Since the topic was brought up recently I figured I ought to make a little guide for using the Vassal engine to play Summoner Wars. That's better than having to explain to everyone I meet there, right?
II. Getting Started
III. Setting up the Game
IV. Playing the Game
So you want to play Summoner Wars but there's nobody around? Welcome to Vassal, a free program that facilitates online matchmaking and playing of hundreds of board games. Some nice person made a module for playing Summoner Wars and you can enjoy a near-identical tabletop experience with your fellow summoners from around the globe!
Note that Vassal SW doesn't "play" the game for you. It merely provides an interface to display the board and the cards. You will still have to police yourselves on deck building restrictions, initial setup, movement and attack rules, rolling the dice, etc.
II. Getting Started
Step 1: Get Vassal.
Download and install it.
Step 2: Get the Summoner Wars Module.
Download it and save it to a place where you can find it again.
Step 3: Open the Module.
Run the Vassal program and then choose "File" and "Open Module." Find the place where you put the Summoner Wars Module and open it.
You should see something like this:
Double click where it says "Summoner Wars" to launch the setup wizard.
Choose "Look for a game online" and click "Finish."
Note: At some point you will have been asked to create a username and password, but I don't remember where that was and I don't feel like uninstalling & reinstalling just to find out.
Step 4: Find an opponent
Now because I'm writing this tutorial at 5 in the morning for some reason, there's no one else online right now.
But if there were, you could see their names on the list on the right side. You can type in the big window for general chat or open a window for private chat by right-clicking on their name.
III. Setting up the Game
The first thing your game needs is a name. Think of something really clever and type it into the "New Game" box, then hit enter. Your opponent, as well as anybody else who may want to watch your game, clicks on the game name.
You and your opponent should agree on who will be Summoner 1 and Summoner 2. (Summoner 1 plays at the bottom of the screen, Summoner 2 players at the top and feels a little bit upside-down.)
Both you and your opponent (as well as anyone who wishes to watch the game) need to select "File" and then "New Game." From the drop down menu choose your position in the incipient game (this would be "Summoner 1" or "Summoner 2" or possibly observer.)
After both you and your opponent have taken your places, the next thing you want to do is build your deck. This is a good time to familiarize yourself with the following buttons and what they do.
Note that most of these buttons open windows that are very large and so you'll want to resize them immediately.
So to build your deck, starting by picking the race you want. Use your Summoner Reference Card (ie the physical one that you own IRL) to help you choose the units you need as you click and drag them onto the board.
Next build your draw deck by dragging your Unit and Event cards onto the Draw pile on the board. Remember to follow the deck-building rules -- the Vassal mod won't tell you if you make a mistake! (Note that the chat log will record what you've put in so far, and the number beside the draw pile says how many cards are in so far).
After you are finished building your deck you can hide the Cards window to make for more space on your desktop.
Finally shuffle your deck by right-clicking it and choosing "Shuffle." (Note: cool people use hotkeys, such as Ctrl+S to shuffle).
IV. Playing the Game
Now you're ready to play!
You'll be rolling plenty of dice in this game, and thankfully the mod has a built-in d6 roller. (Cool people hotkey is Ctrl+D). Unfortunately the nature of its randomness has come into question lately, not that we can prove anything. So you might decide to pick an independent Random Number Generator. Or attach a webcam to your dice tower. Whatever.
It's good courtesy to announce what your dice roll is for before throwing them.
To move a card from one space to another, simply click and drag. To move something into your hand from the board, simply click and drag. To draw cards from your draw pile into your hand, simply click and drag. Et cetera.
Add or remove wounds to a card by right-clicking it and choosing the number of wounds you want on it.
If you need to move more than 1 unit at a time (let's say you have some cards under a reaper or Blarf) you can click and drag to create a box to select the entire stack.
One noobie mistake that everyone makes has to do with flipping cards over. When cards are in your hand your opponent only sees the back side. You can tell the difference because it will say "Face Down" in white letters. After you summon a unit or place a wall you need to right-click it and choose flip (Ctrl-F for cool people) so your opponent can see it too.
How do I save and load decks?
1) When you build your deck, pull all of the cards onto the Summoner Wars logo on the top or bottom of the board. MAKE SURE TO PUT THE STARTER CARDS FIRST
2) When the whole deck is stacked there, right click and choose Save. Save it to somewhere you'll remember.
3) When you start a game, just right click the SW logo and choose Load.
4) Your deck will appear face up there. Right click and choose "Use this Deck"
5) Pull your starting cards off the top of the deck and setup. Game on!
(thanks to killercactus for the answer)
I tried to watch a game but I can see nothing! What do I do?
If you didn't observe a game from the start you will be out of sync. Right-click the name of somebody in the game and select synchronize.
All the cards face the same way! How can I tell whose Khan Queso is whose?
Right click a card and choose "Change Owner" (or use Ctrl+O if you are a cool person). That will make the red outliney border change to blue and you can distinguish between them.
Note: If you play mirror matches this would also come in handy, but if you play mirror matches you are a pretty boring person.
I like to play FK, but dragging my whole discard pile open to find something is a pain. Is there an easier way?
Right click on your discard pile and choose draw specific cards. You can choose from a list which cards you want to draw they'll be on the top of your discard pile for you.
(thanks to KCU Master for the answer)
I'm trying to play as the Cloaks, but their "Spy" card is not listed among the events. Where is it?
For some reason it's in the "Core Set" category with Vlox and the other units. Hopefully this will be fixed for the next version.
I like to play SW on Vassal in the late hours of the night. Surely nothing bad will happen at this time!
Every night at 3AM EST (near as we can tell) the Vassal server shuts down and restarts. If you find yourself playing near to this hour, you need to get a life. Oh, and also probably you should save the game before the restart and load it back up after you reboot Vassal.
How do I put a card on the bottom of a Draw Pile?
Drag the card to the draw pile and then press the down arrow. There is no confirmation in the chat log to confirm this worked, but trust us, it does. And that will be fixed in the next version.