Vanguards vs. Fallen Kingdom, Round II
Summoner Wars is so full of bitter rivalries that it could be about pro wrestling, but all of them pale in comparison to the conflict between the sickeningly rotten Fallen Kingdom and the sickeningly noble Vanguards. Now, with the appearance of an additional summoner on each side, these two factions are once again squaring off on the battlefield — which means Somerset and I are squaring off again too.
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 General Samuel Farthen of the Vanguards, with Someset playing as Mad Syrian of the Fallen Kingdom.)
The battlefield is still for the moment. Not only because my steely Vanguards are silently sizing up the undead horde, and not only because the undead are staring back with their vacant cataract-ridden eyes, but because our forces have aligned ourselves at diagonally opposite ends of the field. It’s like we marched towards each other for a fight and didn’t really line up quite right.
That’s fine by me, because one of my few native advantages as a Vanguard is the armor and high life points of my units — but these new Fallen Kingdom fodder are more dangerous than ever. I take the initiative first, and all I manage to do is shuffle into a tighter formation, pulling back my warrior monk (called a “Woeful Brother” because their holy order is dramatic as hell) to a position where the enemy Ghoul won’t be able to catch up and take off his head before the battle has even begun. With the Woeful Brother pulled back into the fold, it seems my forces are secure for the time being.
Which makes it damnably annoying that my enemy has so many tricks up his sleeve. I’ll explain: his name is Mad Syrian, and he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s the first summoner with the power to heal himself, for one — a trick he pulls off by wounding the living, which means he can’t perform it by killing off his own zombies, since they’re, well, dead. The flipside is that he’s well-acquainted with sacrifice. So well-acquainted that he can wound himself to summon a Warlock right in front of my army. While all the other undead are shuffling into defensive positions around Syrian, the Warlock runs forward and murders my Warrior Angel. So much for Samuel’s protective “Shield of Light” — didn’t wreathe that angel in too much light, anyway.
My Woeful Brother tries to right his childhood best friend’s murder (it’s really quite sad) by killing the nearby Ghoul, but it turns out that the “Woeful” in his title means he can’t hit for beans. The Ghoul survives, though not for too much longer — Ghouls have a “Ravenous Hunger,” see, and it means that if they don’t kill something each round, they take a wound. Still, he’s alive (ish) for the time being.
Syrian then sends one of his most terrifying new tools forward: a Vampire. This guy can fly all over the place, and right now he’s hovering around to the north of my Wall, just waiting to swoop in and hassle my very-nervous soldiers. My Woeful Brother doesn’t need to be worried for much longer though, because he gets blasted to pieces by a Warlock. Nasty.
With only Samuel and an Honor Guard left on the battlefield, it’s time to finally use my summoning stone. I summon another Honor Guard at the rear position of my starting Wall, and reposition my guys so that Samuel won’t be out front taking hits. I think my positioning is good, but then my Honor Guard fails to kill the Vampire — despite that long staff, his technique is messy, and he just flails around like a windmill while the Vampire cackles at him from above. How depressing. At least my other Honor Guard finally manages to bring down the enemy Ghoul — my first kill!
Syrian summons another Vampire, and the true danger of these batty creatures is suddenly made painfully apparent: both attack the nearest Honor Guard and then fly right over their flailing pike-staff things into range of Samuel Farthen himself. Honor Guards might be dweebs, but at least they’re dweebs with three life points, so both survive the encounter for now. Unfortunately, I now have a pack of vampires ready to chomp at my summoner.
Desperate to keep the Vampires off, I cast Transformation, which increases Samuel’s attack. It would normally also make all my troops harder to kill as well, but since all my surviving men are already encompassed within Samuel’s Shield of Light, that’s a non-benefit this round. Both of my Honor Guards try to kill the nearest Vampire and fails (what did I expect?), so Samuel blasts one of them into tiny pieces instead. The ash that drifts down afterwards is cathartic.
Not cathartic enough to stop the next turn from sending me into a blind panic. Syrian summons Gul-Dass, a chained demon who’s incredibly cheap once you consider how high his attack and life points are. The tradeoff is that whenever Gul-Dass delivers three or more wounds, the magic necessary to keep him bound also wounds Mad Syrian, but that’s very slight consolation with the demon breathing down one side of my neck while a Vampire chomps on the other. To make matters worse, Syrian casts Forbidden Ritual. This gives all his units the same power as his Ghouls, giving them an extra attack at the expense of a life point if they don’t kill something. Gul-Dass wounds one of my Honor Guards (but doesn’t kill him!) while the Vampire puts two wounds on Samuel. Then Gul-Dass, two Warlocks, and Syrian take wounds because they failed to complete the Forbidden Ritual. The Vampire dies from its failure, but since it gets sent straight to Syrian’s magic pile instead of being resigned to mine when I kill it on the next turn, it’s not much of a win.
Things are looking pretty damn bad. I’m down to Samuel and two pansy Honor Guards, one of whom is nearly dead, and Mad Syrian has Gul-Dass looking mighty imposing despite his magic paw-cuffs. To keep up some kind of battlefield presence, I summon a Woeful Brother (and offer a quick prayer that he won’t be quite so woefully useless as the last one) and have him and my wounded Honor Guard surround the enemy Warlock. The Honor Guard finally redeems himself by killing the Warlock, and the Woeful Brother does some judo chops on Gul-Dass, which seem to work pretty well for judo chops.
But. I’ve made a terrible mistake. Mad Syrian has two wounds, one from summoning the Warlock I just killed and the other from not fulfilling the Forbidden Ritual. Sadly, he now runs south and fires at range to kill my injured Honor Guard, which heals one of his wounds. Argh. I utter a vow to [insert whatever Vanguards believe in] to remember that trick in the future. At the same time, my Woeful Brother is feeling pretty awesome about his judo skills when Gul-Dass turns him into Woeful Paste. Zesty. Good with Woeful Crackers.
With no champions in sight, I figure I might as well bring in two more Woeful Brothers to keep beating up on the chained demon. I place them north and south of my Wall, and move them forward. I also position Samuel Farthen so that his Shield of Light helps protect the northern one, and when he moves, my Honor Guard tags along like a puppy. A useless windmill-flailing puppy. The Woefuls do well, one of them killing the last Warlock while the other pummels Gul-Dass some more. Of course, Gul-Dass makes another Woeful Puppet out of the southern one, while a brand new Vampire (summoned by the spell Reanimate, which wounds Syrian in order to bring the Vampire back from the dead) flies over to Samuel. Ugh, I’m getting so sick of those Vampire punks.
The upside is that Gul-Dass has wounded Syrian for the second time. I’m starting to consider leaving the demon alone and just feeding commoners his way until Mad Syrian bites it, but I suspect he’d be clever enough to order the monster to stay his claws if it meant his life.
The fight is clustered in the north, and I’m determined to keep the enemy from crowding my only Wall. I also finally draw a champion named Valentina Stoutheart, a blonde bombshell with a bottomless set of life points. She costs a whole lot of magic though, so it looks like I won’t be doing any summoning this turn. Instead I place a second Wall in the south, right across from Mad Syrian himself. That should get his attention. I’ve also finally stored up the hefty pile of magic I need to summon Valentina on the next turn.
I also cast Transformation again, and grin as Samuel wipes out the nearby Vampire and my Woeful Brother finally kills Gul-Dass (more like Gul-Ass, am I right?). Mad Syrian now stands alone.
Alone but not helpless. First he dashes my plans by summoning Hirud, a cruel champion who increases the cost of all champions by two. Two. Now Valentina is going to cost ten magic, and I don’t have that kind of mana-cash in my wallet. Then he summons yet another Vampire. And then moves north to escape the threatening positioning of my southern Wall — which puts him right in range of my Woeful Brother.
Thankfully Syrian misses the shot thanks to my still-lingering Transformation event, which is a relief that doesn’t quite dull the nagging ache that I’m a moron who keeps providing opportunities for the enemy summoner to heal himself. Hirud kills the Woeful Brother for him, and the Vampire wounds my Honor Guard then flies back to Samuel, of course.
Thus begins a gradual grinding retreat. I summon a Woeful Brother to cover Samuel, and he hurts Hirud a bit, but Hirud just murders him right back. Samuel kills the Vampire, and in return Syrian himself kills my Honor Guard and heals (my futile reply is a swear word). My one victory is Strong Spirits, which steals the souls of my deceased Woeful Brothers from Syrian’s discard pile and puts them into my magic pile, and since I’ve lost so many Woeful Brothers to the undead horde, I earn a tidy sum on the exchange. Even so, by the end of the ninth round, Samuel Farthen is huddling at the edge of the map, his entire army dead, with Syrian humming a mad tune while summoning another Warlock for free (which gives him a wound, but what does he care), a second Warlock for magic, and a Vampire to fly up and keep Samuel busy until the others can catch up.
The situation is dire, my friends.
You’ve likely already figured that the game doesn’t end right now. After all, the above header says “Rounds 10-11,” not “Then I Got Chewed On By Vampires and Warlock and a Jerk Named Hirud.”
What do you do when backed into a corner by the undead?
If you answered, “Call up the oldest lady in the universe,” then you’re a genius. Because that’s exactly what I did.
With one shot left, I spent nearly all my magic on a single champion (damn Hirud) named Sybil Swancott. She’s an ancient and hunched lady, but she’s also a powerful mage, and now she has a straight shot at Mad Syrian himself. We figure they probably know each other from the old days when summoning stones cost a nickle and you got a complimentary raspberry soda and moon pie when you bought two. Despite their past together from the late Cretaceous, the elderly lady promises to take care of Syrian, and since she can roll four dice at range, I figure the odds are impressively in my favor. Still, I also summon a Warrior Angel just in case.
(At this point, Somerset holds up her custom Fallen Kingdom die, skull faction symbol facing me, and mutters some arcane curse. Seriously, that’s dark stuff, and I fear it may have wounded her in the process. She deserves it.)
Not entirely. She lands one of four shots. Enough to put Syrian in critical and keep him out of the fight, since one more wound will end him for good. But still not enough to end the game. Old bag.
Syrian then puts up a Wall between himself and Sybil, meaning I probably won’t be getting to him as soon as I’d like. He also has Hirud kill my Warrior Angel and a Warlock shoot Samuel at range.
With little left to lose, I put out another Warrior Angel and get busy livin’. Samuel and my Warrior Angel attack Hirud, finally ending his reign of bloody champion-price-hiking terror, and Sybil redeems herself (not really) by killing a puny Warlock. Mad Syrian has little to do but cower while a Ghoul wounds Sybil (though she’s cool enough to ignore one of the two wounds).
Not willing to let Sybil make the ultimate sacrifice for her dumb mistake, I pull her back to keep her alive. I also trade blows between my Warrior Angel and Syrian’s Ghoul, and eventually finish him off while Sybil snipes Syrian’s last Warlock. After two rounds of traded blows, the battlefield is quiet once more. Except for the sound of Vanguard boots closing in on Syrian’s position.
Not willing to risk my weaker units, I summon Master Bullock. He’s the leader of the Woeful Brothers, and his dander is up now that his Woeful Order has been reduced to “Population: Bullock.”
Between Master Bullock’s powerful ranged attack and a Warrior Angel jumping over a Wall, and Samuel Farthen making sure Mad Syrian can’t land any easy wounds and heal himself, the battle is over.
Plus one for righteousness!
Now Sybil can go back home and knit for a couple hundred years until she’s needed once more.