Summoner Wars Mega #3: Phoenix Elves vs. Sand Goblins
(As before, we’ve oriented the board so that rather than referring to “left” and “right” flanks, they’ll be “north” and “south.” At times the Phoenix Elves and Sand Goblins will be abbreviated as PE and SG. You can click to make the pictures larger, though unfortunately you probably won’t be able to make out the fine details on the unit abilities from this distance anyway. Finally, everything here is written from Dan’s perspective, playing as the Phoenix Elves.)
One of my immediate concerns with this setup is that it aligns in such a way that my Archers begin the game functionally useless. All I’ve got on the south side of the board is two Archers, whose Far Shot ability means they can fire at 4 rather than just 3 sapces, but Somerset’s Sand Goblins have two Javelineers in position. Their ability is Camouflage, which means they cannot be attacked by non-adjacent units, so my Archers are instant potential magic for her team. My fear is that she’ll win the die roll, choose to go first, and move up her Javelineers so that she can kill my more-northerly Archer and be in a strong position to begin crowding the south side of my starting Wall before I have a chance to summon anything. So I’m incredibly thankful when she wins the roll 4-1 but then makes the mistake of letting me go first. This lets me pull my outlying Archer back, kill it with the other Archer, then use Prince Elien’s Fire Blast (a guaranteed 2-wound attack on a unit within 2 spaces) to kill the other. This leaves me with nothing in the south, but at least I haven’t handed the Sand Goblins easy magic.
Even without that easy magic, Somerset has some interesting plans in mind. For her first turn she pulls back her northern Scavenger and has him kill her Shaman, which means the Shaman is now under the Scavenger (per the Scavenge ability) and will act as a sort of body armor. Her second Scavenger moves in front of her starting Wall.
A major component of my plan, as I mentioned in the pre-game report, is to get Holleas (or the event A Hero Is Born, which would be nearly the same thing) so that I can begin churning out cheaper Fire Beasts to counter the tougher Sand Goblin commons. So it’s with tremendous relief that my very first hand contains Holleas — now I just need to get 4 magic as quickly as possible. So I move forward my Guardian, whose Precise attack means a guaranteed hit on her forward Scavenger. Even if that Scavenger doesn’t miss his next attack, I’ll be able to kill him before Somerset gets to react.
Well, unless she plays Taunt. Which she does.
Taunt lets her jerk my commons forward, putting herself in a position to ambush and obliterate them. Suddenly my Warrior and Guardian are behind enemy lines, and both are already surrounded. Blast and damn!
And of course, she rolls perfectly. Her northern Scavenger, the one who already has that Shaman tucked into his rucksack and acting as body armor, rolls 1/1 and kills my Warrior, thus scavenging a second card. That’s bad news — that little guy will now automatically survive the first two attacks made on him. Her two Javelineers also land their attacks, killing my Guardian. The only Phoenix Elf left on the board is wimpy-man Prince Elien himself, cowering behind his starting Wall. So a pretty normal start.
Thankfully, Somerset’s forgotten about one of my dirtiest tricks. Now that she outnumbers me by a comfortable margin, I can summon Holleas back by Prince Elien, then Magic Drain two of her magic over to my side, and use that magic to have Holleas summon a Fire Beast on the cheap and have it attack and kill her wounded Scavenger. Her tougher Scavenger is still en route, but at least my northern flank isn’t completely devoid of defenses now.
She wants to get rid of that Fire Beast before he becomes a real problem, so she summons a Bomber next to it, moves her southern Javelineer within range, and charges her über-Scavenger forward. If she continues to roll the way she has been, my Fire Beast will be toast by the end of the turn.
The Javelineer hurls a javelin and hits. The Scavenger swings his… scavenged blade (?)… and connects. The Bomber hurls a bomb and… drops it, blowing himself up. Whew! Fire Beast lives to fight another turn!
Another turn in which I use Magic Drain, by the way. “You only have two of those, right?” she asks.
At this point I’d like to clear out some of the Sand Goblin commons that are pouring over onto my side, and in my enthusiasm I almost make a mistake by moving Prince Elien south to shoot at the Javelineer — which cannot be shot at. I could use Elien’s Fire Blast, but that only works at range 2, and Somerset’s keeping everyone carefully out of range of that. I’m also worried that my Fire Beast will die on the next turn, thanks to that Scavenger, whose scavenged material means it will survive the first two attacks made on it no matter what, so I move Holleas back and north and activate the Fire Beast’s Hellfire ability, which deals a wound to itself and every adjacent unit. Only the Scavenger is adjacent (the Bomber would have been had he not exploded himself), so it loses one of the cards beneath it rather than getting wounded. The real perk is that the Fire Beast kills itself and goes to my magic pile, rather than becoming an easy target on the next turn. And then I use that new magic for Holleas to summon a new Fire Beast adjacent to the Scavenger, who then attacks and removes its last defensive card, leaving it (finally) a normal Scavenger.
With her empowered Scavenger gone, Somerset decides to consolidate a bit. She pulls everyone out of range, has her surviving Scavenger try to attack my Wall, and bides her time.
There isn’t much for me to do as the next round begins, so I decide it’s a good time for Holleas to make another Fire Beast. While the one already on the board wounds the Scavenger that’s flailing uselessly at my Wall, Holleas moves south and creates another Fire Beast right in the middle of my side.
The Scavenger pokes my Fire Beast back, then Somerset tries to have her Javelineers skewer it to deny me the satisfaction (well, mostly the magic) from killing it. Both of them miss.
I’m getting sick of those Javelineers having the run of things, especially on the southern end of the board, so I summon a Warrior and play Spirit of the Phoenix, which turns his attacks into guaranteed hits for the turn. I run him south and slaughter the Javelineer. No more pestering! My Fire Beasts also finish off Somerset’s last Scavenger. This gives her a thirst for vengeance, so she has Krusk (her Summoner, hiding behind her starting Wall) whip up a Sandstorm, which pushes (and wounds) my northern Fire Beast right into the path of her rearguard Javelineer… who then skewers it from afar. Another Fire Beast down.
We’re basically at a standstill. The south is no longer in Sand Goblin control, which makes me feel a tad better, but both Prince Elien and Krusk are still tucked comfortably away behind their starting Walls, have 5 magic, and adequate draw piles filled with plenty of possible surprises. And it seems that nobody is any closer to pushing forward.
So let’s rectify that. I pull the same trick I did the turn before, summoning a Warrior and putting Spirit of the Phoenix on him, then pushing forward and killing a Scavenger. This time I use his Blaze Step ability to teleport him out of danger, placing him at the back with Prince Elien, just as a precaution. Oh, and Holleas kills my southern Warrior as a reward for getting rid of that Javelineer the turn before. Well done, become magic! Now I have four good troops and the Sand Goblins have only Krusk.
Somerset doesn’t like that, so she finally brings out a champion of her own. It’s Kreep, the cowardly little mongrel who likes to run away when things get hot. She also summons a Shaman and positions everyone, including Krusk, to have lines of attack on my Fire Beast and Holleas. Kreep and Krusk manhandle the Fire Beast while the Shaman totally misses Holleas. Then Somerset begins taunting me, trying to use reverse psychology by complaining that Krusk is now out in the open and I could summon a champion to land a few hits on him. Good try,
sister wife. I’m not going to waste a champion landing a couple wounds, only to be surrounded with Kreep on one side. I will summon a champion though: Laleya, right in front of Kreep. I also play both Burn and Greater Burn, giving Kreep 3 instant wounds. While Holleas blasts the Shaman that tried (unsuccessfully) to attack her the turn before, Laleya doesn’t quite finish Kreep off — he still has one life left.
Laleya is doomed! Not only does Somerset summon a Bomber in the north, she also brings in a Slayer, a rabid little anti-champion who gets a bonus attack when the unit he’s attacking is already wounded, and both move in to help Kreep surround my newly-minted champ. And Krusk scuttles back behind his Wall to hide.
Sure enough, Kreep lands 3/3 on Laleya, hurting her severely and letting the Slayer roll 3 dice, all of which connect and kill Laleya. Oh my.
Now I’m feeling the pressure in the north, while the southern half of the map is all but abandoned. I’m glad I packed a few Fencers in my deck, as I now summon one in the north and push him forward to hopefully finish off Kreep. I also decide it’s time for Prince Elien to do something useful, so I push him into my northern corner, within ranged striking distance of the enemy Bomber. And I position Holleas to attack that obnoxious Slayer.
My puny Fencer kills Kreep, which is nearly as embarrassing for the Sand Goblin as if he had run away (Somerset remarks on this, as this is the first time she’s ever used Kreep without exactly that happening). Holleas wounds, but does not kill, the Slayer. And Prince Elien kills the Bomber, then probably starts writing home to mother about how brave and manly he is.
His epistle is interrupted when Somerset summons another Bomber and moves him forward. Suddenly, Prince Elien finds himself with a face full of smoke, and a few blisters to go along with it. And because the Bomber rolled a 6, he gets to fling another of his poo-filled bombs, which also connects with a 6. That’s a 0-cost unit who has just half-killed the Prince of the Phoenix Elves, folks.
Luck runs both ways, and the Bomber’s third projectile explodes in his hands. To the discard pile with ye!
As a sidenote to that debacle, Somerset’s Slayer also wipes the floor with my Fencer. No surprise. Even so, although I was playing it pretty safe with Prince Elien, he’s only two wounds from death, so I finally draw a Wall and place it in a position to block the far northern lane, and as far forwards as possible. Prince Elien goes back behind his starting Wall, and Holleas summons another Fire Beast, which avenges my Fencer by killing its murderer. Krusk also places a Wall and gets cozy behind it, though it appears Somerset has made a little mistake with his positioning.
Krusk is within striking distance of a unit summoned from my northern Wall. Whoops! I have 4 magic, and I’m holding Maelena, who costs 5, in my hand. What I wouldn’t give for just 1 more magic! There isn’t much left to do, as both of us have now drawn everything out of our draw piles, so I once again play a Warrior and empower him with Spirit of the Phoenix. He runs forward, deals 2 wounds to Krusk, then Blaze Steps back to the relative safety of my starting Wall. While that’s happening, Holleas and her Fire Beast push forward, hoping to get around the Sand Goblin Walls and get at Krusk before he can figure a way out of this mess. Things are looking good for the mighty Phoenix Elves — after all, Somerset only has three cards left up her sleeve, and I have a mighty army that includes yet another Fire Beast in my hand, chomping at the bit to be summoned by Holleas.
Somerset plays all three cards at once, and the result is that I am now all shades of desperate.
First she plays a Wall to block the one that gives me a good northern lane of approach at Krusk. Then she plays Mirage, which lets her reassign the positions of her Walls. She places one of them forward in the north, and the other just a bit forward to protect Krusk. Then she summons her final champion, the Sand Wyrm.
Oh dear. He can move up to 3 spaces, and has a high 4 melee attack. His downside is that for every space he moves, he gets to make one less attack. In this instance, that means that when he rushes Prince Elien, he can only roll for a single attack. Not that it matters, considering that Prince Elien is such a wimp.
Was a wimp. Now he’s a wimp with one life point left.
This is it. Krusk pushes back my Fire Beast and Holleas with his Sandstorm, which uses up the last of her magic. Well, she has 1 left, but that’s not enough to afford another Sandstorm. If I can keep Prince Elien safe for one more turn, the game is over in my victory. If not… well, it’ll come down to a single roll of a single die.
I move Prince Elien south. Rather than running him as far as possible, I only move him one space, then put my Warrior between him and the Sand Wyrm. If I had moved two spaces, the Wyrm would just burrow past and get to roll two dice; in this instance, he can only roll one. I also summon my final Fire Beast, this time for full price at my starting Wall, and surround the Sand Wyrm. Prince Elien casts his final event, Burn, for a wound on the dread desert creature. Fire Beast attacks for 2/2, and my Warrior attacks for 2/2. Five wounds, but one more is needed to finish him off. One wound that would be given easily by Prince Elien’s hordes.
Of course, that wound will never be given. I mean, it probably will, when Prince Elien’s soldiers are standing around the victorious Sand Wyrm and their master’s corpse and decide that they might as well poke it to death before making the hike of shame home to their volcano. But for all intents and purposes we never get to see it, because the game ends when Prince Elien receives his final wound and bursts into flames.