This is a guest blogpost by Thomas Sorenson. Thomas Sorenson spent a week with us at White Wizard Games as a “Wizard for a Week” Kickstarter supporter, and he writes detailed strategy articles about Epic Card Game on his blog, Tom’s Epic Gaming Blog. This blogpost originally appeared there.
In this 4-part article, I analyze every card in the base set from the perspective of 1v1 draft.
To be clear, this is an opinion piece from someone who has spent a solid amount of time playing and thinking about Epic. I honestly expect and want people to disagree with me. My favorite thing to do in games is to take a card or strategy that everyone thinks is terrible and beat them with it. So to reiterate, this is how I view the cards, based on my experience; this is not an infallible ranking of cards. Feel free to skip around.
I will be referencing a few ideas throughout explained below. Most are common Trading Card Game (TCG) terms so if familiar with the genre feel free to skip.
- For these ratings, 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest.
- I try to avoid giving .5 rankings, but for some cards, I really do feel like they are right in between.
- -OR- Draw 2 cards: Have a base rating of 3+. The draw 2 option alone is that good, and if you have very little card draw in your deck, I would push it up to 4 or 5 first pick. I value it that highly. The second rating for these cards will be for the second option, which is the only part of these cards I will discuss in detail. For example, Apocalypse is (3+, 4+).
- First Pick: These are cards you generally want to pick above all others. The tricky part is when you get multiple First Picks at once.
- Counter pick/hate draft: Drafting a card to prevent your opponent from getting it.
- Fast/Slow: Fast effects are events, champions with ambush, and champion abilities (expend or activated). They can be played at more times than slow effects, for instance, on your opponent’s turn. Slow effects are champions that do not have ambush; they can only be played on your turn.
- Evil/Good/Sage/Wild Investment: At least 1/3 of your deck approximately should be this faction to trigger loyalty effects and/or ally effects reliably. If you have cards that need a specific faction investment, generally all ratings for cards of that faction can be treated as about .5 higher for that specific draft. For example, if you are drafting Evil, Trihorror‘s rating would improve from a 2 to a 2.5 for you. (Having a lot of card draw can offset required faction investments, to an extent.)
- (_) light/heavy environment: In each draft there will be a different distribution of cards. For example, if you are 75% done drafting and there have been 0 or 1 board clears (such as Apocalypse) available so far, this would be a board clear light environment. If after 25% completion there have already been 8+ direct removal cards (such as Bitten), this would be a direct removal heavy environment. (A removal light/heavy environment looks at both board clears and direct removal.)
- Removed: To bounce, break, or banish a champion in play. In some cases, a card must also be banished from a player’s discard pile to be completely removed.
- Bounce: Return a champion to hand from play.
- Board Clear/Board Wipe/Wrath: Cards like Apocalypse that remove all champions in play, including yours.
- Finisher: Cards that allow you to potentially win immediately when played. Generally these cards are weaker to play in any other situation.
- Body: A champions offense, defense, and abilities. A 6 offense, 5 defense, champion with airborne would have a decent 6/5 evasive body.
- Evasive: Champions with airborne, unblockable, and I include breakthrough. Evasive means harder to block effectively in this context.
- Chump Block: A chump block is when a champion blocks a larger attacking champion, without the larger champion breaking. The chump blocker breaks, but the defender does not take any damage. Chump blocking with 0-cost champions, tokens in particular, is a good idea to protect your health. (This is my primary use for tokens.) Chump blocking with a 1-cost champion is frequently a bad idea because you are losing a 1-cost champion while your opponent does not. While not chump blocking might cost you some health, chump blocking costs you board position which is frequently more important.
- Board position (strong/weak): Board position largely deals with the champions both players have in play. If you have 3 in play and your opponent has 0, you have a strong board position and they have a weak board position. Losing board position happens when you either lose champions or your opponent gains champions. Some champions (or recall events) are so powerful that their board positions are valued at more then just one champion *see Dark Assassin below*. These champions (or recall events) control the board because their presence discourages/prevents opponents from playing certain cards.
- In addition, board position (or more generally position) factors in the number of cards in each player’s hand, the number of cards in each player’s deck, the specific cards in each player’s discard pile, and each player’s current health. For example, say player A has 3 champions in play to an opponent’s zero, 7 cards in hand to an opponent’s zero, recall cards such as Lightning Storm or Psionic Assault in their discard pile when their opponent has none, only 5 cards in their deck to their opponent’s 20, and just 8 health to an opponent’s 60. Even though Player A is dramatically far behind in health, their position is overwhelming stronger then their opponent’s. There is a significant possibility that Player A will win; however, being at 8 or lower health does make you incredibly vulnerable to direct damage like Flame Strike, no matter how strong your position. For example I might say, “it’s 8 to 60, but if I don’t die to Flame Strike, I’m in a much better position.”
- Direct Damage: Damage from cards like Flame Strike or Blue Dragon that can target either a player or a champion.
- Even Trade/1 for 1 Trade: When both players lose the same amount of resources. Direct removal is a good example of this. For instance, playing Chomp! on a Gold Dragon would be an even trade. The 1-cost Chomp! goes to its owner‘s discard pile and the 1-cost Gold Dragon goes to its owner‘s discard pile, no one comes out ahead or behind.
- Owner vs Controller: The owner of a card is the person whose deck the card started in. The controller of a card is who can currently use it to attack, block, expend, etc. For instance, if my opponent has Thundarus and I cast Turn on it, I would control it but my opponent would own it (even if we are only using cards that I spent money to purchase).
- Face: Damage dealt directly to a player. “I play Flame Strike for 8 damage to the face.”
- Over-extend: To over-extend is to use a lot of cards to gain an unnecessarily large advantage over your opponent. For instance, if your opponent has 0 champions in play and you have 3 in play, by playing another champion you might be over-extending. In this case you could get punished by a board clear.
- Punish: To punish someone is to exploit a weakness in your opponent’s cards or how they play. For instance, if your opponent over-extends by playing a large number of champions, you can use a board clear to remove all of them, while removing none or just a couple of your champions. In addition, you can punish champions that don’t do anything when they come into play (Thundarus) by bouncing them with Erase.
- Clock: A clock or being put on a clock means that a player will lose in x turns unless something changes. For instance, since Thundarus has 10 offense, unless it is removed or chump blocked, it will beat a player by itself with 3 successful attacks. So playing Thundarus (when your opponent has no airborne champions in play) puts your opponent on a 3-turn clock. Chump blocking and life gain delay the clock, removal stops the clock.
- Play Around: Playing around a card is when you adjust your play because you either think or know your opponent has a specific card. For instance, if I know you have a Lying in Wait in hand, I might attack with Gold Dragon and a 1/1 human token to protect my Gold Dragon. Even though in this situation my Gold Dragon could now be blocked by a champion without airborne, I am able to play around Lying in Wait.
- Stay Ahead/Get Further Ahead: When you have a lead in Epic or other strategy games, there are certain cards that work a lot better. For instance, if you have 2 champions in play to your opponent’s 0, you could play another champion to get further ahead, but that opens you up to a 3 for 1 trade by an opponent’s board clear. In these situations you could also A) save your gold until your opponent uses theirs, B) spend your gold to draw more cards, or C) use cards like Psionic Assault to attack their cards in hand while not making yourself more vulnerable to trades in board position more favorable to your opponent.
- Answer: An answer is generally removal or a direct counter to another card or strategy. For instance, an answer for Thundarus is Bitten because it can remove it even though it has 15 defense and is unbanishable. An answer to Courageous Soul + Secret Legion would be Flash Fire since it breaks all of those champions on your opponent’s turn before they can deal damage.
Breaking all other champions and leaving a 6/5 airborne champion is amazing. Without the Evil investment, a 6/5 airborne champions is still decent. This card is so powerful that if your opponent is going Evil, you should counter pick this card.
Apocalypse Rating: 3+, 4+On your turn board clears are insurance. You might not need it, but if you don’t have it when you do, you will almost certainly lose. This is playable with any faction-based deck, and its value becomes a 5 first pick in a board clear light environment.
Army of the Apocalypse Rating: 3+, 2+
This is a conditional card. By itself, it is difficult to predict or create a situation where it is more beneficial for you to play.
Here are a few situations that make this card potentially very powerful:
- You have ways to banish champions (in play and/or in an opponent’s discard pile) and your opponent does not. For example, Amnesia, Guilt Demon, Divine Judgement, or Palace Guard.
- Having champions with blitz (not from Loyalty 2) can turn this into a finisher.
- Your champions have better bodies in general (bigger or evasive).
If you meet any of these criteria it can be very strong, if your opponent meets these conditions, it might be good to counter pick this card. In the right circumstance this is theoretically a first pick, but be prepared to just draw 2 if the situation does not present itself.
Bitten Rating: 3+, 4+
I highly value direct removal. This does not require an Evil investment. In a light (direct) removal environment I consider this a 5 potential first pick.
I rank this card low because it is easy to get rid of before it can use its expend ability, and I would generally rather have a threat instead of potentially having a threat returned to hand in draft. On the other hand, if you already have some incredibly strong 1-cost champions, being able to play them twice can be very strong.
Targeted removal reusable each turn if not removed is incredible. Without the Evil investment and with only 2 defense, it is very possible it could be removed before it could break another champion. Counter pick if you have limited ways to break/banish it or it will control the board.
A 0-cost, blitz, 5 offense, unbreakable on your turn attacker is solid. In addition, it can ambush in as a blocker if absolutely necessary. This is more valuable if you have limited 0-cost cards and decent card draw.
This is generally thought to be one of the worst cards in the base set. This card will basically never be a threat and basically never win a game, but it does provide 2 potential chump blockers with ambush. If it survives, it does produce a free 2 offense chump blocker per turn unless your opponent uses removal on it. Only pick this if there is nothing better, but I personally think there are less valuable cards.
This card is weak. 3 demons on your turn is weak, 2 demons on your opponent’s turn is weak, and spending your gold to lose a health and return a weak card to hand is bad. When I originally saw it, I thought it was cool and strong, but I cannot ever remember wanting to play it when it was in my hand.
I like direct removal and this gets rid of 36 of 51 1-cost champions, and all but 1 of the 0-cost champions (using on a 0-cost champion is not ideal, unless it is Muse). 9 health is also a very solid amount of health gain.
This card will usually not affect a board immediately and a 5/4 airborne, unbreakable on your turn champion is not great. It can be great as a combo card if you have a lot of tokens and/or board clears. Flash Fire is nice for a 0-cost board clear for non-demon tokens. If it survives a turn (not great chances based on how I like to play) Apocalypse or other breaking board clears are great. Interesting with Army of the Apocalypse.
This lets you bring a champion from either your discard pile or an opponent’s back into play for a turn. Great card to use on champions with powerful tribute or loyalty 2 abilities (Angel of Death or Frost Giant), and this can be played on your opponent’s turn too.
This card is great for immediately removing a card from your opponent’s discard pile on their turn, or two cards on your turn. In addition, a 3/2 airborne, blitz body is not bad. If your opponent has no cards that care about discard piles, and your opponent has a lot of fliers or ways to do 2 damage, this card becomes weaker, but against cards like Lightning Storm this can be a first pick.
Infernal Gatekeeper rating: 2
A 9/9 is a decent body, repeatedly getting a demon for 1 health is not terrible, but I feel like this card never actually does anything.
Inner Demon Rating: 3+, 4+
I highly value direct removal. This does not require an Evil investment. In a light (direct) removal environment I consider this a 5 potential first pick.
Fast direct removal is great. Leaving behind a 6/8 body is an added bonus, but not amazing. Without loyalty, this drops in value significantly. This card can be counter picked, but does not need to be. While this card does always leave behind a significantly bigger body then either Bitten or Inner Demon and even on your opponent’s turn, I feel like I would rather have those cards for the option of draw 2 and lack of loyalty 2 requirement. In a heavy direct removal environment, I actually think this is better. Ambush it into play on your opponent’s turn. Then if they ambush a blocker on your turn, use another removal card on that new champion.
Murderous Necromancer Rating: 3+ (Evil investment required) Board Control
This card will usually be: get 3 zombie tokens for chump blocking, and force the use of a removal card by your opponent. The expend ability will not be used much, but if it survives it will control the board. In a light (direct) removal environment this card becomes a 4 or 5 potential first pick.
Necromancer Lord Rating: 5 (Evil investment required) First Pick, Counter Pick
This is one of the most powerful cards in the game. When played, you generally get the best 1-cost champion from any discard pile, and if Necromancer Lord is not removed, you get another one per turn. Necromancer Lord does break/banish to everything, but it does require your opponent to use removal on it, otherwise you essentially get 2 coins on each of your turns.
An interesting note, if you return a champion your opponent owns to play (it started in their deck), and they return that champion to hand with Erase, for example, it would go back to the owner‘s hand, not yours. If you do not have the Evil investment to play this, but your opponent does, counter pick it.
Plague Rating: 3+, 4+
Plentiful Dead Rating: 1
I do not like this card. Yes, it is a free fast chump blocker and for 1 health you can play it again. And yes, it is good for activating Evil loyalty effects. I am just not willing to pay that 1 health as a stall for no gain, and I do not think it is worth it for offensive zombie tokens. I could be proven wrong about this card.
Soul Hunter Rating: 2
This is a slow card that can be banished or returned to hand for no effect; I do not value these types of cards highly. If your opponent has minimal champions with airborne, minimal banish, or you have lots of breaking board clears, this can do work. Otherwise, avoid it.
Succubus Rating: 3+ (4+ with Evil investment)
I mainly use this as a 6/5 airborne, blitz, draw a card champion. It is a solid, aggressive, evasive body that replaces itself. It is also not bad without the loyalty due to the Tribute -> Draw a card. If you can use it to banish Good champions, even better.
The Risen Rating: 2
This can do a solid 9+ damage when played, but the +1 offense, +1 defense goes away after 1 turn, and then you are just left with 3 zombies that might have even been blocked and broken already. This card has a high potential for damage (Dark Knights, Word of Summoning, etc.), but I personally prefer my cards to help me secure board position instead.
Thrasher Demon Rating: 3+/-
I like this card. This card is best if your opponent has minimal 0-cost champions including tokens or 0-cost removal. If this card attacks each turn, it becomes a threat, and if it is blocked by a 1-cost champion, you will break a 1-cost champion with a 0-cost card. It can also be held back as a blocker to discourage an attack by non-airborne champions.
Trihorror Rating: 2
I do not value cards that can be returned to hand or banished with no effect highly. This card does have a strong body (especially for Evil), gives you 3 demons when broken, and was a part of one of my favorite Epic moments so far, but bounce is so good in Epic I cannot rate this highly.
Unquenchable Thirst Rating: 4- (Evil investment required)
I value 0-cost removal highly. I like having some health gain. This is a really nice targeted removal card as long as you have Evil cards in your discard pile you do not mind banishing. Unfortunately, Evil cares the most about its discard pile.
Vampire Lord Rating: 2
Once again, 1-cost champion that can be bounced or banished with no effect. If your opponent has no answer for it, it grows strong, but it can also get continually chump blocked. Much better with breaking board clears on your turn.
Wither Rating: 2
This card can clear all of one type of non-demon token from the board, finish off a champion already dealt damage, or manipulate an even trade between 2 1-cost champions to be favorable for you (you lose a 0-cost card instead of a 1-cost card). In addition, it breaks Muse.
One of the best fast board clears in the game. The zombies based on champions in discard piles can make it better or potentially much worse depending on the situation, but it would, at minimum, save you for one more turn.
Evil Cards Breakdown
Outright First Picks: 4
For -or- Draw 2 cards, I am counting the higher rating for the card.
Total Points: 93
Good cards analysis added on 2/1/16.
This was a difficult one for me to rate. 5/6 Airborne, Ambush is a respectable body. 10 health (with loyalty) is a good amount of health too. My only problems are that 6 defense leaves it fairly fragile (Lightning Storm), and the Tribute and Loyalty 2 effects don’t put you further ahead when you play this. The health just makes it harder to lose.
In basically every game, you only want to play this on your opponent’s turn, after they have spent their gold, when you have a worthwhile Good champion to return to play. In that situation, this card is amazing. Outside that situation, a 4/5 airborne that can be easily removed is not great. Definitely strong enough to warrant counter picking if opponent is going Good.
5/9 airborne, ambush is a really good body. The tribute unbreakable, untargetable (which can target itself) can be situationally very good. Most of the time it is just used on itself as a blocker. 9 defense is a magic number because it survives Flame Strike.
Avenging Angel Rating: 2+At Gencon 2015 (before the game was released with only 100 of 120 cards available), this was one of the most discussed cards. A lot of people were saying this card was way too powerful because the combination of all of the abilities (airborne, blitz, righteous, while expended you cannot be attacked) just controlled the game too much. Which if Avenging Angel survives, it is indeed incredible. However, it is so ridiculously fragile that it is frequently removed in a 1 for 1 trade (or it just get’s blocked by another airborne champion). I don’t like those cards because I value targeted removal so highly.
If you are in a light (direct) removal environment this card can dominate. Or if you can deny your opponent card draw or force them to discard with Psionic Assault/Thought Plucker, this card is much better; if your opponent is low on cards, a 1 for 1 trade can still be favorable for you, since this card must be removed.
Targeted removal is excellent, but drawing 1 card is a big deal. So, if you can use it on your turn when you are already ahead (since this is an event you can use it after someone ambushes in a champion, but before they declare it as a blocker) it is a 5. If you have to use it on your opponents turn, it drops to a 3.
I really like this card. A fast 0-cost chump blocker is okay. Giving a champion unbreakable and +5 offense for a turn is great. (This could also be used after blockers for 5 extra damage to the face.) Being able to make a fast unbreakable 6/1 chump blocker is gravy.
Draw 2 cards is a solid 3 by itself. Being able to stop all future attacks in one turn saves games.
If an opponent attacks on their turn, there is no way to play this before that first attack. The only exception, is if they try to end their turn before attacking, and you play it at that time. In that situation they would not be able to then attack after you spent your gold.
This is one of the 3 best “Draw 2 +” cards, and it requires no faction investment. My opinion of this card has risen dramatically as I have played. On a side note, it is another good way to potentially stop Courageous Soul + Secret Legion.
By itself this card does very little. In a token based deck, this card is amazing. The quickest way to beat someone is Courageous Soul + Secret Legion + 1 more 0-cost card (Rally the People, Dark Knight, etc.). As you will see, I generally do not rate token producing cards very highly in base game Epic. So I generally would not recommend drafting a token based strategy, and would therefore not recommend Courageous Soul. If you or your opponent is going for a token strategy, make sure you get this card. In that very specific situation, this would be my overall number 1 draft pick.
Banish board clear on your turn is great. In a board clear light environment this is a 5 First Pick. It is also better if you have Unbanishable champions.
Tribute -> Recycle means this card can’t have a 1 rating. I have not been valuing this card highly, but with certain humans it can actually be really useful (White Knight, Time Walker). Once you play this and if you immediately attack with it, your human can’t be prevented from gaining and can’t lose airborne that turn. This card was excellent in a recent pre-constructed game I played, but I’m still wary of it in draft.
I love this card in theory. Draw 2 cards + A) a free block or B) a free attack that draws off potential blocker(s) of your opponent. In practice, unless my opponent has already used their gold for the turn, I do not want to risk using mine at either of those 2 points. I would rather just use it at the end of a turn to draw 2 cards and ignore the second part.
I actually rate this card higher then Avenging Angel strictly because I would rather have the extra 2 defense then the prevent attacking while expended ability. It can still be removed by a lot of cards (not Lightning Storm though) before it does anything, but the amount of health this can gain is enormous.
Targeted removal reusable each turn if not removed is incredible, and banish is generally better than break. Without the Good investment this card is removed by literally all removal in the game and probably won’t do anything. But, if not removed, this will control the board.
Since this only banishes non-token champions, if you have a lot of token champions it is better, but it’s worse if your opponent has a lot of token champions. In addition, drawing a card is huge, but a fast non-token banishing board clear is even better. Against token decks counter pick this.
This was another card that has had a lot of conversation about it being too powerful. If you have limited card draw, then being able to spend your gold every other turn to gain 10 health is quite strong. So, in a card draw light environment when you have a Good investment, this card goes up to a 4.
As I have mentioned though, card draw is so important that you should try to avoid putting yourself into a position where this is great. I rate this lowly because it does not affect the board at all, and if you opponent spends their gold to remove/play a champion, and you just gain life, you will get behind.
It is, however, a strong way to stop very aggressive decks that try to beat you with primarily direct damage.
This is another card that might not do anything the turn it comes into play due to fast bounce and fast banishment. The reason this is a 3 and not a 2, is that if you can get your opponent to use their coin, this has the potential to do 13 unbreakable damage to the face or to a lone champion your opponent controls. Using the card to remove a champion in that way would make this a 5, but it is unlikely to happen often in actual play (it’s an unlikely situation and Hasty Retreat).
This card can really run away with the game just by staying in play. Ambush it in on an opponent’s turn to draw after they have spent their gold. On your turn, play a Good card to draw. The card has essentially become 6/6 ambush, draw 2 cards, if your opponent doesn’t remove this, keep drawing cards. Even as just an ambush 6/6 draw a card, this is playable.
Targeted banish removal that doesn’t require a faction investment is great. A 6/8 body with nothing else is nothing special, but it is something extra. The only reason I don’t make this a 5 is I think Kong is better generally (even though banish can deal with more answers better: Soul Hunter).
In drafts, the 1/4 body is almost meaningless (although it does block non-demon tokens), the 4 health isn’t great, and the loyalty 2 requirement on the slow unbreakable/untargetable isn’t generally worth it. In constructed this can be a beast of a card for that Loyalty 2 ability though.
Tribute -> Recycle makes this card replace itself as a 0-cost, and it will continue to provide health until removed. Almost everything can remove it, but I think it is solid with a Good investment.
I mainly use this as a fast 0-cost chump block that can be returned to hand if I can’t spend my coin on something better. In a token deck it could be good.
Once again, this card combos amazingly with Courageous Soul (since all human champions gain blitz), but aside from that, it is probably just 6 fast chump blockers.
This is another card that has fallen from favor for me. I used to highly value it, but since I do not think token decks are currently viable, I don’t value this card. 3 fast chump blockers is okay.
Another token generating card, this one has a slightly higher rating because it continually produces tokens until removed. It also survives Divine Judgement. (If you cast Divine Judgement, the tokens from the ally effect would come into play after Divine Judgement banishes everything.) In a removal light environment with a Good investment, the number of tokens can start to get out of control.
This is another champion that has had a lot of discussion about being too powerful. A 10/15 airborne, unbanishable body is enormous, true, but it still gets removed by all break effects and bounces. I give it a 4 because with the 15 defense and the unbanishable, a lot of ways to remove it are taken away. In addition this card alone can kill in 3 turns and there are no tokens to chump block it in the air.
If you can pick most of the targeted break effects and bounce, I would highly recommend taking this card. If you can’t, it might just be another 1 for 1 trade.
This is fast banishment removal. However, using it as removal always gives your opponent a bit of something which is why I didn’t make it a 4. One strong way to use this card is to target your unbanishable champion. “I’ll target Thundarus with Vital Mission, gain 10 health, draw 2 cards, and since Thundarus is unbanishable, I don’t lose that either.” Yes, that is how that works.
A nice little 2/3 airborne, ambush, Tribute -> Recycle body. It is nothing crazy, but I like all of that at 0-cost. A small evasive body has potential to do work, or a fast 0-cost airborne chump blocker.
A 0-cost 5/5 airborne is pretty strong. A 0-cost 5/5 airborne with the ability to recycle is really strong.
9/9 Tribute -> Draw a card is solid, not great though. Blitz is nice to have. Expend ability is great if against Evil champions.
Good Cards Breakdown
Outright First Picks: 6
For -or- Draw 2 cards, I am counting the higher rating for the card.
Total Points: 98
Sage cards analysis added on 2/8/16.
Banishing an entire player’s discard pile and recycling with a 0-cost card is incredible, absolutely incredible. You can use this to completely shutdown someone close to drawing through their deck. This removes individually threatening cards from a discard pile like Lightning Storm or Soul Hunter.
In addition, it also stops cards that check the discard pile like Zombie Apocalypse, Unquenchable Thirst, and most importantly Army of the Apocalypse (either yours or your opponent’s). Further, since it is a 0-cost card, it can be used immediately before some of the cards mentioned above. And it replaces itself with recycle. Spectacular, spectacular card.
Fast draw 2 cards is solid. Spending a gold to recall and draw another card is also decent. The “leaves your discard pile trigger” also happens when the card is banished from a discard pile due to Amnesia or any of your cards that recycle. Even though this card will only ever draw cards (besides activate Sage ally and help with other Sage loyalty 2), it does it quite well.
6/4 airborne is okay, but I love champions that draw a card when played. In addition, the 2 damage can help finish off a player or deal with a lot of small threats like Necromancer Lord, High King, Muse, etc. The 4 defense does make me hesitant to give it a 4, but if your opponent has a lot of cards like the ones mentioned above, it easily makes it to that 4, possibly 5 with enough Sage ally triggers.
This card is essentially draw 2 cards + a chump block. You ambush this in after attackers are declared, wait for blocker declarations, declare it as a blocker, then when your opponent passes initiative, break it to draw 2 cards. The low defense prevents it from surviving most combat, but the high offense, untargetable, and ambush can let it attack if your opponent has no champions in play. If it gets blocked, you can always still break it to draw before damage is assigned. It does break to board clear and non-targeting cards like Lying in Wait though, so be careful if you really need to draw those 2 cards.
This is one of the biggest straight-up finishers in the game. +2 offense and unblockable will basically never improve your board position, but assuming your opponent can’t remove or stop the attackers, this will win you the game if you have a lot of champions or just a few big ones. Targeted removal or fast board clears can really punish you for using this card, hence the -, but it is still a 5.
This is a difficult one for me to rate. An 8/8 airborne, blitz champion is a solid evasive body that can do work, but if you use it like this, it can be removed with you gaining nothing.
Instead, you could draw cards with it. If you draw immediately, you just spent your gold on your turn for an expended 7/7 airborne to draw 1 card, not great. If you wait to use it as a blocker first (or the threat of a blocker), since you can expend it after blockers are declared, you risk it getting removed before it does anything, also not great.
While this card is versatile, I am hesitant with all of its options.
This card is easily one of the best cards in the base set. It is so strong that just existing makes other cards worse. This is the primary reason why I do not like cards that aren’t guaranteed to do something when they come into play. By now it should be clear that I like draw 2 cards, and the second part is amazing.
Returning a champion to hand (bounce) in Epic is incredible. Since you only get 1 gold per turn, and a lot of really powerful champions can only be played on your turn, returning one of those champions to your opponent’s hand effectively neutralizes their gold for that turn + you draw 2 cards. Playing this on your opponent’s turn is brutal, but you can also play it on your turn if they ambush in a blocker.
Further, only untargetable cards are completely immune to this card. This gets around unbreakable, unbanishable, high defense, and to a lesser extent blitz and ambush. This card is incredible, pick it. There are situationally better cards, and this can be situationally worse, but it is still amazing.
Since I love targeted removal, I really want to use this to break cards like Necromancer Lord etc., and in situations where your opponent has a lot of targets for this in their deck, it is probably a 4. This can also clear through tokens, and it is obviously a lot more powerful with Sage ally triggers.
This card also really excels at doing damage directly to the face. 2 damage per turn until removed (removed by literally everything) is solid, but 4 damage on your turn, and 2 damage on your opponent’s turn is a pretty quick clock.
8/12 blitz is solid, but the tribute makes this a crazy strong finisher. Expending all your opponent’s champions makes it so they can’t block. So, playing this card allows all of your champions in play to have a potential shot at your opponent’s face (including the 8 damage from this). In addition, 12 is a very solid defense.
This champion is a monster finisher, but as a lone 8/12 attacker it is still decent. It can, however, be removed without doing anything if it is your only champion that can attack.
Bounce is great. 0-cost bounce is an amazing safeguard against cards like Rampaging Wurm. However, drawing a card for your opponent is a big deal. To avoid that draw, you can block with any legal champion before using this card. Then, before damage is dealt, use this. Even if you block a Burrowing Wurm with a 1/1 human token, you still won’t take any damage, they won’t draw a card, and you just used a 0-cost card to effectively waste a gold spent by your opponent.
A 6/8 airborne, ambush champion is strong by itself, since only Thundarus, Angelic Protector, and Gold Dragon can survive being blocked by it in the air (only Thundarus breaks it in airborne combat too). The loyalty 2 ability is also incredible, especially on an ambush body. It can function as a finisher allowing the rest of your attackers to attack face (and if cast on opponent’s turn, Ice Drake will be able to attack on your turn too). It can also prevent your opponent from attacking. (Although if they attack with a champion on their turn, there is no way to prevent that first attack.)
I rate it as a 4 because I think it is strong enough outside of a heavy Sage investment deck, but with a Sage investment it is a 5. I really like Frost Giant‘s 12 defense in comparison, but Ice Drake with loyalty is a more versatile card.
9 offense with breakthrough, blitz, and unbreakable on your turn is a solid threat card. With that loyalty 2 -> draw a card, this is a strong card.
2/3 blitz can do some damage if needed. Recycle on a Sage ally trigger is incredible if you have a Sage investment. I have been picking this card specifically to banish cards like Lightning Storm and Soul Hunter. However, if you have a heavy Sage investment then that ally->recycle is probably the best part of the card. In a heavy Sage investment deck where your opponent has strong discard pile effects, this is a 5 first pick.
This is one of the best removal events in the game. While it may seem restrictive since it can only affect a champion attacking alone, it is better to attack alone in Epic at least 90% of the time. Having this card lets you banish almost any threat coming at you, including untargetable champions since this does not target. (Yes, that is correct.) So you can banish a Steel Golem attacking alone. Unbanishable champions like Thundarus would be unaffected though.
Just the presence of this card in your deck can force your opponent to make less then ideal attacks to try and play around this card. For instance, if you reveal this card as part of a loyalty 2 trigger, your opponent knows you could use it if they ever attack with a champion alone. If they do not want a champion banished, they might just not attack with a champion. This in effect prevents an attack without you needing to use even a single card. In addition, if they attack with 2 champions you could potentially remove 1 of them with a 0-cost event (Hasty Retreat, etc.), and then use your Lying in Wait. Or you could punish the non-ideal attack with a different card you have in hand (Spike Trap, etc.).
On the other hand, if your opponent knows that you know that they know you have Lying in Wait, they could draw out this card with a “bad attack.” Then, follow up with something like Steel Golem. Or they could bluff. Make an obviously “bad attack” so you don’t play Lying in Wait, thinking it is a trap, and then just get the damage through. A solid mind game card.
5/4 airborne, ambush body is decent. Returning an event card from your discard pile to hand can be really useful. For instance, using this to return an Ancient Chant will still draw you the card, but you also get a 5/4 airborne body on your opponent’s turn as well (or you could return a Wolf’s Companion, Rage, etc. during an attack on your turn). 1-cost cards like Erase are also great to play a second time.
This is another one of the strongest cards in the game. This unassuming 2/2 airborne ambush spirit must be removed as soon as possible or else that player will get far ahead in cards in hand. Granted there are a lot of ways to remove this card with 0-cost and 1-cost cards alike, but if it draws even 1 card, using a card on it (aside from Blue Dragon, etc.) puts the Muse player up 1 card for the trade. And yes this card is so strong I would use a 1-cost removal like Bitten to take out this card if needed.
Yes this is a 0-cost Tribute->Recycle card so it is essentially free, and I can’t rate it a 1 because of that. But, I really don’t feel like it does enough. I like Watchful Gargoyle because it has ambush and airborne at the cost of 2 offense. I think Word of Summoning is better because it is fast and it is in Evil so other cards can help it more (even though it is a token and therefore more vulnerable to being outright removed).
This card can be played multiple times if bounced, and it can trigger cards like Ancient Chant. Still, I would generally only pick it over 1 rating cards in draft.
This card (in conjunction with Lightning Storm) absolutely wrecked me in the 2015 Gen Con tournament top 4. This is the ultimate stay ahead/get further ahead card. If you already have better board position and your opponent is low on cards in hand, this card can make them weaker while not leaving yourself open to an unfavorable trade.
You would not want to play this card while behind because it doesn’t actually help your board position at all. This card is very similar to draw 2 cards, but reducing cards in your opponent’s hand reduces their potential answers and threats. It also makes it more difficult to trigger loyalty 2 abilities which are frequently the strongest part of cards.
This card is weaker if your opponent has a lot of card draw or has ways to banish cards in discard piles (Guilt Demon, etc.). So, I think but am not certain yet, that you would avoid this in a card draw heavy environment, but definitely a 5 first pick/counter pick in a card draw light environment where either player has a Sage investment. Soul Hunter can punish this card slightly.
As a side note, this can also be incredibly brutal against newer players who do not realize the importance of card draw. So you might want to avoid it if you do not want to push them away from the game.
11/14 untargetable body, insane. Add a bounce effect which I constantly say is amazing in Epic. Yeah, this card is incredible. The only sad thing is that I can’t use Lash on it. (But I hope an ability like Magic’s “hexproof” never exists in Epic.)
Spike Trap is an interesting card in that if it was weaker, I think I would like it more. Deal 5 damage to an attacking champion and recycle is pretty strong. It can break a decent number of champions (airborne champions in particular) and it replaces itself, yes please. If your opponent has no 5 defense or lower champions that want to attack, it can always just replace itself.
Since this affects each attacking champion though, I always want to get more than 1 champion with it. In my mind, I think of this card as I can potentially really nail someone with this card, and when I get just the strong situation of breaking 1 champion, I feel disappointed.
So, if you are like me, don’t get discouraged that champions almost always attack alone, and be happy when you get a 0 for 1 trade with it. If you ever get 2 or more champions or set up something else with it, be ecstatic.
Fast board clear is great even though this doesn’t technically clear the board. Bringing your opponent down to their strongest champion still serves the same purpose for punishing them for over-extending. It also lets you keep your strongest champion.
A 13/13 untargetable body is amazing. If you can give it blitz even better. While this doesn’t technically do anything immediately, the number of answers (besides chump blocking) is dramatically reduced (Lying in Wait, Zombie Apocalypse, etc.). In addition, if you can force your opponent to use a board clear to break just one champion, it can set you up for a dominating position later in the game.
This is another get further ahead card that works excellently in tandem with Psionic Assault. If you are behind on the board, this won’t catch you up, but it puts you up 2 cards (-1 opponent, +1 you). This card also must be removed otherwise it will dominate the game. If you don’t have reliable ways to remove it (since it is unblockable), you should probably counter pick it. In a card draw light or small removal light environment this is a potential first pick.
Bounce is amazing. Bounce a champion every turn or banish a 0-cost champion is incredible, especially when it is fast. This champion also has 4 defense to avoid all of the 2 damage removal that High King and Dark Assassin are vulnerable too. It can also be used to return your own 1-cost champions to hand if needed. This card must be removed or it will control the board.
A 10/10 body is pretty strong, but this card is its loyalty 2 effect. Returning all champions to hand and leaving behind a 10/10 is great. Tokens returned to hand also go straight back to the token pool so this clears them permanently. Can make Ogre Mercenary better.
I probably value this card higher then a lot of people, and I do value it higher then Bitten and Inner Demon. I usually want to play these cards on my opponent’s turn anyways so the possibility to gain a zombie or a demon isn’t great for me. In addition, this banishes any champion except untargetable ones. It gets around unbanishable, unbreakable, effects that happen when a card breaks, and prevents it from coming back from the discard pile. Excellent targeted removal.
The only downside is that it leaves behind a chump blocker if you play it on your turn. So if you attack with Raging T-Rex and they ambush in Lurking Giant, even if you transform the giant, removing it, the 12 damage to face can still be prevented.
This card is great. When played on your turn, it is removal for your opponent’s best champion, and you gain that best champion. Or you could give that champion blitz and attack with it to win the game. Playing this on your turn after your opponent ambushes in a champion is brutal.
On your opponent’s turn, you can take one of their champions and use it to block an attack by another one of their champions. Best case scenario is 2 (or more) of your opponent’s champions break (since you can block then use the expend power: Dark Assassin). Worst case you chump block one champion and prevent another from attacking you.
The reason I give this a double minus (–) is in a bounce heavy environment this card can become significantly weaker. If you take control of your opponent’s champion, and they bounce that champion to hand, it goes to their hand (since they are the owner), instead of your hand (the controller). I decided to go with a 5 rating because outside this one situation, it is incredible. (And forcing your opponent to bounce their own champion isn’t the worst thing.)
This is similar to Ogre Mercenary except it can have blitz and is the only card that can recycle itself. A small 4/2 blitzer isn’t amazing but it can get a bit of damage in before going down, and since the recycle doesn’t trigger until this is in the discard pile, you may choose it as one of the 2 cards to recycle. But you can’t bounce it to reuse the recycle effect.
This is the only fast board clear I am not rating a 5-. The reason for this, you can stay behind if your opponent is far ahead and against token decks this won’t do too much. Banishing all champions is a really big deal though which is why this is still a 4, especially since it is fast. Against a token deck this might be counter pick worthy.
This is another get further ahead card. This will usually draw 2 cards, 1 when played, 1 when broken. If it manages to hit face, it does draw an extra card so it much be removed (most things can remove it though). I like to play this card when I am 1 or more champions ahead of my opponent because even if they use a board clear I don’t get much further behind. It is also one more thing that they need to deal with, which can be tough if the other things are directly winning me the game.
Sage Cards Breakdown
Outright First Picks: 11
For -or- Draw 2 cards, I am counting the higher rating for the card.
Total Points: 118
Wild cards analysis added on 2/15/16.
Bellowing Minotaur is a combination of a lot of strong abilities, but I still feel like the combination of them all in this card is weak. Yes it has blitz and breakthrough. Yes it also gives Wild champions +2 offense and +2 defense the turn when it comes into play. Yes you can recall it.
But, most of the time it’s just a 9/7 blitz, breakthough on the turn it’s played, and if it manages to survive, which is unlikely, it’s juts a 7/5 breakthrough. I just don’t feel like a 9/7 blitz, breakthrough is worth spending a gold on, on my turn. Nor do I think it is worth spending a gold to get it back into my hand. In addition, the +2/+2 buff for Wild champions isn’t worth much because I don’t value token strategies. Tokens aside, it is also hard (and risky) to build up a big board of champions in general. If it had ambush (Jungle Queen), the +2/+2 buff would be a lot more interesting. (This does really intrigue me though. Throw in the Wolf Companions, could be interesting.)
This card could potentially work with a Wave of Transformation and token based strategy, but the odds of putting that together in a draft are not great.
18/18 breakthrough is huge, but it is still removed by all non-damage based removal. Your opponent also has 3 windows to remove this card (or try to draw removal) before it can do anything: On the turn you play it, on their turn, and when you try to attack with it on your next turn. At least it can’t be chump blocked.
If you can starve your opponent of break/banish/board clear effects this can be a monster. Or, if you can run a control strategy that restricts their hand size, this could be strong. In general, it doesn’t do anything the turn it comes into play, so I don’t like it in draft.
This is one of my favorite cards of the set. A 5/3 for 0-cost isn’t great, but being able to block or attack with it every turn is excellent. A slow reusable 0-cost 5/3 blocker that doesn’t cost a health is respectable (unlike Plentiful Dead). It is also worthwhile to attack with since it will come back anyways if broken, and 5 damage to the face can’t be ignored. In addition, it can draw out a blocker before you attack with something more important.
If you can’t recall this though, spending a card on a 5/3 with nothing else will just get you behind.
Overall, an incredibly solid card. I would possibly counter pick it if my opponent had a heavy Wild investment. If either player gets it, discard removal is important to control.
Fast 12 damage removal with no draw back is quite strong. I have yet to see the +2 offense +2 defense for dinosaurs do anything, but could be nice with Triceratops etc.
Fire Shaman will usually only get 1 ally ability off before it is removed. So as long as you can trigger it once, it is generally at its peak performance. It can help you finish off champions, deal damage to the face, or pick off targets like Muse.
With no Wild investment, a 3/2 won’t do much.
0-cost fast removal that can hit Muse, etc. for an even trade is nice. The 1-cost ability is also nice especially since it can be used on your opponent’s turn. If your opponent has a lot of 3 or less defense champions, this card becomes stronger. Great against non-demon tokens, and if you are going non-demon tokens you should counter pick this.
8 damage to the face is a serious finisher. If possible, I always want to save this to win the game, but it is also decent fast removal if needed.
An excellent answer to non-demon tokens or low defense cards like Muse. As a side note, this is a great way to stop Courageous Soul + Secret Legion. I gave this a 5 rating because the primary effect can be so situationally devastating, decent, or terrible, but the “or draw 2” makes this a very powerful card overall.
This card will frequently be break/finish target champion and deal 5 damage to your opponent. 5 Damage is not great for breaking champions by itself, but it can remove a decent number of airborne champions. It is possible to remove 2 champions with it, but unless you target tokens or 0-cost champions, it is unlikely.
4 damage on each of your turns can be pretty strong, especially since the damage can go straight to the face. The fact that it has ambush is also quite nice because it can expend for 4 damage immediately on your opponent’s turn, and then 4 more at the start of your turn. I personally value removal and board position a lot more though, and a 5 defense body isn’t hard to remove. In addition, there aren’t a ton of great 1-gold targets for this to hit.
Probably my favorite board clear in the game (and it’s fast). I generally value 10+ defense champions highly so I can frequently clear my opponent’s board without clearing my own. If they get most of the 10+ defense champions this is definitely counter pick material.
Tribute -> Draw a card is excellent, since you don’t lose a card by playing this. A 5/7 slow champion is not great though, and the +1/+1 to Wild champions is minor (except in token vs token battles). Being able to play your Wild champions as if they had ambush is crazy though (Kong, Burrowing Wurm, and Raging T-Rex). If you can make any of those slow, massive, high tempo cards fast, you will probably be in good shape.
Possibly the strongest card in the base set for how I play the game. A 13/14 body that breaks all but 6 champions (Thundarus, Crystal Golem, etc.) when it comes into play is incredible. Removal + a massive threat is basically perfect for tempo.
One of the 3 best 0-cost cards in the game (Muse and Amnesia being the other 2). 0-cost card that can remove High King and Necromancer Lord. 0-cost to give +4 offense and breakthrough is amazing, especially with big bodies like Kong. In addition, you could use lash, then immediately recall it and use it again that turn. This is also one of the best recall cards in the base set. This card is incredibly powerful.
This was the second card that absolutely destroyed me in the top 4 of Gen Con 2015. (Psionic Assault was the first.) The existence of this card makes all 6 defense or less champions weaker. When drafting, you need to be careful not to overload on 6 defense champions or lower because this one card can shut you down. You play a 6 defense champion, they use this. You play a second 6 defense champion, they recall and use this next turn. This loop effectively locks you out from playing 6 defense champions entirely, since you can’t get ahead in cards with them.
In addition, this card can put you on a short clock if you are already behind. 6 damage to face, recall, 6 damage to face, etc. This card is ridiculously versatile and powerful, draft it. (It also largely stops Courageous Soul + Secret Legion.)
This is another one of the cards that makes discard removal so important.
A fast 11/11 body is quite strong. You can usually ambush this in after an attack is declared to remove a champion. Then you have an 11/11 ready to attack on your next turn. The only reason I hesitate to give this a 4 is fast removal, when your opponent attacks before spending their gold. In that case, you might miss an important block and be put into a really bad position (Turn).
This card is an excellent way to get that extra 10 damage in, but it can be neutralized. You generally want to play this on an unblocked champion you control, but only after blockers have been assigned. Attack with a little 1/1 human token, they don’t block, drop this and you have an 11/1 unbreakable, unblockable champion. The only answers at that point are fast banishment or bounce. This is one of the strongest cards in a token based strategy, in my opinion.
This can also be used for removal if needed, just use it on your blocker.
This card is frequently just, put 2 wolf tokens into play, and force a removal card from your opponent. It is important to remove this champion because it can put a lot of 3/3 wolves into play. However, it isn’t hard to remove, and I don’t just want 2 wolves for my gold on my turn. In addition, I don’t see tokens as incredibly viable for attacking.
This card is very similar to Hunting Raptors, except it has 2 extra defense, the 4 damage doesn’t require a Wild investment, you need to spend your gold to do more damage on future turns, and you can attack with it. I generally like Pyromancer better. I prefer cards that don’t require faction investments, and if I am going to damage face with the ability, I generally want to be fairly assured it will win me the game anyways. In that case, it doesn’t make that much difference that I need to spend my gold to use the ability.
+4/+4 and breakthrough for 0-cost is respectable. The +4/+4 can win you an attack or block while protecting your champion, and the breakthrough gets around chump blockers. In addition, since there is no “responding” in Epic. You will get the defense no matter what, and your champion can’t be broken by a Flamestrike before this “resolves” (since it “resolves” immediately).
12/10 for a gold isn’t bad, but the draw 2 cards in addition to a 12/10 is incredible. This is one of the best draw 2 + cards in the game (Erase, Ceasefire). It is also the only draw 2 card that leaves a massive threat on the board. Erase is good for tempo and Noble Unicorn can draw a lot of cards, but Raging T-Rex can directly win you the game.
You do not need 3 targets to play this event, but if there are 3 available targets, you must assign damage to each of them (you are a potential target). This is similar to Forked Lightning, except it can draw 2 cards instead. It is generally break a token, break/finish off a champion, and do some damage to your opponent’s face.
I generally don’t enjoy playing this card. If it hits face for 14 damage that’s great, but if my opponent has an answer, I don’t get any further ahead in board position. If you can force out your opponent’s gold before playing this, it gets much better.
Tribute -> Draw a card, makes me happy. 10 defense is a solid amount of defense, and it has the possibility to grow bigger. It also has recall just in case you can’t spend your gold for the turn. If this card had ambush (Jungle Queen) instead of recall, it would be crazy. As is, it’s fine.
A 6/6 airborne, blitz body is okay. The 5 targetable damage is decent. If you ambush it into play before blockers are declared, it can do 11 damage to one target. Without a Wild investment it is significantly worse, but with one, it is average.
Surprise Attack has incredible potential (Kong, Angel of Death, Thundarus, etc.). It also draws a card to replace itself, so you don’t lose anything by playing it. If you have really powerful slow champions, this can be great. In addition, if you just want to draw through your deck a bit more and are planning on playing a champion anyway, you can just play this then.
However, if you don’t have a champion in hand, draw 1 card isn’t great. In addition, if you don’t have that many slow champions, you won’t gain much by drafting this. This is especially true if you pass up something better to take this.
In constructed this is generally an automatic 3 of in most decks. In draft, it isn’t guaranteed to be as worthwhile.
10/10 breakthrough and Tribute -> Draw a card is excellent. This is one of my favorite cards to play on the the first turn of the game.
I like Wolf Companion. That small +2/+2 can be just enough to save your champion from a trade. The wolf tokens are also appreciated in an emergency. In addition, I like 0-cost events with 1 gold recall abilities since you can play them twice in 1 turn.
4 wolves + all wolves gain blitz generally doesn’t do that much. With Pack Alpha it’s a bit better, but you will usually just lose some wolves, and then you end up holding onto the rest for chump blockers. I don’t want to spend my gold for just 4 chump blockers, especially since I can’t draw 2 cards instead.
A 0-cost 4/4 breakthrough wurm that can get bigger can be pretty intimidating, especially if it can get a lot bigger. At just 4/4 breakthrough though, it is weak.
Wild Cards Breakdown
Outright First Picks: 6
For -or- Draw 2 cards, I am counting the higher rating for the card.
Total Points: 99
I wrote a follow-on article that covers my overall Epic Card Game Drafting Philosophy as a whole. I will continue to write additional articles about Epic Card Game and other games on my blog Tom’s Epic Gaming Blog.