Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summoners War: Sky Arena


Year: 2014
Genre: General
Website: http://m.withhive.com/game/desc/313/0


Shane:
  • Platform: Android
  • Hours logged: a few hundred
  • Playthroughs: 1
  • Rating: 8/10

Lee:
  • Platform: Android
  • Hours logged: ~264.0
  • Playthroughs: 1
  • Rating: 10/10


Notes and Discussions:
  • Lee (5/28/2015): Shane and I have fallen into the habit of skipping the write-up of some of the heavy hitters (Borderlands 2, Minecraft, Dungeon Defenders, etc.), but I would like to break that habit. As I mentioned in my LYNE write-up, I’m not here to be fancy; I just want to share some of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. So here it goes…

    There is a lot to do in Summoners War. There is a story mode with 13 scenario regions, which is a great place to gain XP, monster scrolls, monster drops, mana, and runes to equip on your monsters. The story mode can be played on three difficulty modes (Normal, Hard, and Hell). The harder the difficulty, the better the rewards (better rune drops, more XP, and more mana). Each region will yield a different type of rune. Equipping multiple runes of the same type will grant a given set bonus to the monster. The player can also battle against NPCs and other player characters in the Arena for “Glory Points” and crystals. Glory Points can be used to purchase monster scrolls and helpful buildings for your floating island. I would recommend spending Glory Points to max out your Mysterious Plant first. Crystals can be spent on many different things in Summoners War, but my recommendation is to save them up and spend them on “Premium Packs,” which will net you 11 high-level monsters. The Cairos Dungeon is another great place to spend energy (and time). Clearing the Dragon and Giant levels in Cairos is a good way to find great loot, including powerful runes. Essences can be gathered in the Halls of Elements and are used to evolve your monsters into more powerful creatures. Also, many of the Daily Missions can be completed in the Cairos Dungeon. (Completing the Daily Missions is very important, as it will net you 10 crystals every day!) That’s enough to keep you busy for hours, days, and weeks. Trust me.

    This game is amazing! A perfect 10. (The only other 10 I have given to an Android game was for Rebuild.) Interestingly, Shane only gave this one an 8. I find it fascinating what he and I look for in games. For me, I look for a game that consumes my world. A game that I cannot put down until I am forced to pry it out of my aching, sweaty hands, in order to move on with my life. This one definitely qualifies. I had to stop playing this game, because I was no longer sleeping at night. I would play it in bed at night until I dozed off, often dropping my phone on the floor. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I would pick the game up and burn any available in-game energy. And I would try to wake up an hour early to burn my energy and complete my daily missions before I had to start getting ready for work. I even played this game during dinner and while watching movies or TV shows. Julie was incredibly patient with me during this obsession (much like she is with all of my obsessions). I made spreadsheets to keep track of which monsters were “friends” and which were “food,” and I researched the most effective rune builds for each monster in my library. Yeah, I’m a big nerd. You can view the spreadsheet here. (Note that much of the content came from this amazing site: http://summonerswar.co/.)

    Playing this game was an incredible experience…and I didn’t spend a dime on it. Occasionally, you would see someone in the in-game chat channels lamenting about how many hundreds of dollars they have spent on premium content for this game, then many others would berate this player, insisting that F2P (free to play) was the only way to go, until finally others would chime in and offer that “somebody has to pay the developers’ bills.” I don’t know where I sit with that whole thing. Sure, there were times that I wish I had a little extra energy to do “this one more thing”…but I never felt the need to pay for it. Instead, I just made a sandwich, then came back in a few hours after my energy had a chance to fill up. I think that the game offers a really great balance between the feeling of accomplishment and the desire to play more. But I can definitely see how they make money off of people who aren’t cheap-asses nor relatively patient. On the other hand, I did feel the urge to flip the devs some money to thank them for making a great game…but I think they are financially doing just fine. Regardless, thanks, Com2uS!

    In all fairness, there were a few things that I didn't like about Summoners War. First, it was too difficult to coordinate, connect, or communicate with other players. For instance, Shane and I ran a guild for one frustrating week, and during that time, we were unable to round up our guildmates well enough to hold our own in battle. We were unable to see who was online, and we couldn't send messages, neither to the group nor individuals. The best we could do was add a note to the guild description. I suppose the lack of social networking capability in the game does hinder the actions of online sexual predators, but it is still a lame setup. Another issue that I had with the game was related to the rune power-up mechanism. For each power-up you do for a particular rune, there is a chance that it will fail, and that chance increases the higher the rune's level (up to level 15). Failure is so frequent with higher level runes that you can spend hundreds of thousands of mana before getting a successful power-up. I would much rather see a set cost for a given power-up. That way, I know how much mana to save up, AND it would help keep my blood from boiling. And finally, why is it so hard to get a natural 5* monster? There are dozens of them available! I heard some people in the chat channels complain that they have been playing for the entire year that the game has been open, and they have never received a nat 5*. I suppose one could purchase piles of crystals with real money, then spend them on hundreds of mystical scrolls...but what fun would that be?

    Shane and I played this game for 2.5 months, and during that time, we had countless conversations over Google Hangouts about strategy, friend vs. food monsters, rune builds, status updates, and general excitement for this game. That was my favorite part of this game. And now, I am getting the chance to experience a bit of the same with Julie's kids. I get a lot of joy out of being asked whether or not a Water Vagabond is food, or whether they should evolve Ramagos or Sieq first (Ramagos, FTW!!). I'll definitely be back...