Moyra deck build (Vargath Vanguards)

My first deck build of an alliances summoner: Moyra Skylark of the Vargath Vanguards. She makes for a very interesting faction to play with lots of options and a very good summoner power. In this guide I’ll go into detail on what her ideal deck build looks like and how to play that build well. As she is an alliances summoner you can also put in Mountain Vargath and Vanguards units in her deck. I’ll include those but for now I won’t include Mercenaries. Summoner Wars is a game by Plaid Hat Games. It’s available on android / iOS / Vassal.

Basic idea
sum-MoyraSkylarkMoyra doesn’t have the tools (without Etch) to win economically, but she does have another way of gaining a magic advantage. Namely by trading her commons efficiently with the enemy units by making her units harder to hit or by making her units stronger. Because of this I feel deck building her should be mostly geared towards high health commons that can reposition easily. The idea then is to use your events and summoner power to gain such positioning that you can kill more of the enemy’s units then you are losing. Another key aspect of playing her well is to keep Moyra and her Crusaders near your other units so the threat range is as big as possible each turn (and don’t forget Change Form). Because of all this I prefer an aggressive style of play with her although she can be played to assassinate or even to play defensively (this would include defenders). Faction wise her play style reminds me more of the Mountain Vargath then the Vanguards although I ended up including way more Vanguards units then Mountain Vargath units.

Power wise I’m pretty happy with her. You can include sufficiently powerful commons and champions due to all the options you have. And her power / events / health and attack dice are all good enough. I’d probably place her as slightly stronger as the Mountain Vargath. Her lack of economic events / powers is the biggest weakness (not sure yet how to value Father Benjamin in this regard). Also, she can be assassinated, so take care not to over extend her. Especially as it’s pretty essential to have her near the action (and watch out with over using Divine Intervention).

Basic tactic and combo suggestions:
– Crusaders are very effective in combination with ‘Light’ units and your summoner power. This means you can have at least one unit each turn that’s hitting for two more dice than it normally can. Because of this you’ll always want to have at least one common on the board to boost each turn.
– It can be wise to build the first common of a certain type that goes into your hand. The reason is ‘Change form’. With it you can use that ability once it is in your discard pile and that can greatly increase your options.
– Remember that your summoner can’t use her power on freshly summoned units. So if you want to for instance have a Cavalry Knight move to the next vertical line and move 5-6 squares to the other side, he’ll need to be on the board already. This will make your movements a lot more predictable.
– As you can only attack with three units each turn an ideal scenario is to always have 1 common able to attack and 0 – 2 other (stronger) units. 0 can be fine because if you and the enemy both only have 1 common doing an attack per turn, you’re probably ahead as your attack gets boosted for free.

ref-MoyraSkylark-backDeck build
– 1 Qayla
– 1 Leah Goodwin
– 1 Father Benjamin
– 5 Cherubim (1 initially)
– 2 Defender (2 initially)
– 3 Crusader (1 initially)
– 2 Honor Guard
– 2 Warrior Angel
– 2 Brute
– 2 Cavalry Knight

As you can choose from both the Vanguards and the Mountain Vargath there are a huge number of champions to choose from. However, because we are looking for an aggressive play style a lot of champions are just not that good. In the end I decided on Leah, Father Benjamin and Qayla. Leah because she’s insanely cheap and can go up to 5 attack value with a Crusader. Father Benjamin for his healing ability, relatively cheap cost and the three ranged dice with a Crusader. And finally Qayla as she allows (freshly summoned) commons to be transported directly into the action.

These are the champions that are also very good, but that I didn’t choose (mostly because they feel less aggressive):
Sybil Swancott (huge synergy with divine intervention, but very, very expensive)
Raechel Loveguard (two ranged attack with card discard if combined with a crusader)
Luka (not aggressive enough of a champion, but always good)
Jacob Eldwyn (same story)
Growden (walls are not my primary focus here, but he can be good).
Coleen Brighton (no synergy with Blinding Light or defenders, but benefits from Crusaders)

After more plays I might eventually replace Leah (she forces you to build magic to some extent which isn’t always that good here) and Father Benjamin (don’t have a good feel yet whether he’s really worth it). I’d probably lean towards trying out Raechel / Sybil as possible replacements (and not summon all three champions).

Common wise there’s a lot of choice as well. What I’m looking for however are commons that give Moyra an interesting extra option (with Change Form) and that are by themselves useful for doing what’s the biggest weakness of most factions: Movement for getting past or around enemy units / walls. Another criteria was whether they benefit from the Crusader’s ability that’s already on the board. Because of this the Cherubim are an auto include; they can by-pass units and they get up to three dice with a Crusader + Moyra. Incredible value for one magic. I also included a few Crusaders for if the first one dies (one more might be necessary against some factions). Honor guards are probably the most interesting include. The reason I included them is Qayla, them having three hitpoints, they can protect Moyra and she can actually do crazy move’s by becoming an Honor Guard with Change Form. I’d recommend only having one out at a time though. Finally 2 cavalry knights, 2 brute’s and 2 warrior angels. These are the situational units that can be either used for Change Form or their own. They all have at least two health and two dice (with Moyra’s ability). It might be better to have slightly less diversity, but for now I’m going with this. Note: Warden’s can also be interesting to use.

Playing the faction
cardbackYou can use ‘Divine Presence’ on your first turn so if you can make a strong first move it can be useful to be the starting player with this faction. If not, then I’d suggest going second as that will allow you to make more informed decisions about how aggressive you can be. Take care not to lose the Crusader early as you want it to be boosting your Cherubim. The defenders however are expendable and are perfect to be used to make the Crusader / Cherubim harder to kill. I’d also move Moyra forward early to extend your effective threat range. The wall is positioned perfectly really; you can be pretty aggressive early and still be easily protected from your sides. As with most aggressive factions don’t be afraid to use or build your events and to build some units early to have a bit of magic for reinforcing (but don’t build too much). If you draw Leah early she can become a huge threat. Regarding walls: Use them to create choke points or build them.

Towards the mid game you should be careful of not over extending. Especially when your opponent has some magic built. With all the high movement units and movement tricks you can pull it’s very tempting to go very deep in enemy territory. If that doesn’t pay off big time you might lose resource wise or get assassinated (using Blinding Light can make it a lot safer). Naturally if you can get lots of dice on the enemy summoner it can be worth it. In general I’d recommend a more slow positional push as Moyra doesn’t have a mechanism for getting a sudden large number of dice from a single unit. Every turn in which you are simply trading blows will probably be helpful against most factions. Change form can be very useful as an escape tool or simply to get Moyra in a place to finish off an enemy summoner / champion. If you are playing a more defensive game you can use the Cherubim for pressure as they can potentially throw three dice at a wall each turn.

ref-MoyraSkylark-frontTowards the end game Father Benjamin is a trump card as it will allow you to compensate for the earlier wounds taken. I wouldn’t call him extremely strong though as his ability does cost magic and it won’t safe you if you are more than a slight bit behind. Aside from Father Benjamin try to keep making use of your summoner ability. If a game goes dozens of turns, you are getting an extra die every turn. Because of this be careful building your last few commons; if possible keep them in your hand or summon them so you don’t run out of them. All in all you’ll probably not summon all your champions in most games as using commons is so very effective with Moyra.

Match up analysis
I might do a faction by faction analysis eventually, but I’ll start this off with a few general observations. Factions that have an innate economic advantage and that (can) survive your initial onslaught are very hard to deal with. Factions with strong anti common abilities are also particularly devastating.

Summoner specific cards

CardDeckNotes
sum-MoyraSkylarkAlliancesHer ability is very powerful as you can have a common move three squares in a turn and hit with one extra attack. Essential to realize though is that it works before summoning so you might have to summon a turn in advance. Also, be sure to keep her in range of a common. And a movement can be zero. Also note that because her ability is before summoning you can use it to move one of your units away from a blocked summoning spot.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_11Alliances (x3)I'm somewhat conflicted on this event. Initially I thought I would be mostly building this. But another way to look at it is that you are paying one magic and one summoner health for multiple wounds on a champion / common. That can be very worth it if your summoner is safe and at high health and it's a crucial common / champion. As you are probably denying magic to your opponent (and allowing your unit another swing). Don't overdo it on this event and feel free to build at least one if you get too many.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_09Alliances (x3)This is the event that gives you the most flexibility as a summoner. It can be used for escape purposes but also to set up a huge turn on an enemy champion / summoner. It's exact power is really dependent on who you are facing / what you have in your discard pile. You can definitely afford to build one of these (and in some games you might end up building all of them). Also note that you can gain two or three different abilities at once by playing the event multiple times in one turn.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_08Alliances (x2)Pretty useful event if you are being very aggressive and most your units are within the required two spaces. It will reduce the chance to hit on all your units from 66% to 33% for each die rolled. It's usefulness will depend on at what stage / in which situation you will get it though. Also very important to note: It does not stack with Colleen or Defenders (due to the difference between hitting and receiving wound markers). Because of that this event can be worthwhile to build as well.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_10AlliancesIn most cases the strongest event. It's basically a Greater Burn which can also be used on walls for four wounds with the only limitation being that it has to be used within 3 squares of your summoner. I'd definitely recommend using it on units most of the time. Don't be worried to use it on a 2-3 health common as that's generally still a very good deal. Also note that it can be used to remove blockers in the event phase.

Vargath Vanguards generic cards

CardDeckSSCF*Notes
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_02Alliances-1I'm not entirely sure yet how good Father Benjamin will exactly be. With a Crusader he's a three ranged attacker with four health for five magic which is pretty good. And you can recycle him if you get him too early there by placing him at the bottom of your draw pile (which does cost a draw and inform your opponent). Still he's pretty squishy and his ability seems only really effective in the end game as in the mid game you'll lose lots of initiative by using magic to heal your summoner.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_04Alliances-1I don't like this champion. His ability is pretty powerful as it can do two precise damage extra to any target for the price of one card. However there are quite a number of champions that can do two damage on average without having to spend any magic for it. Besides, if you miss your attack his ability is completely useless. I'd highly recommend not using him.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_03Alliances-1This champion I like. Her ability is potentially insanely powerful as you can move a just boosted common (by Moyra) to the other side of the battlefield and it can then still move as well. Her only downside is her price basically as the amount of dice she can throw and her health are pretty good.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_07Alliances (x7)0This is probably the weakest common in the base Vargath Vanguard deck. And even this one has two health for one magic which is pretty ok. And his ability is pretty good as it reduces the chance of adjacent commons to get hit by 16.67% for each unit adjacent to that common. That last part is the essential thing, one of these next to a common surrounded by three friendly units is a 'Cloak of Shadows' for that unit. Very useful on for instance a weak Cherubim. It's main weakness is that it's ability doesn't work on summoners or champions (but it does work on other Defenders). All in all I'm still somewhat ambivalent on these as they are support commons that require positioning. Note: it's ability doesn't stack with Blinding Light / Colleen.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_06Alliances (x6)0Strangely enough I feel these 1 magic, 1 health and 1 attack value ranged commons are the best one's in the deck. Reason being they can get boosted up to 3 attack value and they can move up to four squares in one turn (while being ranged!). And they can even move through other units with their own three movement! This gives them incredible flexibility to suddenly hit a champion from multiple sides. You might want to consider building one for change form but other then that I'd use them if possible (one at a time though as they die pretty quickly). Note: If Moyra uses Change Form on them she doesn't get the extra die as she's not a champion or common.
SW-MSA_Vargath_Vanguard_Cards_05Alliances (x5)0The core common of the deck. It by itself is nothing special, but it's all about it's ability. As it's a common you can have multiple of these on the field at once although I don't really see much point in that unless it's because you expect one of them to die pretty quickly. I'd also build one of these so you can use Change Form if necessary to simulate one (although that's pretty inefficient use of that ability). By itself it's pretty mediocre but with Moyra's ability it's a slightly stronger Stone Golem so still good.
* SSCF = Secret Summoning cost formula = attack value + base health + 1 if ranged - (2 if common OR -3 if champion) - magic cost. I haven't included the worth of the ability as that's generally controversial.

 

Vanguards generic cards

CardDeckSSCF*Notes
Base-2Three movement and flying makes him useful for assassination or quick repositioning. In Sera's deck can fly him back to get healed after he has taken some damage. Just don't get him killed before you can heal him.
Base0Kalon is basically Sera's living shield. And she can heal him after he has attacked, so he can attack with 4 dice and then get healed back up. Still, remember that Sera only heals two and can be attacked instead of Kalon. In Samuel's or Moyra's deck you could use Ultimate Shield of Light respectively Blinding Light / Divine Intervention to make use of his four attack value longer.
Base-2She has a very powerful ability that's greatly stunted by her only having one attack value and four health. It is pretty hard to get good value out of her because of that. So a situational hero (which could be good against a faction with a lot of 1 health commons). If used in combination with the Crusaders that give her one extra attack power she's probably good enough to use as having the opponent discard a card from his hand is very devastating. Also note her synergy with Divine Intervention which means she's excellent in Moyra's deck.
Base (x8)0Easily the best one cost common in the Vanguards army due to their ability to deflect damage from a more important target. If you move one next to an enemy ranged unit it won't be able to attack another type of unit unless it moves away.
Base (x5)0The main problem I have with their ability is that it's pretty easy to work around and it's hard to set it up usefully. And if you lose one of the stalwart archers the others become weaker. And they cost two magic. Even in Samuel's deck (where they don't die as easily) I don't think they're worth it. Together with Defenders they become slightly better but probably still too easy to play around.
Base (x5)-1I'd generally only summon these to use them in combination with Holy Judgment as I dislike spending the one magic to heal a champion or common when I can use Sera to heal for two. And commons that get hurt generally get killed off by me. In Samuel's deck these are even worse as they can't be combo'ed. In Moyra's deck you could use them to heal the harder to kill commons, but I don't feel they fit Moyra very well.
Base (x3)W
Reinf-1Interesting ability which basically makes your own commons live longer. It generally won't stop two health commons from dying against most factions though as every die still has a 50% chance of hitting. So pretty situational. Pretty much useless in Samuel's deck as he already has this ability. Together with Crusaders she becomes a three attack champion for six which is usable, but I would still not use her in Samuel's deck.
Reinf-1Three ranged dice coupled together with a powerful area of effect ability. Very useful champion which only weakness lies in his low health; so keep him close to Sera or safe. I'd say he's just as powerful in Samuel's deck.
Reinf-1Excellent early game champion in Sera's deck if you can build her attack power up to three or four dice quickly. You then basically get four dice for 3 magic and you can keep your unit count low. And if she dies you can summon another champion. Note: Pretty much the only champion for which a hero is born should be used. I feel this champion is much worse in Samuel's deck as Samuel isn't inclined to have as much magic piled up and can't use Hero is Born to get her out early. The same applies for Moyra's deck, however with a crusader she can go up to five attack die (and she starts off with one).
Reinf (x5)0I mostly summon these to get a last hit in on a summoner or to use them for flanking or wall hogging. Other then that I don't tend to use them that much. Their flight ability does mean you can easily reposition them to do whatever you want with them (like block walls). In Samuel's deck it can be useful to include a few to prevent yourself from having too many two cost commons. Especially if you're running expensive champions.
Reinf (x5)0It has two dice and thus is automatically a good unit for the Vanguards. And it has the Rider ability so you can use it to get that extra two dice in from that position no other unit can get to. However, they do cost a lot so they might keep you from summoning that third champion or healing a bit more. So be sure to only use them when it's worth it (like getting two hits in on Elien). Also useful in defense.
Second-3She basically only has a 33% chance to get a wound instead of a 66% chance, but only has three health. And her ability also works against direct wound mechanisms, so those become a 50% chance to receive a wound. She only has three life though, so you don't want to expose her to too many dice rolls or play her against factions that can negate her ability. Four dice though! In Sera's deck she's stronger due to healing, Intercession and Summoning Surge, but still be careful with her.
Second0A hero I'm not that fond of. She can be a huge tank and her ability can halt and tie up enemy commons in their tracks, but I feel she doesn't have enough of a punch and her ability is too situational. Even in Sera's deck I feel Kalon's ability is generally much more useful as one of the Vanguard's main problem is not having enough attack dice.
Second+1This hero I'd definitely want to use if I'm running some woeful brothers. Especially since the Vanguard lack two attack ranged commons. With his four range on the special you can often keep all woeful brothers on the field in his range. I'd avoid running him in Sera's deck as the woeful brothers will die much easier and therefore there's less chance of synergy with this hero.
Second (x7)0It's special can be pretty useful to set up an assassination or to get a surround or an enemy unit. It's probably almost on par with the Cavalry Knight's and the Warrior Angel's specials. However, if you are able to synergize with Master Bullock and the Strong Spirits event card (in Samuel's deck), these commons are top notch. Their ability also triggers on ranged attacks, but they can only swap with an adjacent unit.
Second (x5)0Basically an upgraded angel. Pretty useful as it has two dice and can move through walls and other units and thereby can quickly move to where it needs to go. I'd be wary of including only two magic commons though, so if I have a lot of those already I prefer normal Angels.
Second (x6)0My initial reaction to these was, meh. However, they can be actually quite useful as mobile summoner defenders. Their ability basically allows you to teleport them along with your summoner giving you extra movement and allowing you to move to spots you normally wouldn't be able to get to. And they are not that easy to bring down. In Sera's deck they're quite a bit less useful as they die too quickly for their cost. And they get 'placed', so they can in example get on and off vine walls easily. Very interesting in Moyra's deck though.
* SSSCF = Super Simple Summoning cost formula = attack value + base health + 1 if ranged - (2 if common OR -3 if champion) - magic cost. I haven't included the worth of the ability as that's generally controversial.

 

Mountain Vargath generic cards

CardDeckSSCF*Notes
Base0Wall killer specialist. Aside from that he has the best base attack value of all Mountain Vargath champions and decent health for his cost. Great all around champion especially if you're going aggressive.
Base-1Her special is pretty good as it makes her into a four attack value champion for one magic. And her two attacks are separate and can thus hit different targets. Do be careful of her very low life though.
Base0Torodin can be combo'ed with two superior plannings and a Torodin's advance to get eight (!) movement in one turn (and seven or so trample's ;)). Aside from that he's pretty average for his cost. Seven health though, so a good unit to soak up damage.
Base (x7)0Rushers are great for threatening enemy summoners that are low on life. I wouldn't recommend using them against full life summoners unless Sunderved is close enough to give a bonus die. They can also reposition very fast on your side of the battlefield. Often the threat of these is the most important thing as the enemy is forced to reposition inefficiently.
Base (x6)0Probably the best anti-common unit in the game. For one magic you get a three attack value unit if it's on the opponent's side of the board and in range of Sunderved.
Base (x5)0Their special ability is really versatile. It can be used to reposition your own units (ouch) or to hit enemy units in disadvantageous positions. Most effective use is to throw two dice on a melee unit and then bounce it three squares away. It won't be able to retaliate and it forces the enemy to waste movement getting back.
Base (x3)W
Reinf0His ability gives him a 66% chance to deal one damage back to each adjacent unit that attacks him. I'm not that big a fan of his ability as it only works against melee units and good enemies will either work around him or use high dice attackers to take him out. He can be good to pressure the enemy.
Reinf-1Utterly invaluable against many factions that have all kinds of great abilities and she's even ranged! Luka can negate abilities and because it's three spaces no unit with melee attacks can use their ability against her. Do be aware that units freshly summoned or moving towards her from out of range are not negated and that she will be a prime target. Positioning is crucial with her. Note: Against some factions her ability is a liability.
Reinf-1Interesting champion that can get up to five dice if surrounded by three other mountain vargath units. Realistically I think you'll generally be rolling three dice as your opponent generally won't let you position so you can throw five dice.
Reinf (x5)0These need to be used aggressively as their ability only works for enemy walls. They are excellent against champions and summoners as they only take one damage regardless of how hard the enemy hits. Which can allow you to focus on the other side of the wall ;). A possible unit to use with Moyra.
Reinf (x5)-1Interesting unit, but a bit situational. A good opponent will be on the watch for these. Still, I generally include a few as the two guaranteed damage can be very useful against champions or summoners. They are excellent to Muster in for the lightning. Do note if they have one health you can suicide them and get the magic for them as well.
* SSSCF = Super Simple Summoning cost formula = attack value + base health + 1 if ranged - (2 if common OR -3 if champion) - magic cost. I haven't included the worth of the ability as that's generally controversial.

 

References
All Vargath Vanguards cards (especially strategy section and comments are useful)
Mythacle Battleplan for Summoner Wars (deck builder)

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