This is the list I used to go 3-0-2 with 2 intentional draws. I did not lose a game with this list.
If you don’t like your first card pool, you are able to mulligan. If you do, you get a new list of 56 cards with between 12 and 16 cards in each faction. If you don’t like your second pool, you are stuck with it.
When I first go over my list, I look for
strong faction-independent cards (solid arrow:),
strong faction-dependent cards (dashed arrow: ),
strategy-dependent cards like Revolt (line:),
effectively unplayable cards (line through: ),
generally unplayable cards (dashed line through: )
All cards without a mark are viable, but not incredible.
(**Edit** As long as WWG can tell what your deck contents are and you put your name on your sheet, they do not care if you mark up your sheet.)
Kong, Lightning Storm, Lightning Strike, Smash and Burn, Chomp!, Hurricane, Raging T-Rex, and Lurking Giant make this a very solid Wild pool (even with only 14 Wild cards). Ankylosaurus and Cave Troll are also pretty strong in a Wild heavy deck. Fire Shaman can be as well, but I don’t value it too highly.
For the most part though, my strongest Wild cards don’t need a heavy Wild investment (aside from T-Rex). Even Smash and Burn can be reliably used with minimal 1-cost Wild cards.
Psionic Assault + Thought Plucker is super nasty. Juggernaut is an insanely powerful card that almost always performs amazingly for me. (Fumble, Angelic Protector, and Blind Faith work nicely against it though.) Hasty Retreat, Muse, and Sea Titan are also incredible, while Ice Drake and Ancient Chant can be strong too.
I used to think Djinn of the Sands was one of the worst cards in Epic. Now, I think it is incredible. An 8/8 airborne blitz that can also draw 1 or more cards is pretty strong, unless you are behind.
Ice Drake, Juggernaut, Psionic Assault, Shadow Imp, and Keeper of Secrets make me want to go heavy Sage. I also love Sage and think it is very strong in general.
My Evil pool has a few standout incredible cards, but it doesn’t have the depth for a major commitment.
Drain Essence and Raxxa’s Curse are superb. Dark Knight, Apocalypse, Plague, Necrovirus, and Bitten are also fairly strong by themselves.
Army of the Apocalypse seems unlikely to be great for me, and I am probably not going wide enough to warrant Demon Breach.
Since I have access to both Kong and Sea Titan, Corpse Taker is super relevant. Not to mention Juggernaut, Thought Plucker, and Djinn.
I came into this draft wanting to build a Good-faction deck very, very badly. Good is rarely played, and it is thought to be weak, so I wanted to win with it. (I also think that it is fairly weak in limited/draft formats.) Seeing 17 Good cards I got excited.
Human tokens seem like the most viable path for Good in limited and I had access to: Courageous Soul, Insurgency, Rabble Rouser, Secret Legion, Standard Bearer, The People’s Champion, and Urgent Messengers.
Angel of Mercy and Royal Escort also reward a Good investment. Avenging Angel, Angelic Protector, Gold Dragon, Inheritance of the Meek, and Watchful Gargoyle are also all viable cards by themselves.
Second Wind I did not value at all in previous drafts/limited formats, but other people love it so I was willing to reconsider.
I decided not to mulligan this card pool because I thought I might have enough strong Good to make it worthwhile. If not, I also had insanely strong cards in my other factions. Unfortunately, I had neither Amnesia nor Heinous Feast so I would almost certainly lose in a decking race against any deck that had either.
In the second pass, I weed out all of the cards that almost certainly won’t be in the deck, and I pick the cards that almost certainly will be in the deck.
- Full strike-through for not in deck
- Dashed strike-through for almost certainly not in deck
- Star for in deck
- Dashed star for almost certainly in deck
- Arrow for probably in deck
- Unmarked for possibly in deck
- Cards with Squares around them work in the Human Token Strategy
I spent a long time trying to convince myself to run human tokens, but there just wasn’t enough. Not having Revolt is incredibly problematic because it is probably the best card for the strategy, near the same importance as Insurgency. The People’s Champion also wasn’t great because I didn’t have many 1-cost cards I wanted to use to trigger the ally triggers. The ones I had were too situational, aside from Royal Escort and Angelic Protector, but even those weren’t consistent enough.
I might have gone Good if I had access to High King, Noble Unicorn, Palace Guard, Markus Watch Captain, Paros Rebel Leader, and/or Quell (aside from Revolt).
So, I decided to go with a Sage-centric deck with splashes in the other factions.
Since I had 35 cards with either arrows or better after my second pass, I primarily worked on cutting my deck down to 30 from there. Struck-through cards after the second pass were set aside with dotted-struck-through cards on top. Cards without an arrow were kept visible during this process in case I changed my mind and decided to include one or more later, but I do not include them initially in the lists below.
To decide which cards to cut, I analyze my distribution of draw effects, slow effects, removal effects, 0-cost effects, burn effects, and blitz effects.
Italicized cards are cards I have decided I will definitely run. Cards that were italicized in a previous section are put at the top of each sub-section (Solid Star cards for example). At the end of each section I explain my reasoning for the newly italicized cards.
Struck-through cards are removed cards. Cards that were struck-through in a previous section are put at the bottom of each sub-section. At the end of each section I explain my reasoning for the newly struck-through cards.
Adequate card draw is one of the most important aspects of a solid Epic deck. In limited, I ideally want about half my deck to have draw/recall capabilities. It is a lot less detrimental to rely on “-or- draw 2” cards in limited, as opposed to constructed.
1-Cost Champions that Draw a Card (2 guaranteed, 2 possible, 4 total)
Juggernaut, Thought Plucker
Djinn of the Sands
1-Cost Draw 2 and… Cards (1 guaranteed, 2 possible, 3 total)
Smash and Burn
-Or- Draw 2 Cards (3 guaranteed, 6 possible, 9 total)
Lightning Strike, Hasty Retreat, Raxxa’s Curse
Inheritance of the Meek
Recycle (0 guaranteed, 2 possible, 2 total)
Keeper of Secrets
Recall (2 guaranteed, 0 possible, 2 total)
Lightning Storm, Psionic Assault
Miscellaneous (1 guaranteed, 2 possible, 3 total)
No Draw/Recall (3 guaranteed, 9 possible, 12 total)
Kong, Sea Titan, Drain Essence
At this point I am only potentially running 12 cards that don’t draw/replenish in some way. Therefore, no cuts or guarantees from this distribution pass.
Slow vs Fast Effects
Fast effects are insanely important for Epic. In general, I want my decks to stay around or below 1/3 slow cards.
Fast (8 guaranteed, 0 struck-through, 13 possible, 21 total)
Lightning Storm, Lightning Strike, Hasty Retreat, Muse, Psionic Assault, Thought Plucker, Drain Essence, Raxxa’s Curse, Urgent Messengers,
Smash and Burn
Inheritance of the Meek
Your Turn Fast (0 guaranteed, 0 struck-through, 4 possible, 4 total)
Slow (3 guaranteed, 0 struck-through, 7 possible, 10 total)
Kong, Juggernaut, Sea Titan
Djinn of the Sands
Keeper of Secrets
Once again I am at my threshold for this distribution pass so no cuts yet.
I don’t have an approximate removal-effects-number that I use. I generally just try to pack as much removal into my decks as possible.
Targeted Slow Removal (2 guaranteed, 0 possible, 2 total)
Kong, Sea Titan
Targeted Fast Removal (5 guaranteed, 2 struck-through, 0 possible, 7 total)
Hasty Retreat, Drain Essence
Small Removal (5 guaranteed, 0 possible, 5 total)
Lightning Storm, Lightning Strike, Raxxa’s Curse
Smash and Burn
Board Clears (5 guaranteed, 0 possible, 5 total)
Inheritance of the Meek
Miscellaneous (0 guaranteed, 2 possible, 2 total)
Non-Removal (5 guaranteed, 0 struck-through, 9 possible, 14 total)
Juggernaut, Muse, Psionic Assault, Thought Plucker, Urgent Messengers
Djinn of the Sands
Keeper of Secrets
Okay, here we go. I added 9 cards to the guaranteed list and more importantly cut 2 cards (Bitten and Necrovirus). 22 guaranteed, 2 struck-through, 11 possible, 35 total, 3 more cuts needed.
As of this point, I had no board clears. I like board clears, so I added them all. I also really like fast targeted removal. I decided to go with Chomp!, Transform, and Turn over Bitten and Necrovirus. Transform and Turn are nice because they help with my Sage loyalty and ally triggers. In addition, I only have one Evil 1-cost card so Necrovirus is less likely to trigger at all, let alone when I want it to.
I generally prefer Transform over Bitten because I am more likely to use a fast removal event on my opponent’s turn anyway, and transform is almost always better than break. While Turn can’t be used permanently on my opponent’s turn, it is crazy powerful on my turn with either mode.
Chomp!. I like Chomp! quite a bit. Chomp! is off-turn removal that can break most champions, and it gives no added benefit either. Sure, a lot of the time if you Chomp! a Triceratops or T-Rex it is a net loss for you regarding card advantage alone, but removing a 1-cost champion in play and spending your gold effectively on your opponent’s turn are both more important, frequently. If I have 6 or 7 cards in hand, I am happy to use one of them to remove a threat that drew two cards or put a demon into play. I still have plenty of cards in hand, and I go to my turn able to play an establishing champion as opposed to a reestablishing champion (reestablishing champions being considerably less common). Or, if I was already ahead on the board, this play keeps me ahead and forces my opponent to respond to me before I spend my gold on my turn.
In addition, Chomp! is great at punishing opponents for greedy/desperation plays of blitz champions (Avenging Angel, Djinn of the Sands, Draka Dragon Tyrant, etc.) while I still have my gold up.
Finally, Chomp! functions as another reliable Wild ally trigger. With Chomp! and Hurricane (in addition to Kong and Lightning Storm) I am comfortable including Smash and Burn.
I haven’t decided on an approximate number of 0-cost cards for limited yet, at least 3 and probably no more than 13. 0-cost cards shouldn’t be over-included, especially if you do not have much card draw, but they can also be the small edge that wins you a game. So, it’s hard to gauge. 0-cost “or draw 2” cards can effectively count as non-zeros, as long as you remember and don’t neglect drawing.
0-Cost (9 guaranteed, 0 struck-through, 2 possible, 9 total)
Lightning Strike, Hasty Retreat, Muse, Raxxa’s Curse
Keeper of Secrets
1-Cost (18 guaranteed, 2 struck-through, 6 possible, 26 total)
I had room for all of the 0-cost cards I was considering, and I have been wanting to include them so I did.
Keeper of Secrets is recycle on a body that I can easily trigger with my massive amount of Sage. In addition, it is the only discard removal I have (not including Corpse Taker).
Shadow Imp is strong as 2 unblockable damage for multiple turns that I can return to hand to protect after attacking. It also can function as a free chump block every turn. I use both of these functions, and they are nice.
Corpse Taker can get back Kong and Sea Titan. That alone makes it worthwhile.
Dark Knight is great to play on your turn before you spend your gold. It is unlikely that your opponent will have a 0-cost answer, so they either have to take 5 damage or burn their gold before you do. Either scenario is excellent for you. In addition, I do also have Time Walker and Sea Titan to return it to hand after attacking if desired.
I did not value Second Wind basically at all at Origins. A few people were shocked by this and let me know. So, I decided to run it with this list. It is pretty great. Damage is very difficult to push through in Epic. Therefore, 5 free health can be pretty huge, especially if your opponent wants to burn you out (how many games have been lost to Flame Strike?). In addition, even though recycling slows down your potential draw-out victory by one card, I am now of the opinion that the 5 health is more likely to help you survive long enough to actually be able to draw-out at all.
Burn is a category that I have been undervaluing in Epic. Since damage is so difficult to get through, direct damage is great at finishing off a player.
Burn (3 guaranteed, 0 struck-through, 0 possible, 3 total)
Lightning Storm, Plague
Miscellaneous (0 guaranteed, 0 possible, 0 total)
Non-Burn (25 guaranteed, 2 struck-through, 5 possible, 32 total)
This deck has minimal burn. Plague and Blue Dragon are stretching it. Blue Dragon is worth it for the extra burn, small removal, draw, and it is Sage.
1-cost Blitz champions are incredibly strong because they can punish an opponent for using her gold on your turn before you do. I like to have at least a couple.
1-Cost Blitz (3 guaranteed, 1 struck-through, 0 possible, 4 total)
Djinn of the Sands
Non 1-Cost Non-Blitz (24 guaranteed, 2 struck-through, 6 possible 32 total)
Djinn consistently impresses me. My favorite use is as essentially a Flame Strike to the face with an 8/8 airborne expended body attached. If you can pull your opponent’s gold out on your turn before you play this, it is highly likely Djinn will connect (unless Fumble, Watchful Gargoyle, etc.).
Avenging Angel is great in the same situation. It is 2 less damage, but it also gives you 6 health and forces your opponent to deal with it if they want to attack. In addition, it does have 6 defense so it can only be broken by a 1-cost card (sorry Lightning Strike) or multiple cards. Since I only want to use this after my opponent spent their gold, the “can’t be attacked while this is expended” is more valuable than the 2 extra defense on Gold Dragon. I also don’t have other Good champions that can benefit from Gold Dragon‘s righteous sharing.
The final two cards that got pushed out by the blitz champions were Lurking Giant and Ancient Chant. Lurking Giant is a great card, but I already had plenty of fast cards I could play on my opponent’s turn. I also had Kong and Sea Titan as massive bodies.
Ancient Chant is a great card, but my deck was already packed with draw/recall effects. If I needed to draw, I could draw. If I had Ancient Chant and needed to do something besides draw, Ancient Chant couldn’t help me there.
I did consider playing Arcane Research because it is a powerful card, but, as you can see, I chose not to. For the most part, there are very few cards I felt the need to tutor for (Magic: The Gathering term meaning search your deck, while this isn’t exactly the same, it is similar), Drain Essence and Lightning Storm are pretty much it. Aside from that, I was very happy with the layout of my deck.
Second, I had neither Amnesia nor Heinous Feast, so if I did a large Arcane Research, I pretty much guarantee a loss in a draw-out race. Third, I can always just play it by itself for 1 so it just replaces itself making my deck effectively 29 cards, but I am very pleased with every card in my deck, and I would rather not provide free information. Therefore, for this deck, I saw minimal benefit derived from including it. If I had Flame Strike and/or Amnesia/Heinous Feast, I would be much more willing to include it.
This deck is a fairly standard Get Ahead, Stay Ahead deck. Like almost all Epic decks (especially in Limited/Draft formats) it wants to go second.
This deck had a draw-out win in at least 2 of the 3 matches on Thursday. Having access to a lot of draw, the massive tempo champions Sea Titan and Kong (plus Corpse Taker), and a lot of board clears is quite nice for this type of win. Luckily I didn’t run into either Amnesia or Heinous Feast for those wins.
One of the games I won with Psionic Assault and Thought Plucker devastating my opponent’s hand, as they tend to do. I think that was also the game where I opened with Dark Knight attack, followed by Sea Titan to bounce it to my hand. Thankfully I chose not to replay the Dark Knight because I got hit by my opponent’s Psionic Assault that turn. Being able to discard the Dark Knight to go to 2 cards in hand was a lot better than if I had to discard down to 1 card.
Raxxa’s Curse broke a lot of Muses over the 3 matches, and it largely secured the early game of at least one of them.
Djinn of the Sands managed to get in for a lot damage after my opponents spent their gold. It was also a reliable threat in the deck-out races because it can’t be ignored. The potential to draw 3 cards with only one card is quite significant.
I am also willing to admit that I undervalued Second Wind. Not only is the 5 health by itself valuable, but when you combine it with the Drain Essence, 14 health becomes a really big deal. Not only does this protect you from burn effects like Flame Strike, but it also allows you to be more aggressive. When you have a 15+ health advantage on your opponent, you can afford to allow an attack or two through, if it allows you to get ahead elsewhere.
For example, I played a casual constructed game at Gen Con with Combative Humans where my opponent was able to get double Reaper into play. Needless to say, all of my threats got turned into demons for multiple turns as I tried to draw my answers. At the same time, my opponent also had demon tokens in play, and he attacked with them expecting to trade for my demon tokens. Instead, I chose to take around 12 damage in demon attacks over multiple turns, since I gained health from an Angel of Light or two. This kept my growing army of around 6 demon tokens alive.
After a couple turns, I drew into my Quell. I played it on my turn removing all of my opponent’s 1-cost blockers leaving him with a Corpse Taker and 1 prepared demon token. My demon tokens were then able to attack and win me the game that turn. If I would have traded my demon tokens, I would have had more health at this point, but I wouldn’t have been able to win at that moment. In general, it is frequently better to play to win as opposed to play to not lose. I used a similar concept to this to win game 2 of my third match, and to win game 3 of the finals.
In game 2 of match 3 in rounds I was able to establish a Sea Titan early. On the following turns, I cleared a path for my Sea Titan to hit twice at the cost of significant resources in my hand (Lightning Strike, Ice Drake, etc.). So, after a few turns my opponent was knocked within range of a Lightning Storm, Recall, Lightning Storm kill, but he had also managed to secure a board advantage and card advantage.
Since I had the Lightning Storm in hand, I played it on his turn to put him on a two-turn clock. After I played it, he realized I would kill him in two turns if nothing changed, but he said something along the lines of “I have Drain Essence so we can keep playing” (he had played it the first game where I had managed to draw-out first at the start of my turn when he only had 1 card left in deck). Going into my next turn, I spent a long time deciding what to do. I could recall my Lightning Storm, but if he had Drain Essence in hand, he would put himself comfortably out of range while I did nothing to disrupt his board and card advantages. I had a few other lines of attack to try and get my Sea Titan through, but they were all risky and potentially counterable. So, I decided to recall my Lightning Storm, leave my Sea Titan as a potential block and see if my opponent had Drain Essence in hand.
He did not. He did, however, have a draw 2 card to dig for it. At the start of his next turn, he burned a Blind Faith to recycle. Then he burned a Spike Trap. Finally, he spent his gold to draw 2. He turned over the next card, Drain Essence, and conceded. Because I took the chance and recalled Lightning Storm, I put myself into a position to outright win unless my opponent had one specific answer. Since he didn’t, I won. If I would have played around the Drain Essence, I probably wouldn’t have won on the recalled Lightning Storm turn, and I would have given my opponent enough time to draw into his Drain Essence. In either situation, if my opponent plays Drain Essence that game, my chance of winning decreases sharply. By forcing my opponent to have Drain Essence immediately, I was able to win that game and ID (Intentional Draw) into top 8.
I am going to be going into these dark drafts in detail in my major dark draft article(s) coming soon.
I built a strong deck from a strong pool in limited, and it allowed me to make it to top 8. I believe I out drafted my opponent in the quarter and semi finals, but I believe I was out drafted in the finals.
After 3 close games in the finals, I barely managed to come out on top and qualify for worlds. You can bet that I will go into significant detail on game 3 of the finals. If you watched it, you understand why.