This is a guest blogpost from Brad Minnigh. Brad is married with 2 kids, and plays a variety of board games/card games/video games. He is an avid boardgamegeek and has been very active on a number of game forums as well as a Senior Playtester and guest designer for the successful Summoner Wars card game by Plaid Hat Games. For Epic, he has managed to organize two World Qualifiers at his local gaming store, and he is looking forward to more events!

With the upcoming release of the new Epic expansion, Pantheon, and the newly showcased art in the card gallery (type pantheon in the search box), I wanted to provide an overview of the set. If you are interested, I have also written my initial review with more details for each of the cards on my blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). We also have additional insight that came out of watching the first four packs played in the Epic World Championship.

I wanted to touch on two aspects of the set: What some of the new stuff brings to the table, and the art of some of the new cards.

Pantheon is going to be released in three waves, each consisting of two 15-card packs. Each pack will contain 12 game cards for Limited and Constructed play, 2 deity/token cards, and 1 double-sided token card. The first two packs are Furios vs Maligus and Helena vs Zaltessa, and those should be released this month in December. The next set will be Angeline vs Scara and Gareth vs Lashnok, which should come around February/March. And the last set will be Shadya vs Valentia and Riksis vs Tarken in May/June. That gives us 72 cards with which to fill our Constructed decks and Limited pools. This number does not include the elder god/god/demigod cards nor the tokens that will also be in the set. I am going to concentrate on just the cards that affect Constructed and Limited play, as the others are more of an alternative way of playing that will be touched upon on a later date.

There are a couple of categories of cards that are showcased in Pantheon. The first is what could be called the “Will” cards:

Each alignment received one, and they act as gold-spending events that allow you to spend another gold on your turn, as long as it matches the alignment of the event you played. Everyone who has played Epic has probably figured out that Brachiosaurus is a good card, because it allows you to essentially play 2 Wild gold-cost cards on your turn. Even better, it allows you to put the giant champion into play, and then pass the turn, forcing your opponent to debate on whether or not to spend gold. If they do, you can punish them with a Wild 1-cost card. If they don’t, you have board presence and caused them to not spent their gold on their turn. These “Will” cards allow for the same thing. Play them on your turn, and then hopefully you will either clear the board or get ahead in some way, and then force your opponent into a difficult situation.

My personal favorite is Gareth’s Will, as I want to build a deck that has a bunch of 0-cost sage cards that have Sage ally ability triggers, and use Gareth’s Will to help trigger them all twice. Forcemage Apprentice and Shadow Imp, anyone? Lashnok’s Will was used by the Pluck You team at the World Championship to help keep up the pressure by making their champions even bigger and stronger. John Tatian, our two-time Epic Card Game World Champion, used Scara’s Will to help control the board. So, these new cards have already started to see play.

Another category of cards are giant, Unblockable, champions:

We have Brak, Fist of Lashnok, Silver Winged Lancer, and Steel Titan. These guys personify what Epic is: Big, gigantic, powerful guys, who can win you the game in a couple of turns if they are not taken care of. They are a lot of fun and are sure to attract a lot of attention, and could be great examples to get kids interested in the game. They also saw quite a lot of play in the World Championship. Brak was used in a number of decks, including Sam Black’s runner up deck, as well as top 8 finishers Mike Sigrist and Nick Blandin. Silver Winged Lancer was used in the popular Pluck You deck, that sent both Tom Sorenson and Hampus Erikksson to the top 8 as well. Steel Titan, although was not represented in the top 8, did manage to be quite dominant in the Dark Draft portions throughout the tournament, with that combination of Unblockable and Untargetable being quite the bane of opponent’s. I think it is safe to say that these new cards have made a big impact on the game, and I for one can’t wait to try them out some more.

Yet another group of cards released in Pantheon have been the “fishing” champion Heralds:

These cards are all champions that when played, allow you to look at the top 3 cards of your deck, draw a card from that alignment, and then banish the rest, This is a very powerful ability that lets you get what you need, when you need it, and most likely will at least replace the card you just played from your hand. Since hand size is so important, you can see why a card that draws a card when played, is powerful.

There have been a number of other cards that have really changed the meta of tournament play as well. I have been most impressed by Force Lance, Scara’s Gift, and Kalani Woodreader.

These cards were all used in many top 8 decks, and shall continue to be used in the future. Force Lance gives you a strength boost, Unbreakable on your turn, and it Recycles! This is the Sage’s version of Brave Squire, and was quite popular with the combat trick deck used by the Pluck You deck at World’s. I was most excited about that Recycle trigger. Kalani Woodreader was also used by that same deck, and it is easy to see why: It is the quintessential aggressive card. It is a 0-cost so it may draw out your opponent’s Gold, it is a 5/5 which is hard to kill without spending Gold, and it hits pretty hard. It also prevents your opponent from healing, which can really hinder certain decks, and makes an amazing card like Drain Essence, just a bad removal card. Then, there is my MVP of World’s, Scara’s Gift. This card was showcased best by the winner John Tatian, although many others, including top 8 James Moreland, also used this in their deck. This just helped win games. It does direct damage to your opponent, while healing yourself. These incremental health point swings kept John in games and allowed him to slowly defeat his opponent. He was careful to always be able to Recall it as well by waiting to play it right before he played another Evil card, with enough cards in his discard pile for the pseudo Recycle.

There are, of course, many other amazing cards in the set, but I shall let you peruse them at your leisure, or surprise your opponent with one on your next game night.

Next up is looking at some of the new art in this set (any Vorthos Artist types out there?), as the art is one of the things that got me exciting and into this game in the first place:

Silver Wing Guardian – This is some beautiful art. I love the design of the angel, especially with the dark pants to contrast with the white and gold. I like the bright blue sky at the top and the darker clouds beneath. I actually also really like the demon, and wished we could crop that into a card. The illustration just invokes such a wonderful combat between two worthy foes. Beauty and the Beast, indeed.

Fiery Demise – Despite the puzzler of how 3 damage is destroying Kong (I believe this card ability has changed a bit since the art was commissioned), I really like the art. The flames, the charred fur, the look of anguish on a favorite champion, it’s all great. I do find it funny that the victims of so many of the burn events in this game are Wild champions, but setting a giant ape or a T-Rex is more impressive than a pitiful human I suppose.

Ethereal Dragon – I do love me some dragons. They have always been fascinating to me, and it can’t be high fantasy without them. This latest edition does mark itself out as our first ghost dragon, as if ghosts weren’t scary enough. Poor Porkins the knight in the middle doesn’t stand a chance (I love that guy, he has a story to tell, even if it is short and stout).

Dirge of Scara – Evil has really gotten into the occult in this set. There are a lot of cultists and tattooed ne’er-do-wells that seem to have crossed over from WW newer game, Hero Realms. I’m not complaining though. They definitely invoke the images of Evil like they do that demon. Or is that the Herald of Scara they are summoning? I’m sure there will be a good fluff story to go along with that either way. I actually really like the color choices in this with the red and green. It really makes the card pop, and not in the Christmas way you’d think.

If I had to choose I think Good wins out for the best art in this set. Silver Wing Guardian, New Dawn, Angeline’s Will, Herald of Angeline, Hand of Angeline, Silver Wing Savior, Ambush Party, Helen’s Chosen. All of these are top notch and I would love prints of all of them. Seriously, go look at them in the gallery. I don’t typically love the angels, but I can’t help myself with this set. They are done by different artists, but they are all extremely evocative and moving, with bold stances and colors, each showcasing a story in and of itself, and are suitably epic illustrations. I have been very impressed with the quality of the art in this set and this game in general. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new set and the chance to look at these more closely. I hope you enjoy the new stuff like I do. This set seems like a great addition to the game, and I’ve been constantly surprised at how each set has added great stuff, without making the previous sets obsolete. I also hope you enjoyed this broad look at Pantheon. Happy gaming!