Konan’s Epic Core Draft Insights

Hi everyone – my name in the Epic community is konan – some may also know me as konanTheBarbar from Solforge. I used to write limited and metagame article on www.ghoxssocks.com and was very active in the Solforge community. I actually played Solforge together with Jonah – TheAce – Acosta, who placed top8 in that last Epic World Championship and told me about the Epic kickstarter.

So while I’m fairly new to Epic – I had some good success in the currently ongoing Dark Draft tournaments.  My first Epic Dark Draft Tournament I won with a 5-1 record and in my second I won the swiss followed by the top8.

I read most of Tom’s articles about Epic and Dark Draft which helped me improve immensely – I think his Epic Core Dark Draft Tier List is really good – which is probably the only reason I haven’t started a tier list myself 😛

Tom asked me if I would be willing to share some of my insights here on his blog, and I thought it was a great idea. I will first write down some principles that are important for dark draft in general, but especially for the core only dark draft format. I will then try to give a visual example by going through my picks in the finals of the last dark draft tournament against kinger.

    • Never pass all burn and lifegain

This is a really important principle for dark draft in general, but more so for the core only format due to it’s high density of burn spells. While it is ok to pass the one or the other category, you should be aware of how easy it is get burned out if you haven’t picked up any lifegain. So (hate) picking burn becomes more important when you didn’t pick up any lifegain.

  • Keep track of potential counters –  most importantly bounce effects and board clears
    This is also true for any format, but in the core set there are only a very few cards of the given categories. If you pay attention during the drafting process, you can often get a very good understanding of which cards your opponent can have and try to exploit that knowledge as much as possible. For example, there are only Sea Titan and Erase as direct bounce effects, Time Walker (given sage loyalty), and Hasty Retreat when attacking. A card like Trihorror is very weak against bounce effects and can also be punished by Palace Guard and Banishment. But that’s about it. If you can rule those cards out, Trihorror suddenly becomes a really good threat! The same is true for the token sweepers. There are only Flash Fire and Wither, which are blowouts against Zombie and Wolf Tokens – if you have both or burned them – Wolf’s Call is actually a pretty solid punisher.
    While there are quite a few Board Clears, there are only 4 off turn Board Clears (one for each faction – Wave of Transformation, Zombie Apocalypse, Hurricane, and Inheritance of the Meek). It’s easy to keep track of them, which helps you to not overextend or exploit their weakness.
  • Hate pick over getting a card of your main alignment
    I will usually even pass the best Loyalty 2 cards, if I can give my opponent a weak pack that way. This has to be done carefully and is also closely related to paragraph 2 – especially in core only dark draft you can often hate pick/prioritize certain categories to make some of your cards really shine.
  • Good hand size management
    The point I want to emphasize, where I disagree with Tom, is that you don’t need 10+ cards of a certain alignment to be able trigger your loyalty cards. In my opinion it is often more important to have enough draw 2/recycle cards and keep a healthy handsize during the game. E.g. it is often not a problem to hold back 2 evil cards when you have 6 or more cards in hand. Simply wait for the third evil card to appear and have a better deck quality overall. Don’t mistake this for being able to pass all cards of a certain alignment.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend your gold on your turn first
    This is completely different from constructed, since there are often not tons of good off turn gold punishers/answers in the core dark draft pool for a given threat. You can also rule lots of cards out, because you picked or burned them or passed them along with much stronger cards. Just think about the worst case answer your opponent could have (e.g. Thought Plucker) and see if that’s an acceptable outcome. I don’t want to say that you can slam your 1 cost cards left and right, but the risk of getting blown out is much more manageable in dark draft than it is in constructed.
    I’m actually much more careful to spend my gold before my opponent on his turn, since there are lots of good on turn gold punishers, which require a gold to deal with.

Lets move on to a typical drafting process to explain what I’m actually talking about.


This is an interesting first pick – consulting the Tier List the pick is either Lash or Lying in Wait and I agree with that assessment. The thing is that Lying in Wait is actually pretty good against a Lashed creature that’s why I picked it over the Lash. The best viable options for my opponent are Angel of Mercy and Lash, which are reasonable, but not fantastic. I will try to keep both of them in mind, because they are important cards to play around.


Here my opponent had to pass me 3 strong cards – Necromancer Lord, Plague, and Ancient Chant. I think Necromancer Lord is so good that I can’t pass him here. So the second choice is between Ancient Chant and Plague. While I love Ancient Chant (which is basically a draw 3), I value board clears very highly and this way I already get some loyalty going.


I think the Dark Knight pick here is quite obvious, but I have to keep in mind that my opponent will get a Noble Unicorn (he probably has picked the Angel of Mercy in P1) and potentially a Strafing Dragon.


One of the picks is obviously Forcemage Apprentice. The other options are more or less equally weak, but how good they can potentially be strongly depends on which answers my opponent could get during the draft. Since it’s this early and I can’t rule out Flash Fire and Wither, I don’t like Wolf’s Call here. The same is true about Bounce and Banish effects. If you know your opponent can’t have Erase, Sea Titan, and Palace Guard, a card like Trihorror suddenly gets much better. I simply don’t have enough information yet, so Pack Alpha is the safe pick.


There are 4 good cards in the pack, which is always bad for me. I really love Drain Essence, since lifegain and removal in one card is really strong and lets you care less about the burn spells of your opponent (it would also fit to my Evil Alignment). I picked Flash Fire, which is a bit of a hate pick here. I have Necromancer Lord, Forcemage Apprentice, and Dark Knight already so I can’t allow my opponent to have Flash Fire – as simple as that.


This is one of the easier picks. Both Juggernaut and Turn are fantastic cards and also work well together, while the other two cards are fairly weak. Keep in mind that you can use Turn to untap one of your units (to attack again), or you can use it while your opponent attacks to get one of his other champions, use it to block, and kill one or both of those champions in the process. The ability to take control of a champion gets stronger the more Bounce effects you have in your deck.


Ok, this is one of the Facepalm packs. Angel of Death would fit my deck perfectly. I don’t wanna pass Sea Titan though, and if I pick him I pass my opponent two burn sources and a Raging T-Rex. At this point I’m fairly certain he will dig into Wild because I passed Strafing Dragon, Rampaging Wurm, and Triceratops. My best guess is that he’ll take the T-Rex and the Flame Strike. So I have to keep in mind he could already have 13 points of burn damage in his deck (Strafing Dragon and Flame Strike).


I think the Final Task pick is quite obvious here, but the second pick could either be Banishment or Army of the Apocalypse. I like Army a little more, simply because I want to hit my Evil loyalty more reliably and there is still a small chance I get more Discard Pile removal later on, which can turn Army into a huge threat.


I value board clears high enough that the pick was Apocalypse for me here. I didn’t pass any 0 cost answers to my annoying threats, so denying a board clear is really valuable. My best guess is that my opponent would pick Angel of Light here along with Memory Spirit or even the Fire Shaman (since he is lacking 0 cost answers :P).


I’m definitely picking the Hurricane here – it’s actually quite a good off turn board clear – especially against a deck with a good alignment. I think Time Walker is quite reasonable, but I like Winter Fairy a bit more, since I don’t have to hit the loyalty for her to be good.


I know quite a lot of people will disagree on my pick here, because it is really hard to pass Murderous Necromancer and Succubus (knowing my opponent has a few Good Champions already), but I picked the Thrasher Demon. My reasoning is that Thrasher Demon is also a fantastic card, and this way I leave my opponent with the Pegasus and 3 cards he will most likely not hit the loyalty for.


Given that I have quite a few Evil cards Unquenchable Thirst is a pretty good pick and my only source of lifegain so far. It’s also good to have more than 1 0-cost answer to Muse and Plucker (both of which I haven’t seen so far). In hindsight, I could have also picked the Lurking Giant, since that is quite a reasonable off turn punisher, and I completely lack those so far, but 0 cost cards with recycle are hard to pass (since they replace themselves), so I picked the Gargoyle.


This pack has 4 really good Wild Cards. I suspect my opponent to have Wild loyalty, so one of my biggest concerns was that he shouldn’t get all the Burn (since I didn’t get lifegain yet). I hate to play around Surprise Attack and usually prefer to have it myself, but sometimes you have to pick what is best for your deck. My guess was that he would pick Hunting Raptors and Rain of Fire if I picked up the Surprise Attack, so I ended up picking the Rain of Fire, because it is so effective against many of my threats.


I knew directly that I would pick the Gold Dragon – it’s a card that is really hard to punish in the core dark draft format even when you use your gold first, since your opponent either needs a combination of cards to make a somewhat favorable trade or use his gold to remove it. It’s also a reasonable source of lifegain, which should not be underestimated. I thought briefly about picking the Mighty Blow as a simple draw 2, but at this point I have enough Sage cards that Blue Dragon fits my deck very well.


Do you remember how I argued I have to first pick Rain of Fire and Flash Fire? For me there was still no question that I’m picking the Erase over Fireball here. It’s the best card in the pack, fits my alignment, and most importantly I can now safely rule out my opponent having any bounce effects (besides a potential Hasty Retreat). I picked Sea Titan and burned Time Walker, so by picking Erase, suddenly Turn, Necromancer Lord, and Final Task are getting much better (since if bounced, creatures that I stole from my opponent are returned to his hand). I would even go so far to say that this could be the game deciding pick. I also have to keep in mind my opponent will pick the Fireball and the Angelic Protector.


I briefly thought about picking up Secret Legion, because I think it’s a pretty potent card if you can rule out your opponent having a good counter for it, and I already picked up Flash Fire and Plague, but I still couldn’t rule out Wither, so I passed it. On top of that, there are three other fantastic cards for my deck. I first wanted to snap pick Plentiful Dead, but on second thought I didn’t have that many 1 cost evil cards that I could play it with, since two of them were board clears and leaving Plentiful Dead in the discard pile didn’t seem like a smart plan given I have seen 0 discard pile removal. That made me also realize that I should pick Keeper of Secrets to have at least have some form of Discard Pile removal, and I was pretty sure I could trigger the recycle ability quite easily. I also felt like I needed more single target removal and Bitten fills that role really well.


There are three outstanding and two good cards in the pack. It really hurt that I had to pass Zombie Apocalypse (and Ogre Mercenary), but I picked the Lightning Storm with a reasoning similar to the Rain of Fire. Never pass all the burn and lifegain to your opponent. I already passed Angel of Light, Drain Essence, and in this pack Inner Peace. On top of that, Lightning Storm hits my opponent’s Wild alignment and again – it is fantastic against Necromancer, Juggernaut, and lots of other 0 cost cards that I picked.


Getting the Guilt Demon here is fantastic, since it’s the second best discard pile removal after Amnesia in the core only format. There aren’t many higher picks than Guilt Demon so my guess was he got either Muse, Plucker, Kong, or Amnesia here (in hindsight I’m fairly certain it was Muse). The second pick was between Deadly Raid and Feint. Feint is the better card, but often it’s just a draw 2 as well, so I picked the Deadly Raid to hit my Sage loyalty more reliably (and there is still a small chance that Deadly Raid will end the game when played as an on turn gold punisher).


Here I’m really happy to pick up Word of Summoning. You basically get an off turn 4/4 demon token for free, which is pretty awesome. I guessed my opponent would take Lord of The Arena and The People’s Champion. Lord of The Arena is definitely one of the on turn gold punishers you have to keep in mind when playing against.


Picking the Warrior Golem here (given my Sage alignment) was the easy part. As a second pick I chose Resurrection, since it’s never bad to pick up a draw 2 that has a situationally really useful effect. In general I try to stay away from Psionic Assault, since that is one of the most complicated to play correctly cards in the dark draft format. Now looking through all the picks it would have actually been the correct pick here. I didn’t pass my opponent that many draw 2’s, which makes Psionic Assault much more valuable. On top of that, my deck has more than enough draw 2 cards already, and I don’t really have good off turn gold punishers.

Draft Conclusion

Overall I’m pretty happy with the deck. I just got one of the 5 S-tier cards (Thought Plucker, Kong, Amnesia, Sea Titan, and Muse), and while I don’t have that many off turn gold punishers, I have lots of answers and draw 2’s. I also have some really good 0 cost cards, enough board clears, and some decent discard pile removal. I also denied my opponent some efficient answers to lots of my threats (namely Flash Fire, Rain of Fire, and Lightning Storm), which could make it awkward for him to respond to them efficiently.

The game

I had a quite decent opening with enough removal, card draw and threats, so I kept my whole hand. I thought about either passing or directly opening with Gold Dragon. From the cards that I saw during the draft, he could use either Strafing Dragon or Ice Drake to block and maybe use Lash or Fireball to get a favorable trade. Another possibility was something like Surprise Attack into Kong/Palace Guard, but I still had the Lying in Wait on his turn for that case and the Word of Summoning in case he got a big Blitzer as follow up.

So, I lead the game by attacking with Gold Dragon. My opponent answered with Strafing Dragon, showing me a Fireball and Jungle Queen. So he finished off my Gold Dragon with Fireball while keeping the Strafing Dragon. I then used Lying in Wait to remove his attacking Strafing Dragon (which didn’t feel great), since I guessed he would play Jungle Queen anyways. My response was to Sea Titan his Jungle Queen, which he responded with a Wave of Transformation. While it seems like I got punished by the Gold Dragon play, this sequence of plays baited out quite a few good resources from my opponent (and also prevented him for getting the loyalty for T-Rex for a long time).

At this point in the match we had equal hand sizes. As you can see the turn before I removed his Muse with Unquenchable Thirst. He attacked, dealt 5 damage and played Zombie Apocalypse (he got 2 more tokens than I did). Remember how I hate picked both Rain of Fire and Lightning Storm? That really payed off here.

I traded off some Zombie tokens and used Necromancer Lord to get back my Gold Dragon (the turn before). Again, my opponent didn’t have a good answer (he used 3 board clears over the course of the match already), so he played T-Rex and put up some 0 cost threats. He needed the Fire Shaman for the T-Rex loyalty so he didn’t kill my Necromancer. It wouldn’t really have helped him, because I had Resurrection for that case. In hindsight I misplayed slightly, because the really smart play would have been to use Turn on my Necromancer Lord to get back Juggernaut on his turn and then on my turn get his Angelic Protector to protect my Necromancer Lord before a board clear.

I drew 2, got back the Juggernaut on my turn, attacked with Gold Dragon and then played a board clear. This left me with Juggernaut which is Unbreakable on my turn. So I took down my opponent to 8. He had a pretty good answer in the form of Angel of Mercy to block my Warrior Golem and got back Angel of Light on his turn to gain 10 life and then removed the Juggernaut with Palace Guard. The tides suddenly turned around again, but I drew into Hurricane on my turn to clear the board.

He played the Triceratops on his turn, and I made another mistake again in not seeing that I could use Final Task, to get Necromancer Lord, to get Angelic Protector, to protect my Lord, to not die to Final Task (to get Gold Dragon on my turn). I simply drew more cards and used Turn to give his Triceratops blitz and attack him with it. He had to take the 10 damage play Ice Drake to block Guilt Demon, and I could use Dark Knight to finish him off. Also note that I just reached deck 2 – the last card that I drew was Sea Titan 🙂


I hope this illustrates how I used the principles stated above to get the edge in this match.

Random 60 Origins 2017


At Origins 2017, I went 2-0-2 in the random 60 swiss rounds for a spot in top 4. (One unintentional draw in round 2 and one intentional draw in round 4.)

Random 60

Random 60 is a “limited” Epic Card Game format where you build your deck from a random pool of cards at the beginning of the event. In Random 60, each player is given their own unique list of 60 cards with between 13 and 17 cards of each alignment. Each player uses only the cards on their list to construct a deck of exactly 30 cards. (Constructed Epic deck-building restrictions do not apply, you may include as many 0-cost cards as you have access to in your pool.)

60 Card Pool

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 of each alignment. If you don’t like your second pool, you are stuck with it.

Would you mulligan this pool? Why or why not?

First Pass

When I first go over my list, I look for

  • auto-includes (star: )
  • strong alignment-independent cards (solid arrow:FactionIndependentArrow)
  • strong alignment-dependent cards (dashed arrow: FactionDependentArrow)
  • strategy-dependent cards like Revolt (line:StrategyDependentLine)
  • effectively unplayable cards (line through: StrikeThrough)
  • generally unplayable cards (dashed line through: GenerallyUnplayable)

All cards without a mark are viable, but not incredible.


Wild is my most rewarding alignment here. By committing to Wild, I gain access to 4 alignment-dependent powerful cards, in addition to 5 generically powerful Wild cards and 7 other playable Wild cards. Draka’s Enforcer is one of the best loyalty 2 cards in the game, while Brachiosaurus, Draka Dragon Tyrant, and Pyrosaur are all powerful as well. Below are cards notably absent from my Wild pool to help analyze how strong of a Wild deck it could be.

Notable Wild-commitment cards I do not have access to: Fire Spirit, Raging T-Rex, Strafing Dragon, Scarros Hound of Draka, Spore Beast

Notable Wild-generic cards I do not have access to: Ankylosarus, Feeding Frenzy, Wolf’s Bite, Kong, Lash/Rage, Surprise Attack, Triceratops, Den Mother, Hunting Pack


My Sage pool has a few incredibly powerful cards, but very little incentive to commit to it as my primary alignment. Amnesia, Ancient Chant, and Thought Plucker are 3 incredibly high-value cards to get. There are also multiple other cards I’d be happy to include.

Notable Sage-generic cards I do not have access to: Fumble, Erase, Forcemage Apprentice, Muse, Ogre Mercenary, Sea Titan, Spike Trap


Zannos is my only incentive to commit to Evil, and I have multiple Evil cards I wouldn’t really want to play, making him worse. Aside from that though, Winged Death is incredible in addition to multiple other cards.

Notable Evil-generic cards I do not have access to: Raxxa’s Curse, Dark Knight, Drain Essence, Little Devil


My Good pool is fairly lack-luster. I have some strong human token cards, but I don’t have the critical mass to make that particularly viable.

Notable Good-generic cards I do not have access to: Blind Faith, Urgent Messengers, Angel of Light, Brave Squire, Inner Peace, Palace Guard, Silver Dragon, Angel of the Gate, Rescue Griffin


I was incredibly happy to see: Amnesia, Lightning Storm, Lightning Strike, supported Draka’s Enforcer, Smash and Burn, and Grave Demon. However, as I looked through the list, I noticed a lack of strong reestablishing champions, namely Kong, Sea Titan, Palace Guard, or supported Medusa/Angel of Death. (I forgot I had Winged Death).

In addition, the lack of Feeding Frenzy is a huge hit to Wild decks with Pyrosaur/Draka. Further, the absence of Lash/Rage makes it difficult for big Wild champions to convert their imposing stats into damage. Due to missing these critical components of the strongest Wild decks, I decided to mulligan for something hopefully better.

While I did not consider it at the time, another reason to consider taking a mulligan on your pool is if you don’t get 10+ playable 0-cost cards.

Mulligan Card Pool

You are not allowed a second mulligan, so I had to make this work.

First Pass


This Wild pool only has 2 cards that reward me for going with a Wild alignment: Brachiosaurus and Pyrosaur (not a huge fan of Hunting Raptors in limited formats especially with Lightning Strike‘s existence).

Notable Wild-generic cards I do not have access to: Wolf’s Bite, Kong, Surprise Attack, Triceratops, Den Mother


Once again, not much reason to go primarily Sage, but Blue Dragon + Forcemage Apprentice makes my Feeding Frenzy great. Ogre Mercenary and Citadel Scholar are also incredibly strong cards in limited. (They can establish a small threat for you to an empty board without decreasing your hand size.)

Notable Sage-generic cards I do not have access to: Ancient Chant, Amnesia/Erratic Research, Fumble, Muse, Sea Titan, Spike Trap, Thought Plucker


My Evil pool is sick. Medusa, Murderous Necromancer, and Necromancer Lord are 3 of the most powerful Evil cards in the game, and they have been doing work for me in core-only. Angel of Death is also great as a reestablishing card. Spawning Demon can help keep up your flow of token threats as well. Combine these with the potential of Demon Breach, Infernal Gatekeeper, Necrovirus, and Hunting Pack for a strong token deck.

Notable Evil-commitment cards I do not have access to: Raxxa’s Displeasure, Reaper, Raxxa Demon Tyrant, Plentiful Dead, Zannos Corpse Lord, Rift Summoner

Notable Evil-generic cards I do not have access to: Grave Demon/Heinous Feast, Raxxa’s Curse, Dark Knight, Drain Essence, Little Devil, Final Task, Guilt Demon, Wither, Word of Summoning, Winged Death


Inheritance of the Meek in an Evil token deck is absurdly strong. Also, due to my considerable time spent playing Core-Only on the app, I highly value health gain in limited so I was happy to get Inner Peace and Angel of Light.

Notable Good-generic cards I do not have access to: Blind Faith, Urgent Messengers, Brave Squire, Palace Guard, Silver Dragon, Angel of the GateRescue Griffin


This deck has a lot more power than the last one due to the insane Evil core. However, the only discard pile banish card in my entire pool is Corpsemonger. Therefore, I must expect to only win by killing my opponent every game. (I take some responsibility for this, due to being quite vocal about the importance of mass-discard pile banishment.)

Mulligan List Second Pass

Once I complete my first pass with the deck list provided, I gather all of the cards I can play and divide them into cards I want to play (dotted star), cards I might play (unmarked), and cards I won’t play (strikethrough).

Ideally, the cards I want to play will end up close to 30 so I only need to do minimal cuts or additions. Notable cards that didn’t make this first cut:

  • Brachiosaurus – Since I wasn’t going primarily Wild, I didn’t really consider it. It might have been able to work in the deck though.
  • Rage – With most of my champions being small/tokens, Rage is less likely to provide significant value.
  • Mighty Blow – While theoretically strong in token decks because you are more likely to get an unblocked champion through, it is too all-or-nothing for me. Therefore, I’d be willing to add it back in, but would prefer to leave it out.
  • Deadly Raid – Another all-or-nothing card I’m not a huge fan of using. However, with no mass-discard pile banish card, I probably should have considered it more seriously than I did.
  • Knight of Shadows – A reasonable establishing champion. I’m not sure why I didn’t consider it longer.
  • Angelic Protector – In a deck that needs to kill your opponent, Angelic Protector can be fairly solid. Block an attack and then leave a 9 defense airborne champion in play to attack next turn.

Distribution Passes

After the second pass where I largely assemble my deck, the rest of my time is spent refining that deck based on various desired distributions: min draw/recall cards (15), min establishing cards (6), max slow 1-cost champions (10), min 0-cost cards (10), and min loyalty commitment (10).

I also like to have multiple ambush champions (off-turn gold-punishers), a couple blitz champions (on-turn gold-punishers), some burn to finish off opponents with direct damage, targeted removal, and board clears.

Ideally, I only need to use cards I want to play, but I keep my cards I might play nearby in case I need to fill a hole in the deck.

For a more thorough and deliberate demonstration of my random 60 distribution passes, check out my previous Origins and Gen Con Random 60 articles.

Min Draw/Recall

No matter the format, my minimum number of cards that can either draw/recycle/recall/spend-extra-gold-on is half the cards in the deck. Therefore, in a 30-card deck, I want at least 15. Currently 20 of my 34 cards have some form of draw/recycle/etc not including Inner Peace:

Mythic Monster, Lightning Strike, Hurricane, Flash Fire, Fires of Rebellion, Feeding Frenzy, Ankylosaurus, Inheritance of the Meek, Ceasefire, Noble Unicorn, Demon Breach, Blue Dragon, Citadel Scholar, Erase, Ogre Mercenary, Crystal Golem, Hasty Retreat, Bitten, Inner Demon, and Plague

Since I have over 15, I am able to cut some of those cards that don’t work great with the rest of the deck. At this point, I cut Hurricane and Ceasefire.

I cut Hurricane because my only champion that lives through it is Mythic Monster. In addition, I have plenty of ambush champions and 0-cost champions that will ideally allow me to maintain a presence on the board consistently. Further, I still have Inheritance of the Meek, Angel of Death, and Plague as board clears. Inheritance doesn’t hit my (or my opponent’s) tokens, Angel leaves a 6/5 airborne body behind, and Plague helps hit Evil loyalty.

I cut Ceasefire because I can’t afford a card that is entirely passive and doesn’t advance me towards reducing my opponent to 0 health, since I have no mass discard pile banish card. Cutting a Good card hurts Angel of Light loyalty, Noble Unicorn‘s ally ability, and Inner Peace Recall, but all 3 of those cards are strong enough on their own.

Min Establishing Champions

Regardless of format, I generally want about 1/5 of my deck to be establishing cards. Establishing cards are typically champions with tribute or loyalty abilities that give you an immediate benefit when played, like draw a card or put tokens into play. 0-cost champions can also fill this role because you are able to put a threat into play while retaining your gold to answer your opponent’s play. I like to have 1/5 of my deck be establishing champions because it gives me reasonable odds to have one on the first turn of the game if I have to go first. Not counting Corpsemonger or Thrasher Demon, the deck currently has 8 establishing champions:

Mythic Monster, Ankylosaurus, Noble Unicorn, Murderous Necromancer, Demon Breach, Infernal Gatekeeper, Blue Dragon, and Crystal Golem (untargetable makes it hard to punish the turn you play it)

Since I have over 6, cutting one is acceptable. Of those options, Infernal Gatekeeper is the weakest and least versatile, so it got cut.

Final Cut

The last cut is always the hardest. At this point I have all of my mandatory distributions met: draw 18/31, establishing 7-9/31, max slow 1-costs (under 1/3) 6/31, min 0-cost cards (10+ but as high as possible) 11/31, and min loyalty commitment (10+ for limited) 12/31.

Because I want as many 0s as possible, I refuse to cut any of those: Lightning Strike, Flash Fire, Feeding Frenzy, Ankylosaurus, Citadel Scholar, Forcemage Apprentice, Ogre Mercenary, Hasty Retreat, Corpsemonger, Spawning Demon, and Thrasher Demon.

In order to have a reasonable number of ways to recall Inner Peace, I don’t want to cut any of my 3 other remaining Good Cards: Noble Unicorn, Inheritance of the Meek, and Angel of Light.

I absolutely refuse to cut the most powerful cards: Necromancer Lord, Murderous Necromancer, Medusa, Angel of Death, Erase, and Hunting Pack.

Blue Dragon works nicely with Feeding Frenzy.

Crystal Golem is a strong off-turn play.

Necrovirus, Inner Demon, and Bitten are all Evil and can produce tokens.

Plague is one of my only 2 remaining board clears and is Evil.

All that really leaves is 4 cards: Mythic Monster – another superfluous establishing champion, Demon Breach – a generally weaker card, and Flame Strike/Fires of Rebellion – my one-two burn punch. Demon Breach is safe because I need as much token pressure as possible. In the end, Flame Strike gets cut. I decide to lean on Fires because it is better removal, and it can get around The Gudgeon. The rest of the cards are just too important to get me into a state where I can win.

Final Decklist

My biggest worry about this list was the lack of a mass discard pile banish card.

I also had no 1-cost, blitzing, on-turn gold-punishers; howevever, token decks generally do not need these types of gold-punishers as much as other decks. As long as the token deck can keep pushing small amounts of damage through by maintaining a couple small champions in play, getting a big hit in with a gold-punisher isn’t necessary (although it can be devastatingly helpful).

Match 1

Murderous Necromancer won me my first match. I was able to play it both games, and my opponent was unable to remove it for multiple turns. During those turns, my zombie tokens got through for damage, and my opponent wasn’t able to apply any pressure to me. That 6 defense makes this card so hard to effectively deal with, especially when you add in the fact that it breaks a champion every other turn while giving you a zombie, and it comes with 3 zombies to start.

The finishing blow for game 2 was my reward for picking Fires of Rebellion over Flame Strike. I was able to get my opponent down to 9ish health while they had a The Gudgeon in play. My opponent did not use their The Gudgeon to block my final demon attack because they thought remaining untargetable to prevent me from using burn to finish them off was more valuable than preventing 4 damage. Fires of Rebellion doesn’t target though.

Match 2

I do not recall anything specific from match 2. I won the first game, and then lost the second game to my opponent decking out after time was called. If my opponent would have recycled less they might have been able to win sooner to force a game 3, but I might have been able to apply enough pressure to beat them if they hadn’t. (And a game 3 probably would have ended in a draw anyway.)

Match 3

My 0’s won me match 3. Throughout the course of both games, every time either one of us board cleared, I was able to immediately play 0-cost champions to reestablish control of the board. From this position I was able to chip down my opponent steadily. Fires of Rebellion was also able to snag me the 2nd game win after time was called.

The most memorable play of the match was when I attacked with a demon + Sea Titan together in game 2. (I had used Necromancer Lord to return my opponent’s Sea Titan to play under my control, using Sea Titan‘s tribute to bounce my Necro Lord.) I don’t remember the health totals at that point, but I had 2 or 3 demons in play + Sea Titan while my opponent had nothing. After the first demon attack(s) where successful, I decided to attack with my last demon with Sea Titan because I had seen Lying in Wait the first game, I had a feeling my opponent had it in hand, and I wanted to be clever.

After I made the attack, my opponent said something along the lines of “you know every card in the game don’t you,” essentially confirming Lying in Wait was in their hand. They then ended up ambushing in a champion, and since I had no way to remove it, they used it to block both of my champions, and I believe break my demon. While my line protected my Sea Titan, I don’t think it was correct.

In that position, my group attack sacrificed almost a guaranteed 4 damage from my demon attacking alone and expended my Sea Titan for little benefit. If I would have attacked with the demon alone and then Sea Titan alone, my opponent could have used Lying in Wait to banish Sea Titan, but then they would have still had to deal with my remaining demon tokens. This also would have given me a window to recall Demon Breach for free enabling me to maintain my ability to play ambush threats.

Another line I could have taken would have been to attack with all of my demons and then pass without attacking with Sea Titan. If my opponent doesn’t spend their gold, I just dealt 8 or 12 damage for free that turn. If my opponent does spend their gold, they are no longer able to Lying in Wait my Sea Titan. Either way, one of these lines would probably have worked out better than my “clever” group attack.

Match 4

The other 2-0-1 record player and I intentionally drew in round 4. Doing so guaranteed us both a spot in top 4 and gave us time to get food.

Overall Match Observation

One thing I repeatedly found myself doing in multiple matches was spending my gold first, when going second, on the first turn of the game, to break a 0-cost champion and put threat(s) in play. For example, my opponent opens the game by playing Little Devil and attacking. I spend my gold on Medusa or Hunting Pack to break the attacking Little Devil and put threat(s) in play. With my gold down, my opponent is free to play an on-turn gold-punisher; however, I’ve put them in a position where many of them are bad plays.

If the blitz champion doesn’t have breakthrough or airborne, I have the option of blocking to negate the damage. If the they Lash/Rage their attacking champion, they bring themselves down to 2 cards in hand, a difficult position from which to win. Every time I made this play, I came out ahead because my opponent didn’t have a great response, and because I get the first draw of the game on my first turn.

That being said, Kong, Winged Death, or worst of all White Knight are a few cards that could have punished my Medusa play effectively while Pyrosaur or Draka could have punished Hunting Pack effectively. However, on turn 1 your opponent is generally less likely to have a great answer, and if they do, it will still probably drop them down to 3 cards in hand, which might be worth it.

In other words, 0-cost champion then pass isn’t as universally great a turn 1 play as I recently thought it was.


Random 60 has been my statistically best format (only 1 match loss over 4 limited qualifiers), so I am happy to answer any questions below. Next in my Origins’ article series I’ll talk about how my hubris helped me lose my top 4 Dark Draft.

Origins 2017 Picture Recap

Origins 2017 was about a week ago. I ended up spending most of my time hanging out playing Epic. Below are most of the pictures I took.

(John Tatian receives his prize for winning our Bo7 showmatch)

(Limited 1st round opponent Brad Minnigh, also top 4 opponent, and 2nd round constructed opponent)

(Limited 2nd round opponent James Kandziolka)

(Limited 3rd round opponent Dusty Hostutler)

(Limited Winner Martin Dickie)

(Constructed Winner Derek Arnold)

(My 60-card limited pool, I took a few more pictures while building my deck which I am saving for my limited article. As a preview, would you mulligan this list and why? Let me know in the comments below.)

Currently, I plan on writing an article breaking down my random 60 deck and what I remember about my matches. I’ll also talk about my Dark Draft portion, which may or may not get its own article. In addition, I’ll talk about constructed in a separate article as well. (I also played the Hero Realms campaign demo which was so much fun I’ll probably write an article on it too.)

Core Evil Tokens 2 (Successful)


With the addition of the “Attack Separately” button on the Epic Digital alpha, I decided I wanted to build an Evil tokens deck. Because I’m me, I built it from scratch in the updated deck builder instead of referencing my first Core Only Evil Tokens list. The decks turned out very similar, but this one is built to crush the Muse/Thought Plucker meta as hard as possible.

For those of you tired of Core Only Digital Alpha content, Origins is in a few days. When I get back, I plan on writing an article on my Friday random 60 tournament experience with Dark Draft too if I make top 8. (Similar to last year, wow…last year.) I also plan to write an article on the top 8 constructed decks on Saturday. (Hopefully it won’t just be all Kark.)

Deck List

Previous and future iterations of Core Only Evil Token decks

Evil (39)

Slow (9)
3x Infernal Gatekeeper
3x Murderous Necromancer
2x Necromancer Lord
1x Soul Hunter

Fast (17)
3x Demon Breach
3x Drain Essence
3x Inner Demon
2x Final Task
3x Medusa
3x Plague

0-Cost (13)
2x Corpse Taker
3x Guilt Demon
3x Plentiful Dead
2x Unquenchable Thirst
3x Word of Summoning

Good (3)

Slow ()

Fast (6)
2x Inheritance of the Meek

0-Cost (1)
1x Brave Squire

Sage (18)

Slow (6)
3x Blue Dragon
3x Winter Fairy

Fast (6)
3x Ancient Chant
3x Wave of Transformation

0-Cost (6)
3x Forcemage Apprentice
3x Spike Trap


I honestly don’t remember exactly how I built this deck, so I’m just going to explain how it all works by breaking it down into its parts. In general, this deck trades on-turn gold punishers for a consistent flow of small attackers while protecting itself against Thought Plucker.

Establishing Token Package

The goal of the deck is to overwhelm your opponent with tokens. If you have more attackers than they have defenders and/or removal, you will chip damage through 2 or 4 at a time. The 4 best cards to do this are Murderous Necromancer, Demon Breach, Plentiful Dead, and Word of Summoning.

Murderous Necromancer is insanely powerful, arguably one of the most powerful cards in core-only, and the single most important card in this deck. Let’s start with the expend ability. Being able to break a champion every other turn and increase your board state means that your opponent needs to remove Murderous Necromancer or lose (same with all of the best Epic cards). At 6 defense, it can only be removed by a 1-cost card or multiple 0s, and, since it doesn’t need to attack to generate additional value, it can’t be broken in combat.

Further, Murderous Necromancer enters play with 3 zombies (assuming Loyalty 2). Therefore, if your opponent is only able to remove the Necromancer, the zombies can start attacking next turn. The only single cards in core-only Epic that can remove both Murderous Necromancer and its zombies are Angel of Death and Time Walker. Both of which can only be played on your opponent’s turn (unless Surprise Attack). Baring the worst case scenario of Surprise Attack + AoD/TW, this means that your opponent either needs to spend their gold to remove everything and develop nothing (Hurricane, Zombie Apoc, etc.) or at least part of the Murderous Necromancer will provide value. If your opponent board clears on their turn, you are able to spend your gold on off-turn gold punishers to put more threats into play. 2 Demons off-turn from Demon Breach is one such way to consistently keep your opponent under pressure.

Demon Breach has been great for me in this deck (even though I used to hate both it and Plentiful Dead). In addition to its roll as an off-turn gold punisher, 3 Demons on turn is a solid establishing threat generator for similar reasons to Murderous Necromancer: it is hard for your opponent to remove all the demons while also developing their board.

The recall effect is also great here because it guarantees that you’ll have a strong off-turn gold-punisher/establishing card in hand. Word of Summoning works similarly except it doesn’t commit your gold.

Plentiful Dead is another strong card in this deck. Being able to repeatedly add just 1 extra zombie has allowed me to push significantly more damage through during games. Murderous Necromancer + 3 zombies is great, but 4 zombies is a surprisingly significant boost, same with 2 Demons and a zombie.

In addition to applying pressure, that recurring zombie is great for chump blocking Sea Titans all day, and it can help mitigate the effects of Thought Pluckers (assuming your opponent doesn’t also have massive amounts of discard pile banish effects, many do). Finally, being able to keep it in hand for Loyalty 2 triggers is a big advantage as well.

Infernal Gatekeeper is the final piece of the Establishing Token package, but it isn’t as powerful as the rest. Essentially, if you play it early in the game while your opponent still has board clears and strong removal effects, you are just spending your gold and a health to maybe get a demon to stay in play (compare that to Demon breach where you lose no health and frequently get 2 demons to stay in play).

Where this card can shine is mid game after your opponent runs out of mass removal. When Infernal Gatekeeper can remain in play for a couple gold uses, its ally ability can really crank up the pressure quickly against your opponent. Play Gatekeeper, get a demon. Off-turn play Demon Breach, get 3 more demons. Start your turn with a 9/9 and 4 demons in play, solid. Infernal Gatekeeper even turns your Evil draw 2s into “draw 2, lose 1 health, make a demon,” I’d play that card.

Anti-Thought Plucker/Muse Package

As predicted, Thought Plucker and Muse have found their way into many constructed decks on the app. Even though I’ve been building my decks with 3-9+ answers, it still hasn’t been enough. So, I decided to ram the 2 most effective answers into this deck: Spike Trap (primarily for Thought Plucker) and Forcemage Apprentice. Unlike Wither, Flash Fire, and Fireball, Spike Trap and Forcemage Apprentice remove Thought Plucker/Muse and benefit me at the same time.

For the situations where I don’t have these answers in hand, Ancient Chant and Winter Fairy provide me with significant card draw to at minimum negate the impact of discarding cards. Blue Dragon can also be used to both draw a card and remove one of those two cards. Even just playing a Blue Dragon to enable you to use a Sage draw 2 to break a future Thought Plucker is valuable.

Plagues and Unquenchable Thirst help to round out the Anti-Thought Plucker/Muse package.

Supporting Package

Off-turn removal that leaves a body in play for you and nothing for your opponent is ridiculously powerful (Medusa). The fact that it can also be used with Plentiful Dead is important too. It can even be used on-turn to remove an ambushed in blocker.

Inner Demon works a bit similarly to give you fast removal that increases your board state, but it’s usually used as a 1-cost Evil draw 2, which is nice in and of itself for this deck.

Necromancer Lord and Corpse Taker allow you to replay some of the strongest champions in the game, Murderous Necromancer for example. Returning Winter Fairy and Blue Dragon can also be quite nice.

Final Task targeting Necromancer Lord can let you play any champion in any discard pile and keep it in play at fast speed. (Necromancer Lord breaks at the end of the turn, the champion Necromancer Lord returned would not). Final Task on Murderous Necromancer is also strong: fast break target champion and put 4 zombies into play.

Drain Essence and Unquenchable Thirst provide fast targeted removal that gains you health. Frequently these are the most important cards against aggro/burn decks.

Inheritance of the Meek and to a lesser extent Wave of Transformation allow you to remove most of your opponent’s champions while leaving you with token threats in play. Against decks with a lot of card draw or decks that rely heavily on tempo, I have found the off-turn use of Inheritance to be absolutely game-winning. However, saving Inheritance as an on-turn one-sided banish-board clear is pretty great against decks that can run out of steam. Plague is the final set of board clears, and it can help against Thought Pluckers (in addition to Necromancer Lords and Forcemage Apprentices). I chose Brave Squire as my single 0-cost card to go with Inheritance because Brave Squire works great with Final Task, and it is a powerful card overall.

Soul Hunter is something I’m trying out. It is a further way to punish Thought Plucker decks, since you can discard it to Plucker so it can start coming back for free. Against non-discard decks, Winter Fairy, Ancient Chant, Blue Dragon, etc. can frequently get you to the point of over drawing, which allows you to discard Soul Hunter as well.

Finally, Guilt Demon is just a strong card. It is also my primary discard pile removal since I can’t fit Amnesia into the deck.

Distributions Breakdown

Below are the break downs for each of my distributions based on my Epic Constructed Process article.

30+ Cards that can Draw/Recycle/Recall/Etc. (35.5)
Reliable (33): 3 Inner Demon, 2 Final Task, 3 Plague, 2 Corpse Taker, 3 Plentiful Dead, 3 Word of Summoning, 2 Inheritance of the Meek, 3 Blue Dragon, 3 Winter Fairy, 3 Ancient Chant, 3 Wave of Transformation, 3 Spike Trap
Unreliable (5 x 1/2 = 2.5): 2 Necromancer Lord, 3 Demon Breach

20 0-cost Cards (20)
2 Corpse Taker, 3 Guilt Demon, 3 Plentiful Dead, 2 Unquenchable Thirst, 3 Word of Summoning, 1 Brave Squire, 3 Forcemage Apprentice, 3 Spike Trap

20- On My Turn Cards (14)
Champions (14): 3 Infernal Gatekeeper, 3 Murderous Necromancer, 2 Necromancer Lord, 3 Blue Dragon, 3 Winter Fairy
Events (0):

1 Soul Hunter is technically slow, but I never want to actually play it, I only want to discard it, ideally.

33+ Primary Alignment Cards (39)
3 Infernal Gatekeeper, 3 Murderous Necromancer, 2 Necromancer Lord, 1 Soul Hunter, 3 Demon Breach, 3 Drain Essence, 3 Inner Demon, 2 Final Task, 3 Medusa, 3 Plague, 2 Corpse Taker, 3 Guilt Demon, 3 Plentiful Dead, 2 Unquenchable Thirst, 3 Word of Summoning

3-9+ On-Turn Gold-Punishers (11)
Standard (0)
Non-Standard (11): 3 Inner Demon, 3 Medusa, 3 Drain Essence, and 2 Inheritance of the Meek

This deck does not run any real on-turn gold-punishers because it relies on slowing chipping down the opponent with tokens and off-turn gold punishers. Final Task can work as an on-turn Gold-Punisher if needed. 3 Inner Demon, 3 Medusa, 3 Drain Essence, and 2 Inheritance of the Meek can all function as on-turn gold punishers if your opponent spends their gold to ambush in a blocker. Instead of punishing your opponent with a blitz champion, you punish them by breaking their champion, expanding/maintaining your board state, and pushing damage with your champions already in play.

3-9+ Off-Turn Gold-Punishers (13)
Standard (6): 3 Demon Breach, 3 Medusa
Non-Standard (7): 2 Final Task, 2 Inheritance of the Meek, 3 Wave of Transformation

Demon Breach and Medusa are fairly standard off-turn gold-punishers. Final Task is great when used on Murderous Necromancer or Necromancer Lord specifically. Inheritance and Wave are non-standard off-turn Gold-punishers. The reason I include them for this deck is that they can essentially remove all/most of your opponents threats, while leaving you with threats, that can attack on your next turn, forcing your opponent to remove them to remove your threats/play blockers before you spend your gold on your turn.

1+ Mass Discard Pile Banish (0)
This deck relies on 3 Guilt Demon and 2 Corpse Taker for targeted discard removal.

3 Drain Essences or Comparable Health Gain (3.66)
Reliable (3): 3 Drain Essence
Unreliable (2 x 1/3 = .66): 2 Unquenchable Thirst

3-9+ Muse/Thought Plucker 0-Cost Answers (9.5)
Reliable (8): 2 Unquenchable Thirst, 3 Forcemage Apprentice, 3 Spike Trap
Unreliable (3 x 1/2 = 1.5): 3 Blue Dragon
Honorable Mention: 3 Plague

Anti-Sea Titan/Bounce Plan
Chump block Sea Titan forever. Attack with more individual champions than it can block. Board clear it eventually, if needed.


I’m not a huge fan of Infernal Gatekeeper. It has worked in midgame situations, but it hasn’t felt powerful that often. I’m still testing Soul Hunter, but I think I like exactly one in this deck. Final Task is incredibly powerful, and it might deserve to be a 3 (probably cutting 1 Infernal Gatekeeper for it.)

Overall, I have lost very few games with this on the app, and it is a lot of fun to play. Just don’t forget to use “attack separately,” particularly in non-Realtime (Duel) games.


Due to heading out to Origins tomorrow, I don’t have the time to go through and add all of the card links today, but I’ll update this when I get back. Also, I won’t have a chance to post until I get back because I’m not lugging my desktop with me this time. (I’ll try to at least tweet a few updates though: @TomSEpicGaming.)

Tall v Wide Duel Decks Updated


Now that I’ve played significantly more Epic, Core-Only specifically on the app, I decided to remake these decks. (Someone also requested duel decks on reddit too.) I have not tested these decks yet, but they can both theoretically do a lot of powerful things. I also designed them to have some theoretically interesting interactions. Slight tweaking of certain card counts would probably make these better…hmmm…just had an idea…


Evil (6)

Slow (0)

Fast (4)
1x Drain Essence
3x Zombie Apocalypse

0-Cost (2)
1x Corpse Taker
1x Wither

Good (3)

Slow (0)

Fast (2)
2x Ceasefire

0-Cost (1)
1x Brave Squire

Sage (33)

Slow (11)
1x Frost Giant
3x Juggernaut
3x Sea Titan
3x Steel Golem
1x Time Walker

Fast (11)
1x Ancient Chant
1x Crystal Golem
1x Deadly Raid
3x Ice Drake
1x Memory Spirit
3x Stand Alone
1x Thought Plucker

0-Cost (11)
1x Amnesia
3x Keeper of Secrets
3x Forcemage Apprentice
1x Muse
3x Spike Trap

Wild (18)

Slow (6)
3x Kong
3x Triceratops

Fast (6)
3x Hurricane
2x Pyromancer
1x Surprise Attack

0-Cost (6)
3x Flash Fire
1x Lash
2x Cave Troll


Evil (39)

Slow (11)
2x Angel of Death
1x Drinker of Blood
3x Infernal Gatekeeper
3x Murderous Necromancer
2x Necromancer Lord

Fast (15)
3x Demon Breach
1x Drain Essence
3x Inner Demon
3x Final Task
3x Medusa
2x Plague

0-Cost (13)
1x Corpse Taker
3x Guilt Demon
3x Plentiful Dead
2x Unquenchable Thirst
1x Wither
3x Word of Summoning

Good (6)

Slow (0)

Fast (4)
3x Inheritance of the Meek
1x Resurrection

0-Cost (2)
1x Brave Squire
1x Watchful Gargoyle

Sage (12)

Slow (0)

Fast (8)
1x Ancient Chant
1x Crystal Golem
1x Deadly Raid
1x Erase
1x Lying in Wait
3x Wave of Transformation

0-Cost (4)
1x Amnesia
1x Muse
2x Ogre Mercenary

Wild (3)

Slow (0)

Fast (2)
1x Mighty Blow
1x Surprise Attack

0-Cost (1)
1x Fireball

Random 30 Stream Snipe Raw Footage

Thank you everyone who played and watched my June 1st Random 30 Stream Snipe Session on the Epic Digital Alpha. For those who could not, or if you want to watch your match, below is the raw footage from the stream with timestamps.

Part 2 (5pm CDT – 9pm): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EPLTKjofDo
Part 1 (11am CDT – 3pm):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAzIzyu0z2M