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
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:
- Accept losing your Triceratops and play T-Rex after to draw 2 cards
- Accept losing your Triceratops and play Rampaging Wurm after to attempt to deal 14 damage to your opponent while their gold is down
- Use Mighty Blow on your Triceratops to allow it survive, break the Lurking Giant, and deal 9 damage to your opponent
- Use Banishment on the Lurking Giant, removing it before it can block, drawing you a card, and allowing your Triceratops to both survive and deal 10 damage
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.
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.