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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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× Talk about the latest and greatest AT, and the Classics.

Summoner Wars 2e!

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01 Mar 2021 13:21 - 01 Mar 2021 13:25 #319879 by Jexik
Summoner Wars 2e! was created by Jexik
So excited! Pre-orders open today!

First a bit of history and disclaimer. Back in 2009 when the owner of the popular Heroscape fan site announced his new game and company, Plaid Hat Games, I was a little skeptical and cautiously optimistic. But once I played Summoner Wars several times, I really started to appreciate it and want to play it more. By early 2010 I was brought on to playtest, and not long after put in charge of playtesting the game. By 2012 I stopped playtesting, and helped design a couple faction decks and some cards. They named a Summoner after me (2nd Cloaks summoner). Ironically I hardly played that deck and I'm pretty awful with it. Nevertheless, I've never gotten a tattoo, but the Cloaks faction symbol is high up there on probable choices. I was on their old podcast. Despite my twitter handle being @plaidhatjames, I have basically nothing to do with the company now, other than wishing them success.

Why the original was so great
It combined the hand management aspect of a game like Race for the Galaxy with a light skirmish wargame. Unlike RftG and a lot of MtG clones, you draw back up to your full hand size after every turn, but if you run out of cards you simply don't draw anymore. Any card can be played or discarded for magic (essentially money for summoning stuff). Your burn rate was a choice, and the card economy was tight. 3 attacks and 3 moves per turn meant the action economy was tight as well. The dice added some unpredictability but were a fast resolution mechanism. All the decks played differently and for the most part felt pretty complete and playable out of the box.

Between testing, playing the production copies, and the app, I probably had around 1000 plays, give or take. It's easily in my top 10 games of all time, and definitely the best game that PHG ever made, despite the more widespread success of some of their more story driven games.

Why the changes seem to make it even better
1. You no longer get magic for destroying your own units.
2. If you don't attack an enemy unit on your turn, you get 1 damage on your summoner.

These two changes seem to affect common complaints of the original. A bad feeling of attacking your own guys in your opening moves, and a solution to stalemates.

3. New dice.

Rather than a standard d6, the new six-sided attack dice have 5/6 swords, 4/6 bow hits, and some new little squiggly magic things. This seems to make range a little weaker and also open up the design space to interact with those squiggles, similar to surges in Descent or something.

4. More health and higher attack values.

Lots of stuff essentially seems doubled. I'm kind of indifferent on this change, but for example, the new Sneeks (Cave Goblin summoner) has 11 health compared to his old 7, and Tacullu has 13 (used to be 5). Most summoners were 6 or 7 life in the old game. The zero cost cave goblins have much more varied stats than the old 1 attack / 1 life that they used to have. So this speaks to a bit more permanence and ability to tinker with the design space a little more.

5. Some tidying up of the turn phases.

You've still got your 3 attacks and 3 moves, but gone is the event phase - events are now played during the phase that they affect. Walls (now called Gates) are played during the Build phase, and the old build magic phase (discard cards for power) has been renamed the Magic phase. Drawing now occurs at the end of the turn, which should reduce downtime. (It used to be at the start of the turn, so a player wouldn't be able to consider their options until their turn began).

6. Subsequent Gates have less HP and can be built adjacent to your Summoner.

Both of these changes seem quite solid to boost aggression. In my first play as the Cave Goblins, I was able to effectively mount pressure by placing forward Gates. In the past, one aggro/control strategy was to destroy your opponent's walls to prevent them from summoning, that may be easier now.

7. New art.

Common complaint that I've seen was about the art. The Breakers have kind of an East Asian vibe now. I forget the name of the artist, but it looks a little more cartoony now. Some may miss the old art, but if you liked Crystal Clans' art, it's more of that I think.

8. A digital version at launch

Currently you can play 2 of the first 6 factions in alpha state on your browser against a friend or AI. I haven't looked into what the future holds, but it seems like a good step with the current situation.

The bad
All of your old stuff has to be burned now, amirite? No backwards compatibility or 'conversion' kits.

They're only asking $50 for the master set with 6 decks though, it includes the Breakers, Cave Goblins, Fallen Kingdom, Vanguards, Savannah Elves, and Polar Dwarves. The latter 2 are brand new, it sounds like. It's also slated for a May release, so it's not like a kickstarter that you kind of put some money down and forget about it...
Last edit: 01 Mar 2021 13:25 by Jexik.
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01 Mar 2021 14:27 #319881 by the_jake_1973
Replied by the_jake_1973 on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
If I had a local person to play against, I would go in on it. The art is leagues better than the original. I'll end up going digital on it at some point, even though I was terrible at the first edition. lol
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01 Mar 2021 14:37 #319882 by fightcitymayor
Replied by fightcitymayor on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
I'm happy to see it back, but I wonder if Colby & Co. can really expect the same lightning-in-a-bottle success the second time around. OG Summoner Wars was released over a decade ago (2009) and boardgaming has obviously gotten exponentially bigger since then, so SW2 is going to have to fight for recognition with a metric ton of other products out there. What was once a cute, cottage-industry, plucky designer effort in 2009 might struggle to find a similar foothold in 2021.

It's also interesting to note how the BGG ratings for SW have decreased over time, again leading me to wonder if the market is still there for what is essentially a card version of a minis skirmish game. (CMON still looms large in peoples' modern expectations for such endeavors.)
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01 Mar 2021 14:43 - 01 Mar 2021 16:26 #319883 by Sagrilarus
Replied by Sagrilarus on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
I think the old version of the game will play just fine with items 1 and 2 in your list added as house rules. So yeah, it's not the new version, but still one heck of a game.

I'm the guy that's going to complain about no 3-player. My buddy used to splice two boards together, one sideways to make this work, which worked remarkably well considering what a kluge it is. A hex-shaped board with a hole in the center could be might interesting.
Last edit: 01 Mar 2021 16:26 by Sagrilarus.
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01 Mar 2021 17:00 - 01 Mar 2021 18:15 #319891 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Summoner Wars 2e!

the_jake_1973 wrote: If I had a local person to play against, I would go in on it. The art is leagues better than the original. I'll end up going digital on it at some point, even though I was terrible at the first edition. lol


I had trouble finding local opponents because my main game group preferred multiplayer games. Most of my gaming these days is 2-player. I agree that the skill cap of the old game was pretty high. It might still be, but some of the cheesiness and turtling appears to be dealt with.

fightcitymayor wrote: I'm happy to see it back, but I wonder if Colby & Co. can really expect the same lightning-in-a-bottle success the second time around. OG Summoner Wars was released over a decade ago (2009) and boardgaming has obviously gotten exponentially bigger since then, so SW2 is going to have to fight for recognition with a metric ton of other products out there. What was once a cute, cottage-industry, plucky designer effort in 2009 might struggle to find a similar foothold in 2021.

It's also interesting to note how the BGG ratings for SW have decreased over time, again leading me to wonder if the market is still there for what is essentially a card version of a minis skirmish game. (CMON still looms large in peoples' modern expectations for such endeavors.)


If anything, I think Summoner Wars kinda came out a little early. It was just before Kickstarters started being a thing. I still think there's a market for something as accessible and quick as Summoner Wars. Most of the lightning- in-a-bottle as you put it came from a) the Heroscape fans and b) Excellent reviews. I think a) will be replaced by existing SW/PHG fans and b) will likely happen again. I haven't checked Tom Vasel's top 100 games of all time in a few years, but Summoner Wars was routinely in his top 10. I'm also kind of hoping that the digital version might help it out and get more people into it sooner.

When it comes to BGG, the Summoner Wars Master set from 2011 is currently 226, which isn't bad for a 10 year old game. The Alliances Master Set from 2014 has an average rating of 8.1 and is number 4 on customizable games. If the solid reviews and initial buzz come in the way I expect, I wouldn't be surprised to see this release crack the top 100.

Sagrilarus wrote: I think the old version of the game will play just fine with items 1 and 2 in your list added as house rules. So yeah, it's not the new version, but still one heck of a game.

I'm the guy that's going to complain about no 3-player. My buddy used to splice two boards together, one sideways to make this work, which worked remarkably well considering what a kluge it is. A hex-shaped board with a hole in the center could be might interesting.


You probably could house rule those two in, in addition to the "forward walls," but I think Prince Elien will really hurt when he can't attack someone. Heh.

The four player team game was surprisingly great, if a bit long for a game like this. I used to play every morning with the kids from work with the initial 4 factions. I still haven't read the new rulebook to see if they kept the team game.

EDIT: No mention of the team game in the rules that I can see, and the deck construction rules are interesting. Looks like you'll never need to buy two of any release.
Last edit: 01 Mar 2021 18:15 by Jexik.

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01 Mar 2021 17:50 #319896 by DarthJoJo
Replied by DarthJoJo on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
I think it’s also notable that the rules have been tweaked for list building. The number of starting units is greatly reduced, and outside of epic events, you can modify your event lineup as well. Summoners also have affiliation icons now, and all their units and events must include at least one of those icons.

I’m on the fence. The original was one of mine and my wife’s favorites. We played a ton until tapping out around the time of Alliances. But the two-player skirmish genre is so wide now. Unmatched and Funkoverse are still kicking, Osprey Games have a pile of miniature-agnostic rulebooks at the same scale, Games Workshop has exploded options at this level, and there’s Imperial Assault for something meatier.

Second edition looks like a better game in all respects, but the competition is so much stiffer today. The digital edition seems like its one, major advantage.
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02 Mar 2021 09:42 #319919 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
For me right now, X-Wing is the skirmish game I like the most that's out, but it takes twice as long as Summoner Wars to play. I haven't tried Funkoverse because I don't like Funko pops, and Unmatched strikes me as a lot less deep than Summoner Wars, or I'm missing something with it.

Been playing the web app a bit during my free time yesterday, and I'm really liking what has changed, while feeling that it respects the original quite a bit. Despite the higher life totals, the game doesn't feel longer, which is good. At least with these two decks, it's harder to 'hide,'
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02 Mar 2021 16:26 #319937 by drewcula
Replied by drewcula on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
Thats a great summary. Many thanks.

I'm a frequent critic of the 1st edition artwork. Every image I've seen from 2nd edition is leaps and bounds better. The aesthetic may not be everyone's cuppa, but the craftsmanship and polish are there.

I won't lie; despite not needing another skirmish game, both my fondness of play and attraction to the new art made me click on PHG email blast this week. I think their subscription service is very clever. I'm tempted.

Except; 1) I still don't need another skirmish game, 2) My wife is my main opponent now, thanks pandemic, and she has a fighting time limit < 30 minutes. SW usually clocks in just above that. 3) Unmatched clocks in just below 30 minutes.
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04 Mar 2021 11:57 #320032 by quozl
Replied by quozl on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
This looks good! Does anyone know what the retail price will be when it comes out?
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04 Mar 2021 12:09 #320035 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
PHG is asking for $50. If that’s the MSRP, e-tailers will be selling it for $35-40... which strikes me as a steal for 6 decks. That’s zero inflation since 2011.
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04 Mar 2021 13:11 #320042 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
Yeah, that's a damn good price.
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04 Mar 2021 14:44 #320056 by Sagrilarus
Replied by Sagrilarus on topic Summoner Wars 2e!

Jexik wrote: PHG is asking for $50. If that’s the MSRP, e-tailers will be selling it for $35-40... which strikes me as a steal for 6 decks. That’s zero inflation since 2011.


May be worth buying a second time.

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15 Mar 2021 15:39 - 15 Mar 2021 15:42 #320607 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
Colby put up a design article today. It outlines the expansion material and how deckbuilding works.

www.plaidhatgames.com/news/2021/03/15/bu...wars-second-edition/

If you've read this and/or listened to the recent podcast all about Summoner Wars, you'll find that there are 66 combinations of these 12 symbols, and he has plans to make decks until 2028. That sounds both awesome and terrifying to me.
Last edit: 15 Mar 2021 15:42 by Jexik.

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16 Mar 2021 09:11 #320674 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
This is the announcement I'm most excited for this year, and I say that after playing the demo like 10 times. It's still SW to its core but the new edition changes are all great. Really excited to dig into this when it comes out
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31 Mar 2021 15:20 #321511 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Summoner Wars 2e!
PHG did another live playthrough on their facebook page. This time it was Savanna Elves vs. Polar Dwarves.

I’ve started playtesting expansion content now as I’m having trouble waiting for May to roll around. So far, the PD which Colby played are my favorite faction.

I do look forward to the physical copy and the app getting more factions.

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