Endless Draft Tournaments in a Box
Epic
Developer: White Wizard Games
Format: Card Game
Playing Time: 20-30 Minutes
MSRP: $15.00
 

If you play Magic: the Gathering, imagine playing in a sealed tournament where every card is as strong as the Power 9. That’s Epic in a nutshell. If you have no idea what I just said, let me explain.

Epic is a card game that plays kind of like a beginner’s version of Magic: the Gathering. A lot of the complexity has been stripped away, leaving players with a straightforward slugfest. There is only one resource to worry about: gold. At the start of each turn, the turn player loses any gold he or she had, then generates one gold to spend on a card. In simple terms, this means that you get one gold per turn and you can’t save it for a bigger play later. Some cards have a cost of zero and are free to play, but most of the impressive ones cost you your gold.

When I say impressive, I mean it. After all, if you only get to spend one gold per turn, you’d better spend it on something good. What you get out of this one gold can range from destroying all Champions (creatures) on the field, giving all of your Champions a major power boost, or summoning any of a wide array of absurdly powerful beings to your side of the field. The first time I played, my reaction to almost every card that I saw was, “Wow, that’s totally broken.”

If you play Magic: the Gathering, imagine playing in a sealed tournament where every card is as strong as the Power 9. That’s Epic in a nutshell. If you have no idea what I just said, let me explain.

Epic is a card game that plays kind of like a beginner’s version of Magic: the Gathering. A lot of the complexity has been stripped away, leaving players with a straightforward slugfest. There is only one resource to worry about: gold. At the start of each turn, the turn player loses any gold he or she had, then generates one gold to spend on a card. In simple terms, this means that you get one gold per turn and you can’t save it for a bigger play later. Some cards have a cost of zero and are free to play, but most of the impressive ones cost you your gold.

When I say impressive, I mean it. After all, if you only get to spend one gold per turn, you’d better spend it on something good. What you get out of this one gold can range from destroying all Champions (creatures) on the field, giving all of your Champions a major power boost, or summoning any of a wide array of absurdly powerful beings to your side of the field. The first time I played, my reaction to almost every card that I saw was, “Wow, that’s totally broken.”

Playing this game really does feel epic. When at any given time you might be holding three different cards that could each devastate your opponent’s army, or you’re looking at a combo that’s going to take away half of your opponent’s life points in one go, you feel like you’re on top of the world. Just remember, the other guy has cards that are just as powerful as yours. About halfway through my first game I had my Syndrome moment, where I realized that when everything is overpowered, nothing is.

What I’m trying to say is, despite the crazy abilities of each individual card, it all balances out pretty well.

Just a few of the many overpowered cards in Epic

Fixed Packs, Randomized Decks

Despite how much I’m comparing this to a well known trading card game, it should be noted that Epic itself is not a trading card game. It’s what is called a living card game, meaning that new sets do come out to expand the card pool, but the packs are not randomized. As with Netrunner or Malifaux, when you buy a pack, you know exactly what you’re getting and can always find the cards you want. No trading needed.

There are a couple of other major differences between Epic and Magic as well, differences that go beyond how it’s played and into what the game itself is meant to be. Epic, overall, seems geared to a more casual audience than Magic. This shows in the fact that the packs are not randomized, which means that even the most hardcore player can only spend so much money before running out of new things to get. It also shows in the rules. 

I’ve said it before in other articles, but let me reiterate that “casual” does not mean “bad.”

Most of the cards feel as if they can destroy the entire battlefield. That's sort of the point.

While you could, of course, look through and construct your ideal deck out of the cards you have, that’s actually not how the rulebook says to do it. You’ll find that game setup involves giving each player a deck of 30 random (yes, random!) cards, and going from there. This random deckbuilding makes Epic quick to start and accessible for new players, since they don’t need to worry about making a deck for themselves before they get started. According to White Wizard Games’s website, Epic is meant to simulate the experience of going to a draft or sealed tournament without the need to pay $10-$30 each time. That should also make it clear how important it is that each card is strong enough to stand on its own, yet balanced with all of the other cards. Luckily, White Wizard Games has done an excellent job of that.

There is also a variant ruleset for “constructed,” where you build a deck using your Epic collection to play against others who have done the same thing. That ruleset is used at competetive events, where they don't want players hampered by a bad pull.

Comes With A Built-In Timer

On the subject of unusual rules, there’s one more thing I need to point out. Any card game veteran knows that running out of cards in your deck means that you lose. In fact, most games have entire decks and strategies that are devoted to burning through your opponent’s cards until they have to draw and can’t, making them lose by deckout.

In Epic, when you’re supposed to draw and can’t, you win. Weird, right? It actually works very well for this game though, as a lot of cards give you the choice to either use their effect or draw two more cards. It's a balancing mechanic, since the randomized decks mean you won’t always have a use for an effect like “Your Good champions get +2 attack this turn.” It also serves to put the game on a timer, since life totals and control of the field tend to swing wildly. It’s possible that you’ll end the game in a few turns, but on the other hand it’s possible that you and your opponent will get stuck in a deadlock. In that case, Epic’s “draw to win” mechanic gives you another path to victory.

Why It Exists

At a glance, Epic seems a lot like Baby’s First Magic. It makes you wonder why you'd choose to play Epic instead of the "real thing." However, it makes a lot more sense once you realize the intent.

Epic is meant to be a cheap and easily accessible game that gives the experience of a more traditional trading card game, but without the need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to stay competitive. They’ve done a good job of creating something that is easy to start, fun to play, and fairly well balanced even when playing with randomized decks. With an entry point of just $15, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new card game.