"The summoning stones have been found and war is upon you. Carve out your empire - and let your enemies despair!"
In the land of Itharia, summoners rule the battlefield. A cross between a mage and a general, summoners use Summoning Stones to call their side's forces into battle. The sheer numbers that can be brought to bear with this power renders old armies obsolete.The first summoner, Ret-Talus, commands an undead horde, and for a thousand years went unchallenged. But eventually a second stone was found, and as the major nations rushed to find others, Ret-Talus was now merely powerful rather than unstoppable.But rather than uniting against this giant threat, the major factions of the world have instead turned to old rivalries and petty squabbles, as the quest for power consumes them all.Summoner Wars is a tabletop card game created by Colby Dauch, note best known for his work on Heroscape and published by his independent game company Plaid Hat Games. It combines elements of CCGs and tabletop strategy games and is played on a flat grid map.Each player has a deck of unit, event, and wall cards, and one summoner. At the beginning of each game players put their starting units on the board, then take turns made of drawing, summoning, moving, and attacking- the object being to kill your opponent's summoner. The game also has the interesting idea of letting any card from your hand act as mana, and having killed enemies go to your mana reserve.Recently got a spin-off, Dungeon Run, in which players battle as members of each faction to get a summoning stone of their very own.Noted for its unique concept, finely-tuned balance, and lack of blind purchase, Summoner Wars is found in stores and on its website.
Summoner Wars provides examples of the following tropes:
The Vanguards are an Elitist faction: all their units have at least 2 HP and they have a heavy focus on healing.
The Cloaks are a Guerrilla Faction: there is a dash of Elitist faction since their summoner is one of their main combatants.
All armies from the Master Set are different varieties of Technical Faction: Mountain Vargath are a Brute Force Technical faction, Shadow Elves are Guerrilla Technical, and Swamp Orcs are Spammer Technical (thanks to their vine walls).
A minority of common units are female, but those that are tend to be tricky or powerful combatants, like Spear Grounders and Fencers.
Aerith and Bob: The Vanguards have Sera, Jacob, Raechel, Leah, Coleen...and Kalon.
All There in the Manual: The story is strictly manual-only, since the designer thinks plot shouldn't be mandatory. The plot summary above is page one of the manual, and all Flavor Text and plot are only on the website.
Always Accurate Attack: Any unit with Precise, nearly all of whom are Phoenix Elves. Elien can make a unit Precise for a turn with Spirit of the Phoenix.
Smashers are sooooo slowwww that all attacks against them are this by default.
Rygos: in addition to his regular melee attack, he is such a superb shot that he gets a free ranged attack after attacking, and it always hits.
Annoying Arrows: Not a single common archer has a base attack higher than one, and most champion archers only have one or two attack too.
Subverted by Makeinda Ru's Power Shot ability, which gives her the strongest ranged attack in the game.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Elien's treachery (holding back a second stone) is discovered by Maldaria, his mother. She punishes him by having him... clean his room. Subverted brutally when it's revealed that Elien's illegitimate family have all been slaughtered by Kaebeeros, and left there for him to discover.
Cool, but Inefficient: Leah Goodwin's ability is potentially really strong, but it takes planning and a lot of hard work to get it to work more than a couple times.
Cryptic Background Reference: The cities of Waels and Galnon. We know that Waels was the original home of the Vanguards, and that it was destroyed by Ret-Talus with the help of a Dragon, but that is all we know. Galnon produced steel, as well as the impressive Colossus of Galnon. It too was destroyed by Ret-Talus.
Also, Horror Mutants which are so scary that they give even units with Fear pause. This leads to an amusing encounter between a Horror Mutant and Skhull, where both are hesitating to attack each other.
Fragile Speedster: Numerous units with low health but boosted movement capabilities, like Angels and Bounders, and a few champions like Rahlee.
Gameplay and Story Integration: In one story it's pointed out that all the walls in a battlefield have been destroyed, and that they couldn't have been summoned elsewhere because there's six (which is exactly how many are present in a standard game).
Good Wings, Evil Wings: Angels and Archangel have feathery wings like a bird, and fight for the Vanguards, one of the only really good factions in the game. Winged Mutants have leathery wings, and fights for the Filth, who are by and large the most evil faction.
My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Any mercenary that comes from one of the main factions (especially Vargath mercenaries), and a few champions who switched sides in their backstory, such as Sin-Sin, Rygos and Saella.
Only Sane Man: Faction-scale version; the Vanguards are the only faction actually concerned with fighting Ret-Talus (who has been attacking stuff unchecked for 1000 years), the Shadow Elves are the only ones who realize that there's more to the summoning stones than meets the eye, and Rallul seems to be actively trying to end the Summoner Wars (using the same knowledge the Shadow Elves learned).
Our Goblins Are Different: Cave Goblins, who are by and large the weakest race in Itharia, but more than make up for it with numbers and cunning. At the other end of the spectrum, Sand Goblins are still at the bottom of the food chain, but they live in Tralia, so they're actually sturdy, and crafty in general, if a bit dim.
Summon Magic: Holding a Summoning Stone allows a person to snatch people from somewhere, and put them somewhere else. Walls from Godshome are the best focus for this, but it has been shown that others are capable of acting as focii.
Inverted by Tacullu and Taliya, who are capable of unsummoning units. Interestingly, when Taliya does this, it heals whoever she sent back. Tacullu, on the other hand, just discards a unit.