Monday, January 24, 2011

Starshield Boardgame Knights

With only five of us members of the Starshield Gaming Society there for our weekly game night, we opted for another night of boardgaming. I am sure someday we will return to the worlds of RPGs, but for now, boardgames are taking up our nights. Not that there is anything wrong with that...

While waiting for our fifth, Weezoh, Zoltar, Scree, and I decided to play Forbidden Island. I found this game interesting and entertaining, but for cooperative games I still prefer the flavor of Space Hulk: Death Angel.

For this game I was dealt the Explorer which is the character I wanted in my brief scan of the rules. Cool.

In the end, we lost as our Fool's Landing tile sank beneath the sea. We had a sandbag, but foolishly spent it 2 turns before. Such is the life of an adventurer. We did, however, win 3 of the 4 Treasures before being defeated by the relentless sea. Better luck next time.

After the arrival of Lirpa, we began a game of Settlers of Catan. Now, I had heard nothing but good things about this game but had never played it. I was eager to begin Settling.

I really enjoyed my time playing this game. I was eagerly anticipating every roll of the dice, hoping upon hopes to pull the resources I needed to build my settlements, cities, and fulfill my machinations.

The Robber made many appearances, too many in my estimation, and the game rolled on.

I finished out the game with 9 Victory Points, with Weezoh winning with a well-timed 3rd Knight play which gave him Largest Army, thus scoring him the final Victory Points he needed to end the game and become king of Catan.

As much as I like Settlers, I must say, I still prefer the imagination stimulation of an RPG, or the tactical clashes of my beloved Summoner Wars.

Then with a little time left before we adjourned, I suggested a game of Zombie Dice. This decision lead to one of the most exciting gaming moments of the night.

Weezoh was the first to reach 13. Lirpa, not to be outdone and who was keeping up with Weezoh all game, scored a whopping 16, crushing Weezoh's lead. Only me and my lowly 4 Brains stood in her way. I needed to score 12 Brains to tie. I took up the challenge, scooped the dice, and began to roll. I rolled one Shotgun Blast out of the gate, but 2 Brains. I kept rolling, more Brains. I rolled again, 1 more Shotgun Blast, but more Brains. Yet more Brains and some Runners. Holy crap, I was down to the last 3 dice. If I didn't blast out here, I would record, and scoop all the dice again. I rolled Brains! 10 of the 12 needed Brains had been rolled in an unbelievable run of luck.

I scooped the dice into the cup. Its cardboard hiding my future; would this be the greatest come back in all of Zombie Dice history, or would I leave the table a hungry slob of a zombie? I pulled the 3 dice. Darn, a yellow, red, and green. I looked at Lirpa's poker face. Was she nervous? Would her dreams at being Zombie Queen be dashed? I rolled...

2 Brains! Holy crap! I did, wait. Is that a Shotgun Blast I see? Dagnabbit! I had been robbed of one of the greatest comebacks in my gaming history, but that's okay. I am glad Lirpa won tonight as she had had a rough couple of days. Just making that far for me was worth the thrill.

A good night of gaming. Thanks, Starshielders.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Wrath of SurfMonkey

Once a month, my friend, SurfMonkey, and I get together for a night of board games and general mayhem. Last Tuesday was that night. As detailed in an earlier post, you may recall that I beat the snot out of SurfMonkey at my favorite new game, Summoner Wars. This night he was back with a vengeance. Did he die hard or just die? Or was it my troops that would suffer at the hands of his forces. Read on to find out.

He decided to go with the Fallen Kingdom. After a moment's consideration, I decided to take their nemesis faction against them, the Vanguards. The Vanguards play to my generally defensive style of play, and I love the Archangel. One of the best Champions in the game. I am not too fond of the other Vanguard Champions, but maybe I never gave them a fair shake. For this game, though, I decided to swap out the other two Vanguardians for Sairook and Magos, mercenary reinforcements.

We launched into a furious battle.

SurfMonkey played his undead legion aggressively and well, getting Elut-Bal out quickly while I sat with the Magos in my hand (which I later ended up burning for magic, giving up that I would ever be able to cast him, instead bringing out the cheaper Sairook in the mid-game). 

In this game I made good use of the Stalwart Archers. The Archangel and Sairook took down the horrible Skhull. Sairook fell to the dead while the archangel soldiered on toward the undead's evil Summoner. SurfMonkey's vengeance would have to wait. 

This game was very back and forth, but I believe the real key to my success was SurfMonkey's inability to bring down my dug-in archers. Sera's healing spells were enough to keep her bristling wall alive, while their arrows were enough to take down any approaching threats. 

After the first, we--of course--played another. I decided to take my second run at piloting the Phoenix Elves. I swapped out an equal number of the commons and put in one Fire Beast and several Fencer Reinforcements. I swapped out the Fire Drake for Laleya. SurfMonkey swapped in Guardsman for Engineers. 

One thing I love about the Elves is direct damage. I love Precise. I now love the Fire Beast. At first, I didn't think I was going to like it, but it was fun blowing stuff up around him. I will play with those more in the future. I also was glad to have a zero casting cost creature in the Fencers. That allowed a faster response to protect Elien when speed was needed. I didn't get a lot of my Champions out. Also, I think my fatal flaw was I became addicted to Elien's Fire Blast ability and put him into harm's way one too many times. So, in the end, my fragile Summoner fell to the doughty dwarves.

For our final game of the night, I opted for my favorite, the Tundra Orcs. And SurfMonkey went with the swarmers, the Goblins. Could SurfMonkey make it 2-1 or would I finish out the night on a strong note?

Things were going my way until the Eater hit the board. I was wiping the battlefield with his puny Goblins, but once the Eater made his way to the middle of the board, it was my forces who suffered. I finally brought the ravenous monster to it knees, but not before I had to expend time, energy, and positions to take him down. In the mean time, Sneeks had managed to surround himself with an honor guard and do his Sly semi-teleportation ability too many times. 

The turning point in the game, however, was my pulling of my Freezes which had been quite absent from the contest up to this point. I was able to slow him down and cost him magic to continue his movements. He didn't go down without a fight, however, as Goblin Invulnerability once again proved to be the most annoying Event in the game. It still only served to forestall the inevitable as I finally managed to move my troops into a finishing position and put down Sneeks for good. 

All around another great night of Summoner Wars fun. The game just keeps getting better the more I play it. I find myself yearning for the next game night and a chance to prove myself on the battlefield. Until next time, may your troops march on and your weapons strike true...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Starshielders Summon Fun

Our regular Monday game night was a study in contrasts. On one table some of us were slaughtering pigs and growing grain in a rousing game of Agricola. And at my table we were summoning troops, slinging spells, and smashing walls. You guessed it, another night of Summoner Wars for me and Iczer, with Weezoh as an hors d'oeuvre.

Weezoh and I played the first game so he could go run the great farm race that is Agricola. He chose the Guild Dwarves without hesitation. I decided to play my favorite, the Tundra Orcs. A classic battle against hereditary enemies ensued.

The game was pretty much back and forth, and then the Champions hit the field. Thorkur, Blagog, and then finally, Gror. 
A few Freezes and determined Smashers brought a semi-swift end to Thorkur while Blagog made his way toward Oldin only to be thwarted by Defenders doing their thing. 

In the end, Gror had come out a bit too late as my Orcs laid the Dwarven Summoner low. 

Weezoh, of course, liked the game, and I am pretty sure would like to play another. He does have the distinction in our group to be the first player to have an Engineer bring down a wall. Unfortunately, by the time he did, I had ample walls for summoning. Still noteworthy, however. 

As Weezoh went to set up Agricola, Iczer and I sat down to a game of Goblins vs. Elves. I had never played the Phoenix Elves and decided to give them a go.

I like the direct damage of the Events for the elves. Precise is quickly becoming my second favorite ability behind Fury.  

The game was pretty back and forth. At one time, I had wiped the board of most of his Goblins, but reinforcements arrived quickly as Goblins will do. Then Blarg hit the field. Immediately, his enhancement was brought to 3. I had to end him before he became a major threat. However, before I did that, I used Kaeseeall to use him for my own ends, moving in to take a swipe at Sneeks. The next turn, after a wounded Sneeks had slunk away to safety, my elves brought down the stunned Blarg before he knew what hit him. 

Iczer rallied, though, and as I moved my forces to converge on the wily Sneeks, he soldiered on and destroyed Elien's honor guard, and sent the proud prince to his end. 

We took a brief intermission in which I wiped the planes with Iczer in two games of Magic. He thankfully returned to Summoner Wars, knowing he stood a better chance there. 

He chose Orcs and I went with Dwarves. We decided to work in the reinforcement cards. I chose several Guardsmen in lieu of Engineers and threw in Tordok for Thorkur. Iczer worked in the Thwarters and Chargers while sitting several of each of the other Commons. 

He couldn't get his Chargers to work, but I really fell in love with the Guardsmen. Defenders and Guardsmen together are a great combination. 

As the battle progressed, he managed to get out several Champions and made good use of his Shamans, darn them. Oldin took some lumps, but my defenders managed to fight off the attackers before they could take him out. Then I managed to get Baldar out. It took me forever to get out a Champion, so when I did, I went berserk. I brought Baldar to bear, clearing a path to Grognack where I managed to do some damage. Then I cast Heroic Feat on Baldar; I had Grognack of the worst rolls in history prevented his demise. Baldar went down under a press of orcs as Grognack made his way around a wall. That's when I tried what I have dubbed, Gror's Gambit. Oldin was threatened and wounded, quite possibly the next turn was to be his last. I had one chance. 

I had managed to accumulate enough Magic Points to summon Gror within striking distance of Grognack. I needed 2 hits to bring him down. I didn't have a Heroic Feat left, so I had to rely on Gror's 2 power attack to win. I brought the mighty hammer-wielder into play and attacked my wall, hoping to take out at least one of the units threatening Oldin and still be in range of Grognack. I shook up the dice and let them roll. Two hits! The Gror Gambit paid off. Oldin was safe and Grognack was defeated!

Overall, we found the reinforcements to be as balanced as the core units. There didn't seem to be any advantage one way or the other, just more options. I went 2-1 on the night, a good night by anyone's standards, I'd say. 

Stay tuned for more Summoner Wars. This time SurfMonkey returns, thirsting for vengeance. Will he be avenged? Tune in next time...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Guess What the Postman Brought Me?

Reinforcements have arrived! With two Sairooks and the new, improved Thorkur; now with errata!

I love that PlaidHatGames sends out promo cards and that they sent out a free Thorkur card. They are making all the right moves, which makes sense since they created a ridiculously awesome and fun game!

Off to contemplate how best to incorporate these cards into my decks.

And a little warning to my opponents: Prepare to be crushed by the magehammer!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Monday Night Gaming with the Starshield Gaming Society: A Summoner Wars Extravaganza!

This past Monday, I met with my usual gaming group--some of whom I have been gaming with for the past 28 years--for a board game respite from our usual RPG night.

I, of course, brought Summoner Wars. As you know, I have been spreading the gospel of this great game to whoever will play me.

This night's opponents were Iczer and Mage.

Iczer and I played a few warm up games of Magic, all of which--thanks to mana screw on my part--he won with a particularly nasty Landfall deck. But I digress...

As soon as the Magic cards hit their storage boxes, I broke out my Summoner Wars Premium board. I gave a brief introduction to all of the factions. Iczer chose the Tundra Orcs. I decided I wanted to try my hand at the Fallen Kingdom.

Iczer won the roll and chose me to be first mover. I had a good draw of plenty of troops and a good spread of Event cards, including Forced Summon and Legion of the Dead. I had a good feeling about this game.

(*Side note: Now, before I continue, let me say that thanks to darkbladecb on the BoardGameGeek forums, I now know that the Magic Locked ability of the Skeletal Archers does not place the cards on my Magic Pile but rather in my Discard Pile when I make the roll after destruction. However, I still hadn't realized this fact when we played this game, so when I make reference to placing the Skeletal Archers on my Magic Pile, I know now that was an incorrect play.)

Soon I had Dragos on the field thanks to the Forced Summon Event and was on my way to a solid press on Grognack.

Iczer had a hard time using Grognack's Walls of Ice Shards ability, but his troops performed admirably on the field of battle. After a few Freeze Events and timely Ice Walls, I felt the tide of the battle going against me. 

Things started to swing back my way when I managed to summon Elut-bal. He provided my troops with some much needed firepower. I wasn't drawing many Reapers, and needed some tougher troops as my Skeletal Archers were flying onto my Magic Pile(*), and Zombie Warriors were not infecting as they should. In fact, I think I only destroyed one of his units with a Zombie Warrior the entire game!

With Elut-bal on the field, I gave him something to worry about for sure. Then I made the calculated risk of using a second Forced Summon, severely weakening Ret-Talus, to bring out the fearsome Skhull. With it on the field and a still functioning, though weakened Elut-Bal, I felt very confident. 

Freeze was Iczer's best friend (go figure). I left my units frozen maybe too long, deciding to use the Magic Points needed to release them to summon. By the time I had enough resources to thaw my troops, he had managed to advance into my territory and Summon Krung, threatening my Summoner. I had too many threats to counter while still trying to take down Grognack. A terrible roll against his cornered Summoner was answered by his final attack on Ret-Talus, felling the necromantic lord. Once again, a first time conscript to the game beat me on his very first try. I would have to wait until later, however, for my re-match as he abdicated his seat to eat his sandwich and allow me to teach the game to our other friend, Mage. 

Mage liked the look of the Phoenix Elves, and I decided to play the Vanguards. He really liked the "direct damage" abilities of the pointed-eared ones. He won the roll, and I went first. I was determined to keep Sera back as long as I could, so I moved the Guardian Knights and Priests into a more spread formation where I felt they would be able to provide an even stronger defensive perimeter to allow me to send Stalwart Archers with Guardian Knight escorts on the hunt after Prince Elien. 

Soon, his archers had devastated my archers, and his Warriors were Blaze Stepping all over the place. Then he moved his Guardians into position to severely threaten my advancing troops. 

He took out my Stalwart Archers whenever possible, so I switched to the cheaper Guardian Knights to help build my forces. Finally, I was able to hold him off long enough to use a Summoning Surge Event to bring my Archangel into play. He had brought out Maelena the round before. I quickly walled her into the side of the battlefield and hemmed her in with summoned Guardian Knights, effectively taking her out of the action as my angel swooped to his destiny. 

A wounded and fluttering Archangel did manage to finally fly toward Prince Elien. I managed one attack on the Prince, but on his turn, Mage Greater Burned my already wounded angel, sending it back to its celestial home.

From there on, my Guardian Knights made a valiant stand. I moved Sera into position, and Mage and I jockeyed for position: he used Blaze Step to great advantage while I slowly brought Sera into a position to support my troops going toe-to-toe with Elien.

In a Wild West-style showdown, he maneuvered his Guardians into position and used Elien's Fire Blast to finish off Sera's protectors and then after a final, failed push toward the Prince, Sera fell to Elien's Fire Blast. Another defeat at the hands of a first-timer!

Iczer had finished his sandwich and wanted another game. He wanted to try his hand at the wall wreckers. I chose my favorite faction: A classic battle of dwarves vs. orcs.

We both came out swinging. He moved his Defenders into strong positions to stop my orcs from advancing too fast. I made good use of my Smashers when I could. I was frustrated at my Fighter's inability to fall into a Fury after my attacks, but I still was holding my own regardless.

Iczer Magic Drained me twice within 3 turns, hampering my summoning. I had managed to bring out Ice Walls even one on the grim edge to halt the advance of his Spearmen.

I had to kill several of his dwarves to bring the mighty Blagog to the battlefield. Iczer brought Thorkur into play. I immediately sent Blagog to combat the mighty Magic Barrier (using errata) of Thorkur. Let's see who would win this one. After a few blows, I placed Freeze on Thorkur, taking him out of the action momentarily. I wore his forces down, and he moved Oldin into position to try to take out some of my lesser pieces. He even brought in a wall on the edge in a desperate attempt to take advantage of Oldin's ability and prevent a flanking attack from me.

My turn came around, my first attack was with one of my Fighters. I slew his opponent and made the Fury roll. I moved in on Oldin made a successful attack! A hit, a most palpable hit! I eagerly rolled the next Fury check, holding my breath...Success! The Fighter swung again, and a HIT! Oldin was lay defeated on the battlefield.

My first and only win on the night, but what a ending. The best Summoner Wars moment so far, by far. I was literally cheering on every Fury roll.

The Starshield Gaming Society has found a new game to test its game-playing mettle. I foresee many, many more battles to come, and I for one, can not wait!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The New Year Summoned more Summoner Wars Fun

Like a Zombie Warrior , I am infecting as many of my friends as I can with the Summoner Wars bug. My next victim is my best friend of 37 years, StormBringer.

Stormbringer is a veteran gamer and the luckiest man alive, so any game against his computer-like brain is a true challenge. We decided to play a game for each set of factions I currently have, which are Tundra Orcs vs. Phoenix Elves, Cave Goblins vs. Guild Dwarves, and Vanguards vs. Fallen Kingdom. For our first game, he opted for the Phoenix Elves and I chose my favorite faction, the Tundra Orcs.

The first game started a bit slow as StormBringer got the hang of the mechanics and became familiar with his troops. Like always the tide of battle shifts quickly and unexpectedly in Summoner Wars. 

He took good advantage of his archers and the Guardian's Precise ability. He even began to chip at my walls. I was having a hard time triggering my Fighter's Fury ability, so most of the beginning of the game was all Elves.

As the battle wore on, I managed to eke out a small advantage, but his use of his Warrior's Blaze Step, and a few timely Burn Events, sent my Orcs running, and before I knew it, Grognack lay dead upon the field. 

Now that StormBringer had a game under his belt--and a victory to boot--it was on to the next set of factions. Being a swift runner, StormBringer was intrigued by the fast-moving Goblins, so for the first time, I had the opportunity to play the Dwarves. 

I opted not to go for the wall-crushing gambit, and instead went for a Goblin-crushing gambit. That means I was sending my Engineers to the Magic pile as well as Besiege the Walls to help bring more units in. StormBringer was off to a quick start, having drew a lot of Goblins. I was soon surrounded. And then he brought out the fearsome Eater while laughing maniacally. Well, okay, it was more like a giggle of delight. He was quite amused by everyone's favorite competitive eating Champion. He put the Eater to good use, eliminating my units and a few times adding to his Magic pile with his own pitiful Goblins. 

While our forces battled in the middle of the Battlefield, the Eater slowly tried to make his way toward Oldin. He also got Blarf out, but after a bit, I managed to send the Champion to my Magic Pile. There were a few tense moments as he made his way toward Oldin. 

I had managed to get Gror out, and he started to do some damage, but Sneeks was a bit too wily for him, and eventually, after a well-played Goblin Invincibility, the Goblins overwhelmed my Summoner's position and took him down. 

Going into the last game of Vanguards vs. Fallen Kingdom, I was down 2-0. Could the old magehammer moxie manage to win at least one game before the night was over? Could I overcome the vaunted luck powers of StormBringer? That surely was the question. He chose the Fallen Kingdom because as he put it, "I am good enough in life." He wanted a taste of evil. I, of course, being a natural Lawful Good soul, went with the goodness and light of the angels and priests. The time was 11:04. 

This was my first time playing either of these factions. I wasn't sure quite what to expect. I had heard and read about each faction, of course, but there is no substitute for actual combat conditions. 

I love the defensiveness of the Vanguards, but in Summoner Wars, you can't really just sit back and let them come, you have to go out and get some magic and crush the Summoner. 

He really didn't like my Stalwart Archers and targeted them with his Skeletal Archers. His prevailed; not to mention, every darn time I managed to knock down one of his archers in the begin game, he, of course, rolled them into his Magic Pile. Later, I managed to secure several of his archers, but not putting those bones into my Magic Pile early on vexed me. 

The battle intensified as he brought of Elut-Bal with a Forced Summon. That little monster managed to do a huge amount of damage as I made my way toward Ret-Talus.

Eventually, I had to abandon my push to deal with the demonic Champion, or I knew I was in trouble. My Guardian Knights finally brought it down, but at the cost of field position. However, in the meantime, I managed to summon the Archangel, and that's when things started to turn more my way. StormBringer was very afraid of my angelic protector and Raised Dead many times to help maintain a protective wall around his necromantic Summoner.

However, he soon ran out of corpses to reanimate, and I was down to just my Archangel and Sera. I teamed the two of them up and advanced on his most powerful pieces. After the fall of Elut-Bal, only a buffed Reaper was his only real threat. My holy tandem took it down and then methodically began to march on Ret-Talus, my Magic Pile swelling with his undead troops. 

StromBringer knew there was not much he could do, so he held out as long as he could and then valiantly threw the First Summoner into the fray in a last ditch effort to take down the Archangel. He failed, and I felled the Foul One with a sweep of an angelic sword. Epic. The time was 2:10 a.m.

What a great night of Summoner Wars. The grueling 3-hour ending to the night was a blast throughout. The more I play this game, the more I realize I will be playing it many more times. 

Coming Soon: Another Summoner Wars Session Report: Monday Night Madness vs. Iczer and Mage. Stay Tuned.