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Robert Dougherty

White Wizard Games

No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

When it comes to Magic the Gathering, Robert Dougherty is nothing short of a legend. He is not only one of the few extremely professional players and an organizer of tournaments, but some years ago he has also become a game designer. He was part of the design team of the compact and extremely successful Star Realms and he now has created a game completely by his own. Epic is the name of the new game and it is published by WHITE WIZARD GAMES, the same publisher who has already made Star Realms. So, Epic certainly has the best possible prerequisites for becoming a huge success.

In fact, Epic was not only created by a true fan of Magic the gathering, but it also stands in exactly in the same tradition of fantasy combo games. Indeed, the game has such a strong fantasy theme that some of my fellow testers even tried to reject playing with me. The game-box shows an illustration of a female fantasy warrior, a stereotype that attracts men more than women I had to learn. But let's stay with the bare facts. In short, the aim is to defeat all other players by reducing their life points from 30 to 0. Each player takes the role of an Ancient god that will send his army of minions to fight the other players in a proxy war. For this we can either play Event cards with a single effect or add champions to our player areas. Those champions stay in play and can be used to attack and defend until they are defeated by another player. So by adding more and more champions to your front you can build up a small army to attack your opponents, but of course your fellow players will try to prevent this...


The set up is one of the fastest I have ever seen. To start a basic two-player game you just set aside some special cards that can only be obtained by playing other cards, shuffle the rest of the cards and deal every player a deck of 30 cards. From this deck every player draws five cards as a starting hand, whereas the rest remains as his personal draw pike. This variant of Epic is called the "Sealed" format. It is easiest and fastest, but the rules also suggests other formats that move things more towards deck construction, so the game becomes more comparable with its inspiring ideal Magic the Gathering. Personally I like the Sealed form best, because it ensures surprises, does not favour players who already know all the cards or who have bought more cards, and it takes less time. In return for these boons, I accept that sometimes the game is not perfectly balanced, because one of the players may have better cards than the others, but with the with the sealed form you should always have enough time for a revenge. But as said - the game offers other playing formats, and if you like building up your own deck, you find adequate rules to do so. But back to the gameplay:

Basically the game is quite simple , but explaining the rules takes some more time than setting up, mainly because of all the special powers that are classified in keywords and terms on the cards. In a turn all players (the one whose turn it is as well as all other players) gain one gold that can be spent to play cards. As a non-active player you can use this gold only to react, and a lot of cards have costs of one gold, but some are also for free. As you cannot save the gold for later rounds, you can exactly play one card with costs (and as many other cards for free as available), unless a card enables you to play additional cards with gold costs. At the beginning of the turn you also draw exactly one new card from your draw pile. This draw pile is your only resource of new cards, and once it is empty there will be no reshuffling of your discarded cards, but instead the game will come to its end. Also there is no buying phase or something like that, so your starting deck determines all cards you will possess in the game.


After drawing a new card at the beginning of your turn, you can play as many cards from your hand as you can afford, using their powers (this also can cost gold) and attacking your opponent (may cost gold too). Event cards are carried out in the moment you play them, and most of them have two or more options you can choose from. When you play a champion it goes to your playing area and can be used for attack and defense, beginning with the next turn. So, a champion comes to play deployed which is indicated by the position of the card (turned). Champions who are already in play can be used for attacking, and this is the last possible action. If you have more than one champion in play, you can choose whether to do an attack with multiple champions simultaneously or do multiple attacks and send your champions one by one. The defending player must choose if he wants to send a champion (or a suitable Event card) as a defense each time he is confronted with a new attack. If he cannot send a champion or does not want to do so, he must lose hit points due to the attackers being succesful. One defending champion however is enough to block a single attack, even if the attacker uses more than one champion in this attack or has more attacking strength than the total defense rating(s) of the defending champion(s). At this moment an attacked player also can react by bringing a suitable champion or event card into play, and it is the time for ponder on the best choice to attack (as well as to defend), because if a player sends all of his champions in a single attack, this attack can be blocked by the weakest champion of the opponent player (of course this one will probably dead after that). Maybe it is better to send your champions in smaller groups or one by one, because each of these attempts counts as a single attack and must be blocked individually. So the defending player always has to choose whether to block or not, not knowing if there will be more attacks to come. This makes the whole experience of combat quite dynamic, especially if the players involved in the combat have several cards at hand.


What makes Epic interesting for me are the many different powers and abilities of the champions and the faction effects. First of all a lot of the cards have one or more special abilities to alter the rules. As an example, a champion with the breakthrough ability cannot be totally blocked by a defending champion, but the remaining damage may be assigned to the defending player directly. Or, when a champion with righteous alignment deals his damage, his owner also gains that much health. Each card in the game belongs to one of the four factions, and cards of the same faction can trigger additional abilities on other cards. Finally you can use the special powers of a card, and so instead of attacking some champions you may use this power, for example, for dealing damage to a target directly.

Epic comes with 120 unique cards, and e Each card has its own, pretty cool illustration and individual text and power. This makes the game multi-variant and makes sure that Epic has a really high replayability.

Another unusual factor is the fact that the game can be played right out of the box. So, it is no trading card game, but every box comes with the same cards. Still, if you like to do so, you will be able to form your own deck of cards, because only 30 cards are necessary for each player. But of course this deckbuilding element only should be used once all players have become familiar with the cards available in the deck.


There is a huge difference to other deck building games because in Epic you already begin with a complete deck that is shuffled at the beginning of the game. So you could be attacked by the strongest champion in the first round of the game, making it a quite difficult challenge for new players, because they have no time to find into the game. However, the players quickly will be able to develop responses, and I pretty much liked the fast way to start the game and the individual abilities of the champions. I must admit that I never really played Magic the gathering, but I heard that Epic is a comparable lighter variant of the game. I personally favor the idea of having a card game that feels like a trading card game without having to buy many expansion decks to further develop my deck, and so I am totally satisfied if someone gives me a pre-selected deck of cards.

However, the available deck is big enough to offer some very interesting combos, and in addition the quality of the cards and the graphical design is really very good, a factor which shines even more considering the comparably cheap price of the game. So for players like me who never began playing and collecting Magic the Gathering, and for those who are looking for a compact deck-building game (without the need of really building a deck), Epic should be a very interesting alternative. If you are fine with the strong fantasy theme with all fantasy genres mixed up (princess with dinosaurs, as well as knights and magicians), the game certainly should be high on your cardgames' leaderboard!

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Copyright © 2016 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany