Welcome to the Jungle of Deck Building

(Article written by Jexik)

Welcome to the Jungle (of deckbuilding)

First, I want to dispel a myth surrounding Summoner Wars deck building (DB). It is not about optimizing a set of cards to ruthlessly destroy your opponents. That may come later, but that is something that comes through playing games. Making decks is something else entirely, a journey of self expression and creativity. Like many creative pursuits, you're going to start with some kind of inspiration, and that could even come from something outside the game, like your favorite movie or book. Maybe it's just a desire to create a feeling of dread or boredom in your opponents. Or perhaps a specific card, combo, or Summoner sounds like something fun to build around.

For me, most recently, when the end of Wave III was heralded by the Swamp Orcs and High Elves, one card stood out to me. I don't entirely know why. But there it was: Vine Gate.

I knew I had to build a deck (or three) utilizing this new card.

It's great to have additional gates in a deck, so finding a home for it shouldn't be too hard. As both a Water and Earth card, it has a number of options. But when thinking about cards that uniquely benefit from having boosts on them when summoned, I recalled a couple of Polar Dwarves cards that take a little while to get going. In order to use both of them and Vine Gate, I must play Svara when it comes to the symbols.

Jarmund and Ice Smith are the cards I speak of.

Normally when Jarmund is summoned, your opponent has a turn to react and get away from your structures. He needs to attack and use his Momentum ability to get that first boost token. This is no longer the case with Vine Gate. Jarmund can now come right out of the gate (literally) swinging and slinging ice!

Similarly for Ice Smith, normally they need to spend one turn moving to get that first boost, then move again on a subsequent turn to go under a unit. But now with that initial boost, you can go right under a unit the turn the Ice Smith comes into play. This is huge!

Huge! How about going under a Smasher and his 4 strength, available in the Water symbol and ready to break stuff! With two Ice Smiths under him (yes they stack!) a Smasher stands a decent chance of 1-shotting a gate or severely wounding a summoner.

Let's pause for a moment to see how our deck is shaping up.

So we essentially have 2 more of each type of card to pick, assuming we go with maximum quantities for reliability reasons.

With Jarmund, it helps to have additional structures, so let's get more commons that either are Structures or care about Structures. 4x Ice Golems seem like a no-brainer.

We can look to the Sand Goblins for more. Unfortunately, both Bug Biter and Rust Rider are Wind, so we can't add them, but Sand Scavengers have great synergy with structures and can hold a frost axe in a pinch. Let's get 4 of them too.

Huh. We have virtually no ranged units. Let's do the most we can to get our melee dudes into the fray. How about 2x Moto Boots and 2x Glacial Shift (to push our Smashers and Ice Golems around). This also has a nice side effect of adding some oomph to Svara's Epic Event, Ice Ram.

That leaves just two of our Champions to go. Perhaps we should add a little ranged punch and reach to the deck in … Admiral! And if Vine Gates are so central to our strategy, maybe Glurp to bring them out sooner.

So here's the deck:

Great, we're done, right?

Well, kinda, but not really. This is your starting point. I went out and played it a few times and found a couple of things out.

Having virtually no range was a liability. Many times I found myself wanting to kill a blocker and then shoot through the vacated space, and having no ranged unit to do so save for my Summoner who I may not want to risk taking too much damage.

This deck was expensive. With two champions that cost 6, I rarely got them all out, especially when competing with Moto Boots and some 2 and 3 cost melee summons.

While Summoner Wars is great in that apparently dead cards can be discarded for magic, it still made sense to iterate and tweak the build a bit. Let's address the ranged point first. While Frost Mages are cool and all, Guild Gunners seem like an even better fit, with their ability to force melee units into the fray. Let's see if we can squeeze three of them in there. Keeping in mind point 2, reducing the cost of the deck a little, let's cut one each of the melee commons that don't cost zero.

To further reduce cost and take advantage of some of that new Guild Gunner synergy, my mind went to Dagger. I cut Glurp because he hit less hard than my commons and I didn't find that much trouble in drawing my Vine Gates. With the addition of Gunners, a couple more things become clear. Maybe we don't need quite so many Moto Boots - Gunners can perform a similar function. And with more ranged units in the deck now, one Parapet might come in handy, especially with the Sand Scavengers around to recur them.

I almost forgot the most fun and important part, naming your decks. My online handle, Jexik, is something I came up with when playing Diablo II, two decades ago. A while back I read about someone playing a hardcore Amazon but equipping her only with Axes (a very strange and risky thing to do). He named her Axe Nicely. I appreciate a good pun or linguistic joke, so I'll iterate on that name a bit and call this deck:

Axin' Icely

But I'm still open to playing it more and iterating further. That's part of the beauty of deckbuilding.

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