Sunday, May 1, 2016

Epic Combos and Rules

Epic Combos and Rules

Welcome back to the third installment of this article series. If you have not read the first two articles I'd encourage you to do so, especially if you're interested in the constructed format. In those articles I covered two different takes on aggressive decks as well as various topics including Opportunity Cost, Tempo, and Velocity. This article will be quite different from the last two. Rather than looking at a new constructed deck list and touching on more of the philosophy in the game I'll be going over some interesting card interactions and their rules implications that ought to be understood in order to play the game competitively. Some of these interactions are highlighted here because they can be non-intuitive and cause some confusion even among experienced players who may not have come across them before. I'm also pointing out a few because there is some contradictory information on the Official Epic Website and this article will reference the most accurate and relevant information. You'll  frequently encounter these rules at play and should understand them if you're looking to be successful in a competitive environment. It is important to be mindful at this point that the rules are still evolving and Epic is a new game that has only been around for less than a year. It is expected that some of these rules may change over time. Now, without further delay, let's get into some Epic Combos!
Vital Mission and The People's Champion

What happens when you try to banish an unbanishable champion? Exactly what you would think. The unbanishable champions says "you can't banish me" and doesn't get banished. So then you might ask, what would happen if I controlled The People's Champion and targeted it with my own Vital Mission? Exactly what you would think. It doesn't get banished, you gain health equal to its offense, draw two cards and get two human tokens out of the exchange. How does that sound for a bargain!?

Infernal Gatekeeper and Apocalypse

This combination illustrates an important rules mechanic that applies to many other situations and is critical to understand. The rules mechanic is that triggered ally abilities wait to resolve until after the card that was played from your hand to trigger them is done resolving. This means that if you have Infernal Gatekeeper in play, and you play Apocalypse on your turn to break all champions, the triggered ability from Infernal Gatekeeper waits until Apocalypse is done resolving. Apocalypse breaks all champions and then goes to the discard pile because it's finished resolving. It is only at this point that the triggered ability from Infernal Gatekeeper gets to resolve and you can pay a health to put a Demon token into play. This turns out to be a nice play because you've broken all champions, which usually leaves the board state at parity, but instead you're left with a Demon token in play and are now ahead.
Blue Dragon and Wave of Transformation

Blue Dragon and Wave of Transformation behave in the same way as Infernal Gatekeeper and Apocalypse. However, the weird thing to note is that the triggered ally ability from Blue Dragon can be used to deal two damage to a wolf token put into play with Wave of Transformation. This is weird because at no point are Blue Dragon and the wolf token in play at the same time, yet Blue Dragon's ally ability can break the wolf token. Again, this only works because triggered ally abilities wait to resolve until after the card that was played is done resolving. 
Reaper and Soul Hunter

Soul Hunter is a powerful but slow card that takes some setup to get going. One way to get a head start is to play Soul Hunter when you already have a Reaper in play. This interaction calls on the rule again that triggered ally abilities wait to resolve. When you play Soul Hunter, the triggered ability from Reaper won't resolve until after Soul Hunter is already in play. You can then target Soul Hunter to deal five damage to an opponent and put a demon token into play.

Wither and Insurgency

Have you ever felt hopeless in the face of an unbreakable token onslaught? Have you ever searched your hand for at least a way not to die immediately when facing the horde? Well, Wither is here to offer an answer. Even though unbreakable champions cannot be broken, they can still be dealt damage. Wither deals three damage to target champion and each champion with the same name and reduces the offense of each damaged champion by three. So those human tokens may be unbreakable this turn, but you'll at least be taking a lot less damage and they'll be vulnerable next turn.

Thought Plucker and The Gudgeon

If your opponent has The Gudgeon in play and you play a Thought Plucker, your opponent will not discard a card from the triggered ability, but you will still draw a card. After the errata update on Thought Plucker, the Tribute effect reads "Target opponent discards a card. You draw card." Even though your opponent is untargetable, and therefore can't be targeted by the first part of the effect, you still continue to complete all steps from the triggered ability and draw a card. In contrast to the Tribute ability on Thought Plucker, when Thought Plucker deals damage to an opponent, "That player discards a card. You draw a card." This triggered ability does not target and therefore will cause an opponent with The Gudgeon in play to discard. Fortunately, the timing was such that the errata on Thought Plucker was made before any effect existed that could make a player untargetable. So there was never much debate around which way this interaction worked. It's now just important to know that Thought Plucker's Tribute ability targets whereas its other triggered ability does not.

Drinker of Blood and Drinker of Blood

If both players have a Drinker of Blood in play and there are a bunch of human tokens on the board, it's important to know whose turn it is if either player wants to play a card to break all of the tokens. When triggered abilities happen simultaneously on both sides of the board, the active player (the player whose turn it is) resolves all of their triggers first before the other play. If at any point a player's health is at 0 or below, they lose the game, even if there are triggers waiting to be resolved. This mean that you need to play Flash Fire on your turn to KO your opponent when you both have Drinker's of Blood in play. If you Flash Fire on their turn, you'll KO yourself.

Editor's Note: This rule no longer works in this way. The determining factor of whose triggers resolve first is now the player who has initiative. In this example, whoever plays the Flash Fire resolves their Drinker of Blood triggers first. Whose ever turn it is no longer matter in this way.
Brachiosaurus and Ankylosaurus

Imagine you finally bought and opened your brand new Tyrant cards. You're so excited to try out the new dinosaurs you put in your Wild deck when you finally sit down to play the cards with your friend for the first time. You're smashing face with Triceratops and your new buddy Great Horned Lizard. You Play Brachiosaurus and use the gold from its Tribute to draw a card with Ankylosaurus. Then your friend stops you and says "That's a triggered ability on Ankylosaurus. Not a power. You can't use the gold from Brachiosaurus on it." Wait, what!? Yeah... Here's the relevant quote from the Director of Organized Play; 

"Per R&D, this interaction was always intended to work, and within the next day or so we'll issue a fix, which will most likely be in the form of errata on Brachiosaurus. So effective immediately, your dino pals will play nice."

So as it currently stands, you can use the Gold from Brachiosaurus on the triggered ability from Ankylosaurus even though it says the gold can only be used to play wild cards and powers. Sadly, we don't have an official fix in the form of errata on Brachiosaurus or any other fix aside from the above forum post to help clarify this interaction. So technically, the rules as they currently read don't support that this interaction works in the way WWGs is saying it does. 

Drain Essence

The history behind this card is important. Before the Comprehensive Rules were published there was a time when the small booklet that came with the base set was the only reference material available for understanding the rules. Unfortunately, this insert is not the most elegant nor definitive reference guide for Epic. After receiving a lot of questions from the community, WWGs published the Card Ruling which were more granular and meant as an FAQ for each individual card. Drain Essence said (and still currently says because it has not yet been updated) the following;

"If you do not have a champion you can target, you cannot play this card."

This seems pretty obvious, right? You deal 9 damage to a champion and drain it's essence so you gain 9 health. If there is no champion to target you can't drain its essence. Right? Well, things have changed now that the Comprehensive Rules have been published. The current ruling from the Director of Organized Play is now exactly the opposite and you can play this card with no champion in play and gain 9 health. But wait, this directly contradicts the Card Rulings! And besides, how can you gain life by draining something's essence when there is no champion with essence to be drained!? It makes no sense, you might say. And you'd be right! However, 3.2.3d in the Comprehensive Rules reads;

"If a card or power refers to targeting something, those targets are chosen at the time the effect resolves, not when the card or power is first played." 

This means you do not have to check whether or not a card has a legal target before choosing to play it. You decide to play the card and perform the instructions listed on the card in order. If you can't complete one of the steps because, for instance, there is no champion to target, you simply skip it and move on to the next step. Here is a quote from the Director of Organized Play regarding this rules change;

"Originally we had decided that having a legal target was essential to playing a card or effect. R&D [Rob and Darwin] made the decision when designing Tyrants that we should not have the restriction for playing the card or effect, and thus the rule was changed."

It is important to point out that if there is a valid target, you must chose it, even if it is detrimental to you.

Lesson Learned and Ancient Chant

Welcome to the arena! Now that we've covered a few of the important rules, let's go over one of the more difficult interactions. Do you understand how cards resolve? Do you understand how triggers work. Let's find out with a little quiz.

How many cards will you draw if you play Lesson Learned and choose Ancient Chant in your discard pile to play without paying its cost? If your answer is four, you'd be right! Make sense? Confused? Either way, let's go through the details;

·         Lesson Learned is played and goes to the Supplemental Zone while it completes its resolution.
·         Ancient Chant is chosen as the card to be played without paying its cost and goes from the discard pile to the Supplemental Zone. This triggers the effect from Ancient Chant because it has left the discard pile, but the effect waits to resolve until Lessoned Learned and Ancient Chant are done resolving.
·         Two cards are drawn from Ancient Chant which then finishes resolving and goes to the discard pile.
·         Lesson Learned finishes resolving and banishes itself along with Ancient Chant. Ancient Chant leaves the discard pile for a second time now both triggers can resolve and you draw two more cards for a total of four cards!


That'll do it for this article. Have fun enjoying these interesting Epic combos and discovering others for yourself. If you have any questions you can submit them in the comments section and I will respond to them. Next article will be back to constructed and I'll be going over another tempo deck, but one that is less aggressive than the Apocalyptic Time Walker deck. As always, you can find me on BBG and Reddit as EpicAgenda or on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Thanks for the blog post. Don't get to play much but hoping to build a play group in Pittsburgh. Some interesting things to try!

  2. Hey John I live in Pittsburgh and have a good friend who also loves this game who lives in Pittsburgh too. I'd love to get a group playing. And awesome article as usual Derek. I've loved all your stuff. I did not know about a couple of these interactions.

    1. Thanks a lot. I'm in Cleveland and going to Origins in June. Were you and your friend planning on going as well?

    2. Check your Facebook. Maybe we can hit up Phantom of the Attic

  3. Thanks for the article, Derek! Good read and some nice explanations about card interactions. Unfortunately I don't have anyone to play with so far, so I'm mostly creating and destroying my decks)

  4. Very nice read, and some nice rules looping to defeat my wife with until I play nice and send her this article :D