Summoner Wars Mega #5: Tundra Orcs vs. Shadow Elves
Elves and Orcs whacking at each other with blunt and sharp instruments is probably the most natural thing in the world. Except these Elves like to dart about in the night and these Orcs really like ice magic and gambling — two lifestyles that, as we all know, are absolutely incompatible. Which is probably why Selundar has decided his Shadow Elves must invade the frosty tundra of Grognack’s, er, Tundra Orcs.
As always, we had a fantastic match. What set this one apart from the rest was a laugh out loud moment that briefly interrupted the game and completely shifted the balance of power. I know you’re intrigued, so read on to discover whether the current 2-2 tie was broken in Somerset’s or Dan’s favor.
Somerset: Grognack of the Tundra Orcs
When we first got the Master Set, Dan and I played a set of games where I started with the Shadow Elves and he was some other team. He massacred me, so we switched teams so he could see how hard it was to play as them… and he smashed me again. We didn’t play SW against each other for a while after that, and I’m happy to report that I’m now a much more formidable opponent (at least our 2-2 tie in this series expresses that). Last game I talked about how both the Cloaks and Benders were “out of the shadows” type teams, but the real winners of darkness are hands down the Shadow Elves.
We’re getting into darker and more complicated factions now, and the Shadow Elves definitely fit into this category. Their events are awfully harsh: Into Darkness evaporates two of my common units, even on my own side of the board; Shadows steals my hard-earned destroyed units; and Stalking Advance is just creepy: all SE units move up (one space) in the darkness to murder my glow-in-the-dark-blue orcs! I mostly added that last one to fulfill the law of three, but it is creepy to think about those pasty death-white elves sneaking around in the dark to do dastardly deeds. I think Dan will make his team very mobile, (one of his favorite things to be) to go in for the quick kill. Both our Summoners have seven hit points and anything that can come in with swift surprise attacks will be to his advantage against my faction of gamblers. My guess is that he will be bringing Melek, Xaserbane, and Malidala, although that Taliya would certainly be an interesting twist. I also see him relying on Swordsmen, Hunters, and Blade Masters, but I think he’ll bring some of all his commons. He always builds unfocused decks like that.
I’m not a big fan of my commons. It feels like they almost all have abilities that hurt them, and when it’s not a downside, the gamble is nerve-wracking, so I need to remember to not rely on the unknown results of the dice. On the other hand, the downside abilities and chance-based rolls exist to balance the amazing defense of almost all my units. I love Grognack’s ability to hurt any baddies next to his Walls, so to increase the effectiveness of the Ice Walls (and my Freeze events), Bragg will be joining my deck. He’ll be staying in the back to keep his ability going as long as possible. I like that Ragnor has the ability to move up and keep attacking for only five magic, so he’ll be joining the battle as well. My last champion pick is Rukar. At cost seven I’m not sure I’ll be able to get him out, but I like his extra hits when I roll five or higher, and he’s got six good life points. Since I’m afraid Dan will be so mobile, I’m planning on keeping at least two units back to protect Grognack. And since I want to play all my events, my Fighters will either act as reactionary units or go into magic.
Shrug. I don’t often play with this faction, so we’ll see how this all plays out.
Somerset’s Tundra Orcs deck (reference):
Bragg, Ragnor, Rukar
2 Chargers, 6 Fighters, 3 Shamans, 4 Smashers, 3 Thwarters
Dan: Selundar of the Shadow Elves
I enjoy the way the Shadow Elves work, even if I haven’t played them as often as maybe I should have. I love hit-and-run tactics (this team’s elvish cousins, the brutal guerrilla — also gorilla, hah! — Jungle Elves, are my favorite faction), and I love slapping down events that make my opponents groan and roll their eyes; and the events Shadows, Into Darkness, and Summon the Night are great for that. As to whether I’ll win, I have no idea — when you play the bones-rolling Tundra Orcs, luck is going to be a major factor. I’m going to do my best to mitigate that luck.
Since the Tundra Orcs like to plaster the board with Ice Walls, I’m going to stay on the defensive until a solid opportunity to attack Grognack (the Tundra Orc Summoner) presents itself. This means I want to bring a champion who can creep past enemy lines to force Somerset to abandon any aggressive thoughts she has going through her head. There are two options that come to mind: Xaserbane, who can Sneak up to 4 spaces, or Melek, who is a Rider and so can move in a straight like all the way across the board like a chess rook. Since it’s pretty easy to block lanes when you have a bunch of extra walls, I’m going to bring Xaserbane this time. I’m also going to bring Taliya, who will hopefully let me return some of Somerset’s pricier commons to her hand (especially nice since she doesn’t have any cost-0 troops); and Hydrake, just because I like the idea of being able to have a bit of meat on the battlefield in case she deploys Krung or some other powerhouse champion. The Tundra Orcs have plenty of those, and they make me justifiably nervous.
My strategy with commons might be a bit slapdash, since I don’t know the Shadow Elves as well as I’d like. I’ll be bringing a full complement of Swordsmen since I like their high attack value, low cost, and ability to move 3 spaces, which is surprisingly hard to consistently account for when you’re defending against them. I’ll also bring quite a few Rangers to try and jump around a bit and maybe score an extra attack here and there. Other than my starting Scout, I’ll be leaving them at home because it’s not all that often that I need to move a fourth unit during the Movement Phase. I’ll also be taking three each of the slightly more expensive Blade Masters and Hunters because of their expanded attack options, especially the Hunter’s ability to leap adjacent to one of my units the instant she’s summoned.
I must keep in mind to keep some extra magic on hand in case she plays that horrendous Freeze event on me. There’s nothing worse than letting someone have more than one round of attack on your expensive champion because you can’t unfreeze him.
Ideally, I’d like to present a strong defense until Somerset reveals a chink in her ice-clad armor, then move in a champion and summon a Blade Dancer or two behind her lines. Then again, I’d like a lot of things. Like to not lose.
Dan’s Shadow Elves deck (reference):
Hydrake, Taliya, Xaserbane
3 Blade Masters, 3 Hunters, 5 Rangers, 1 Scout, 6 Swordsmen