The world of card games is quite literally flooded. There are hundreds of them out there. A few are massive success stories that have 100,000’s of players worldwide. Some of them like Magic, is currently losing players, in South Africa anyway. It’s not enough to be a blip on the global radar but the killer exchange rates and the constant need to buy new cards has some people giving up the game. I have yet to meet anyone that can give up Magic forever though. Personally I’ve re-started playing 3 times. Sometimes I just want to play a solid game and not have to worry about the cards themselves, for those times, there’s EPIC.
EPIC is a card game designed by Pro Magic players. The same guys who brought us the hit Star Realms. Unlike Star Realms, EPIC is not a Deck Building Game. It’s closer to Magic in both in terms of rules and types of play.
For the TL;DR version click here.
Opening the Box
Specs on the box:
- 2 – 4 players
- Ages 8+
- 20 min (4 player games can easily go over an hour)
Did I mention it’s a card game? It is, so it’s no surprise that the box has 120 cards in it. Along with 8 more cards that are used at tokens. NB these are not enough for a 3 or 4 player game so you might need some counters to help you there. On that note there is no means of life keeping, something that had a few people confused in the Star Realms box, but was very handy to have. Everything that you needed to play in a box that fit into your pocket. It’s nothing that cannot be fixe with a few dice or a smart phone or a pencil and something to write on.
There’s also a little rule book. It’s very small, the size of a card. That makes it somewhat annoying to read. It’s not a difficult game though, and if you have had any experience with Magic then you will grasp the rules very quickly.
The cards are all standard sized i.e the size of Magic cards so you can get sleeves for them almost anywhere. However just like Star Realms, once you sleeve them they won’t fit into their nice, neat little box anymore. You will need a new deck box to hold everything.
EPIC is set in a generic fantasy setting. Each player is some kind of magic user who can summon creatures (they are all called Champions) to fight for him. Unlike most games which use mana to summon the creatures you use coins, so I guess you are hiring them.
You can also call down events, like Forked Lightening or Plagues. These are called spells in other games but events in EPIC. Again you don’t use mana you use coins to make them happen. I don’t know, don’t ask. The theme is not what matters it’s the game.
Setup will be defined by what type of game that you want to play. You can use the cards in the box to play a sealed game where you just deal out 30 cards to each player and everyone gets 30 life. The last person standing wins.
You could play cube or draft, or even construct your own decks. That’s the beauty of the game. There are a lot of variants of play straight out of the box. You don’t have to spend hours carefully constructing the perfect deck, but you can if you want to. If you wanted to have more players then just add in another box of cards and you’re done.
The game itself is very simple.
At the start of a turn each player will get a coin. If they had a coin already then they will first lose that coin, so you can only ever use 1 coin per turn. If you are the player whose turn it is then you will draw a card.
During your turn you will have a chance to play cards. You can play as many cards as you can afford. All of the cards in the game will either cost 1 coin or 0, these are essentially free.
Then you have a chance to attack other players with champions that you have summoned. If you are on the receiving end of an attack then you will have a chance, out of your turn to cast cards from your hand. NB: you will only be able to summon champions with the Ambush power. That’s the power that lets you summon them during your opponents turn. Otherwise you will only play events.
Then the defending player can assign his champions to block the attacker’s champions. This will result in having them fight each other. Each champion has an attack and defence value. If it receives damage equal to or greater than its defence then it’s dead.
Any unblocked attackers will deal their damage straight to the defending player life total.
When the active player ends his turn the other players have a chance to play events, summon ambush champions or use abilities on their existing champions. If they do this then the current player gets to do all of that again too, it won’t happen too often because his coin is usually used up.
That is the essence of the game. In you turn you can “cast spells” and “summon creatures”. Some creatures have abilities that you can use to cause various effects in the game, like killing an opponent’s creature or returning it to their hand or dealing damage to any target of your choice.
There are 2 ways to win this game. First is to be the only player left with a positive life total and then second is to draw all of the cards in your deck. In Magic that means you lose, here it’s a win condition.
It sounds a lot like Magic, that’s because it is almost the same. There are a few key differences most of them are naming conventions. Blitz is the same as Haste; Breakthrough is the same as Trample etc. It almost feels like a magic clone. However there are no instants, you cannot react to what your opponents are doing unless you are on the receiving end of an attack. Also if you draw all of your cards in you deck then you don’t lose, you win.
What really sets it apart is the speed of the game. There is no need to build a mana base, no need to wait for the late game to play your really big spells and creatures. In EPIC you come out of the gate swinging. Every turn you can summon your biggest, baddest creatures or cast your deadliest spells. You can even do that in your opponents turn!
You are not trying to marshal your resources because you get them for free. So there is nothing stopping you for trying to smack your opponent in the face except your opponent himself. Something epic can happen every single turn.
Giant dinosaurs find themselves fighting against vampires and angels in turn 1 with the board wiped out by a powerful spell in turn 2.
The pace is refreshing. The sheer power that the cards have is enough to make Magic players giggle. It’s a fast fun game that’s easy to get into and won’t break the bank. In fact it will hardly scratch the bank.
It is not magic though. I’d say it’s like a cross between Hearthstone and Magic. It almost scratches the itch to play both of those games, almost. What those games won’t do though is give you a quick shot in the arm of rampaging fun. They seem more technical in comparison.
So if you’re looking for a fun CCG-like game and don’t want to fork out an arm, leg and kidney or spend hours grinding for cards. EPIC is the game for you. Yes I know I’ve been comparing it directly to Magic for the entirety of this review, but it’s kind of hard not to. It borrows a lot but it stands on its own.
I will still play Magic even though I enjoy EPIC.
Can I play this at a braai?
By all means. 2 player games run through fairly quickly but 4 player games tend to be more meaty affairs and can last quite a while. With no instant speed reactions you can tend the fire and then come back and see what the board state is before continuing.
Thanks to boardgames.co.za for the review copy of EPIC.