It was an exciting weekend at the Framingham Sheraton, the most regal place in Massachusetts to crown a 2017 Epic Card Game Champion. 32 of the World’s best Epic competitors arrived and received a beautiful bag of swag, containing deck boxes, sleeves, a weekend play pass, and 3 copies each of 48 brand new Epic Cards. Several professional Magic: the Gathering players were in attendance, which is not a surprise since Epic Card Game was designed and developed by two Magic Hall of Famers.

This was the debut of Epic Pantheon, and the new cards were legal exclusively for the championship. Some of the best players in the world were the first to play with these new cards and the result was a theatrical inauguration into a promising new Epic format.

The 2017 Epic Card Game Championship has come and gone, and in the wake is a plethora of professional coverage, a prodigious first impression of the upcoming Pantheon, and a first-ever two-time Epic champion: John Tatian.

Drafting Dark

Each of Rounds 1-3 of the Epic Championship consisted of a Dark Draft and a best 2/3 match with the resulting deck. All 48 new Pantheon cards were included in a cube of one copy of every Epic Card For those new to Epic Card Game, a Dark Draft is a format in which two players choose cards the cards that make their 30 card deck by picking from small groups of cards while trying to figure out cards their opponent is choosing. Here is some more information about Dark Drafting.

Pantheon immediately stood out as major influences on competitor’s Dark Draft picks as they struggled both to secure and answer powerful new threats. New removal and burn spells forced a reevaluation of many old favorites, powerful Pantheon threats such as the tough-to-block titans served as strong threats regardless of alignment.

Loyalty and Ally Abilities have been a part of Epic since the beginning, but those abilities were frequently not enough to warrant taking a weaker on-color card. Pantheon brought a series of new rewards to players for staying on-alignment, and some of the competitors choosing the strongest card from each pack paid an opportunity cost to the Gods of the Pantheon by passing on their Heralds and Wills:

After a long morning learning a brand new format and a much shorter lunch, the competitors were ready for round 4.

A New Constructed

Constructed Rounds 4-6 gave the competitors a chance to show off their deck building skills with updated older decks and entirely new brews. Good-Aligned Token strategies emerged with Cast Out providing powerful 0-cost removal, and Ambush Party turned any old Courageous Soul into a potential combo-kill. Eventual champion John Tatian and his team ran an Evil Control deck built around the staying power of Scara’s Gift and other new sweepers. Old favorites Erase and Wave of Transformation were the answers of choice for new unbreakable, unbanishable, untargetable, or unblockable threats.

Wild was the most popular alignment in the room, but even among the Wild decks there was surprising diversity. Aggressive Wild lists employed new 0-cost threats Kalani Woodreader and Rybas to combat unknown strategies with speed. Classic Sage/Wild Tempo decks used Force Lance to force through lethal damage, while some builds splashed Good cards to pair Brak with old favorite Brave Squire.

As the day went on some strategies were shown to have trouble against the emerging Wild threats, and notibly Kark control decks had issues dealing with Kalani Woodreader’s lifegain prevention. This was an astoundingly diverse beginning to a new format, and it will be an exciting few months as players finish optimizing all the new options.

The Top 8

There was a different atmosphere as the Day 2 competitors arrived at the hall for the final day of the championship. The side events and other tournaments which had been running all weekend were over, and a large television took up one side of the room. Only 8 players managed to make it to the last day of the championship, everyone else was there to watch a day of the top 8 competitors play Epic at the highest level.

Each round of the top 8 was 2 games of Dark Draft followed by up to 3 games constructed, with the first to 3 game wins winning the match. There was no time limit. The final matches of the tournament were enthralling, the players were all skilled, and there is significantly more information to share than can be disclosed here. For complete coverage of the top 8 check out the footage on our stream, and keep an eye out for more articles coming soon. For now, these are the 8 players who made it all the way to the end:

Nick Blandin: There were many Sage/Wild decks in the Top 8, but Nick’s was build was the best-equipped to fight through the mirror Tempo Strategies. Greater Lightning Wurm joined the ever-popular Strafing Dragon to put early points of damage on the opponent until he could end the game with a big unblockable Steel Titan or Brak, Fist of Lashnok. He fell to eventual champion John Tatian in an unfortunate bad matchup, but proved he deserved to be there through a series of excellent plays.

Hampus Eriksson: Played a mostly Wild deck built around pushing through lethal damage with a build-a-bomb finishers. Force Lance and Brave Squire granted Unbreakable while Lash and Rage provided Breakthrough to already large creatures. Hampus’ build frequently had the most to do in stalled-games when both players managed to keep their hand size up. Hampus lost to Michael Sigrist after being burned out in game 4 of the quarterfinals.

Tom Sorenson: Tom has an excellent in-depth recap of his matches on his blog Tom’s Epic Gaming; The whole blog is worth checking out if you want to learn more about Epic. Tom was playing the same deck as Hampus and was defeated by Calvin Keeney in a close match.

James Moreland: James is a member of John Tatian’s team and one of the deck designers for the Evil Control deck unique to their team. In a tournament filled with Wild Decks his numerous sweepers and efficient removal let him win by 1,000 cuts through repeated use of Scara’s Gift. James and his team put a lot of work into preparing for the Championship, and it showed all weekend long. Sam Black defeated James despite the bad matchup by taking both Dark Draft games and having one incredibly fast hand in the constructed rounds.

Calvin Keeney: Calvin was playing a Sage/Wild deck with the most unique card choices of the whole tournament. He was the only member of the top 8 who qualified that weekend via a last-chance qualifier, and he spent the rest of the weekend showing off his Dark Draft testing and using the Pantheon card Teleport to deal massive amounts of damage on the opponent’s turn.

Michael Sigrist: Michael played an aggressive Wild deck with that sought to end the game quickly while deploying large threats. He performed well all weekend with excellent timing on his removal and pump spells before falling to John Tatian.

Sam Black: Sam has a long successful career of playing cards competitively, and he spent the weekend showing us that some aspects of Epic are universal. Sam was on the same Wild list as Michael, but had the best Dark Draft record of of the event. In a long final match against John Tatian he lost to repeated use of Scara’s Gift.

John Tatian: Last year’s Epic champion, John was the only player who came into the top 8 without a single match loss. He is an expert at Dark Draft and played a new archetype of Evil Control deck unique to his team. John put a lot of hard work into honing his Epic abilities, and it payed off as he showed everyone the value of testing and tight play. John ultimately defeated Sam Black in the finals to become Epic Card Game Champion for the second year in a row!

Watch for Pantheon!

If you missed any of the 2017 Epic Championship, there is plenty of awesome coverage posted over on our YouTube Channel, and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss anything. Epic Pantheon will be rolling out 24 cards at a time over the next few months. Each pack also comes with two god cards designed for casual play, and you can preorder the first two god packs of Pantheon</a> now. Congratulations again to John Tatian and the rest of the top 8, and we’ll see all of you this summer for the 2018 Epic Digital Championship!

Watch the Recap Video!