Happy preview day!  Today we start our look at Swamp Mercenaries.  This is a faction I've been wanting to see for a while, since it combines two factions who each have their own mechanics to add to Summoner Wars.  

Swamp Mercenaries card back

Swamp Orcs card back    Mercenaries card back

We are fortunate to have designer's comments for this faction from Vincent, aka thenightsshadow, aka Bren:

Before we get started, there is something I want to clear up. Unlike the Vargath Vanguard, I am not the sole designer; Colby had his hand in designing as well. (Vargath Vanguard joins the Filth and Mountain Vargath First Summoners as the three decks out right now that are made solely by someone other than Colby.) I created approximately 50% of the deck.

Like Frank, I had been thinking of the Swamp Orcs and the Mercenaries and what each faction could possibly need. Unlike Frank, however, the art was already complete before I submitted anything, thereby limiting my original intentions and ideas. That doesn't mean that nothing could be salvaged from my original plan, however. I'll walk you through what ended up happening between the original document and the ability we have now.

Today we will focus on the first side of the alliance: the Swamp Orcs, who have the unique tool of Vine Walls: 

Swamp Mercenary Vine Wall

Vine Walls Rules card

The Vine Walls have apparently gotten a makeover, but their rules are unchanged. You can read the more detailed version of the rules here.  Now, on to the units! 

Glurblub, Summoner of the Swamp Mercenaries

The Swamp Orc Summoner Glurblub has the Vinemancer Sow ability, seen earlier on the SO Champion Splub. Some of you are always disappointed when abilities are repeated, but it is a useful ability, especially when coupled with a ranged attack, which Splub does not have. 

His original name was Glurblbl, but it was changed to the appropriate Glurblub.

One of the things that I wanted to point out with the Swamp Orcs was that there were other ways to grow the Swamp besides destroying ones own Units, like as shown with the Apprentice Mage Gambit in Mugglug's deck. So the original ability was one that managed to balance the risk and reward of growing Vine Walls with the original Mercenary's (Rallul's) intention to destroy all Summoning Walls. I'm not listing the specific wording here because I have faith it will see use in the future, but for now that's all I can say.

Colby had a completely different idea, though. Colby believed that Swamp Orcs could be more than just spamming Vine Walls onto the board for advantageous summoning and choke points. Instead, Colby, through his own designs, showed that Swamp Orcs could be more about the proximity of the Vines and what it means to be trapped in the swamp. For this reason, the ability was changed to what it is now; an ability that can't easily spam Vine Walls onto the board, and thus forces a player to keep their Vine Walls protected.

Mik the Tusk, Champion of the Swamp Mercenaries

Mik the Tusk does have a new vine-related ability: his Attack Value goes up one for each Vine Wall he is adjacent to.  And remember, you are adjacent to a Vine Wall in the space you are on, as well as those in adjacent spaces.

The original ability I had for this guy was...convoluted. I actually cringe when I look at it now. Essentially, you could uproot a nearby Vine Wall and place it underneath your attacking target if you hit. The point of the ability was to create another Glarg; another Unit that enjoyed being in the midst of Vine Walls. Colby made this guy a lot simpler and a lot stronger. Fun fact: he used to be a Common.

Swordsman, Common of the Swamp Mercenaries

The Swordsman has the frightening ability of being able the move through units and Vine Walls -- though not both at the same time, according to Vine Wall rules.  Not to mention a very nice Attack Value (which I in fact did not mention at first).  

This guy went through a few iterations, but the intention has always been the same; be a kind of Unit that could easily move into position. Both Swamp Orcs and Mercenaries are positionally-styled factions that can at times matter very heavily as to where each Unit is located. The original card wanted to keep that theme alive but also allow easy access to get into those positions.

Next week, we will see how the Mercenaries contribute to this faction.

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Cave Filth: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Deep Benders: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Fallen Phoenix: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Jungle Shadow: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Sand Cloaks: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Swamp Mercenaries: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Tundra Guild: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Vargath Vanguards: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3