Epic Progression (2): Basic Strategy Advice

Foreword

Now that you’ve played a couple games to learn the rules and flow of Epic, I am going to go over 3 general principles that will help you understand the game quicker and better: attack with 1 champion at a time, spend your gold after attacking, and spend your gold every turn (especially on your opponent’s turn). These principles are correct in the vast majority of cases, and if you follow them you will discover some of Epic’s subtler aspects sooner.

Attack with One Champion at a Time

In Epic, unlike Magic, you may declare as many individual attack “phases” in a turn as you want (as long as you can declare at least one attacking champion per attack phase). Further, it is almost always better to attack with one champion at a time, instead of attacking as a group. Attacking in a group allows one champion to block multiple, it can negate keywords like Airborne, and it gives your opponent a chance to break multiple champions in combat.

One Blocker Stops an Entire Attacking Group

No matter how many champions you declare in a single attack, if your opponent declares a single champion as a blocker, all of your simultaneously attacking champions are blocked. Therefore, none of them will deal damage to your opponent (unless breakthrough).

In this example, a 1/1 human token blocked 6 group-attacking demons, preventing 24 damage to the defending player. If the demons would have attacked alone, they could have dealt 20 damage to the defending player instead.

Attacking in Groups can Negate Keywords

If you group-attack with multiple, hard-to-block champions, your opponent only needs to be able to block one of them to block all of them. This can negate a champion’s airborne or unblockable keyword(s).

In addition, when determining how much breakthrough damage is dealt to an opposing player, you add up only the offense of the attacking breakthrough champions and subtract the defense of all defending champions; the difference is dealt to the defending player, and all other offense in the attack is irrelevant for this calculation.

In this example, the defending player is able to block the entire group because it can block either the Triceratops or human token (even though Medusa could not normally block Avenging Angel or Thought Plucker). By blocking the group with Medusa, the defending player would only take Triceratops‘ 2 breakthrough damage, and the defending player could choose to break either the Avenging Angel or Thought Plucker + human token.

If the champions would have attacked alone (preventing the defending player from blocking either Avenging Angel or Thought Plucker), those champions could have dealt an extra 8+ damage to the defending player, let the attacking player draw a card, forced the defending player to discard a card, and only risked losing the human token.

Multiple Attackers can Break to a Surprise in Combat

If you group-attack with multiple champions, even when your opponent has nothing in play, you risk losing all of them together.

In this example, an ambushed Lurking Giant can block, break all 4 group-attacking wolves, and prevent all damage to the defending player. If the wolves would have attacked alone, 3 wolves might have lived and dealt 6 damage to the defending player.

Spend Your Gold After Attacking
(Not Before)

The most common mistake I see new players make is spending their gold/playing cards before attacking. Instead, it is almost always correct to attack with your champions already in play before you do anything else. As long as you have advantageous attacks (opponent has no champions that can block effectively), attacking and waiting to play cards is your safest and most powerful play. If you spend your gold/play cards before attacking, you become more vulnerable to board clears, you restrict your future plays that turn, and you give your opponent free information.

Become More Vulnerable to Board Clears

If you play cards/spend your gold to put more champions into play before attacking with your existing champions, your opponent can use a board clear to both prevent the damage from your attacking champion, and to remove all of your champions from play.

In this example, you have a Jungle Queen in play that can attack. If you spend your gold first (to play Fire Shaman and Bellowing Minotaur), you allow your opponent to remove all of your champions with Hurricane before either Jungle Queen or Bellowing Minotaur can deal damage. If you attack with Jungle Queen first and your opponent plays Hurricane, you can then play Fire Shaman and Bellowing Minotaur, get 12 damage through, and leave yourself with 2 champions in play.

Restrict Your Options that Turn

If you spend your gold before attacking (before your opponent has a chance to play cards/spend their gold), you lose your ability to spend your gold to react to what they do that turn.

In this example, if you spend your gold before attacking with your Triceratops (to play T-Rex), you always lose your Triceratops and are left with a T-Rex to your opponent’s Lurking Giant. If you wait to spend your gold, you can either:

Give Your Opponent Free Information

If you spend your gold before attacking, your opponent knows what you spent your gold on, so they can react to it when they spend their gold.

In this example, if you play Flame Strike before attacking with Ice Drake, your opponent knows they will go to 0 health when Ice Drake hits them, so they use Inner Peace to gain 10 health before Ice Drake deals combat damage. If you wait to play Flame Strike until after Ice Drake hits, you can finish your opponent off immediately (since they can’t play Inner Peace before Flame Strike kills them).

Spend Your Gold Every Turn
(Especially on Your Opponent’s Turn)

1-cost cards in Epic are incredibly powerful. Any turn in which your opponent uses a gold and you do not, you get significantly far behind.

One mistake I see a lot of new players make is not using an “or draw 2” card to draw cards on their opponent’s turn. While saving a card like Apocalypse for its break all effect can be powerful, if you don’t use cards to draw 2, you will eventually run out of cards in hand. This will prevent you from spending your gold every turn and cause you to fall significantly far behind. Since most cards in Epic are incredibly powerful, using 1 card to draw 2 is strong.

Also, don’t forget to use your recall abilities on cards like Lightning Storm and Demon Breach (especially when you can’t spend your gold otherwise).

Conclusion

These are the 3 most important pieces of advice for new players. While it is not universally correct to follow them, they are correct around 90% of the time. By internalizing these rules, you enable yourself to focus on the deeper, emergent aspects of Epic.

I recommend playing multiple games of Epic to understand and internalize these 3 principles before moving onto the next article in this series. In it I plan on going into more complicated, less absolute strategic concepts.

Furi

Introduction

I first saw this played on Penny Arcade’s First 15, and I was intrigued. When I incidentally got it in last month’s Humble Monthly, I decided to try it.

It is amazing. If you enjoy Bullet-Hell boss battles, I highly recommend this, so much so that I had to take time away from my Epic content to write about it.

Quick Description

Furi is a game of boss fights (I’m currently past the fifth). Each boss fight consists of multiple stages. Each stage has a mobility/ranged-attack-focused part (where you can use ranged rapid-fire or charged attacks in addition to melee attacks) and a close-range, melee-only part. In both parts you have an invulnerable dash and a parry. The final stage of each fight is a Bullet-Hell/Other Finale that you need to survive until you can finish off the boss.

[Screenshots from early bosses and don’t do the game justice]

(Mobility/Ranged-Attack-Focused Part Picture 1)

(Mobility/Ranged-Attack-Focused Part Picture 2)

(Close-Range, Melee-Only Part)
(Bullet-Hell/Other Finale)

Game Feels Great

Simply put, the game feels great to play. The difficulty is perfect in that it generally takes me a couple tries to beat each boss, yet I’m always excited to start the fight over to apply what I learned (patterns, tactics, responses, etc). Similarly, the game speed is great; its fast and exciting, but the character still feels like it is entirely under my control. The invulnerable dash enhances this even further because it enables you to exploit opportunities to dodge projectiles/attacks, close gaps quickly to attack in melee, or even strategically retreat. Everything about the pace of the gameplay just feels right.

Against melee attacks, split second parrying is incredibly satisfying (especially when you get a perfect parry), and it leads into the satisfying chain of four melee attacks that ends with a big solid down swing that knocks the boss down and away. Completing that attack chain with that finisher, after nailing a parry or dashing in during/after a massive ranged attack, is gaming bliss. Finally, each boss feels different both stylistically and gameplay wise (although the Close-Range, Melee-Only parts are a bit similar).

My only complaint is that the scenes between bosses are a bit too long and boring, but they function as a pallet cleanser so it’s fine. As a side note, many people seem to love the soundtrack, but I haven’t noticed it much while playing. It probably helps to pull me into the game, and not being overtly noticeable is not a bad thing, but I don’t have strong feelings about it.

Conclusion

Overall, Furi is a stand-out example in the Bullet-Hell genre, and I highly recommend it. The pacing, controls, and difficulty are excellent and provide an adrenaline rush that lasts for a while after stopping. As a heads up, they do recommend using a controller, and that is how I’m playing it.