Cloaks vs. Jungle Elves, Round II
Poop just got nonfictional. I’ve always preferred an assassination strategy in Summoner Wars, and now two of my three favorite factions — both of whom are among the slipperiest, most low-down assassins of all — have just received their second summoners, and entire sacks of tricks, traps, and mean horribleness to go along with them. This time, the nomadic Cloaks and the probably-also-nomadic Jungle Elves are having a go, and their appearance on my doorstep means another duel with Somerset.
Setup / Rounds 1-2: The Poison of the Jungle Elves
There isn’t anything remarkable about our starting setups: both of us in a line with our summoner tucked away to the rear. I’ve got a pair of Renegades, an Assassin, and a Bruiser; Nikuya Na, played by Somerset, has a pair of Hyenas, another of Hunters, and a Rhinoceros. She wins the roll and says I can go first, which makes me suspect she’s got something up her sleeve.
Anyway, I’ll oblige her. I’m already scheming, wondering how to use my Cloaks’ strange new abilities to my advantage. First up is Jexik, my summoner, who’s apparently a “Brilliant Strategist” (or B.S., as Somerset came to call his ability). He can declare a player, and at the start of that player’s summoning phase, one of my guys can make a free move. It sounds like an excellent way to perform hit-and-run attacks, so I declare that his ability will apply to her turn, then move both my Renegades forward. Between both Renegades and my ranged Assassin, I kill both of her Hyenas, though my Renegade’s puny hatchets plink off the Rhino’s armor without leaving so much as a scratch. Then, as Somerset begins her turn, I use Jexik’s brilliant stratagems to withdraw my Rhino-fighting Renegade to a spot blocking her Wall. Pretty good for a first turn.
Somerset isn’t discouraged. She retreats Nikuya Na back and to the south of the board a bit, putting him in range of my southernmost Renegade. She also moves up her Rhino and one of her Hunters, and while her summoner and Rhino beat up my Renegades, her Hunter shoots my beefy Bruiser and connects — which, rather than wounding him per usual, fills his veins with poison.
Poison, it turns out, is vicious. It can only infect common and champion units, but once it does, all their dice results are decreased by one, making it that much harder for them to land hits. Worse, the delirium from the poison leaves them sluggish, so if they move two or more spaces in a turn, they can’t attack. Oh, and it still counts as a wound, in case you were wondering. Without having received much damage, my hulking Bruiser is now much less useful than he was just a moment ago. As if to prove this, on my next turn I move him forward to fight the Rhino, only he can’t because he’s puking his guts out or something.
On the other hand, my Renegades are doing great so far. One of them finally hits the Rhino, though the beast is still a ways from death, while the other rushes up to Nikuya Na and gives him a thrashing. Round two, and the first summoner wound has already been dealt! Somerset responds by summoning a cheap Hyena to protect Nikuya Na, and between him and her Rhino, both my Renegades and my poisoned Bruiser are killed, putting her in sole control of the northern half of the board. Oh dear.
Rounds 3-4: Renegades and Assassins
This turn represents a choice. I can either summon troops in the north to try and retake that half of the board (and forestall Somerset’s inevitable advance through it), or keep pushing in hopes of further injuring Nikuya Na. And when you put it like that, I don’t really have a choice at all, do I?
So rather than protecting my tender left flank from the Hunters and Rhino that are soon to stomp across to my side of the board, I summon a new Renegade in the south and take a gamble.
Renegades and Assassins are fantastic common units. The Renegade can opt to attack in place of his move, and move in place of his attack — which means he could move twice, or attack twice, or make crazy-chains with any of Jexik’s movement-bending events. Though in this case, I just need him to clear a shot for my Assassin, a professional at taking down champions and summoners. The Renegade kills the blocking Hyena, and the Assassin lands a partial shot on Nikuya Na. That’s the second summoner wound, and Jexik’s ability lets the Renegade close the distance between him and his prey soon afterwards.
Somerset brings out another Hyena, mostly to make sure the Renegade doesn’t survive to attack her summoner on the next turn. See, Hyenas are opportunistic little bastards, and they excel at dragging down fighters who are already defending from another attack. In this case it ends up not mattering, since Nikuya Na kills my Renegade on his own.
The next turn is all about positioning. Somerset is sick of taking easy wounds, so she retreats him to the north and blocks any chance of another sniping opportunity with one of her Hunters. In the meantime, my own summoner is on the run, as I hide Jexik in a corner to avoid the Rhino that’s swiftly closing on his position. We’re both professionals at assassination, and it seems that the game might be won by whomever pulls it off first.
Rounds 5-6: Beware the Man of Spiders
We might be at each other’s throats, but Somerset is currently better protected. To remedy that, I bring out the game’s first champion: Spider.
This guy is a punk. Rather than attack the enemy directly, he specializes in beating those summoners who like to hide behind their minions and walls. If he can reach the enemy’s back row, he’ll deal a wound to their summoner before reappearing next to one of my walls. If I could defend this southern corridor, I could feasibly keep doing it over and over. Though of course, Somerset isn’t about to let that happen.
After Jexik makes an ill-advised charge on a Rhinocerous and my Assassin screens Spider’s advance on the enemy back row, Somerset fights back by bringing out a hero of her own. His name is Jujugara (hereafter known as “Juicy Fruit”), and he’s got one of the game’s most versatile abilities: to adopt the ability of any beast on the board, whether Hyena, Gorilla, Rhinoceros, Lioness, or Elephant. In this case, he’s taking the form of her Rhino, meaning he’s nearly invincible for the time being. Oh, and he’s in a position to blitz Jexik if I don’t do something about it. Somerset also has her Rhino gore Jexik — my first wound — and plays Spirit of the Turtle on the Hunter protecting Nikuya Na, just to try and keep him alive a bit longer.
Fortunately, Spirit of the Turtle apparently only grants the toughness of the tiny Homopus signatus, because my Assassin shoots straight through the Hunter’s armor without trouble. Jexik finally kills the Rhino that’s been poking at him, and a brand new Bruiser stands in the way of Juicy Fruit’s advance on my summoner, punching him so hard in the process that Juicy Fruit is intimidated and won’t be able to attack him back on the next turn. Best of all, Spider reaches the enemy’s rear row, deals a wound to Nikuya Na through the magic of infiltration, and jumps back to help protect Jexik. Things are looking up!
Of course, that doesn’t mean things are entirely copacetic. One of Somerset’s surviving Hunters in the north is in range to hit Jexik, and I’m relieved that whatever poison they use isn’t strong enough to harm summoners. She also has a newly-summoned southern Hunter and Juicy Fruit (in the form of a Hyena) attack Spider, leaving him significantly crippled.
Rounds 7-9: Movement Tricks
As the seventh round begins, both Somerset and I have a champion on the board. Sadly, hers is definitely winning this skirmish, and my forces in the north are as nonexistent as ever. And while Jexik is in danger of receiving more wounds, Nikuya Na is safely standing in the middle of an open field with nobody nearby to hassle him.
If I hope to win, I’m going to have to pull off some serious movement trickery.
Fortunately, serious movement trickery is what Jexik’s Cloaks are all about, and two events deliver what I want. The first is Clever Diversion, a devious card that gives my common units the opportunity to jump across the board: so long as they end their movement next to an enemy Wall, they can leap to an open space next to a different enemy Wall. So after having Jexik use his “brilliant” strategies to push my Bruiser forward (“Hey you! Move somewhere!” Wow, you’re so brilliant Jexik), I move him next to the Jungle Elf Wall in the middle, which lets him suddenly appear on the other end of the board next to the enemy Hunter that poisoned Spider last round.
That’s not all. After having Jexik move into the open to kill the Hunter that recently shot him (a move that appears markedly less brilliant than his usual fare, since it puts him in the open in an enemy-controlled region), my second event card activates. This time it’s Heist, which gives my Bruiser the ability to steal some magic from Somerset’s hand before teleporting back to my side of the battlefield — right in position to defend Jexik, naturally. So two enemy Hunters down, a magic stolen from Somerset, and a better defensive position than before, all thanks to the Cloaks’ tendency to appear where you least want them.
Somerset still on her feet, and Hunters come cheap. Between a fresh Hunter and Juicy Fruit, Spider finally succumbs to the poison in his veins. I summon a champion named Kyra to hopefully deal with this problem, but Juicy Fruit proves especially tough to beat when Somerset hits me with a one-two punch over the next couple rounds. As I painstakingly move Renegades and my Bruiser into the now-unoccupied north, Somerset summons a Rhinoceros and empowers him with Spirit of the Cheetah. He races down the lane and pummels Jexik; and although I finally manage to murder Juicy Fruit, he lands a few inopportune blows on Kyra, leaving my only surviving champion beaten to the point that a single wound will finish her off.
Round 10: Ignominious Conclusion
The situation is dire. Nikuya Na has also received the Spirit of the Cheetah, evading my Renegades and hiding in the far southern corner, so my chances of finishing him off are slim. A Rhinoceros is chomping on Jexik, who only has two life points remaining, so one more round will probably mean defeat since I can’t penetrate the beast’s hide.
There’s one chance left.
I play Clever Diversion again, and add Daring Plan to it. Daring Plan gives my guys a huge boost to their attack, but if they fail to kill their target, they end up sent to my discard pile. So I’ve got a pile of tough troops, all stepping through the enemy Walls to surround Nikuya Na. It’s a good gamble, though some of my guys are poisoned and can’t fight too well.
To make a long story short, my two Bruisers surround Nikuya Na and beat him to death with their silly hand-maces, ending the game in the nick of time. One more turn, and Jexik would have fallen victim to a Rhino-attack.
All praise Jexik!