Hello everyone! I’m Nathan “noverb” Overbay and today I have the distinct pleasure to introduce you to Epic Card Game. Last year I did a feature on Inked Gaming telling you some of the great things about Epic. Now, with Epic Digital set to release on app stores and Steam on Feb 18, 2020, what better time to really teach you how to play? This will be the first of three (maybe more) guides teaching you not only the rules, but some of the key strategy that makes this game so good.
How do you play?
Epic is a fast paced “dude-battler” as I like to call them, with similar features to Magic, Eternal, and even the new Legends of Runeterra. You summon great Champions and cast awesome Events in order to defeat your opponent so that people will be telling stories of your Epic feats for years to come!
Epic has two card types: Champion and Event. Champions can only be played onto the board on your own turn during your Main Phase. They enter play and stay there until removed. If a Champion was in play at the start of your turn, it may attack or use abilities expend abilities. Events are single use cards that are put into the Discard pile after they resolve. You may play Events at any time that you have Initiative. Some Champions have the ability Ambush which allows them to be played any time you could play an Event.
Champions are the main way in which you will be dealing damage to the opponent to achieve victory by reducing their health from thirty to zero! Events can deal with your opponent’s champions, draw you cards, or even blast the opponent with a devastating strike!
The Structure of a Turn
Below is a chart showing the steps in a turn. Having an understanding of the flow of the turn can help you make better decisions when it comes to when to attack, when to spend your gold, and when to pass without doing anything.
The chart may seem like a lot, but let me break it down for you. There are four core phases: Start, Main, Combat, and End.
- Your Gold is reset to one. If you spent yours on your opponent’s turn, you get a new one. If you didn’t it’s still getting reset to one.
- You draw one card from your deck.
- You prepare your Champions. This means that if they were expended (from attacking or activating an ability) or flipped (from blocking) they are reset to their original position. Any Champion that gets prepared may now attack this turn.
- Any “start of turn” effects happen.
In the main phase you can do any number of these things as long as you have the resources or Champions required. The opponent does not receive initiative in this phase until you attempt to end your turn.
- Play Champions or Events from your hand paying any costs, Gold or otherwise.
- Activate abilities of Champions you control paying any costs, such as Gold or expending the Champion.
- Attack the opponent with one or more prepared, unexpended Champions and expend them. You then proceed to the combat phase.
- Attempt to end your turn. This gives the opponent initiative. If they choose to do nothing, move to the end phase.
The combat phase happens as is listed below in order.
- Once attackers have been declared all triggers that relate to attacking happen.
- You gain initiative to play any number of Events, activate abilities, or play Champions with Ambush.
- Your opponent gains initiative to play any number of Events, activate abilities, or play Champions with Ambush.
- If your opponent takes any actions then you will receive initiative after they have finished and pass back. It will only move to the next step once one player has passed without taking any action.
- Your opponent may assign any number of Champions to block yours.
- If you attacked with two or more Champions they are attacking as a group and must be blocked as a group.
- When a Champion blocks it is flipped 180 degrees to signify it cannot block again this turn. It may still expend (turn sideways) to activate an ability.
- You opponent gains initiative to play any number of Events, activate abilities, or play Champions with Ambush.
- You gain initiative to play any number of Events, activate abilities, or play Champions with Ambush.
- If you take any actions then your opponent will receive initiative after you have finished and pass back. It will only move to the next step once one player has passed without taking any action.
- Once all necessary actions have been taken both players assign damage equal to their Champions strength split amongst the opposing Champions in combat. If no Champions blocked then the damage is dealt directly to the opponent. If the opponent falls below zero health you win!
- Assuming you haven’t won, return to the main phase. You may enter combat again if you have more Champions you wish to attack with.
Attempting to end your turn
This is where things get a little tricky. In other card games when you pass to end you turn you are usually sent to the end step, but not in Epic. In Epic if you would like to end your turn you pass initiative to the opponent saying that you would like to move to the end phase. In reality this is happening in your main phase.
Like in combat, the opponent given initiative may play any number of Events, activate abilities, or play Champions with Ambush. And also like in combat, if the opponent takes any of those actions and passes back you are “returned” to your main phase. Meaning that what was possibly going to be the end of turn could actually be you moving straight into combat! However it is a gambit. If the opponent doesn’t take any actions, it does go to your end phase, so beware!
- Any end of turn effects happen.
- You discard down to seven cards in hand.
- Remove damage from Champions.
- Prepare flipped Champions. (the ones that blocked)
- Remove all “until the end of turn” effects.
- Reset your Gold to one. Your opponent’s will reset at the start of their turn.
I know, I know. I basically just read you the rule book. But it is important to understand the phases and steps to properly have a handle on how to manage your timing and resources. One final note on the rules is that there is no stack/response window in this game. You may have noticed that I said you can play any number of things while you have initiative. That’s because when you do something, it happens. There’s nothing the other player can do about it. Anyway onto some important terms to know and the best skill in the game to learn…
Establishing Champion (EC)
This is a Champion that excels at being played on an empty board. As I will describe below, you generally want to avoid spending your Gold first. Establishing Champions are able to provide a threat that the opponent needs to answer. Good ECs draw a card(s) or provide a number of tokens. This way, even if the Champion is removed you are still up value on the trade. If you have to play your Gold first, this is a good way to do it.
Examples of Establishing Champions: Triceratops, Winter Fairy, Rampaging T-Rex, Raxxa, Demon Tyrant, Rift Summoner
Gold Punishers (GP)
These are predominantly Champions with the keywords Blitz or Ambush. Their main goal is to act in a way that punishes the opponent for spending their Gold before you. They will have fewer answers to a Rampaging Wurm knocking on their door with no Gold to spend. Ambush Champions also provide great ways to punish the opponent off-turn, establishing more pressure for next turn.
Examples of Gold Punishers: Rampaging Wurm, Juggernaut, Lurking Giant, Thought Plucker
Also referred to as “Board Clears”, “Wipes”, “Wraths”, and sometimes “Nukes”. These are cards that reset the board to parity by breaking, banishing, or in some way minimizing the threat of the board. Wave of Transformation and Zombie Apocalypse are considered sweepers because they reduce what was a large threat to a small one rather quickly.
Examples of Sweepers: Apocalypse, Divine Judgement, Wave of Transformation, Hurricane
Draw Twos (D2)
An Event (or in some cases Champion) that has a draw two mode on it. This isn’t hard to find as most Events in the game feature a draw two mode. The trick is learning when to use each of them as a draw two and when to use them for their other mode.
A well balanced deck has a little of each of these types of cards to be able to respond to any situation as needed.
Gold Advantage and how to achieve it
Each player gets one gold a turn. That means that if one player spends their Gold, the other player can spend theirs with much more safety. One of the best skills to have in this game is to know when to use your Gold, and when to goad your opponent into using theirs first. In most cases you want to be spending your Gold second. The player who spends their Gold second has what I like to call “Gold Advantage” or GA. Gold Advantage awards you a few things:
- You know what they’ve played. That’s information you didn’t have before. You can use it to make an informed decision on what you would like to do with your Gold.
- They can’t spend another gold this turn. It’s a great boon to know that the opponent no longer has a gold to thwart what you are trying to do with the turn.
If it’s better to play your Gold second, how do you get the opponent to spend theirs first? That’s the question you should be asking yourself. The answer depends what state the board is in. There are four situations you may frequently find yourself in:
- Empty Board (Parity) – There are no Champions in play. With no pressure to either player, there isn’t an incentive for either player to commit a Gold. A great way to push your opponent into playing their Gold first is by playing a zero-cost Champion. Doing so places a threat on the table that, given enough time, will win the game. If they have to spend their Gold to respond to it then you are free to play your Gold to play a bigger threat.
- Ahead – Either you control all Champions in play or it is skewed heavily in your favor. Generally you should not need to spend your gold to keep pressuring your opponent. You are totally happy with the turn passing with both Golds unspent. It is in the opponent’s best interest to try to resolve the power difference without the use of their Gold, but often that’s impossible and they are forced to spend their gold to deal with your threats. When that happens you can re-establish with your Gold.
- Behind – Read #2 (Ahead) but you are the opponent. If they have established more threats and both Golds are up then you have to maneuver the board back to parity, if not in your favor. Often that will require spending your Gold to reset the board using a sweeper. When this happens the opponent will likely use their Gold to Ambush in a Champion and re-establish. If they instead draw two this is great for you! You have returned to #1 (Parity)!
- Messy Board (Somewhat Parity) – This is where things get complicated. If no player is obviously ahead you want to maneuver the advantage to you. There are two main ways to do this: combat and zero-cost cards. The goal is to turn this already messy board into a sticky situation for your opponent. Get them to spend their gold first and you can punish them for it. This is exactly the kind of situation where if you do get them to fold first a Gold Punisher can win the game on the spot!
Now what do you do with GA? Well it depends whose turn it is. If it’s your opponent’s turn and they acted first, you can establish with an Ambush Champion. When it goes to your turn you can now pressure them with the Champion you played last turn while still preserving your Gold.
There’s also the option to draw two on the opponent’s turn with their Gold down. This is situational depending on what they played as it doesn’t establish anything onto the board. If the opponent establishes a Champion on their turn and your action is drawing you’ve effectively given them the GA. Because now your opponent can apply pressure without the need to spend another Gold. So be wary of when to draw two.
If the opponent blows their Gold before you on your turn that’s great! The best way to use that advantage is by slamming a Gold Punisher like Frost Giant to go for game. If you don’t have a good enough GP or don’t want to over-commit to the board using a draw two to keep your hand full is a great option.
If they gave you GA through the use of a board clear it’s often great to re-establish with an Establishing Champion. Drawing two is also a reasonable option to make sure you can still go card for card with the opponent.
Part 2 and 3
This is just part one of my intro to Epic guide covering how to play the game and the most important aspect: Gold Advantage! In part two I will cover deck construction featuring some great cores and what zeros you should, or should not be playing. In part three I will be covering my favorite part of the game: Dark Draft! So stay tuned for those articles coming soon!
Thank you all so much for your interest in Epic. Be sure to check out other Epic articles on Team Rankstar like this one written by Ben “BenEBeats” Sullivan. If you would like to see more Epic content in the future please show your support by commenting below or spreading the word on social media!