Summoner Wars

Game Overview: Playing as a powerful Summoner, you control a faction of warriors and when you call on a mysterious summoning stone using your magic, you bring forth those warriors to your battlefield to aid in defeating your rival Summoner.  Defeating them will bring the Summoner Wars to an end.

Box Contents: Reviewing the box contents for Summoner Wars is a bit tricky as I have never purchased a master set and instead have piecemealed it all together by buying factions individually, bought a starter box set, along with an upgraded board.

All of the cards across the different factions are very well made.  The paper play mat is by far the worst purchase and is included with the starter sets, which included two factions.  I was able to find Miniature Market selling the board and quickly picked it up to replace the paper one.

One side note, if you purchase the individual factions, the box they come in always has a funny little saying under the top tab, so make sure you check it out.

Clarity of Rules: The rules that I have, came with the starter box and is very well done with a 20 page glossy manual.  There are a lot of examples included, both with pictures and with text.  It even goes into all the different expansions that you can purchase (at a high level), how to build your own custom decks, and how to combine two copies of the game to have a massive four player game by using two boards.

Game Play:  To start the game, each faction will have a setup card that shows which cards you will place on the board.  Initially, your cards will be set up on your side of the board and will include multiple warriors, a single wall card, and your Summoner.

Each card will have important information on them.  The cost to summon them to the board, their health, attack value, and the cards ability written out in text.

The game itself is super simple and you follow the same six turn sequence throughout every game, unless your faction alters what you can do during any given step.  The complexity comes into those abilities that you find on each card in your deck.

1-Draw Cards:  On your turn, you will draw cards into your hand until you have five cards.  The only exception is if you are the first player then you don’t draw and if you run out of cards then you no longer draw cards into your hand.

2-Summon:  Next you can summon cards to the battlefield by paying the summoning cost.  To pay for them, you must spend cards that will be found in your magic pile.  At the start of the game, you will not have any magic cards but each time you defeat an opponent they get added to your magic pile or as the last step each round, you can add any cards left over in your hand to the magic pile which essentially takes them out of the game.  When you do summon a card, you must place it in a space next to your wall card.

3-Event Cards:  Each deck has a group of event cards that you can play at this time.  They may give your warriors special abilities for that round that they normally would not have.  You can also play any wall cards to the battlefield during this stage.

Walls do not have a summon cost but they do have life points.  If you attack the wall and reduce its life points to zero, it is added to your magic pile.  If all wall cards are gone for any given player, they are unable to summon another card until they play another wall card onto the board.

4-Movement:  You are allowed to move up to three of your cards two spaces around the board.  You are not allowed to move diagonally nor can you move through an occupied space.

5-Attack:  You are allowed to attack with up to three different cards.  Some will have a sword symbol, which indicates they must be adjacent to another card to perform an attack.  Other cards may have a bow and arrow symbol, which allows them to attack from up to three spaces away and must have a straight line of site.  If you wound a card and they still have life points left, you place the appropriate marker onto the card showing how much damage they took.  If you have defeated it, you remove it from the board and add it to your magic pile.

6-Build Magic:  As noted above, you need cards in your magic pile to summon new cards to the battlefield.  At this stage, you can move any cards from your hand to your magic pile.

The turn then passes to your opponent who does the same steps above and this continues until a players Summoner card is defeated and then the game ends immediately.

Replay Ability: The replay ability is going to come from the number of factions you have available to you.  Having only a few, the game will get old pretty quickly.  Having multiples, allows you to see how different ones match up with each other.

If you are into building your own decks, the replay ability goes even further.

Appropriate Audience: The suggested age is 9+, which I think is appropriate.  Reading is absolutely needed so you don’t want to go too much younger than this and you will need to understand what the cards are saying.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: I absolutely love how the cards are so unique for each faction and the way they all play differently.  It is really hard for me to pick one faction over another as my favorite and I like experimenting with each a little differently each time I play them.  Some of the factions are very simple to use and others can be quite complex.

The tactical aspect and having to out smart your opponent is also one of the reasons why I thoroughly enjoy playing this game.  When you pull off a great move that has taken multiple turns to set up, it is truly satisfying.

Having to decide if you will keep cards in your hand or discard them to increase your magic draw pile to play cards to the battlefield at a later time, was a great decision during the game design.  At times, it is an extremely hard decision to make.

The quick setup is great here.  Lay out the board, grab a deck, set up the starting cards, and then shuffle and you are ready to go.

With the positives above, there is one major fault to the game that will drive many people away.  The game ultimately comes down to rolling dice and having a 50% chance for each die you roll to know if you are successful or not.  At times, this takes away a lot of the strategy because you simply do not have control over it.  There are a few factions that allow you to manipulate the dice somehow (both in a good and bad way), but that generally is more of an exception than the norm.  The game does try to account for this by having your more powerful warrior’s roll multiple dice instead of a single die like your weakest would have.

It gets to the point where it can be down right frustrating if your rolls keep hitting 1, 2, or 3 instead of the needed 4, 5, or 6.

There is also the luck factor with drawing cards.  You just don’t have control over getting to that card that you may desperately need.

Until players are familiar with any given faction, it does slow the game down as you will need to read through each card that you put into play and that you draw into your hand.  Because of this, I do think there is an advantage to someone who has experience with that faction and simply knowing how the cards will interact with each other.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  There are multiple options available to you.  You can buy individual factions, starter sets, or the master and alliance sets.  Note if you start with just individual factions you will have to come up with a board on your own, which is easy to do and something to track health points on the cards.

In addition, there are reinforcement decks.  These can be used if you are into building decks on your own that you can then swap different warriors in and out.

No matter what you decide, there is very little cross over with whichever choice you make.