Summoner Wars Mega #4: Cloaks vs. Benders
(If you’re new to this series, a couple notes are in order: We’ve oriented the board so that you can consistently see what’s going on. Flanks will be referred to as “north” and “south” rather than “left” and “right.” You might see the Cloaks abbreviated as CL and the Benders as BD from time to time. You can click to embiggen the pictures if you ever want a clearer view of what’s going on. And finally, everything here has been written from Dan’s point of view.)
No ties this time. Somerset wins the roll 4-2 and chooses to go first. I usually prefer to go second, but in this instance it was the right choice, since especially in the north we both have ranged units with low life, and we’re both aiming to cut each other down to size a bit for some early magic. Her Deceiver attempts just that, moving up into range of one of my Gunners, with her middle Controller right behind. Fortunately she misses the shot, an offense apparently punishable by death at the hands of the Controller, who is standing behind her and playing commissar.
As I mentioned in my pre-game writeup, one of my big fears is the Benders’ Mimic event cards, which gives them a double bonus: first they get to look at my hand, tipping them off of any champions I’m holding, and second — and much, much worse — they get to steal an event card. My first draw is horrible for this. In addition to holding a pair of common units, I’ve also got a Magic Drain, Cloak of Shadows, and Spy. I’ll be dumping the Magic Drain and Cloak of Shadows into my magic pile at the end of the turn, but at least I can use the Spy right away. It’s my most powerful event, and it’s best used as soon as possible anyway. It lets me look at the top five cards of Somerset’s deck and put two on top of her draw pile, two on bottom, and one in discard. Somerset rolls her eyes at this, especially when I take a long time deciding where to put which cards. It’s a tricky decision, what with me revealing two Magic Drains, a Wall, the event A Hero Is Born, and the champion Sorgwen. I consider putting the Magic Drains on top and then killing my own guys to get her to gunk up her hand for a good long time, then decide that will be a little trickier to manage than I’m willing to try right now. Sorgwen goes to discard (Somerset does not like this) and the two Magic Drains go on bottom of her draw pile. It’s nice to know exactly where those turds are.
She makes the best of it by placing her new Wall in the far north to dissuade me from employing some of my trickier movement options, then bunkers up. I thought she might do this, since quite a few of the Benders’ best abilities kick in when I stroll my units onto her side of the board or within proximity of Tacullu. Well, I’m not going to fall for it this time. After drawing even more events that I wish I would have picked up later in the game, I summon a Sniper in the south and move her back to the second-to-rearmost column, where she gets a great view of an entire southern row, including an enemy Controller. She gets lucky and blasts the Controller from afar, and is now far enough back that Somerset will have to venture dangerously close to my territory in order to dislodge her from her nest.
Somerset is still hiding, this time even moving her Deceiver back. She puts a whole bunch of cards into her magic pile, which makes me a bit nervous. She’s definitely planning for something big, since surely she knows I’d be content to snipe her Walls over a dozen turns if I had to.
Well, mostly content. Tacullu only has five life, so I’d like to whittle that down at every opportunity. I summon a Gunner in front of my starting Wall and move only her, which activates her Greater Sneak ability, letting her move 5 spaces. Which means she can reach striking distance of Tacullu. One lucky shot later and the Bender Summoner is one-fifth closer to defeat. Looking at the troops I have, I decide my starting Thief probably won’t ever amount to much, so I have Vlox blast him into magic. As I end my turn, I decide to hold onto an event card for the first time. It’s Raid, which means she won’t be able to use it unless she also gets her grubby mitts (sorry honey, your mitts aren’t really grubby) on one of my Thieves too.
Of course, the instant I keep an event, she plays Mimic and steals it. She can’t use it, but at least she’s deprived me of an option. She also sees that I’m holding onto Hawk, which I didn’t want her to know just yet.
Tacullu takes the obvious move and destroys my Gunner, and while one of her Controllers comes forward to kill my rearguard Gunner, the other shoots her own Wall and uses her Telekinetic Blast to shift Tacullu into a safer spot between all three of her common soldiers.
It’s the perfect setup for Violet, who can attack through units and damage all of them, so I splurge on putting her right in front of Somerset’s forward Controller — with a perfect line of attack to Tacullu himself. I could end up with three wounds on that jerk if the dice rattle my way.
They don’t. I roll two twos. I handle this very calmly all things considered.
The next round begins with Violet’s doom as Somerset summons (I just realized how sing-songy that sounds) Kalu, whose special ability is to immediately summon his psychic brother-projection-thing Talu in an adjacent space. Great.
The psychic-bros move to surround Violet and all but kill her, thankfully missing once. Somerset’s Controller attacks my Wall, which then lets her shove Tacullu back to a safer spot where Violet’s Whirling Blade can’t reach.
Although Violet is alive for the time being, there isn’t anywhere for her to retreat to, and both Kalu and Talu have decent ranged attacks. The upside is that whenever I wound one, the other gets hurt too — that’s why you don’t want to be an evil twin, I suppose. I finally draw a Wall and place it in the north to give me some more summoning options and to keep the twins from charging down and hashing Vlox. I also randomly draw Magic Drain, and can actually use it! This random boon is a significant help. Violet attacks Talu and lands one wound, which deals a sympathy wound to Kalu also. My forward Scrapper also takes the opportunity to kill the Controller that’s hanging out a little too close to my side of the board.
Somerset plays another Mimic. I don’t have an event for her to steal this time, but she does learn that I’m holding onto both Hawk and The Admiral, and I have enough magic to afford either one. She moves her evil twins around some more, using Kalu to injure my Scrapper while Talu finishes off Violet. To the rear of the main battle line, she’s moving up a Deceiver on the south end. I hate Deceivers, since they can Stun common units into not moving or attacking.
I summon The Admiral and a Slasher in the far north. The Admiral can “Cover” nearby units, taking their wounds for them, so I’m hoping he can keep my frail Slasher alive. The Slasher misses Talu, which stinks, but at least my two Scrappers in the midfield both land their attempts on Kalu, injuring both champions.
This Kalu-Talu rampage is really straining my resources, and it’s about to get worse. Another Deceiver is summoned in the north, and when it moves adjacent to my Slasher, the Slasher is locked in place — and The Admiral, stuck between the Slasher and a Wall, would have to either kill my own unit (which I don’t have enough attacks per turn to spare the attempt), or take the long way around to get back into the fight (as many as 3 turns worth of moves; and, again, it’s rare that I can spare the movement). Well played, darn Deceiver.
Worse still, Somerset plays Mind Control. I made the mistake of having my two Scrappers move onto the Benders’ side of the board to attack Kalu, and now the Benders have repaid the favor by taking control of one of my Scrapper’s brain. Of the two, of course they take control of the one that isn’t wounded. Kalu kills the other Scrapper, leaving the Benders in nearly uncontested control of my midfield. The only thing I can do is summon my last Scrapper to try and keep my middle from falling completely, and play a Wall on my south end to slow down my own Scrapper as he comes to attack Vlox.
I have one trick left up my sleeve: a 0-cost Slasher. I play her right in the middle and run over to Talu. I also send my pricey-but-frail Sniper to try and ensure that I can finish off the twins. I’ll need to do three damage to make it happen…
My Slasher rolls a 6! This lets her deal 3 wounds to Talu, which are also dealt to Kalu. The twins are vaporized, I now have some extra magic to work with, and although it will still take a lot of work to reclaim my side of the board, at least it isn’t a forlorn possibility anymore. The really good news is that between this success and me getting rid of Sorgwen on my first turn with that Spy event, Somerset is out of champs!
Somerset tries to keep up the momentum of her invasion by putting one of her toughest commons, a Parasite, right in the middle of things. The Parasite kills my Sniper — a huge bummer, considering how much she cost — and a Deceiver gets vengeance by killing the Slasher that killed Talu/Kalu. My surviving and non-mind-controlled Scrapper and my northern Slasher are still locked in place by Deceivers (though the Scrapper is doing a heroic job of not being murdered by the Deceiver that keeps stunning him).
The middle now becomes a series of traded blows. I finally use an event, Assassinate, to get rid of the Parasite. The Admiral decides it’s time to break out of his Deceiver-Slasher-Wall box by attacking the stunned Slasher, but he misses pathetically. Somerset summons a Breaker, a jerky lady who forces me to discard a card from the top of my draw pile when she attacks unless I pay a magic to keep it. The Breaker attacks my last Scrapper (she incidentally wounds him, though that’s not necessary for this horrible ability to kick in), which causes me to reveal the last card in my draw pile. It’s a Raid event, which I pay to keep, because I plan to use it on the next turn. I play a Thief — the only one I’ll be able to play this entire match — and use my newly-drawn (and also newly-paid-for) Raid to charge him straight to the other side of the board.
The Thief gets lucky and wounds Tacullu, then steals a Controller card right out of Somerset’s hand. I opt to destroy the Thief rather than placing him next to one of my Walls: I need the magic more desperately than cannon-fodder. I also have Vlox move out and kill the Breaker that just broke my bank.
Somerset isn’t happy that I’ve poked Tacullu again, so she summons a Mind Witch and moves her forward, landing a painful 2/2 on Vlox. Guess my midfield still isn’t safe enough for my Summoner to move around in the open. Oh well, he’ll need to stay in the open for a moment longer, as I need him to kill the Mind Witch. As he’s doing that, The Admiral finally kills the Slasher that’s been standing around in a daze for half the game and moves out to kill the Deceiver that was keeping him imprisoned. I’ve reclaimed my north end, finally.
The next few rounds are a slog as I retake my midfield and Tacullu goes on the run. I finally summon Hawk, who’s been in my hand nearly the entire game, and use his awesome bird (probably a hawk, it stands to reason) to kill the final Deceiver from afar. For Somerset, it’s a race to get enough magic so she can Counter Summon The Admiral, which I distinctly do not want to happen, since Tacullu might feasibly go toe-to-toe with Hawk and win, so I painstakingly work to deny the Benders any more magic. After Somerset’s mind-controlled Scrapper works on taking down one of my Walls, she pulls him back to try and kill him herself to make up the difference — she has 5 magic, so just 2 more and The Admiral would be in mortal danger. I summon my final Sniper right at the end and blast the Scrapper from afar, ending any chance of her getting quite enough to do the deed.
Tacullu tries to flee south with his final Controller minion as I push forward with my champions, unwilling to move onto her side of the board with either my Slasher or Sniper — she’s holding a single card in her hand, and I don’t want to risk her taking over another of my troops and turning the tide at the eleventh hour.
More of the same, truth be told. Hawk moves up and uses his awesome bird to peck out the Controller’s eyes, and Tacullu punishes him by Counter Summoning, which I suspect hurts significantly.
My final champion is The Admiral, who hasn’t received a single wound mostly because he’s spent the majority of his existence stuck behind a dazed Slasher and then walking to the far end of the battlefield. Now he finally has a chance to get revenge on the Benders for frying his once-beautiful mind. As always, he completely misses his first attempt, letting Tacullu give him a couple wounds.
That seems to goad him on, and The Admiral finally lands the final wounds and puts an end to the Bender Empire!