I’ll be honest, I almost missed this game at PAX West last weekend in Seattle. At first I mistook it for a free-to-play mobile game, and we don’t cover those on this site because of their lack of originality and how they manipulate players into buying card packs with junk they don’t even want.
Summoner’s Fate is the opposite of that.
I was wrong about my split-second assessment of Summoner’s Fate, and I’m so glad I stopped by, played the demo, and learned what the game really was. I hope that you will take a moment to hear my experience with the game, and maybe try it out for yourself. So what is Summoner’s Fate? Well, basically Summoners Fate is a deck builder game with tactical combat that’s about defeating your opponent in the most creative way possible. From a top-down view, your Summoner literally looks up to you the player to guide them tactically through a series of dungeons, forests, and other fantasy-based grids as you fight monsters and sometimes other players.
Convenience and Crossplay
I was having fun the second I started playing the demo. There was no long-winded cutscene or story, I was put right into the action and controlling my Summoner and the Guardians that joined up with me along the way. Every combat “room” took me about 3-5 minutes, even with rewinding moves and trying things a different way. The game fast forwards to the “good parts”, there’s no fluff built into the levels. I really appreciate how the game respects the player’s time. I also really liked the idea that I could be playing the android or apple version on the bus to work, and then plopping down in front of my PC later that evening for a longer play session, picking up right where I left off thanks to integrated crossplay.
I’m a console guy. Give me a controller and let me go after it. But I loved the simplicity of Summoner’s Fate’s point and click or tap and click controls. First of all, no submenus clutter your experience. Everything you need is on the screen. Units that still have moves look up at you expectantly, and you simply click and drag them where you want them to attack, or click once on your hero then once on an enemy for a ranged attack within line of sight. Want to blast a spell? Just drag one of the three cards from the bottom of the screen from your “hand” onto the playing field. Simple, direct, and intuitive, I loved how the game felt to play.
As I played through the demo, I laughed out loud in delight several times. Different powers and cards interact with each other in very fun ways, unleashing chaos on the screen. For example, I had a wand that shot squirrels at my enemies. Then I played a card that multiplied the number of squirrels. Lastly, I played another card that caused the squirrels to detonate in a chunky explosion when they were killed. Yes, that’s right, I cleared a room with an army of exploding squirrels. Elemental magic works just like you’d expect it to, and is truly a delight. Drop a fireball in a forest and the trees burn up and damage everyone around it. Use wind and blow trolls into spikes. The real fun starts when you start combining card effects and unleashing chaos.
There are two basic types of characters in the game, Summoners and Guardians. Summoners control magic through the deck of 20 cards you select before you start a quest line, and Guardians are hero companions you meet along the way. Choosing your Summoner to match your deck is important; say you went with Necromancer, you would want a deck that buffed Skeletons that the Necromancer can summon. The game offers over 200 characters with strengths and weaknesses so you can customize your approach to the challenges you face.
Roughly half of the 400 cards are characters, the rest are mostly spells and items. Card mechanics follow a few rules: You need mana to play a card equal to the number shown on the card. Cards range in cost from 0-5. You generate 3 mana each turn and can store up to 5 mana. You hold three cards in your hand and draw new cards at the end of your turn until you have three cards. Cards cannot be discarded unless they cannot be legally played (except for not having mana).
I feel like this is the time to bring up cost. Although you have to progress through the game to unlock the cards, you don’t pay for booster packs or any other free-to-play nonsense. All 400 cards are in the game waiting to be unlocked. That means paying for the game upfront, but buying a prerelease account for $29.95 gets you every single card except for a couple of Kickstarter exclusives. You also get to play the game on PC, MAC, Android, or Apple for the one price of the account. You can also wait for the Steam version, but I’m not sure what that will end up costing and if it includes access to the mobile crossplay versions.
Player satisfaction is my top commitment as a developer. I looked closely at our competitors and was dismayed to learn an average F2P CCG player might spend $400/year on cards, many of which aren’t even the ones they want. I don’t do that. Summoners Fate will include the entire launch cardset with the game and each of our cards has value and is super fun to play. I put a lot of thought and consideration into my decision to change from a F2P to a premium business model. I couldn’t reconcile the design values of the game with a business model that’s dependent on an extrinsic-reward-motivated core loop. I believe this change creates both a better game and a far better value for our players.
Founder, Game Design and Development D20 Studios
Competition and Community
The game has multiplayer options that I did not get to experience with the demo I played. Fighting head to head with this game’s tactical card-based magic system could be pretty amazing. There are also very active community boards and discord channels where the developers listen to player feedback and incorporate some of the player’s ideas as they polish the game toward release.
I had such a good time playing Summoner’s Fate at PAX West and it really shattered my preconceptions. I encourage you to at least check out the demo on Steam and maybe see how others are enjoying it on Discord or the game’s forums.
Don’t pass this one by.