Summoner Wars Mega #1: Mountain Vargath vs. Jungle Elves
Setup / Rounds 1-2
(For reference purposes, we’re going to call the flanks “north” and “south” instead of “left” and “right,” so as to cement the action according to your perspective, dear reader, rather than switching back and forth between the relative positions of the players. Mountain Vargath are MV and Jungle Elves are JE, because writing their names out over and over again is hard on my carpal tunnel. Also, you can click to embiggen any of the pictures. Oh, and everything here is written by Dan, with a few interjections by Somerset.)
Somerset’s first priority was to win the die roll and go first. The MV have an interesting starting setup, owing largely to their beginning Rusher. Rushers can move 4 spaces so long as they start on their side of the board, which means that quite a few Summoners are subject to a potential round one wound when facing the Vargath, and since she wanted to be aggressive and not worry too much about Abua Shi, she really didn’t want that first hit, even though it would mean an extra magic for her once her troops ganged up on the Rusher afterwards (Note: I probably wasn’t going to move him up despite the opportunity, because of that one magic that I’d just be handing her. Even a single magic point in the early game can be a tremendous boon).
After tying with 5s, she won the reroll and chose to go first. Of course, she moved Abua Shi out of range and used her Lioness to take out my Rusher, landing a lucky 2/2 and killing him. Then she killed her own Lioness with her Archer to keep me from picking up an easy magic point. Clever girl. [Who would have thought my plan would work so well! —Somerset]
I drew my hand but couldn’t summon anything, so I just hunkered down my troops out of range of her Archers.
The second round went pretty much the same for the JE, with her hiding Abua Shi even further to the rear, though she did strike out with a single Archer in the south, probably hoping that my goatmen, none of whom are ranged, would be intimidated by its pointy sticks. I decided to make an early push into the southern midfield, so I summoned a Rusher and ran him out to kill the Archer that she had positioned there. He got lucky and killed it, and since he had the backing of a Warrior, it seemed I would be able to hold that position for the next round or so.
As the second round ended, we both had 4 magic.
Turns out Somerset had some different ideas about who controlled the south. She charged her Lioneer down the lane, putting him adjacent to my Rusher, and moved her Archer out where he could shoot even as far as my Warrior. Then she had an deflating string of luck — for me. Her Lioneer wiped out the Rusher, and then she had Abua Shi use his Chant of Growth to add 1 to the Archer’s attack, and he rolled 2/2 to kill the Warrior. Fine, have the south.
Rather, I decided to push up onto her wall. I moved up my remaining Warrior right next to it, a Brute next to him, and Sunderved along for the ride to hopefully empower his troops with his Command ability, which gives +1 attack to any common unit within 2 spaces. Sensing an opportunity to land a hit on Sunderved, she pulled her first uniquely Jungle Elvish trick:
Using a Chant of Deception to switch her northern Lioness with the punk Archer who had killed my Warrior the turn before, she empowered him again and used his Arching Shot to shoot over my Brute and right at Sunderved. Fortunately, her luck took a momentary nosedive and both attacks whiffed. [I didn’t have high expectations for those Archers making a difference against 7-life Sunderved. The rest of them went to magic. —Somerset] Since I was getting tired of that Archer getting charged up by Chant of Growth, I moved up my Brute, who was made more powerful by Sunderved’s bellowed orders, and beat him into the dust. I also summoned Bellor — his ability is “Retribution,” which lets him counterattack anyone who makes a melee attack on him without killing him, and since most JE common units don’t have many life points, I was hoping he might, at the very least, disincentivize a few attacks. I then moved my troops around to crowd her wall.
At the end of the fourth round, JE had 6 magic to my 2, since she’d only used magic for Abua Shi’s Chant. Gulp.
To my surprise, she still didn’t summon anything. Instead, she dipped back into her pool of phenomenal luck to roll 2/2 with her Lioness to kill the Warrior that I’d placed on the south end of her Wall. No matter — I have a Bellor. And his Retribution. I summoned a Warden, a nifty defensive guy who can only take one hit at a time when adjacent to enemy Walls, which meshes well with his three life points, and pushed up around her Wall.
Of course, she was holding a second Wall in her hand, and on the next round, while I was busy getting everyone into position, she summoned a Gorilla in the north to attack my Brute, and surrounded Bellor with a Lioneer and Lioness to the south.
That was great in theory, except she’d played Chant of Negation, which took away all my units’ abilities and prevented them from gaining abilities until the beginning of her next turn. This was a serious blow, especially because two of the cards I’d been holding onto for the last two rounds were to give Sunderved some extra punch to his ability. So she got to roll five dice on Bellor without any chance of him striking back — and, tragically, she landed all five. At this point she’s having one of the most laughable strings of luck I’ve ever seen — she’s landed 17 of 20 attempts, while I’ve hit 4 of 9. The Gorilla also landed a hit on my Brute.
I was now presented with a quandary. If I left Sunderved in place, Somerset’s Gorilla would be able to move adjacent to him on her next turn. Since Gorillas have the Pummel ability, which lets them attack a second time if they don’t miss any attacks (and at this point, I can’t bank on having good luck), I couldn’t allow that. The Lioneer on the south side is also getting threatening, and chances are I won’t be wiping out her units on my turn. Bellor probably won’t last another round.
So I pulled back, placing Sunderved in the center behind a new Wall that I positioned right in the middle of the field, just to annoy Abua Shi in the south. The position is much more secure. The Lioneer can’t reach me, and my troops didn’t lose their position to make Sunderved more secure.
At this point, our magic economies are still roughly equivalent. I have 3 magic and the Jungle Elves have 4.
Disaster. Say it like Ben Kingsley says it in Sneakers to get the full effect. Disaster.
As round 7 begins, Somerset hits me with a doozy.
Chant of Haste lets her Gorilla move around my defenses, meaning it’s whipping through 4 spaces this turn. Right into Sunderved’s face. Then she empowered it with Abua Shi’s Chant of Growth, letting it roll 3 dice at once. And if it lands all 3 hits, it’ll roll 3 more dice…
Just like that, Somerset rolled 3/3, her Gorilla Pummeled and rolled another 1/3, and Sunderved went from someone I’m happy to have on the front, Commanding his men (males? What’s the appropriate term for goat-folk?), to someone who will probably be vacationing at the rear for the rest of the war.
Oh, and they killed Bellor too. Little loss. That bum did nothing for me.
This meant it was time to move into a more secure position. I finally got that string of lucky rolls I’ve been waiting for, letting me wipe out the Gorilla and her starting Lioneer and Lioness all in one go. [Those units were studs. I named them Mauler, Kit Kat, and Sunderved’s Massa. —Somerset] Now Abua Shi was all alone, and, appropriately, Somerset ran him into the northeastern corner to hide. I summoned a Storm Mage and positioned myself to try and crowd her Walls before she got the chance to summon a new army.
There we were, poised at the end. Abua Shi was cornered and my guys were crowding his Walls. Half my troops were Wardens, which only take a single wound per turn while they’re adjacent to enemy Walls, and that’s exactly what they were standing next to. Just a bit more time and there wouldn’t be anything left for Abua Shi to do but sit in the corner and wait for my army to march up and finish him off.
With her stored pile of magic, Somerset suddenly pulled out two units. Both are commons, and neither one seems too intimidating: an elephant on her back row, but my Warden negates its higher attack value, and a Lioness in the far north.
With a smile, she laid out Chant of Haste. Oh no.
Her Lioness moved all the way to Sunderved, who I’d thought was finally safe from silly JE machinations. Of course Abua Shi put on a big show, chanting about nature and the power of one’s roots, and suddenly the Lioness was just that extra bit more dangerous. Sunderved has three life points left, and the Lioness has three attacks. Surely her luck couldn’t hold out even longer…
And that’s the game, proud Sunderved brought down by Abua Shi’s trickiness.