Polar Dwarves

The Polar Dwarves’ Water / Logic theme combines the high stats and unique defense of Water (and the board presence that entails), with the building aspects of Logic to enable the building up of a fortress that can eventually be advanced to choke the opponent out of space.

Svara likes to build a lot of structures to power up her units and events in order to besiege the opponent’s forces.  After the opponent is forced to attack, the answer is to then mount a counterattack that usually entails moving the fortress forward and cramping the opponent further.

Additionally, sometimes Svara can skip the siege part and start the game with a rapid push of Ice Golems and Bear Cavalry.

The deck is composed of structures and units and events that take advantage of those structures and units, and a few cards to help fill out the roles of defense, attack, and damage.
The Polar Dwarves’ basic plan is to summon a Frost Mage, surround it with structures, and then besiege the opponent’s gates or units.  If no targets are within range, then slowly move the structures forward to attack.  It is almost impossible to trade efficiently against this because a Frost Mage surrounded by structures is a 4/4 for 1 magic.

This is their general setup, and then from there they can react to whatever the opponent does.

To support this ranged game, Svara has tools like Parapets and Nadiana.  If the opponent assaults aggressively, Svara can re-arrange her structures to her benefit.  A common move of hers is to force a gate, opening a path for her to shoot the enemy unit that was blocking the gate. Svara can also use Ice Golems and Bear Cavalry to efficiently fight in melee.

Despite her love for structures, you may find that you rarely build regular gates and that your structures tend to be Ice Golems and Parapets.

In general, when you are in the lead, you don’t want to let the opponent recover, especially if your lead is that of  tempo and board position.  But even if it’s just an economic lead, be wary that many decks can build combos that can out-value Svara economically in the long run.

It is not good to let the opponent sit back and do whatever they want in most cases when playing the Polar Dwarves.  Against some decks, while you may not be in a rush and can play the ranged game to keep things going, in reality you still need to put pressure on as fast as possible.  Push to control game tempo and flow.
Svara can quickly switch to an offensive game plan thanks to Glacial Shift and before the opponent knows it you can have an army of Ice Golems, from which Bear Cavalry can pop out, directly into enemy territory.

Polar Dwarves can choose the shape of the fight. Even forcing the opponent to spread the damage between structures instead of focus fire on units, and that ‘s when Polar Dwarves can produce one of the most powerful effects, Ice Repair.  Svara often wins by forcing the damage of the opponent to be spread out between structures like Ice Golems and Parapets, and then Ice Repairing for 6+ damage.  This is mostly achieved by controlling the game flow, and the only way to do this is to push consistently.

Two Polar Dwarf champions can make pushes really hard, and it is suggested to summon at least one of them every game to make the push truly overwhelming.
Structural Shift has many uses, too many to list in fact without requiring its own guide, but it is obviously the number one key to playing Svara well.  It allows her to move structures into better positions and it puts enemy offensive units in bad spots. Often units use enemy gates to protect their advance, that is a key element of Summoner Wars strategy, and Svara cheats that entire system. Trying to do that often means Svara will just move the gate, removing the protection of that unit.  This is the reason it is so hard to strategically attack Svara.

Gates can be moved into offensive positions as well. One of the easiest, strong plays is moving the initial 10 life gate into a position that is uncomfortable for the opponent.
It also makes Parapets incredibly unfair, works with Ice Ram and pushes Ice Golems faster than they should normally be allowed to move.  It is also often just used to "cheat" by creating turns with an extra movement (as an Ice Golem and Svara both move in the same movement).

And of course structures are moved to support the Frost Mages.
Frost Mage
Frost Mage is one of the two core units of Svara’s arsenal. They need a lot of setup, but if properly supported they just cannot be out-valued as they can be a relatively easy 3 or 4 ranged attack strength on 4 life for only 1 magic.

Svara’s core gameplay relies on building a fortress of structures and besieging the opponent with Frost Mages, thus forcing the opponent to act.
Ice Golem
Ice Golem is the second core unit for Svara. Svara requires structures for almost everything and therefore Ice Golems are necessary for nearly all of her plans. In that sense they are extremely versatile as they help any plan or tactic you want to employ. On defense they can save Svara movements because they can be built on your side wherever they are needed, and on offense they bring other units into a forward position.

They are held back by Slow but Glacial Shift and Structural Shift both help compensate for that and even outside of that, kiting them is not really possible as they can summon units next to themselves to reach ranged attackers.

Ice Golems are a very safe investment for Svara because they are always useful, summoning all 4 of them should be a very common occurrence in games for Polar Dwarves.
Bear Cavalry
Bear Cavalry are the main Polar Dwarves melee unit, necessary to stop aggression, and necessary to have as a threat that can come out of your Ice Golems.

Bear Cavalry make it very hard to attack your Frost Mages at melee range for an enemy common.  This is because the Frost Mages are usually next to a gate and if the Frost Mage dies, a Bear Cavalry can replace it and be immediately ready to Trample the melee unit that killed the Frost Mage.

They fill a Svara weakness, in that having many gates (especially in the form of Ice Golems) can be nice, but only if you have something threatening to come out of them.  The Bear Cavalry fills this role of “nasty threat” that can pop out of your gates.  In the proper situations, a Bear Cavalry is the best way to deal with enemy melee commons.  Even if they don’t come out Trampling when first summoned, they have enough life that they are likely to survive, and then can Trample whatever common was used to attack them at melee range.

They are also excellent in offensive pushes as they can Trample through blocking enemy commons to unexpectedly arrive next to the opposing summoner.
However, for all that Bear Cavalry bring to Polar Dwarves, do keep in mind that they are generally too expensive for what they do, and you should not summon them in sub-optimal scenarios.  Svara’s other commons are all more efficient in a vacuum.
Ice Smith
Every deck needs a way to deal high amounts of focused damage in order to deal with high life enemy targets and for that task Svara has Ice Smiths.  They are very economically efficient. You are spending 1 magic to give Ice Golems a “virtual” +2 attack strength and Bear Cavalry a "virtual" +3 attack strength.  That is definitely great value for 1 magic.

However, the movement cost is not trivial at all and one of the main reasons they can be so hard to use well. Every one of Svara’s movements is incredibly precious.

With that said, don’t be afraid to summon Ice Smiths whenever you have a movement to spare, as once you get past the movement cost their efficiency is great.

Bear Cavalry are the best targets, however Ice Golems can be Ice Repaired and enhanced with Ollag. In addition to that there are many tricks available to Ice Golems that Bear Cavalry don’t have access to, so don’t be afraid to give Frost Axe to Ice Golems, even if in general Bear Cavalry gets more value out of them.

Outside of their Frost Axe ability, Ice Smiths are still useful units, a 0 cost 2/2 with no abilities is a very playable unit in Summoner Wars.  But the first time you move them, you boost them, and then they “threaten” to give Frost Axe to something, which will usually require some kind of response from the opponent.

Don’t be afraid to summon Ice Smiths just for their combat capabilities though.
Ice Ram
Ice Ram is a deceptively strong Epic Event.
One magic to do a wound and force a target is a very reasonable trade in many situations.

However, with Svara, thanks to her ability, Ice Golems and Glacial Shift can do the effect multiple times in the same turn.  To say the least, the value she can get from Ice Ram is really off the charts.

Just casually used, you can still get fair value from Ice Ram, but in some scenarios the amount of value provided by Ice Ram can just feel unfair, completely shifting the battlefield and killing things left and right.  Ice Ram is the best argument to always have 2 Ice Golems around ready to become Ice Ram targets.

However when the situation demands, don’t be afraid to Ice Ram even if you are only getting one trigger.  Moving a summoner or a champion out of position or even an expensive common may be worth the use of this Epic Event in a key moment.

Double Ice Ram plays can be one of the most lethal things Polar Dwarves can do, one-shoting champions and even summoners is a very realistic option in double Ice Ram turns.
Glacial Shift
It would be impossible to not talk about Glacial Shift immediately after Ice Ram as  both events are strongly connected. That is the big combo of Svara, but also, do not be afraid to use Glacial Shift on its own.  In the right board state, Glacial Shift on its own can still provide great value.  Shifting the board position, putting pressure on the opponent or just allowing your Ice Golems to all reach your opponent’s units, can more than justify this event in many cases.

Don’t misunderstand, you should still try to combo Glacial Shift with Ice Ram for really powerful turns, and probably around 50% of the time you will do exactly that.  Just don’t be blind to the possibility of using it even outside of Ice Ram turns.
Ice Repair
One of the big incentives of trying to set the pace of the game as Polar Dwarves is Ice Repair.  If you can choose the trades, you can easily put yourself in a situation where your opponent cannot focus fire down Parapets and Ice Golems fast enough, and then you can Ice Repair for 6+ damage overall.  That is an absurdly powerful effect. Don’t be afraid to just leave a wounded Ice Golem far from danger, waiting for that Ice Repair to come.

Also, while setting up the perfect Ice Repair turn is all great, just healing two wounds from an Ice Golem is still decent value, so don’t be afraid of doing that if it could mean the Ice Golem survives even one extra turn.
Parapet is another very strong event.  If it couldn’t be moved it would only be okay, but being able to move it makes it feel almost unfair.  It is a very rare game where you don’t want to play both Parapets.
The most common use is to put it in front of an enemy gate, and then besiege that gate, forcing the opponent to act without any really good answers.
If you want to win the ranged game, Nadiana + Parapet is very hard to downright impossible to out-value from a distance.
Jarmund is often the favorite Polar Dwarves champion and very consistently summoned.  He is strong in both offense and defense, and he is particularly nasty when you are in a pushing mode and have your opponent on the ropes, surrounded with structures in forward positions.
Usually the least favored Svara champion, Ollag needs a lot to be going for him in order to be worth it. His ability is “meh” and he doesn’t really have great stats to compensate.  However, he can be good if you manage to summon him early in the game and then get value for all of your Ice Golems, especially if you give Frost Axes to those 2/6 Ice Golems, then he can feel unfair. But other than very early in the game, it is usually preferable to just summon Bear Cavalry.
Strategically speaking, Polar Dwarves are probably the most straightforward deck of the Master Set, even if it’s not immediately obvious that is so.  Besiege and then react with a push is going to be pretty much their mainline in most games, though sometimes they should go for an early push.

Tactically however, Svara’s deck is a very tough puzzle, shifting the structures around trying to keep up with what’s happening on the battlefield, it often seems that you can’t catch up ... until you get a Glacial Shift plus Ice Ram and suddenly you can do so much that it becomes incredibly complex.

The Polar Dwarves are mostly a besieging deck, whether with the ranged power of Frost Mages or the melee toughness of Ice Golems and Bear Cavalry.  Generally you have only one gear change per game, but you may have two.

The Polar Dwarves look to put the opponent in repeated hard-to-answer situations regardless of what else may be occurring in the game.

Polar Dwarves, in a way, require patience, trying to present the opponent with hard-to-answer situations while holding a few cards in hand in preparation to punish the enemy answer with the proper counter-push.

If you want to play extremely aggressively or extremely defensively, the Polar Dwarves may fail you.  If however, you like a methodical, slow play that requires some explosive counter-pushes, Polar Dwarves will suit you very well.
Copyrights for the Summoner Wars logo and art belong to Plaid Hat Games, used herein with their express permission.
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