Transparency Update

As a matter of transparency, I have updated my “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” text to read: “At least 1 post per week (frequently 2 or 3): Primarily Epic Card Game strategy articles. Game reviews and other game-related posts are possible as well.” As opposed to “Approximately 3 posts per week: strategy articles (frequently Epic Card Game), game reviews, and other game-related posts.”

At this point, new content will primarily focus on Epic related topics (at least for now), and these articles generally tend to take longer to write. By going down to “at minimum 1 post per week,” I should be able to more easily and consistently produce high-quality articles without the need to count short announcements like these to artificially reach the 3 posts per week goal. (This also frees up a bit more time to stream and work on learning video editing. On that point, expect a big announcement in the next few days.)

Core Tier Charts (Evil Update)

I have updated my Dark Draft, Core-Only, Tier Charts article to include my Evil tier charts, included below. In addition, I have added a bit of clarification to the article. I did decide to go with 2 charts per alignment, a pick 1 chart and a pick 2/3 chart since there is enough difference to warrant it based on how I draft.

Evil Commitment Pick 1 Chart

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Evil Commitment Pick 2/3 Chart

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Dark Draft, Core-Only, Tier Charts


Now that I have had a significant amount of time to play a bunch of core-only dark drafts, I have updated my ratings. If you want even more dark draft content, check out my main dark draft article.

Tier Charts Explanation

Instead of my overall ranking scheme ranging from Always First Picakable…Situationally Desirable…Rarely Playable, I have broken down the cards by tier based on overall power level and how highly I value them. In addition, due to the dramatically shifting value of cards throughout a dark draft, I have decided to create 9 tier charts:

  1. Pack 1 Pick 1/Uncommitted Chart
  2. Evil Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3
  3. Good Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3
  4. Sage Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3
  5. Wild Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3

Every draft begins with the Pack 1 Pick 1/Uncommitted Chart. Once you have decided to commit to an alignment, you then switch to that alignment’s charts and ignore the other charts.

Cards within a tier (S-Tier, Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4, Tier 5, Tier 6, Tier 7) are roughly equivalent in power. Inner-tier differences are minor and vary based on other cards in the pack and my mood that draft.

Finally, some tiers have multiple columns. For instance, Tier 1 has a neutral column and a ‘-‘ column. Cards in the ‘-‘ column are a bit weaker than cards in the neutral column. Tier 3 has a ‘+’ column, neutral column, and ‘-‘ column. Cards in the ‘+’ column are a bit stronger than the neutral column, and cards in the ‘-‘ column are a bit weaker.

Brief Reasoning Behind My Changes

Below I touch on why some of my card ratings are different here than in my main article.

Burn/Health Gain

In Core only, there is a higher concentration of burn cards than in any other format. Due to this, it is much easier to assemble a large amount of burn. Against unprepared opponents, this can be very strong; however, burn can also be fairly easy to counter with cards like Inner Peace. Therefore, the worthwhile health gain cards are fairly high on my list.

0-Cost Champions (Blitzers)

0-cost champions like Dark Knight, Guilt Demon, and Thrasher Demon are even harder to effectively answer in core-only than they are in other formats. This makes them some of the best cards to create early pressure without committing your gold. Recycle 0-cost cards work in a similar way: they let you develop a threat while neither committing your gold nor losing a card in hand. Therefore, all of these cards are tier 1 cards.

In other words, these are frequently the best cards to play to get ahead, since they allow you to hold your gold and use it to stay ahead. They take the place of 1-cost establishing champions allowing you to more aggressively use powerful gold-punishers.


Due to the greater value I place on Evil’s 0-cost blitzers, I am more likely to be able to support Evil Loyalty 2 cards now. This makes going Evil less risky than it was for me in the past. In addition, Evil has the absolute best rewards for committing to it…hmmm, thematically interesting.

Pack 1 Pick 1/Uncommitted Chart

Since this is the Pack 1 Pick 1 chart, I attempted to organize all of the cards in a tier from my first pick in that tier to my last pick. That being said, the cards are so similar in strength that choosing between them is largely a matter of personal preference. Further, as you get deeper into a draft, these intra-tier rankings break down quite quickly based on what you have already drafted and what you still need.

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Alignment Committed Charts

Once I commit to an alignment, my valuation of certain cards change. Primarily, powerful in-alignment Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards dramatically increase in value, while off-alignment Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards drop in value. In addition, certain off-alignment cards change value because they either work well with that alignment (Ancient Chant in Evil) or work poorly with that alignment (Inner Peace in Pick 2/3 Wild).

Differences Between Pick 1 and Pick 2/3 Charts

I love to counter draft. This can either involve drafting cards to counter what your opponent is doing (taking Flash Fire to stop a Courageous Soul->Secret Legion strategy), or it can involve drafting cards your opponent would like to draft. For these tier charts, I am focusing on the latter.

The primary reason there is a difference between my Pick 1 and Pick 2/3 charts is I firmly believe in taking the best overall card in a pack as opposed to the best card for my deck, in pick 1 (most of the time). For example, say we are drafting an Evil-Alignment deck and get the pack above. Angel of Death is the best card for my deck because it is a board clear that leaves behind a 6/5 airborne body. Generically however, Palace Guard is the best card with Divine Judgement being strong as well. (Burrowing Wurm and Dark Leader are bad.)

If I take Angel of Death, my opponent easily takes Palace Guard and Divine Judgement. I get 1 amazing card for my deck and my opponent gets 2 great cards for theirs. Instead, I would usually take the Palace Guard here. This leaves my opponent with a snap pick Divine Judgement, and unless they are also going Evil (which is unlikely if I am going Evil), they have a choice between 3 bad cards for their deck. In this scenario, I get 1 very strong card, and my opponent gets 1 strong card and 1 weak card. I much prefer this second outcome.

In Pick 2/3 of a pack, since my opponent can’t get any of the cards I don’t take, I can freely take the strongest cards for my deck.

Evil Committed Charts

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, Ancient Chant, Winter Fairy, and Djinn of the Sands move up a tier in Evil. This is due to the fact that Evil has no “draw 2 and” cards in Core only, and their draw overall is weak.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Evil

I commit to Evil when I draft a Medusa, Murderous Necromancer, or Necromancer Lord, usually in pick 2/3 of a pack, preferably by pack 4ish. These are 3 of the most powerful cards in core set only.

If I see that my opponent passes me one of these cards early in a draft, that is a pretty large signal that they are not going Evil, and I am immediately rewarded for going Evil. Even if my opponent tries to deny me Evil cards for the rest of the draft, I have plenty of time to gain enough Evil cards to be able to hit my loyalty effect(s) reliably. In addition, if my opponent doesn’t also try to draft Evil, cards like Necromancer Lord, Angel of Death, Murderous Necromancer, Dark Assassin, and Plentiful Dead are nearly worthless to them so they are more likely to be passed to me.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Good Committed Chart

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, card draw effects are slightly reduced in tier (for example Ancient Chant and Winter Fairy) due to incredibly powerful Good cards with draw effects like Noble Unicorn and White Knight.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Good

I don’t commit to Good often in draft. This is partially because, unlike Evil, there are no Good Loyalty 2/Ally cards that are strong enough to get me to commit to Good by themselves. Instead, to commit to Good I must have already incidentally drafted 2+ overall decent Good cards (Noble Unicorn, White Knight, Angel of Light), and then get passed a strong commitment reward card like Angel of Mercy or High King for a pick 2/3.

Good is a risky alignment to draft, particularly in Core Only. This is because so many of their best cards (Noble Unicorn, White Knight, and Angel of Light) are strong enough in a non-Good deck that your opponent could counter draft them or just incidentally take them without much downside.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Sage Committed Chart

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, generic draw 2 cards are slightly decreased in value since Sage has great drawing cards. Board clears are slightly increased in Pick 1 Sage because counter-drafting board clears helps to protect your big untargetable champions, namely Steel Golem. There are also a few other small differences between charts. For example, Ancient Chant is higher in Pick 1 chart because Psionic Assault is strong in a Sage deck, and Ancient Chant almost completely negates Psionic Assault. Avenging Angel is also higher than usual because with the forced discard and control in Sage, Avenging Angel is frequently harder for your opponent to effectively remove while staying competitive in other aspects of the game.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Sage

I have not been committing to Sage often in Core only. The main reason for this is, while Sage has all 4 of the S-Tier cards Amnesia, Sea Titan, Thought Plucker, and Muse in addition to Ogre Mercenary, Erase, etc., the Sage commitment cards aren’t as overwhelmingly powerful as other alignments. Committing to Sage also doesn’t dramatically increase the draftable card pool for you, unlike Evil and Good.

Generally, I commit to Sage when I’m midway or further through the draft, I haven’t committed to a different alignment, I have already drafted a decent number of generic Sage cards, and I come across cards like Steel Golem, Psionic Assault, Juggernaut, Time Walker, Ice Drake, or Warrior Golem. However, since only Time Walker among these is terrible without Loyalty or a plethora of ally triggers, I occasionally shift my alignment commitment later in the draft if I come across powerful non-Sage alignment cards that I can support. For instance, if it is pack 8 and I come across Medusa while I have 8ish other incidental Evil cards, there is a decent chance I take Medusa and focus on supporting Evil going forward.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Wild Committed Chart

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, Wild’s card evaluations are heavily based around their goal of burning out your opponent, particularly in Core-Only. Strafing Dragon and Hunting Raptors are rewards for going Wild, and they help you reach a critical mass of burn at the same time. The more burn you have, the stronger it becomes (to an extent) since you can kill your opponent from  a higher health total without having to get as much attack damage through.

Due to this burn-slanted evaluation, health gain is a high-priority counter-draft in pick 1, but it drops off significantly in pick 2/3. Not only do you not need to counter-draft health gain pick 2/3, but if you draft most of the burn and deny it to your opponent, health gain is significantly less valuable. I also value board clears a bit less in Wild because a significant amount of Wild’s damage doesn’t rely on maintaining champions in play.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Wild

I practically never go Wild in Core-Only. I feel like Wild can be incredibly devastating against opponents that don’t prepare for the burn kill, but I think countering the burn kill isn’t that hard to do. Drafting Inner Peace can make a burn out victory nearly impossible, and a well-timed Drain Essence can give a player enough time to out-race burn.

That being said, Raging T-Rex is absolutely incredible. If I get passed T-Rex when I haven’t already committed to a faction, I get very tempted.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

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Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

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I still need to create charts for Good, Sage, and Wild, but feel free to ask for clarification/ask questions on anything I have included so far in the comments below. Always happy to answer Epic questions.

Rules Update

Recently WWG updated a few of their rules partially based on their experience with the app. These are fairly minor changes that help speed up the game, and I like them. You can check out their article on it here. Rob and Nathan also discussed the changes, took some questions, and played some Epic on a recent twitch stream.

Initiative Passing

The biggest changes have to deal with passing initiative in combat and at the end of turns.


Previously combat worked like this (AP = Attacking Player, DP = Defending Player):

1) AP Declares attacking champion(s)

2a) AP may play cards and activate abilities (“make plays”)
2b) DP may play cards and activate abilities (“make plays”)
2c) If DP made any plays, return to 2a. Otherwise, proceed to 3

3) DP Declares defending champion(s)

4a) AP may “make plays”
4b) DP may “make plays”
4c) If DP made any plays, return to 4a. Otherwise, proceed to 5

5) Assign damage

Essentially, the Defending Player would always be the last person to pass in order to advance to the next step.

Now combat works like this:

1) AP Declares attacking champion(s)

2a) AP may “make plays”
2b) DP may advance to 3 (declare blockers) or may “make plays.” If they make any plays, advance to 2c
2c) AP may advance to 3 (declare blockers) or may “make plays.” If they make any plays, advance to 2b

3) DP Declares defending champion(s)

4a) DP may “make plays”
4b) AP may advance to 5 (assign damage) or may “make plays.” If they make any plays, advance to 4c
4c) DP may advance to 5 (assign damage) or may “make plays.” If they make any plays, advance to 4b

5) Assign damage

Assuming no one makes any plays initiative passing/choice making looks like this:

1) AP

2a) AP
2b) DP

3) DP

4a) DP
4b) AP

5) –

After combat) AP


Now, the Defending Player has the first opportunity to “make plays” after blockers are declared. Not only does this reduce the number of times initiative is passed in combat by 1 (assuming no one plays anything), but it also slightly buffs the attacker in combat.

For example, I attack with Raging T-Rex while I have Rage in hand. My opponent blocks with Noble Unicorn while they have Hasty Retreat in hand. My opponent plans on using Hasty Retreat no matter what because they don’t want their Unicorn to die.


As the attacker, I don’t know my opponent plans on playing Hasty Retreat, so I play Rage on my T-Rex since, if my opponent doesn’t “make any plays” I’ll lose my opportunity to play it and lose 10 potential damage. When my opponent then gains the initiative, they play Hasty Retreat and not only save their Unicorn and return my T-Rex to hand, but they also get a free negation of my Rage in the process.


The defender gets the first chance to play events. If they play Hasty Retreat now, they can protect their Unicorn; however, they will not be able to draw out my Rage. If, on the other hand, they know I have Rage because I revealed it for loyalty earlier, they could opt to pass initiative. If I play my Rage, my opponent may then Hasty Retreat my champion. But, I (as the attacker) now get the choice to either accept the current state of combat and break the Noble Unicorn, or I can play my Rage to try to get 10 damage through.

Due to this, the attacker gets a very slight advantage over the defender, or more precisely, the attacker loses a disadvantage they originally had.

End of Turn

Essentially, the non-current player was always the last player to pass before. Now, the turn can end after 2 consecutive passes.

Before, when the current player tried to end their turn and their opponent “made a play,” the current player was immediately thrust back into their main phase. From there, the current player could have either played more cards, made more attacks, or attempted to end their turn again. When the current player tried to end their turn again, their opponent could make another play and repeat this process.

Now, if the current player tries to end their turn and their opponent “makes a play,” the current player can either go back to their main phase in order to play cards/declare attacks, or the current player can immediately end the turn.

In other words, the non-current player no longer gets the last pass before the turn ends.

The main thing this eliminates (besides extra initiative passes in the app) is the ability to play a single card at the end of your opponent’s turn, see if they have a response, play another single card, see if they have a response, play another single card, etc. until you no longer want to play cards.

For example,
Opponent: “I try to end my turn”
You: “Okay, I play Muse, pass”
Opponent: *Sigh* “I try to end my turn again”
You: “No Wither? Okay, I play second Muse, pass”
Opponent: *Longer Sigh* “I try to end my turn again”
You: “Pass”

Now, if you pass after playing your first Muse, your opponent can end the turn before you get the chance to play your second Muse. You either need to risk playing both Muses (hoping your opponent has no Wither), or you can hedge against Wither, but risk only getting one Muse in play.


As I said, I am in favor of these changes. For the most part, they have almost no effect on gameplay (particularly the mulligan order change I didn’t bother discussing: second player mulligans first now), they make defender initiative passes less obvious, and they help attacking a tiny bit.

Epic Theory: An Introduction to Deck 2

greylag is an Epic-loving goose who prowls the BGG forums and, now, the alpha app. She loves the weird stuff in Epic: pulling things from discard piles, odd little card combinations and, always, mass death via zombies. And somehow, she always seems to end up theorising the games she plays…

I’ve had a lot of fun with the puzzle contests run on Tom’s blog, in which we’re given a challenge: play as many champions as you can in one turn, or see how much total offense/defense you can get. The numbers possible in those challenges are ridiculous, but they’d be impossible to achieve without the puzzle rule which says you can decide exactly what card you’d get on every draw. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that ability in normal Epic? Good news: you can. Well, sort of.

I’m going to give a name to the 30-card deck you start your game with: Deck 1. (I won’t be talking about Constructed here, because I don’t think what I have to say really applies to 60-card decks. If you think it does – cool. Say how in the comments.) Deck 1 is shuffled before you start the game, you draw 5 cards out of it, you can mulligan if you want. Your next 20-25 draws (depending on how many cards you mulliganed) are your Deck 1, and are completely random – all you know is which cards were shuffled to form Deck 1 in the first place, or perhaps not even that in Random 30.

But if the game goes on long enough, probably something interesting will happen. You’ll hit a card you’ve seen before. In most cases, this will be one of the cards you mulliganed; otherwise it’ll be the first card you recycled or which was banished, usually from play or discard. This card is the first card of Deck 2. Deck 2 is fundamentally different from Deck 1: Deck 2 is ordered. You probably don’t know the exact order, but you can potentially know a lot.

Let’s limit it to the (alpha) app for now. Looking at the game log, you can see a complete list of what’s happened. From that, you can pretty much see what was recycled and banished and when. In the case of recycles, you get to choose the order of the two cards. In the case of 2+ cards being banished, they are shuffled before being put on the bottom of the deck, but you still know which cards were in each group of banished cards.

More formally, Deck 2 is an ordered list of card groups. If all those groups are just 1 card in size, it’s an ordered list which you can have perfect information about. If the groups are larger, you still have a huge amount of information.

Let’s call the first group in Deck 2 the marker group. Once you see a (or the) card in the marker group, you know from now on pretty much what you will draw, almost every time you draw. If you play Mist Guide Herald (not in the app yet), you can make a good guess at which champions might be revealed out of the 5 cards. If you Surprise Attack, you can guess what’s coming up, and same with Fairy Trickster.

What does this mean for play? My suggestions are:

  1. Memorise the marker group. This is usually but not the same as: remember which card(s) you mulliganed. Once you see a card in the marker group, you can start checking the game log to see what might be coming up next.

  2. Memorise your opponent’s effective marker group. Interestingly, this will usually be different to the cards they are memorising for their own marker group, because you don’t know what they mulliganed. But since you don’t know their hand or their mulliganed cards at the start of the game, it doesn’t matter. All 25 of the cards in their deck (however many they mulliganed) are unknown, and so practically for your purposes you’re interested in the first time they will draw a card you know.

  3. If you want a rough guess at when your marker cards will be coming up, use the figure of “25 turns, less mulligans, less 1 per recycle”. If a player spends their gold every turn, to keep up on cards they will need to draw a card on average once every turn. (This often works out as 2 natural draws and one draw 2 every 2 turns.) This means 25 turns to draw through the deck. 0-cost recycles (practically all the recycles) accelerate the arrival of Deck 2 because they generally replace a card in hand with a fresh draw. For your opponent’s marker cards, use the same rule of thumb but discount mulligans (see point 2 above).

  4. You can card count if you want to and know exactly when both players’ marker cards (yours, and your opponents’ effective markers) will be coming up. This is very laborious in the current state of the app, though it may get easier if/when WWG update the game log. Basically, just make a note every time there is a draw, and have your card totals in mind. 26 draws will put your opponent’s first effective marker in their hand, and 26 less mulligans will put your first marker card in yours.

  5. Expansions make this even more interesting. Mist Guide Herald brings you 4 cards closer to Deck 2 when you play it. Play it twice, and you’re 1/3 of the way there already. However, it also makes your Deck 2 more unpredictable, since you’re banishing 4-card groups which are internally random. Only the last card of each group can be predicted perfectly. Arcane Research and to some extent Fairy Trickster also accelerate Deck 1 into Deck 2.

  6. There’s a special note to Arcane Research, which is that if you know how many cards remain in Deck 1 and you’re looking for a particular card – say, Flame Strike – you know exactly how many you need to banish to be sure of seeing that card. And if you’re already in Deck 2, Arcane Research is in theory a precision tool. For this reason, if Arcane Research is in my opening hand, and I’m not running an aggressive deck, I almost always want to mulligan it, to ensure I will draw it when it is most useful.

What you do with the information above is up to you. There is more to be written about the strategy of how you compose your Deck 2, and what you want in it. There are also interesting points around the fact that both players’ Deck 2s are built collaboratively. Both you and your opponent will be acting to compose your Deck 2, and these choices can be in tension with what is best for the current board state. (Do you banish their good card from discard now, so they can’t get it back, but know it will come earlier in their Deck 2? Or do you banish a number of other cards first, betting they can’t recur it from discard right away, so that they won’t get that Flame Strike until late in Deck 2?)

But I hope I’ve at least made you think about the possibilities of what it means when a game of Epic becomes semi-deterministic in terms of drawn cards. You get the possibility to re-enact the opening moves of the game, but this time with all your questions answered. Do they have Lash, for their Kong or for your Thought Plucker? Now you know, and can play accordingly.

Saturday Dark Draft Stream Snipe Raw Footage

Just finished uploading the raw footage from yesterday’s Dark Draft Stream Snipe sessions to youtube: part 1, part 2

I was able to get 15 drafts/games in against 13 different opponents. Throughout I provided explanations and commentary on my picks and plays. Let me know if this is something you want to see more of specifically.

Dark Draft Saturday

Dark Draft Evolution

Now that I have had plenty of chance to draft against new opponents in the Epic Digital core only alpha, my dark draft strategy has shifted. The gist of the shift involves a much higher evaluation of 0-cost cards and health gain (health gain specific to core only). Dark Knight is also near the absolute top of my picks, and Amnesia has been passed up a few times in favor of other cards. (So far I’ve decked out for a win once and lost to my opponent decking out once.)

Dark Draft Saturday (4/8/17)

Instead of writing up a new article (yet), I’ve decided to stream 8 hours of drafting on Saturday. 8am-12pm CST (1pm-5pm UTC) and 4pm-8pm CST (9pm-1am UTC).

During these times I will be live at I will be accepting Dark Draft challenges from viewers. In addition, I encourage new players to challenge me and continue watching/listening as we play (stream snipe) as I explain my thought process behind my picks and plays. I’ll also answer questions mid/post game and provide any other constructive feedback that comes to mind. While I’ll be playing to win, my goal will be to help grow everyone’s understanding of the game, or at least share my understanding of the game.