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Summoner Wars: Master Set» Forums » Play By Forum

Subject: Summoner Wars PbF experiences rss

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Chris Berger
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I got a geekmail from David S (Zythal), and after making sure it was okay with him, I decided to answer it on the forum rather than in a private message, in case anyone else is interested.

Zythal wrote:
I'm very interested in hearing about your experience with playing Summoner Wars by forum. I've read through the first and third games between you and Dicenslice, and I greatly enjoyed them. In the third game, you ended up using the forum roller to determine which cards you would draw each turn, and this is something I've considered as well, as I don't want to bring my cards to work with me and risk losing/damaging any of them.

Through the three games that you posted, what sort of things did you learn with regards to playing via forum? Is it important for both players to have the faction that their opponent would like to play, or does the use of the dice-rolling-to-determine-drawn-cards method alleviate that need? I ask, because I'm still fairly new to the game (Master Set and Filth Deck), and I wouldn't mind playing against a deck/faction I didn't know, simply because I don't know ANY of them very well at this point, haha!


Well, to answer your last question first, the main reason that I asked Michael to play factions that I owned was so that I could set up a board and have the game sitting on my desk. For the first game, this gave me a little bit of a security blanket, because I was unsure how well I'd be able to follow a game using just the board-state posts and card lists. And it's true, that it's definitely easier to get a feel for the game and plan moves with the board laid out in front of you. I learned that for sure in the third game we played, which was done mostly while I was away from my cards/board. However, it's definitely possible to play without the board set up, and so it shouldn't be a requirement, necessarily, to play a faction that your opponent owns. I think it also was a request that both of us honored in our games because we were sort of testing out SW PbF, and with 16 factions and both of us owning at least 8 of them when the first game started (and I think we both own all of them now? though maybe not all of the reinforcements?), it was still pretty easy to find something interesting in the choices available. In a way, I think narrowing down the choices makes it easier to pick if you're indecisive and/or want to try all the factions like me.

In addition, neither of us has played the Filth, Tundra Orcs, or Shadow Elves yet. All three of those have more than one copy of an event card that involves non-mandatory reactions. Those seem like they could have the potential to really bog down PbF play (do you play Shadows? 1 day later: nope, 1 day later: I attack again, do you play Shadows now?). Summoner Wars is mostly devoid of those, but the Shadow Elves have Shadows, Tundra Orcs have Freeze, and the Filth have Shield of the Hopeful. I think there may be some Champions with optional reaction abilities, but at least with those (and also with Freeze, granted), you can see the card in play (and many of them are technically optional, but it's obvious when they'll be used (like, "you may choose to ignore a die"). I do think that it would be possible to play Shadow Elves without needing a moderator by placing conditional orders in a spoiler tag and trusting your opponent to only look at it under the right conditions. There's potential for cheating, but there's so much potential for cheating in PbF anyway, that I don't think it really matters. You have to trust your opponent and just try to play a fair game.

There are other cards which can't be played 100% correctly in PbF... Like the Cloaks' Spy, which allows you to manipulate your opponent's deck without them seeing it. Really, I don't think there's a reasonable way to play it other than the way we did - I just looked at the cards and let him rearrange them. I knew what cards were where, though luckily at that point of the game it didn't matter.

As far as rolling for drawing cards - it actually worked surprisingly well. For those that weren't following that game - I drew a hand of cards before leaving for work that day, in anticipation of taking my first turn. However, since Michael (dicenslice) was available to play quite a bit, and it was a very slow day at work for me, I looked up the deck list online and numbered the remaining cards (that I hadn't drawn yet or started with) from 1 to 25 or whatever. Then roll a d25 for each card I had to draw through the forum roller, rerolling duplicates. Then next turn, renumber the remaining cards and roll again. I didn't have any issues with rolling, although one thing it allowed me (that I didn't really take advantage of, but potentially could have) was to see without a doubt everything that was in my deck (but not the order it was coming, of course) during the game. I wouldn't hesitate to do it that way again, unless my opponent took issue with it.

One other caveat to PbF is the board state. First of all, you must use the [ c ] tags to make sure the text stays formatted (yet still, on my phone, the formatting is slightly off - must be the default font), and you must use &lt; instead of < and &gt; instead of >, if you try to draw arrows, or else the forum will eat half of your post due to the way it strips out html tags. I learned that the hard way the first time I tried to post a board state. Also - the board state really should be done after every half turn. Because my opponent was having trouble doing the board state, and I really didn't mind, I offered to do the state updates. But I also got lazy at times when I had my physical board in front of me and didn't feel I needed to update the board state between his turn and mine. That's all fine and good for me, but for people trying to follow along with the game, it's hard enough to decipher the chess-style notation, and omitting board states when I don't need them makes the thread harder to follow. The next game I play, I'll need to make sure to teach my opponent how to do board states. It's not that difficult, and really not ridiculously time-consuming either. Anyone who wants to copy my grid from one of the PbF's and use it as a starting point should feel absolutely free to do so (though, press Quick-Quote and then copy everything between and including the [ c ] tags - don't just copy out of the post). I tried to use Alphabetical characters for one side (A, B, C for commons, S for Summoner, W for Wall - just like a faction setup card, and then adding on D, E, F etc. for champions or other commons as they came up), and mostly Numeric for the other side (1, 2, 3 for commons, 0 for Summoner, and X for Wall despite it not being a number). I tried to stay consistent (if a Savager was 1, then he stayed a 1 except in the few instances where I forgot what I was doing and switched him to the other side by turning into an A on accident), but also deleted units out of the key if they weren't currently relevant. I was also keeping track of number of cards in hand, magic pile, and discard pile. I'm not sure discard was actually necessary, but it seemed like one way to vaguely gauge deck size without reporting how many cards were remaining in your deck (which wouldn't normally be available in a normal game until you're down to the last 1 or 2 cards).

So yeah, I think I've rambled on enough for now. I may add more to this thread as I have other thoughts on the matter, and welcome anyone else who wants to add questions, answers, impressions, or even random flames if you want.

Two final thoughts:
1) This game is available on Vassal, and in a lot of ways that seems like a better game experience. But PbF offers two benefits to me - a) I can check on my game while at work and usually have enough downtime to get in a turn or two, and b) I can put off downloading and learning Vassal a little longer.

2) I've been listening to the Plaid Hat podcast, actually since before even getting Summoner Wars, and... they seem to have an awful lot of developers for a company with only two games. How about you guys release some more games already?
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Chris Berger
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I am thinking about getting some more PbF games started sometime soon. Zythal, if you're interested, or anyone else let me know.
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David S
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I will be interested, and thank you for a great reply above! That was a good point about the Reactions, though it might be able to be mitigated somewhat by conditional statements.

Such as, say, the Sand Goblins attacking the Filth:

Javelineer at A6 attacks Cultist at A4. [roll]
(Contidional: If it hits and you use a reaction to prevent damage, then Javelineer at D4 attacks the same Cultist (A4). [roll])

It's very wordy, but I think it might expedite the pause-for-reactions that you mentioned. On the other hand, the conditional statements tip your hand, tactically, so they might have to be placed in a spoiler; or, quite possibly, they would need to be done away with altogether. Hmm..

I have an RPG session to attend this evening, so I'll be out. I just wanted to put in this reply and thank you for yours!

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Fede Miguez
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Cool post Chris, was a very interesting read!
I was one of the ones that recommended Vassal but I see the benefits of PbF over that. The deck-list roll sounds really cool, I wouldn't mind being a moderator for a game where I would simply send each player their deck list (at the beginning of the game) and they would roll and draw cards accordingly (and verify, just follow the game).
The Freeze/Shadows/ShieldOfTheHopeful you mention is not that bad. In practice taking out Freeze is done either right away or after the movement phase. In Vassal Undoing the card that went to a Magic Pile thanks to a Shadows is just moving one card, it's not really needed to interrupt the turn to wait for it (unless the opponent has abilities that trigger on Magic). I mean, even when playing live you sometimes do Shadows at the end of their turn and it rarely matters. Same for Shield, it matters when new attacks could be done when the unit would die.

I think this was already linked but it't still great stuff:
http://www.plaidhatgames.com/sum_forums/showthread.php?t=841
Here Clarissimus makes a good tutorial on how to get Vassal going. Also works great for doing state boards, wouldn't mind doing a couple either as example..
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