Avians - The Advanced Guide

(Article written by rdebruys)

The birds have no Summoner Wars 1st Edition precedent. At least, none that was ever released… :O

In that way, they are the first truly original 2nd Edition faction.

For some reason, I can't help but think of how to beat the birds, not how to win with them. I will be going over the things I have seen when facing them, and what to do to stop them.

Ava's Island and the Starting Leap

The birds' starting setup is very stretched out. When starting first playing against them, it is hard to do much damage to them.

Your first tendency might be to hold your units back, limiting exposure. But this is a mistake. Whenever you face the birds, there is immediate urgency to gain position in the left side of the midfield, what I like to call that big, (temporarily) open space is "Ava's Island". Because if you leave Ava's Island alone, Ava and her friends are going to leap 3 spaces forward and drop a gate there. That's what I call the "Starting Leap".

And the chances of Ava getting a gate on her opening hand are high. Her two Aerie Gates give her five gates in total. But even without gates, she can summon Aerie Divers in deep, or use Gathering Song to bring units forward.

If Ava establishes early position in the midfield, as she will often try to do, you are playing on your heels for the rest of the game. You always need to get units and gates ready to counter the Starting Leap, and attack Ava's Island.

Of course, you don't always start first. You will often see Ava make the Starting Leap on the first turn. But when that happens, it's more intuitive to move your units in response.

Often, it's unavoidable. If you are unable to counter the Starting Leap, and Ava sets up an outpost in the midfield, then you need to “turn the board”. You swing your summoner to the right, move your units up into the midfield, and attack Ava's units from the right to the left.

Firing Line

Ava's best weapon is what I call the "Firing Line".

Typically, Ava, an Aerie Steward and Sage form a line. Then she plays Battle Song and Sky Assault. The Aerie Steward will have 4 “Worthy Dice” (which is much stronger than 4 regular dice), Ava will still have 3 range, and the Aerie Sage will have 3. Together, this is roughly like having the equivalent of about 12 range dice, good for about 9 hits on average.

That means it is usually enough to OTK (One Turn Kill) almost any champion, and will leave a summoner in dire straits.

There are different combinations of units that can form a Firing Line, but the idea is always the same. Three units use Sky Assault to direct all their attacks through each other, onto a single enemy target.

Sairook is a good addition to the Firing Line, since he can act like both an Aerie Steward and Sage. A Firing Line made of an Aerie Sentinel, Sairook and Ava is ridiculous – 5 melee strength, 3 range strength, and 4 “Worthy Dice”.

You won't always see Sairook come out though. Sairook needs both an Aerie Steward and Sage to be really dangerous. So if the board is missing one or two of those units, Sairook doesn't cost 5, he costs 5 plus plus.

At all times, you cannot expose your summoner to a Firing Line. The best way to do this is to avoid creating 3 clear space lanes. Break up those lines, by placing a unit two spaces away from your summoner, or keeping your summoner that far from a wall. Just doing that makes it very hard for the Firing Line to do maximum damage.


The other danger when facing the birds is a "Blitz".

The pigskin reference is apt. That's when Ava and friends are sitting on Ava's Island, then up and sail right over your defenses, crowd your rear summoning points, and make you very uncomfortable in your own zone. And with Gathering Song, Aerie Divers, and lots of gates, it's easy for Ava to keep dropping units once she's back there.

Preparing yourself to punish a Blitz is the best way to prevent it.

Load up your units down low. You should be doing that already to challenge territory in Ava's Island.

Avoid crowding your walls together. Maximizing your summoning points makes it harder for a Blitz to work.

And keep units on some summoning points. Gathering Song can drop a unit onto a summoning point after a unit is destroyed there, but it's a risky move for Ava. And because there are only two copies of Gathering Song, the birds would otherwise create a hole in their formation.

The Weakest Link

Ava is always in the thick of the action, usually surrounded by blockers. But at only 10 health, she is the weakest link.

Prevent her from setting up Firing Lines and Blitzes, and punish her every time she tries. Force her to make risky moves, target her when she fails.

That's how to beat the birds.

Why the Aerie Sentinel is Awesome

Some folks think the Aerie Sentinel is a decent unit, something comparable to a Paladin (which has the same statline of 3 melee strength and 4 life). I think that's wrong.

I'm very high on the Aerie Sentinel. The 3m/4hp statline is a premier statline, usually reserved for 2 cost units (like the Paladin), that have mediocre abilities (like the Paladin).

But the Aerie Sentinel's ability is not mediocre. It is a premier ability.

Here are the Sentinel's main interactions:

vs. Breakers: vs. Polar Dwarves vs. TO vs. Savannah Elves vs. PE vs. Cloaks vs. Avians (in a mirror match)

Clearly, the Aerie Sentinel is stronger in some matchups than others. But that's true with all units. And a lot of those interactions are not trifling (like preventing Ice Ram). They have a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

Not just that, the premier statline is particularly effective against Undead Carriers and Cave Goblin units. So even in matchups where Stalwart isn't much use, the Aerie Sentinel's statline works well.

Which is also why the Aerie Sentinel is a good addition for any Savannah Elves struggling against the Breakers.


For whatever reason, the Avians themselves are difficult to deckbuild. I suppose their unity theme runs counter to a versatility theme favoring deckbuilding.

You can add a unit here or there, but don't stray far from the deck's core themes. Base Ava is near optimal.

One big reason why - her power only works on Aerie units. So you won't be giving Wind Mages or Border Archers Flight. Unless you include Gwalark, although extra movement doesn't help the Border Archer much, who always needs to "Prepare".

The other big reason - Aerie Sages only boost other Aerie units. Just imagine how strong a Border Archer would be with 3 strength (twice), or a Wind Mage with 3 strength. Oh well.

Wind Mages are good anyway, but without Flight they are left behind. And Sky Assault also makes Push somewhat redundant.

Wind Archers can move and deliver 4 range strength, but they only have 2 life. For what Aerie Stewards give, I'd say they are the better option. Better than either a Border Archer or a Wind Archer, or a Spirit Mage for that matter.

That being said, it is fun to use Chant of Entanglement on a Border Archer and Wind Archer, giving the Wind Archer 8 strength.

You can also entangle a Border Archer with an Aerie Steward to give both of them 4 “Worthy Dice”. Even if they have to stand still in order to take full advantage.

However, while I have tried different combos with Chant of Entanglement, a Firing Line is still better.

Similarly, is Blast a better card than Sky Assault? Probably not.

Gwalark's power is somewhat redundant with Ava's, as long as she has Aerie units instead of regular ones. Replace her Aerie units, add Gwalark, and now Ava's the useless one. If you do that, you might as well throw away Battle Song. So no Firing Line, no Worthy Dice, no Sairook. I stay away from Gwalark.

Gilford's power is similar to Kalal's, but he costs 2 less. And Makeinda Ru is just two border archers combined into one, with an extra hit point.

So we come to the few cards worth adding in:

And that's it!

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