Go for Summoner Wars, an essential confrontation game for 2 players

Ever since the discovery of the Summoning Stones, war has raged in the Kingdom of Itharia. Can you lead your faction to victory in Summoner Warsour board game of the week?

The lord of the Fallen Kingdom was the first to find a summoning stone. His armies seemed invincible, until the other factions found some too. Ever since, Summoners have led their troops into war. Will you choose the right strategy to get the upper hand over your opponent?

In Summoner Wars, two players compete with the aim of destroying the opposing summoner. Before playing, they choose their faction from the six offered in the box. Each consists of thirty cards, constituting its army, has its own troops and a very specific strategy.

The game board represents the battlefield, a grid of 6 by 8 squares, on which you place and move your cards. You start by placing your summoner, two troops, and a portal, according to a layout defined by the chosen faction, then the game begins.

Source: Plaid Hat Games

A game turn consists of six phases. The first three are to summon new units from his hand to an empty space adjacent to one of his portals, by spending the required magic points, move up to three units one or two spaces each, and build new portals. , again by spending the required magic points.

Then comes one of the most important phases, the attack phase. Up to three of our units can attack enemy targets, either melee or ranged, depending on our troops’ abilities. Damage is determined by rolling dice according to the strength of our units. When a unit’s hit points drop to zero, it is destroyed. As a reward, you gain a magic point.

Summoner Wars
Summoners duel. // Source: Sébastien Goetz for Numerama

Finally, you can discard cards from your hand, each of them earning one magic point, then you draw cards to have five in your hand. If we reach the end of the pack, too bad, we have to make do with what we have until the end of the game.

The turns are linked in this way, the players taking turns and the game ends as soon as a summoner is destroyed.

Each faction has different types of units, including champions, very strong, but expensive in magic, and their own mechanics. The Fallen Kingdom, for example, can return units from the graveyard to the battlefield. The Avangardes, species of paladins, draw a lot of cards, thus giving them more possibilities. Cave Goblin units are cheap and can attack multiple times in a turn. Etc.

Why play Summoner Wars ?

The name of Summoner Wars, or the description given above may remind you of something. It’s quite normal. In addition to the homonymous, but unrelated, mobile video game, a first version was already released in 2012 in France.

And so, ten years later, what does it look like? As at the time: a bomb, nothing less.

Summoner Wars
Source: Matagot

It’s very simple, as far as we are concerned, Summoner Wars is one of the very best strategy and confrontation games for two players existing, on par with the excellent Field of Honorone of our favorites of 2019, and Magic. The author and the publisher have even taken advantage of this reissue to correct a few points, further smooth the flow of turns and rebalance the factions. The illustrations have also been revised, they are much more successful, colorful, and in tune with the times.

What makes it so essential then? Its rules to begin with, really very simple. Apart from a few details, the description at the beginning of the article is almost complete. Also, a fair balance of strategy and randomness (between drawing cards and rolling dice), rarely frustrating, unless you really accumulate bad luck. If you win, it’s because you were smarter than the opponent, if you lose, it’s because he was lucky. Finally, fluid laps and fast and nervous parts, lasting an hour at most if you really go all the way. The game even encourages attacking every turn, because if we don’t, our summoner takes damage.

Above all, we appreciate the great diversity brought by the different factions, their specific units and their powers which determine the way in which they should, ideally, be played. This involves a bit of text and keywords on each card and takes a bit of getting used to the first time you take control of a new faction. But, nothing very complicated, and that is also part of the pleasure of discovery. Note in this regard that the 8 years minimum indicated on the box seems a little optimistic to us. There is still a lot of text to read and strategic choices to make. Target 10 years instead, it’s more prudent.

Summoner Wars
Source: Matagot

Would we therefore be in the presence of the perfect game, without any flaws? Almost, to a very small detail ready, but which has nothing to do with its playful aspect. The box does not offer any storage. We would have liked it to contain inserts or dividers, to store faction packs properly. But there, nothing. Not to mention the factions to come.

Since yes, new, smaller boxes are already planned. The one we present to you today is called “Master Set”. In addition to the six factions, it contains a large cardboard tray. A second box, thestarter set“, arrives in July. It only contains two new factions and the board is a folded sheet. It is however much cheaper, and it’s a good way to discover the game before cracking for the rest… and you will crack. Finally, two small packages, each including a new faction, already exist in English. Hopefully they will arrive in French soon.

If you are a fan of two-player confrontation and strategy games, go ahead with your eyes closed on Summoner Wars. If the rules are simple, mastering the different factions will require a few games. And, in any case, a fair dose of chance adds its grain of salt and can allow the situation to turn around. The games are tense, and it is rare to stop at the first. A revenge, followed by a possible beautiful, is generally in order. The author and the publisher had the hollow nose to bring out this game ten years after its first publication. They even managed to make it even better. And, even if we already have plenty of fun, we are still eager to discover the next factions.

  • Summoner Wars is a game by Colby Dauch
  • Illustrated by Martin Abel and Madison D. Johnson
  • Edited by Matagot
  • For 2 players from 8 years old
  • For games of about 50 minutes
  • Priced at €47.90 at Philibert

The verdict

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