Daily iPhone App: Summoner Wars is a complicated mix of virtual board and card game

I took a trip down to Tampa Bay, Fla., for my sister's wedding last week, and before I headed for the airport, I loaded up my iPhone and iPad with a few new apps to check out on the way. Honestly, Fieldrunners 2 HD ended up taking most of my gaming time, but Summoner Wars was a very impressive choice as well.

Summoner Wars is a complicated, intriguing game that combines tactical strategy, good old fashioned dice rolling and even some deckbuilding card game elements. You're fighting on a board pushing around cards as units. With each turn, you can either use your cards (as spells or actual heroes) in the battle, or save them as mana to summon more units on your next turn. There are plenty of deep strategical choices here that fans of complicated board games will find satisfying.

Unfortunately, all of that complexity makes the game tricky to pick up. There is a tutorial, but even it only explains the mechanics of the game, and leaves you to figure out strategies completely on your own. But I appreciated that, especially on a long plane ride where I needed plenty of distraction from the crying baby behind me and the talkative gent across the aisle to my left.

Summoner Wars is completely free-to-play, too, so if you want to check it out, you've got no excuses not to. If you like it, you can unlock everything in the game for US$7.99, or pick up individual card decks or card packs individually.