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Epic Duels Redux

Page history last edited by Roman F 5 years, 1 month ago

This is to discuss refining Epic Duels into a new dueling game.  This is not about Star Wars Epic Duels or sequels to that game, but rather about the underlying Epic Duels system and how it might be re-done.


Overall, while I believe Epic Duels is fantastic at expressing characters we know and love such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones or Marvel, I question how much value it has as a standalone game without licensed characters.  Perhaps there would be something if we made decks around archetypes, e.g. a Roman Centurion deck, a Roman Gladiator deck, an English Longbowman deck, a Samurai swordsman deck and that sort of thing.  But, let's not worry about that now.


Objective:  Refine and evolve Epic Duels from a lightweight gateway game into a more complex, more satisfying combat game.  I think it's about fixing some things wrong with the base game, while pushing the limits of the base game just a little further.  How much further is something to discuss, as is what to keep and what not, but I'll get it started.


What to keep


  • Deck of cards for each character or character set, with attack and defense values.
  • Standard deck size, e.g. 31 cards for everyone.
  • Decks divided into basic combat cards and special cards, with a standard split in all decks, e.g. 19 and 12, respectively.
  • Standard "flavors" of basic combat decks, e.g. Red/Blue/Green/Yellow.
  • Some structure to special cards (e.g. at least 3x of one card). 


What to change


  • I think borrowing the exact structure of 31 cards, 19 basic combat and 12 specials is kind of a ripoff.  We all know it and love it and are used to it, but it's not that hard to come up with another way of doing it, enough to differentiate it from the basic game.  I'll just throw this out there:  40 cards in every deck with 15 specials.  I believe 40 is the minimum for Magic the Gathering so it's a number that gamers are familiar with.  In some ways, this is like making prepackaged MTG decks but it plays out on a board.
  • Greater variety of character set types.  Original Epic Duels has only major with personality minor, or major with a pair of identical minors.  Could expand to include single characters, decks with more than 3 characters (e.g. Robert's Viceroys with Droidekas, or the Officer with 4 Stormtroopers), decks with different major/minor dynamics (e.g. Greedo or Nazgul).
  • Something Tim Wutke added with his Avatar: The Last Airbender expansion (I'll contact Sultan for an updated link) was to have 2 attack values, one for range and one for melee.  I think the ranged attack value was almost always 1 less than the melee attack value, but we could play with that a bit.  Some characters might be pure range, others pure melee, while others can do some of each.
  • Along with the above, you could change the range/melee rules a bit.  Ranged characters could be less restricted as to who they could aim at, but be more restricted by limiting the distance of their attacks (which I think Atom's Smash Bros Epic Duels does).  We could say that if you're adjacent to an opponent, you must use your melee attack ability.
  • Along with the above, greater variety of basic combat flavors, especially for minor characters.  I'd probably have pure range, pure melee, mixed range/melee, strong, middling, and weak designations in addition to major and minor.
  • Consider changing the movement rules so that it's less random.  Could either change the movement die to something with less variance (e.g. you always have up to 4 movement points to spend however you want, could vary by character) or offer ways of moving without the dice (e.g. any player can spend 1 action moving any character up to 3 spaces).
  • Consider allowing "Play any time on your turn" cards to be played before or after moving. 
  • Consider offering more action choices beyond draw, play or heal, such as move, or maybe there's a way to dump your hand and re-draw, something like that.


Let me know what you think! 



Comments (Show all 104)

umondy said

at 5:08 am on Mar 7, 2019

Definately agree here. Just think it is interesting that going thru decks is even discussed. It happens so rarely when we play that somebody even gets through his dekc once. Let alone more than that.

MiThiKaL said

at 9:58 am on Mar 7, 2019

I wonder if its due to the version I play, the smash bros variant. We always play 2v2 or 3v3 and we always have at least 2 of us having to reshuffle the discard pile to make a new deck. Multiple times we have went down to the bottom of that second deck as well. At that point there isn't any reason for movement, you just gotta battle it out with your remaining hand.

umondy said

at 5:10 am on Mar 7, 2019

Man those movement die roll sometimes KILL me! It really IS worth consideration to take out die roll completely as stated before.

umondy said

at 5:15 am on Mar 7, 2019

With that rule are people still eager to start at all? I would much rather have the second turn and draw two cards than hoping to get a big DD with my 1st draw. Would be even worse with a map set-up where maybe everybody is covered.

umondy said

at 5:15 am on Mar 7, 2019

We changed the rule to: If you start the game you are not allowed to play any DD cards that effect multiple characters.

Roman F said

at 1:02 pm on Mar 7, 2019

the Mountain Cat rule, eh?
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp-L_8rQIzg at 1:30, if you want to know the origin. Carol tells him not to bring it in for the first time.)

We feel like going first is still an advantage. Whenever player 2 starts his turn, you're still 1 card up on him.

Roman F said

at 8:58 am on Mar 7, 2019

I think the rules are fine as they are, which is to say that no, I don't think you should be able to look at each other's cards. You can say anything you want out loud, you can tell everyone at the table what you're holding if you want to, but I would say that like any card game, only you get to see your cards. If players want to make house rules saying that you can look at each other's cards, let them have at it. I believe Mike Maloney allows this in his tournaments.

I'm undecided on the "No action" move, but would lean against it. I don't want to reward passive play, even when it's the best play. Get out there and do something or discard a card and draw.

umondy said

at 9:06 am on Mar 7, 2019

Any need to speed up gameplay? We sometimes have the problem a) people hiding and drawing cards until they can't anymore (and sometimes even longer) and/or people taken like FOREVER to make their turn and dragging out the game endlessly. Just bought a chess-clock to figure this out but question here is, is there a way to change rules to prevent behaviout like that. Limited number of turns? Cartain amount of time a player/team can use up for ALL their turns or something completely different...?

Roman F said

at 9:28 am on Mar 7, 2019

As far as hiding and drawing cards, making the map bigger certainly wouldn't discourage this behavior, so that's something to keep an eye on. As mentioned above, I think excluding a "no action" move will prevent this behavior from going too too far but that's how our games tend to play out, too.

I get annoyed when a player takes forever on his turn, but it's part of board gaming in general and not particular to Epic Duels. We have an hour glass from an old game (maybe Taboo?) and we sometimes use it as a joke to get the slow player to play faster, but it's not like we enforce a turn time limit and I'm not really going to start doing that in this or any game.

umondy said

at 7:00 am on Mar 8, 2019

Agreed on the time problem. Thought maybe somebody has a great idea but you are probably right, it is the way it is.

Binjovi said

at 10:23 am on Mar 7, 2019

This is definitely a problem I’d like to see fixed. A game should be drawn out due to strategic thinking and deciding between options; not because players won’t engage without having perfect hands. An option done in a lot of games is to have players draw up to max hand size.

Usually, this is done at the end of a player’s turn, but because that could give a player too much of a defensive advantage, at the start of turn could work. You’d probably want to reduce max hand size a bit, and/or possibly get rid of draw as an action, or turn it into discard then draw, or draw then discard, depending on how harsh you want it to be.

Having a larger starting hand size and/or giving out a mulligan only really helps at the beginning of the game, though it might be a better solution, at least to start with. It’s certainly simpler.

umondy said

at 7:06 am on Mar 8, 2019

Completely agree! I hate it when somebody plays it like you say just waiting for the PERFECT hand, ideally setting up a hand that would allow him to win the game in one swift move (if possible). That's one case where I just LOVE to play a deck like the original Emperors. I know some ppl think having to discard the whole hand is a NPE. BUT I beleive it improves the game! Especially if you play players who have a tendancy to play for the perfect hand. It really put pressure on them to be proactive and play their hand in fear of getting ripped of their whole pressuce 10 card hand.

That even gets me to think I have to include some kind of discard action in one of my future decks. There are really not enough of them :D Maybe some card that gets more powerful the more cards your opponent holds in hand :)

For a new game though I am not sure what a rule could be to prevent that. Maybe penalize somebody who has to draw more cards than the allowed hand size. MAybe discarding a card at random before drawing a new one, instead of discarding a card by choice? Hm, not sure if this would be to big of a bummer :/

Roman F said

at 10:18 am on Mar 8, 2019

I think the best way to prevent that kind of behavior is to develop decks that exploit it. We like Emperor and YOU WILL DIE specifically because it discourages that type of play. Any forced discard discourages card hoarding to some degree -- we probably just need more of it. I prefer that to rules that penalize that sort of play -- though in the above debate, I think we don't allow a "non action" action. You have to at least discard a card and draw a card.

While we keep the discussion here, I've put up a page at Geektopia for the WIP game itself: http://www.geektopiagames.com/original-games/gods-and-heroes/

Roman F said

at 9:19 am on Mar 7, 2019

I think that any card that provides movement automatically avoids AOO, and would be part of the advantage of using a movement card rather than a Surge action. Otherwise, a Surge action would really devalue movement cards. Of course, this makes an attack+move card even more valuable than it is in regular ED, where it's already really valuable.

Perhaps the inclusion of Power Combat cards for AOO is still more trouble than it's worth, but I don't like the idea of restricting what types of cards a player can play. We could try it out both ways and see what we like better.

Nathan R said

at 11:10 am on Mar 7, 2019

This seems like a Good Concept "The Battle of Titans" where 12 greek mythology gods battle, then expansions could be 2 more mythical cultures egyptian and norse. then if the game is really good, licensing it to bring marvel characters into the fold... One thing Check out the Halo Interactive Board game... game is crap but the pieces themselves make for good terrain to do upper and lower level. maybe think about 2 levels in the game maybe even heroscape style

JAG18 said

at 11:59 am on Mar 7, 2019

I agree with all of what you're saying especially about trying it both ways and seeing which is better.

As a side note, can anyone come up with a better name than Attack of Opportunity? Preferably something that takes up less room on a Special Card just in case we want to reference it on a card. My ideas for potential names: Bonus Attack, Backstab, Swipe, Swipe Attack, or Parting Blow.

JAG18 said

at 12:04 pm on Mar 7, 2019

Alright, I'm sold. Can't wait to see where this goes!

JAG18 said

at 5:56 pm on Mar 10, 2019

Any thoughts on terrain? First, I know I’m not the only one who wants terrain with effects. That’s a no brainer. Examples that come to mind of where this has been done already are Sultan’s Mustafar map where you can move through the lava, but you take a damage for every space moved through and Nikgamer’s Dead Pool map in his Mortal Kombat expansion that has several special rules.

Now, the easiest course of action is to just let map makers do whatever they want. But something to keep in mind with that is what happens if we want to reference terrain on cards? Lots of cards over the years have discussed “obstacles”, but that’s a term in the rules so it’s easy to know what the card’s talking about. However, here are two cards that use more terms not in the rules:

“Dooku may move through, and end movement on, pits and obstacles.”

“Move Plo up to 6 spaces, ignoring terrain, but not enemies.”

On the former card, I’m sure Mike Maloney is referring to the mist in the throne room and terrain is probably the water on Kamino and the lava on Mustafar. Still, I think it’s for the best if we just state in the rules what the different terrain types are and then every map defines what types of terrain it includes.

Roman F said

at 8:17 pm on Mar 10, 2019

Yeah I definitely think players are open to more types of terrain besides just obstacles and pits (I think we worded Plo Koon's card to refer to both of those in a single word, but I suppose it works for any types of terrain). There probably should be terrain that slows or does damage or maybe even costs an action.

CoreyRIT said

at 1:01 pm on Mar 11, 2019

Roman F said

at 1:24 pm on Mar 11, 2019

Yeah I just saw that and came here to post about it, but today is the day that others beat me to it ;)

I seriously think my conversation with Rob, a little over a year ago, has something to do with this. Well, good for us, Rob doing it means it will be great and a lot more people will play it. I was getting excited about our own version of this, but I've got plenty of other projects to pursue.

So, I'm going to cool my jets on this project until we see what Rob comes up with, but we've done some good work already, and we may end up wanting to pursue it anyways.

JAG18 said

at 9:59 am on Mar 12, 2019

Bummer man...I mean hooray! Of course, I was really into this project, but an Epic Duels reprint is something we've all been hoping for since forever right?

I guess I'll just take all my notes and deck ideas for this project and put them in my back pocket for a while. Like Roman said, we might want to get back to this some day.

Roman F said

at 1:49 pm on Mar 12, 2019

I was being careful not to state plans for this project too specifically. I was never really sure if we could create a game from non-licensed material that people would want to play. I also had a hunch that Rob might be up to something along these lines. Interesting how he's choosing well-known and distinctive characters who don't require a license, e.g. Alice in Wonderland and Robin Hood. I also have at least 2 games that are pretty far along (I mean, Cage Match! is basically done) so it would be another year at least before I'd make this a top priority. In short, it was always a long shot.

That stated, if we really did put something together that we were all excited about, I'd attempt to launch it on Kickstarter. If 10 of us contributed heavily, and the 10 could each get 10 people to back, we just might have something. Rob's new game looks pretty different, so there's nothing necessarily stopping us from developing this further, if we wanted to.

For now, I will definitely talk to Rob about this at GenCon and probably expand both this site and Geektopia to include this new game.

JAG18 said

at 8:24 pm on Mar 12, 2019

Yeah, I knew this was always a bit of a long shot, but I honestly didn't care too much about whether this made it on to kickstarter or anything "official" like that. I just wanted to help make a fun and interesting game that me, my friends, and the people who visit the site could enjoy and appreciate and that I could look back on and say, "Yeah, we all made a pretty cool game." I don't know, I've spent hours and hours designing and play testing Duels decks so I just kind of saw this as an extension of that.

Anyway, my main interest with the new game (other than seeing the changes from ED) is the potential for custom content and I think this site is as good a place as any to be a home for that.

CoreyRIT said

at 3:57 am on Mar 13, 2019

Looks like I need to start working on an "UnMatched Deck Designer" ;)

Roman F said

at 9:32 am on Mar 13, 2019

Would be cool if you could add a Bow & Arrow option to Ranged and Melee: https://imgur.com/EE1dcBD

CoreyRIT said

at 6:01 pm on Mar 14, 2019

I think it may be time to open source Deck Designer.

Sophist said

at 1:06 am on Mar 14, 2019

wow thats exciting, but at the same time a little bit underwhelming, considering the concept and how drastically different it looks.

Maybe I just find star wars/GOT/super hereos a bit more entertaining than this, because the transformers version was a dud.

Roman F said

at 9:29 am on Mar 14, 2019

Another thing I've noticed is that they're all single character decks. I know DW is using that format for his Super Heroes, and I've seen it work ok, but I think it's vastly inferior to the old major/minor structure. I think one of the better things we did with LOTRED was coming up with new types of character sets like dual-majors with 2 minors, or 3 Nazgul that are all equal.

The art and figures look great, though.

Darth Wolverine said

at 9:52 am on Mar 14, 2019

I have to agree with Roman here. While the major/minor structure was never going to work for my game, I much prefer it. Always having cards for the major character means you always have offense and defense, which I think sometimes encourages over aggressive play [I've seen characters die in two or three rounds and this is rarely a positive experience]. There's also an entire set of tactics with minors that I just can't properly replicate.

If I were to make my own game that isn't beholden to source material, I'd definitely keep this team format.

CoreyRIT said

at 2:49 pm on Mar 14, 2019

I'm not sure this is accurate. Looking at the images, the flat discs appear to be minor characters.

CoreyRIT said

at 2:51 pm on Mar 14, 2019

One of the cards even declares "ANY" rather than the main character "MEDUSA". And states: "Move each of your fighters up to 3 spaces."

Binjovi said

at 4:01 pm on Mar 14, 2019

Yeah, I’m pretty sure one of the linked articles (or maybe even the main description) mentions Medusa having harpies, Alice having the Jaberwocky, and somewhere it talks about Robin Hood and his merry men.

Roman F said

at 8:59 am on Mar 15, 2019

I tweeted Rob about it and Corey is correct, the flat discs are the minor characters.

Sophist said

at 11:00 pm on Mar 21, 2019

Hoping to be able to upload my completly redone GOT expansion by Tuesday or Wednesday. 20 decks total, so not a small project, especailly when I'm redoing a lot of the cosmetic aspects of the cards. Short preview is I've introduced several new card types: Fields, Intrigue (sort of like a hand trap), and split specials into three seperate classifications: Initiative, Skirmish and Enigmatic. As well I'm introudcing on going Event cards, which are various tasks which have certain conditions if met during a game, allow players to receive small bonuses/advantages of some sort.

Roman F said

at 8:27 am on Mar 22, 2019

Cool! Go ahead and keep pushing on the mechanics of the game and see what you like and what you don't.

umondy said

at 2:03 pm on Mar 22, 2019

Sounds groundbreaking. Really excited for that stuff.

Roman F said

at 8:09 pm on Mar 23, 2019

It might be. The boss mode is compelling. Has anyone played it?

umondy said

at 9:16 am on Mar 24, 2019

Unfortunately not. Was hoping somebody had, but seriously thought about selling it. The minis alone are sick! :D

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