Given the success of Sumoner Wars and the variety of factions and packages currently available, this guide is intended to give new entrants into the Summoner Wars an overview of what factions are currently available, which options are the best way to get into the game, and how one can expand their game to fit their own needs best. When determining which factions you might want to get, make sure you get a standalone game and from there go with whatever faction you like the sound of most. The Second Summoners are a great way to get into the game right away as well, so long as you have a standalone game for the dice, Wound Markers, and boards.
These are the first stop for any potential Summoner, as they include multiple faction decks that can face off, a board to play on, a rule book, dice, and Wound Markers to round out everything you need to play the game.
Summoner Wars: Phoenix Elves vs Tundra Orcs [PE v TO on BGG]: One half of the original release, featuring the fiery, minimal luck Phoenix Elves against the frosty, luck-based Tundra Orcs. Features a paper map and highly portable box. These are two of the easiest factions to play and are an excellent introduction if you’ve never played before.
Summoner Wars: Guild Dwarves vs Cave Goblins [GD v CG on BGG]: The other half of the original release, featuring the stalwart Guild Dwarves against the hordes of Cave Goblins. Features a paper map and a highly portable box. The Guild Dwarves are one of the easiest factions in the game to play, and the Cave Goblins allow creative horde-based play.
Summoner Wars: Master Set [Master Set on BGG]: This set includes six factions: the mind controlling Benders, the reclusive and wily Deep Dwarves, the warmongering goatmen Mountain Vargath, the tricky survivalist Sand Goblins, the fast and hard-hitting Shadow Elves, and the overwhelming marshes of the Swamp Orcs. With the included high quality Premium Board, 15 unique matchups out of the box, and some of the most beloved factions in Itharia (and also the Benders), it’s an excellent place to begin or expand your Summoner Wars collections.
Individual Faction Decks (1 or 2 Summoners Per Faction)
Plaid Hat has pledged never to duplicate cards or content between various releases; the standalone games of the two Starter Sets and the Master Set offer Summoners for 10 of the 16 available factions of Itharia. The remaining 6 First Summoners are available as individual Faction Decks, so pick the ones that you like the sound of best. The most recent releases for Summoner Wars are the Second Summoners for these 16 factions (8 are available thus far). These are standalone decks that offer different Units, Events , and playstyle within the same Faction and theme. Despite the name, you can play any Second Summoner even if you don't have the corresponding First Summoner, because each is a complete deck out of the box. With some of the most interesting and fun mechanics in the game, Second Summoners are well worth trying regardless of your experience level; many players prefer them to the older First Summoners of the same factions because of the interesting mechanics they bring. .Players are also allowed to deckbuild between the First and Second Summoners of the same faction, allowing a large amount of customization and trying new and unique strategies. Note that all of these Faction decks can not be played without a board, Wound Markers, and dice available in the previously mentioned Starter Sets and Master Set.
The Phoenix Elves forge their own fate. They are precise and deadly. Phoenix Elf Players like to deal in direct damage, forming strategies that do not trust the outcome of a die roll.
Summoner Wars: Phoenix Elves - Second Summoner [PE 2 on BGG]: The Phoenix Elf Queen Maldaria is the mother of their First Summoner, Prince Elien, and uses her rage and beauty to strike hard while forcing her subjects to protect her frail frame. She introduces the new Conjuration mechanic in the form of Phoenixes.
The Tundra Orcs are savage and reckless. They rely on brute physical strength to overcome the obstacles in their way. Tundra Orc Players are gamblers, foiling the well laid plans of their opponents with a string of lucky dice rolls.
Summoner Wars: Tundra Orcs - Second Summoner [TO 2 on BGG]: Torgan is a powerful shaman of the Tundra Orcs, and uses the variety of Minor Ice Walls he can produce out of thin air to push his powerful, luck-based troops deep into enemy territory and overwhelm his foes with icy doom.
The Guild Dwarves are sturdy defenders and are experts at taking down walls. Guild Dwarf Players seek to hold out against oncoming attacks, while closing off their opponents´ source of reinforcements.
Summoner Wars: Guild Dwarves - Second Summoner [GD 2 on BGG]: The Guild Dwarf Stonemaster Bolvi introduces a tower defense mechanic into the stalwart Guild Dwarves, and by careful use of his powerful Upgrades seeks to weather enemy fire and then overwhelm them with superior firepower.
The Cave Goblins are battle-crazed lunatics. They come at their enemies in hordes. Cave Goblin Players like to summon units into battle freely, overwhelming their opponents with bursts of speed and power.
Summoner Wars: Cave Goblins - Second Summoner [CG 2 on BGG]: The Cave Goblin Frick is a leader of a band of misfits among Cave Goblin society. Given their society's penchant for eating their own, including their own mothers, that suggests just how hideous some of these creatures can be.
Fallen Kingdom players know that victory does not come without sacrifice. They make the right sacrifices at the right time to gain the strength necessary for victory. Woe unto the summoner who underestimates the power of an enemy who can raise the dead!
Summoner Wars: Fallen Kingdom Faction Deck [FK on BGG]: The Fallen Kingdom are the evil undead menace that are lead by Ret-Talus, the Rotten King, and will sacrifice anything to eradicate all life in Itharia.
Summoner Wars: Fallen Kingdom - Second Summoner [FK 2 on BGG]: The Fallen Kingdom's Mad Sirian Waters was once a human scholar before being captured by Ret-Talus and twisted into a vile puppet. As the only Summoner that can heal himself, he recklessly gambles his own life to gain a dark combat advantage and then feast on his foes to heal.
Vanguards players hate to see a unit fall in battle. Life is precious and they protect it. They keep their summoned units on the battlefield, holding off those who would seek to destroy their summoner. They outlast their foe´s strongest offensives and decisively finish off what remains.
Summoner Wars: Vanguards Faction Deck [VG on BGG]: The Vanguards are the forces of light who have for generations opposed the Fallen Kingdom. Led by young Sera Eldwyn, her faction focuses upon healing and divine retribution.
Summoner Wars: Vanguards - Second Summoner [VG 2 on BGG]: The Vanguard General Samuel Farthen is a fearless paladin nearing the Path of Ascenscion toward becoming an angel. He seeks to protect his followers and thwart his enemy’s best-laid plans, and can transform into a terrifying instrument of righteousness to smite the enemies of the light.
They are a nomadic nation of outcasts, driven into hiding and driven for revenge. The Cloaks launch hit- and-run attacks against those factions whose ambitions they disagree with, and then scavenge what supplies they can from their victories.
The Cloaks rely on stealth and espionage to win their battles. Cloaks players know how to find the weaknesses in their opponent’s defenses and exploit them, cheating opponents of their best cards. Thieves force opponents to discard cards, and spies and assassinations keep enemy factions from using cards at ideal times.
Summoner Wars: Cloaks Faction Deck [CL on BGG]: The Cloaks are a ragtag group of outcasts, thieves, refugees, and turncoats who use trickery, deception, and speed along with the massive versatility of their Summoner Vlox to try and secure victory through unexpected means.
Summoner Wars: Cloaks - Second Summoner [CL 2 on BGG]: The Cloak leader Jexik is shrouded in mystery, but leads a ragtag group of renegades on daring heists that can easily bypass enemy defenses. This brilliant strategist relies on stealth and surprise to assassinate his enemies where they least expect it, utilizing illusions, diversions, and daring plans to lay enemy defenses bare.
The Jungle Elves use their relationships to the animals around them to their advantage. They revel in the uncaring savagery of nature, and love to unleash their trained animals on unprepared foes. Lions outmaneuver Jungle Elf enemies, and elephants trample them. What combatants survive the onslaught are slain by superior elven archers.
Jungle Elf players like to act with decisiveness. They like to move fast, hit hard, and keep their opponent off balance. A Jungle Elf deck relies on momentum to drive it forward, their own weaknesses hidden by keeping their enemy off guard.
Summoner Wars: Jungle Elves Faction Deck [JE on BGG]: The Jungle Elves are a fast, hard-hitting tribal group that use various animals and proficient archery to overwhelm their enemies. Auba Shi can boost friendly Units to even greater feats of strength.
Summoner Wars: Jungle Elves - Second Summoner [JE 2 on BGG]: The Jungle Elf spiritual advisor Nikuya Na relies upon the spirits of the jungle and his noxious poison cloud to bravely dive into combat. He rides an ivory tiger into battle, has a shape-shifting lieutenant, and uses the dual forces of poison and animalistic fury to drive his enemies before him.
They are a barbaric tribe of demon worshippers. They burn and despoil what traces of civilization they can find. They have no name for themselves, but other call them the Filth. At night their camps echo with the screams of prisoners and the gibbering of madmen. Bodies bend and snap as they are wracked by mutation - dark payment earned with dark rituals.
A Filth player values versatility. The Filth can mutate their flesh to better suit the task at hand. A Filth player is constantly evaluating what mutations they have at their disposal and when and where is the best place to use them.
Summoner Wars: The Filth Faction Deck [FL on BGG]: The Filth are a demon-worshipping cult that can use dark powers to mutate their Units into hideous and deadly forms. The mysterious Demagogue uses complete control over these unique mutations to always have the right tool at his disposal.
In war-torn Itharia, mercenary soldiers are in high demand as each faction seeks to gain advantage over the others. Mercenaries can transform warbands, allowing them to operate in ways never before experienced or imagined, though the exotic abilities of these soldiers of fortune often come at a high price.
Summoner Wars: Mercenaries Faction Deck [Mercs on BGG]: The Mercenaries are a motley crew of outcasts who can be brought along with any other Faction in battle. In their own deck, they are lead by Rallul, a mysterious man dedicated to the destruction of the Summoning Walls and capable of unleashing massive combos to secure victory.
[Note: There are a large number of other Mercenaries available through the Reinforcement Packs and the Plaid Hat promos, mentioned below. Up to 6 Mercenary Common and Champion Units can be built into any faction's deck when deckbuilding.]
The Reinforcement Packs each contain a number of additional Champions (1 of each type) and Commons (5 of each type) that can be substituted into their corresponding Factions, in either the First or Second Summoner Faction Decks. Each Reinforcement Pack contains Units for two different Factions, and a Mercenary Champion and Common Unit (5 of each type) as well that can be put into any Faction. The Reinforcements require one or both corresponding Faction Decks to be playable.
Summoner Wars: Rukar's Power Reinforcements Pack [Rukar's Power on BGG]: This includes three Champions and two Common types each for the Phoenix Elves and Tundra Orcs, and the Mercenaries Magos and Spear Grounders (5x).
Summoner Wars: Grungor's Charge Reinforcement Pack [Grungor's Charge on BGG]: This includes three Champions and two Common types each for the Guild Dwarves and Cave Goblins, and the Mercenaries Malevolence and Vermin (5x).
Summoner Wars: Goodwin's Blade Reinforcement Pack [Goodwin's Blade on BGG]: This includes three Champions and two Common types for the Vanguards, and one Champion and three Common types for the Fallen Kingdom, and the Mercenaries Naan’Nashi and Owl Familiars (5x).
Summoner Wars: Hawk's Strike Reinforcement Pack [Hawk's Strike on BGG]: This includes three Champions and two Common types for the Cloaks, and one Champion and three Common types for the Jungle Elves, and the Mercenaries Grubs and Stonecloaks (5x).
Summoner Wars: Taliya's Spirit Reinforcement Pack [Taliya's Spirit on BGG]: This includes three Champions and two Common types each for the Shadow Elves and Sand Goblins, and the Mercenaries Hulgorad and Bounders (5x).
Summoner Wars: Piclo's Magic Reinforcement Pack [Piclo's Magic on BGG]: This includes three Champions and two Common types each for the Benders and Deep Dwarves, and the Mercenaries Rygos and Demon Hands (5x).
Summoner Wars: Bellor's Retribution Reinforcement Pack [Bellor's Retribution on BGG]: This includes three Champions and two Common types each for the Mountain Vargath and Swamp Orcs, and the Mercenaries Kogar and Rogues (5x).
Summoner Wars: Saella's Precision Reinforcement Pack [Saella's Precision on BGG]: This includes four Champions and three Common types for the Mercenaries, and two Champions, five Mutations, and one Common type for the Filth.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Summoning!