Epic Card Game Review & Ultimate Guide (2019)
When you create a game and simply call it “Epic,” you either are completely full of yourself or you’ve made a truly awe-inspiring game. With 4 factions and the ability to drop a Raging T-Rex, an Angelic Angel, a Crystal Golem, or trigger an apocalypse on turn one, I’m inclined to agree with the latter.
A Brief Overview of Epic Card Game
Versions & Expansions
Unboxing Epic Card Game
How to Play Epic Card Game
Your First Game of Epic Card Game
The Pros & Cons of Epic Card Game
Epic Card Game FAQs
Epic Card Game
Epic is a Collectible Card Game (CCG) without the “collectible” part. Why not just call it a card game? The difference is that this is a one-time purchase CCG. Also known as a Non-Collectible Trading Card Game (TCG), it means that the game relies exclusively on cards for game pieces, and you know exactly what cards you are going to get when you buy the game.
The creators of Epic Card Game, White Wizard Games, have created several games now that give the same feel of a CCG (Magic: The Gathering) but without the high cost of entry. It’s almost impossible to talk about Epic and not mention Magic, but I’ll try to keep it to the conclusion.
- Kickstarter expansion (2015)
- Tyrants – Raxxa’s Revenge (2016)
- Tyrants – Markus’ Command (2016)
- Tyrants – Helion’s Deceit (2016)
- Tyrants – Draka’s Rage (2016)
- Uprising – Will of Zannos (2017)
- Uprising – Velden’s Wrath (2017)
- Uprising – Kark’s Edict (2017)
- Uprising – Flames of Scarros (2017)
- Pantheon – Shadya vs Valentia (2018)
- Pantheon – Riksis vs Tarken (2018)
- Pantheon – Helena vs Zaltessa (2018)
- Pantheon – Gareth vs Lashnok (2018)
- Pantheon – Furios vs Maligus (2018)
- Pantheon – Angeline vs Scara (2018)
Expansions come in small booster packs. Don’t be fooled, however, you won’t get a random collection of cards or have to buy multiple packs searching for an ultra rare foil variant. All the named booster packs from Epic have a set number of the same cards. So if you buy the Tyrants: Raxxa’s Revenge booster you can go to Epic’s website and see exactly what’s in the pack and exactly what cards you’re going to get.
White Wizard currently has the digital version of Epic Card game in beta and is looking to release it sometime in 2019. You can expect the clean interface and quality that they put into Star Realms.
Don’t be surprised by the small box. Epic is from the same creators as Star Realms, which are known for packing highly-strategic and complete games in small packages, and Epic is no different. The entire box is a slightly larger than a CCG deck holder, similar to Star Realms.
Winning / Ending the Game
Epic comes with a built-in timer to the game. What I mean by this is that the game is automatically over when one player cannot draw a card. That player wins. Simple as that.
Wait, what? (You may ask.) This may confuse a lot of veteran TCG/CCG players since many decks have been built on the premise of forcing your opponent to mill or burn through their deck.
This counterintuitive mechanic, however, works really well for Epic. Many cards give you the option to use the card’s ability or to draw 2 more cards. It balances the game nicely and also serves to put the game on a timer since life points and domination of the field can swing wildly throughout the game.
It’s possible that you’ll end the game in a handful of turns, with rapid card draw, but on the other hand, you and your opponent might get deadlocked. If that happens, Epic’s “draw to win” mechanic gives you another path to victory.
One of the biggest differences in Epic is that the card drafting/playing is extremely streamlined. Instead of building up a pool of money (or mana) players will have the same amount of gold on turn 1 and turn 9000: 1 gold.
Every turn, players will have 1 gold that cannot be saved and is refreshed at the beginning of every turn. Champions either cost 1 gold or 0 gold, meaning that at most players will be able to play 1 big monster per round, but can play as many 0 cost champions as they have in their hand.
Champions & Events
There are only 2 types of cards in the game: Champions and Events. Champions is the all-encompassing term for monsters/minions in the game. They come in all shapes and sizes, such as zombies, demons, angels, dinosaurs, and humans. They are all considered champions. Event cards are like spells that can quickly change the tide of battle. They can heal, buff, and even wipe the entire board by breaking all minions on the field.
When a Champion is first played, it can’t do a whole lot. This deployment phase for the Champion is a similar mechanic that can be seen in many dueling card games. You might be familiar with the term “summoning sickness”. Champions in deployment can’t attack or use abilities, but they can still block. There are some exceptions to this mentioned later (Blitz).
Deploying – As I mentioned previously when a Champion first takes the field, it is deploying and cannot attack or use it’s special abilities until the next turn. It can still block, though.
Expended – When a Champion is declared in an attack or when it uses its special ability, it becomes expended and flipped on its side at a 90-degree angle. It can no longer use abilities, defend, or attack until the next turn when it is refreshed and turned right-side up.
Attacking – When a card is declared in an attack, the defender can choose which Champions will defend. If attacking with multiple monsters and the attack is blocked, the entire fight is blocked, so it’s better to send multiple attacks with a single monster to whittle down defenders.
Blocking – When a Champion is declared as a blocker, you’ll flip it 180 degrees to indicate that it is defending the attack.
Broken – When a Champion takes damage equal to its health/defense, the Champion is considered broken (dead) and is removed from the board and placed in the discard pile.
There are no counterspells in the game. When you play a card… it happens. There are no tricky combos or cancels in Epic. It’s a straightforward brawl. When players drop a Champion on the field, there’s nothing another player can do about it. It will appear on the field. That doesn’t mean that a lucky draw is going to win the game, however. Opponents will be able to play Events and other cards in three situations: when a player attacks, blocks, and when ending their turn.
Tokens – Certain Champions and Events will allow players to place a token on the field. The game comes with several tokens of each type. They are basically generic monsters that belong to each alignment.
There are four alignments that are going to be your factions or groups of thematic cards. They come in four flavors.
Good (yellow): You’ll find a lot of angels and holy minions in this alignment.
Evil (red): Think demons. The artwork is amazing here.
Sage (blue): Wizards, magic, and alchemy.
Wild (green): Giant beasts and monsters.
Epic uses its own names for card abilities, and if you’ve played a lot of collectible card games then you’ll find that the abilities are all going to be familiar to you (but with different names).
Tribute – If a Champion has a tribute ability, it will activate after you play/summon the Champion.
Loyalty – Similar to Tribute, the Loyalty ability activates after you first play/summon a Champion but players will only gain the ability if they reveal a certain number of cards from the same alignment. For example, if a player plays a Red/Evil alignment card with Loyalty-2, the player can reveal 2 Red/Evil cards from their hand to gain the ability. If they don’t have enough cards or don’t want to reveal, the Loyalty ability is ignored.
Ambush – Ambush Champions can be played on any turn. This means that they can be played like a normal Champion on your turn, or wait until an opponent declares an attack, allowing a powerful Champion to instantly appear for a crucial block.
Airborne – Airborne Champions can only be blocked by other Airborne Champions (because they’re flying). If attacking with a mix of Airborne and non-Airborne Champions, the defender can defend with anything. If the attack group is only Airborne Champions, they must defend with only Airborne Champions or the damage gets through and hits a player’s life points directly.
Blitz – Blitz Champions come into play ready to attack (no summoning sickness). They do not need to spend a turn waiting to deploy. These are extremely useful for quick strikes and to gain momentum quickly in a fight.
Breakthrough – A Champion with Breakthrough will deal leftover damage that isn’t blocked directly to a player’s life points.
Recall – Normally when a card is in the discard, it’s out of the game. Recall abilities allow a player to pull those cards out and put them directly into their hand. This isn’t free, though. It will cost either 1 gold or a player will need to reveal a certain number of matching alignment cards in their hand, similar to the Loyalty ability.
Banish – When you Banish a card, it goes on the bottom of the owner’s deck. This is the natural defense for Recall cards. To counter a Recall card that is constantly being pulled out of the discard pile, a player can try to Banish it. That way it’s stuck at the bottom of the draw deck and can’t be immediately returned to a player’s hand.
Recycle – When a card has the Recycle ability, players can Banish 2 of their own cards and draw an extra card. This lets you put out extra cards to use during the game, but also keeps refilling your deck. (Remember that a player automatically wins if their deck is empty and they cannot draw another card.)
Righteous – Righteous = life steal. When a champion deals damage to a player, the attacking playing receives that much health.
Un: The “un” cards come in several different flavors.
Untargetable: Cannot be targeted by abilities.
Unbanishable: Cannot be Banished.
Unbreakable: A Champion cannot be broken. Unbreakable Champions can be awesome defenders but are still vulnerable to Banish events.
This only works when the Un card is actually in play. If it’s in the discard, your hand, or deck, it can still be targeted. The Un ability only works when the card is actively in play.
First, set the tokens aside and ensure they’re reachable by someone at the table. Next, shuffle and deal each player 30 cards at random. There’s no fancy deck-building needed here. Use your favorite scoring device: pen & paper, stitching counter, skulls of your enemies, pennies, dice, or whatever floats your boat.
Players draw 7 cards in their hand and then decide whether they want to take a mulligan or not. If players want to mulligan then they’ll set aside any number of cards they don’t want to start with and place them at the bottom of their draw decks. They’ll then draw the same number of cards back up to 7. The disadvantage to this is that a player loses 1 health for every card he mulligans, which can be a double-edged sword.
The first player to go does not draw a card on their first turn.
Each game turn plays out in 3 phases:
1. Start: Gold is reset to one. If the player used it on their previous turn, it goes back up to 1. If they didn’t use it on their previous turn, it’s still at 1.
Champions that were expended are refreshed and turned right-side up.
Champions that were deploying are now ready to attack and use abilities.
Draw a card (unless it’s the very first turn).
2. Main: The player may attack, use Champion abilities, and play Events (repeatable for as many times as you can or want to). The opposing player may only play cards when an attack is declared.
3. End: The opposing player has a chance to play Events.
Winning & Losing
The player who reduces their opponent to zero life points first, wins!
Or, if a player cannot draw a card (due to their draw deck being empty) they win!
There are some variant rules where players use all the cards of one alignment for their deck or players can take turn drafting cards, but for your first game, I’d suggest just drawing random cards. It’s also recommended that players not take a mulligan on their first game or two so that they get a feel for the cards before starting a game off with lower life points.
- Easy to learn
- Is NOT pay-to-win
- Cheap entry cost
- Simplified economic system
- No instant or trap cards
- No instant or trap cards
I know I put this in both categories, but it all depends on how you look at it. There are still plenty of Event cards that drastically alter the game, but some players like the constant threat of traps and instants that can be played at any time. However, I personally enjoy Epic’s approach of giving explicit situations where cards can be played.
When calculating Breakthrough damage, only the Champions with Breakthrough are counted. The other Champions are basically along for the ride and don’t do anything.
If you can destroy a blocking Champion completely using an Event before the combat is complete, then all of the damage from the Breakthrough Champion will go directly to the player being attacked. If the Champion is injured but still alive, the blocking minion will still use its full block when calculating breakthrough damage.
The booster pack expansions all have the same cards. You can order a pack directly from Amazon or go to your local game shop and the boosters of the same name will have the exact same cards. There’s no real benefit to buying multiple card packs unless you and your friends are building personal decks to fight each other.
- The entire game comes in one box; no searching through a ton of booster packs and getting duplicates of cards you don’t want.
- Easy economics. You have 1 gold coin every turn. It doesn’t save and it renews at the beginning of the turn.
- Epic uses its own vocabulary and names, but if you’ve played any similar game, it’ll all look familiar.
Stats at a glance
Epic Card Game is an epic brawl. It’s fairly quick to learn and doesn’t require players to be at the pro level to enjoy. My favorite thing about White Wizard Games is that everything you need comes in a small box. There are expansions, but they’re not necessary unless you really want the extra cards. The entire game comes in a box from a one-time purchase and you have all the cards forever. You don’t need to go out and purchase a bunch of expansion packs to stay competitive, and the random draw decks make for some really interesting play.
Epic Magic Clone?
That being said, some players may be turned off by the simplified mechanics and may quickly label it a clone. I didn’t feel that when I tested it out. It has a lot of the same mechanics I’ve seen in other CCGs but it still felt like its own beast. I personally like to know that when I play a Champion it’s going to make it out onto the board. I’ve been playing a lot of Hearthstone lately and cannot tell you how frustrating it is to see a card you’ve waited several turns to play, get wiped out by a single card (or turned into a sheep).
Does more = better?
The question on everyone mind is: Why would I play this dinky game when Magic: The Gathering has years of expansions and 1000’s of products waiting on the shelves already?
You’ve already answered your question.
Magic is undoubtedly bigger, has years of longevity built into its design, and is expensive as all hell. Just to get a starter pack to play with some friends is close to a $50 investment that snowballs until it wipes out a bank account. Epic is smaller but still feels fun and you mix and match your cards to create your own deck, or just random the deck. Either way, you’re immediately in the game and having fun.
Is this a Magic-killer game?
Are you going to have an awesome time playing this game for the same cost as a booster pack?
If you want a streamlined game with gorgeous artwork, and want to see big monsters beating the hell out of each other, this game will probably going to appeal to you. And remember, the entry price is extremely low, which is excellent for beginners and players who are new to the genre.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on Epic Card Game! Drop a comment below and astound us with your wisdom.