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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2012
Never before have I been so happy about playing a card game.
That being said I'm not a huge LCG or CCG fan.
Also, this isn't really a card game: it's a game WITH cards.

Summoner wars plays much like a dice based combat miniatures game, with the strategy of deck based card games where you have to plan for what is ahead in your deck. Also, Chess.

There are tons of videos and reviews that describe how this game is played so I won't do that. You can even download the rulebook off of Plaid Hats website.
No doubt this is a great game so instead I will talk about what I really like, and what I'm not a fan of.

CAUTION: I'm really nit picky about components.


This is super accessible: Rules are super easy to explain and all the cards explain themselves.
The card art is great: it's my style of art.
The box is BIG: You can fit your kids in there.
The board is great quality: Nice and slick for sliding cards around.

The Box is BIG: You can lose your kids in there. Also, it's hard to take around for just a card game. There are many different storing alternatives though.
The dice are bad: They are blah dice. Boring. I would love some SW themed dice.
The cards are American shape: Meaning that no stores around me sell sleeves for them. (Order Mayday Chimera).
If you sleeve the cards they don't fit in the box: Well actually they might depending on the sleeve.

Notice how all the cons are super nit picky stuff, but that isn't too uncommon among board gamers. These quips do not detract from the fantastic PvP experience this game provides.
If you are on the fence about this game, don't be.
Buy it.
It's a great game from a great company.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
By Kevin Lewis
Co-host of the Gamelore Podcast

Objective/Theme: In the fantasy world setting of Itharia, factions lead by Summoners rise against each other in a fallen kingdom. The factions battle throughout the world in search of Summoning Stones. In this expandable and tactical card game, take on the role of a Summoner. Go to battle using cunning warriors and powerful spells against your opponent.

Summary of Components: The Master Set includes 1 high quality board, 20 wound markers, 5 six-sided dice, and 225 cards. There are 6 unique factions to choose from that fit nicely into a tray. More factions can be purchased and stored in the tray. The game supports 2 players.

Setup & Turn Summary: Each player selects a faction (Benders, Deep Dwarves, Mountain Vargath, Sand Goblins, Shadow Elves, and Swamp Orcs). Each faction deck is built, but there are rules to customize decks. Use the reference card included with each faction deck to place the starting cards on the board at set locations. Shuffle the decks and place them on the draw pile. Each player rolls a die and whoever rolls the highest chooses to go first, or allows the other player to go first. The first player starts with the move phase and does not draw cards.

Victory Conditions: The player that eliminates the opposing Summoner unit, at any point in the game, WINS!!!

Game Play & Strategy: The battlefield is a grid of locations for placing, moving, and attacking with your units, represented as cards. Units are placed (Summoned) from wall locations on the board. Each unit has characteristics or values like attack, health, and special abilities. Players take turns, organized in phases, to out maneuver, out flank, and pummel the opposition until claiming victory by defeating the opposing summoner unit.

Each turn is divided into six phases: Draw, Summon, Play Event Cards, Movement, Attack, and Build Magic. The following briefly describes each phase.

¡Draw Phase: Draw cards so that you have 5 cards in your hand. If the draw pile is empty, you can no longer draw cards.
¡Summon Phase: Summon units to the battlefield by paying magic points equal to the summoning cost listed on the cards and placing the cards adjacent to a wall card. There is a location for magic points on each playerfs side of the board. Players earn magic points by successfully attacking other units and adding these cards to the magic pile or building magic in the later phase.
¡Play Event Card Phase: Event cards usually do not cost magic points, but may have requirements for playing the card. There is also no limit to the number of event cards played in this phase. More wall cards are also played in this phase.
¡Movement Phase: The player may move up to 3 units. Each unit moves 1 or 2 spaces. Cards cannot move diagonally, may not move through any other cards, and must end movement in an unoccupied space.
¡Attack Phase: The player may attack with up to 3 different units. Each unit has a symbol that represent melee or ranged attacks. Melee attacks can only be made against an adjacent (not diagonal) unit. Ranged attacks can be made up to 3 spaces away in a straight (not diagonal) line. Each unit has a number of dice to roll for the attack. Usually 1 or 2 dice, but other cards have more. A successful hit is made with any 3, 4, 5, or, 6 rolled. A 1 or 2 is a miss on that die. The attacked unit then receives damage counters or is killed and moved to the attacking playerfs magic pile.
¡Build Magic Phase: Place any number of cards from your hand to your magic pile.
The phases in a turn are very straight forward and easy to learn. The strategy that comes from the combination of cards available and tactical combat on the battlefield has depth, offers challenging decisions, and has hours of enjoyment. I have lost this game more than I have won and I still LOVE IT!!! Each faction has itfs own theme or gfeelh and they are fairly balanced. Sometimes there is a bad card draw or bad die rolls. Trust me, I should know. However, how you position and attack with your units on the battlefield is critical.

Every unit has a special ability written on the card along. The abilities are very important and you need to know how to use them. Also, it is good do be familiar with how your opponentfs unit abilities work. There is a variety of abilities in each faction. Having the right combination of different units can help you eliminate you opponentfs units to build your magic points. You also have to plan ahead for cards you want to summon by using the Build Magic Phase. Get used to discarding weaker cards to the Build magic pile so that you can summon more powerful units later on.

Attrition is high and can be costly. Be prepared to lose units. But use this to your advantage to get in the right position to take out your opponentfs Summoner. Also, it is not all about number of units, but using what you have correctly. You have 3 units to attack with per turn. Having 7 units on the board does not necessarily make your side stronger, but it does give you options and you can use the units to take the hits for units you want to keep on the battlefield.

My favorite feature about this game is that it is not a CCG (Collectable Card game). I have played Magic the Gathering and I also have played the Star Wars and Star Trek CCGs by Decipher. These are great games, but you can ginvesth alot of money into these games. I am enjoying other card games that can be expanded but without hurting my bank account. For example, you can purchase more factions for Summoner Wars at a cost of approximately $10 per deck.

Another highlight of this game is the replay value. There are six decks included and how you play each deck may change based on card draw throughout the game and in response to your opponentfs actions. This is also my gGo Toh game when there are only 2 players. The game lasts no longer than an hour for experienced players (after 2 or 3 plays) and you are ready to dive into the next game.

If you like tactical combat, planning a strategy of great card combinations, decks with a specific theme, and short gameplay, then this is the game for you.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2011
I got the master set two months ago as all the beginner sets went out of print. Colby the game creator was kind enough to propose sending me a demonstration box and thats how i got this set, two months before they begun selling it.

Best way to describe the game would be as chess meets MTG, well maybe not the best way but A way.

Each game lasts around 1 hour, lots of strategic options, lots of variation, luck plays a small part but not crucial.
Most amazing feature is the feeling that the game can change each round and no one is too far ahead.

Havent tried the 4 player variation but the people i play with want to try it very soon as they are all having a blast playing.

We played with all 6 factions and were able to find a beginner set as well, seems like the factions are very balanced but sometime a player feels like a matchup is not very balanced, im not sure yet, will update if neccessary.

So...great game,great value,new startup game company so great work and its highly recommanded to all gamers looking for a strategy game for two.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2013
I purchased the Summoner Wars master set over a month ago. The wife and myself really enjoy this game. The master set comes with 6 faction decks, dice, wound markers, spacious box (perfect for storing more faction decks), and premium board.

We both feel that the faction decks are balanced well, you may find from time to time that certain factions have an unfair advantage. I consider this to be luck of the cards though, as you can play again with the same two factions and the game feels balanced again. The other variable is the dice, there are many times that you plan your moves well but the dice rolls just don't work out for you. This is what adds much excitement to the game, you may think your gonna get stomped and next thing you know your opponent rolls a miss.

If you are on edge for whether to purchase this game or not, I would say go for it and you won't be disappointed. I have since ordered other factions and must say playing the new factions against the master set factions work very well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2014
This game has everything going for it: beautiful artwork that fosters the imagination, tons of variety and replay, and impeccable balance.

Particularly deserving of recognition is the art direction that has been employed in the creation of Summoner Wars. The cards are wonderfully illustrated with fascinating characters who seem ready to leap into our world as they do battle with one another. Of the six factions, all are wildly different - not just in terms of how they play, but in their personalities. There is also a ton of variety within each faction, with characters that actually look and play differently from their brothers in arms. I always get a kick out of bringing in my “heavies”, the assorted champions that best represent each faction. The tremendous amount of attention that has been applied to the artwork and resulting personalities has an enormous effect on how this game plays. It really engages the imagination (similar to games like Magic: The Gathering or tabletop RPGs) and the players begin to visualize the epic battles they are orchestrating on the well-built board before them.

Fortunately, the gameplay of Summoner Wars holds up to the high standards that have been set by the art. I’ve played this game many times, and every time I do, I’m amazed by just how well balanced the six included factions are. Each faction’s play style is drastically different from the others, with its own distinct strengths and weaknesses. No matter what faction you represent, and no matter who is opposing you, you can always emerge victorious if you use intelligent strategy.

An interesting aspect to the gameplay is that there is a small degree of luck involved, in the form of dice rolls that determine the amount of damage inflicted on enemies, as well as the order in which cards are drawn. Though strategy is still king in this game, this element of luck makes it so that even when the walls are closing in on you, you can still hold onto hope for a miraculous turnaround, as you bring in last minute reinforcements or pull off an improbable win on a field of multiple skirmishes, which may lead to a chain of larger victories.

What’s especially remarkable about Summoner Wars is that, despite its depth and complexity, it’s REALLY easy to learn how to play. Within minutes of reviewing the instructions and getting set up, we were engaging in a rapid fire exchange of turns, strategizing on the fly, and eagerly anticipating our next moves.

Anybody who has played Magic: The Gathering will be right at home here, though I would actually argue that Summoner Wars is the better option for most game players. The reason for this is that the six included decks are immaculately designed and balanced, each one equally ready to launch against the others. I really like this, because I don’t have to spend all kinds of time and money trying to build a crazy deck, and I can also play this game with any of my friends, not just the ones who have already built their own decks. Everything you need is included, and what’s more, you can even add MORE factions via expansion packs.

For those who wish to do some personalizing, that option is available. Though the decks are ready right from the get-go, you can acquire “mercenaries”, which are soldiers for hire that can be added to ANY deck - a feature I think will be fun to experiment with.

The bottom line is that Summoner Wars is a ton of fun and it has unlimited replay value - it’s become one of the best games in my collection!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2014
I haven't gotten to play many games of this yet, but I'm really enjoying it so far. Exploring the different factions and adapting your strategy to fit their play styles is something that will keep me coming back to this game again and again. I also bought some expansions for it, of which there are tons.
The only downside concerns the box. The inside of the box has only two sections: one skinny section on the side (where I guess the dice were supposed to go?) and a large section next to it. There are no nice subdivisions or sections for you to fit your cards and different parts. It's a pretty lazy setup, if you ask me, considering that this is the second edition of the master set, and the first edition had a plastic insert with the proper compartments.
With a little bit of creativity and effort, however, I was able to make this box fit my stuff well (see my image). If you cut the flaps off of the box Amazon uses to ship this to you, you can carefully cut it to make a divider that will sit flush with the sides, allowing the game board to fit nicely on top of it. Since your divider will be pretty much the same height, the board will hold it in place, so if the box shifts around and stuff your cards won't get mixed together. With the leftover cardboard I made some little bent flaps to put under the cards so you can pull the tab and lift the decks out. I tested my setup and now it works great.
NOTE: The master set comes with the Swamp Orcs, Benders, Shadow Elves, Sand Goblins, Deep Dwarves, and Mountain Vargath. In the picture I posted you can see some other factions that I bought as expansions, such as Mercenaries and Vanguards. THESE DO NOT COME WITH THE GAME.
review image
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2012
For starters, the box is larger than I expected. Because of this, it can easily accommodate up to four extra factions, more dice, extra wound markers and a couple extra battle maps.

The components are decent quality. The board is glossed and durable. The dice are normal and wound markers are cardboard, but the cards seem like they will show wear faster than say a deck of playing cards. I'm already worried about people shuffling them poorly and causing bends/creases in the cards. I've done around 10 plays so far and besides a little wear on the cards, everything is holding up fine.

As for the gameplay, this is already one of my favorites. It can easily be played in under an hour. It goes as quickly as the players can decide what to do on their turn. It plays like Magic meets Chess. Summon units onto the battlefield and take out your opponents Summoner. I know I'm a dork, but I try to get 1-2 games in each week during my lunch break.

The Master Set comes with 6 different factions - each with a different play style. Part of the fun is trying out different factions to see which ones you like best. So far, none of the factions seem too over/underpowered and with an opponent on a relatively similar playing level, most of my matches are very close.

Lastly, this has been a great 2 player game. It requires another board/map to accommodate 4 players (something I was somewhat disappointed to find out after receiving the game). Not sure how different a 4 player game would be, but I've heard it suggested that player 3 should take his starting turn the same way as player 1 - even though this isn't in the rules.

Overall, great game.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2014
Summoner Wars is a miniatures game in disguise replacing the minis with cards. The game is simply enough to pick up and learn for just about anyone, and makes a great entry level game for new players to the genre. There is plenty of replayablility since the game comes with 16 different decks. Each decks plays fairly unique from one another too. Although the game is not marketed as an LCG it definitively is. There are plenty of expansion and Reinforcement packs to customize your decks.

There are several things I don't like about the game. The cards are not the same size as any other popular game sleeves are made for making it hard to find sleeves to fit. Look for sleeves around Yugioh size. The previous Ultra Pros before going to their new snug fit worked wiell, but now the top of the cards stick out. Sure Plaid Hat has some sleeves available now, but they are expensive for what they are. I can get a pack of 100 sleeves for larger cards games for the price of 50 they charge for.

Like most PHG this is a push your luck dice game. Even if you are the better player you still can lose a lot since you are at the mercy of the die roll. This is the main reason I gave the game 3 stars. There is definitely balancing issues. New players seem to freeze up too debating what the best possible strategy might be since you never know if your plan is going to succeed or not based of the die roll.

The deck editing is among the worse I've seen in a long time. Also since I am the only one who owns the games I choose to keep them all as the unedited base decks.

Don't get me wrong. Summoner Wars is a lot of fun and I love PHG. This just isn't really for alpha gamers due to the high variance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2014
Master Set
This is the best way to step into the game and to start your Summoner Wars collection. It gives you six unique and fun factions to play, a nice board and enough space for storage. My personal favorite factions from this set are the Sand Goblins and Deep Dwarves. The Goblins are tough and cunning. Because of their durability and ability to manipulate the movement of opponent's units, they have a way of forcing the opponent to play aggressive. The Dwarves are more of a subtle fraction, who rely on coughing up a lot of magic to trigger powerful abilities and creative combinations. Yet, they can afford to be patient, because they can build up their magic like no other faction and because they can pull off some truly intricate combinations. The Master Set will give you the best bang for your buck and it will give you a good sense for the potential in this game, namely how fun it is to try out different factions against each other.

A Few Notes on Summoner Wars
I have played Summoner Wars now for 3 years and my appreciation for the game has only grown with time. There are several reasons that the game has continued to be a favorite of mine. For one, because of the many factions the variety within the game is extensive. In fact, with the continued release of new summoners, with their own event cards, units and champions, the game continues to expand exponentially, adding new interactions and broadening the diversity of strategies.

A further aspect that is great is that it is a customization game in that you can mix and match cards to build your decks the way you want. Yet, it is not overwhelming. The game is compact in this way. The range of units you can add is not daunting. What the customization does is give you a opportunity to adjust and adapt your decks rather than asking players to completely construct something from nothing. This means there are ways to change things up in terms of strategy in your deck, yet this aspect remains accessible to newer players as the card pool is not paralyzing to choose from.

Another, aspect of customization that I would add that gets kind of overlooked is that there really is a faction out there that will fit your play style. I play regularly with about a dozen players, and each player has their own favorite factions and emphasis in deck building. You can customize based on your play style. Some decks are more aggressive and some are played more for control, for example. A feature that really makes you connect to the game is that you can pick factions that suit your play style.

A final reason, and the reason that makes this thoroughly a well-designed game, is that this game is a game of tough decisions, but delivers it with simple mechanics. Essential to understand is that, your deck represents your units, your options and your resources, yet you cannot play your entire deck. You need to sacrifice part of it to make the other part work. This will vary depending on the situation in the game and the opponent you are playing. Each turn you are making tactical decisions according to the situation and strategic decisions for what you want to achieve in the overall game. Yet, this aspect of the game, the interplay between tactical and strategic choices, is not a paralyzing feature. The build magic phase is a good example for how this works. At the end of your turn, from the cards left in your hand, you may discard cards to your own magic pile to increase your magic spending power for the next turn. You are managing your hand and managing your resources in the same mechanic. It gives players a lot of control in the game, like how fast to build up resources, how best to respond to opponents moves, prioritizing what cards to hold onto for key moments, and so on, and yet you are only deciding between a few cards at a time. The enjoyment of this game rests in the simple mechanics, stream-lined game play and the tremendous amount of variety and control in game play.

A Note on Four Players
This is a great game for two players. Playing with four is equally compelling while adding possibly more depth to options and the choices one makes. A big difference though is that a four player game will take significantly longer, likely not finishing within an hour of game play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
Summoner Wars is a great strategy game that is simple to teach and simple to play but has good depth in replayability.

Summoner wars uses a fantasy theme with orcs to goblins to elves to the undead. It's theme isn't really that heavy in the game itself, but many of the factions abilities are thematic. The Fallen faction are able to summon a zombie warrior in place of an opponent's unit that was killed by a zombie warrior. Benders are able to use the mimic ability which allows them to take an event card from the opponent. Overall, there isn't anything too offensive with any of the factions aside from Filth, which are a bit gorey.

Summoner Wars plays pretty quickly. Combat is decided using dice and most units move 2 blocks each. The mechanics are very simple and streamlined. You can watch or read most gameplay articles or videos somewhere, but the goal is to kill the opponent's summoner. Each player has a limited deck of 35 or so cards and those cards will never be reshuffled. Once the draw deck is depleted, the player will have to finish the game with what is on the board.

Due to the dice rolling and card drawing, there is a good deal of luck in the game. Add in some of the catch-up mechanics(Magic Drain) and games are generally pretty close until the end. The luck and catch up mechanics make it more accessible to newer players. Sometimes the other player will put out 2 or even 3 champions right away with the right event cards and things can get really bad. That same player may also roll 3 1's on their attack. There's always a sliver of hope.

Other thoughts:
- The luck is strong with this one, but good strategy and tactics can help mitigate it.
- Ridiculously easy to teach and play right away.
- So many different factions to play with just in the Master Set.
- Faction expansions are self contained and reasonably priced. You can use a faction expansion straight out of the box.
- Limited deck construction; Its limited but still pretty interesting.
- Faction abilities are thematic and generally unique

Overall, this is a fun, light strategy game, and the Master Set is a great way to start.
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