Epic PvP: Fantasy Expansions 1 and 2 Review


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Posted by Craig on Jun 16, 2016

Alderac introduced us to their “shufflebuilding” concept with Epic PvP: Fantasy in 2015 and now offers two expansions, doubling your character options to eight classes and eight races. In less than thirty minutes, two players can duel to the death with one of sixty-four possible combinations, or you can invite your gang over for team battling or an eight-player tournament.

Veterans of the base game will recognize the gameplay, and the creators even mention each expansion set can accommodate a two-player duel without the need for the base game if players use proxies for attack/defense bonus tokens, but they’ll also be pleasantly surprised by a key variation from the original: the expansion races and classes actually feel different to play.

The makeup of each twenty-card half-deck is close to the base game with the majority of the cards being “moves”, the attack/defense combo card which is one of the game’s streamlined hallmarks, and the remainder are skills, bringing a special effect or permanent change to the battle, but the expansion decks’ unique moves all convey a distinctive ability that gives more of a thematic feel than the base game’s characters did. The halfling’s deck delivers trickery and death by a thousand cuts while the orc’s cards are all about rage and destruction. The cleric calls upon divine powers while the dark knight attacks the opponent’s very soul. Playing the monk allows the feeling of Zen calm to permeate one’s opponent right after one’s fist does, and the barbarian can bring wild allies to his aid. Dark elf players bring deceit, demonic energy and a knife in the back to their foes, and cat folk, well, they let us play as Panthro. Finally the duelists feel like diverse warriors instead of clones whose arsenals’ only difference is the artwork on the cards.

One small dent in all this new strategic chrome is the gameplay slow-down that can happen due to all the new abilities in the expansion decks. It’s challenging to find that design-based sweet spot marrying rapid combat with thematic feel, and some games using expansion cards can feel a bit like old-school Magic with all of the effects and their timing to track, but this is a minor blemish on otherwise excellent expansions. If ability tracking begins to feel overwhelming, simply combine an expansion deck with one from the base game and you’re armed with a more manageable array of choices while your hardcore opponents can chain combos galore. However you want to play, the Epic PvP: Fantasy expansions have a warrior combination that fits the bill.