Summoner Wars Mega #6: Guild Dwarves vs. The Filth
Setup / Rounds 1-2
(We’ve oriented the board for maximum viewing pleasure and consistency: flanks are entitled “north” and “south” rather than “left” and “right” so you can lose yourself in the lush foliage of the narrative without the constant need to reorient yourself. If you desire to view the action in greater detail, or if you’re suffering from severe hyperopia, you can click any image to view a larger version. Finally, everything here is written by Dan, meaning you’ll get to experience what life is like walking a mile in a Filth Cultist’s clogs. Or whatever they wear.)
I usually prefer going second, but when Somerset and I fling our dice across the green felt to determine who gets to pick the turn order, I’m praying to whatever tentacled patron the Filth revere that I’ll end up going first. My reasoning is that Filth common units are pretty wimpy: my Zealot is so unenthusiastic about our cause that he can’t even bring himself to chip away at Walls (though he claims it’s because he’s so thirsty for the blood of heretics), and my ranged Cultist gets frightened and can’t attack enemies if they’re adjacent to her. I guess their terribleness is offset by the fact that they both cost 0 to summon, and my goal is to transform them into hideous nightmare mini-champions rather than send their wimpy butts into combat, but that doesn’t exactly help me feel better about the fact that Somerset has a Defender within strolling distance of my Cultist in the south. Or that she has exactly twice as many soldiers on the board as I do. Or that I really don’t want to lose any commons — the Demagogue’s ability, which lets him pick a Mutation card out of my draw or discard pile, may seem like it could be used to create an infinite supply of magic, but it’s an illusion; I need commons to transform into Mutants, and commons don’t cycle to my hand once they’re killed.
I don’t know why I bother being surprised when I lose the first roll. Somerset wins 6-1 and immediately announces she’s going first. She has Oldin move forward to the protection of her starting Wall (he gets a mild defensive bonus when next to a Wall), and has that Defender jog over to my Cultist and brutally slay her. At least this answers the question of who’s occupying the moral high ground. Oldin also blasts one of his own Spearmen (the one in the far north) to get some extra magic.
My starting hand is extremely fortuitous. Among other things, I’m holding a couple Mutations and a powerful event called Channel Corruption, which lets me mutate one of my commons without paying for the ghastly process. Good enough for me! I immediately transform my Zealot into a Corpulent Mutant, a fatty who possesses the dual benefits of being incredibly hard to kill and one of Somerset’s least-favorite Filth cards (because she can never kill him). Corpulent waddles forward and the Demagogue goes south, where he successfully zaps the attacking Defender from a distance. Then, looking at my hand and seeing that I’m holding onto another Mutation card, I put it into my magic pile since I can get it back later. This means both Somerset and I have 2 magic apiece.
As I predicted, Somerset is rattled by the appearance of the Corpulent Mutant, especially this early on in the game. She summons a Spearman in front and empowers him with the event Heroic Feat, which gives him +2 to his attack value, and has him move up to attack. His attack is massive — four dice! — and she lands three hits. Unfortunately for Somerset’s mental health (and for that Spearman in a moment), the Corpulent Mutant is so incredibly fat that he ignores the pain from the attacks altogether! She also moves up her northern Defender and her Engineer, probably hoping to get close enough to tear down my starting Wall before I can summon anything truly deadly.
Well, I don’t want her summoning either, so after I summon an Anointed (my only “good” common unit), I cast Possessed Wall on her starting Wall: now she won’t be able to summon there unless she discards two cards. I have the Demagogue pull my Void Mutation card out of my discard pile (I’d just used it to pay for my Anointed) and both the Anointed and the Corpulent Mutant miss when they try to attack our enemies. And then I put the Void Mutation right back into my magic pile. Ah, the joys of micromanaging magic-cycling.
Somerset is still annoyed with that Corpulent Mutant sitting around in the center of the board like a big sweaty rind of casu marzu, and she’s had the misfortune of drawing both Heroic Feat events early on, so she decides her Spearman can have another try. I’m worried when she rolls 4/4, enough to kill my Mutant in one shot, but once again he manages to shrug off the attack. Desperate, the rest of Somerset’s turn is spent building a big pile of magic, giving her a total of 7. Gee, I wonder who she’ll summon next turn?
Since Gror’s appearance is feeling imminent, I decide it’s time to push across two different sectors. My Corpulent Mutant shuffles around to the north of her Spearman and then kills him, while my Anointed continues to miss shots at the Engineer standing around nearby. The Demagogue pulls the Horror Mutant out of my draw pile.
As expected, Somerset discards two cards from her hand to regain control of the Wall that I’d possessed, and summons Gror at it. He charges forward (probably with a heroic bellow) and to the south, and attacks my Anointed. Incidentally, his ridiculous Hammer Quake ability means he’s also attacking my Corpulent Mutant. He rolls 2/2, so it’s a good thing I’m holding onto a Shield of the Hopeful event to block the damage to my Anointed, and my Corpulent Mutant ignores the concussion of the attack anyway. In the north, a measly Defender manages to poke my Corpulent Mutant and actually wound it. I just may have to possess him or something.
Good idea! I cast Heretic’s Rebuke, which, because he’s within four spaces of my Summoner, lets me transform him into a Horror Mutant. He won’t be attacking any of my — now his — brethren anymore! I then move my new convert and my Corpulent Mutant forward, crowding the north side of Oldin’s starting Wall — and even better, Oldin himself! As always, I draw it out, first having my Anointed finally kill that pesky Engineer and then having the Demagogue draw my Void Mutant back out of the discard pile again. Once everything else is done (and Somerset’s eyes are done rolling), the Horror Mutant attacks Oldin, landing two of three hits.
It’s looking good: Somerset has 0 magic after summoning Gror, Oldin of the Guild Dwarves is now one-third dead, and I have two tough Mutants close enough that escape will be no mean feat.
Of course I’ve spoken too soon. Somerset may be desperate, but by pressing my advantage (and by simultaneously ridding her of a Defender and giving me a new unit when I used Heretic’s Rebuke), I now have more units on the board than she, which lets her play Reinforcements. I didn’t expect her to summon any troops this turn — without them, Oldin wouldn’t be able to escape my Horror Mutant; with them, it’s as easy as placing a Defender in front of her starting Wall to move north and lock my Corpulent Mutant in place, and blocking Oldin’s retreat to the south with a sparkling new Guardsman. It’s nice that the Defender doesn’t hurt my Corpulent Mutant and the Guardsman can’t attack because my Horror Mutant is so, uh, horrific, but I’m still a bit bummed that victory is more than two turns away after all.
Not that things have turned around completely. My first act is to transform my Anointed into a Spew Mutant, which moves forward and vomits another wound onto Oldin from afar — half dead! My Horror Mutant also handily obliterates the Guardsman that’s blocking his path, landing the full necessary three wounds. And to top it off, my Corpulent Mutant voices his displeasure at being locked in place and wounds the Defender behind him.
Here’s where things do turn around: Somerset summons another Defender, who marches south to my Spew Mutant; though only after letting punk-man Gror retreat to the slot south of the Guild Dwarf starting Wall. The Defender pokes my Spew Mutant. Then Gror attacks his own Wall — and by extension, lands two wounds on everything within two spaces. My Spew and Horror Mutants are killed instantly, as is the hapless Defender who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even my Corpulent Mutant feels the impact of this one.
In total, Somerset deals 10 wounds and gains 5 magic from this one attack.
The playing field looks surprisingly clean at this point. After a few minutes of introspection (and a desperate plan redrafting), I instead summon a Cultist and transform it into a Bestial Mutant, who is so swift that he can charge across a great expanse of the map to give Oldin another wound.
Which means he’s two-thirds dead, and I’m wondering how I’m having such rotten luck with my attacks on Summoners.
Oh, and I place a Wall in the south and my Corpulent Mutant kills the Defender that was keeping him engaged. Even so, things are looking grim. I have 3 magic, but after Gror’s display of manly testosterone manliness, Somerset has 8. See, a single Filth Mutant gives 2 magic when killed, both the Mutation card and the common unit beneath it. It makes sense because they’re so powerful, but it can sure be depressing when a major assassination attempt fails as completely as mine just did.
Not to worry, I have a plan.
Oldin is proving annoyingly hard to kill, and no thanks to his useless ability, which hasn’t blocked a single attack. Even though I’ve reached the point where I wouldn’t be able to win a slug-fest (especially with Gror standing around flexing for the dwarf ladies who have rolled out picnic blankets to watch the jolly old battle), I only need to give Oldin two more wounds to win.
Somerset is doing everything she can to make sure that doesn’t happen. With her new bounty of magic, she summons Baldar in front and a Defender at the rear to try and intercept any other quick-traveling mutants I might send her way. She also walls off the southern edge of the board, then has Oldin and Gror kill my Bestial Mutant before it can land the killing blow and end this fight. My Corpulent Mutant continues to survive despite her best efforts, which does give me some measure of joy amidst the desolation of my dice-rolling.
And here goes what feels like my last chance. With Baldar closing in on the Demagogue’s position, this could be exactly the last-minute victory I need.
I summon a Zealot at the back to help defend the Demagogue (just in case this doesn’t work), then a Cultist at my Wall in the south. Then I mutate that Cultist into a Winged Mutant, which can fly 3 spaces over other obstacles! This brings it right into Oldin’s pesky bearded face! I get to roll 3 dice, and I only need to land 2 wounds.
You’re probably guessing from the size of the scrollbar that my Winged Mutant doesn’t actually kill Oldin. You’re right. She lands 1/3 hits. He can only take one more before death, and I’m seriously doubting I’ll ever get the chance to roll another die.
I should have mentioned that my Zealot dealt a wound to Baldar last turn, but it seemed immaterial because surely my Winged Mutant wasn’t going to fail. Now everything has changed. I’ve handed yet another 2 magic to my opponent, and I’m firmly on the defensive. Especially when Somerset uses the magic provided the previous turn to summon Tordok down in the south — which means the Demagogue has two champions closing in on him, one from the north and the other from the south.
Somerset also summons a Spearman at the back of her lines, and uses him and Oldin to kill my Winged Mutant. The Spearman misses, so Gror punishes him and the shock-wave finishes off my last-ditch Mutant buddy. Farewell, Birdie.
Well, I’m not going down without a fight, and despite my poor circumstances I may have come up with yet another plan to end this match in my favor. First I summon a Zealot and use Channel Corruption to turn him into a Claw Mutant, a powerful jerk who can roll as many dice as its target has life points (up to a maximum of 5). Between him and the Demagogue, Tordok dies as quickly as he appeared. Then, after weathering a turn of Baldar whomping on my Claw Mutant to little effect, I spring my trap:
I summon a Cultist at the very back of my lines, and transform my Zealot into a Void Mutant. Now, Void Mutants are scary: she lets you move un-mutated commons onto her space, and then teleports them to any Wall on the battlefield. And yes, that includes enemy Walls. Which means I jump my Cultist — weakest of all my units — right into the one spot where she has a ranged opportunity on Oldin. He has one life point, she has one chance to hit.
This could be glorious.
At this point, is it any surprise that she misses?
Oldin has a Guardsman step between him and the Cultist, Gror finishes her off, a Defender kills my Void Mutant, and that’s that. I’m out of tricks. I have no more fast mutants, or flying mutants, or teleporting mutants. Just normal damage-dealing mutants. The only way I could win is by passing through Baldar, Gror, and the commons that are still protecting Oldin.
What the heck, I figure. I may as well try.
So I transform my last Zealot into a Tentacle Mutant, which can attack through a card. Then Somerset and I exchange a flurry of attacks. My Claw Mutant gets extremely lucky and kills Baldar (“If only I could have had that luck against Oldin!” I complain). A Defender and Gror kill my Claw Mutant. And then it’s just my guys and Gror.
Over the course of the final three turns, when Gror moves down to attack my final two units and only deals two wounds across two turns, the Demagogue sidesteps around him and comes face-to-face with Oldin. Or rather, Oldin defended by his Guardsman.
And Somerset takes a big risk. Oldin has only one life point left, and the Demagogue has four, but she must be feeling confident because she angles her units so that everyone has a shot at my Summoner. She’ll be rolling 5 dice, and she needs to land four wounds. She needs 4/4 when her Guardsman embarrasses himself by missing. If she doesn’t land all four attacks, I’ll get to roll two dice on her…
And she gets it. By Oldin, she gets it. Oldin lands 2/2, then Gror lands 2/2, and that’s the game, the glorious Demagogue banished by some absurdly lucky dwarves.