In Epic, many powerful effects involve showing your opponent cards in your hand. The most obvious of these are Loyalty 2 effects: when a champion with a Loyalty 2 ability enters play, you may reveal 2 cards of that champion’s alignment from your hand to get the effect after the arrow. Other effects that show your opponent a card in your hand include Recall effects (Lightning Storm), Memory Spirit-type cards, and bounce effects (Time Walker). Being able to effectively utilize this information allows you to play at a higher level.
First off, there are a few simple practices that can make a big difference.
Loyalty 2: Reveal the Same 2 Cards
When you play a Loyalty 2 champion and reveal 2 cards to your opponent, try to remember which cards you showed them. (Moving the revealed cards to one side of your hand can help you remember.) If you play another Loyalty 2 card on a future turn, reveal the same 2 cards if they are still in your hand. Doing this restricts the amount of information you give your opponent.
Record Cards Your Opponent Reveals
If you want to play at a competitive level, tracking revealed information is critical. When playing in person, writing down the names of revealed cards (as well as cards returned to hand) can be helpful as it is difficult to remember everything. As your opponent plays these cards, cross them off your list. Personally, I prefer to leave all revealed cards face up to save time.
When playing in the app, you can go through the game log to check what cards your opponent has revealed in the past. (Open the game log and click on the “Player resolved effect: Loyalty 2: etc.” to see cards revealed to Loyalty.)
Playing Around Information
Once you start keeping track of revealed cards, the next step is to play around those cards to weaken their effectiveness.
Avoiding Opponent’s Best Plays
On a basic level, playing around the cards you know are in your opponent’s hand involves denying those cards their best possible use cases. In order to do this, understanding the best possible use cases of your opponent’s cards is critical. Therefore, this is something you only get better at by gaining a better understanding of the game. The best way to improve is to lose to a new tactic, think about why you lost, and try to avoid losing the same way again.
Playing Around Examples
One of my favorite examples of playing around cards is Lying in Wait and Steel Golem. As a blitzing, untargetable champion with 13 defense, Steel Golem is immediately threatening and exceedingly difficult to remove off-turn. The only answers to it in Core-Only (besides chump blocking) are off-turn board clears (like Wave of Transformation/Surprise Attack -> Angel of Death) or Lying in Wait. (Lying in Wait works because it does not “target” the champion attacking alone.)
So, you have an unrevealed Steel Golem in hand, and you know your opponent has Lying in Wait in hand. You could still play Steel Golem and attack with it alone, which is usually a fairly strong play. But, if you do that in this situation, your opponent can play Lying in Wait and 1 for 1 trade with your powerful, hard-to-answer champion. Instead of making that play, you have a few other options to play around Lying in Wait:
- Play Steel Golem and attack with it and another champion together to prevent Lying in Wait from being able to remove Steel Golem by itself
- Wait to play Steel Golem until your opponent’s gold is down on your turn
- Wait to play Steel Golem until after your opponent uses Lying in Wait, whether they use it on a different champion or to draw 2
Direct Damage, burn, in Epic is very powerful because it just happens. If you play Flame Strike targeting an opponent at 8 health, they lose and can’t stop it. However, if you use burn against an opponent and don’t kill them, they can punish you by playing health gain cards like Inner Peace. In a situation where you have 2 Flame Strikes in hand and an opponent is at 16 health with a revealed Inner Peace, playing around the Inner Peace is pivotal.
If you play your first Flame Strike…
- …while your opponent’s gold is up, they may immediately Inner Peace, go back up to 18 health, and be safe from your second Flame Strike.
- …on your turn while your opponent’s gold is down, they may immediately play Inner Peace at the start of their turn to leave the reach of burn.
- …on your opponent’s turn when their gold is down, you can then follow up with your second Flame Strike immediately at the start of your turn and win.
Another way to play around Inner Peace is to wait until after your opponent plays Inner Peace to start burning them out. If they play their Inner Peace to bring themselves back up to 16 while you have double Flame Strike, you can burn them out before they have the opportunity to recall it and then replay it. You could also potentially banish the card in their discard pile before they can recall it.
Ceasefire is one of the most controversial cards at the writing of this article because it is an essential part of Chamberlain Kark decks. When played in conjunction with a Bodyguard block, Fumble, etc., it can essentially negate an entire turns worth of attack damage bridging Kark decks into their next turn to safely gain health while also drawing 2 cards.
If you know your opponent has a Ceasefire in hand, attacking with multiple champions in a group attack might be the only way to get significant damage through. However, if they have ways to negate that attack with a 0-cost card like Spike Trap, attacking in a group can be very dangerous.
Ceasefire is also a prime example of a card that when you see one of them, in a format that allows multiple copies, it can pay to preemptively play around the card even if you don’t know if they have one in hand. Any turn where an opponent can spend their gold first to draw 2 and limit combat damage to approximately 4 is a strong turn, usually.
Preemptively playing around cards has a lot of caveats, relies on knowing your opponent’s deck/being able to deduce it based on cards played or revealed, and is out of the scope of this article. Essentially it boils down to learning when making the “wrong play” is the best play.
Hide Your Best Plays
While in many situations you only have 2 cards you can reveal to a Loyalty 2 ability, determining which cards to reveal when you have more than 2 is important. Generally, you do not want to reveal your most impactful plays or your plays that are the easiest to play around.
Card Hiding Examples
Hasty Retreat is a card I like to hide whenever possible. The reason for this is that it protects me from most Gold-Punishers if I’m forced to use my gold first on my opponent’s turn. It also protects me if my opponent commits a Lash/Rage to a blocked champion. If my opponent knows I have a Hasty Retreat in hand, they generally won’t commit resources that allow my Hasty Retreat to really shine.
Amnesia is nice to hide in Dark Draft because your opponent could try to go for a draw out victory. If they do, you can punish them at the last moment and negate multiple gold spent to draw cards to a full-hand.
Inner Peace and other health gain can be nice to hide. Being able to lull your opponent into committing their burn to your face can be devastating.
In general, it is also usually great to hide your unusual inclusions. For instance, if you are going for a Drinker of Blood combo kill, revealing your Drinker early lets your opponent know they need to hold onto a Flash Fire or Wither to answer a board of small champions before you can play your Drinker.
Deciding which cards to reveal depends on what cards are in play, what you have in hand, and what you expect your opponent to do. As a rule of thumb, I like to reveal duplicates to only reveal 1 potential play. I also like to reveal cards I plan on using before my opponent spends their gold, such as Triceratops and other establishing champions. Cards I plan on using just to draw 2 can frequently be strong choices as well.
Playing Into Information
One thing that can be even better than playing around your opponent’s answers is to purposefully play into them. When playing against experienced players that won’t make weak plays, guiding them into the “wrong” strong play can be critical.
Examples: Playing Into Your Opponent
Below are 3 examples of playing into your opponent’s revealed cards in order to guide their plays to your benefit.
Muse (Draw Out Removal)
If you watch my streams or read certain articles of mine, you know that I think Muse is a frustratingly powerful card. It is a 0-cost card that can grant you a major advantage and is difficult to deal with efficiently (particularly in core-only). However, if removed in a 1 for 1 trade (Wither, Flash Fire, Fireball, etc.) or better (Forcemage Apprentice, Wolf’s Bite, Siren’s Song, etc.), Muse can be worthless. Therefore, if your opponent reveals a Wither, playing something your opponent can Wither (Guilt Demon for instance) can draw out their Muse-Removal before you play your Muse. Even though your opponent using Wither to break Guilt Demon is strong, if it costs them their only Muse-Removal, they are in a terrible situation.
Noble Unicorn Bait
In a recent Dark Draft I played, I had drafted Amnesia and a bunch of strong defensive cards in order to pursue a draw out victory. Near the middle of the game, my opponent played Angel of Death and revealed Succubus and one other Evil card.
In order to bait out the Succubus, I played Noble Unicorn on my turn. On their turn, after attacking with Angel of Death, they played Succubus to draw a card and Banish my Noble Unicorn, a very strong play. However, this allowed me to play Forked Lightning on their turn, break both of their 6/5 airborne champions, leave them with just a zombie, and get back into a defensible position. While drawing a card and removing a champion is strong, me being able to essentially off-turn board clear with no downside was much more important in that game.
In my Bo7 showmatch against John Tatian, I was in a situation where my opponent played Memory Spirit the turn before to return a Drain Essence to hand. Then, on his turn he attacked with the Memory Spirit. I played my Memory Spirit and here is what the casters (cnoz and CJ Moynihan) thought about the play, what my opponent thought about the play, and my explained reasoning at the time.
Casters perspective – 1:46:46 to 1:49:44
Opponent’s perspective – 1:49:37 to 1:51:40
My Explanation – 12:17 to 15:18
When I assembled these clips I was “remembering” that I was talking/thinking about playing Memory Spirit to “play into” his Drain Essence for multiple reasons. Since I knew he had Drain Essence, the obvious play would have been for him to Drain my Memory Spirit to prevent me from blocking/trading, and to get 5 damage through. I was fine with this for these 3 primary reasons:
- I wanted to protect my Djinn of the Sands from Drain Essence
- I wanted to prevent my opponent from spending their gold to play a blitz champion
- I wanted to deny my opponent 2 damage from his Forcemage Apprentice
In the clip, however, I primarily talk about “playing around” Drain Essence by not playing my Ice Drake. Then, I talked about not blocking to “play around” a possible Steel Golem. While John was incredibly close to taking my bait, unfortunately for me he proved again why he is the World Champion by passing up the obvious play. Looking back at it now, I still think this was the correct play for me in this situation though. (I also think John made the correct play in response: gain 9 health fairly safely, not overcommit to the board, and remove my 7 damage threat/card drawer.)
Feeding Your Opponent Information Examples
Sometimes, revealing a card to your opponent to force them to play around it can be beneficial. Basically, if you can force your opponent to disrupt their play in such a way that you can exploit it, you can gain an advantage.
Fellow Pluck You team member and Epic personality Tom Dixon has gone on the record multiple times discussing one such example: include 1 Flame Strike in your constructed deck and reveal it as soon as possible. By doing this, you let your opponent know that 8 health is effectively 0 for the entire match. Therefore, your opponent will make sub-optimal plays to stay above 8 health, regardless of whether or not Flame Strike is in your hand at that point.
In addition, since you have already gained the advantage of influencing your opponent’s play, you can freely use your Flame Strike as removal. Since your opponent will probably expect you to have more copies in your constructed deck, they will still feel the need to play around it.
As mentioned in my Ceasefire example above, Ceasefire/Ice Drake are two powerful cards that encourage your opponent to attack in groups to play around them. Attacking in groups in Epic is usually “wrong” since 1 champion can block multiple. In addition, cards like Spike Trap and Hands from Below can punish group attacks. By showing your opponent Ceasefire/Ice Drake, you encourage them to play in a way that you can punish with your other cards.
Effectively utilizing revealed information is an important step in becoming a better Epic player. By playing around (and occasionally into) your opponent’s revealed cards, you can lessen their effectiveness, and by strategically revealing your Loyalty 2 cards, you can influence your opponent’s plays. From here, the next step is learning how to deduce the cards that might be in your opponent’s deck/hand, and to utilize this information in the same way.