The Origins Game Fair may primarily be a tabletop gaming convention, but that does not mean there wasn’t any video game news at the show. Playdek Games were previewing the video game translation of Plaid Hat Games, Summoner Wars. For those not aware, Summoner Wars is a tactical card game. The object of the game is to kill your opponent’s Summoner. You do this by summoning creatures and casting spells that can effect the creatures in play. The creatures summoned are placed on the game board and you are able to maneuver them to line up attacks and use special abilities. Your Summoner is on the board as well, so you must move your forces to protect them while going after your opponent’s Summoner.
The game itself is a living card game, meaning new expansions are released regularly but these expansions are of a fixed nature. No need to spend hundreds of dollars chasing down a rare card. All the cards are the same in the faction packs you buy. These expansions take form in either a Faction Pack or a reinforcement pack. Faction Packs introduce new Summomers and creatures to the game. Before you begin a game, you pick a faction and build a deck from the cards available to that faction. Each faction pack brings different type of creatures. Dwarves, elves, and orcs among other are represented by these different factions. The reinforcement packs add addition cards additional cards to a specific faction. That nice thing about this setup is you buy only the cards you need. You do not end up with a ton of worthless cards you’ll never use like in a CCG. For more detailed information on the Summoner Wars tabletop game and how to play Summoner Wars, Plaid Hat Games has a good video on their website explaining the basic game mechanics on their website. http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/summoner-wars
At Origins, I was able to play the iOS Summoner Wars game with Colby Dausch, the Owner of Plaid Hat games and speak with George Rothrock, Director of Product and Business Development of Playdek Games. The game is currently set for an end of June release date, so we were playing on a developmental build, not the final version. The iOS game did a good job of recreating the board game. All of the underlying game mechanics were present and executed well. The UI is still being fine-tuned though. Example, I found myself on several occasions double tapping a character to look a card during the move phase and the game was treating that as a zero move action. A fix is being worked on for this, so that a confirmation dialog will pop up asking if you really meant to do a zero move. I was told there will be other graphical improvement as well. At this late stage, the underlying engine is complete and the main focus is UI tweaks,
Once available the game with be free to download. It will come with one faction and the ability to purchase additional factions and reinforcement packs in game. Six factions will be available with at release, with additional factions being added. Online play is available and after your first faction purchase online plays. It’s for devices running iOS4.7 and above. Playdek is currently working on iPhone 3GS and iPad 1 support. The eventually will be an Android version but no release date is announced. Once the android version is released you will be able to play against people using the iOS app online.
The game looks good and when playing on the iPad 2 in hotseat mode was a good experience. There wasn’t any sluggishness in the graphics and animation. I had a few minor issues with the UI, like the previously mentioned zero move issue. I also found myself wanting to single click when a double click was required and wanting to click spaces to move, when to move a creature you drag them. This are all minor issues and I quickly picked up on the correct way to view cards and move cards. The UI is still being tweaked so I wouldn’t be shocked to find the controls a little more intuitive at release. If I owned an iOS device I’d definitely give it a look once released. As a free initial download, you have no risk trying it out. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for videogame versions of tabletop games and if I were an iOS owner I’d download it on release day. Instead I’ll be waiting for the Android release down the road to get my Summoner Wars fix.