Expansion Review – Second Summoners

sumwars2Summoners Wars is one of my favorite games of all time. I bought an iPad instead of an Android tablet because that was the only way to get the Summoner Wars app (in retrospect, I should have just bought a laptop, but hindsight and 20-20 and all that). Every time a new expansion comes out for it, I get all silly and have to play every new deck twice.

When I got the six newest decks, I was even more excited, because now I have six new summoners, which means six new ways to play, six new devious strategies to create, six new factions to manipulate to the detriment of my foes. Regular decks are awesome, but six new summoners is even awesomer, because not only do I get all those new things I said before, but I can also mix in some of these guys with the other decks to build an even more customized deck of bad-ass phoenix elves to tear through all comers like poop through a goose.

Since the phoenix elves are my favorite, I’ll start there. And the first thing to mention about the phoenix elves is that now your summoner can bring out a phoenix. Or six. You actually get six. They’re not summoned the usual way, either – instead of costing you magic, you just play this one event card that gets them on the board for free. So those are bad-ass, but you also get three new commons, three new champions, and did I mention the new summoner? Pretty sure I did. The commons are not as synchronized as I might have liked, though their abilities are still pretty darn wicked, like the fire dancer that will hurt you if you roll any misses or the fireling that chases you down when you try to run away. This deck is a little more defensive than the original, but I still love it.

Next up is the new dwarf deck. These are the guild dwarves, not the deep dwarves, so they focus more on building stuff than they do on weird magic manipulation. This deck has a wicked twist in the form of assault towers, powerful ranged units that can’t move (because they are towers) and that you can repair by keeping your architects close by. Screen with your oathsworn fighters, upgrade your towers with cool abilities like explosive shells or the option to shoot on a diagonal. This deck is so focused on the raw power of the built ‘units’ that one of the champions is a tower. Bolvi, the summoner for this deck, has a versatile wall-based ability that would make him useful with pretty much any guild dwarf deck.

The last ‘good guy’ deck is the Vanguards, those self-righteous buttholes who are so damned hard to kill, and who keep coming up to you at your smoke break to ask you if you have been saved. I hate these guys, because my wife is very good at killing me with them. The honor guard can play bodyguard for your flimsier units, while the warrior angels that fly all over the place or the woeful brothers that dance around when you miss them. If that wasn’t bad enough, the woeful brothers can be turned into magic by the Vanguard player after they get killed by the other team. That is just not fair, if you ask me. It probably would be fair if I played them more, though.

So now we get to the bad guys, and we’ll start with the fallen kingdom deck, because they are the most gross. At least they’re not those weird mutant dudes, but they’re still pretty much a necromancer and a bunch of dead guys. You get vampires who can fly – and then move away after they hit you. You get ghouls who are incredibly strong for their cost, but who die if you they don’t eat people all the time. And you get warlocks who are also really strong, and if you don’t feel like paying for them, you can just put wounds on your summoner. This is a very aggressive deck with a lot of power and a summoner who heals himself by shooting people.

The goblins were my favorites for a long time, because I love being able to just dump swarms of cheap dudes all over the place and clutter up the other guy’s side so he can’t move around without bumping into my underpowered cannon fodder. They are still damned fun to play, and they start with that horde strategy and crank it up a notch. Now you have guys who move by hanging onto other guys (allowing you to move six or seven goblins on one turn, when the other player is stuck with three), a summoner who lets you attack an extra time, and a giant bat that gets more powerful by eating dead goblins. Where the horde strategy could work pretty well before, the new goblin deck makes that strategy overwhelming. Unless you play it wrong, which is not hard to do.

I have saved the best for last. The tundra orcs are magnificent. I haven’t had this much fun playing Summoner Wars since I started. They create an absurd number of minor ice walls, which only have two health, but which you can MOVE AROUND. Not only can you sometimes slide your little ice walls into places they should not go, but they can slide over people and crush them. The whole deck is in on this gag, too, from the shooter who gets a bonus for standing next to one of your walls (which is easy to arrange, since you’re going to have walls freaking everywhere) to the champion who can make them explode and kill all those pesky Vanguard angels who are about to fly over them. The new tundra orc summoner even makes ice walls himself, if he wants.

It is amazing to see how much can be done with such a simple game engine. Summoner Wars continues to impress me, and to prove why Plaid Hat Games deserves its place among the top game companies in the world. If you play a lot of Summoner Wars, you really ought to get these new decks and take them for a spin. And if you haven’t played in a while, the second summoner decks will be a great excuse to blow the dust off the box and drag them to the table again.


2 players (or 4 in teams)

Pros:Lots of new ideas and directions for one of my all-time favorite games
Exceptionally well-designed and ridiculously fun

Will make you spend more money

I’m linking you to the Plaid Hat Games web store, where you can pick up these wondrous new decks and enjoy the crap out of them.


One Response to “Expansion Review – Second Summoners”

  1. Applejack says:

    “Summoner Wars” is pretty friggin’ awesome. It’s a customizable card game that has actual positional offensive and defensive tactics because it’s played on a board, it doesn’t cost a ton to be competitive at it, and you can teach someone how to play it in five minutes. Simply brilliant.