Isle of Skye is a highly variable tile-purchasing game. Players, informed by varied scoring options, price and buy diverse tiles to expand their clan territory. Games are close, yet interesting swings in power occur as money changes hands.
This was one of the first Epic decks I designed. I did get a bit carried away talking about revisions.
The goal of this deck is to attack with a big, breakthrough, unbreakable, untargetable champion. This worked fairly well because that type of attack is hard to stop. You can’t chump block it, break it, targeted bounce it, or off-turn breaking board wipe it. The only reliable answers are non-targeting banish: Lying in Wait, Wave of Transformation, and Inheritance of the Meek (Surprise Attack + Time Walker would also work).
Surprise Attack is very important in this deck because it sets up the attack. Surprise Attack in a Kong on opponent’s turn, after they spent their gold, to break a champion. Then, immediately on your turn Lash/Rage the Kong and use Priest of Kalnor/Angelic Protector. Your opponent is now facing a 17/13 breakthrough, unbreakable, untargetable monstrosity. In addition, they had no chance to use a gold to disrupt it.
In my first iteration I ran Lord of the Arena which comes equipped with 13 offense, blitz, and unbreakable. I cut them because it was frequently getting bounced due to the lack of untargetable. (Untargetable does need to be applied after breakthrough is added.)
Now that I have a bit more experience playing, Cave Troll, Flame Strike, Divine Judgement, White Knight, Angel of Light, Banishment, Watchful Gargoyle, and Noble Unicorn seem a bit out of place. Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of Good cards I would want to replace them with. I initially did want to stay roughly 30/30 so I can trigger both Raging T-Rex and Priest of Kalnor. I might want to add High King and White Dragon to help me stall as I set up. Jungle Queen and Lurking Giant might be worth it since the ambush is so helpful. Wurm Hatchling is another option if I go further wild.
Updated Deck List
I’m going to try this updated list next time I run this deck instead. I am a bit concerned at my lack of off-turn targeted removal. In addition, I cut 2 Ceasefires assuming Hurricane, Flashfire, and Inheritance of the Meek would be sufficient. The Lurking Giants should hopefully help deal with bigger attacking threats too.
I’m curious which deck list everyone thinks is better. Feel free to let me know in the comments, especially if you think the changes are a terrible idea.
2/29/16 Deck List
Thinking about it this morning, I decided to make a few more changes. I replaced the Inheritance of the Meeks with Wave of Transformations, and I went back up to 3 Ceasefires. For this deck, I assume I will almost always want to use IotM/WoT on my opponent’s turn. In that situation, WoT banishes all champions including Thundarus, it doesn’t draw my opponent a card, and it leaves wolf tokens that my Flash Fires and Hurricanes can deal with. In this deck, WoT seems almost strictly better. I added the Ceasefires back in to keep my Good count at 21. (It is also one of the best cards, if not the best, to play on an opponent’s turn when they try to end their turn without spending their gold.)
I removed 8 Wild cards to add Sage cards to help me deal with Thundarus. This also let me bring Muses. I cut the Lurking Giants, Wurm Hatchlings, 2 Sea Hydras, 1 Lash, and 1 Mighty Blow to make room. With that last space I added a singleton Burrowing Wurm. An ambushed Wurm with unbreakable and untargetable seems strong.
I will continue to update this page as I play with this deck, assuming the deck does well enough.
3/1/16 Minor Change and Explanation
I decided I wanted a big blitzer that can make use of Lash/Rage + Priest of Kalnor. I chose Rampaging Wurm instead of Lord of the Arena for a couple reasons. Rampaging Wurm is Wild so, if needed, I can ambush it in with Jungle Queen (in addition to Surprise Attack). It has 1 higher offense. The unbreakable from Lord of the Arena is also largely irrelevant because I currently plan to only use it with Priest of Kalnor.
I want a big blitzer because I feel like this deck is a lot more dangerous on my opponent’s turn. The best play this deck can make is to ambush in a big attacker on my opponent’s turn after they spend their gold. Then, on my turn, I immediately Lash/Rage followed by Priest of Kalnor/Angelic Protector. Without a big blitzer, I felt like I would need to wait for that opportunity to present itself. We will see with testing.
In addition, I wanted to put in a Thundarus. Surprise Attack Thundarus followed by Lash/Rage and Priest of Kalnor/Angelic Protector would be 14/14 breakthrough, unbanishable, unbreakable, untargetable. The only answers to that are Wave of Transformation and Surprise Attack/Final Task Time Walker.(Surprise Attack -> Necromancer Lord -> Time Walker also works.) If you add Mighty Blow (+ Lash/Rage and Priest of Kalnor), Thundarus becomes a 24/14 breakthrough, unbanishable, unbreakable, untargetable.
3/11/16 Playtest Notes
This big breakthrough combination is terrifying. I have not played this deck enough to know the best champions to include, but the unbreakable, untargetable, breakthrough, big champion combinations is really strong (especially when unbanishable too). Due to this deck, I am at the point where I basically always include Wave of Transformation. This, and other constructed testing, has raised the value of Wave of Transformation in my mind significantly. Watch out for this deck.
Untargetable Breakthrough Rework Deck List 5/7/16
Untargetable Breakthrough Rework Explanation 5/7/16
I started this update just because I really wanted to use Burrowing Wurm. By the time I was finished, the general spirit of the deck had turned into a less combo-heavy variant of Big Breakthrough. So, I’m putting it here as that deck’s spiritual successor.
The main difference between the two decks is that this one, Untargetable Breakthrough, relies a lot more on champions inherently having breakthrough. Brachiosaurus, Burrowing Wurm, and Triceratops being the big 3.
This deck also carries significantly fewer ways to grant breakthrough, just 1 Lash, and to grant unbreakable/untargetable, no Brave Squire and no Angelic Protector. It does get access to Royal Escort, however, which is amazing. I can get Royal Escort out, then I can follow it up with Burrowing Wurm later. This will generally give the Wurm at least one turn before it can be answered. Surprise Attack makes that a potentially very threatening Wurm. Playing Draka when Royal Escort is in play is also nice for a 9/9 blitzing airborne untargetable champion.
The other critical card in this deck is Brachiosaurus. This card is so important because I can play that into Burrowing Wurm etc., and then I still have one big breakthrough threat left if they remove the other. Brachiosaurus and then pass is also nice, since they can spend their gold, leaving me open to drop another big Wild champion, or they can pass leaving me with an 8/12 breakthrough, win win. Resurrection on Brachiosaurus can also be quite nice.
I did purposefully keep my 0-cost cards down to just 14, as I am a bit scared of running out of cards in hand. I am also trying the deck out initially with only 18 Good cards, even though I am trying to hit loyalty on Priest of Kalnor and potentially Markus.
For dealing with my opponent’s threats, I hope to be able to have my massive Wild Champions handle the big guys, while my Fire Spirits and Fire Shamans handle the small guys. I do also have Flash Fires and Draka’s Fire to help with the small guys too. The other main reason for including Draka’s Fire is to finish off big untargetable blockers like Sea Titan, without hitting my own champions (which is why I didn’t include Hurricanes).
Smash and Burn is included primarily for card draw. Most of the Good cards are included to hit loyalty and to provide me a bit of protection. Inner Peace is nice since it can potentially keep returning to hand for loyalty triggers, if I do need to play it.
I decided not to run any Evil or Sage, although I was considering Army of the Apocalypse, Final Task, Heinous Feast, Ancient Chant, Lesson Learned, and Amnesia. Instead, I decided to keep my Wild Ally count high (also helps Wurm Hatchling) and my Good Loyalty not too low.
Overall, this deck just wants to flatten its opponent by connecting with a big Breakthrough champion that can’t have targeted removal played on it.
All Epic Card Game images are owned by White Wizard Games, Copyright 2016.
Dominion is the deck-building game. This game is incredibly influential because it launched the deck-building genre.
In a deck-building game, everyone starts with an identical deck of cards. These cards are used to acquire new and better cards during the game. All cards you acquire are eventually shuffled into your deck. This means that you will then be able to use the new cards you acquired, in that same game. In addition, all of the decks will diverge as each player makes their own card acquisitions.
Different deck-builder games handle scoring and end game in different ways. Some other deck-builders include but are not limited to: Baseball Highlights: 2045, Paperback, Star Realms, Thunderstone, and Valley of the Kings.
Types of Cards
There are 4 types of cards in Dominion: Treasures, Actions, Victory Cards, and Curses.
Treasure is used to purchase new cards. The value of a treasure card is depicted in the center of the card. All cards have a cost to buy in the bottom left.
Actions have a variety of uses. Each turn you are allowed to play one action. Some actions let you play more actions. Other actions draw you cards. You can also attack your opponents, get rid of cards in your deck (trash them), or do a combination of these and other effects.
Victory cards are how you win the game. Whoever has the most victory points is the winner. Victory cards, however, have no inherent value in game. So you have to decide when you want to start buying them.
Curses are worth -1 victory point, and they also have no value in game. In other words, they are just bad to have.
Each player is dealt 7 coppers and 3 estates. This creates their starting deck. 10 piles of “kingdom cards” are then placed in the center of the table within reach of all players. The copper, silver, and gold treasure cards are placed on the table, as are 12 estates, 12 duchies, 12 provinces, and curses (10 per player). Only 8 of each victory card is used in a 2-player game.
On your turn, you play cards from your hand, buy card(s), discard your cards, and draw 5 new cards from your deck. This is broken down to A, B, C (Action Phase, Buy Phase, Clean Up Phase).
The first part of your turn is playing actions. You start your turn able to play 1 action. Some cards, like village, give you extra actions, so you can “chain” action cards. For instance, you can play Village, then Smithy, and finally Woodcutter. If you run out of available actions, you may not play any more actions that turn. Unplayed actions have no effect that turn.
Once you have played all of the actions you want to/are able to play, you play your treasures. Add the value of all of your treasures including any treasure-value from your played action cards. The combined total is how much you can use to buy card(s).
On your turn you start with one “buy”. You can gain more “buys” on your turn from action cards. For each “buy” you have, you may buy 1 card. But, your total treasure-value must cover all purchases. For example, if I have 2 “buys” and 6 treasure-value, I could buy 1 gold. Or I could buy a smithy and a moat.
Cards you buy immediately go to your discard pile.
Clean Up Phase
Once you have finished buying card(s), discard all your cards from this turn. This includes cards you played and cards you did not play (Victory cards for instance).
Then, draw 5 cards from your deck. If at any time you need to draw cards and you do not have enough cards in your deck, shuffle your discard pile to form a new deck.
I love deck-building games. This was the first deck-builder I ever played. It is my favorite deck-builder, still. In general, I love deck-builders because they have high variability (a lot of different cards to choose from), and I enjoy strategizing around that high variability.
One of the things that separates Dominion from other deck-builders is the set up. In Dominion, you know every potential card you can buy on turn 1. Other deck-builders have the cards available change throughout the game. I am the type of player who wants to sit down, think of a strategy, and attempt to execute it. I want to see a bunch of new cards thrown together and then try to figure out an optimal or interesting/crazy strategy. Generally, people who know me would say I am a very reserved person, but playing an excellent game of Dominion legitimately makes me giddy. (I included a picture below for reference.) For me, it is just so satisfying figuring out something that no one else sees, and then winning with it.
Another reason why I love Dominion is my family loves Dominion. This was one of our first modern games, and it is one of our favorites. We like this game so much, that between all of us we own all 9 expansions. (Apparently there is another expansion coming out, Empires. This is either the 2nd or 3rd expansion after they said they were going to stop releasing new ones.) For the most part, the rest of my family generally creates their strategy as they play. If they have 4 treasure-value, they buy a 4-cost card, etc. And, this strategy also works. I will often win if I chase the optimal strategy, but this frees me up to go after the craziest combinations I can think of for a game instead. Sometimes they turn out spectacularly, while sometimes I get crushed. I’m generally less giddy when crushed, but if I really liked my strategy, I still count it as a personal win.
My major problem with this game is the attacks in a 4-player family game. While I am fine with the idea of the attack cards, they can be incredibly annoying in practice. If all 3 of your opponents get attacks, you will generally be attacked at least once each turn. This can be unbearably frustrating. Attacks are interesting in a competitive setting, but in family games I recommend limiting the number available. They can and have ended gaming and goodwill on multiple occasions.
Overall, I love this game, and I love the expansions. If you decide on an expansion, most people would say Prosperity is the best first expansion. As a measure of how much I enjoy this game, I will probably talk about it more in future posts on this blog.
This is the first of many Epic constructed decks to come. A friend and I created constructed decks today. We started simply by picking out all of the cards we potentially wanted to include in a deck. Then, we separated the cards by faction and whether or not they had Loyalty 2/Ally/faction requirements. Once we did that, we were able to choose which primary faction(s) we wanted, and we went from there.
We created a primarily Good deck (Persistent Good) featured in this article and an Evil/Wild deck.
1x Drinker of Blood
1x Angel of Light
3x Angel of Mercy
3x Divine Judgement
3x Inheritance of the Meek
3x Noble Unicorn
1x Secret Legion
1x Standard Bearer
3x Vital Mission
3x Brave Squire
1x Courageous Soul
3x Priest of Kalnor
3x Priestess of Angeline
3x White Dragon
1x Frost Giant
We didn’t design this deck with any particular goal in mind. While playing, we almost constantly had a hand of 5+ cards. This was primarily due to the Noble Unicorns and Cease Fires. In most situations, this deck would get out a Noble Unicorn, Palace Guard, or The People’s Champion and build up from there. The Priestess of Angeline and the White Dragons were used to expand that position.
Since all of Noble Unicorn, Priestess of Angeline, and White Dragon replaced themselves, this deck was able to grind through its opponent’s removal. Whether the opponent used targeted removal or board wipes, this deck was able to quickly reestablish board presence. This deck would then generally win with the help of the singleton (only 1 of a card in a deck) Standard Bearer, Courageous Soul, Deadly Raid, and/or Frost Giant.
These were generally slow to set up victories. While setting up, the copious amounts of removal held the opponent at bay. In addition, the significant life gain from Priestess of Angeline, Gold Dragon, and Priest of Kalnor held back the other deck’s aggro (quick damage such as direct damage or blitz champions).
A couple things that worked particularly well in this deck. Noble Unicorn was a beast. Gold Dragon + Priest of Kalnor was very strong. The singleton Courageous Soul did serious work, especially with the White Dragons. Wither was brought specifically to deal with Muses, but it was excellent against the strong, small expend champions in Evil as well. Muse was generally excellent.
A couple things that didn’t come up much. Drinker of Blood and Angel of Light were never played. Lying in Wait, Secret Legion, and Divine Judgement were only used to draw. Erase wasn’t as useful against Raging T-Rex, Necromancer Lord, Strafing Dragon, Kong, etc., but it still had other targets.
This match up seemed to favor this Good deck. Mainly this was because of all of the banish this deck has. Necromancer Lord, Corpse Taker, etc. were hit hard. More experimentation will be needed to see how this deck fares against other factions and deck archetypes.
As we move forward, decks will be designed in multiple other ways. We will try to exploit specific cards/combinations, build to specific archetypes, and, of course, build decks named “Who Needs Allies or Loyalty” etc. In addition, all those cards I have called out as being weak, you better believe I am going to try to break them (use them in such a way that they seem over-powered). I am looking at you Plentiful Dead.
Constructed Epic is a very different beast than Epic draft. I have a lot of experience drafting, in both Magic over the years and Epic now (some Hearthstone, Solforge, and Duelyst). I have significantly less experience competitive deck building, largely because of the prohibitive cost associated. In this article, I am going to explain my current thoughts on constructed. As I play more constructed Epic, I assume that these opinions will evolve.
- A constructed deck must include at least 60 cards
- You may include up to 3 copies of each card
- For each 0-cost card you include, you need to include two 1-cost cards of the same faction. For example, if you want 3 Muses, you would need something like 3 Erases, 1 Sea Titan, and 2 Lying in Waits.
So, in order to build any potentially competitive deck, you just need 3 sets of Epic. You may include any number of the factions in each deck. Promo cards, such as the ones included with the Kickstarter, are not legal in competitive play until they are released to the public.
Constructed decks are a lot more fine-tuned then draft decks. Each card must serve a specific purpose, and it must fit with the rest of the deck. It is, however, much easier to utilize a situational card optimally, since you can set up your deck specifically for that situation. In the next section, I analyze some cards specifically for constructed play.
In constructed, it is also much easier to pull off devastating combos. For example, Courageous Soul + Secret Legion, Amnesia + Army of Apocalypse, Avenging Angel + Priest of Kalnor, Secret Legion -> Drinker of Blood + Flash Fire, Sea Hydra + Hurricane, etc.
As I always say, I think card draw is incredibly important in Epic. My initial feeling is that gold-recall ability cards are worse in constructed. I think you would generally have a better play then spending your gold to recall one card. However, playing a card to draw 2 also effectively increases you hand size by 1 for 1 gold. So, we will see how this pans out. In constructed, you are not going to ever draw out for a win, so I wouldn’t recommend trying. Prove me wrong.
Staying in faction is also a lot easier in constructed, since you can run 3 of each of the best cards for that faction. This also means that you can avoid the weaker cards in each faction. Due to this, faction balance focuses on the strongest cards in each faction, instead of the faction as a whole. In the small experimenting I have done so far, I like focusing on 1 faction and taking the creme de la creme of the other 3. Or, I go about 30 and 30 into 2 factions. 1 faction decks are also definitely possible, but each faction has its own weaknesses.
Some cards are significantly better in constructed and others are better in draft. If I do not mention a card here, its constructed value matches its draft value.
Angel of Death Constructed Notes (+):
Angel of Death is already an incredible card. Then you add Surprise Attack, Final Task, 3 Corpse Takers, and Necromancer Lord (if necessary) to get a Fast unconditional reusable breaking board clear. Yeah, Angel of Death is amazing.
Army of the Apocalypse Constructed Notes (+):
This is a card you can literally build your deck around. Inherent blitz champions (not Steel Golem for instance) are great with this, and there are plenty of other devastating things you can do with that many champions. In addition, if you bring discard pile removal like Amnesia/Guilt Demon or banish effects like Banishment, you can make it a really 1-sided play. The champions returning to play would not trigger Ally effects.
Corpse Taker Constructed Notes (+):
There are so many 1-cost champions that are amazing to play repeatedly in one game: Necromancer Lord, etc.
Dark Knight Constructed Notes (+):
Drinker of Blood Constructed Notes (+):
Drinker of Blood is also a lot better when designed around. I personally like Secret Legion on your opponent’s turn. On you turn, this + Flash Fire. At minimum do 14 damage and gain 10 health. (You would need to start with at least 2 health though, otherwise Flash Fire would kill you before you gain the health). Breaking board clears are great, and Surprise Attack is nice.
This card has carried me on its back for a couple wins, but I am still hesitant about it. I feel like its greatest strength would be in a token deck, and I don’t think tokens are any more viable in constructed than they are in draft. We’ll see as I’ll definitely make a deck with this card featured.
Final Task Constructed Notes (+):
There are so many strong targets for this card. Angel of Death becomes a Fast board clear. A blitzing Kong is a scary thought. In addition, if you use this on a champion that is unbreakable, it can’t break at the end of the turn. In other words, it stays in play permanently.
Necromancer Lord Constructed Notes (+):
Necromancer Lord is a monster plain and simple. You do not know frustration until your opponent plays a Necromancer Lord with Loyalty, returns another Necromancer Lord to play, and then returns your Kong to play breaking your Lurking Giant…not that I’m still holding a grudge or anything. (It might actually have been me who did it.) When you combine this with Corpse Taker, it can be a real pain removing them from the board unless you banish them.
Unquenchable Thirst Constructed Notes (+):
Avenging Angel Constructed Notes (+):
Courageous Soul Constructed Notes (+):
This card makes tokens a lot stronger, and it combos amazingly with Secret Legion. Unfortunately, I am still hesitant to use it since I don’t think tokens are viable.
Inheritance of the Meek Constructed Notes (+):
If you insist on a token deck, this is a really nice card to have. It is especially nice with The People’s Champion.
Priest of Kalnor Constructed Notes (++):
I consider this card nearly worthless in draft, but I constantly want to use it in constructed. This card makes a lot of other cards a lot better. My personal favorite might be Gold Dragon in a Good deck. This card alone is a lot of why I currently go 30 Good cards in some decks.
Resurrection Constructed Notes (+):
There are so many strong cards that Resurrection works great with. I had one game where I blocked a couple champions with Kong, my opponent used something like Rage so everything died, then he played Raging T-Rex. When he tried to end his turn, Resurrection. I broke the T-Rex and got a 13/14. I was quite pleased.
Vital Mission Constructed Notes (+):
I mainly want to use this on my The People’s Champion in a mass health-gain deck, but I feel like the health gain for my opponent would be less important in constructed as well. I’m not sure how I’ll rate this card once I have played with it a bit.
Amnesia Constructed Notes (+):
I feel like Necromancer Lord and Army of the Apocalypse are going to be a big deal. In addition, the fact that it replaces itself is so nice. It’s possible that this could be weaker in constructed then in draft though. The main reason, you’re not going to draw out in constructed, but that is a real threat in draft.
Ancient Chant Constructed Notes (+):
I feel like this is going to be a beast of a card in aggro decks with recycle. Essentially draw 3 from one card on your opponent’s turn seems pretty strong. I do really like card draw, but I feel like aggro might shun it a bit. In that situation, I see this card shining.
Memory Spirit Constructed Notes (+):
Some events are very good to get back for an extra use, Erase for instance. Interestingly, if you use Resurrection to return a Memory Spirit to play, you could return the Resurrection to hand before your opponent gets a chance to stop you, I think. Same is true with Surprise Attack and Final Task, if I am correct.
Muse Constructed Notes (+/-):
Muse is one of the best cards in the game. It is so powerful, that I believe all decks should have 0-cost cards specifically able to get rid of Muse. Because of that, Muse might not be worth running. Who am I kidding, Muse is still strong enough even if you just force a 0-cost for 0-cost trade.
Psionic Assault Constructed Notes (+/-):
Against an aggro deck that burns through their hand quickly, this could be devastating. Against my decks that will probably hope to stay at 5+ cards constantly, this is less strong, in theory. Dropping below 5 cards can be pretty huge though, especially if you have more than 1 faction with Loyalty 2/Ally effects.
Time Walker Constructed Notes (+):
This card helps 0-cost blitz champions. Bouncing board clear is strong. Surprise Attack makes this great. This is a very strong constructed card.
Turn Constructed Notes (-):
I think bounce is great, and I think Erase will be in a lot decks. If bounce is prevalent, Turn becomes much worse.
Warrior Golem Constructed Notes (+):
A 4/2 blitz that can recycle itself. This card seems perfect for a Sage aggro deck.
Lash Constructed Notes (-):
Lash is an incredible card, but I am not sure if I want to spend a gold to recall it in constructed. I will still definitely run the card, but I’m not sure if I want multiples in a deck. I am also not sure if I can get enough use out of it. We shall see.
Lightning Storm Constructed Notes (-):
Lightning Storm is still a great card for 6 divisible damage. Once again, I’m just not sure if I want multiples or if I want to recall it for a gold. This card does still break a lot of cards that are great in constructed. In addition, Lightning Storm on opponent’s turn, recall on your turn immediately, then Lightning Storm on your opponent’s turn is still pretty strong.
Sea Hydra Constructed Notes (+):
Tribute -> Draw a card makes me happy, and this combos well with cards like Hurricane and Angelic Protector. This + Angelic Protector gave me a nice 18/23 champion after I blocked a Steel Golem. There is something satisfying about needing to use a d20 to represent counters.
Surprise Attack Constructed Notes (++):
If you deck runs any of the following, you probably want 3 Surprise Attacks: Angel of Death, Dark Assassin, Drinker of Blood, Murderous Necromancer, Necromancer Lord, Soul Hunter, Succubus, Thrasher Demon even, Trihorror, Gold Dragon, High King, Lord of the Arena, Palace Guard, The People’s Champion, Thundarus, White Knight, Blue Dragon, Frost Giant, Sea Titan, Steel Golem, Time Walker, Winter Fairy, Bellowing Minotaur, Burrowing Wurm, Jungle Queen, Kong, Pack Alpha, Raging T-Rex, Rampaging Wurm, Sea Hydra, and/or Triceratops.
In addition, this also thins your deck a bit too. In other words, you effectively have a 57 card deck. This is because when played, you draw a card to replace it and you still play a champion from your hand.
Wurm Hatchling Constructed Notes (+):
In a predominantly Wild deck, this 0-cost card attacks as a 10/10 breakthrough, on its first attack.
I am going to be posting some decks in the next week and explaining how they are supposed to work. As I play them, I will describe how they actually work, if they are worth further play, and how I plan on tweaking them.
All Epic Card Game images are owned by White Wizard Games, Copyright 2016.
Remember how I said I wasn’t going to rank cards in my previous article, Epic Card by Card Analysis (Drafting)? Well…I got carried away describing my drafting philosophy, so I did it anyways. (In my defense, writing this article has inspired me to begin programming an Epic drafting AI. So, I’ll eventually need these rankings for that.) Anyways, explained below is my drafting philosophy that has been working very well for me.
6 Card Categories
When drafting, I break the cards into 6 different categories: Always Strong, Draft Direction, Strong Faction Specific, Weak Faction Specific, Situational, and Not Worth Drafting.
These cards are incredibly valuable cards in essentially any deck. These cards also do not require a faction investment to be useful.
These cards are incredibly valuable cards for specific factions. To best use these cards, you need to commit to drafting cards of that faction. With those faction commitments, these cards all become superstars for your deck. In addition, since they are potentially so strong, they can be worth counter-picking to deny your opponent. I call them Draft direction cards because they help decide what you should draft moving forward.
Strong Faction Specific
These are cards you should take to meet the faction requirements dictated by your Draft Direction cards. These are cards that either rely on the same faction investment to be useful, or they just aren’t powerful enough to make the above two categories. All draw 2 cards are at least in this category if not higher. Generally, cards in this category matching your faction investment(s) are better for you then cards that don’t match.
Weak Faction Specific
These cards are similar but not as useful as Strong Faction Specific cards.
These cards are usually weak, but in certain circumstances, they can be incredible.
Not Worth Drafting
These cards aren’t worth drafting. They are almost always bad, and, if possible, they should frequently be cut from your deck if you have to draft them.
Drafting a winning deck relies on 3 aspects: getting powerful cards/combinations, balancing the type of cards in your deck, and countering your opponent’s deck.
Don’t Commit to a Faction too Soon
In general, I focus on drafting Always Strong cards, and other useful, non-faction specific cards first. Once I am able to grab a Draft Direction card, I begin to focus on supporting that faction. While my decks usually contain all 4 factions, I frequently try to support only 1 faction, sometimes 2. For the factions I support, I will take cards that rely on their Loyalty 2 and Ally abilities to be useful. For the remaining cards I draft, I avoid Loyalty 2 and Ally abilities.
When drafting Epic, you never want to predetermine the faction(s) you will pursue; it is very possible there won’t be many amazing cards of that faction in your specific draft. It is not worth it to draft faction specific cards early, if it means drafting Weak Faction Specific or lower category cards. Since you aren’t guaranteed to see the Draft Decision cards of that faction in your draft, and your opponent might get them before you, taking sub-optimal, slightly synergistic cards can be severely disadvantageous. I would much rather have strong cards in multiple factions, than weak cards in the same faction.
Not committing early also allows you to adjust your strategy based on the cards available later.
Fast Cards and 0-Cost Cards are Critical
The closest thing Epic has to mana-flood/mana-screw is slow-flood. This happens when you have no way to spend your gold on an opponent’s turn. Usually, this is because you have no Fast cards (ambush champions and events) in hand. Gold-recall and gold-activated abilities can mitigate this to an extent.
To avoid this, it is very important to have at least half your deck be Fast cards. In addition, in a 30 card deck about 6 cards should be 0-cost. The more reliable draw you have, the more 0-cost cards you can run, up to about 10.
Watch Your Opponent’s Picks
If you can work out your opponent’s strategy, you can pick to counter that strategy. On the simplest level, if you see your opponent take Angel of Death, don’t let them have Necromancer Lord too. If they’re going Evil, deny them Evil Draft Decision cards. In addition, White Knight becomes significantly better.
This aspect of drafting takes awhile to learn. Until you understand the relative power of cards and combinations, it can be incredibly difficult figuring out: when to counter your opponent and when to improve your deck. As long as you pay attention and learn from your mistakes, this will become easier. This is probably my favorite part of Epic.
I went through and divided all of the cards in the base set into the 6 categories explained above. I then ranked all of the cards in those specific categories. My rankings assume that you have the required cards to activate Loyalty/Ally. The card becomes weaker if you can’t. The number after the ~ is the adjusted value. In general, once you have a Draft Decision card, cards of the same faction in the same category are generally better.
To determine the relative strength of each faction (in my opinion), I took my rankings, assigned weighting to the categories, and added the relative strength of each faction for each category.
Always Strong and Draft Direction cards get a weighting of 100 per card.
Strong Faction Commitment cards get a weighting of 75 per card.
Weak Faction Commitment cards get a weighting of 50 per card.
Situational cards get a weighting of 25 per card.
Not Worth Drafting cards have no value.
Evil: 7×100 + 90 + 3×100 + 22 + 8×75 + 142 + 6×50 + 64 + 1×25 + 4 + 5×0 + 29×0 = 2247
Good: 5×100 + 48 + 3×100 + 15 + 12×75 + 192 + 7×50 + 68 + 2×25 + 7 + 1×0 + 2×0 = 2430
Sage: 13×100 + 261 + 3×100 + 12 + 8×75 + 226 + 4×50 + 59 + 1×25 + 1 + 1×0 + 7×0 = 2984
Wild: 7×100 + 129 + 1×100 + 6 + 12×75 + 211 + 7×50 + 109 + 1×25 + 3 + 2×0 + 7×0 = 2533
Based on my ranking system, Sage is the best faction overall for drafting; however, all factions are still viable.
Sage came away with the highest score for a couple of reasons. First, Sage has by far the most Always Strong cards. Due to this, you can draft powerful Sage cards even if it is not your primary faction. You can cherry-pick Sage cards and still support any of the other 3 factions. Second, I generally valued Sage cards higher in their respective categories then any other faction. So, from a blank slate, Sage cards start off slightly stronger, but the cards in the categories are fairly close in power. If you do go Sage, even though they only have 11 Draft Decision and Strong Faction Specific cards, it is easy to draft strong cards to meet the faction investment.
Evil had the weakest score. One reason is because it has the highest number of Not Worth Drafting cards. It is tied for the second most Always Strong cards though. In addition, the Draft Decision cards for Evil are more powerful then any other faction, but it only has a combined total of 11 Draft Decision and Strong Faction Specific cards. If you get Necromancer Lord or Angel of Death, it is worth it to go Evil. If not, I would generally just take the Always Strong Evil cards.
Good has the least Always Strong cards. It does, however, have the most Draft Decision and Strong Faction Specific cards, 15. So, Good is the faction most likely to benefit from having an investment in it, as opposed to just taking a few Good cards.
Wild has the least Draft Direction cards in the base game, granted Raging T-Rex is a great one. In addition, 9 of the 12 Strong Faction Specific cards are only there because I didn’t think they were strong enough to make the Always Strong category. In other words, they don’t have Loyalty/Ally requirements. Like Sage, Wild cards can be cherry-picked without requiring the faction investment.
Overall, Evil and Good cards are more dependent on a faction investment. Sage and Wild are strong without a faction investment. All factions are viable, and it is frequently more important to draft powerful, synergistic, non-faction specific cards, to draft a balanced deck, and to draft a deck that counters your opponent then it is to draft in-faction. Drafting a specific faction is important to be able to play your best cards effectively, but it should not distract you from everything else.
Always Strong (32)
Zombie Apocalypse(32), Sea Titan(31), Kong(30), Turn(29), Stand Alone(28), Erase(27), Muse(26), Hurricane(25), Lash(24), Lying in Wait(23), Amnesia(22), Wave of Transformation(21), Lightning Storm(20), Transform(19), Bitten(18), Inner Demon(17), Palace Guard(16), Inheritance of the Meek(15), Flame Strike(14), Flash Fire(13), Deadly Raid(12), Frost Giant(11), Divine Judgement(10), Plague(9), Apocalypse(8), Hasty Retreat(7), Ceasefire(6), Ancient Chant(5), Guilt Demon(4), Triceratops(3), Succubus(2), Brave Squire(1)
Draft Direction (10)
Wild: Raging T-Rex (1, 6)
Necromancer Lord(10), Angel of Mercy(9), Angel of Death(8), Time Walker(7), Raging T-Rex(6), High King(5), Dark Assassin(4), Time Bender(3), Psionic Assault(2), Noble Unicorn(1)
Strong Faction Specific (40)
Ice Drake(40~9), Medusa(39~6), Steel Golem(38), Murderous Necromancer(37~6), Keeper of Secrets(36~0), Drain Essence(35), White Dragon(34~6), Juggernaut(33~10), Chomp!(32), Thought Plucker(31), Fire Shaman(30~1), Cave Troll(29~1), Resurrection(28), Fireball(27), Thundarus(26), Banishment(25), Blue Dragon(24), Lurking Giant(23), Jungle Queen(22~15), Sea Hydra(21), Gold Dragon(20), Mighty Blow(19), Vital Mission(18), White Knight(17), The People’s Champion(16~14), Rage(15), Forcemage Apprentice(14~1), Rain of Fire(13), Unquenchable Thirst(12~0), Priestess of Angeline(11~0), Crystal Golem(10), Thrasher Demon(9), Watchful Gargoyle(8), Wolf Companion(7), Final Task(6), Wurm Hatchling(5~0), Feint(4), Army of the Apocalypse(3), Secret Legion(2), Word of Summoning(1)
Weak Faction Specific (24)
Corpse Taker(24), Surprise Attack(23), Angelic Protector(22), Lord of the Arena(21), Memory Spirit(20), Pyromancer(19), Pack Alpha(18), Strafing Dragon(17~3), Spike Trap(16), Hunting Raptors(15~1), Trihorror(14), Winter Fairy(13), Rampaging Wurm(12), Wither(11), Djinn of the Sands(10), Angel of Light(9~5), Avenging Angel(8), Vampire Lord(7), Dark Knight(6), Forked Lightning(5), Standard Bearer(4), Rally the People(3), Soul Hunter(2), Inner Peace(1)
Evil: Drinker of Blood (1, 4)
Sage: Ogre Mercenary (1, 1)
Wild: Burrowing Wurm (1, 3)
Courageous Soul(5), Drinker of Blood(4), Burrowing Wurm(3), Faithful Pegasus(2), Ogre Mercenary(1)
Not Worth Drafting (9)
Good: Priest of Kalnor (1, 2)
Sage: Warrior Golem (1, 7)
Dark Leader(9), Infernal Gatekeeper(8), Warrior Golem(7), Wolf’s Call(6), The Risen(5), Demon Breach(4), Plentiful Dead(3), Priest of Kalnor(2), Bellowing Minotaur(1)
Next week (week of 2/29/16) I will probably take a break from Epic strategy articles. After that, my next planned Epic article is an example draft with commentary.
All Epic Card Game images are owned by White Wizard Games, Copyright 2016.
Tzaar is a 2-player tile-hunting game. Create stacks to hunt 1 type of your opponent’s tiles to extinction, but be careful because they are doing the same to you. Even though the rules are simple, avoiding bigger stacks, setting traps, and balancing stacking/hunting makes this a high-intensity game.
Baseball Highlights: 2045 is a series of baseball mini-games broken up by team upgrades. Each card offers varying offensive and defensive capabilities, and the goal is to build a team that outperforms your opponent’s. Countering your opponent’s upgrades and outmaneuvering them in mini-games is exhilarating.
This is a low-strategy game, and it’s fun. Frequently, my favorite part of gaming is testing new strategies. So, I generally prefer games with a lot of strategic choice or games with unique strategies. This game offers neither, but I enjoy playing it anyway. I can play this game with most groups and have a great time.
Each player is trying to make the most money by betting on a camel race.
How to Play
Roll all 5 dice, each die color matches the color of a camel. Put each camel onto the starting space dictated by its corresponding die. All camels with the same starting space must be placed on top of each other to form a “camel stack” (even a single camel is considered a camel stack). In setup, it does not matter which camel is on top. During the game, the camel on top of a stack is farther ahead then the camel(s) below it.
Each player selects a character and takes the matching set of 5 cards, matching obstacle tile, and 3 Egyptian Pounds (Victory Points).
The overall camel race is divided into multiple legs. A leg ends when every camel’s die has been rolled.
On a player’s turn, they must take 1 of 4 actions:
- Advance the camels
To advance the camels, the current player takes a pyramid tile worth 1 Egyptian pound. Then, they pick up the pyramid, shake it, place it face down on the board, push the insert so one die comes out, and then set that die aside. Finally, move the camel that matches the color of the die that many spaces forward. (Every die can roll a 1, 2, or 3 with a 1/3 chance of each.)
Any camels on top of that camel stay on top as it moves; this is a camel stack. If the camel stack ends its move in a space with another camel stack, put the stack that just moved on top. They are now a single camel stack.
Once all 5 dice have been rolled, the leg ends. Leg bets (explained below) are resolved, and then all 5 dice are put back in the pyramid for the next leg.
As soon as a camel stack crosses the finish line, the game immediately wraps up.
- Place your Obstacle
Each player has an obstacle tile that shows an oasis on one side and a mirage on the other. A player may place, move, and/or flip this tile as an action. An obstacle tile may not be immediately adjacent to another obstacle tile. Whenever a camel stack ends its movement on a tile, the tile’s owner gains 1 Egyptian Pound, and the camel stack moves.
If a camel stack ends its movement on an oasis side-up tile, that camel stack moves one more space forward. The camel stack would go on top of any camel stack in that space.
If a camel stack ends its movement on a mirage side-up tile, that camel stack moves one space backward. The camel stack would go underneath any camel stack already in that space.
- Take a Leg Bet
Bet which camel will be in first at the end of the leg by taking a tile of the matching color. The first bet for each color rewards 5 Egyptian Pounds, if that camel is in first at the end of the leg. The second bet rewards 3, and the third bet rewards 2. If that camel comes in second for the leg, that tile is worth only 1 Egyptian Pound. If it comes in third or worse, that tile loses you 1 Egyptian Pound. Once the leg is over, take your won Egyptian Pounds and then return the tiles for the next leg.
With regard to camel stacks, the camel on top is farther ahead than the camels below it.
- Place an Overall Race Bet
Place one of your cards representing a camel into one of two piles. If you think that camel will win the overall race, put it in the left pile. If you think that camel will lose the overall race, put it in the right pile. Each wrong bet will cost you 1 Egyptian Pound. However, the earliest correct bet rewards the most.
End of Game
As soon as a camel stack crosses the finish line, the game immediately wraps up. The current leg betting tiles are resolved. Then the race bets are resolved. Finally, the player with the most Egyptian Pounds is declared the winner.
This is a high-luck game; it is a betting game after all. Early, high-risk bets have the most potential gain. Later low-risk bets are less valuable but more guaranteed. The ideal bets in the game are when you can take a 5 on a color with a greater then 2/3 probability of success. For example, only the blue and orange camels have yet to move in this leg. Blue will win unless orange is rolled first, and it is a 3. So, you should generally pick blue to win (even if only the blue 3 and 2 bets are left.) I, on the other hand, would much rather pick orange, especially if the orange 5 bet is available.
I am a very competitive person. Also, I haven’t always been the best winner/loser. (I have gotten much better recently though.) Because of these things, Camel Up is perfect for me. I place those high-risk high-reward bets, and I really ham it up. I put a lot of effort into building the excitement and anticipation. (Admittedly I did have to force it a bit at first, but it comes naturally now.) So, if the fates align and I win the bet, it feels great for me. If I lose the bet, it feels really great for everyone else, and it doesn’t bother me much since it was a long shot anyways. In addition, not doing great in one leg doesn’t knock you out of the game. I am able to play to win, enhance the fun for myself and everyone else, and don’t really care if I lose.
The pyramid for rolling the dice works really well for this game, and the pyramid is pretty cool too. The art is great, and I really enjoy playing as essentially Nigel Thornberry from the old Thornberry cartoon. In addition, the camels stacking on top of each other is excellent. Gameplay wise, the camel stacks make for a lot of really interesting situations. One camel could be 6 spaces ahead of the last camel. Then, that last camel hops onto a stack. That stack then moves that camel twice, and now that last place camel is on top of the first place camel. Crazy stuff like that happens frequently.
If you are looking for a high-strategy game, this is not that game. It is, however, a really fun, high-luck experience that works with most groups and ages. This is actually the favorite game of my friend’s 8-year-old brother, and it is one of my dad’s favorite games as well. For me, it is one of the games I frequently break out with people new to gaming. I do recommend trying this game, but don’t expect rich strategy. (Obstacle placing can be pretty interesting though.)