Benders Strategy Guide
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Foreword: Commander Vlox, our spies have intercepted the following communiqué. With the entrance of the Benders and Mountain Vargath on the iOS (coming noon PST / 3 PM OFT per Playdek), here's a quick overview of our archnemesis, the infamous Bender Empire. This physically frail, mentally intimidating faction requires both finesse and cold heartlessness from their generals, so be forewarned.
Praise the Third Eye, the Benders have been loosed upon the Summoner Wars. Open your mind now, and glimpse the truth of how to control the destiny of your inferior foes.
The Benders exercise total control over the minds of their opponents through the powers of psychomancy. The Benders do not have the same physical prowess of their bull-headed enemies, but rather rely upon cunning, superior intellect, and the ability to use their boorish foes' powers and own troops against them. The Benders excel at defensive play and disrupting the plans of their enemies.
Tacullu – The leader of the Benders is the enigmatic Tacullu. While physically as weak as the ancient Rotten King Ret-Talus, Tacullu has such magic as to annihilate enemy troops from the battlefield without a trace. This Ability requires great Magical expenditure, but can even dispel the mighty Krung without a single attack. A particularly strong method of dealing with low-life enemies is for Tacullu to attempt killing them outright and then Counter Summoning them if they survive the attack. Paying to Counter Summon an enemy Champion will likely force you to not summon one of your own unless you are careful with your Magic economy, so be prepared to build a Champion or two as Magic if necessary. Always be careful to keep the frail Tacullu safe from counterattack.
Deceivers – These Bender footsoldiers have the powerful Ability to STUN enemy Commons, leaving them incapable of moving or attacking. Careful usage of these Deceivers can leave their frail bodies well-protected by stunned meat shields. However, enemies such as Phoenix Elf Firebeasts or Mountain Vargath Storm Mages can kill the Deceivers with their Abilities despite the STUN. [Editor's note: Looks like this is implemented the opposite way on iOS, at least for now. That's gonna make the Benders vs Mountain Vargath match-up quite tough for the MV.] Sometimes, it is advantageous for the Benders to not even kill their stunned prey, rather letting the hapless foes form a defensive Wall or enable a later Magic Drain.
Controllers – The Controller is the bread and butter Unit of the Benders, with the absurdly powerful TELEKINETIC BLAST and a potent 2 AV Ranged attack. Make sure to keep your Controllers safe, they cost 2 Magic and only have 1 Life so it's easy to lose the efficiency battle if you sacrifice them unnecessarily. As the controller of the Benders, one should always look to maximize the Ability as much as possible, and always be prepared to set up combos to leave your opponent reeling. Remember that it can be used on friend and foe alike (except on Controllers), and here is a small sampling of ideas:
- Moving Tacullu or his victim to set up a COUNTER SUMMON- Moving a Deceiver or her victim to set up STUN
- Setting up a MIND BREAK or protecting the Breaker after one
- Setting up a 3 AV Ranged Champion's or Mind Witch's Attack
- Protecting valuable Units after they attack
- Blocking your enemy's summoning spots with their own Units
- Placing enemies into positions from which they can't counterattack.
- Moving Units on the other side of a Wall
Breakers – The Breaker is unique in the Summoner Wars, as this Common comes in a Summoner deck but is not in the Starting Setup. With 1R/1/2 Stats, the MIND BREAK Ability is a +1 and should be maximized to earn its extra Magic cost. Deceivers are excellent for providing an opportunity to safely get multiple MIND BREAKs in on the Stunned Unit. Controllers can get a Breaker or her victim into place, or dispatch the enemy after the Breaker has attacked to prevent a Counterattack. Breakers force the opponent to lose resources either as the card that is revealed, or by spending Magic to bottom deck that card (and thus not have access to it until end game). Be sure to protect these expensive and valuable Units and play them opportunistically.
Parasite – The Parasites offer the only Common for the Benders that has more than 1 Life, and also is the only non-Ranged Benders Unit to date. While it's rare that it can get a LIFE DRAIN in since it needs exactly 1 Wound on it and to get a kill with its 1 AV, it can help keep the Parasite alive indefinitely. They provide a cheap means to protect your other more expensive and more fragile Benders without having to turn to Mercenaries.
Mind Witch – The Mind Witch's MIMIC is one of the most potent Abilities, in the game, and when coupled with her 2R/1/2 stats she has unparalleled offensive potential when she has the right enemy Abilities to copy. Bear in mind that she cannot maintain a MIMIC on the enemy's turn, and that with 1 Life she is easily destroyed if not protected. When copying Abilities like SWIFT SHOT, HAMMER QUAKE, RIDER, PUMMEL, and others, the sheer offensive power may be worth risking losing her. Be careful that using these 2-cost Commons doesn't severely limit the number of Champions, Mind Controls, or Counter Summons you can use.
Sorgwen – Commander Sorgwen's TELEPATHIC COMMAND is one of the greatest Abilities in the Summoner Wars, and her 3 AV Ranged is powerful to behold. Be sure to maximize either the damage you're dealing or the Abilities you're using with TELEPATHIC COMMAND. The Controller and Mind Witch (particularly if she copies a great Ability) offer a lot of extra damage output, and TELEKINETIC BLAST, MIND BREAK, and LIFE DRAIN are all great Abilities to get a second use out of if you can. Note that Sorgwen's Ability and Tacullu's COUNTER SUMMON both occur after your Attack Phase, so you can choose their order to get an extra attack through where a Unit had been recently ripped from existence by Tacullu or else BLAST Tacullu or Sorgwen back into safety. At 3R/3/5, Sorgwen's Life-to-Cost ratio makes her best played defensively and far away from chances of retaliation, although maximizing her great attack is sometimes the best play.
Kalal – At 3R/5/7 stats, Kalal provides the greatest physique and highest Life in the Benders (possibly excluding a lone twin), as well as the highest cost. GLIMPSE THE FUTURE is an Ability whose immense power is not immediately obvious. Against enemies, you can bottom deck all of their Walls, strong events, or Champs, or if they're short on Magic give them their best Champs and events early to clog their hands. When combined with Breakers, you can intentionally destroy the best card(s) in their deck. You can also use Kalal to optimize your own draw order, and know exactly how your cards will be drawn both for your next turn and for end game. Like all Benders, her health goes quickly if you don't protect her, so make sure you don't mistake 5 Life for true longevity when you pay the 7 Magic to summon her.
Gulldune – Gulldune is a fascinating Unit, and can both help or hinder your play. The Ability to permanently control your enemy Champions and Commons, even if they must be low in Life to do so, can be extremely powerful. However, it also effectively denies you Magic and gives your opponent an easy kill, so it’s effectively a 2-Magic swing against you whenever you MIND CAPTURE and then lose the stolen Unit. Therefore, it is often best to only MIND CAPTURE in 3 specific situations: 1) The Stolen Unit has an awesome Ability that you can leverage immediately or imminently (e.g. Rune Mages, Gror, The Seer, Etch, etc); 2) The Stolen Unit can immediately turn around and throw several dice at a previously safe and valuable Unit; 3) The Stolen Unit is safe from immediate counterattack and thus can be made useful over several turns. Bear in mind that MIND CAPTURE is optional, so you can still use Gulldune as a 2R/4/5 and selectively kill or capture as is appropriate. He is pretty frail and costs +1 Magic to Summon, so don’t get greedy and lose him for an opportunistic capture unless it will be truly game changing.
Gwalark - LEVITATE is a powerful Ability, particularly with the element of surprise, for bypassing defenses and taking the fight directly to the enemy. When coupled with the Bender’s omnipresent Ranged attacks, it allows getting to a backrow Summoner or else Wall crowding to a near-unparalleled amount. Consider using Parasites, Champions, Deceivers, or Mercenaries so that the infiltrating Units don’t get immediately blasted to bits. At 2R/5/6, Gwalark’s Ability is a +1 cost, and should be leveraged fully to justify the increased cost. He’s about as sturdy as Benders come, but still dies quickly if you fly him in solo and leave him exposed. Combine him with Talu and Kalu, the Flying Twins, to rock your opponent’s world.
Kalu/Talu- AKA The Flying Twins (in a rock band with Gwalark), Kalu and Talu are the inseparable duo who may exist solely as a psychomantic paradox. Their Ability, MIND LINK, is possibly the greatest double-edged sword in all of Summoner Wars; with it, you may summon a second 2R/6/6 Champion immediately and for free (and potentially with superior positioning), but now each twin will die more quickly if his counterpart is attacked. There are a few ways to look at this; you are effectively getting a pair of 2R/3/3 Champions out at the same time, and they are capable of quickly hitting the enemy hard with their ranged attacks. This frees up lots of extra Magic for powerful Benders Commons, Mind Control, or COUNTER SUMMON, and can give you extra momentum. However, unless you are careful these twins can die very quickly. The good news is that since MIND LINK is your Ability, you get the Magic for the twin who dies due to MIND LINK rather than a direct enemy Attack. Additionally, event cards such as Burn, Lava Flow, Magic Torrent, and others do not trigger MIND LINK, which can make one twin outlive the other and effectively reduces their disability. Finally, it is viable to use a single twin in your deck as a 2R/6/6 with no Ability, which is slightly overpriced but offers the highest longevity of any Benders Unit. You could even choose not to trigger MIND LINK if you have spare Magic and wait until the first twin dies before regularly summoning the second twin so you get both as 2R/6/6 Units without their sizable handicap.
A Hero is Born (x1) - This Event is widely regarded as the +1 Magic event as most people immediately build it. It can be useful for two effects: 1) Getting the exact right Champion you need early in the game to summon the next turn; 2) Shuffling your Draw Pile if an enemy disrupts it via Spy, Kalal, Breakers, or other trickery. Bonus points if you draw this as your very last card.
Mimic (x3) - The ultimate disruption tool in a faction that thrives on disruption. Mimic offers three powerful effects to the Benders: 1) The opponent has to immediately play or build their best events or else fear that you will steal them, making it a very effective Co-co-co-combo Breaker!; 2) Each event you steal can either be played by you for full effect or built as Magic for a 2 Magic swing (-1 from your Opponent, +1 for you); 3) You gain full knowledge of your opponent’s current hand, which is particularly strong in endgame so you know the exact tools they have left. Mimic is only wasted if they don’t have any events in hand and you don’t glean useful information from it, so be aware. Particularly brutal is waiting until they have a fairly full hand and you have two Mimics in hand, so you can steal an Event and decide whether you want to take a second Event with your spare Mimic. I find it’s often worth saving your last Mimic for end game, as it keeps them afraid of the final Mimic which reduces their chances of setting up a combo and it lets you plan out endgame fully based on their remaining resources.
Mind Control (x3)- This card can be brutal, and is an economic winner if you capture a full health Common. Capturing a Common that costs n Magic means that both you and your opponent have spent (n+1) Magic, but they now have nothing and you have the Unit. It is an excellent card to discourage rushing or to get opportunistic attacks on an overly aggressive Summoner. I often will build 1 or 2 of my 3 Mind Controls unless I can spare the Magic or I’m under heavy pressure, but while you have at least one left your opponent has to fear this card, which is good news for you. Keep in mind that Mind Controlling a weak Common that is killed by the next turn is a 2-Magic swing against you, which seriously lowers the economic value of this card. However, it is still extremely powerful in the right circumstances.
Magic Drain (x2)- This Event is the most despised Event in the game, as it is game changing, brutal to your opponent, and helps spam Champions, Mind Controls, COUNTER SUMMONs, or next turn rushes. It is particularly fitting for the Bender theme of being jerks, and they have tools to force the enemy to have more Units (Range, Deceivers, Gwalark), and to steal an enemy Magic Drain against opponents that have it (Mimic). Particularly nasty is their ability to Magic Drain and then immediately use that Magic to Mind Control an enemy Common, which may actually make them have more Units than their opponent! Benders are jerks.
Commander Vlox, now that you have a better idea of what our despicable foes are capable of, we must be ready to meet the challenge at all times. Remember that the Benders thrive on disrupting opponent's plans and forcing the game to be played on their own terms, so be sure to take advantage of their severe frailty and don't fall for their mind games. We must be ever vigilant, and avenge the loss of the great Leonardo to their foul deeds.
Posted by Kyle Stewart
Kyle Stewart is a contributor to PlaidHatGames.com. He would like to apologize for helping people play better with the hated Benders; they made him do it. Praise the Third Eye.