Savanna Elves

The Savanna Elves' (Earth / Spirit) theme is represented in a deck that looks to boost its units, gain benefits by having your forces close to your summoner and create a lot of powerful combinations.

Abua likes to improve (through boosting) his units and prefers to have a slow game where his forces gradually grow and buff themselves, all while he continues summoning impressive combinations of enhanced units.

If given enough time, Abua can outmatch most other summoners, but even if he does not get that time he has the tools to create explosive turns to punish an overly aggressive opponent.

In addition to a very strong late game economy and explosive counter-attacking potential, Abua is also versatile enough to be able to mount offensives when necessary.

The deck is composed of a variety of units with very different skill sets, tools to improve those units, and events to create explosive combinations.
Savanna Elves are a faction that incentivizes building up, either on the board by stacking up boosts on a unit, or in the hand by creating combinations of events to leverage explosive counterattacks, pushes, and assassination.

Two of their champions, Miti Mumway and Makeinda Ru are good targets to build up, while two of their commons, Lioness and Rhino are likewise good targets to build up.

Once these cards have a lot of boosts, they are very powerful just on their own and they can also use Chant of Power or Chant of Entangling (or both!) to do a lot of damage or straight up try to assassinate the opposing summoner.

However, while they are doing all of this “building up”, they can play a very capable ranged game on the backs of two ranged units that perform very well in ranged trades: Border Archer and Spirit Mage.

The Border Archer and the Rhino also do a great job stopping most enemy offensives in their tracks.

The weakness of the Savanna Elves is that while they like to do their own thing, they are not great at stopping the opponent from doing their own thing too.  Often they can be slowed down in their growth while trying to handle their opponent's plan which they are not well equipped to prevent.

As a result, when playing Savanna Elves you need to have a goal, build up your units and your hand while reacting to your opponent and pushing to your goal.  However, you also need to remember that once you have built something to the point it is capped, you need to use it, so it's time to go on the offensive. Your maxed out Miti Mumway (affectionately dubbed "Mititree") is not very useful if it's being poked at by a ranged unit from afar. A lot of your combos require that at some point you act decisively and forcefully. If you play too defensively (i.e. “turtling”), your opponent can play around many of your combos, making them not nearly as useful.  The Savanna Elves need to hang back and build up at first, but still be in a position to strike fast and strike hard when the right opportunity presents itself.
Abua Shi
Abua Shi's ability is not as strong as many other summoner abilities, but what it is, is safe. You can very easily use it every turn, maybe at the cost of a more optimal move. From the safety of your side you can slowly use it for uninterruptible growth on your units. This is the reason this can be seen as mostly an economic deck.

Abua has a massive 5 ranged attack strength but not many ways to make use of it.  However, often you can kill units at range without exposing him too much, which is a big part of the deck’s defensive plan.

Abua Shi needs to be close to his units, since most of his abilities and events have range requirements. Yet Abua has no tools to protect himself, which does present a challenge. Be careful with your gate placement, and don’t be afraid to have a unit acting as a bodyguard. The closer he gets to the center of the board, the more Abua can support his units' counterattacks, although he is also exposed to more danger the closer he gets to there.  That tension is one of the main challenges of playing the deck well, especially against factions with high assassination potential.
Chant of Power
This is your main anti-champion and assassination tool.

Chant of Power may not be as key of an Epic Event as some others are for their respective summoners. It is however, one of the main ways to get rewarded for a fully boosted unit.  While it is completely worth it on its own and you’ll sometimes just need to play it for the +5 attack, the truth is that it is better to wait and use it with Swift Shot (Border Archer or Makeinda Ru) for a massive +9 attack if at all possible.  This is the most powerful combo in Abua Shi's deck.
Chant of Entangling
Chant of Entangling can seem like the true Epic Event of Abua Shi as it often feels more essential than Chant of Power.  Often the Savanna Elves will be more likely to play 2 Chants of Entangling in a game than 2 Chants of Power.  This is due not only to the event’s raw power, but also its high versatility.

Chant of Entangling combos to be ready to capitalize on:

Archer+Lioness:
Giving a Lioness Swift Shot is totally worth it on its own, even if it means spending a virtual life to do it.  Border Archer does get one boost for free if it attacks, and also survivability.  It doesn’t survive if it receives enough damage, but it denies the opponent the magic, which is a great extra benefit!  Swift Shot to the Lioness plus a boost to Border Archer plus potentially denying 1 magic for the Border Archer's death adds up to tremendous value!

Archer+Rhino:
Your Rhino gains Swift Shot, which is great, but faster Border Archers with Trample can also be very useful.  This is especially true if your Border Archer already has some boosts on it after not having to use Swift Shot due to good rolls.

Archer+Mage:
Spirit Mage is not the best unit to combo into with this event, but sometimes you should still do it.  It does allow the Border Archer to boost itself AFTER moving, and gives the Spirit Mage a mobile Swift Shot, as it can obviously boost itself after moving also.

Lioness+Rhino:
Lionesses often have 5 boosts stacked onto them already, which makes giving them Trample and Imbued Speed a very attractive option.  The Rhino doesn’t gain much more than a single boost if it attacks, plus magic denial potential, but that is still something and you aren’t making this particular Entangling for the Rhino half anyway.

Lioness+Mage:
As said, Spirit Mage entanglements are not the best, but this one is playable. Since this is probably going to be giving a boost to the Lioness and one to the Spirit Mage, that is two boosts, kind of like a Chant of Growth. The extra life to the Spirit Mage may also deny your opponent magic, in case it dives into a dangerous situation.

Rhino+Mage:
This is the worst combo, and should almost never be played, but maybe you need your Spirit Mage to Trample in a key moment, who knows.
Border Archer
The Border Archer is the core unit of Savanna Elves, it really does it all: It is great at the ranged game, great on defense and its existence makes the Chants of Power and Entangling into very deadly events.

It’s even the best target for boosting, its only problem is that unless you plan to use Chants of Power, excess boosts may be wasted on it.

If you aren’t sure how to spend your magic, Border Archers are the best bet.
Lioness
Lionesses in a vacuum are weak units, since their cost and abilities don’t compensate for their very low stats.  However, the Lioness’ main role is to be a target for boosting.  As a result, Lionesses are the most efficient way to get to the goal of 5 boosts for Chant of Power, as it is the unit that benefits the most from having multiple boosts.

Abua has kind of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to boosting, and this common is really the only one where you are happy to boost it 3+ times.  If you don’t plan to boost the Lioness 2 or 3 times without much effort, then you would likely be better off finding other ways to spend your resources.
Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros is a more versatile unit than it looks like, having three roles in the deck:

A) Initiate offensives
Rhino is a positional stealer. Being tough, fast and having the powerful Trample ability allows you to take positions that would otherwise be impossible, especially on the flanks of an opposing gate.  Its high life also allows you to threaten to survive and play a Chant of Weaving, after which it can Trample over several units and even attack the enemy summoner.  Often just placing a Rhino in front of the enemy gate can threaten a good offensive.

B) Assassination
While 2 strength is not very threatening, its speed and Trample allows it to reach the enemy summoner or get behind enemy champions, and with the help of Chant of Power or Swift Shot, it can do considerable damage.

C) Anti-common
When properly boosted a Rhino can just Trample several commons and then have enough movement to still be in a good position to do the same thing next turn. Doing 2 or 3 damage to commons using just movement, not an attack, and ending in a place where it is hard to be counterattacked is very powerful. This is not always easy to do because smart opponents will play around it, but often the threat alone is strong enough.

You don’t have to summon a Rhino with the intention of boosting it, its stats are already great, and just its existence is threatening.  You can summon one with the intention of doing something not related to boosts and then threaten to boost it later, especially with Chant of Weaving to get maximum value out of it.
Spirit Mage
The Spirit Mage role in the deck is to be the cheap unit.
Often you want to attack with a unit from a position which would leave it open to counterattacks in a bad way. Abua Shi’s units are expensive and have high life, not the kind of unit you want to freely leave around with exposed flanks waiting to be picked off.  This is especially true against some high attack champion that your opponent may have summoned for the express purpose of dealing with these tough Savanna Elves units.  Spirit Mages are cheap and do most of their work once they are summoned, attacking with a ranged strength of three and granting a boost to a unit, so don’t be afraid to leave them exposed. If you have no immediate use for his boost, you can always store it on Abua Shi for later use.
Chant of Growth
There isn’t much mystery to Chant of Growth, it is just a very simple tool to grow your units with boosts.  Most of your more impressively powerful turns require boosts and this event gives you exactly that. Generally you need to boost at least two units for this to pay for itself, and three units before it shines.  However, sometimes you may be forced to play it for a single boost out of desperation.
Chant of Weaving
The last of the Savanna Elves’ events is not a particularly powerful one, but it is quite versatile  It can play both offense and defense, giving you important and maybe unexpected summoning spots, while paying for itself by boosting the targeted unit.
 
It’s really Abua’s primary way to keep an offensive going, often coupled with a Rhino.
It is without a doubt going to be your least used event typically, as there will be games where zero Chants of Weaving are played.  Yet in some games though ... it can be the difference between winning and losing.
Makeinda Ru
If the Border Archer is the key common, then it is easy to see why Makeinda Ru is the key champion.  Ru is just an all around superb champion, and basically an improved version of Border Archer. The bad news is that unlike the common Border Archer, Chant of Entangling with other commons is not an option for her. However, unlike regular Border Archers it is a lot better to boost her multiple times for that Chant of Power as she can survive long enough to use it and then still survive to use some of the boosts.

Makeinda Ru gives Abua Shi a very strong ranged game and if you need to win ranged fights, Ru, when well supported, can fight anything at range and come out on top.
Miti Kyru
If Makeinda Ru is the deck’s primary ranged weapon, then Miti Kyru (affectionately called "Miticat") is its melee muscle. With its impressive stats, good survivability and tools to help Lionesses, Miti Kyru kind of does it all. If you are getting into a melee heavy confrontation, Miti Kyru is nice because he doesn’t need the build up of other Savanna Elves units, he just comes in and starts providing great value right away.

You shouldn’t overdo it with trying to trigger Inspire, but it can provide value when fighting in formations.
 
Withdraw gives it survivability and it can provide a brutal attack on a single flank when combined with a ranged unit.  You can attack, Withdraw and then let Abua or your Border Archers finish the job.  Withdraw is also a very useful ability that can both increase Miti Kyru’s damage output while aiding his survivability.
Miti Mumway
Miti Mumway's main purpose is to provide a way to spend your boosts. The Savanna Elves are primarily an economic deck in which the main currency is boosts, and while they are really good at producing boosts, sometimes they don’t have a great outlet to spend them all. Miti Mumway is happy to soak up those excess boosts and put them to use.

Miti Mumway’s damage is more scary than its life. Eleven life may seem like a lot but given Mumway’s very high cost it really is not that much.  However, when fully boosted it attacks with six strength plus Trample, and it can be a really devastating way to take down gates and kill melee units. 

One word of caution though, is to not be tempted to Trample past enemy lines and get Mumway into significant danger of being OTK'd.  That’s a fast way to throw the game by losing your huge 9 magic investment.  Instead, be patient, slowly advance him and keep him supported. On the other hand, once he has taken a lot of punishment maybe you can find an opportunity to just throw him in with Trample and do a final dive.
The Savanna Elves are an economic deck, looking to create decent threats while gradually boosting their units and then win through economic advantage.  Yet they can do this while still threatening to just finish the game suddenly with a big combo-assassination turn.

In order to capitalize on their combo potential, you will need to do some offensive maneuvers to be in position.  So you should set the scene, knowing when it is time to grow and when it is time to unleash the assault. Abua needs to play defensively, and then suddenly explode in a massive offensive-counterattack-assassination dive. 

Sometimes though, with the right draws, you can be very aggressive right from the start.  Abua certainly has the tools to present offensive threats, and an opponent with their defenses down can be caught by surprise by the Savanna Elves. You just need to know when it’s time to slow down to a game state where Abua will be more comfortable.

Abua’s power tends not to be fully realized with a very aggressive mindset, rather this is a deck whose main strategy is to defend at first, grow, and then do explosive combos.

If you enjoy playing defensively and gradually building up your hand and board, all while trying to set up an explosive counterattack / combo turn, then Savanna Elves is a very powerful and fun deck for you.
Copyrights for the Summoner Wars logo and art belong to Plaid Hat Games, used herein with their express permission.
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