Finally received my two Summoner Wars starter sets in the mail today, just in time for a game night with my buddy, SurfMonkey.
First we sat down to play Ascension . I had heard good things and meh things. I am leaning more toward the good things. I can say this: I enjoyed it more than Dominion. I feel there is more going on in Ascension, which makes for a more satisfying game experience. I like the slaying of monsters for beaucoup Honor, and the Constructs staying out and affecting your turn. Those are the highlights for me when it comes to comparisons to Dominion.
SurfMonkey won the first game by a score of 53-48.
I won the second 66-61 mostly thanks to a last-minute buy of a Mechana card that gave me 6 Honor.
Then we cracked open (literally, the decks were still in shrink wrap) Summoner Wars, and just like that, I have a new favorite game! Recently, I have been absorbing everything I could about the game and watching every video I could find on it. It just sounded like the kind of game I could get excited about. Then, Tom Vasel's raving about it put me over the edge, and I have now ordered everything available for this game. I received the Premium board a week or so ago, and the starters came today as I mentioned. Factions packs are on their way, and I have a pre-order in for the Reinforcement decks. Can't wait for those!
Enough background, onto the good stuff...
SurfMonkey opted for the Phoenix Elves for our first game, so keeping in line with the factions bundled in the boxes, I went with the Tundra Orcs.
As the first game progressed, we were both getting used to what the cards do. (That was the only impediment to the game as the rules are easy to pick up and clearly presented.) Regardless, the game ran smoothly. My orcs, aided by my Freeze Events were able to move in on his Summoner and finish him.
For the second game, we decided to try the two factions against each other again to get a better feel for how the Factions played. This game started out with my orcs being more aggressive than they had been in the first game.
However, having moved my Summoner into battle to hopefully bring about SurfMonkey's demise all that much sooner, I failed to remember his Summoner's Fire Burst ability. That coupled with an adjacent Guardian's Precise Special Ability, ended my Summoner's reign of terror. I was defeated, just like that. We both were stunned by the surprise ending. A game that can lead to 'aha' moments like the ending of this game elevates this game a notch above most.
Thirsting for more, and not wanting the Guild Dwarves or the Cave Goblins to be left out, we cracked open those packs; SurfMonkey taking on the mantle of the Dwarves, while I wrangled the filthy Goblins.
A horrible draw throughout the game hindered my Goblin's advances with too many Event cards and not enough troops hitting the battlefield. I managed to stay in it, though, even forcing SurfMonkey to utter at one point, "I think, if it stays as it is, you've pretty much got me."
Oh, how wrong he was. This game is constantly changing, keeping you on your toes. He underestimated the tenacity of Dwarves. In the end, my walls were chipped and cracked, and my Goblins were paste on the battlefield. I was a bit reckless with my Summoner, but I felt with the lack of firepower on the board, I needed to get my best piece into place where he could do some damage. The Dwarf defense proved to be too much. Magic Drain--the Dwarves' best friend--well-played by SurfMonkey, kept me hobbled. With no support coming, poor Sneeks bit the dust.
Of course, we had to play a second game with these Factions, and so, we did. I had a much better draw and used the swarming tactics of the Goblins to good advantage. I even managed to summon a Champion this game: The Eater. Hilarious card, but nasty.
I was feeling pretty confident as my swarm made its way toward his Summoner, Sneeks dodging and weaving across the battlefield.
Ultimately, though, it was the Dwarves who came out on top again. I just became too overconfident with my Summoner as I infiltrated his defenses. And Magic Drain again, gave the Dwarves the advantage by allowing more Champions to hit the board.
In the end, the weapons of the Dwarves proved to be too much for the poor Goblins.
Sneeks met his demise on a 3-hit roll from Baldar. To be fair, one of my Fighters had a crack at ending the game the turn before against his wounded Summoner, but the Gob missed. The day could have been mine.
SurfMonkey, having to work in the morning, reluctantly had to bow out. He did say, though, he really wanted to play "just one more," but his common sense got the better of him. Overall, the four games of Summoner Wars took a little under two and a half hours to play with beverage and bathroom breaks included. A great night playing a great game.
Summoner Wars ended up being everything I expected. It has everything I love in a game: dice, cards, tactics, strategy, and a fantasy theme. The game is high energy, constantly changing and flowing, with a good amount of decisions to make each turn, and the rules never get in the way.
I really can't get enough of this truly great game. It is an instant classic in this humble gamer's opinion. Man! I want to play again right now.