I had a happy surprise waiting for me last night when I got home from work. Yep, you guessed it, the new decks for Summoner Wars. Naturally, my wife and I had to have a private release party, so we packed up the board and headed out to our local coffee and tea shop, the Neighborhood Cup, grabbed a cup of a hot tea (which, by the way, comes in mugs as large as my face), and sat down to play.
Now, you have to understand something about me and games: very rarely do I get the feel for how a game (or faction plays) until I give it a try. It's just not how my brain works. I can't look at the Filth cards online and know how they're going to play. I'm just not wired that way. Oh, I can come up with a combo or two just by looking at card interactions, but it doesn't tell me if I'll like the game or new faction, and it doesn't help me really understand them. If you've been following our posts for a little while, you know I've been really excited about the Filth, just from a thematic perspective, but I wasn't sure if the reality of how they played would really be something I'd like. I'd heard from a playtester that he thought they were really tough to play, and then someone who got the faction decks before I did said that they were really defensive, which is not a good thing in my book, since I like to play really aggressively. I didn't let any of this information prejudice me against them, I wanted to see how they stood on their own feet, claws, tentacles, and wings.
It was a half grudge match, my wife pulled out her beloved custom Guild Dwarves deck. I hate them so much. So I went in saying, okay, I'm going to lose this game, but I want to learn how to play the Filth. We got everything set up and I was already cringing, my two commons were automatically in range of her spearmen, not good. However, I won the roll to go first and it was an uphill battle from there. Our game was basically played almost entirely in the last three rows of my side of the board. But here's the interesting thing, I wouldn't really call the Filth a defensive faction. Normally, when I think of defensive, I think of turtling, hardy units, or intercepting arcs of attack from ranged units (i.e. Dwarves and Benders). The Filth are...actively defensive. Yes, the game was played on my side of the board, but I was keeping constant pressure on her not to let me break out of where she'd pinned my summoner early on in the game. I wish I had taken some pics of the game to post, we'll do that when I try the Mercenary faction.
I spent most of the game cackling as I planned out my next turn on how I was going to just screw with the Dwarves, because remember, I knew I was going to lose. So I'd do crazy stuff like suddenly transform a forward placed mutant into a bestial mutant and rush in to get a couple hits on her summoner. Well, or try, early-mid to late mid I was plagued by a batch of bad dice rolls and was missing like you wouldn't believe. Then later I grabbed a winged mutant and did the same thing, flying right over a spearman to get to Oldin. I just would set mini-goals to try to be annoying, like kill Gror.
Then something unexpected happen. My wife ran out of cards. I had too, but in the end, I was left with a half damaged edible mutant, a full health claw mutant, and a summoner with one health left in a protected position. She had Oldin with two wounds on him. I had won!
So, what did I think of the Filth?
I have a new favorite faction. They are ridiculously flexible. Being able to swap mutations for free (well, if they're of equal or less price to the one on the board) is epic. It means that claw mutant you put two wounds on and trapped with a defender can suddenly turn into an edible mutant, and then your guardsman you just brought out can be hit with heretic's rebuke and turn into a claw mutant perfectly positioned to beat on Gror.
They have a unique rhythm to their gameplay and have their own very strange economy of cards. I did not build a single common. I did not even summon the champion. I was more destructive with my own units and more protective of them, because every mutation your opponent kills hurts your economy, it takes a tool out of your tool chest, gives your opponent two magic, and prevents you from ever getting that mutation to build into magic again. It's far better to kill your own mutation and get it back and one magic than to let your opponent kill it. The Filth essentially run by building their mutations as magic to summon their other mutations, swapping them out to protect them, and of course, killing enemies for magic. Honestly, I'd happily swap out the abomination for a big nasty mutation (on my wish list for the Filth Reinforcements). They're a great addition to Summoner Wars and I can't wait to play them again!