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Summoner Wars: Guild Dwarves vs. Cave Goblins Review

Summoner Wars- Guild Dwarves vs. Cave Goblins Game

Believe the hype.

As I further venture into the board and card gaming world, there has been one title that has been recommended to me by board and card gamers alike. That title? “Summoner Wars.”

“Summoner Wars” is a fantasy themed board and card game hybrid in which 2-4 players (it works best with 2) control one 35 card Itharian faction. All you really need to know about the plot is that these factions are battling one another over powerful summoner stones.

In the starter set I received for review, the game comes with two factions (the Guild Dwarves and the Cave Goblins). Gamers can purchase additional factions via stand-alone deck packs, an additional starter set, reinforcement packs, or a master set which includes a whopping 6 factions. While the master set may be the best overall deal, it is also the priciest. If you’re looking for an affordable set that has everything needed to play for a 2 player game, the $19-$24.99 starter set is your best as it includes the 48 square paper playing mat, 2 faction decks, a rulebook, 5 six-sided dice, and 20 double sided wound tokens (for 1 or 3 wound points).

So, what’s the game like and how does it play? “Summoner Wars” can best be described as “Magic the Gathering” meets “Chess.” The game is surprisingly easy to learn, but it’s also very strategic. No two games are alike (at least in my experience) as you are constantly trying to outthink your opponent so that you can find a clear path to his or her summoner (the goal of the game is to destroy the opponent’s summoner).

The game is played on a chess like board. For a 2 player game, each player gets 24 spaces of their own for their units (warriors that have special abilities) and wall cards (defensive barriers). As I mentioned above, each player gets a 35 card faction which contains, unit cards, wall cards, event cards, and a set-up card which tells you which forces to start with on your side of the board.

Each player has a turn that consists of five phases. Phase #1- The drawing phase. Each player draws up to 5 cards in their hand unless the draw pile is exhausted. Phase #2- The summoning phase. This phase allows you to use your magic pile (I will get to that soon) to summon/play your units on the board. All units must be placed adjacent (up, down, left, right) to a wall. Additionally, all units must be moved adjacently (there is no playing diagonal in this game). Phase #3- Playing event cards. If you have any event cards or wall cards in hand, you may play as many as you want in this phase of the game. The event cards often have a special ability that can benefit you in your game. Phase #4- The movement phase. In this phase, you can move up to 3 units 2 adjacent spaces each. Phase #5- The attack phase. This is the fun phase as you get to battle up to 3 of your opponent’s units. Keep in mind that you have to pay attention to the unit’s range symbol. If your unit has a sword symbol, that unit can only fight other units that are adjacent. If your unit has a bow, that unit can attack units in a straight line (without any unit in the way) up to 3 spaces away. In order to attack, the player must roll dice equal to the number of the attack value of that unit (located in the upper left hand corner). For example, let’s say I was playing the Guild Dwarves and I wanted my Engineer unit to attack a Cave Goblins Slinger unit which has a life point of one (each unit has a darkened number of dots that indicate the number of hit points needed to destroy the unit). Since my Engineer has an attack value of one, I am only able to roll one die. If I roll a 1 or a 2, my unit misses the opponent and he isn’t destroyed. If I roll a 3, 4, 5 or a 6, my Engineer destroys the Slinger as it only takes 1 hit point to take him out of the game. I wind up rolling a 4 and so the Slinger is dead and is placed into my magic pile. Phase #6- The magic building phase. In addition to putting destroyed units into your magic pile, you may also willingly put any number of cards from your hand into your magic pile. The more cards that are in your magic pile, the easier it is to purchase units to play on the mat/board. The only way to play unit cards is by buying them with your magic cards.

While that may sound like a lot to remember when playing the game, it’s all quite easy to pick-up on. If you ever need to be reminded of the turn order, just keep the rulebook handy or flip over the set-up card for the turn order.

So now that you’ve learned about the components and the gameplay, you’re probably wondering HOW the game is. Personally, I don’t see how anyone can be disappointed by this game. This is the perfect type of game as it has an endless amount of replay value, but above all, it’s balanced, thrilling, and unpredictable. As a good example of why this game is so entertaining, allow me to tell you a story of the ending to the first game I ever played. I was playing the Guild Dwarves while my friend (the opponent) was the Cave Goblins. In my opponent’s turn, he had just finished destroying a good chunk of my forces while leaving my summoner (Oldin) with a total of 5 wound tokens (out of 6 possible life points). He did this by having his summoner (Sneeks) adjacent to my summoner (Oldin). To say things were looking grim for me was an understatement. After finishing his turn, my opponent neglected or forgot to use Sneeks ability which allows him to exchange places with any of his goblin units in order to stay out of harm’s way. In a last ditch effort to try and capitalize on his mistake, I played my Heroic Feat event card (which allows me to add 2 attack value to 1 unit for 1 turn) which boosted Oldin’s attack value to 4. With Sneeks having 3 wound points out of 7 possible life points, I rolled all 4 dice and wound up destroying his summoner with 4 hit points to equal a total of 7. If that isn’t one heck of a come from behind ending, I don’t know what is.

Summary: It’s safe to say that I will be playing “Summoner Wars” frequently from here on out. It is quickly becoming a go to game for me and I can’t wait to dig into it deeper. If you love card games or board games (or both), buy this one on your next trip to your FLGS.

July 15, 2013 - Posted by | Game Review | , , , , , , , , ,

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