats). get it and try it out and i have a hunch youll know if you should get more.
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Kiren Maelwulf
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The game plays well out of the box and you can add a bit with the expansion packs. However, if you are looking for deck building options similar to most CCG or LCGs out there then you will be disapointed. Deck construction is very limited, which for me is a bonus but I can see it hampering the long term play for some.

In terms of depth, the game is pretty straight forward. Summoner Wars is very stream-lined and easy to get into. Your decisions do matter but luck can win/lose you the game on occasions. Each faction plays differently than the other and for me I have found playing different factions adds the most replayablity. If I had only 1 or 2 factions I am not sure how long I would keep playing the game.

Overall I enjoy the game and come from playing LCGs and MTG. I have found 2 player games are the best as the game slows down considerably with 2 v 2 since team mates do not take turns at the same time. I would suggest buying the Master Set if you do decide to get into it. From there if you enjoy it, purchase as many expansions as you can as even a single additional faction can add a lot to the replay and the reinforcements add a lot of variety to otherwise rather bland base decks.
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James Sitz
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It's hard for me to say if it's for you.

It is for me. I've played several hundred games. If you search my posts here or on the PHG/SW boards, you can see some of my session reports and strategy ideas.

1. When it comes to buying stuff, the cheapest way to hop in will be the iOS app if you've got a device. That might be the easiest way to give it a test run. The Master Set, which is pretty new, has 6 factions, which are the 9th-14th released. The first four factions were in 2-pack starters, which are hard to find now, but are at the [re]printer. The 2nd 4 (Jungle Elves, Cloaks, Vanguards, and Fallen Kingdom) are available in single faction boxes. I'm pretty sure that the iOS app will start with these first 8 (NON-Master) factions.

2. Deck building is mostly about preference. Do you want more productive units or defensive units? Do you want a ranged champion with some utility or a melee one that uses brute force? Each deck is required to have exactly 3 champions and 18 commons, and usually 4-6 of those commons have to be included in the starting setup. I've won and placed in small tournaments with stock decks right out of the box, but I've also come across some decks that I'm impressed with. Deck construction is much less of factor *so far* than I've seen in other games like MtG.

Grid-based card placement on the field, timing of pushes, managing of your magic as a resource, and even die roll luck often trump deck construction or even the faction being used.

3. The objective is the main thing that stays the same. Kill the enemy summoner. Not too long ago, I saw some guy on BGG saying it reminded him of taking out a warcaster in Warmachine, but since I've not played it I can't verify that claim.

What I think is the game's saving grace strategically is the Build Magic phase, which allows a player to have a running mulligan on their hand as well as control whether they're going for a quick kill, a defensive slog, or somewhere in between.
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David Boeren
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I got to try out one game of Summoner Wars over the weekend. I was playing goatmen (Vargargh or something like that) against his Cave Goblins. My opponent was I think fairly experienced and had all the factions. I requested a fairly straightforward faction for my first game.

It does have some feel of a miniatures game, but if you view it that several things will feel strange - the blockish movement, not being able to move/attack with all your guys, etc... I think it's better to consider it a dueling card game that adds some basic positioning. I've seen other games where you summon creatures into one of five or so "slots" and they combat the creature across from them - Summoner Wars would be a step up from that in that things can move instead of staying where they were summoned.

The gameplay is a bit basic, but it's fun and each side does seem to have a different feel to it from my limited experience. His Goblins were cheap and swarmy and tried to jam my wall. My goatmen were considerably better in combat and had little trouble beating down his goblins.

Over time, we took the advantage, clogged up his wall, he brought out another wall (but on the edge), and we smashed the first wall and clogged up the second. Being unable to bring enough additional goblins into play - he couldn't stand against our melee superiority and the game was won by the goatmen.

I'd like to get in some more plays and try out more factions. I think when they come out with the 2nd summoners for each faction it will open the deck design up a lot but there's enough game without it just by swapping factions.


Jexik wrote:
objective is the main thing that stays the same. Kill the enemy summoner. Not too long ago, I saw some guy on BGG saying it reminded him of taking out a warcaster in Warmachine, but since I've not played it I can't verify that claim.


In Warmachine you can win by killing the enemy warcaster, and as a further parallel - each warcaster has their own set of spells they can cast which is somewhat analogous to each summoner having their own set of events (it's been said the 2nd summoner for each faction will not have the same events as the current summoner for that faction).

However, it is not always the only way to win. You can also play scenarios with different goals so that you may be able to win by taking out key figures, capturing terrain objectives, holding territory, etc... With a different "board" setup each game, different deployment, and the possibility of different goals to pursue there is additional variety available. We'll have to see how Summoner Wars chooses to evolve and whether they eventually start to incorporate some of these ideas as well.
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