Lady Eldwin, we can confirm that the rumors are true: Sirian Waters has been positively identified as the dreaded archmage leading the new offensive that the accursed undead have launched. He is but a shadow of his former self; whatever cruel devices the Dark King has used upon him during those long months of captivity, it is clear that his mind is twisted and his powers have been immeasurably strengthened by the Stone he now so recklessly wields. Our once gentle scholar is now a terrible warlock, and, though there can be no doubt that his sanity has long since snapped, his cleverness and intelligence are still very much intact in their demented form. I am afraid, Mistress. I am afraid to my core. This creature, this pet of Ret-Talus, knows no bounds, and is unafraid to sacrifice his very essence to spread the darkness that consumes his mind. What is worse, he has mustered several creatures so vile that even the Dark King was unaware of or unwilling to use them, but now the might of the Fallen Kingdom shall be even greater with these diabolic creations. We must soldier on to guard the light, whatever the cost.
Second Summoner Overview
Mad Sirian, formerly a peaceful scholar, has been twisted into a crazed pet of Ret-Talus. Like Ret, he brings forth the dark powers of self-sacrifice to enhance his chances of winning, but makes these sacrifices a central theme of his deck. He is the only Summoner to date who can heal, but must drink the blood of his foes in combat to do so. Sirian is a creature whose army grows stronger the more he’s willing to push himself to the edge, but it can be all too easy to get carried away in his mad glee. Sirian also incorporates the opportunity to raise his Units from the dead, although without the same endless supply that Ret is capable of. Playing Mad Sirian requires constant decisions as to how far you’re willing to push the limits, and how deeply down the mad rabbit hole you dare tread. He offers one of the most unique decks to date in the Summoner Wars, and offers many tools to Ret-Talus that will turn the oft-derided Fallen Kingdom back into the terror of Itharia that it was meant to be.
Mad Sirian - Mad Sirian has the fairly common Summoner stat line of 2R/6, but his Ability, BLOOD DRAIN, means that he can effectively have far more life if you’re willing to get him involved in the battle when he’s wounded. This is balanced by the vast number of options that Sirian has to boost his army’s prowess at the cost of his own health; he can potentially be Wounded by one of his Champions, one type of his Commons, and all but one of his Events. Sirian often walks a tightrope between maximizing his battle prowess by self-inflicted harm while trying desperately to avoid death at the enemy’s hands thanks to his own mad self-destruction. He is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult Summoner in all of the Wars to assassinate: when Sirian is at full health, a would-be assassin will likely wind up dead with his blood drained to undo any damage he may have caused, but when Sirian has caused himself grievous bodily harm he may fall to assassins quite easily. It is very tempting to get Sirian involved in the battle to pull off as many BLOOD DRAINs as possible, but be careful that this does not leave him exposed for speedy execution. While Sirian can be played conservatively with minimal self-inflicted Wounds, this will often lead to him losing the efficiency battle and thus the game. Thus, it is often most effective to walk his mad tightrope, but do so with the utmost care.
Corpse Wyrm - Corpse Wyrm has, in addition to some pretty disturbing artwork, a unique 1/9/6 stat line, which is a -1 by the SSCF. His Ability, SPAWN, allows him to function as a mobile Wall for Fallen Kingdom Commons, but at the cost of his health. He can be extremely tough to bring down due to his high life, but with only 1 AV he will not be doing much damage to his foes during this exchange. He is a fairly strong anti-swarm Unit, but will usually be most useful either to open up a large potential threat as a forward Summoning spot or offer an extremely sturdy blocker for other Units that can output more damage. He offers a unique option for both Ret-Talus and Sirian, and his Ability to summon on the opponent’s side of the battlefield can greatly assist with the Fallen Kingdom’s legendary lack of speed and mobility. He is a somewhat situational Unit that can really shine when he’s needed, so it’s entirely valid to bring him along with either FK Summoner in the event that the situations are perfect for him. With Ret, if you choose not to Summon him you can use the additional Magic for lots of additional RAISE THE DEAD. With Mad Sirian, if you choose not to Summon him you can spend the extra Magic either on more Commons or in conjunction with Return of the Fallen to bring out a heavy hitter a second time. Note that with Dark Sacrifice support, Corpse Wyrm can be one of the toughest Units in the game to destroy.
Gul-Dass - Pound for pound, the mighty 4/7/5 Gul-Dass is one of the deadliest Units in the game, and is priced at an unprecedented -3 by SSCF. This is because his Ability, BLOOD FOR BLOOD, can tear your Summoner to pieces while Gul-Dass is busy being an absolute wrecking ball. Once your Summoner is down to a single health, Gul-Dass will serve one of three purposes: 1) Be a big, menacing, 7-Life blocker that cannot attack for risk of losing you the game; 2) Attack with him anyway and run the 60% chance of losing every time he swings; 3) Lay the coup de grace on the enemy Summoner with him and win the game, because as active player you can have him deal damage first and then trigger BLOOD FOR BLOOD. While your Summoner has life to spare, Gul-Dass is brutally efficient at slaughtering everything in his path, and can win (or lose) games with impressive efficiency. In terms of Magic efficiency, a useful point of comparison is Ret-Talus’ Forced Summon, which turns 2 Wounds on the Summoner into 4 Magic. With Gul-Dass costing -3 by SSCF, he is a fantastic bargain if he never Wounds your Summoner, a good deal at only 1 Wound, slightly inefficient at 2 Wounds, and increasingly more so with further Wounds. In Mad Sirian’s deck, this can be offset with Sirian’s Ability to heal. In Ret’s deck, Gul-Dass could be played as an alternative to playing Forced Summon, but that can be a very dangerous play indeed. Use this destructive demon with care, and he can serve you well.
Hirud - Hirud’s 3/5/6 stat line means that his MAGIC LEECH Ability is a +1 by SSCF, which can be a fantastic deal or a terrible one depending on who ends up paying more for it. By increasing the cost of all Champions by 2 Magic, he can effectively force inefficient plays on your opponent’s part by making him waste Magic to get Champs out or else summon more Commons instead. Since Ret (RAISE THE DEAD, Dark Sacrifice) and Sirian (Return of the Fallen) have lots of uses for extra Magic, forcing your opponent to Summon more Commons and thus give you more Magic is an excellent effect for you. However, try not to Summon Hirud at a time that he prevents you from getting your own Champions down; he makes a great second Champ for this reason, or a good first Champion if you’re already planning on playing Common heavy. Since Ret (Forced Summon) and Sirian (Search the Stone) both have tools to get a Champion down very early in the game, use this to your advantage and press the attack. It can be particularly effective to drop Hirud right before you know your opponent is going to drop their biggest Champ just to slow them down by a turn and gain the upper hand. It can be tempting to use Hirud for his hefty 3 AV; however, do so with care, as 5 Life can go very quickly and you’re very likely to see an enemy Champion or two pop out as soon as the MAGIC LEECH has been killed. As a fun note, when playing against Tacullu’s Benders, Hirud makes it more expensive for Tacullu to COUNTER SUMMON your Champions.
Ghoul - Ghouls are a 2/3/2 Unit with a negative Ability, similar to the Mercenary Stone Golems and Demon Hands. The Ghouls are likely a better choice for the Fallen Kingdom than either of those Mercenaries due to RAISE THE DEAD / Reanimate & Forbidden Ritual synergies. The Ghoul’s RAVENOUS HUNGER can either be a non-issue or a major annoyance, depending largely on board state and on how lucky your attack rolls are. Note that killing friendly Units still satisfies RAVENOUS HUNGER, as cannibalism represents no moral quandary at all for a hungry Ghoul. If you do not get a kill with it on the first turn you Summon it, it effectively becomes a 2/2/2 Unit, which is still a very nice stat line. Ghouls that are near death are going to end up going to your Magic pile of their own accord, so you can use them to hit a Champion or Summoner and get a nice little Magic rebate for your trouble. This makes them effectively cost 1 Magic for Ret to RAISE THE DEAD with them, and they’re a useful tool for Magic denial. Also, Ghouls synergize extremely well with Sirian’s Forbidden Ritual, as the RAVENOUS HUNGER does not stack so they effectively get a free Attack Value boost with no additional downside. It can be somewhat efficient to summon them as blockers, as they’ll slowly wilt to death if they’re not involved in the battle. Since the Fallen Kingdom can afford to have splashier decks than most other factions thanks to their means of raising Commons from the Discard, it can often be worthwhile to bring a few Ghouls along just in case you need some cheap offensive muscle or handy Magic denial. To be most effective in Ret’s deck, he will need to be pretty close to the fray, which can often be daunting but also very strong when well executed.
Vampire - The 2/1/2 Vampire is a close cousin of the FK Cultist, pairing a strong attack with a high cost and a frail body. While the Cultist specializes in extra damage when dying, the Vampire’s BAT FLIGHT makes him a master of mobility and hit-and-run tactics. Vampires are the most tactically demanding Fallen Kingdom Unit by far, and creative usage of these versatile Units can greatly open your possibilities. They are excellent at jumping over a Wall, hitting a key target, and retreating to safety, as well as protecting Mad Sirian or another Ranged Unit by jumping in the way to block after the Ranged attack has gone off. They synergize well with Warlocks for this reason, and when combined with the Corpse Wyrm can offer a highly mobile death squad. However, they are frail and costly, so try and protect these valuable assets and don’t throw them away lightly. They’re best at escaping if you ensure the target can’t chase them down, due to death or the presence of blockers. Summoning too many Vampires and letting them die will often cost you the game due to the loss of the efficiency battle. While Cultists excel at end game when every Wound counts, Vampires offer a more versatile presence that can set up some really fun and effective combos throughout the game, and are a solid choice to include for both Ret and Sirian.
Warlocks - The 2R/2/3 Warlock offers a unique stat line and is quite likely the MVP Unit for Ret decks. While certain Commons can become 2R/2 thanks to Abilities (Rune Mages with Mundol, SO Hunters, Stalwart Archers, Woeful Brothers with Master Bullock), having a strong Ranged damage potential always available makes these Unit extremely valuable. Their Ability, STOLEN LIFE, offers a cheap way to get them out on the battlefield by trading 1 Wound on your Summoner for 3 Magic. While this is even more efficient than Ret’s Forced Summon, this Ability should be used sparingly with both FK Summoners due to their means of raising Commons from the Discard. Ret’s Life is quite valuable to him, so it is typically a better (and extremely efficient) play for him to build the Warlock as Magic (+1 Magic) and then bring it out with RAISE THE DEAD (-2 Magic), thus spending 1 Magic to prevent taking the Wound. While this does require an attack and bringing the Warlock onto the battlefield adjacent to Ret, the fact that they are the only Ranged Fallen Kingdom Common to date [other than the much weaker Skeletal Archer] means they’re much more likely to be able to immediately get a big attack than any other FK Common. With Legion of the Dead’s GREATER RAISE, you can bring up to 3 Warlocks out adjacent to Ret for 4 Magic total (1 net Magic if you’ve built all 3 Warlocks as Magic in the first place). That’s absurdly efficient! With Sirian, his Ability to BLOOD DRAIN and replace the STOLEN LIFE Wound makes it often fine to bring the Warlocks out directly. Alternatively, he can build 2 Warlocks as Magic (+2 Magic) and then play a single Reanimate to get both Warlocks out for the same 2 Wounds that STOLEN LIFE would have placed. This is slightly more efficient since you gain +1 Magic over bringing both Warlocks out and building Reanimate as Magic, but the added time involved means it will be more situational for Sirian to do this than for Ret-Talus and his powerful RAISE THE DEAD engine.
Forbidden Ritual (x2)- The Forbidden Ritual gives a handy +1 bonus to all of your Fallen Kingdom Units, but also gives all of your Units (including Mercenaries) the same RAVENOUS HUNGER that Ghouls always have to live (undie?) with. This makes Ghouls excellent Units to have on the turns when you use Forbidden Ritual, since the Ability does not stack. It also means that it’s often better to play both Forbidden Rituals on the same turn so that your Units get two bonus dice each but only have to deal with the RAVENOUS HUNGER a single time. The HUNGER Wound is enough to destroy any Skeletal Archers, Cultists, Vampires, Phantoms or other 1-Life Units that don’t manage to get a kill in, which can give you a lot of Magic and Magic denial but heavily punish your board position. Since RAVENOUS HUNGER is satiated by friendly kills, it may be worth killing your own 1-Lifer that would die anyway to prevent a Wound on an important Unit. Note that since Sirian also receives the RAVENOUS HUNGER, this Event can accidentally cost you the game if he doesn’t kill a Unit during your Attack Phase. If he whiffs his Attack when trying to get a BLOOD DRAIN, it’s effectively a 2 Life swing on him (he lost the +1 Life on BLOOD DRAIN and then suffers -1 Life from the HUNGER). Since you are limited to 3 Attacks per turn, it’s typically most efficient to play these Events when you have exactly 3 Units in position to attack and no extra Units that automatically take RAVENOUS HUNGER Wounds since they can’t attack. With careful planning, this Event is extremely strong, but make sure to minimize the collateral damage you’re taking.
Reanimate (x4) - While Mad Sirian lacks the permanent access to raising the dead that is Ret’s hallmark, these Events allow him to achieve the same effect by spending Life instead of Magic. Note that the Reanimated Units are brought back adjacent to Walls, so you can use this greater flexibility well and also place them adjacent to a freshly placed Wall for a surprise attack. With 4 copies of this Event, I often will build a few of them for Magic, particularly if I draw them early. Since playing this for 2 Commons that you built as Magic already is a +2 Magic play, and you trade the normal Summon Cost for Wounds on Sirian, you’re effectively directly trading Wounds on Sirian for the Magic Cost of the Commons and a free bonus Magic when you play Reanimate rather than build it. Since Sirian can potentially BLOOD DRAIN these Wounds away, it becomes a very efficient prospect. As an interesting note, comboing this Reanimate trickwith Elut-Bal’s SUMMONED BY BLOOD effectively gives you +5 Magic total for 2 Wounds on Mad Sirian, so it’s even more efficient than Ret’s Forced Summon. Saving a Reanimate or two for the end game can often be the difference between victory and defeat once you’ve run out of Commons in your deck or the Magic to Summon them.
Return of the Fallen (x1) - The only Event in Sirian’s deck that doesn’t potentially damage him, it also provides the unique opportunity to bring a Champion into play that has already died. Since playing this Event costs 3 net Magic (-1 for not building it, -2 to pay for it), it can be tough to have enough Magic to actually Summon a fourth Champion, particularly if you’ve been Summoning Commons as well. It is often more valuable to Summon a particular Champion twice, using the Magic you save by Building instead of Summoning a different Champion. This makes Sirian a good choice for situational Champions, as Return of the Fallen greatly increases your flexibility. Return of the Fallen can potentially be great with any Fallen Kingdom Champion, but the high cost means it often will get built as Magic unless you’re willing to pay a premium on getting one particular Champion back. It can be phenomenally strong when playing against another FK deck, as you can actually bring their own Champions out against them, and potentially have two copies of one Champ working together to crush your undead foe.
Searching the Stone (x2) - This Event gives you two very handy effects in exchange for a Wound on Mad Sirian: 1) Drawing 5 cards during your Event Phase, meaning you can have up to 9 (or more!) cards in hand; 2) Summon Units during your Event Phase, including Champions. Both effects are excellent, as the former allows you to quickly build Magic or to get to your Walls, good Events, Commons, and Champions, and the latter allows you to drop a fresh Wall and immediately launch a surprise attack from it, including a Champion. A Turn 1 Searching the Stone segues nicely into building a lot of Magic and getting a Turn 2 Champion down. However, playing one or both of these does cost Sirian some Health, and ultimately means you’re much more likely to deck before your opponent if you are using this to aggressively build Magic. Therefore, you should aim to end the game quickly if you’re playing in this way, which works well given the momentum this card can single-handedly generate. Since you’ll eventually see all of the cards in your deck anyway, Searching the Stone is typically an inefficient choice if you’re planning on playing a long game. I typically will build Searching the Stone as Magic if I’m already more than halfway through my deck, but both effects can still be potentially wonderful if you have the tools to fully leverage them.