This is a guest blogpost by Josiah Fiscus. Josiah Fiscus is a 31-year-old gamer from Pittsburgh, PA who has been playing CCGs and designer board games for over two decades. When he’s not at the game table, you’ll find him playing drums and serving as a deacon in his local church or enjoying time outdoors with his wife, Erin, and two kids (ages 5 and 3).
Including promotional cards, there are a total of 102 Champions in Epic (tokens excluded). Each of these cards has varying attributes which make it more or less susceptible to opposing sweeper Events (that is, Events that get rid of all Champions). This analysis should inform both your drafting and deckbuilding. Warning: math incoming!
Breaking vs. Banishing: There are no inherently Unbreakable cards. While cards like Dark Knight can survive a sweeper that you play, truly unconditional sweepers can only be played against you during your opponent’s turn, offering your Dark Knight no protection. There are, however, four Unbanishable cards. Thus, statistically, given the choice between drafting a “Break all” or a “Banish all” sweeper, the “Break all” will be more effective for you, unless you intend to play the four Unbanishable Champions in your own deck.
The Situational Sweepers: “Break all” Events like Reap or Sow are the standard, killing 102/102 Champions. Similarly, a card like Time Walker could be considered an unconditional sweeper, even though the swept Champions can later be replayed. However, sweepers that are conditional in some way, only hitting certain Champions, are what we will call Situational Sweepers. There are currently 13 of them, but of course they are not all created equal. This brings us to our first point of analysis. The Situational Sweeper Effectiveness (SSE) is a measure of how many of the 102 Champions in the game will be removed by said sweeper. The Percent Effective rating is another measure of the same thing; a pure sweeper like Reap or Sow would have an SSE of 102 and a Percent Effective of 100%.
Situational Sweeper Analysis: Let’s take a look now at each of the situational sweepers in the game and see how they measure up to the perfect 102 SSE of a card like Reap or Sow.
The Champions: We also want to consider the Champions themselves. Any Champion will die to an opposing non-situational sweeper, but when it comes to the situational ones, some Champions are much better than others at avoiding them. This rating we will call Opposing Sweeper Vulnerability (OSV). For example, Thundarus tops the list, dying to only 1 of the 13 situational Sweepers (Raxxa’s Displeasure), whereas cards like The Gudgeon die to every single one, for an OSV rating of 13. A lower OSV is obviously better. A perfect score OSV score would be 0, but no card exists like that. (It would need to be an unbanishable demon with at least 10 defense.)
Concerning Tokens: Cleansing Light was not considered in the above analysis, since every single Champion avoids it as it only hits tokens. However, Inheritance of the Meek hits only non-tokens, so it could be said that their existence balances each other out when it comes to considering the OSV of tokens. Thus, we should consider human tokens to have an OSV of 13. Wolves and Zombies have an OSV of 12, avoiding Plague. Plague, however, can also be used as a non-situational sweeper, meaning the vulnerability of these three token types is nearly equal. Now demon tokens are considerably more resilient to situational sweepers, avoiding not only a situational Plague, but also five of the other situational sweepers, for an OSV rating of 7, which is actually above the median. Thus, demon tokens should be valued above all other types of tokens, not just for their damage output, but also for their survivability, especially against Wild decks, which have a lot of damage-based situational sweepers.
Situational Sweepers Outside of This Analysis: Certain sweepers are difficult to fit into this analysis. Quell is a sweeper, but it only hits 0-cost or 1-cost Champions (not both). As such, how symmetrical it will be is totally dependent on the board state. All we can really say for certain is that the four Unbanishable Champions will also always avoid it. Another example is Stand Alone, which banishes all but one Champion from each player. While this card is also excellent with Unbanishable champions, again its usefulness is tied to board state, not generally to the attributes of the Champions in play. Cards like these are not considered in the analysis above, but neither are they considered part of the eight true, non-situational sweepers (Angel of Death, Apocalypse, Plague (also can be a situational), Zombie Apocalypse, Time Walker, New Dawn, Reap or Sow, and Wave of Transformation).
Implications: First of all, when drafting and deckbuilding, try to structure your deck such that you can take advantage of these Situational Sweepers. When you have drafted a lot of demons, highly prioritize Raxxa’s Displeasure. When you’ve drafted Raxxa’s Displeasure, highly prioritize taking demons. Not only does this allow you to break the symmetry of these effects in your favor, it also makes it less likely your opponents will be able to do so. Secondly, when you know you have a Champion with good OSV, you don’t have to be as afraid of overextending your board, since a situational sweeper your opponent is holding may not be effective anyway. This is especially true for cards with good OSV that also have a beneficial death trigger, such as Trihorror and Noble Martyr. For cards like this, if it will increase your clock (the amount of turns spent attacking needed to win), definitely play them regardless of how many other Champions you currently have on the board. Thirdly, consider that there are only eight true, non-situational sweepers. These cards are to be highly prized as they each have an SSE of 102 (100% effective). Not only that, but many of them provide ways for you to break their symmetry in your favor as well (Unbreakable on your turn with “break all”, New Dawn with your opponent empty-handed, etc.).