Guild Dwarves vs. Cave Goblins, Round II

Ah, is there any photo I cannot shop?

The Guild Dwarves and Cave Goblins are at it again.

In about a month the first four of the second summoners will be released, which means the second phase of the Summoner Wars is beginning! To celebrate, Somerset and I have set the new Guild Dwarf and Cave Goblin decks against each other. While archenemies Oldin and Sneeks are busy wearing down their forces in frontal assaults, both have thought up a secret flanking maneuver — completely oblivious to the crucial detail that these ill-fated plans traverse the exact same route. And so Frick’s army of war cripples, runts, and braindead goblins has come to crash against Bolvi’s fortified towers and those sworn to defend them to the death. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Also fun.

One thing to keep in mind is that this wasn't exactly a balanced matchup in the first summoners' version. While either side could win if played well, the Cave Goblins were definitely the harder team to master, and were highly dependent on drawing the proper events in a certain order; the Guild Dwarves, while not outstanding in any one area, possessed very few weaknesses. So one of my prime interests in this new matchup is to see if these decks are any more immediately balanced than the originals.

Setup / Round 1.

Setup / Rounds 1-2

(The board is oriented to make the game easy to keep track of. Flanks are referred to as “north” and “south” rather than the relative “left” and “right,” and when units move “forward” it means they’re moving towards the enemy’s side of the board. Everything is written from my perspective as Frick of the Cave Goblins.)

We’re only playing with the basic decks today, since neither of us feel entirely comfortable with our new options. This means we both know in general what to expect, and are fully aware of the contents of each other’s decks — though we don’t really know the implications of some of our cards, in particular all the new events.

Right away I’m struck by the differences in our starting positions, frail goblins stacked up against a tight formation of hardy dwarves. Even so, my team is poised for a strong first-turn move, which is nice to see. In many cases, going first isn’t desirable unless your goal is to get out of the way of the enemy or quickly bolster your defensive formation, considering you’re limited to moving only two units and you don’t get to draw any cards. But in this case, two of my six starting units are Clingers, and they ride into battle hooked onto the backs of their buddies. With just two moves, I can actually relocate a fairly significant four troops. When I win the starting die roll, I choose to go first and give it a try.

The wording on the Clinger is absolutely brilliant, as it means they can nab onto *passing* friendlies as well as those that began the turn adjacent to them.

Clingers cling into battle.

I’m not sure this is a good opening move. I probably won’t be able to kill many of the starting dwarves, and their retaliation against my frail troops will probably net them a whole bunch of magic — but if there’s one thing I know about goblins, it’s that they’re replaceable. The Runt in my midfield picks up a Clinger and deposits him right in front of the dwarves’ starting Wall, and my Oaf shuffles around in order to leapfrog my other Clinger forward. Like that, our forces are fully engaged.

Three weak attacks later, and two of the enemy’s Oath Sworn are wounded, but nobody has been killed. At the last minute, I’m relieved to discover that Frick’s “Leader of the Horde” ability encourages one of my cost-0 units to make another attack; in this case, my Runt manages to finish off the farthest-north Oath Sworn, leaving the northern third of the board empty for the time being.

Somerset doesn’t intend to leave the north unoccupied, however. She summons an Architect, a little punk that costs nothing and can heal Walls and Bolvi’s various new Towers. He moves up and between him and two Oath Sworn, both of my cleverly-moved Clingers are wiped out.

Oh well. Since charging forward isn’t working as well as I’d hoped, I play the “Throw Rocks” event, which lets my goblins, erm, throw rocks. This turns them into ranged attackers for the rest of my turn. Seems to me that if throwing rocks were the equivalent of crossbows and magic missiles, everyone would do it. I suppose they’re magic rocks though, supercharged by Frick’s summoning stone. At any rate, I position my remaining guys so that there’s a Runt in front and an Oaf behind — Runts are “Puny,” so all ranged attacks sail right over their heads. First my Runt kills the previously-injured Oath Sworn, then the Oaf shoots over the Runt to kill Somerset’s starting Architect who had been hiding and feeling safe that there are very few Cave Goblin ranged troops. Not anymore! My final Runt, the little guy who began in the far south, takes a potshot at the last Oath Sworn. He wounds the Guild Dork, though he misses when Frick gives him another shot.

These have a neat balancing mechanic, which I didn't realize at first. When you kill an upgraded tower, you get TWO magic, since you also gain the upgrade card. Very nice.

The Dwarves counter with their new towers!

It’s time for Somerset to strike back, which she does with a vengeance with a brand new Assault Tower. Now, these are cool, though only if you’re the Guild Dwarves; otherwise, they’re a big pain in the butt. See, they’re quite powerful, attack at range, and have good life points. The downside is that they’re “Built,” so they can’t pick up and move (at least not normally, more on that later). At least it’s possible to summon them next to an Architect so they don’t clog up your summoning spots forever — which is precisely what Somerset does, putting her new Tower up in the north, right in a spot where it has a breezy line of sight on anything I try to bring around that side of my starting Wall.

Then she goes and makes things worse, also upgrading her starting Assault Tower with a “Gyro Stabilizer.” This means that Tower can now attack diagonally and she can spend a magic point to let it attack twice. Not that she’ll need to, since I plan to give it as wide a berth as possible.

She then moves up her Oath Sworn — both her old wounded one and another who’s freshly summoned. They march right past my Runt, instead seeing a worthy opponent in my Oaf. They like fighting tougher units, and so get +1 to their attack value when attacking a unit with a summon cost of 2 or more. Between the two of them, they easily hammer my Oaf into the ground. At least her Gyro Tower misses my Runt. “Where is he?” Somerset jokes, hurting his tiny feelings.

We should have taken more pictures. Sorry.

Round 3.

Rounds 3-4

Things look pretty dire. Other than a pair of Runts and Frick himself, I’ve got a whole lot of nothing, and Somerset’s locked down both flanks with Assault Towers and she has a pair of Oath Sworn closing in on my starting Wall.

Sounds like a perfect time to deploy one of my furious new events: “Hordes of Rabble,” which lets me move all my units 1 space and — get ready to fling yourself out of your chair in horror — it lets me attack with up to six units during my attack phase. Of course, I play this after putting a Wall in the south and summoning a Runt in the north and the scary new Feeder champion in the south.

The Feeder is a compact (and aromatic) bat-pellet of Cave Goblin synergy. Whenever one of my units is destroyed within 2 spaces of it, the killing player doesn’t get them as magic; instead, the Feeder shoves them into a lunchbox for later. And when it decides to chow down, it gets an extra attack. Suddenly my fragile goblins are a force for (digestive) good.

Hordes of Rabble lets me move all these units into position. My stranded Runt charges up to Bolvi while everyone else closes in on their targets. Frick moves out to help the Runt kill that pesky northern Assault Tower, and The Feeder moves up to take down those Oath Sworn.

Unfortunately, the dice conspire against me. I get to roll eight, but only half of them result in hits — Bolvi gets wounded, one Oath Sworn dies and the other is injured, and the Assault Tower is merely scratched and now has a clear shot at Frick over my Runt’s head. The one upside is that when there are loads of goblins on the board, the enemy needs to work hard to prioritize their attacks.

Somerset does a good job of this. Priority Number One is protecting Bolvi, whom she retreats and has kill that impudent Runt. Priority Two is usually to hurt the other guy’s summoner, but in this case the Feeder is freaking her out because the one benefit of fighting the Cave Goblins (getting loads of magic by slaying their weak troops by the dozens) is currently being negated by him; so she summons an extra Oath Sworn and has both of them gang up for three wounds on my poor overgrown chiropter.

In response, I use my “Join the Horde” event to make an Oaf from my hand cost 0 for the turn, and I put him in position to cover The Feeder’s retreat. My second attempt on the Assault Tower succeeds, and yet another Oath Sworn fulfills his vows by falling in glorious battle. Somerset puts a brand new Assault Tower right where the old one was, plays “Expand” to put a second one next to it, and then upgrades it with a Mortar. Oh, and it shoots Frick while her remaining Oath Sworn avenges his fallen comrade by killing my Runt. Good thing The Feeder steals that Runt for a mid-battle snack.

If it keeps appearing that I'm outclassed in these pictures, it's because I was.

Round 5.

Rounds 5-6

Since my first “Hordes of Rabble” event didn’t help me as much as I’d hoped, I give it another go. My Oaf carries a freshly-summoned Clinger over into the middle, plopping him down behind that Mortar Tower where he can hopefully get rid of the Architect that threatens to keep it repaired. And once again I put a Runt in the north for an extra attack, with Frick still chancing some wounds to add his higher attack to the fray. For the second time, “Hordes of Rabble” proves an unlucky event for me. Even being attacked by Frick, a Runt, and an Oaf, the Mortar Tower stands strong. The Architect does too. The only thing that dies, in fact, is an Oath Sworn who finds himself mauled by a very well-fed Feeder.

These Assault Towers are starting to grate on me, and Somerset can see it, which is probably why she puts another one down in the middle and has her Architect fix up the Mortar Tower in the north. Frick gets shot again, and I resolve to stop risking him in combat.

On the next round, I finally bring that pesky thing down. My Runt pulls back to make room for The Feeder to give it a try, and it collapses to the ground. My Clinger kills the Architect for good measure.

For the briefest moment, the momentum of the match is turned. Bolvi retreats even deeper behind his Towers and Walls, and the forward Assault Tower deals two wounds to my Oaf — that’ll come back to bite in a moment.

At this point, I'm mostly excited by the deckbuilding options for the Cave Goblins now that there are a few more cost-0 units, and that "Join the Horde" event turns all commons into cost-0s for the round. I'm excited to see units like Climbers and Beast Riders suddenly given usefulness with some of the new synergistic units like Clingers.

Round 7.

Rounds 7-8

Smeege is strange. At 0 cost, he’s the cheapest champ available, but he’s also fairly weak and a magic junkie, so he eats a magic point at the end of each of your turns. I’m not entirely sold on the idea, but I need more meat on the field, so he gets summoned right into the middle of things. He then proceeds to miss his puny one attack on the Assault Tower, so my enraged Oaf, now rolling 3 dice because he’s taken 2 wounds, razes it to the ground instead. Even my Runt does better against the northern Assault Tower, dealing two wounds to it once Frick encourages him to keep attacking. As the turn ends, Smeege eats one of my magic points. Hmm.

Turns out that Somerset’s turn of retreat was just a play for time so she could build a bit more magic. Now she plops down a champion of her own, and if I’m being honest, it’s a lot more appealing than Smeege. It’s Grundor’s Tower, a monstrous 8-life hulk of stone and murder. Thankfully it can’t— oops, now that she’s upgraded it to a Colossus, it can move just fine. What’s more, it can trample right over common units. I mention that it’s the Summoner Wars equivalent of a Power Ranger. “It’s the pink one!” she insists, right before playing “Strengthen Structures,” an event that makes her towers even harder to kill for a round.

Well. Crap.

Remember her diagonal-attacking Gyro Tower? Well done, because I didn’t. Between its unexpected attack and an Oath Sworn, The Feeder is sent to bat heaven, where it can have as many scavenged meals as it wants (that’s what Frick tells the Runts, anyway).

Since Somerset’s Towers are clomping around all invincible-like, I kill her Oath Sworn and fall back and attack some of her Walls. Turns out I have much better luck at doing this. Smeege eats more magic. Grr.

As the round ends, Grundor’s Tower marches happily forward, shielding Bolvi behind it. And then it reaches out and whacks my Clinger to death. It would have been really frustrating if it weren’t for Somerset’s wide-arms imitation of Grundor’s Tower’s robotic stomping. That makes it all worth it.

Right back to where we belong.

Round 9.

Rounds 9-10

Once again I use the “Join the Horde” event, though this time I use it to get out two free Oafs. I’ve got about 11 magic in my pile and I haven’t had any use for it other than feeding Smeege, so I use a bit of it to summon Dibs, who’s a much more interesting champion (he hates other champions, and they hate him; both sides get +1 attack). I take down the northern Assault Tower, and Dibs begins picking away at Grundor’s Monstrosity. Somerset responds by summoning Dwaf, the most picked-on dwarf of all time, whose ability lets him hurt Walls real good. Grundor’s Tower punches Dibs back, Dwaf hurts my starting Wall (Good job, Dwaf), and Bolvi damages his own Walls to become more powerful, punching one of my Oafs right off the field.

I then summon a Clinger and have my southern Oaf carry him into battle, and move another Oaf— alright, look, at this point the midfield and north end of the battlefield are bonkers. Take a look:

Right in the middle is Smeege, doing nothing.

Just a mess.

Our forces are so intermixed that although the Guild Dwarves have the upper hand in terms of attack and life, Bolvi is in serious danger, especially when my Clinger beats him up a little. Grundor’s Tower isn’t looking quite as impressive now that Dibs has half-wrecked it, and I’m just begging Somerset to try to kill my Oafs.

Oh, and Smeege is still missing all his attacks and eating my magic pile. Sigh.

Somerset takes evasive action: Bolvi falls back and Grundor’s Tower follows to cover his retreat. Better, her attacks do nothing but enrage my Oafs, which makes her seriously nervous for the next round.

OAF TIME!

Round 11.

Rounds 11-12

This moment is basically my one shot at winning the game. Bolvi has three wounds, and my Oaf gets to roll three dice. Fingers crossed, he winds up, takes a deep breath, and…

… only deals one wound out of his three tries. Oh well, good hustle. My other Oaf does better, hurting Grundor’s Tower more, which stacks nicely with the efforts of my Clinger. Not that the Clinger feels good about it for long, as Grundor’s Tower walks right over him, leaving nothing but a magic-rich paste where there was once a very enthusiastic cripple. Bolvi empowers himself again and kills one of my super-grumpy Oafs, while Dwaf decides that breaking down Walls isn’t doing it for him anymore and kills the other. Down in the south there’s a slapping match between Smeege and an Oath Sworn, but neither is accomplishing much other than making themselves frustrated.

With the death of my Oafs, there isn’t much for me to do but be a nuisance. Dibs finally wrecks Grundor’s Tower, but Dwaf kills him right back and Smeege finally stops eating my magic. Because he gets killed. Good riddance, that nutcase ended up costing me 5 magic and he dealt like two wounds.

I give these sets a 10/10. Seriously, they're awesome. Much better balance than the original summoners, with a bit more room for trickery.

Round 13.

With no deck, no hand, and no units, it’s time to concede the match. Somerset still has a Gyro Tower locking down the south, and Dwaf and an Oath Sworn are keeping Bolvi safe in the north. In my head, Frick runs away to gather more misfits for battle. Just don’t ask for Somerset’s version.

Posted on May 2, 2013, in Board Game and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. What’s Somerset’s version?

  2. This is why I read Space-Biff…

  3. I hate to be “That Guy”, but: numbers please.

    • Since this isn’t a Mega or a tournament, we feel no obligation to share the numbers. On the other hand, I’ll do it just because you’re a cutie.

      Cave Goblins rolled 44/70 and took 15 magic.
      Guild Dwarves rolled 54/67 and took 15 magic.

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