Epic Progression: How to Play

Foreword

Epic is a non-collectible, expandable card game where players mobilize Champions to attack their opponent(s) while providing support with devastating Events. To play these cards, you and your opponent(s) get 1 gold per turn. Every card either costs that 1 gold or is free. Due to this, every card is immediately playable and no card becomes worthless later. Timing your cards to the game state, as opposed to the game turn, is paramount.

In this article series, I will guide you through as much of the unfathomable depth this game has to offer as I have discovered. For now, lets start with learning to play.

First Game Setup/Objective

  • Deal each player 30 random cards (their deck)
  • Each player draws 5 cards from their deck
  • Each player starts at 30 health
  • Randomly determine who goes first

Players primarily lose health due to champion attacks. If you are reduced to 0 health, you lose. If all of your opponents are reduced to 0 health, you win.

If you would draw a card and your deck is empty, you win.

(Health can be tracked with Dice, Pen and Paper, the Epic ScoreKeeper app, or any other way you prefer.)

Turn Structure Overview

A turn consists of resolving start of turn triggers once, and then any number of Battle, Slow, and End phases in any order. Below is the basic 2-player turn flow.

 

Slow vs Fast

While cards are divided into Champions and Events, the more important distinction here is Slow and Fast. Any card with dots at the top is Fast. If it doesn’t have dots at the top it is Slow. (All Events are Fast. Champions with the Ambush keyword are Fast. Champions without the Ambush keyword are Slow.)

(Other Fast plays include: activating an ability by paying a cost [such as expend powers] discussed later.)

Slow champions may only be played in a Slow Phase.

Explanation Plan

From here, I am going to start by explaining the basics: how/when you may play cards, how/when you may attack with champions. Once you have that information, I am going to double back to explain the start of turn effects, then the End Phase. Finally, I’ll explain all of the keywords that break these rules, as well as other terminology/notation.

Playing Cards

In 2-player games, at the start of your turn and at the start of your opponent’s turn, you reset to 1 gold. Unspent Gold does not accumulate.

In 3+ player games, you reset to 1 gold at the start of your turn and reset to 1 gold at the end of your turn. Unspent Gold does not accumulate.

To play a card, you must be:

  • Able to pay for it
    • Cards with a 1 in the upper right corner cost your 1 gold for the turn
    • Cards with a 0 in the upper right corner are free
  • Allowed to play it
    • Slow champions may only be played on your turn in a Slow Phase
    • Fast cards may only be played
      • On your turn in a Battle or Slow Phase
      • On your opponent’s turn in a Battle or End Phase
      • When you have initiative (initiative is passed back and forth when one player is finished “making fast plays.” More on this in Combat Section below.)

Events, when played, resolve all of their text and are then put into their owner’s discard pile. Then, any other card effects resolve.

Champions, when played, enter play. Then, any of their effects and/or any other card effects resolve.

All Epic keywords are explained below. The ones that matter when playing cards are Ally, Loyalty, and Tribute (Banish, Break, Recycle, Untargetable, Unbreakable, and Unbanishable as well).

Attacking with Champions

On your turn, you can use your champions in play to attack your opponent in an attempt to reduce their health to 0. Below I discuss how a champion’s State and Position determines whether or not it may attack and/or block. Then I break down everything that happens in a Battle Phase.

State (Deploying vs Non-Deploying)

When a champion enters play it gains deploying. A deploying champion may not attack, but it may block. At the start of your turn, all of your champions in play lose deploying.

Position (Prepared vs Expended vs Flipped)

A champion can only ever be in one of three positions: Prepared, Expended, or Flipped. At the start of your turn, all of your champions are Prepared (returned to the Prepared position).

Prepared

When a champion enters play it is prepared. Prepared, non-deploying, champions may attack or block. (Prepared, non-deploying, champions may use expend powers, discussed later.)

Expended

When a champion attacks (or uses an expend power), it becomes expended (rotated 90/270 degrees). Expended champions may not attack nor block. (Expended champions may not use expend powers.)

Flipped

When a champion blocks, it becomes flipped (rotated 180 degrees). Flipped champions may not attack nor block. (Flipped, non-deploying, champions may use expend powers.)

Attack-Relevant Champion Anatomy

An Attack Phase

On your turn, you may declare as many attacks as you have prepared, non-deploying champions. An Attack Phase consists of

  • Declaring 1 or more attacking champions
  • All players get a chance to play fast actions
  • Declaring 0 or more blocking champions
  • All players get a chance to play fast actions
  • Assigning and Dealing damage

Declaring Attackers

You may either attack with one (prepared, non-deploying) champion alone or with any number of (prepared, non-deploying) champions together. Expend all declared attacking champions. (“When a champion attacks” triggers resolve now. Triggers discussed later.)

Fast Plays (Post Declare Attacks)

Once attackers have been declared, each player gets a chance to make Fast plays. The attacking player may make any number of Fast plays first. When they choose to make no more Fast plays, they pass initiative to the next player.

If that player does not want to make any Fast playsthey may progress to the next step, Declare Blockers. If they make at least one Fast play, they must pass initiative to the next player who repeats this step.

Once one player passes without making a Fast play, after everyone has had a chance to make a Fast play, progress to Declare Blockers.

Declare Blockers

Your opponent may block an attack directed against them with one or more of their prepared champions (may be deploying). Flip all declared blocking champions. (“When a champion blocks” triggers resolve now. Triggers discussed later.)

Fast Plays (Post Declare Blockers)

Once blockers have been declared, each player gets a chance to make Fast plays. Unlike in the Post Declare Attackers phase, the defending player may make any number of Fast plays first. When they choose to make no more Fast plays, they pass initiative to the next player.

If that player does not want to make any Fast playsthey may progress to the next step, Assign Damage. If they make at least one Fast play, they must pass initiative to the next player who repeats this step.

Once one player passes without making a Fast play, after everyone has had a chance to make a Fast play, progress to Assign Damage.

Assign Damage

If an attack is unblocked, the attacking champions deal damage equal to their offense to the opposing player’s health.

If the attack is blocked by at least one champion,

  • The attacking champions assign all of their offense to the defending champions’ defense (divided however the attacking player chooses)
  • The defending champions assigns all of their offense to the attacking champions’ defense (divided however the defending player chooses)
  • All damage resolves simultaneously
    • If a champion takes damage equal or greater to its defense, it is Broken and put into its owner’s discard pile
  • No damage is dealt to the defending player
    • Even if all of the assigned blockers are removed before offense is assigned
    • The number of attacking and defending champions is irrelevant

All Epic keywords are explained below. The ones that matter during a battle are Airborne, Blitz, Breakthrough, Righteous, Unblockable, and Unbreakable (Break as well).

Start of Turn

At the start of each turn, do all of the following steps once.

  • Each player loses all gold, gain 1 gold
  • The current player draws a card (the first player of the game skips this step on the first turn)
  • The current player’s champions in play prepare
  • The current player’s champions in play lose deploying
  • Resolve start of turn triggers

Attempt to End Turn (End Phase)

Once you no longer want to declare any Battle or Slow phases, you can attempt to end your turn (End Phase). When you do, your opponent(s) get a chance to make Fast plays. If they do not, the turn ends, and the next player starts their turn following this same process.

If an opponent does make one or more Fast plays, once the current player receives initiative again the current player may either:

  • End the turn
  • Return to Phase Choice in order to declare additional Battle and/or Slow phases until eventually declaring another End phase

New Terminology/Notation

Trigger -> Effect – When the condition before the ‘->’ is met, the effect after the ‘->’ resolves. For example, “When this card attacks -> Your champions get +2 offense this turn.”

Cost: Effect – When you pay the cost before the ‘:’, you get the effect after the ‘:’. For example, “Break this card: Draw two cards.” Normally you can’t just break a champion you control, but this is an exception. Also, you only get to draw two cards if you use this ability to break the champion. (You do not draw two if it breaks by other means.)

Gray Text Box – Any text in a gray box on a card is only active while that card is in the discard pile.

Airborne – Only other champions may block a champion with airborne. (If an airborne champion attacks with a non-airborne champion and the opponent is able to block the non-airborne champion, they may block the whole group.)

Ally – Trigger (you play a 1-cost card from your hand of the same alignment of an active card’s ally effect), resolve the effect. An active card is either a champion you have in play with an ally effect (Fire Shaman) or a card in your discard pile with a “gray box” ally effect (Plentiful Dead). (Using a “1: Effect” ability, such as on Rage does not count.)

Banish – Put that card on the bottom of its “owner’s” discard pile.

Blitz – Ignore deploying restrictions preventing attacking or using expend powers.

Break – Move a champion in play to its “owners” discard pile.

Breakthrough – Any offense on attacking breakthrough champions greater than the combined defense of defending champions is dealt to the defending player. (Other attacking champions’ offense and/or damage dealt to defending champions is ignored.)

Controller – The player who currently may use a champion to attack/block/expend/activate abilities.

Expend Abilities – Cost (Expend the prepared/flipped, non-deploying champion), resolve the effect.

Loyalty 2 – Trigger (When a champion with Loyalty 2 enters play, you may reveal 2 cards of the same alignment), if you revealed 2 cards of the same alignment resolve the effect.

Tribute – Trigger (When a champion with Tribute enters play), resolve the effect.

Recall – Return this card to hand.

Recycle – Banish exactly 2 cards from your discard pile to draw a card.

Righteous – Any damage dealt by this champions gains its controller the same amount of health.

Unbanishable – May not be “banished.”

Unblockable – May not be “blocked.” (If an unblockable champion attacks with a non-unblockable champion and the opponent is able to block the non-unblockable champion, they may block the whole group.)

Unbreakable – May not be “broken.”

Untargetable – May not be “targeted” by any affect that says “target.”

Conclusion

Now you know everything required to play a game of Epic. Once you have played at least a game or two, if you would like some basic strategy advice of FAQ answers check out part 2 of my Epic Progression series (coming after Gen Con). (I will also clean up this article a bit more after Gen Con too, so let me know if you notice any substance you would like me to clarify/add.)

Deck Archetype: Combo

Foreword

This is part 3 of my 3 part series on Epic Deck Archetypes. Due to issues with my internet connection at my new place, I have placeholder card links instead of some images. *Fixed*

Combo

If you combine cards a, b, c, and d with specific game state x, you essentially win.

The “purest” form of combo works by surviving until it assembles multiple key cards and crafts an acceptable Game State to use them. (Game State refers to exactly what is happening at a specific time: such as champions in play, cards in discard piles, players’ current health, etc). Then, the combo deck uses those key cards with the crafted Game State to immediately win, usually by reducing an opponent directly from their full starting health (30) to 0.

For example, you survive until you draw Zombie Apocalypse, Drinker of Blood, and Wither. In addition, you wait until both discard piles have a combined champion count of at least 15. Then, on your opponent’s turn you play Zombie Apocalypse, putting 15 zombie tokens into play. On your turn, you play Drinker of Blood followed immediately by Wither. This breaks all 15 zombies, creates 15 Drinker of Blood triggers, deals 30 damage to your opponent, and wins you the game.

While flashy One-Turn-Kills (OTKs) are the hallmark of combo decks, any deck that combines 3+ cards for one incredibly powerful effect can be considered to have a combo aspect. Combo decks are generally built around supporting/enabling one (or more) of those combination(s). Due to this, combo decks vary widely in how they are constructed and when/how they try to win.

 

Deck Archetype: Midrange

Foreword

This is part 2 of my 3 part series on Epic Deck Archetypes.

Midrange

If you consistently apply pressure, while preventing your opponent from winning, you will eventually win.

Epic Midrange decks focus on aggressively controlling the board (champions in play), in order to create and exploit unopposed gold-opportunities (turns where your opponent spends their gold first), to establish and maintain immediate/recurring sources of champion-based damage.

To achieve this, midrange decks tend to favor cards that have 3 of 5 primary functions: 6+ toughness champion, fast (event/ambush champion), draw a card, blitz, and/or removal (secondary functions: make tokens, deal direct damage, gain health, discard pile removal, airborne). Midrange decks win when they exploit X gold-opportunities (X depends on opponent’s deck); this involves surviving against aggro or maintaining handsize with board pressure against control.

 

Next Article

Combo archetype discussed in the next article.

Deck Archetypes

Foreword

Decks in card games generally fall into a few broad archetypes: Aggro, Midrange, Control, and Combo. In this article I explain the intricacies of these archetypes specific to Epic.

For historical context, I have included links to similar articles for 10 different card games – Magic: the Gathering, Hearthstone, Eternal, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, Shadowverse, Game of Thrones, Star Wars: Destiny, Solforge, Duelyst, and Android Netrunner.

Magic is the originating game. Hearthstone is the new juggernaut. Eternal has a particularly well-written article. If anyone has a link to a similar article to an unrepresented game, like Spoils, let me know, and I’ll add it.

 Overview

“Aggro” decks are aggressive, try to win early, and focus on converting their gold to damage.

“Control” decks are defensive, try to win late, and focus on making their cards and gold worth more than their opponent’s.

“Midrange” decks are persistent, try to win in the mid game, and focus on applying consistent pressure.

“Combo” decks are ticking-time-bombs, try to win when precise conditions are met, and focus on exploiting explosive synergy between cards.

These archetypes are high level descriptions, and many decks fall somewhere between two or more.

Aggro

If you reduce your opponent to 0 health, you win.

Aggro decks attempt to take the quickest and most direct path to victory, reduce your opponent to 0 by any means possible, regardless of what else happens. To achieve this, aggro decks tend to favor hard to answer blitz champions or cards that do direct damage. The quicker an aggro deck can kill an opponent, the less time the opponent has to build up to kill the aggro deck or draw efficient answers like Drain Essence.

Burn is a subset of aggro decks that try to win primarily through direct damage, such as Flame Strike.

Control

If you safely run your opponent out of resources, you will inevitably win.

Control Decks in Epic focus on doing everything possible to not lose until they eventually win. To achieve this, control decks tend to favor removal with extra effects, off-turn board clears, low-board-impact high-card-advantage cards, and health gain. The longer the game goes, the more opportunities control decks have to slip attacks through or build to their potential alternate win-condition, such as Kark.

In general, control relies on cards that can gain multiple gold/cards worth of value.

Midrange

If you consistently apply pressure, while preventing your opponent from winning, you will eventually win.

Epic Midrange decks focus on aggressively controlling the board (champions in play), in order to create and exploit unopposed gold-opportunities (turns where your opponent spends their gold first), to establish and maintain immediate/recurring sources of champion-based damage.

To achieve this, midrange decks tend to favor cards that have 3 of 5 primary functions: 6+ toughness champion, fast (event/ambush champion), draw a card, blitz, and/or removal (secondary functions: make tokens, deal direct damage, gain health, discard pile removal, airborne). Midrange decks win when they exploit X gold-opportunities (X depends on opponent’s deck); this involves surviving against aggro or maintaining handsize with board pressure against control.

Combo

If you combine cards a, b, c, and d with specific game state x, you essentially win.

The “purest” form of combo works by surviving until it assembles multiple key cards and crafts an acceptable Game State to use them. (Game State refers to exactly what is happening at a specific time: such as champions in play, cards in discard piles, players’ current health, etc). Then, the combo deck uses those key cards with the crafted Game State to immediately win, usually by reducing an opponent directly from their full starting health (30) to 0.

For example, you survive until you draw Zombie Apocalypse, Drinker of Blood, and Wither. In addition, you wait until both discard piles have a combined champion count of at least 15. Then, on your opponent’s turn you play Zombie Apocalypse, putting 15 zombie tokens into play. On your turn, you play Drinker of Blood followed immediately by Wither. This breaks all 15 zombies, creates 15 Drinker of Blood triggers, deals 30 damage to your opponent, and wins you the game.

While flashy One-Turn-Kills (OTKs) are the hallmark of combo decks, any deck that combines 3+ cards for one incredibly powerful effect can be considered to have a combo aspect. Combo decks are generally built around supporting/enabling one (or more) of those combination(s). Due to this, combo decks vary widely in how they are constructed and when/how they try to win.

 

Conclusion

Understanding the basics of deck archetypes (how specific decks try to win and why they use specific cards) helps both when building your own decks and deducing what other cards your opponent might have in theirs. That being said, almost no deck is a “pure” representation of a single archetype. Some aggro decks lean midrange and vice versa; all combo decks have a secondary archetype attached, etc. This is merely a guide. Build what you want, and expect to see some crazy stuff.

First Self-Edited Videos

I’ve finally started to edit some of my Epic Digital Alpha videos. Since I am new to video editing, I would love any feedback to help improve future videos.

My first edited video:

My second edited video (Posted for the first time in this article):

If you do watch the videos, I would greatly appreciate any feedback (constructive/positive/negative), but you can also click below for a few specific questions. Feel free to answer as many or as few as you would like.

 

Whether or not you choose to provide feedback, thank you for taking the time to come to my blog and view my content. Also, if there is anything else you want more of, let me know.

July 4 Dark Draft – Nathan’s Draft

Hello everyone, my name is Nathan Overbay, but those on Epic Digital/Discord know me as Noverb. I’ve been playing Epic Card Game since the Kickstarter, and I was a 2016 Epic Worlds Championship competitor finishing in 16th place. Today I’ll be going over my side of the Dark Draft that I played against Tom on July 4th as part of the (unofficial) Epic Team Masters. Without further adieu lets get on to the draft…

Pack 1, Pick 1

  The draft started with an above average pack. I went with Brave Squire because it helps to close out games and almost always trades up. I took note of how much burn I was passing because this was an easy Fireball/Rain of Fire for Tom. If I was going to take a Wild card it would probably be Fireball. Rain of Fire is very versatile, but burn events for 0 are quite valuable. Board clear effects are too plentiful to consider taking Plague this early.

Pack 1, Pick 2

  There wasn’t really a choice here. Winter Fairy and Lurking Giant are great cards, and there was no way I was going to pick Plentiful Dead over either this early.

Pack 2, Pick 1

  I am a huge fan of Time Bender, so I was sad to see it opened this early. Time Bender can swing the game very quickly in ways few other cards can. Since I didn’t have the loyalty, I was considering Apocalypse or Keeper of Secrets. Having already passed Plague, I did want to make sure I had some number of sweepers. That said, Keeper is a unique source of card advantage in that it denies your opponent recall and draws you cards over time. I generally prefer unique effects over replaceable ones in Dark Draft. Tom will probably pick up Wolf’s Call and Apocalypse.

Pack 2, Pick 2

  This is where the picks start to get arguable. My lack of draw-twos and the newly acquired Keeper of Secrets gave me a lot of incentive to pick up Transform. The choice for me is between Thirst and Pack Alpha. Thirst is an effect that is very helpful in dealing with Muse/Plucker without losing too much value. I went with Alpha because of two reasons. First, Alpha is actually a decent establishing champion and continues to be more threatening over time. Second, Thirst gets worse if it’s one of my only evil cards. In hindsight, it was early enough in the draft to push into Evil, and I already had Winter Fairy as an establishing champion.

Pack 3, Pick 1

  I think this was a clear Wave of Transformation. It is unfortunate that I’m passing Avenging Angel alongside the choice of three very decent cards. The choice for Tom would depend on what loyalty he wanted to shoot for.

Pack 3, Pick 2

  This is another non-choice pack. These are NOT the loyalty payoff cards in Good. I’m quite happy having Forked Lightning and Ceasefire in my pool. Especially happy that Tom didn’t pick Forked Lightning. It eased my worry about burn slightly.

Pack 4, Pick 1

  I value 0’s that recycle quite highly, so Ogre Mercenary was the pick for me. Tom would probably pick Djinn and Demon Breach, so this is a decent pack for him.

Pack 4, Pick 2

  This pack concerned me. Passing Muse told me a few things. I knew he had Fireball and Rain of Fire from Pack 1, so he already had ways to remove it. Even still, the cards I would consider taking over Muse here are Sea Titan/Plucker/Lightning Storm/Amnesia/etc. I would also take Forcemage Apprentice in that slot. My pick was between Noble Unicorn or Mighty Blow. I already had three pieces of removal so Vital Mission wasn’t necessary. Unicorn was a decent option, but I had yet to pick up a single Good 1 to accompany it. I had already passed choice good cards like Angel of Mercy and Avenging Angel, so I went with Mighty Blow to accompany Brave Squire as combat tricks. A very pivotal pack and I’m still left wondering if I made the right call.

Pack 5, Pick 1

  All of these cards are worth considering. Gold Dragon is a decent source of lifegain. I only had three Wild gold cards so Cave Troll and Wurm Hatchling seemed less interesting. I am incentivized by Keeper of Secrets to take a Sage card here. With no way to deal with Muse/Plucker efficiently, I picked up the Blue Dragon.

Pack 5, Pick 2

  When I opened this pack I was immediately confused. I was scratching my head as to what Tom took. The pack is great. Erase, Amnesia, and Dark Knight are all excellent cards. I took Amnesia because it’s the best option for discard banish available. I value discard banish very highly. It keeps your opponent off of Recycle and stops them from getting value off of things like Soul Hunter. Now the choice is between Erase and Dark Knight. Dark Knight is quite strong at pushing through damage and pressuring the opponent’s gold. That being said I’m not sold on this pick. I passed Tom both Avenging Angel and Gold Dragon, great targets to Erase for value.

Pack 6, Pick 1

  This pack wasn’t super powerful (for me) and I just picked up Amnesia. This is the perfect time to pick up an Army of the Apocalypse. White Dragon and Succubus are both strong cards that Tom potentially had the deck for at this point.

Pack 6, Pick 2

  Memory Spirit goes great with cards like Wave of Transformation, Brave Squire, and Ceasefire. The other card here was a toss-up. I’m not a huge fan of Steel Golem, so that left Inner Peace and Secret Legion. The choice was Inner Peace largely because I had no way to gain life. I had already passed Tom a few burn cards so ideally I could fend it off with Inner PeaceCeasefireInner Peace.

Pack 7, Pick 1

  I chose Hurricane because it’s a solid off-turn board clear. In hindsight, Ice Drake would have been great in my deck. I had the loyalty to back it up and Ceasefire to compliment it. I find myself overlooking Ice Drake too often, given that I’ve loved it every time I did pick it. This pack is quite strong overall. Tom probably snapped up the Pyromancer and I’d guess one of the Good cards depending on his deck.

Pack 7, Pick 2

  Zombie Apocalypse marks my third fast wrath which left only Inheritance of the Meek. It’s a great card so I snapped it up. Divine Judgement is a solid card and also triggers ally for Inner Peace, so I was happy to pick it up over Turn.

Pack 8, Pick 1

  Hasty Retreat is a great way to save yourself from losing to an attack while your gold is down. It’s also a great way to win a race if it comes down to that. Overall, Hasty Retreat is a unique effect in core only so I was very happy to nab it. I passed a lot of decent evil earlier in the draft, if Tom picked those up he surely would pick up these two great payoff cards. Otherwise at worst this pack has two Draw-Twos for him.

Pack 8, Pick 2

  Lash (or Rage) was exactly what I wanted to pick up to compliment Brave Squire and Mighty Blow. My deck needed more ways to close out a game and Triceratops is a great establishing champion. I definitely wasn’t in the market for a Jungle Queen but I did consider Inner Demon. On your turn breaking a champion and making a demon is a fine ability, but it’s hard to argue with Triceratops.

Pack 9, Pick 1

  I was very happy to see Inheritance of the Meek because I knew that having it meant Tom had no access to off-turn wraths. I wasn’t afraid to pass Soul Hunter for the same reason I thought Tom wouldn’t take it; because he knows I have Amnesia. At this point I assumed Tom would take the Ancient Chant and Angelic Protector.

Pack 9, Pick 2

  Warrior Golem goes great with our other 0 cost threats, but, other than that, the pack isn’t great for us. Thinking back on it, I knew Erase was canned, and I had two Banish sweepers. I should have taken Thundarus.

Pack 10, Pick 1

  I was not excited to see this pack. I grabbed Flash Fire because I already had Muse and Dark Knight that I wanted to protect. The problem was that I knew he had Fireball and possibly Wither/Forcemage Apprentice. So I knew he had the answers, but I also wanted my own way to deal with a possible Thought Plucker or Necromancer Lord. Flash Fire also cleans up the Zombies and Wolves leftover from Zombie Apocalypse and Wave of Transformation. Even then, passing Flame Strike AND Frost Giant made it so this game was not going to be easy.

Pack 10, Pick 2

  I don’t think there’s too much to question in this pick. Guilt Demon and Final Task are two very strong cards. If I had more than 4 ways to trigger ally on Priestess I would have considered picking it up. Don’t discredit her small stature. She replaces herself and gains you life over time. Usually a very useful card. This wasn’t the deck for it, though.

Overall I think my deck was decent. Tom did a very good job of putting me on the back foot and keeping me there with a great deck. In the final turn I had made a grievous lapse in judgement that lost me the game (a great example of why sleep is important.) After discussing with Tom our hands and decks I agreed that I was probably going to lose in the end regardless. It happens, and it was still a good game. You can watch his side here:

I appreciate the opportunity to write my side of the draft, I hope you all found it helpful. If you have any questions or want to discuss some of my choices feel free to contact me in the comments below or on Discord. You should definitely check out all of Tom’s other content if you haven’t already.

 

July 4 Dark Draft VoDs

Today I played my first game of the Epic Team Masters. As a member of team The Flash Fire, I went up against Brave Squires team member Noverb. Going into this game team The Flash Fire was down 0-1. Afterwards, I played 6 more dark drafts.

Full Playlist

DD v Noverb: Epic Team Masters

DD v Noverb: July 4, 2017

DD v Gutpocket: July 4, 2017

DD v www: July 4, 2017

DD v RetroKC: July 4, 2017

DD v RetroKC #2: July 4, 2017

DD v GeneralGyp: July 4, 2017

July 4th Dark Draft Team Masters Stream

Tomorrow, Tuesday July 4th, at 10am CST, I will be streaming 1 game of Dark Draft against Noverb from team Brave Squires. My team, The Flash Fire, is currently down 1-0 in the match. Will I be able to start to turn things around? Tune in to find out: twitch.tv/tomsepicgaming

If you want a notification when I begin to stream, you can add me on twitter @tomsepicgaming
The raw footage will be uploaded to: Tom’S Epic Gaming Raw youtube channel
For edited videos check out: Tom’S Epic Gaming youtube channel
(Shout out to Phoenix Gravin for editing)

After the game against Noverb, I’ll happily continue to stream for as long as I have challengers (any format).

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.

P1P1

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.

P1P2

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.

P2P1

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.

P2P2

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.

P3P1

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.

P3P2

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.

P4P1

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).

P4P2

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.

P5P1

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).

P5P2

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.

P6P1

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.

P6P2

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.

P7P1

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.

P7P2

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.

P8P1

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.

P8P2

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.

P9P1

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.

P9P2

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).

P10P1

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.

P10P2

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 🙂

Conclusion

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

Random 60 Origins 2017

Foreword

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

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

Sage

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

Evil

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

Good

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

Overall

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

Wild

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

Sage

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

Evil

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

Good

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

Overall

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.

Conclusion

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.