In this article we would look in-depth into this card capabilities after rework.
Summoning Circle in Round 3
In Gwent there is about 50% chance to find a card exactly in Round 1, 17% in R2 and 14% in R3 assuming no tutoring and no thinning. Even for cards being of typical use at early stages of the game, it is worth to start analysis from R3 value, which is in general easiest to assess; such scenario would happen in a meaningful % of games.
Tutoring a non-deploy unit
Unlike in the deep Homecoming past, Summoning Circle is not capped when it comes to summoned unit power. Therefore it could be used as a classical tutor for any non-deploy unit target in R3 proven that round of necessary length is provided.
In the tutoring aspect Summoning Circle is definitely on the weaker side: small pool of targets, conditional trigger, no added value, zero tempo at the moment of play. SC would not be played just as a tutor, but as a card of flexible use, where tutoring would be only one of factors.
SC is another possible tutor for the Viy deck, although it needs to be timed well, so that SC tutors only the last Viy – otherwise instant consume is impossible outside very specific Wererat setup.
Most other good SC plays for R3 would rely on threat overload at the late stage of the game…
Summoning Circle keeps the id of the chosen unit rather than its characteristics. Even when unit gets transformed meanwhile, the transformed form would be summoned with Circle. Therefore following plays will work:
– Signing raw Letho:Kingslayer from the deck with SC, copying Kolgrim in R2 with Letho, shuffling back 5 power Kolgrim to the deck with Assire, getting 5p Kolgrim back on the board with the same SC
– Signing a unit from the deck with SC, transforming this unit with Mysterious Puzzle Box, shuffling Thing from the Box into the deck. SC would return Thing from the Box.
– Signing Caldwell with SC, transforming Caldwell into Revenant with Draug, shuffling Revenant back with Pavetta – SC would return Revenant
Not sure if you could make any practical use of these though 😉
As discussed above, Summoning Circle has very narrow pool of reasonable high end targets. The main strategy to get extra value in R3 then is by abusing 2-cards-a-turn effect. With correct timing, it is easy to develop two threats at the same time on the board.
Unlike in the classical overload (10.4/10.5 example – Stockpile Siege), Circle would not support storming the board from the first moves. One of first turns would be Circle play, which is too slow for damage engines overload known from Siege.
SC overload would rely on a sudden burst in the turn SC is triggered. Therefore Defenders and strong, late play engines/threats are main targets. Defenders couldn’t rely on Deploy effects though, which disqualifies NG and SY ones – Ffion var Gaernel and Azar Javed. In those factions Defender has to be played from hand. There are two main possible burst setups:
- Defender + Engine
Most engines have some drawbacks when summoned from Circle. For example Arnaghad doesn’t get armor, Knut cannot wound a target on Zeal, Sigvald couldn’t receive Mardroeme boost, Roland couldn’t gather profits from units poisoned same turn etc. In spite of drawbacks, the raw quality of those engines is the most important factor. Examples of engines not losing value are Imke, Keldar, Kolgrim, Messenger of the Sea…
Summoning Circle obeys normal order of resolve of effects at the end of the turn. Therefore it is for example possible to instantly get an extra unit spawned from Megascope when Idarran is summoned. The only requirement is Circle being to the left/front of Megascope.
When the round is short, or the deck doesn’t make use of engine overload, then pointslam targets have to summoned, probably from mid-region of provision costs.
Cards which may benefit from summon: Tibor Eggebracht, Imperial Golem, Procession of Penance, Jutta an Dimun, Pugo Boom-Breaker, An Craite Greatsword, Griffin…
Playing Summoning Circle just as a combo with Tibor or Golem couldn’t be the gameplan, but only a backup in the case main SC strategy doesn’t work for some reason. That’s because the combo would play slightly below current Power vs Provision curve. For example Tibor + SC played for combo would give 13 points for 8 provision on Circle, but including Tibor cost it would be more like 13 for 13, voluntarily giving up one gold from hand to play the combo.
I wouldn’t advocate playing gold pointslam targets just for the sake of backup either; decks in which these appear naturally though would have slightly better SC on average.
From the Round 3 discussion it becomes clear, that SC is weak (but not terrible) value card in R3, unless playing for successful threat overload.
Thanks to Resilience status though, Summoning Circle could be also played for carryover in earlier rounds. Putting SC on the board and going for a pass without summoning a unit (keeping counter active) brings carryover to the next round.
Just a short comparison with other resilient carryover possibilities: Ciri: Nova, Vandergrift or Zoltan Chivay, shows that Summoning Circle has great potential. SC played just for a Griffin outvalues carryover of each one of mentioned cards, while exploiting engine overload could easily lead to much greater value.
The ceiling of SC played for carryover is hard to assess, but non-worst-case floor in a suiting deck would easily be equal to 15 points for 8 provision. Thanks to big potential, Carryover would be the main SC application, with all single round plays being just a secondary plan.
Controlling tempo from blue coin
Playing Summoning Circle from blue coin is a very risky strategy for decks with weak Round 1 – SC would be zero tempo for one or more turns, which would make losing on even cards a big threat. The situation would be especially troublesome when opponent has engine advantage and point gap narrows with each turn.
Decks with weak R1 could still benefit though if opponent overcommits; if R1 is lost on even anyway, then SC carryover for R2 may come handy and prevent opponent from 2:0.
However, the main blue coin application would be in strong R1 decks, able to outtempo opponent. SC would enable following technique:
Tempo impasse – if opponent falls behind in tempo, so that more than 1 card is needed for them to close the point gap, then properly played SC could set up an impasse situation:
- if opponent passess, then SC would be a R2 carryover
- if opponent plays a card, then blue passess and a card would get summoned from Circle in one of the following turns when they try to close the gap – a commitment or going a card down is forced
Tempo impasse could become a common motif with SC played as 5th card rather than unit, when opponent couldn’t catch up in 2 cards and would normally pass if any unit was played.
Round 2 Carryover From Red Coin
Summoning Circle could also work as a great impasse reach card in R1, whenever opponent’s main line is R2 push. It is especially important in current (Gwent 10.4/10.5) meta, where Aerondight carryover is of great concern.
Imagine an Aerondight mirror, where winning R1 from red coin would be impossible for you and opponent would only gain Aerondight charges advantage with time.
Then playing Summoning Circle early could set up an impasse situation, proven you still could keep up 1 card reach. Let’s say at 7 cards you play Summoning Circle into a Griffin in a slot with 1 neighbouring unit. If opponent gets out of your 1 card reach (including SC) somehow, then you could just pass. Thanks to SC carryover, in R2 Griffin would jump out soon, which will lead to tempo advantage and stop Aerondight from stacking. If opponent passes in R2 instead, then Ciri:Nova could be played for another carrover and presumably in R3 only your own Aerondight would be stacking.
On the other hand, if opponent passes immediately in R1, then you could play Nova (which is hopefully in hand) next to Circle and catch up, while going into R2 with Aerondight stacking perspective.
The play would be bad only if falling too much behind in tempo, or gaining nothing from R2 carryover (if opponent has no strategic interest in a R2 push).
Round 3 Carryover
The crucial part. Without tutors or thinning there is almost 70% chance to find SC up to R2. SC could be legitimately played for carryover in R2 only given some circumstances:
- Forcing R1
Tempo pass in R1 or winning the round at 5 or more cards let’s SC to be played at no cost in R2. Decks going for such strategy must be favored in a long round (including SC carryover)
- Surprise Circle
In ladder practice, SC could get a huge value whenever opponent passes at 7 cards after winning R1 and there is a possibility to win R2 and play Circle at the same time.
But for leaders spawning tokens (Fruits of Ysgith, Arachas Swarm…) the surprise strategy would require outpointing opponent with other cards.
- Brute Force Circle
In decks possessing great carryover possibilities for short R3, Summoning Circle could be played in R2 with full awareness of losing card advantage. The only objective of R2 play would be then shortening R3 when establishing maximum carryover. Circle target must then have maximal possible value for a short R3.
Unfortunately it is possible to lookup Summoning Circle target by clicking on it. This limits gimmick use or bluffing reach possibilites.
Nevertheless, Circle still could be used to do some cool, unusual stuff. Outside improving chances of launching multi-card combos, Circle is capable of effectively ‘protecting’ the spawned unit. It would happen whenever summon takes place after opponent’s reach turn.
Let’s say you won R1 on even cards and would like to use Ciri (vanilla) to get card advantage after R2. If you play her from hand, then opponent may lock or remove her at their reach turn. On the other hand, if you set up Summoning Circle in the way that Ciri jumps out after your pass (when behind in points), then opponent is completely disarmed and has to accept your double last say – dealing with Ciri would require playing another card (embrace Baine1’s genius).
Another thematic card which could be protected this way is Vypper, but benefits from R2 Vypper are much lower in general (it seldomly manages to jump out). Better way to gimmick a Vypper would be then in R1, leaving opponent with an alternative of dealing with Vypper or losing a card for R2 push.
To sum up, Summoning Circle is a card with great potential. It should be used mostly for carryover play, where it could easily reach value above power vs provision curve.
The possibility of using this card for surprise value could be a bit unhealthy in the future in closed decklists environment (in the current 10.4/10.5 state of very aggressive play with Aerondight it would probably be less of an issue). The design is very risky for potential abuses, but also rewarding for good timing and matchup knowledge to some extent.
Another issue with Summoning Circle is lack of good artifact tutors, which would mean playing Oneiromancy, trying some complex tutoring methods, or simply relying on good luck and drawing SC at the right time without extra tools. The effective power gap between SC found early and found late is easily game decisive, especially in Aerondight reality. Avallac’h: Sage seems to deserve a buff after reworking this card!
Thanks for reading and good luck in designing your own deck with Summoning Circle, be it meme or competitive one!
PS. I didn’t have time to playtest Summoning Circle outside Training Mode, so let me know if some of remarks are very wrong.