Foreword: Prince Elien, your mother is angry that this civil war continues to rage. I’m certain you know all about her, but since she’s acquired her own Summoning Stone her powers have amplified and her loyal troops are even more fearsome in battle. This war is a great pain to our people, and it is possible that we may be able to recruit some of her fighters to our side if we can somehow negotiate a ceasefire. Failing that, we can always angle for some defections, and try to use your mother’s own troops against her.
Second Summoner Overview
The Phoenix Elves are one of the original factions in the Summoner Wars, and are best represented by their Abilities and Events that deal direct damage and can quickly fell even the mightiest foes. However, they are also one of the frailest factions in terms of their own Life totals, and have the lowest Life Summoner out of the original 16. This led them to be a very defensive faction, preferring to have the wimpy Prince Elien cower in the back and slaughter any Champion that may come his way. Several of these factors have been preserved in Elien’s mother, the deadly Queen Maldaria. Her Units and Events expand upon the PRECISE theme established by Elien, and her Wrath of the Volcano and Lava Flow can incinerate Champions and hordes alike. Her signature characteristic is her amazingly powerful (and cowardly) Ability, SAVE THE QUEEN, which allows her to bring up to 2 friendly Phoenix Elf Commons to her side to protect her at the end of the turn. Since her attack rivals that of the mighty Grognack, she actually tends to play more offensively than her even more cowardly son; however, she has the same frailty and thus must take great care to ensure that her 4 Life doesn’t vanish in the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye. She also brings a new type of Unit, the Conjuration, into the fray at her side, and these creatures of pure Magical energy can serve as both protectors and bearers of fiery doom for her enemies. Overall, Queen Maldaria requires far more finesse (as provided by her lieutenant Fanessa) than her son does, and keeping her safe while maximizing her considerable firepower are key to success with the vain ruler of the Phoenix Elves.
Queen Maldaria - Queen Maldaria has a unique stat line among all of the Summoner Wars to date: 4 AV, 4 Life, and no Range to help protect her. Her signature Ability, SAVE THE QUEEN, allows you to teleport your Commons from anywhere on the battlefield to her side at the end of your turn. This flexibility is massive, as it allows you to hit and run with your Commons (similar to Elien’s Warriors), to protect Maldaria’s flanks, to get an additional 2 “movement” on your turn, to crowd the enemy’s Walls, to keep your Fire Archers sniping away for the entire game, and much more. This amazing Ability is limited mostly by your imagination, but to get the most of it one should ideally have Maldaria close enough to the action that your Units can be used again next turn. This is tricky given Maldaria’s frailty, but if you’re careful about blocking lanes of attack to her and aware of what anti-Common tricks your opponent can pull, you can gain a large advantage. Against factions such as Deep Dwarves, Swamp Orcs, Cloaks, and others that can remove your Common blockers, Phoenixes provide an excellent means of protection as their Conjuration status should keep them safe. I’m fond of using Maldaria’s beefy 4 AV to crush a low-life Unit and then SAVE THE QUEEN a blocker in its place, but this can backfire mightily if your dice fail you and you suddenly have a still-breathing enemy in Maldaria’s face. Be aware that Maldaria does not have excellent Common blockers in her base deck; Fire Archers are expensive and fragile, Fire Dancers can be lured away by enemy Attacks, and Firelings can be lured away by enemy movement. When deckbuilding with her, consider Fire Beasts for added Life and Release the Hounds synergy, Guardians for added Life and Passion of the Phoenix synergy, or Fencers for 0-cost blockers with another strong defensive Ability and no risk of being lured away.
Duke Ramazall - The Duke, with 2/6/6 stats and the PRECISE Ability, is a slightly stronger version of the mercenary Saella (2/5/6 with PRECISE) but they are very similar. That extra Life, particularly for the same cost, goes a long way, and when combined with the Queen’s 2 Passion of the Phoenix events to boost his AV, makes him an excellent Champion to serve the Queen. He is strong in one-on-one duels with enemy Champions, although if the foe has 3+ AV he may fall quickly if luck is on their side. He really shines in crowd control for Commons, striking down foe after foe with precision and making Vanguard Summoners in particular gnash their teeth. As with all Melee Champions, it is important to protect his flanks as he will fall quickly when surrounded. Typically, try and use one or both Passion of the Phoenix events when the Duke is dueling a large enemy Champ; particularly if you have two Fire Archers blasting away as well, even the mighty Krung doesn’t stand a chance. Since he synergizes so well with Maldaria’s Passion of the Phoenix and anti-synergizes with Elien’s Spirit of the Phoenix, I almost always prefer him to follow the Queen unless you specifically want an all-PRECISE deck for the Prince.
Fanessa - With 2/5/5 stats, Fanessa is the same price as many of the existing female Phoenix Elves Champions but trades in Range for the useful RIPOSTE Ability previously seen in the 1/0/1 Fencers. This means that she is an excellent choice against Melee-heavy factions, and can single-handedly stop a horde in its tracks as she racks up kills on the opponent’s turn. Her Ability is much stronger with her 5 Life than on a 1 Life Fencer, and thus she can often get in around 3 or 4 auto-Wounds before finally going down, depending on dice luck and the AV of her foes. She is of course better against lower AV enemies, as they will have to endure more pain from RIPOSTE before she finally drops. Note that her Ability will often actively dissuade your opponent from attacking her with certain Units, so try and use that psychology to your advantage. If she’s unchallenged because of this fear, she can merrily slaughter things in her path or tear down a Wall until they finally respond. Finally, in a comparison to Maelena, a 2/5/5 Champion whose BURNING BLADE deals an automatic Wound to the card she attacks, we can see that they are effectively two sides of the same coin; one will deal an auto-Wound on attack, the other deals an auto-Wound on defense, and they otherwise have the same stats. With this in mind, they typically each have applications where they can shine, but if you are facing a swarm then Fanessa should be the go-to, and Maelena is far better at busting Walls. Against enemy Champions, they are very close in utility, and it often comes down to luck of the dice at that point or whomever gets the first strike.
Kaebeeros - With 3/6/6 stats, Kaebeeros is the second beefiest Unit that the Phoenix Elves have, second only to the mighty Fire Drake. When you’ve run out of deck, his SMOLDERING EMBERS make his stats become a truly daunting 4/6/6, and he will be enough to take down almost any Unit in the game. The tough choice Kaebeeros can force is if you draw him very early in the game; he is still a good choice to summon as a 3/6/6 without an Ability, although he clearly fights better if you hold on to him until end game at the cost of him hand clogging you the entire game. In either case, he should be able to do a lot of damage and help establish board presence, if not win the game for you outright; be sure to keep him going as long as you can. For Maldaria he mostly offers a lot of end game strength she might otherwise lack. For Elien, he can potentially allow a 4 AV PRECISE attack in the end game when coupled with Spirit of the Phoenix. The problem with this, as with Kaebeeros in general, is that to achieve this maximum effect you must survive until end game and hold on to the proper cards in order to pull off that combo; the potential hand clogging and momentum loss might cost you the game while trying to set it up.
Fire Archers - The 1R/1/2 Fire Archers are the Ranged, frail cousins of Elien’s Guardians, although personally I greatly prefer them over their non-Ranged counterparts. Much like Gem Mages, they can deal a lot of damage from afar but are expensive and fragile and you must keep them safe or you’ll lose out in the economic battle. They are fantastic snipers, dealing reliable damage and killing 1 Life enemies with ease. To keep them safe, use Queen Maldaria’s SAVE THE QUEEN as much as possible -- killercactus has suggested it should really be called SAVE THE FIRE ARCHERS. They can pop out from safety to deal a Wound and then immediately be called back into safety by their Queen. If at all possible, try and keep your two starting Fire Archers alive for the entire game; they’ll often be enough, and can deal considerable damage from afar when given enough time. Maldaria’s two Passion of the Phoenix events can give them or the other PRECISE Units boosted attacks, so be sure to maximize that Range as they are the only PRECISE Unit to date who has it. As the only Common that Queen Maldaria has in her base deck that cannot be lured away during the enemy turn, it may sometimes be necessary for them to lay down their lives protecting hers. Try and avoid this exchange if at all possible, as their expense makes them tough to replace. However, since she only has 4 Life, sometimes this sacrifice will be necessary to keep her from death, so use it wisely. These Units do not synergize well with Elien since he cannot protect or boost them, but they still can be quite handy with the Prince if you are careful.
Fire Dancer - These 1/4/3 Units have a unique stat line, and excel as defensive Units that can take a licking and deal some hefty damage in return. Their fascinating BLAZE DODGE Ability is a double-edged sword; while it makes them tough to kill and they can often escape traps and deal some damage in the process, it makes them unreliable as blockers. A smart opponent can attack a Fire Dancer who is protecting the Queen from the side, forcing her to BLAZE DODGE if any Misses are rolled, and then a Ranged Unit can fire through the space where she previously occupied. For this reason, as well as her unimpressive 1AV for 3 Cost, Fire Dancers should be used sparingly. They do excel at shutting down portions of the battlefield and causing enemies grief; those BLAZE DODGE Wounds can add up if the opponent is rolling poorly and potentially recoup the Dancer’s cost entirely. A favorite trick of mine is to use Fire Dancers aggressively until they are near death, and then recall them using SAVE THE QUEEN. From there, they can be used as a “free” blocker or Wall crowder that can still potentially Wound an enemy on his/her turn, or they can be killed by the Queen to reclaim them as Magic. Fire Dancers offer an excellent beefy Common to Elien, and he can typically afford one or two due to his fantastic Magic efficiency.
Fireling - Firelings are a really fun and thematic Unit; kudos to designer James Sitz for thinking up these fun fire puppies. They will PURSUE any enemy Unit that tries to flee from them, and thus can either deal several Wounds on the enemy turn or else force an enemy Unit to remain stationary for fear of PURSUE Wounds and wind up suffering a big counterattack on your turn. Like the PE Fencer, this 0 cost Unit provides a cheap body on the field with a nice defensive Ability; the Fencers discourage enemy Attacks while the Firelings discourage enemy movement. Note that PURSUE is rolled for every space moved as it’s moved, so a Unit with RIDER could easily die partway down its path and leave the Fireling feeling as triumphant as a puppy catching a car (or its own tail). PURSUE makes Firelings very poor blockers as an enemy Unit can lure it away, and another enemy can take its place and lay some pain upon the Queen or whoever else was previously being protected by the excitable flaming puppy. As with all 0 costers, be careful of flooding the board with these and providing too much easy Magic to your opponent; this horde strategy is typically more effective for the Cave Goblins than for the haughty Phoenix Elves.
Phoenixes - Phoenixes are the first Conjuration type Unit to exist in Summoner Wars (see Rules Card below), and these creatures of flame are effectively the cheapest Unit in the game and yet potentially quite deadly. The 1 Magic you could get by building a Conjure Phoenix event as Magic yields you two Phoenixes, so they effectively cost ½ card total as opposed to 1 card each for 0-cost Units. Their HEROIC FLIGHT boosts the attack of other Phoenixes that are adjacent, so they can potentially throw 4 dice at a target if fully surrounded on the other sides by a phalanx of Phoenixes. They also can boost Units with GREATER FLIGHT by 2 AV, which for the Phoenix Elves means the much-maligned Rahlee (1/4/4). Hence Rahlee surrounded by 3 Phoenixes can throw a whopping 7 dice at an assassination target, and since all of these Units can move 2 or 3 spaces while flying that can be potentially devastating. Thus, try and use these firebirds in a swarm, and don’t let them get picked off at a trickle when instead you can overwhelm. With only 1 Life, be careful that you do not feed too much Magic to your opponent if they kill all 6 Phoenixes you can Conjure in a game. As Conjurations, Phoenixes only give Magic if your opponent kills them, not you, so don’t cull them yourself unless you need to deny that Magic to your opponent. Additionally, they are not affected by Events or Abilities that specifically target Commons or Champions, so they can avoid a whole slew of nasty effects because of their magical nature. This and their cheap cost makes them ideal blockers for Queen Maldaria, but be aware that they also are not affected by SAVE THE QUEEN and do die quickly when acting as blockers.
Conjure Phoenix (x3)- Conjure Phoenixes is the only way to bring Maldaria’s Phoenixes onto the board, so think long and hard over whether you’d rather have 2 Units or a single Magic before building it as Magic. The fact that both Phoenixes must be Conjured adjacent to Maldaria means that it is more effective to have her near the action so that they can quickly get to the fight; however, this in turn means that she has to have at least 2 empty adjacent spaces and thus might be at risk from enemy attacks. If Maldaria has nothing adjacent to her, she can play 2 of these to bring out 4 Phoenixes at once; however, she can only safely do this if she’s far from the battle, and so it may take several turns using all 3 Movements before some of those Phoenixes will actually be useful. Since the Phoenixes fight so much better as a group, it’s often worthwhile to send them together if possible; use their flight and efficient Conjuration to try and overwhelm the enemy without giving up too much Magic. Conjuring Phoenixes can be an efficient way to keep Maldaria safe if she doesn’t have Commons to bring over with SAVE THE QUEEN, but beware of how fragile they are.
Lava Flow (x2) - This Event is the first that directly allows you to draw more cards from your deck, and also can deal up to 4 Wounds if your Walls are being crowded. As such, it can often effectively deter Wall crowding, or can be combo’ed with a fresh Wall to catch your opponent off guard and potentially sow havoc. Note that this event does damage friendly Units as well, so try to set up effective Lava Flows in advance to minimize your own collateral damage. Certain board states, or if you’re on the offensive, dictate that this card is better built as Magic than played, as you’ll be drawing that next card on your next turn anyway. As long as you have at least one Lava Flow left, an observant opponent will be very cautious of crowding your Walls, so try and use that to your advantage. If you deal even a single Wound using this event, you’ve pretty much broken even by not Building it as Magic (unless, of course, your Walls are in danger). You could get bonus points by using these to finish off your own Wall and march a Unit through the breach to kill an important enemy that you just coated in lava.
Passion of the Phoenix(x2) - This Event is fiercely competitive with Conjure Phoenixes for being Queen Maldaria’s signature Event card. It boosts the AV of all Units with PRECISE by 1 for the rest of the turn, and it can be stacked. To get the most mileage out of this card, it is best if you have all 3 of your Attacks that turn be from PRECISE Units. Since this guarantees 3 extra Wounds, it is a potentially devastating Event and can even make the mighty Greater Burn look a little weak. By Jexik’s Thorkur Rule (1 Magic = 1 Wound), this means you’re trading 3 Wounds for a single Magic (if you’d built Passion), a truly insane deal. Of course, to get this maximum value, you need to have at least 3 Units with PRECISE on the board and in a position to attack, and that’s assuming you have not wasted any Wounds by overkilling a target. Since Fire Archers have Range, they are very useful for making sure to have those targets lined up, although Duke Ramazall, the mercenary Saella, and Guardians all can get those 3 attacks in as well. Using one or both Passions to wipe out an enemy Champion or clear the board of Commons can be key to succeeding with Maldaria; try and time your usage of this amazing event for when you get the most mileage out of it. Even though PRECISE doesn’t apply to Walls, the AV boost still applies so you could use the bonus damage to finish off a Wounded Wall as well.
Release the Hounds (x1) - This is a fun and thematic event that I find often gets built as Magic but can be dynamite with the right deckbuild or in the right situation. In the base deck, this can grab most of the Firelings in your deck to either get a big boost of Magic if you Build them or else allow heavy Wall crowding with a fiery puppy flood. Being able to Summon Fire Beasts using this event can be downright mean, as a surprise timely HELLFIRE can really change the tide of battle. Don’t forget about the clause that these Units can be Summoned adjacent to Queen Maldaria, so you can use this to drop a lot of pain deep in enemy territory if you’re on the offense with her. Since you can Build Magic during the Event Phase, you could for instance grab 2 Firelings and a Fire Beast, build the former as Magic and then Summon the latter for a lot of health deep in enemy territory. Since you’ll eventually draw all the cards in your deck anyway, playing this card rather than Building it as Magic means you’re effectively paying 1 Magic to gain tempo, positioning, free movement, a “Magic loan”, or board presence. These can all be viable reasons to play it, but make sure that the benefit you’re getting has a value of greater than 1 Magic, which is often slightly subjective for several of these effects.
Wrath of the Volcano (x1) - This Event is highly reminiscent of Elien’s Burns and Greater Burn, but trades quantity and efficiency for potentially higher damage output. Since 1 Wound = 1 Magic by Jexik’s Thorkur Rule, this card provides a very reasonable value and can be critical to blasting an enemy Champion out of existence right after it is Summoned. This is more expensive than Elien’s Greater Burn, and you only have 1, so make sure that your Magic economy won’t be disrupted by this and that you’re not tossing really useful cards to pay for it. However, paying 3 Magic for up to 3 Wounds is very powerful, and while I typically save the only Wrath of the Volcano to immolate a Champion, it can also be used to kill a blocker and open a lane for an assassination. This combos well with Fire Archers and Passion of the Phoenix, as you can potentially instantly win if you can pull that combo off. Since you only have a single Wrath of the Volcano, be sure to use it as optimally as possible, and sometimes you have to wait until you have a pair of throwaway cards in hand in order to actually bring the blazing inferno down upon your enemy’s head.