Summoner Wars Mega #2: Vanguards vs. Mercenaries
Today’s battle is something of a class war. The sprawling (and smelly) City of Heap has long stood in the shadow of the Citadel of the Fist, home to the Vanguards, but at long last Rallul’s Mercenary company, which often recruits out of Heap’s slums, has challenged young Sera Eldwyn to a battle for ultimate control! Or at least control for a while, since the Summoner Wars are functionally unending.
This match couldn’t have been more different from our last one if it tried. Rather than being full of trickery and win-stealing, this one was all about two forces slowly grinding each other into dust. And I’ll tell you now, it was a close one.
Somerset: Sera Eldwyn of the Vanguards
It’s interesting that most people play Vanguards as a defensive team. The word vanguard even means forefront, the leading position, advance guard, and other such on-the-offensive descriptions. I’m kind of a go-and-get-‘em gal myself, and that often gets me in trouble at the beginning of games. Even so, I love teams that can be on the offensive. The most annoying and endearing thing about my team is the Priest’s amazing Heal ability. Man, I love that power: “Oh, it’s too bad you didn’t kill that unit… Healed!” Another strength all my units have is they are pretty strong, with each common sporting two hit points. One of their downsides is it’s best to keep them moving in a group, which makes Wall placement important.
Playing against the Mercenaries is such a mixed bag, literally. I have no idea what kind of units Dan will be bringing to the table. Last time I played against the Mercenaries, my opponent (Dan again) tried something different and brought one of each common unit available, and after that I just don’t see any way to plan for every contingency with all the options he has. The only things I can really plan on are his starting units, two of which are probably some of his better choices. Stone Golems are among the best defensive and offensive units available when played correctly, and with a couple of Rallul’s events they can turn into temporary Walls on my side of the board — yikes! And those Rune Mages… my word, that Siphon ability is a killer. Both these units are on my instant-kill list if they cross to my side of the board.
The other events I’m concerned about are Rallul’s ability to move walls, gain extra walls, and transfer wounds from walls to my adjacent champions! Walls walls walls!
So here’s my deck plan, commons first. I’m taking all five Priests. The probability of my getting one of my three of the Holy Judgment events at a beneficial time is pretty reliable, and healing common units for free and only one magic to heal champions is awesome. I’m also taking Cavalry Knights for their mobility and assassination potential. I’m taking a couple Angels and Guardian Knights as well, on the off-chance I’ll want the Protection ability for moving forward with a kill group, or being able to jump over a Wall for a surprise attack or Wall crowding. All my champions are expensive chaps, especially since I’ll want a lot of magic left over for healing. It’s probable I’ll only be able to get out two, or even one. For mobility (and easy healing if I retreat), Archangel; for superb common-killing, Jacob Eldwyn; and my last pick, Kalon Lightbringer.
Somerset’s Vanguards deck (reference):
Archangel, Jacob Eldwyn, Kalon Lightbringer
2 Angels, 5 Cavalry Knights, 5 Guardian Knights, 5 Priests, 1 Stalwart Archer
Dan: Rallul of the Mercenaries
The Vanguards are often considered a bottom-tier faction. Even so, I’m not going to bank on Somerset misusing them, especially not after she assassinated Sunderved last week in an upset victory. I expect her to use them like a scalpel, not some rubber mallet.
The Mercenaries, who I’ll be playing as, are easily the most versatile team in the game. Every reinforcement pack comes with a handful of their cards, so right now there are 18 champions and 13 common varieties to choose between. This makes them extremely intimidating to customize a deck for, but I’m going to try and reduce the problem to something more manageable. To that end, I want to look at what makes the Vanguards compelling, and try to undermine each facet.
First: Healing. The Fallen Kingdom and Jungle Elves also have events to facilitate removing wounds, and there are a couple odd units who can do it too (the Benders’ Parasite and my own Mercenary champion Khexhu come to mind), but the Vanguards are the only faction that can heal reliably and often, both with their Priests and with Sera Eldwyn, their Summoner. The former aren’t as frightening, since they usually focus on healing commons, and Vanguard commons only have two life. Sera is the real danger, especially if she manages to pair up with one of her champions and keep them alive nearly indefinitely. I’d like to end the game before Somerset can get that Sera-Champion engine running, but I don’t know if that will be a possibility, so I’m going to try and take at least two high-attack, high-life, high-expense champions to mitigate this a bit.
Second: Formations. Vanguard units like to stick together, not only because proximity makes it easier to keep everyone healed, but also because some of their units derive benefits from being near to similar soldiers, or, in the case of the Guardian Knight, can draw attacks away from other units. This can make it a pain to get close to Sera, so I’m going to need some units who can move past or around bulky Vanguard defenses. Sounds perfect for Bounders, who can jump right over enemy units in a three-space straight line, Spear Grounders, who can attack diagonally, and Time Mages, who can move diagonally and through other cards.
Third: Flying. Even though Angels are the least-loved Vanguard unit, and many people don’t bring Archangel along, flying is one of those elements that can really ruin your day if you don’t account for it. I’ve lost or won many a game thanks to the surprise of flying units. To counter this, I’m going to fill up the rest of my deck with cheap commons that I can summon as a response to airborne raids.
(Note: While I do want a good number of Stone Golems in this deck to take advantage of some of my more potent events, I’m not going to rely on the crutch that is Rune Mages. Somerset knows all about them, and isn’t going to be caught off guard by their ridiculous ability anyway).
Dan’s Mercenaries deck (reference):
Duggle, Hulgorad, Rygos
4 Apprentice Mages, 2 Bounders, 2 Rogues, 1 Rune Mage, 2 Spear Grounders, 5 Stone Golems, 2 Time Mages