Aside from World of Warcraft, the other game I’ve been obsessing about for the last 8 months or more is Summoners War, a tablet/mobile only free to play game.
I began playing this game in direct response to every other ‘free to play’ game I’ve ever tried. Basically, I got sick of every damn thing I ever tried to do in a F2P game being stuck behind paywalls, especially duration avoidance paywalls.
“Oh, do you want to do x quest? Well start it and check back in eight hours when it’s complete for your reward! Or complete it immediately for only 30 crystals! Oh, need crystals? You can buy 100 crystals for only $5.00 dollars!”
Um no. HELL no. LOLZ NO WTFDIAFBBQ.
I tried mobile F2P games. I did. The short list includes Transformers Earth Wars, Soul Seeker, Loot & Legends, Soul Hunters – Assassin’s Age, Star Wars Uprising, Transformers Battle Tactics, Marvel Contest of Champions, Star Wars Commander, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Puzzle & Dragons, Spirit Stones, Terra Battle, Marvel Avengers Academy, Puzzle Forge II, Slingshot Braves, Heroes of Dragon Age and Clash of Clans.
Of them all, only Marvel Puzzle Quest kept me coming back for a game that had some game in there without a truly horrendous paywall. The others were just a nightmare after a while. Granted, some are worse than others, but after the last one I almost quit entirely and settled on Solitaire.
FYI my son likes Cut The Rope. But there isn’t enough game there for me for long.
Then I did an internet search along the lines of ‘a mobile free2play game that doesn’t try to screw you out of a bazillion dollars every freaking day.’
Okay, the search may not have been phrased in quite that way.
Oh who am I kidding, of course it was.
What I came up with was Summoners War. It seemed to be a game that not only had a lot of folks saying it was a great game that allowed you to play extensively without having to pay, but the more I looked into it the more I found it has a massive online community. Wiki sites, Youtube videos, Twitch streams, Reddit, it’s a game with a ton of excited, engaged players writing about it…
And theorycrafting about it.
Ding ding ding!
What has WoW taught me?
If a game is good enough to attract a very large online presence that can find enough meat on the bones to develop thousands of fan written pages of theorycrafting suggestions, strategy guides, how to videos and leveling plans, then there is something there worth checking out.
So I tried it because hey, what have I got to lose?
I love this game. In fact I would love to give them money every month just to reward them for giving me a game I can play without feeling like I have to give them money.
Counter intuitive, I know.
Now don’t get me wrong. The game loves to pop up ads for their other games on the screen as you log in. It’s also how they notify you of new special events going on. They also frequently post ads for in game goodies you can buy when you transition from one part of the game to another. Not often enough to be annoying, just enough to remind you they would like some money.
But the difference here is you don’t have to watch out of game ads to do anything. You don’t actually have to buy anything.
No, I really mean it. I’ve been playing this thing for a pretty long time now. Every day. Hours a day sometimes depending on what content I’m doing.
If I’m farming Faimon Hell level 1 with my Dagora water element Warbear to shepherd low level monsters to get xp, you get mana and energy back at such a high rate that I have played, literally, for HOURS before I ran out of energy.
Other times, if I want to run a Hall of Magic dungeon repeatedly to farm a particular element to Awaken a monster to it’s final form, well I can blow through all of my current energy in about 20 minutes.
You randomly draw monsters from scrolls, and there are five grades (stars) of monsters that can spawn, with a max star ranking of 6. So of course the weakest monsters are one star, and the most powerful are the ‘natural five star’.
The common scrolls summon monsters from 1 to 3 stars in power, Mystic Scrolls can summon monsters that are guaranteed three stars or better, and there are Legendary Scrolls you can buy or earn through competing hard content that give you a four or five star on use.
But it’s not just a simple ‘buy our expensive scrolls to get good monsters’ thing as you’d expect.
In fact, if you apply yourself and do a little study and theorycraft monsters to accomplish specific tasks like clearing the very hardest levels of the Giants dungeon or the Dragons dungeon, what you find out is that there are some naturally occurring two and three star monsters that are some of the baddest mofos in the game, useful damn near anywhere.
That if you’re careful in your study, research a list of highly useful monsters for specific tasks, and know what to save to level up and what is safe to get rid of (feed) to other monsters to level them up or improve their skills you can go as far as you want in the game.
You can play every bloody thing in this entire game without ever spending a dime, and that is the truth.
But you have to accept that you’re in it for a long term game. It’s all about building the right monsters for the right goals and assembling a team composition that succeeds based on synergistic abilities modified by the custom runes that you equip to enhance aspects of abilities.
Yeah, it sounds like bullshit, but since I don’t raid anymore, this game scratches my theorycrafting itch.
For example, data research shows that up until the last patch at least the highest return on xp coupled with mana value in salable items and usable random monster drops as treasure came from killing Faimon level 1 in Hell difficulty, with one maxed out monster that can solo it carrying three other monsters that you’re leveling.
So I studied that dungeon, found that it was all fire monsters. Fire is vulnerable as hell to water based monsters, so I wanted a water based monster with a reliable self-heal that could deal sustained damage. A monster I could get myself instead of buying scrolls and praying for a lucky drop.
What I came up with was the water warbear Dagora.
The water warbear drops randomly from any of the Mount White Ragon dungeons, so early content you can do at low levels with a starter team. It’s a three star monster, but once leveled to 6 star and awakened and tricked out with Energy runes (mine is all energy +HP% runes so it boosts hit points as much as possible) it becomes a soloing badass. See, its special abilities are to do damage based on your max HP, heal yourself for 30% of your max HP pus get a defense buff for a few turns, and once every six turns be able to resurrect yourself if you die with 30% of your HP.
I mean, shit man. You just pound away at foes, automatically healing yourself periodically, and if you get a really bad run of luck and get bumped off, you self rez.
I’ve had a 100% success rate since I built Dagora at a very early point in the game, and being able to 100% solo Faimon Hell 1 means I can be carrying three other baby monsters for XP all day long AND getting other rewards like mana and monsters while I’m doing it.
So now I can level other stuff quick and reliably with goo energy rates of return. Suddenly, that opens up the rest of the game to seeking out specific monsters and leveling them up.
I ain’t saying you’d like it. I’m saying *I* like it. I find it endlessly enjoyable to have multiple monsters I’m leveling, teams for specific dungeon goals I’m building, strategies I’m trying out.
And now that I’ve built a big team of three star monsters, why, guess what? I am able to run higher level content that drops tons of resources, and that allows me to do stuff that awards tons of the premium in-game currency every week.
That lets me, for zero actual money, get in-game currency by the ton to buy the premium in game scrolls.
And that lets me do the GOOD summons, a lot, and heck if four star and five-star monsters don’t start showing up.
Some four star monsters are considered better than natural five stars simply because of their skills and where they are useful.
I’m at the point where I have a couple of natural five-star quality monsters, a BIG stable of really good natural four stars, I’ve leveled and upgraded a bunch of monsters to max 6 star badass quality. I’m able to 100% clear Giants B10 for sweet rewards, I get very good world boss kills every week, decent rank on world PvP, and I’m doing well enough in guild wars each week to have built tw five star monsters from guild rewards.
Oh, and did I mention that if your luck is just horrendous you have the options of saving low-level monsters that can be fused together to build higher rank monsters, some of which are must haves? Like the dark Ifrit, Veromos. He’s a badass used everywhere… and any free to play player with patience can plan which monsters you need to save to be able to eventually fuse him together.
I guess what I’d say to wrap up is, Summoners War is as massive a multiplayer game as WoW, with as rich and deep a gameplay mechanic as I have ever heard of, but with a level of entry that takes you as deep as you want to go.
It also has a ton of PVE if you want to do that and never play against other people. It has live one on one PVP, live multi-player raids at end game for three people to take on a Hydra, and weekly ranked guild battles, and on and on and on.
I also personally like the graphics. I find the design engaging. I love this natural 5 star dragon design for example (and no I do not have this dragon. It’s one of those rare maybe someday things like hens teeth).
And finally, the thing that probably sells me on it the most. They have events all the time. Events with really sweet in-game rewards including their premium currency. If you play the damn game, they actually give you good stuff to encourage you to keep playing.
All I can figure is, they have figured out that if they hit a sweet spot and stay extremely active, with so many people playing they’re going to have a ton of whales supporting it.
Whatever it is, it’s amazing. There is always, ALWAYS something new to do, some new form of progression that feels like an attainable challenge that just takes time, patience and careful research.
One of my favorite things at this point eight or more months in is that I’ll be planning my next leveling / upgrading path for a goal based on what monsters I have or can fuse together, and halfway through it one of the great rewards I frequently get for being able to do hard stuff will drop a game changing monster that throws all my plans out the window because BADASS ALERT and now I want to change my strategy to accommodate the new monster.
Do you see? There isn’t just one way to achieve a goal. There isn’t even a best way to get there! There is your way, built on what monsters you have or can get or get from a drop or choose to farm, and how you gear them up with equippable runes.
Maybe someone else has a team to clear Dragons B10, but their team uses mostly four star monsters or even five stars, and yeah, you don’t have them and at early stages figure you never will.
But that’s okay, because if you search for Dragons B10 farm teams that can be built using easily obtained or farmed three star monsters or fused monsters like Veromos, why, that’s out there. Doable. Damn straight.
Like I said, I haven’t dropped money on the game. BUt I have a team I’ve built that has a 100% success rate at farming Giants B10, the highest level of the ten level Giants dungeon, which can drop some of the best grade runes as well as scrolls and other stuff.
For players just reading to see what I screwed up in describing this game, my Giants B10 auto 100% team is formed of Veromos as leader, with Ahman built as Violent with 100% crit rate, Belladeon not-Violent, Shannon and Bernard. Tried and true foundation of most starter teams for Giants B10, all six starred because I like to hit start on the run and go do other stuff, then glance down after a few minutes and see my rewards.
I had been working on a Dragons B10 team at the same time as building a Trial of Ascension 100th floor team at the same time, with Sigmarus, Veromos, Belladeon, Mikene and Ahman as my planned Dragons team, and Beretta, Veromos, Bernard, Belladeon and Spectra for a TOA 100 team. Just had Spectra drop for me last week, and I was super excited because I’d had the fire griffon once before but like a dumbass I fed it to a different monster because I didn’t understand how good its third ability really was. Once I started looking at Trial of Ascension I was seriously kicking myself for throwing away one of the most powerful monsters I could hope to have for it… because I didn’t know any better. 🙂
I say those were the teams I was building… and both those teams would be viable and farmable or fusible for any player.
But then I opened some scrolls last night that I bought in the 750 gem/11 scroll premium pack (bought with event rewards and world boss winnings and your best buy for the gem price) and got three of the most powerful monsters in the game for those events, Chandra Verdehile and Hwa.
Damnit. Hwa with Verdehile are game changers useful damn near everywhere including pvp.
Welp. So there go those plans. Time to fall back and research some more. Because what those monsters can do can change my strategy from building a longevity and endure/outlast team that takes four minutes and replaces it with a speed kill team focusing on.. well, speed kills.
The long view.
Your mileage may vary. You may try it, and without a feeling of instant gratification or progression hate it with a passion. Or maybe you’ll see the massive amount of things that can be done that you simply can’t do yet until you’ve built the start of some good monsters and get overwhelmed.
But maybe you’ll try it and think, “Damn, here’s a game I can pop on my phone and play during breaks or anytime I’ve got 15 minutes to kill, and always have something to do, and always be improving just a little bit.”
A game that rewards careful planning, strategy and research.
And maybe you’ll look me up in-game as a friend, I’m Bigbearbutt. If you send me a friend invite, you’ll have access to use my monster once a day. It can farm Faimon Hell 1, so hey, you’ll have 1 run a day where you can let your other monsters be carried. It’s not much, but every little bit counts.
And be sure to say hi!