First play: Summoner Wars

Photo by Colby Dauch via BoardGameGeek.com

The majority of games I get to play with Lisa are of the lighter fare, with the exception of a few “multiplayer solitaire” games such as At the Gates of Loyang, Dominion and San Juan (yes, Dominion and San Juan can probably be played much more interactively, but we tend to just do our own thing). Because of this, if we are playing a game that presents us with option of screwage, we tend to take the high road and be friendly to the other player. Unfortunately this limits the types of games that hit the table. Here’s where Summoner Wars comes into play…

Summoner Wars by Plaid Hat Games

I wanted to choose something that was all about attacking your opponent but was simple enough that the gap between a novice and an advanced player was not too wide. Summoner Wars seemed to fit the bill. I picked up both base sets, but we only played with the Phoenix Elves vs Tundra Orcs set this time. I also splurged and ordered the deluxe board directly from PlaidHatGames.com.

Photo by Ian Noble via BoardGameGeek.com

How the game is played?

The setup couldn’t be simpler. Take your deck of cards, pull out the Summoner card (kind of like a King piece in chess) plus any that are listed on the initial setup card. Place them on the board to make your starting formation. The rest of the cards get shuffled and placed on the board in the space labeled “Draw”. Pick a starting player.

Each turn (except the starting player’s first) consists of:

Draw: Take cards from your draw pile to bring your had up to 5 cards.

Summon: The is simply the act of using cards in your Magic pile to “buy” units from your hand cards. With the only restriction being that every unit you place must be adjacent to one of your walls.

Play event cards: Some cards that we were able to play helped us get free units out if we had less than the opponent or gave the player the ability to take magic from the other player to use as their own. These seemed very important as the game progressed.

Move (3 units, 2 spaces each): Positioning your units is a very important step before attacking because it allows you to move your guys into a spot that would block your opponent’s units from moving if you aren’t successful in killing them. It also allows your ranged units to attack from a safe distance.

Attack (only 3 of your units can attack): This is where the rubber meets the road. Each unit has an attack value, which directly translates into how many dice they are able to roll with a 3 or higher being a hit. Yes, a good number of the units has special abilities during the attack phase or even instead of attacking. The most straight forward being the Phoenix Elves Guardian unit that doesn’t even have to roll dice in order to wound the other player. That unit places the amount of wound marker on the opponent’s unit equal to the number of dice they would have rolled (normally 1). The whole point of attacking your opponent, other than it helps you get closer to killing their Summoner, is to make yourself more powerful. Because every kill you have you get to add that card to your Magic pile, helping you summon more expensive units on later turns.

Add to Magic: Any cards from your hand can be placed in your Magic pile, but they will not be used as units for the rest of the game.

Photo by Colby Dauch via BoardGameGeek.com

What we thought of the game

Immediately after we started playing I could tell that this was exactly the game I was looking for. The decisions are interesting, yet simple. Turns move pretty quickly and can really disrupt any long term strategies that you may have tried to implement. So each player has to adjust on the fly. Since the entire system is so elegant and logically put together, we only had to refer back to the rulebook during the first couple of turns. After that we rolled right along with no issue.

I cannot wait to play with the other factions from the base set and some time soon, try out the 2 expansions (2 more coming in the near future).

Fun Factor: 9/10

2 Comments to “First play: Summoner Wars”

  • Rick B February 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    The site looks great!

  • New To Me Games: Arena: Roma II | The Noble Gamer March 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

    [...] or a system that in entirely built around eliminating the opponent. Both this and the first game (you can read about Summoner Wars here) have streamlined rules that can be explained in minutes. We were literally up and running in 3 [...]

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