Draft and sealed play are some of the best ways to play a card game. They give you the ultimate freedom to be creative, spontaneous, and strategic all at the same time. The problem with popular TCGs/CCGs is that this mode of playing can often set you back $20-$30 per event due to the cost of using randomized booster packs. So what better way to play these modes than with a game that has it all in one box!
EPIC Card Game (from the creators of Star Realms) is just as its name suggests — epic! You can play draft, sealed, and even constructed decks right out of the box. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the game is now available to purchase at retail with a respectable price tag. So it’s about time to bring you an in-depth look at the game that we’ve been playing obsessively since we got our Kickstarter edition!
Is EPIC Card Game as much fun as a traditional sealed or draft event? Could it even be more fun than Magic: The Gathering?! Read on to find out…
The best way to describe the gameplay of EPIC Card Game is that it’s Magic: The Gathering on some very high-dose steroids! The cards’ effects are borderline crazy, with many of the four factions in the game having very strong creatures, several board wipes and ways to bring your opponents to tears each turn. This game is more salt-inducing than tier 0 decks in other popular TCGs/CCGs!
EPIC Card Game is, however, not a TCG/CCG. It is an out-of-the-box card game that replicates some of our favorite games by borrowing some of their core mechanics, effects, and modes of play. EPIC does manage to make these elements feel a part of its own mechanics instead of having borrowed them from elsewhere. There is a freshness to the gameplay that has yet to be seen in other traditional TCGs/CCGs, but that’s probably due to how insanely overpowered everything is in EPIC.
In most TCGs you want to play for fun, but to do this, you have to remain somewhat competitive. This means you have to spend a fair amount of money on regular booster packs throughout the year. In EPIC, you can play traditional constructed, draft, and sealed formats hundreds of times in many different deck variations with only the core set.
The core set of 120 unique cards allows for up to four people to play at once and eliminates the scary price tag that would normally be associated with a draft-based game. There will be expansions that add new content, but these are optional purchases that aren’t necessary for out-of-the-box play.
The gameplay itself is simple and highly entertaining. The way the balance of the game can shift from one card to another is truly amazing. There are four factions to choose from which can be mixed easily and freely without restrictions: Evil, Good, Sage, and Wild. Among these factions, the cards are split between Event and Champion card types that form your deck.
In a standard game, each player draws a starting hand that you may mulligan. Each turn then proceeds with players taking turns in playing cards from their hand that they can afford to pay for. There are only two cost tiers in EPIC: 0 (silver) and 1 (gold). You start a turn with 1 gold and you may either use this in your turn or on your opponents’, but cannot store up gold for future turns.
There is no limit to the number of cards you can play in a single turn, as long as you can pay for them. However, it is unlikely you’ll play more than one or two of the 1 cost cards in a single turn. The same can be said for those that cost 0, as there are fewer of these in your deck than cards that cost 1.
Many of the core mechanics of the gameplay will be familiar to regular TCG/CCG players. Champions suffer from summoning sickness on the turn they are “deploying” (they cannot attack or use abilities but may still block). To use a Champion’s ability you must rotate them 90° and they may not attack or block whilst in this state. Blocking Champions are flipped (turned 180°), but may still use their abilities in this state. If you’re familiar with Magic‘s combat rules, declaring attackers and blockers and so on, they’re identical here.
There are some keywords in the game that make little sense when you read them. This is because the developers have had to tread carefully in order to avoid any infringements on other games. For example, “Tribute” as a keyword does not refer to sacrificing anything, as you might guess — it actually means “when entering the battlefield”. It is best to keep the rule book close by for easy reference so you can understand what your cards do!
To defeat an enemy Champion in battle, you must “break” it. In order to do this, your Champion’s attack must exceed the defense value of the Champion it is battling. Attack and defense values are compared for both Champions during a battle and you may very well lose your own Champion in that battle too. Caution is always advised before rushing headlong into a fight, as the opponent can “chump block” with multiple Champions!
The objective of EPIC is the same as most other TCGs/CCGs — reduce the opponent’s health to zero by using your Champions to strike at them directly (but from a starting value of 30, not the usual 20). Due to the nature of the game, this is far harder than you may think because of all of the insane card effects EPIC has. Most Champions never last more than a couple of turns on the board before they’re broken or banished!
DRAFTING, SEALED PLAY, AND MORE…
Many of the strengths of EPIC Card Game lay in the many different ways you can play.
The core set of EPIC Card Game will come with all you need to play the limited formats. These include sealed, pack draft, open draft, and pre-constructed formats. The most basic of these is the pre-constructed format where up to 4 players may take part. Each player takes the pre-constructed 30-card faction deck of their choosing and begins play. Nothing special to be seen here, but it does give you a flavor of the insanity that EPIC has to offer.
If you own more than one core set you can make a deck of your choosing with a minimum of 60 cards and no more than three of any one card. This is your more traditional approach to a TCG/CCG and one that hardcore fans may want to get into for a competitive environment at your local game store. There are rules you must follow when making your deck and remember, things are likely to get nuts during your match-ups!
Sealed play is a bit like the pre-constructed format except all the cards are shuffled together and then 30 cards are dealt at random to each player. This then forms your deck and you may play this mode with up to 4 players (or up to 8 if using two core sets.) You’ll find that the majority of your cards may not synergize well with one another and that winning will be a lot harder than using a deck with cards that were designed to work together.
Pack Draft is where the real fun of EPIC Card Game begins. Shuffle all of the cards and then deal three 10-card packs to each player. If you’re playing with more than four people you’ll need another core set to accommodate the numbers. Each player then sets aside two of their packs and begins the traditional pick-and-pass of drafting with their first pack. You pass the cards to your left on the first pack, right on the second, and then left again on the third. You’ll have 30 cards at the end of the draft to call your deck. Shuffle them and start playing!
Open Draft (a mode for two players) gives you a little more information to work with as you can see your opponent’s strategy unfold in front of you. Four cards are shown from the top of the deck and then the starting player picks one card, the second player picks two, and the final is given to the first player. You do this over and over again with 60 random cards from the core set until each player has 30 cards.
Epic Cube drafting is even more inspired! You will need three core sets in order to play this mode and a total of 8 players, but the effort is worth the experience. There are special symbols on some of the cards and you’ll be eliminating two of the three copies of these cards. Once you’ve done that you draft packs of 12 until each player has 36 cards at the end of the draft. Once again you need a minimum of 30 cards for a deck and then you can begin the insanity!
Multiplayer games (games with more than two players) have a special rule that allows each player to gain 1 gold to use after their turn has ended (but not 2 if they didn’t use the 1 gold on their turn first). This ensures you can play extra Event or Champion cards with Ambush in order to protect yourself should someone single you out for multiple attacks. The timing of when and if you use this extra gold will be crucial to your survival and, ultimately, your victory.
There are many more ways to play, with each one outlined in the very small and easy to assimilate rule book (and a suggestion of extra modes to be found on the website). The developers even encourage you to make up your own ways of playing and ask you to share these with the community at the official website. How could you not want to invent an ingenious way of playing an epic card game! (…See what I did there?)
EPIC Card Game is a TCG/CCG player’s dream come true. Sure, it’s about as nuts as it gets when we’re talking card effects, but we’ve all wanted to play a game of our favorite TCG/CCG using some of the most broken and overpowered cards ever created!
Imagine playing a game of Yu-Gi-Oh! where no card is forbidden or limited. Or even Magic: The Gathering using any card that was ever created (I’m aware this already exists, but it isn’t for the poor!) These modes are often the most chaotic, but the most fun anyone can have in this genre.
EPIC Card Game brings that chaos to an organized play style that is sheer unadulterated fun. The balance of power shifts with each card played and you’ll have to adapt your strategies just as quickly or face inevitable defeat. I’ve never had as much fun playing a pseudo-TCG as I’ve had playing EPIC Card Game! My group actually burst out in laughter so often when playing this game, because each turn felt like hitting each other with several atomic bombs at once.
EPIC Card Game is the insanely overpowered game the collective TCG/CCG world has been waiting for, and it’s all contained in a single box – utter genius! Possibly the best physical card game release of 2015. Do not walk — run and pick up this game at your earliest convenience.
For more screenshots, click here.
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