Sunday, June 12, 2016

How to Play Modal Cards

How to Play Modal Cards

A modal card is a card that can do something "-OR-" do something else. For instance, Lying in Wait is a modal card because you can draw two cards, or if a champion is attacking alone, you can banish it. Currently all modal cards are event cards, so I just want to touch briefly on how to play event cards in general.

In order to play an event card you have to have initiative and then pay all of the costs associated with the card. This includes the cost in the top right corner of the card, which will be either 1 or 0 gold, as well as any additional costs in the text box. An example of an additional cost would be something like Feeding Frenzy when you play it to draw two cards. The additional cost to draw two cards with Feeding Frenzy is paying 1 gold. Once you've paid the costs, you announce the card and if there are two options separated by the word -OR- you chose the one you want to use at that time. Then you complete the actions in the text box in the order listed. Once all the actions are completed the card goes to the discard pile unless otherwise stated, such as on Lesson Learned.

Now, certain modal cards have one mode that only has an effect when it's your turn. For instance, the second mode on Quell will only banish all 1 cost champions if it's your turn. These modes can be referred to as "play restrictions." But what happens if you play Quell on your opponent's turn and chose the second mode by mistake? To answer this question, note that when playing a modal card you chose which mode you want to play only after you've already payed the cost and announced the card. So, you pay the cost, reveal the card, and then chose the mode in that order.

This is where things get a little non-intuitive based on the current ruling. The current ruling is that a mode with a "play restriction" cannot be played on your opponent's turn. It's not that the card will then do nothing, or that you have to then chose the other mode if you make a mistake and try to play it on your opponent's turn. The card literally cannot be played. So, if you try to play a mode with a "play restriction" on your opponent's turn, you return the card back to your hand and any costs you paid to play the card are refunded. In essence, it's a redo. You're not penalized for the error aside from your opponent now knowing one of the cards in your hand.

This result is non-intuitive because you chose the mode you want to use only after you've paid the cost of the card and announced you're going to play it. So, the intuition is that if you can't play one of the modes due to a "play restriction" then you have to choose the other mode. However, this intuition would result in the scenario where you're still left answering what to do if the player can't met the cost of the other mode. For instance, you've already used your gold but play Vanishing on your opponent's turn and try to return a champion to their hand by mistake. Since you've already spent your gold for the turn you can't meet the cost of the second mode and therefore couldn't have announced the card. In this kind of scenario it would be intuitive to have to put the card back in your hand since you didn't met the cost to play the card. It would be just like trying to play Gold Dragon on your opponent's turn. The champion does not have Ambush so can't be played and just goes back to your hand.

With the current ruling, instead of forcing players to chose a mode they didn't intend to use when playing the card by mistake, they simply get to put the card back in their hand. The actual end result removes some of the potential feel bad moments that can happen to new players when they make mistakes by giving them a redo. The only real price paid for the mistake is some information yielded to your opponent.

Epic is a wonderful game and currently very interesting and exciting. Particularly for constructed because there is no defined meta-game. It is also interesting from a rules perspective because it is a new game and the rules are still being defined and interpreted. It can be confusing in some scenarios for new players, and even experienced players, as new rulings come out and new interpretations are made. I'm looking forward to more evolution with Epic and hope to see many of you, along with your constructed concoctions, at Origins next weekend for the World Championship Qualifiers.

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