Tundra Orcs Instinct / Water theme combines high stats with high variance. While other factions depend on complex tricks to make big plays, Tundra Orcs rely on big numbers and solid tactics to back that up.
To the unaware, Tundra Orcs may look like a faction all about sending its summoner forward in a rampage of destruction and hoping for the best, and while that may indeed occasionally work it’s not a sound strategy to approach games with. While Tundra Orcs definitely is a faction that requires its summoner to be highly involved in the fight, it will be the use of its amazing champions and the supporting units which generally decide victory or defeat.
The Tundra Orcs compensate for their lack of trickery with a summoner that is very strong in a fight, highly efficient champions and a deck filled with very situational cards that when used in the right situation are very good. Making use of those strengths requires a very careful choice of units, events, positioning and a great understanding of the odds. Thus Tundra Orcs test the fundamentals of Summoner Wars like no other faction so far released. If you want to play a deck that represents Summoner Wars in its purest form, Tundra Orcs is the deck of choice.
Tundra Orcs should push into enemy territory, but do it at their own pace. Your goal should be to make their territory your territory, but it's okay to take your time doing this if necessary.
The Tundra Orcs are an aggro faction, but they are not particularly fast. They have too few ways to cheat the 3 move / attack system, and their true power, reliance on champions, may take a while to come online. Don’t feel the need to move forward if you don’t have the tools to do so in a given moment, and don’t be afraid to slow down and even back down from pressure a little to reorganize.
Outside of supporting Grognack and their champions, the core way to gain value with Tundra Orcs is the simple formula that Smashers are great at killing 3 life units and Frost Shamans are great at killing 2 life units. The core of your plan should be to punish your opponent's summons with those 2 units which in return shouldn’t be easy for your opponent to kill. Smashers and Frost Shamans thus are the core of the army and you should plan to play most of the copies if not all during the game, especially the cheap Frost Shaman at only 1 magic.
In order to have your units in range to counter appropriately you will need forward gates and that’s where Grognack kicks in. The first part of your plan should be to march forward with Grognack, using Frost Shamans as shields and Tundra Fighters to steal key positions. Once in a forward position, drop those gates and the second part of your plan should then kick in. Apply pressure to force the opponent to play in such positions that you can properly counter their units. The key here is not to be desperate and to adjust / adapt to what you draw.
Sometimes you can do this very fast and sometimes the flow will require you to do it more slowly. And sometimes even the opponent will push you and that’s fine, as long as you can keep engaging and countering their units in and to your favor you will be getting ahead.
Remember though that your summoner is a key for success. Grognack has high life, but that is because he needs every bit of it, it’s precious, only expose him when you will gain a lot of value from doing so, like to make use of Primal Fury or placing a key forward gate, otherwise try to keep him safe and do not be reckless with him.
Grognack has the highest stats of any summoner in the game at this time and “Influence” is great and particularly high in synergy with the Tundra Orcs, increasing the odds that your units fulfill their role consistently. Influence is generally to be used in failed attacks, but if by the third attack there has been no reason to use it, Tundra Fighters’ Frenzy is a great opportunity to use that boost.
Grognack’s 4 melee attack strength is great but don't let it become a trap by making you feel committed to taking advantage of it if it exposes him and forces him to retreat, especially in the early game. Grognack is your flagship that should be supported and protected and every one of his attacks should be a very mindful one. Every time he attacks and exposes himself, at any stage of the game, should be a moment of considerable value to you.
The heavy damage of Tundra Orcs, the main way the deck will kill stuff. Especially effective against 3 and 4 life targets. Using Influence to increase the odds a Smasher one-shots a 4 life unit is a great way to win economic advantage. The high life of Smashers is particularly strong against direct-damage abilities like Fallen Kingdom Cultist's Immolate or Phoenix Elves Royal Guardian's Shove, making Smashers even tougher versus such units. Smashers are not easy to one-shot, even with Sluggish. That means if you keep only one flank open for the enemy, they are quite hard to kill, and very likely to have more than one opportunity to use that sweet 4 melee attack strength. Smashers also give a noteworthy and important edge to Tundra Orcs early on. The ability to quickly put a lot of solid dice in the early game. Often while other factions are throwing around 8 dice per round, (many of those ranged dice no less), thanks to Smashers and Grognack, Tundra Orcs can be throwing 10-12 dice and mostly melee. That can produce an overwhelming early pressure.
Frost Shamans are the core unit of Tundra Orcs. They are cheap and have a high life. Their inconsistent damage may be off-putting and it’s not great on it’s own, but paired with tools like Influence, For Glory, Targan or even Brutal Force, it gets the job done. When in doubt about what to summon, Frost Shamans are a solid bet as they are efficient and a cheap threat. There is a big incentive against Tundra Orcs to keep the board filled with cheap units to avoid the multiple high damage tools the Tundra Orcs have, in that context the damage of the Frost Shaman is more than enough. However, if your opponent is summoning high life targets, Frost Shamans will not be very effective and Smashers should replace them.
Tundra Fighters are a utility unit of the Tundra Orcs. Tundra Orcs are more about numbers than utility and Fighters are the way Tundra Orcs can cheat the system. They are however, unreliable even with Influence support but they can provide incredible value with good rolls.
They are versatile being - Good against a clump of damaged units, as they can maybe kill several units using a single attack. - Positional stealers, taking front-of-gate spots and other value spots by using Frenzy to move into the spot of the killed unit. - Hit and run units, killing something and then moving to a more favorable position. - Mobile, reaching spots that other units cannot. - Grognack and Smashers protection. Many times you can kill a unit with Grognack or a Smasher and then with a Tundra Fighter you can cover the newly opened flank.
When they work they can be extremely good, when they don’t trigger Frenzy they can be very weak. Try to only summon them when you think Frenzy will provide value, much better yet if you think you will have an Influence boost to spare, otherwise they are overpriced.
Tundra Chargers are the other utility unit for Tundra Orcs, giving the deck a 0 cost unit to help keep board presence when short on magic, giving it extra spots, “extra movements” and reach when needed. Sometimes a 0 cost 2/2 is all Tundra Orcs need in a pinch, but the main use is a 2/1 for 0 that Blood Rushes.
Blood Rush has 3 uses: - Provides an extra summoning spot, since you can summon the unit, Blood Rush and then summon another unit in that space the Tundra Charger was just in. - Provides an extra movement. Sometimes you need a unit in a certain spot and just with Blood Rush you can get there without using a movement. - Reach, thanks to the extra space it can move, especially useful when trying to get a champion or summoner with For Glory or Brutal Force. It works particularly well with For Glory as for just 1 magic you can get 4 attacks on a unit. The Tundra Charger will hopefully die and there will then be no magic for your opponent to harvest back.
A great damage tool for Tundra Orcs. Converting many of your commons into much more valuable units. You should probably use both of this event in every game, often just attacking with 2 commons is more than enough to justify its use. Its drawback can even work in your favor as a friendly unit that destroys itself with this card prevents your opponent from harvesting the magic. Making your Frost Shamans have 5 attack strength and Smashers have 6 can make short work of enemy champions, gates, high life commons and even maybe their summoner.
This is also why it's important to always have a few Frost Shamans around, to make use of For Glory when the time is right. A damaged Frost Shaman is the best use of For Glory. Obviously you want to have an Influence boost also ready when a Smasher attacks with this event as even to deal 6 damage, killing your Smasher in return is not a great trade.
One of the favorite tools of Tundra Orcs is also arguably their hardest to use. Its ceiling is as high as one would expect from an Epic Event, but it is very hard to find a good use that doesn't end with your summoner being highly punished. It’s just a very powerful tool that makes your summoner a killing machine, but also requires a complicated setup to avoid leaving him too exposed. Keeping it in-hand can be hard as you don’t know when the opportunity for good, tactical use will arise. It can also be used as an escape tool with your summoner but that should never be the main plan. Often too it can be combined with Freeze to make sure the opponent response is weakened, but holding both Freeze and Primal Fury in-hand can be hard. Combining with Brutal Force makes this card a lot easier to use, but then you are using another event and the value becomes correspondingly lower. Overall, how to use Primal Fury is probably the hardest decision a Tundra Orcs player needs to learn, and justice cannot be done to the tactics involved in even a paragraph.
Brutal Force is a utility event that has two main uses. The first use being to assassinate the enemy summoner and champions (either by toying around with them or removing a blocker for a Frost Shaman shot), but it can also be used to make it easier to trigger Frenzy and Primal Fury. Additionally, it can sometimes be used to move a high life unit from a safe position with a Frost Shaman so another unit can finish it off. Remember that if Brutal Force allows you to do a third attack that otherwise you wouldn't be able to do, it's worth it, 1 magic x 3 dice worth of attacks, or even 2 if it means killing a potential threat, is a good trade in Summoner War's economy.
Freeze is a versatile event that can be used both on offense and defense. It has too many narrow-use cases to list here, but a favorite one is to allow Tundra Orcs to catch up from a scenario of lacking needed attacks. Sometimes you can’t do a certain move because you don’t have enough attacks and with Freeze you can just move aggressively anyway, freeze an enemy unit instead of killing it and then focus on the rest, knowing that the frozen unit can’t punish the next turn. As a key bonus also that unit will be protecting you until the next turn, when you can then easily kill it with your newly gained favorable position.
Often the favorite Tundra Orcs champion, even while the other two are very good. Tundra Orcs are the faction that most often should summon all 3 champions, though on average you will still usually only get to summon 2.
Targan is cheap, has high stats and makes your Frost Shamans ridiculously efficient. So efficient in fact that Targan + a Frost Shaman can give a run for its money to the ranged game of any other faction. Early on Targan can allow Tundra Orcs to have ranged firepower until they can set up a stronghold in the enemy's territory. Mid-game she can allow Tundra Orcs to fight the ranged game if they were forced to retreat earlier. Late game her Far Shot ability can be extremely relevant and hard for the opponent to deal with. It’s very hard NOT to summon Targan every game, and only in rare circumstances should she be converted into magic.
Despite its ridiculously high attack strength (which is fake), the real power of Shonk is its life to cost ratio. Shonk is a walking wall, and at the time of this writing (version 1.57) it has the highest life to magic ratio in the game for a unit. The real use of Shonk is to be a protector of the Tundra Orcs' advance, blocking key spots, being a gate or a flank blocker, allowing Grognack and / or Smashers to advance. Its attack still can’t be ignored though, being more than functional to deal with many threats.
Often the least summoned of the Tundra Orcs champions, not because it’s weak, but because the other two Tundra Orcs champions are so good. Ragnor is, however, key when wanting several Tundra Fighters in your game. Ragnor indirectly boosts Tundra Fighters, converting them into great killing machines against small units. He also combos well with several other cards in the game. While he is never a bad champion to summon, his key role really is to buff Tundra Fighters, so if you don’t plan to summon at least a couple of Tundra Fighters, there are probably better uses for your magic than Ragnor.
A faction that needs to push, but needs to decide how and when and be careful and strategic about it. The tools are in the deck to successfully complete each part of the strategy, but you need to find the right cards and the magic at the correct times. Trying to push without the right tools and timing may end with Grognack in enemy territory, unsupported and soon forced to retreat or worse, dead.
Gates and / or champions are needed for the push as well as the right counters for the different counter strategies. When the time isn’t right, Grognack needs to find a way to keep the pressure on while finding the necessary tools.
If all lines up well enough, Grognack can soon be with a gate on the front lines, throwing more damage at the opponent than they can respond to and win the game. But if the Tundra Orc pushes lose momentum or never properly get going, Grognack can find himself being out-valued by an enemy's superior economy.
Tundra Orcs may look like the simplest deck without the complex tricks, combos, puzzles and mechanics that other factions bring to the game, but very subtly they may in fact be the hardest to master. Other factions have a more clear goal from the start that they should pursue no matter the board state or the draw, sooner or later. Tundra Orcs need to time their big moves very well and since their strategy relies so heavily on the position of their summoner, a mistake on the timing can often lead to a quick loss. Mastering the fundamentals of Summoner Wars when it comes to timing, position and economy are absolutely crucial for success with the Tundra Orcs, and since those may be the hardest things to master in the game, it follows that the Tundra Orcs may be the hardest faction to master of them all.
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