Summoner’s Legion is a new browser-based, fantasy, strategy collectible card game currently in Alpha. It features upgradable cards, character classes, dungeon raids, crafting and a single-player campaign, all based around an engaging system of tactical lane combat.
In an already crowded market of fantasy CCGs, how does it stand up? Read on to find out…
The core of Summoner’s Legion is really the tactical card combat. This is at once altogether familiar and yet refreshingly new and exciting. Players have a Hero each situated at opposite ends of a battlefield. The number of lanes between them will depend upon the game mode, but it is somewhere between 1 and 3 lanes. These lanes have grid spaces which units move over towards the enemy Hero in an attempt to attack the enemy units and lower the enemy Hero to zero health.
Decks are 30 cards in size, and players start with 1 Magic Point while gaining 1 extra MP per turn which they use to summon units and play skill cards. Heroes also have a weapon with an ability based on their class, of which there are currently four: Warrior, Ranger, Mage and Priest. Triggering the ability costs 2 MP, but is otherwise always available to use once per turn. These abilities might raise a unit’s attack, heal a unit’s health, damage a unit and so forth.
While all this sounds fairly standard for a digital CCG these days, the excitement of the gameplay really comes through in the variety of units and their abilities. Some move faster than others, have ranged attacks, inflict burning damage, attack units behind them, summon smaller minions nearby and all sorts of other shenanigans. Each unit is fully animated for movement and attack, so you actually get to watch them walk over to enemy units and attack them.
There is such a broad range of units to select from. They are arranged into racial groups without restricting your ability to mix between them in deck building. You have all kinds of units such as Pegasi warriors, Centaurs, Undead, Elves, even cute little Rodent warriors and Mages.
Even though a lot of this isn’t anything particularly “new”, the manner in which these elements are executed together is so well done, so polished, so enjoyable and rewarding to play that it really stands out above and beyond many other games of this type. Combat is fast but incredibly tactical with excruciating choices to make about what units to summon where and how to manage your enemy’s units coming towards you. Combat and deck building in this game is just really fun.
The single-player campaigns in Summoner’s Legion provide a fairly straight forward range of fights against AI opponents where you’ll need to work out what works best for each enemy. Completing the battles give crafting dust, currency and other items so it’s definitely worth doing them. It also levels up your Hero which is required for doing things like upgrading cards to higher star levels and upgrading your weapon, which is important because your Hero gets a health boost the higher the level of the weapon.
Dungeons are definitely one of the coolest things about this game. You can queue up to join a couple of other people and have a go at a multi-stage dungeon where you’ll fight an AI opponent over 3 lanes. You can summon units into any lane even though all three Heroes are at the left hand side of one lane each. You can also interact with opponents’ units such as healing and buffing them, so teamwork is essential.
A welcome addition to this mode is that the players’ turns are all taken together in real time, making the combat flow much faster. Only occasionally does it present a problem when you want to summon a unit to a particular square but someone else gets there first with what you feel is a less than optimal unit – you just have to deal with it work together. At the end of a raid, you get to choose cards from a grid of mystery items and try to find the rare drops. You can pay a bit of gold for each extra “click” on the grid, so it depends how badly you want what that dungeon is offering.
The Arena in Summoner’s Legion is the name of the PvP combat area where you will be paired up against another live player for a match. You can earn Battle Medals here as well as Devotion rewards so its worth doing that. There’s also a training mode where you won’t be ranked, so you can practice with your deck if you’re not ready for ranked matches. There are also Guilds which are a nice addition to the game, as you can do dungeon raids together with fellow guild members and actually receive rewards in Devotion for it.
The Blacksmith is where you’re able to upgrade your Hero weapons. These usually bring an increase to your Hero’s health but they cost Copper bars which you need to find in dungeons and campaign battles. The Alchemist is where you go to level up the Star rating of your cards by upgrading them using crafting dust and other crafting items. At first this is cheap, but becomes harder from the second Star rating onward because of the items required which are fairly rare. Nevertheless, its very important to upgrade the cards as they get stronger. I discuss this more in the Deckbuilding section below.
There is also the somewhat unusual feature of the Barracks. Here you’ll find Mercenaries which you recruit to then go off on a “mission” on their own, essentially being away for a number of hours depending on how long you want to wait – 4, 8, 12 or 24 hours. When they come back, you get an amount of rewards based on the type and Star rating of the Mercenary. These can be XP, gold, silver, cards, etc, so it’s good to always have a Mercenary on the go because you don’t really have to do much except wait for them to come back.
Deckbuilding and Strategy
Summoner’s Legion‘s campaign battles can be dealt with fairly easily if you use a rush strategy: try spamming fast running Centaurs and flying Pegasi to get to the Hero early on and chip away each turn while you deal with approaching units. If you’re lucky, sometimes the enemy Hero cannot deal with a unit right in its face attacking each turn, so if you can keep it alive with HP buffs and play defensively otherwise, you’ll win in a fairly short amount of turns.
An interesting choice they’ve gone with for this game is to not restrict mixed unit types going into your deck, so you’re really able to just pick which you think are the best overall and put them in. The only restrictions are on the class skill cards, which can obviously only be used with the Hero of that particular class.
A very important consideration in deck building is of course the cost of the cards you’re putting in. You need to ensure an even curve of the MP cost of cards so that you don’t have too few lower costing cards at the start of the game and not enough bigger, more powerful units for the later turns of a battle.
Upgrading units is essential in this game because they get stronger yet remain the same casting cost. Whichever deck you run, it’s going to be really important to upgrade as many of the units as possible over time. The stat boosts to attack and health might be small, but sometimes they’re actually rather large, turning a 2/4 into a 3/5 for the same cost and with the same abilities. You wouldn’t want to cast the 2/4 when you can have a 3/5 unit instead, so always try and upgrade them when possible.
Summoner’s Legion is off to a great start – with such a strong Alpha release, I can only see it going from strength to strength. The art is amazing, each card has its own attack and movement animations, and the whole world just feels very alive with such an interesting range of races and characters.
However, given that it is in Alpha stage at the moment, there have been some bugs which are being patched on the fly. While it seems like there is a solid free-to-play model here, I suspect that the actual drop rates of gold and such may change in the final release of the game so it’s hard to say at this point how viable it will be to play this game before hitting any kind of pay wall. In the mean time, the game plays really smoothly, combat is a delight to engage in and the card leveling through the upgrade system is extremely well done and suitably addictive. If they keep up the development of this game and release more cards for it, I can see it enjoying a long and successful life.
Even if you’re burnt out on fantasy CCGs right now, there’s enough here that will keep you interested and wanting more. I recommend checking it out especially as you can get in on the ground floor of a new game.
For more screenshots, click here.
Did you enjoy this review? Like!