In this article I explain my process for building my limited deck from Origins Thursday 6/16/16. I went 3-1-1 (Intentional Draw) with this deck. I do not remember my seed in top 8. (I then won the first round of top 8 and lost in top 4.)
I am really excited to talk about this draft.
If you don’t like your first card pool, you are able to mulligan. If you do, you get an new list of 56 cards with between 12 and 16 cards in each faction. If you don’t like your second pool, you are stuck with it.
When I first go over my list, I look for
strong faction-independent cards (solid arrow:),
strong faction-dependent cards (dashed arrow: ),
strategy-dependent cards like Revolt (line:),
effectively unplayable cards (line through: ),
generally unplayable cards (dashed line through: )
All cards without a mark are viable, but not incredible.
(In an actual event, it is better not to mark up the sheet aside from your actual picks.)
My Wild is fairly strong. Raging T-Rex is an incredible faction-dependent card. Strafing Dragon is another solid faction-dependent card. Smash and Burn is great. In addition, I have some of the strongest faction-independent cards in wild: Lightning Storm, Kong, and Chomp!.
My Sage cards are pretty decent as well. Psionic Assault (especially with Knight of Shadows and Lightning Storm), Steel Golem, Helion the Dominator, and Time Bender are all incredible, but I’m not sold.
Helion’s Fury and Ogre Mercenary are fairly weak in my experience. Djinn of the Sands and Frost Giant are strong in certain situations but don’t help much to get ahead or come back from behind. We’ll see what the other factions have to offer.
As the first event of Origins, I came in thinking Evil was in general, not the strongest, but wow. This Evil pool is packed with strong Demon/Wide strategy cards. (A Wide strategy focuses on getting multiple smaller champions into play as opposed to 1 or 2 big champions. As an Epic Card Game Fan Page member pointed out, literally Wide, as in your play space takes up a lot of horizontal area.)
Demon Breach, Infernal Gatekeeper, Plentiful Dead, Raxxa Demon Tryant, Raxxa’s Displeasure, Reap or Sow, and Spawning Demon are all incredibly synergistic. As of now it is a very real possibility I go down this route.
Yup, Inheritance of the Meek and Quell combine perfectly with Raxxa’s Displeasure and a Wide token-based strategy. These situational board clears let me be aggressive and defensive simultaneously. Establish some tokens and then shut my opponent out from answering them.
I lucked into incredible Wide synergy with this pool. While my Wild and Sage are both decently powerful, the offensive and defensive power of the Demons + Good situational board clears is irresistible. (The cards with the squares around them are cards that work excellently for this strategy. A dashed square means it potentially works with the strategy for this deck.)
In the second pass, I weed out all of the cards that almost certainly won’t be in the deck, and I pick the cards that almost certainly will be in the deck.
- Full strike-through for not in deck
- Dashed strike-through for almost certainly not in deck
- Star for in deck
- Dashed star for almost certainly in deck
- Arrow for probably in deck
- Unmarked for possibly in deck
Most of my Sage cards are either faction-dependent or weak in a Wide strategy (I’m looking at you Stand Alone.) Most of the rest of my cards are still potentially playable.
At this point, I have 14 cards I will run, 3 cards I will almost certainly run, and 23 more cards I might run, 40 total. (I also have 6 more cards I could squeeze in if needed.)
To further cut down my cards I analyze my distribution of draw effects, slow effects, removal effects, 0-cost effects, burn effects, and blitz effects.
Italicized cards are cards I have decided I will definitely run. Cards that were italicized in a previous section are put at the top of each sub-section (Solid Star cards for example). At the end of each section I explain my reasoning for the newly italicized cards.
Struck-through cards are removed cards. Cards that were struck-through in a previous section are put at the bottom of each sub-section. At the end of each section I explain my reasoning for the newly struck-through cards.
Adequate card draw is one of the most important aspects of a solid Epic deck. In limited, I ideally want about half my deck to have draw/recall capabilities. It is a lot less detrimental to rely on -or- draw 2 cards in limited, as opposed to constructed.
Recycle (0 guaranteed, 1 possible, 1 total)
No Draw/Recall (7 guaranteed, 12 possible, 19 total)
Kong, Dark Assassin, Drain Essence, Necrovirus, Palace Guard, Raxxa Demon Tryant, Spawning Demon
Reap or Sow
The People’s Champion
I started this distribution pass with only 7 guaranteed draw/recall cards and 7 no-draw cards. This means that I want to include around 8+ of the 14 possible draw/recall cards, and I don’t want to include more than 8 of the 12 possible no-draw cards.
I am a big fan of Succubus since I like Tribute -> draw a card champions. It is also Evil which will help with other Evil and Ally Loyalty effects, as well as its own. A 6/5 airborne, blitz champion that replaces itself is solid.
Djinn of the Sands has been growing on me. The Expend draw a card option is fine if needed, when not behind, but the 8/8 airborne blitz champion (that doesn’t rely on loyalty) is excellent. I will almost never play it as a blitzing airborne attacker if my opponent has her gold on my turn, but it is awesome when she is forced to spend it before I spend mine.
Apocalypse and Army of the Apocalypse were included primarily because they are Evil draw 2 cards. Apocalypse has a decent chance to be used for its primary ability, but I doubt I’ll use Army of the Apocalypse for its ability (since I don’t have a ton of strong non-tribute/loyalty champions, and I don’t have any discard removal).
This puts me to 19 guaranteed cards, 0 struck-through cards, and 21 possible cards.
Slow vs Fast Effects
Fast effects are insanely important for Epic. In general, I want my decks to stay around or below 1/3 slow cards.
Fast (9 guaranteed, 0 struck-through, 7 possible, 16 total)
Lightning Storm, Lesson Learned, Army of the Apocalypse, Drain Essence, Necrovirus, Plentiful Dead, Spawning Demon, Inheritance of the Meek, Urgent Messengers
Smash and Burn
Slow (6 guaranteed, 4 struck-through, 6 possible, 16 total)
Kong, Djinn of the Sands, Dark Assassin, Raxxa Demon Tryant, Succubus, Palace Guard
Steel GolemInfernal Gatekeeper
Markus, Watch Captain
The People’s Champion
Looking back on it now, I believe I was too quick to dismiss Noble Martyr. It is a pretty bad card if you play it on your turn when your opponent has his gold, but it can be a 7-offense blitzer that can punish an opponent who uses his gold on my turn before I do. Then, on my opponent’s turn, he can’t banish the Noble Martyr from play, so he either has to return it to my hand, so I can replay it in a similar situation, or he has to break it and put it in my discard pile. In the second situation, I currently have 4 guaranteed Good cards that can trigger the one-time ally trigger that can provide me with 5 human tokens to help my Wide strategy.
In the end, there is still a decent chance I would have cut Noble Martyr because its strength (playing and attacking after my opponent spent his gold on my turn) is severely weakened by its 4 defense. This leaves it vulnerable to 0-cost removal cards like Hands from Below, Spike Trap, Lightning Strike, and even Dark Knight, Spawning Demon, Word of Summoning, and Brave Squire (not to mention Hasty Retreat and Fumble). At least, most of this removal/disruption does still leave me with the discard pile Ally trigger.
After this pass, I am at 19 guaranteed cards, 4 struck-through cards, and 17 possible cards.
I don’t have an approximate removal-effects-number that I use. I generally just try to pack as much removal into my decks as possible.
Non-Removal (7 guaranteed, 4 struck-through, 8 possible, 19 total)
Djinn of the Sands, Army of the Apocalypse, Demon Breach, Plentiful Dead, Spawning Demon, Urgent Messengers
Steel Golem, Markus Watch Captain, Noble Martyr, The People’s Champion
I value removal incredibly highly, especially fast removal. Therefore adding Chomp! and Banishment were fairly easy choices. Pyromancer is quite nice, and it can also be used for Burn. Spike Trap is solid as a 0-cost card that can deal with a significant number of champions and/or recycle.
Smash and Burn was added because it is an incredible card. Draw 2 is important and a free 6 damage to a champion trigger is amazing. I already added Chomp!, Kong, Lightning Storm, and Pyromancer to trigger this, but I added in Pack Alpha as an additional trigger too. Pack Alpha can also help add pressure with my Wide strategy or act as a small blitz champion.
Lightning Strike was not included here because, even though it is strong and I value it higher now after Origins, I felt like I had enough small removal. If I still have an opening after all the passes, it might get added then.
This pass put me up to 25 cards, 4 struck-through, and 11 possible.
I haven’t decided on an approximate number of 0-cost cards for limited yet, at least 3 and probably no more than 10. 0-cost cards shouldn’t be over-included, especially if you do not have much card draw, but they can also be the small edge that wins you a game. So, it’s hard to gauge.
1-Cost (17 guaranteed, 4 struck-through, 12 possible, 33 total)
I started this distribution pass with only 3 0-cost cards. I added Dark Knight because it is a strong Evil 0-cost champion, it works as another Wide threat, and it works as an Establishing 0-cost card (see Epic: Limited – Get Ahead, Stay Ahead). Courageous Soul was added because it’s strong in wide decks.
The deck is now at 27 guaranteed cards, 4 struck-through cards, and 9 possible cards.
Burn (damage that can target a player) is important because it can close out games directly and is hard to stop. Seeing that my deck already contains all of my potential burn, we can skip this pass.
1-cost Blitz cards are incredibly strong because they can punish an opponent for using her gold on your turn before you do. I like to have at least a couple.
1-Cost Non-Blitz (24 guaranteed, 2 struck-through, 6 possible 32 total)
While Pack Alpha and Dark Assassin are technically blitz champions, they aren’t that big, and I would usually rather expend them. Djinn of the Sands is a solid choice. At this point I only have 3 slots available. I’m a big fan of all 3 of these blitz champions, but I still want Infernal Gatekeeper and Reap or Sow because they fit into my wide strategy.
This was an incredibly hard decision to make, but I ended up taking Infernal Gatekeeper, Reap or Sow, and Frost Giant. Frost Giant has won me a lot of games when I first started playing Epic. That Tribute ability to expend all of target player’s champions is crazy. It is great in a stalemate, and it lets my small guys through.
For reference, on Saturday I ran Gold Dragon as 1 of 5 Good cards in my deck. It worked quite well. If I had Lash, there is a very real chance I would have taken Rampaging Wurm, but I still wouldn’t have wanted to play it while an opponent had her gold.
(see Epic: Limited – Get Ahead, Stay Ahead for references)
As I frequently referenced while building the deck above, this deck is designed to go Wide and get a lot of small champions in play at once. With a lot of small champions in play you force your opponent to need a board clear to get rid of them all. Cards like Demon Breach and Raxxa Demon Tryant are especially nice because they force a board clear by themselves. If your opponent does not board clear and is unable to remove all of your champions, you can move into “stay ahead” mode quickly.
With a Wide deck you won’t necessarily get far ahead, since 1 Demon is significantly less threatening than a Sea Titan, but you can get slightly ahead more easily. This also allows you to get small amounts of damage through to your opponent consistently. In addition, cards like Spawning Demon, Plentiful Dead, and Infernal Gatekeeper are great because you can slightly extend your lead while playing removal or just drawing cards, as opposed to committing more 1-cost champions to play.
Wide decks are a bit trickier to play, however, because there are a lot of cards that give these types of decks trouble.
Ceasefire and Ice Drake can prevent you from making multiple attacks in a turn. Group attacking can be important for playing around these effects. It can also be important for playing around champions in play and suspected ambush champions. This does in turn open you up to devastating Spike Trap and/or Hands from Below plays though.
Bounce (return to hand effects) from cards like Temporal Enforcer can be devastating because a bounced token is returned to the supply pile (essentially removed from game). Temporal Shift can remove a demon, force you to banish a card from hand and draw your opponent a card. Time Walker is disgusting against a token deck.
Damage based board clears (Draka’s Fire and Hurricane for example) are brutal because they can decimate your forces while leaving your opponent’s champions largely unaffected. This does make up for the fact that this deck has multiple one-sided board clears, namely Inheritance of the Meek, Raxxa’s Displeasure, and Quell. (Quell can also be really nasty against this deck too.)
Overall, Wide decks tend to have a significant amount of action. You can frequently attack on your turn. Champions get removed constantly. If you have blitz token cards like The Risen or Secret Legion with buff cards like Courageous Soul or Revolt, you can threaten massive damage if your opponent attempts to wipe you on your turn. And, you can chump block frequently, but beware of Lash.
Wide decks are significantly harder to put together than a standard tempo based deck. This is because Wide decks rely on having more specific cards. The combination of Demon Breach, Spawning Demon, Raxxa Demon Tryant, and Inheritance of the Meek/Quell/Raxxa’s Displeasure is incredibly strong, but you need token spawners and the right board clears to make it brutal.
Another nice bonus is that not many people expect a Wide deck in Limited/Draft. I don’t remember running across even 1 other Wide deck in either of the Limited events. All of my opponents were caught off guard, but I did still lose a couple games and 1 match.
I do not remember many specifics from this match, but I believe I won it largely on the back of Plentiful Dead. I truly underestimated this card when the game first came out, but with the amount of Evil I was running, I was largely untouchable by solitary big champions. My opponent was Tim Stanoch.
I went into very significant detail on this match in a previous article. I copied it below.
Origins Thursday: Soul Hunter, Ceasefire, Ice Drake (Max Jacob)
On Thursday I played a very memorable match that involved the 3 cards above. I believe I lost the first game and won the second two. This 3 card combo was the primary means of shutting me out entirely in game 1.
In that game I had Raxxa, Demon Tyrant, at least 2 demon tokens, and possibly 1 or 2 other champions. Max had Soul Hunter in play, and I had no way in hand to deal with it. So, on my turn, since I had significantly more champions in play than my opponent, I attacked with a 6/6 demon. My opponent blocked and then played Ceasefire. My attack still happened which broke the Soul Hunter and did 5 damage to me. Since I couldn’t attack anymore, my army had to sit back and do nothing.
Next turn Soul Hunter comes back from the discard pile. I still have no way to answer it, but I still have the board advantage. So, on my turn I send my demon in again to begin the onslaught. My opponent blocks, plays Ice Drake, and my army gets halted again. I don’t remember the rest of the game, but I died shortly afterwards. I did, however, make a mental note of those 3 cards since they caused me so much trouble, especially since my deck could go fairly wide (get a lot of smaller champions into play as opposed to 1 or 2 bigger champions).
In the next 2 games, I made sure to constantly hold onto at least one of my only 4 cards that could banish champions, specifically to deal with Soul Hunter. In both of the games my opponent drew and played Soul Hunter, but I had an answer ready both times. Since I knew my deck was weak to Soul Hunter (most of my damage was non-airborne and blockable), I had to specifically adjust my play to prevent myself from getting blown out by that one card.
After dealing with Soul Hunter, I still had to worry about Ceasefire and Ice Drake. To play around these cards, I did a significant amount of group attacking. I frequently had multiple demons in play at a time. Since I knew that my opponent had both of those cards, I almost constantly attacked with 2 demons in a group. This would allow me to get 8 damage through if he Ceasefired (significantly more than 4), and it was enough offense to break Ice Drake if he dropped that in to block. In addition, I slow rolled out some 0-cost blitz champions after attacking with my demons for some extra damage. I did over-extend a bit when I was ahead on the board, and I got punished for it. But, since I got those demons through for damage, I was able to barely edge out game 3 before dying to burn (damage from cards like Flame Strike that can directly target a player aka direct damage). I gained a rival that day, and I look forward to the rematches.
So, in order to come back from a 1-game deficit, I specifically held onto answers for a known threat, and I adjusted my attack pattern to suit the situation.
My third match was against my primary cameraman at Origins, Corey Henderson (thanks again for taking so many pictures). In these games, I drew perfectly. I started with Plentiful Dead in each game, and it was critical (not being able to get rid of it if I always play a 1-cost Evil card immediately afterwards is pretty strong). In addition, I drew my token spawning cards first, followed by my one-sided board clears, and, once ahead, I had my Frost Giant each game for a big post-gold blitzer.
I do not remember much from my fourth match aside from being trounced by Rich Shay (1st Origins Qualifier who didn’t lose a single game all day). I believe he had the board clears when most necessary and did significant damage to me in the air (Djinn of the Sands), but I’m not certain.
Thankfully, I got a chance at revenge in top 4, but that didn’t exactly go great for me either. He completely outdrafted me. When looking through my deck after drafting, I realized that I had been incredibly greedy. I had a lot of strong champions, but I was severely lacking in board clears and card draw. Rich Shay, on the other hand, put together a nasty Evil deck that ripped my weak draft to shreds. Still, I had a great time playing and talking about Epic. I look forward to hopefully qualifying for Worlds for another official rematch.
My opponent was already guaranteed a spot in top 8, and if we drew I was guaranteed a spot too. So, we did an Intentional Draw and both got food. My record was 3-1-1 in rounds. I do not remember my seed.
Overall, my takeaways from Thursday were:
- Evil is incredibly viable in limited, if you get a deep pool (Plentiful Dead is excellent)
- Blitz champions are better than I originally thought, as long as you wait for the right opening
- While Dark Drafting, stay focused and keep track of each players’ potential card draw, board clears, and burn; don’t get distracted by champions
- The Epic community is awesome, open, and inviting