Epic is a card-game for 2 to 4 players (5 to 8 if you have two sets) published by White Wizard Games and designed by Robert Dougherty. In this game players take on the role of gods in war with each other using their champions and events in the mortal world. It is up to you to defeat your opponents and be the last god standing by depleting the life of your enemies or by depleting your own deck.
The setup of this game couldn’t be any easier. You set your eight tokens to the side, shuffle the rest of the deck and give 30 cards to each player. The cards come from the four different alignments in the game, good, evil, sage and wild. Each player starts with 30 life that can be noted by use of pen&paper, dice, a life-dial, the free app for epic and so on. Players choose a start player at random and draw 5 card from their deck into their hand. Now starting from the start player and going clockwise each player can mulligan their hand. This means that they may choose any number of cards in their hand and put them on the bottom of their deck and draw new cards to replace these, but for each replaced card you lose one life.
A game turn consists of four steps. When the End phase has been completed, the turn goes to next player in clock-wise order. During the first step all players lose their one gold if any and gain one gold. This is to ensure that you start every turn with exactly one gold. The second step consists of drawing a card (except for the first player in a two-player game who may not draw card in the first turn), preparing (turn upright) your champions and performing any at start of turn triggers.
The third step is where the action happens. In this step you get to play cards, use your powers and attack with your champions. You can repeat these things as much as you like and in any order you like. The cards can be divided into two types. Events which have a one-time ability and champions that stay on the battlefield to fight for you until they are broken (killed) or banished (placed on the bottom of your draw pile). To play a card you simply need to pay its cost which is depicted in the top-right corner of the card. A champion is considered deploying until you start a turn with it in play, this means that you cannot attack with it and cannot use a power that expends (turn sideways) the champion. This brings us to the powers which might have a cost like expending the card or simply cost one gold or require you to reveal a certain faction of cards in your hand.
During the third step you also have the option to attack with your champions which starts a battle. You start the battle by declaring your attackers and expend them and choose which player you will attack. Obviously you cannot choose a champion that is already expended. After you have declared your attackers you may play any number of powers and events until you pass. Now the defender has the opportunity to play powers and events until he passes and if he did so, the attacker again may play powers and events. This continues until the defender passes without playing any powers and events. Now the defender chooses the champions that are blocking the attackers by flipping them (turning 180 degrees). Again champions that are expended cannot be used to defend but champions that are flipped can still be expended for use of a power. After the defenders are chosen both players have the option of using powers and abilities in exactly the same manner as before. Now it is time to start dealing some damage. The attacking and blocking champions deal their damage simultaneous equal to their offense to each other. Champions not engaged in the battle cannot receive damage from this battle (unless otherwise stated by a power). The attacking player chooses how to divide the damage amongst the defenders and vice versa. Champions which have received damage equal to their defense are considered broken and are put into their player’s discard pile. When there are no defenders or by means of some abilities it is possible to deal your damage directly to your opponent reducing their life total. Afterwards you deal with any triggered abilities and finally resolve the at end of combat triggers.
When you do not want to do anything else in step 3 you proceed to step 4 and declare that you want to end your turn. Now the other players have the option to play events and powers. If they did you return to step 3, otherwise you move to the end phase.
In the end phase the at end of turn abilities are triggered. The player whose turn it is discards down to seven cards if necessary. All damage is removed from the champions and all flipped champions are prepared.
You win the game by getting your opponents life total to 0 or by having an empty draw deck when drawing a card.
First off I need to state that I incorporated the free-for-all multiplayer rules variant in this rules explanation but this does not change anything for the two-player version except for number of players. The game comes with lots of variants or formats starting with how to create your deck (random, different types of drafting, constructing your own or pre-constructed) to multiplayer variants (different types of free-for-all, team play…). The kickstarter even offered more options like playing as a Demigod or Elder god with its own abilities.
The gameplay itself was very familiar to me because I have been playing Magic the Gathering since it was available in our country but I am not going to compare the two because Epic deserves its own praise and you do not have to like Magic to appreciate this game. The artwork on the cards is simply stunning and the graphical design and clarity of the cards is astounding. I love that a card simply costs one gold or nothing for playing the cards. This allows for a player to play that powerful card when he wants to instead of having to wait until he has enough resources of the correct type thus choosing your own strategy instead of being dependent on your resources. Most events cards also give you a choice of ability which enhances the strategy you want to use. Most of the abilities of the cards have been used in other games before but that is only normal. The first couple of plays you will have to look them up but afterwards you will know them by heart because they are self-explanatory. I also love the fact that you can use your defenders during multiple turns or still deplete them to use its ability. I have never seen this before and especially in multiplayer matches it makes for a huge difference. The game plays really fluent and will give lots of surprises while playing it. It has just the right amount of cards that clear the battlefield to give every player a fighting chance even when they are losing bigtime. Every time we have played it the player in front changed so many times that we simply never could predict who would win this game. This is definitely one of its strengths. It simply is pure fun and I can’t wait to get the four extra Tyrant boosters to add to my collection. Oh wait I almost forgot, all you need is one copy to play it with four players. This is a whole lot of fun and game for that small price package. Another great game after their previous smash hit Star Realms.
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