Thursday, September 13, 2012

[Stacking the Deck: Summoner Wars] Rain of Arrows

This is the second in a new series of Stacking the Deck articles, this time focusing on the game Summoner Wars. If you’re not familiar with this fun tactical card game you can read my Design Review here. In each of these articles I’ll present one deck, talk about my process in creating the deck, and some strategies for how to use it effectively. For my first article I built a deck with the Tundra Orcs faction. For my second article I’ll be using the Jungle Elves. For some details on how deck building works in Summoner Wars refer to my first article.

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle

I have played with the Jungle Elves faction deck and looked through their reinforcements. There are two things that these guys seem to excel at: movement and range. I considered building a deck that focused on movement, but after some consideration decided to go the other way and focus on their ranged abilities. Not only will a lot of the units in this deck be able to attack at range, many of them will be able to attack in surprising, more versatile ways.

So now I pulled out the Jungle Elves deck. Their summoner is Abua Shi. He’s pretty average with an Attack Value of 3 and 5 Life Points, but he has the advantage of range. Furthermore, his special ability, Chant of Growth, lets you spend a magic point to beef up a Jungle Elves unit’s attack for 1 turn.

Now because of Abua Shi’s starting setup (basically, each summoner comes with a few common units that are already in play at the start of a game), this deck must include at least 2 Archers, 1 Lioneer, and 2 Lionesses. The deck comes with 8 Lionesses and 4 Lioneers, but I’m going to remove the extras of those 2 unit types to make room for some different units. I’d rather have more units that emphasize range, and the Lioneers and Lionesses don’t do that. The deck also starts with 6 Archers, and I’m going to keep every one of them. Not only are they ranged, but their Arching Shot special ability lets them attack through other units, something most ranged attackers can’t do. This is the beginning of what I mean when I say that many units in this deck can attack in surprising, more versatile ways.

I now have 9 slots for common units that I need to fill in this deck. The first 5 will go to Jungle Guards. This is a Jungle Elves common unit that came in the Jungle Elves reinforcement pack. These guys are fairly expensive for common units, with a Summon Cost of 4. They’re certainly worth it, though. They have an exceptional 4 Life Points, for starters. Their Attack Value is only 1, but their special ability makes up for it. Basically, not only is the Jungle Guard ranged, but he can attack diagonally as well as vertically and horizontally – something most units can’t do. On top of that, if he attacks a card that he is adjacent to, he gets to add 1 to his Attack Value for that attack. The remaining 4 common units will be Spear Grounders, a Mercenary common unit. A Spear Grounder isn’t ranged, but she can attack diagonally – again, something most units can’t do.

Every deck needs 3 champion units and we have 3 Jungle Elf women to rain destruction on our enemies. Kadara, Makeinda Ru and Shikwa each have an average Summon Cost and Life Point total for champions. Their Attack Values are relatively low, but they have range to make up for it. Their special abilities are what set them apart. Kadara can attack up to 4 spaces away, instead of the typical 3 for ranged characters. Makeinda Ru can add 2 to her Attack Value if she doesn’t move during a turn. Shikwa can attack twice each turn.

Jungle Fever

Now let’s look at our deck. I’m going to start by simply listing all of the cards in the deck, and then I’ll discuss how to use them.

Abua Shi (Summoner)

Chant of Deception x2 (Event)
Chant of Haste x2 (Event)
Chant of Life x2 (Event)
Chant of Negation x2 (Event)
Chant of Salvation (Event)

Wall x3 (Event)

Kadara (Champion)
Makeinda Ru (Champion)
Shikwa (Champion)

Archer x6 (Common)
Jungle Guard x5 (Common)
Lioneer x1 (Common)
Lioness x2 (Common)
Spear Grounder x4 (Common)

Overall, this deck is designed to harass your opponent and make things difficult for him. There will be a lot of ways for you to attack your opponent while making it challenging for him to attack back. Keep your distance and take advantage of your range.

You start out with a Lioneer and 2 Lionesses in play. The Lioneer has an Attack Value of 3, the best Attack Value in your deck, so you may want to send him in and get as many attacks with him as you can early in the game. The Lionesses aren’t quite as strong, and only have 1 Life Point each, so you may be better off attack them yourself for the extra magic points. (Attacking your own units is legal.)

Having enough magic to summon units may be a problem, especially if Abua Shi is using his special ability to boost the Attack Value of a unit each turn. Jungle Guardians are expensive for a common unit, so I would only plan on summoning 1 or 2 of them over the course of the game. Discard the others to build magic. Archers and Spear Grounders are cheap, so you can summon one every few rounds, but don’t be afraid to discard them for magic too. Try to keep a supply of 5 or 6 magic points ready for when you draw one of your champions.

Don’t forget about your event cards. Chant of Deception and Chant of Haste can help you line up your units to take their shots. Chant of Life and Chant of Negation can help you keep your more expensive units alive longer. If you draw Chant of Salvation early on, use it to search your draw pile for a champion or an event card.

That’s my idea for a tricky Jungle Elves deck. I haven’t actually played with this deck, but I would be curious to see it in action. Have any thoughts on how this deck could be improved? Is there a better way to make use of these cards? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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