Summoner Wars Mega #8: Fallen Kingdom vs. Deep Dwarves
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 narrative without the constant need to reorient yourself. If you desire to view the action in greater detail, you can click any image to view a larger version. Finally, everything here is written by Dan.)
Here we are, the final match. The setup shows that the fight is already quite thick in the north. All my troops are up there except for a single Miner who apparently didn’t get the memo or read the map upside-down or something, and most of Ret-Talus’ force has set up in a line to oppose me, and he’s lounging in his back line with an single bodyguard. Somerset beats me 6-1 in the starting roll, and decides to go first.
Her Zombie Warrior shambles forward, coming up to my first Miner and blocking my starting Wall both at once. She also has her sole southern unit, a Skeletal Archer, move into range of my stranded Miner. Then she lands a flurry of blows that give her the early advantage: in the north, her Skeletal Archer and Zombie Warrior tear my Miner to shreds. My one consolation is that she doesn’t yet have a Zombie Warrior in her discard pile, because then she would have Infected my Miner to create a new Zombie rather than just killing him. In the south, her Skeletal Archer injures my Miner.
After drawing my hand of cards and skipping both my Summon and Event Phases, it’s time to strike back. My lonely Miner is probably going to die anyway, so he moves forward to get back at the Skeletal Archer that put an arrow through him the turn before. The Gem Mage that’s hiding pointlessly behind my starting Wall moves south a full 2 spaces, getting into position for a breakout. And I decide it’s probably wise to move Tundle back now, just in case this little opening skirmish doesn’t end with my units on top. I realize I should have used an event — I’m holding Magic Stasis, which prevents Somerset from using magic on her next turn. She only has 1 magic, and probably wouldn’t use it, but I’m only planning on making one attack this turn anyway, and Tundle could have used his Meditate ability to move it from my discard to my magic pile. Ah well, I’m still learning the ropes. At least my Miner manages to bash the Skeletal Archer, and the Skeletal Archer fails its roll that would have prevented me from using it as magic. Even though I only have the Miner down there, I now have uncontested control of the southern third of the battlefield. I’ll take whatever I can get!
Unfortunately, right after I put 3 cards into my magic pile, meaning I have 4 magic, Somerset slaps down Magic Drain. Ugh. Then she also decides that my control of the south is a bit silly, so she builds a Wall down there to keep me from getting comfortable. Ret-Talus moves forward, probably because he’s finally getting interested in the battle, while the Reaper pulls back and to the south. Her Skeletal Archer shoots my Scholar who was busy studying my starting Wall. The Scholar can’t decide whether he’s more surprised by the arrow through his forearm or the fact that the Wall just shuddered under the impact of a Zombie Warrior’s attack.
I draw my second Magic Stasis card, which doesn’t exactly thrill me because these are cards I’d like to save for later when she has more than 4 magic. Oh well, I decide to play it anyway. My Scholar moves up to figure out what a Zombie is, my Miner in the south moves up to the crook between her two Walls, and my Gem Mage, now also in the south, moves forward 2 spaces to be in range of the Zombie Warrior. Tundle sits cross-legged and Meditates. This gives me a magic from my discard, but since he’s busy channeling magic and thinking about soundless vowels, he can’t give many orders. I spend a magic point to have my Scholar analyze the Zombie Warrior, giving anyone who attacks it an additional attack die. My Gem Mage then tries to make the shot, and out of three dice only one connects. Blast!
At the end of my turn, I build a single card, giving me a total of 3 magic. Somerset has 4, though she won’t be able to spend any on the next round thanks to my Magic Stasis event.
Neither of us has picked up any clear advantage. I still control the south, though a single summon could undo that. It also seems that Somerset is planning on having her Reaper help out, because he is gradually moving him southwards. Other than that, nobody moves on the undead side of the field. Not that they need to — between her Skeletal Archer and Zombie Warrior, my Scholar is wiped out. Once again, Somerset doesn’t have a Zombie in her discard pile to activate her Zed’s Infect ability with, which is a relief. She punishes the walking corpse by having Ret-Talus blast it to smithereens. Now she’ll have one in discard!
I have a chance to land some early hits on Ret-Talus — bless his corpse-king arrogance! I first put down a Wall south of my starting Wall to better protect Tundle so he can keep moving magic around unmolested, and I move my Gem Mage north to a space within range of the undead Summoner. My northern Miner also finally moves forward to join the ranks. After Tundle Meditates, I spend a magic point to activate my Gem Mage’s Gem Magic (hence his name, I suppose) for an extra attack, and roll 2/3 on Ret-Talus. The evil Summoner will think twice before wandering so close to the battle-front again!
Somerset is ready to contest my control of the south. She summons a brand new (old?) Zombie Warrior in the far south and moves him forward to my lonely Miner, while in the middle of the field she summons a Cultist. Ret-Talus flees backwards and orders his Skeletal Archer to take up a position between himself and the Gem Mage that wounded him so direly moments ago. Since the undead are desperately repositioning themselves to protect their corpse-king, neither the Zombie Warrior’s attack on the Miner or the Skeletal Archer’s attack on the Gem Mage connect.
My plans are beginning to come together, especially since I didn’t lose half my sum of magic to another Drain. I summon Gren in the north — this champion carries a Shard of the Father Gem with him into battle, which means that whenever my opponent kills one of my units within 2 spaces of him, it gets sent to my magic pile instead of my enemy’s. That’s rad. I form a formation in the north consisting of a Miner, my Gem Mage, and Gren close enough to protect them under his magic-stealing umbrella; in the south my wounded Miner runs away from the Zombie Warrior that’s attempting to zombify him, then attacks and kills the Cultist that’s chanting in the middle of the battlefield. When killed, the Cultist issues forth a Death Curse, a chance of dealing a revenge-wound, though this time it dissipates in the air and misses. My Gem Mage blasts the Skeletal Archer that fired at him before, and once again it fails to Magic Lock when killed. I’ve earned back some solid magic this turn, giving both me and Somerset a total of 3.
Somerset is still paranoid on Ret-Talus’ behalf, so she erects another Wall, this one in the north in a position that stands right in the path of my awesome Gren-protected formation, and would require me to break up the formation to get around it. So there goes my hopes for an early push onto her side of the board with little chance of magic-loss. She also moves Ret-Talus farther back and brings her Reaper forward again. In the south, her Zombie Warrior catches up to my wounded Miner, where it makes the sole attack of her turn…
The Zombie bites into my Miner and Infects him, which pulls a Zombie Warrior out of Somerset’s discard pile and onto the space where my Miner once stood! It seems the south has changed hands for the time being. Somerset puts a couple more cards into her magic pile. Total: 6 magic.
That makes me nervous. With a Wall in the path of my Gren-formation’s advance, and Somerset with a tidy pile of magic that she could use against me, I’m seriously considering pulling back. Between the Fallen Kingdom’s Forced Summon event and the champion Elut-Bal’s ability, it’s not entirely uncommon to see two evil champions appear simultaneously. And while Gren’s magic-denial ability is great, he isn’t the toughest dwarf to come out from under the mountains, and I don’t want to lose that entire formation this early on. So all three troops (Miner, Gem Mage, and Gren) make an orderly retreat back and to the north. Other than Tundle Meditating, the only attack I can make is the Gem Mage plinking at Somerset’s new Wall, which only marginally damages it.
Somerset doesn’t suddenly and violently play two champions. Instead, she plays Legions of the Dead, which boosts Ret-Talus’ Raise the Dead ability, and plays Dark Sacrifice to kill one of her southern Zombies, probably to reserve him for future Infecting. Then, after she moves her Reaper (he’s just sort of pootled around this entire battle, hasn’t he?), her remaining Zombie, and Ret-Talus north, all in their respective theaters, Ret-Talus raises an entire legion of undead.
Where once there was nothing, suddenly Ret-Talus commands two new Cultists and a Phantom. And even that force is screened by a Reaper and a Zombie Warrior.
Intimidating, but it means I have fewer units on the battlefield than the Fallen Kingdom, so I play Summoning Surge, which spills some magic back from my discard pile and lets me summon during my Event Phase. Now I can afford Piclo. He’s another champion who focuses on controlling the way magic works: when he kills something, I get to move a card from my discard back to my magic pile. Between him and Tundle’s constant Meditating, I’m hoping to create a massive magic stockpile. I put Piclo in front, and give him a backup Crossbowman (+1 attack value on a turn in which I played an event) to his south. Then I move Piclo forward and north, my Crossbowman north, and my Miner forward to make sure nothing gets summoned right on my northern flank next turn. Piclo kills the Zombie Warrior that’s blocking my entry into Ret-Talus’ domain, and my Crossbowman lines up a shot and takes out the forward Cultist that Ret-Talus just raised from the dead. The Cultist Death Curses him right back, killing both units and letting me and Somerset swap magic points — as the sixth round ends, I have 2 and she has 4.
Somerset does the worst thing imaginable. Turns out that it was me who was suffering from blinding arrogance, because I’ve fallen right into the worst possible trap imaginable.
She summons a Phantom. Right in the middle. One space from Piclo. Who has nothing running interference between him and a potential Phantom.
She then plays Forced Summon, dealing her own Summoner 2 wounds but decreasing Skhull’s cost by 5 — which means he only costs a single point of magic, and he appears right in the middle of the battlefield. And then she moves her Phantom forward and succeeds in Possessing my cost-7, brand new, all-but-unused champion.
This is a devastating swing. Where only a moment earlier I had two champions and she had none, now she has two, and she spent basically nothing to get them (other than wounds on Ret-Talus, granted, but at this point that’s looking like a hell of a trade). She then moves her newly-possessed Piclo forward to his former brethren, where he brutally slays my Gem Mage that has survived since the beginning of the battle. Gren uses his ability to steal the magic out from under Piclo’s nose, but Piclo’s own ability still activates, giving Somerset some recycled magic of her own. In the north, my Miner and her Reaper flail uselessly at each other; behind the lines, Ret-Talus is once again comfortably protected by a Cultist. She has 6 magic, even after that turn.
I use Illusory Warrior to bring a Gem Mage (the same one that was just killed, incidentally) out of my magic pile and place him next to Gren and evil-Piclo — in a way, it’s the ghost of the dwarf Piclo just slayed, returned from the grave for vengeance. I also play Wake the Father Gem, which reduces the cost of my pay-per-abilities. Then I position evil-Piclo for a bruising by surrounding him with my Miner, recalled from a useless slapfight with a Reaper, Gren, and my Gem Mage. I’ll be rolling six dice, and need five hits to kill the traitor. I don’t land them all: the Gem-Mage rolls 2/3, Gren rolls 1/2, and the Miner rolls 1/1. One more wound and I wouldn’t have to deal with another turn of Piclo’s traitorous brutality. I have 4 magic.
But Piclo isn’t finished yet, and Somerset is determined to make sure he lasts even longer. After she summons another Zombie Warrior in the middle, she plays Dark Sacrifice and offers up her rear Phantom and Cultist to heal 2 wounds off of Piclo. If she can displace some of his assailants, there’s a good chance he’ll live to fight yet another turn. So she moves her Reaper and her new Zombie Warrior forward into the fray, and begins moving Skhull around the south edge of my fortifications to try and get to Tundle while I’m busy fighting a desperate battle against my own champion. Piclo turns and deals 3 wounds to Gren, nearly killing him; the Reaper rolls a die on Gren and misses, thank heavens. Her Zombie Warrior wraps up the turn by injuring my Miner.
I summon a Gem Mage behind my starting Wall, and once again trade in one of my most powerful events (my last Wake the Father Gem) for marginal but much-needed benefits. I pull back Gren and surround evil-Piclo with my two Gem Mages. With Wake the Father Gem, they both get to roll 3 dice, and it’s a huge relief when the first one manages to put an end to the madness of my possessed champion. Piclo is finished. My second Gem Mage wounds the Reaper, and my Miner finishes him off. Whew, at least that dark chapter is concluded.
The intense push into my territory is still ongoing, however. While Ret-Talus is occupying himself summoning Cultists behind his lines for no apparent reason (though I fear it will made dreadful sense later on), Skhull is still looping around to the south of my Walls, and growing fearfully close to Tundle himself. In the north, my final hardy Miner is transformed into a filthy Zombie Warrior.
Fortunately, I draw my second Summoning Surge event. I place a Wall in the south, blocking in Skhull, especially when I play the event and then summon a Scholar behind and Lun to the south of him. My Gem Mages pull back to striking distance, and my Scholar spends a magic point to study Skhull and reveal his weak points. Then, disaster. My Gem Mage, also having spent a magic point so he’ll be able to roll four dice, only lands one wound. Oof. Lun lands 3/4, and my Scholar proves that he’s just as good in combat as a double-empowered Gem Mage by landing 1/1. Skhull is still going strong, and although it’s a certainty he’ll die on the next round, for now he’ll be able to attack Tundle.
After spending so much magic, I have 1 and Somerset has 7. Gulp.
Somerset destroys one of her midfield Zombie Warriors and the Cultist that Ret-Talus randomly summoned the turn before to rejuvenate her northern offensive by playing the terrifying Elut-Bal, who thunders straight out of her uppermost Wall to threaten my lines. This is bad, since thanks to Skhull, I simply don’t have the time or firepower to make sure two tough champs don’t converge on Tundle. Which is exactly what Skhull is doing — converging on Tundle. He rushes forward to my Summoner and deals 2 wounds. In the meantime, Elut-Bal has begun wrecking my starting Wall.
As a defensive measure, I bring out my final Illusionary Warrior event and use it to conjure up one of Somerset’s units out of my magic pile. Now I have a Cultist too! I place him by my northern Gem Mage, then surround him in a tight defensive formation.
I might not have time to kill both champions, and I might be setting up more attacks than I have actions to accommodate, but I need to ensure that Skhull doesn’t live another turn to keep wrecking Tundle. To that end, Lun moves north to Skhull. Thankfully, Lun’s first attack gets rid of the hulking monstrosity, and my Cultist and Gem Mage are both able to deal a wound to Elut-Bal.
Elut-Bal might be a wrecking ball, but he’s still made of glass. He pulls back and to the north, still in a position to hurt me, but much more unlikely to get surrounded. Somerset’s Zombie warrior moves to support him, and Ret-Talus retreats south now that there isn’t anything directly between him and one of my forward summoning spots. Clever. Elut-Bal kills my northern Gem Mage, though Gren keeps Somerset from taking him as magic. On my turn, my Illusionary Cultist pursues Elut-Bal and deals him a wound, while Lun uses his awesome Gem of Calling to kidnap and kill the Zombie Warrior.
As the eleventh round ends, my defense is nearly complete. Elut-Bal is still around in the north, but he’s wounded, and nothing is forcing its way to Tundle’s Meditation perch anymore. Problem is, I’ve now decked out, while Somerset still has a few cards in her draw pile and can summon commons from her discard pile. I may outnumber the Fallen Kingdom by a comfortable margin, but other than the single Scholar I have in my hand, the troops you see on the board are the troops that must last me the entire rest of the game.
Somerset summons another of those blasted Zombie Warriors up front, and moves him up to my Illusionary Cultist. Elut-Bal retreats behind him, which since he only has two life left, is probably a good idea. Her Zombie Warrior kills my Cultist, which sets off a string of events: my Cultist fails to retaliate with his Death Curse ability, Gren yoinks the Cultist to my magic pile, and the Zombie Warrior’s Infect ability places a Zombie Warrior from Somerset’s (ha, I originally typed “Zomerset’s”) discard pile into the Cultist’s now-vacant space. The new Zombie Warrior, who was once my Cultist, who was once Somerset’s Cultist, turns around and murders Gren right where he stands. It feels like the end of an era.
In response, I move Lun closer to where the Gren just died, and use his Gem of Calling (and a magic point) to abduct his second victim, pulling the southernmost Zombie Warrior down to where he, a Gem Mage, and Tundle are waiting to kill it, which they do.
The other Zombie and Elut-Bal charge forward while Ret-Talus shifts north and begins to attack his own Wall. Elut-Bal keeps trying to destroy my starting Wall.
To continue fueling Lun’s ability to kidnap enemy commons from 4 spaces away, I take a risk and have Tundle Meditate while Lun plucks the final Zombie Warrior from his position near Elut-Bal.
The danger, of course, is that Lun might not be able to kill the Zombie Warrior alone, at which point I might take another wound on Tundle. Fortunately, Lun manages to roll 3/3, completing his ghastly ritual.
Things are speeding up now. Ret-Talus desperately needs more magic for last-ditch raising of the dead. He has a healthy stockpile of 6 magic, but Somerset still has a champion that hasn’t appeared on the board or in her discard pile, as well as one more Legions of the Dead event. Chances are she’ll only be able to afford one of them, and the decision between a champion and three more commons is clearly agonizing. My own forces are in the distant south, so she takes her sweet time, attacking both of our northern Walls over and over again.
I don’t want her to have time to get more magic, for obvious reasons. For one, waiting doesn’t benefit me any longer. I’m out of cards (except for that Scholar, who I’m holding onto for a rainy day since I can’t spare the movements to take care of him anyway) and I have enough magic to use my expensive abilities a few more times. So I begin to rush north in a semi-orderly fashion, always taking care to leave no easy summoning spot for Somerset to deploy her champion and attack Tundle for a disappointing win. I get into position to attack Elut-Bal with my Gem Mage, spend one magic point to empower him, and only roll 1/3. Elut-Bal runs to the south and gets his last word in, killing the Gem Mage but leaving my starting Wall barely standing. I finally finish off Elut-Bal with Lun; all the while, Tundle Meditates cards back into my magic pile for future use.
As I march my ragged survivors ever closer to the enemy’s last position, I eventually summon my final Scholar and have him help crowd that northern Wall, with Lun close behind. Tundle is a short distance back, wary of getting too close to the fight with only 4 life left, never mind that only a single wound would finish off the corpse-king.
Ret-Talus continues to attack his northern Wall, and is the sole Fallen Kingdom unit on the battlefield. Looks can be deceiving when you’re dealing with a necromancer, however.
Right when I have her northern Wall good and blocked, and I’m just one space away from getting to roll a final attack on Ret-Talus, Somerset plays Legions of the Dead, and Ret-Talus brings all sorts of undead monstrosities onto the field. A Zombie Warrior, Cultist, and Phantom all spring into being, and the Cultist wounds my forward Scholar.
My number one priority is to ensure that Phantom never attempt a Possession, especially of my champion Lun. That would be the end of me, no matter how much in my favor the dice might rattle. So I have Lun use his Gem of Calling to pluck the Phantom out from Somerset’s lines and place it between him and Tundle. And then I nearly scream when not only Lun misses all of his attacks, but Tundle does too — meaning that there’s now a Phantom adjacent to a tasty champion and my Summoner. Once I pay for Insight, my forward Scholar at least manages to kill the Cultist that stands between him and Ret-Talus, and the Cultist’s Death Curse misses.
Somerset moves her northern Zombie forward to attack my Scholar, and has the Phantom move 0 to try and Possess Lun. Last time, when Piclo got his brain fried, I was watching as the die rolled a 6, so superstition gets the better of me and look away. Her groan tells me that she missed… with a 5. Ret-Talus raises another Cultist to take the place of the one that just died, and it lands another hit on my Scholar. The Phantom wounds Tundle, meaning he’s now half-dead.
This time, Lun redeems himself by killing the Phantom. My northern Scholar wounds the Zombie Warrior, though the other one misses the Cultist.
We’re gridlocked, and once Somerset builds her last card into magic, she has enough to raise one more common. She informs me that, yes, that last card was a champion.
Somerset has her Zombie Warrior walk around my northern Scholar, getting ever-closer to Tundle, and her Cultist kills the Scholar that was screening Lun. I haven’t looked in her discard pile for a long time, and I’m praying she doesn’t have yet another Phantom up her sleeve.
Lun nabs her Cultist and drags him just close enough to attack. It works, and Lun kills the Cultist, though the Death Curse does manage to hit him back. My Scholar studies the Zombie Warrior, and Tundle uses the new knowledge to blast it from a safe distance.
And then we move into our final position. Ret-Talus summons a Cultist between him and Lun, and the Cultist rolls 2/2, leaving Lun on the brink of death. I move Tundle behind Lun.
Lun attacks the Cultist and kills it, and the Cultist’s Death Curse kills him right back. Somerset once again has enough magic to summon a common unit from her discard pile, and if she does, he’ll have a straight line of attack on Tundle. However, right now, there’s nothing there. Just two spaces between these two Summoners, glaring at each other over the short distance.
Tundle gets two dice and needs one hit. If he makes it, I win. If he doesn’t, all odds are against me.
He makes it, rolling 1/2. Ret-Talus is killed, and I, barely, by a fraction, win the fight.